Monday, December 30, 2013

30 Before 30

I celebrated my 29th birthday earlier this December, and it always strikes me how old I really am, since I don't feel/act my age. But here I am, and as I look forward to a new year and preparing to enter a new decade of life, I decided that I will expand upon the typical "new year's resolutions" and create a list of 30 things to try/accomplish before I turn 30 next December.
  1. Blog regularly (at least 2 posts a week)
  2. Start writing science blog posts for another website/blog
  3. Write a handwritten letter to a friend/family member at least once a month
  4. Go to DisneyWorld OR go on a cruise
  5. Reach my goal weight/get in shape
  6. Record an EP
  7. Prepare 3 pieces of classical piano repertoire at performance/concert level
  8. Successfully complete an online course
  9. Read 15 books
  10. Get an article published in an academic journal
  11. Learn to sew
  12. Play a DnD or similar RPG campaign
  13. Carve a pumpkin
  14. Make a gingerbread house
  15. Create a budget/savings plan
  16. Audition for a show with a community theatre
  17. Complete 3 "pay it forwards"
  18. Study the Bible daily/consistently
  19. Host a house show/concert
  20. Get better at playing guitar
  21. Make our own sushi rolls
  22. Replay all the Halo games
  23. Attend a lindy hop/swing dancing workshop or dance exchange weekend
  24. Purchase a record player
  25. Host our families for a major holiday
  26. Plan a surprise/do something special for Matt
  27. Attend 5 live concerts
  28. Complete a photo a day challenge
  29. Re-open askLOLA on Etsy or another site
  30. Start a garden
(coincidentally, it's my husband's birthday today! Happy birthday, Matt - I love you so much!)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Songs Like Trees

For the longest time, my siblings (Manika and Nathan), my husband (Matt), and I have wanted to form a band, but have never really had the ambition to work on it. We've made music together in the past (mostly on worship team at church), but nothing where we really put our musical creativities together. This past weekend, our 2am jam session turned into our first time recording all together...followed by a band name brainstorming session until 5am. We finally settled on the name Songs Like Trees, inspired by this passage from Tolkien's The Two Towers:
'Of course, it is likely enough my friends,’ [Treebeard] said slowly, ‘likely enough that we are going to our doom: the last march of the Ents.  But if we stayed at home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later.  That thought has long been growing in our hearts; and that is why we are marching now.  It was not a hasty resolve.  Now at least the last march of the Ents may be worth a song.  Aye,’ he sighed, ‘ we may help the other peoples before we pass away.  Still, I should have liked to see the songs come true about the Entwives.  I should dearly have liked to see Fembrethil again.  But there, my friends, songs like trees bear fruit only in their own time and their own way: and sometimes they are withered untimely.’
Our first cover is just a quick demo version, recorded live in my parents' living room using Nate's iPhone. Hopefully next time, our studio room will be all set up so we can record properly :) We hope to work on several cover songs, and also some original songwriting. It should be interesting to see how all our unique individualities and styles will come together.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I have an itch...I mean a niche

As you can see, it's been a while since I've posted on here. Blog burnout is not uncommon, and I find myself letting my blog go to the wayside whenever big changes happen...remember how we moved and I started a new job? Yeah.

Lately, though, I've started to have all these blog post ideas, but just don't take the time to write them. Then Leslie posted this great post about finding your blogging niche. What a better time to reflect on what I want to do with this ol' blog of mine.

Here are my answers to her questions and here's to new found direction and focus! (Meaning...I'm going to start blogging regularly again!)

1. What is one of your favorite words, that you have never heard any one else that you know of describe themselves as?
2. If someone was to search for your blog in Google, and you could rank on the first page for 5 keywords, what would they be?
Faith, Science, Art, Geek, Creative
3. What is your favorite adjective? Especially one to describe the way a person is.
4. Think of your favorite movie character, comic book character, or cartoon character, that you self-identity with. What are a couple of words you would use to describe their personality? What color would you describe them as?
Misunderstood, passionate, inquisitive...a blue/green/teal color.
5. What color are you?
6. What are you the most knowledgeable about? What would other people say you are the most knowledgeable about? When is the last time you went on a really good rant about something?
I'm really into a lot of stuff, so my knowledge has great breadth, but maybe not necessarily depth...? That being said, the last rant I had was about musicianship and making good art.
7. If you had to design a business card right now, and could only have 3 words on it, what would those words be?
Seek. Learn. Believe.
8. Your blog is a food. What food is it and why?
This blog is sushi. Simple in concept but varied in content. What's Your List? is your favorite comfort food...
9. If you could plan a photo shoot for your professional head shot, what would you be wearing? What piece of clothing, jewelry, or accessory would you wear that screams you?
I'd wear a black blazer over a nerdy t-shirt, with pearl earrings.
10. If you could collaborate with any blogger, artist, or person, who would it be, and what would you bring to their table?
I already collaborate with Valerie on What's Your List?, and I feel like we each bring our own character to it, she keeps me on track and I try to make things look nice ;) I'd love to collaborate with any of my favorite musicians, pretty selfishly, because I would hope to learn from them...not sure what I'd bring...a fresh outlook? I'd also love to collaborate on a project (blog or music or whatever) with my sister, because she's super talented and creative but doesn't often let people see that side of her. Word on the street is she's going to start blogging soon ;)
11. Pick a tagline for yourself. Or a few. 10 words total, for your identity, and niche.
See under sidebar photo.
12. If you could copyright one item, food, object, or animal, and when people see it they would think of you, what would it be? It will help if this object is not already associated with someone else.
I'd say a fox, I've always thought I'd be a fox if I was an animal, but now there is that stupid Fox song, so I don't know...this question is like the "What would your cutie mark be?" question, isn't it?! Impossible for me to answer.
13. Your blog is an animal. What animal is it, and why?
Hahaha. See answer above. Foxes are quirky, interesting, independent and do their own thing, despite what anyone else thinks.
14. You have to pick 2 emotions that your blog will make people feel. What are they? 
More than...: amused and inspired.
What's Your List?: reflective and inspired.
(haha...I want to inspire people, I guess!)
15. Someone who reads your blog writes you an email, expressing that your blog caused them to do something, or feel something, or think about something, or try to make something, and it makes you so happy to know this. What did it cause them to do?
To not settle and learn something new, to seek out answers (even if there isn't one), to reflect on the positive instead of the negative. 
16. What’s your favorite mythical creature, and why?
I always dug the phoenix...rebirth and new life and all that jazz. I also like pegasus and dragons.
17. Your blog is referred to someone that you admire by a friend. They use these 2 words to describe your niche.
Geeky. Creative.
18. You can only use one social network to promote your blog, forever. Which one do you choose and why?
Google+...I know, I know, haters gonna hate. But seriously, the post show off your blog images, it's associated with the best search engine, and "circles" help to focus content to specific groups.
19. You would love it if this store posted your blog’s business cards on their front counter.
Walk in love.
20. If you had to pull an Emma, and take a photo of yourself looking down from your chin of your feet and the ground, where would you choose to be standing, what would you choose to wear, and why?
Like this? Or this? Or this? Yeah, I'm no stranger to this pose ;)
21. What are you most passionate about? What would other people perceive you as being most passionate about? Are these things different?
I am passionate about learning, about finding truth, about creating good art. This is broad, and all my "sub-interests" fall into one of these three passions. I think people perceive me as being passionate about the arts, because that's the one area where I've been most "vocal" or rather, it's easiest to demonstrate in a physical capacity. The others are more "brainy" and not everyone wants to have those kinds of discussions at an intellectual level.
22. You have to choose a celebrity to do a poetic reading of your favorite blog post, with the perfect voice. Who is it?
Morgan Freeman. How is this a question?
23. What image on someone else’s blog have you seen that you love?
Everything on this blog, a year long "passion project" by a friend who is a graphic designer. Combines art and truth in a beautiful way.
24. You can only blog from one location for the rest of your life. Where is it?
I haven't found that "inspiration spot" yet...but I'm sure it'd be someplace with a great view of nature.
25. You walk into the Internet cafeteria. You see tables with every blogger ever. You sit down at the table with these 5 bloggers.
Rachel Held Evans
Jon Acuff
Micah Murray
Carl Zimmer
Michael Gungor
Yeah...that'd be some interesting table conversation. Haha.
26. You have to decorate your online bedroom. What is the pattern on your bedspread? What poster is above your bed? And what CD is in the CD player?
My bedspread is a simple off-white comforter with a crocheted throw at the foot of the bed. I'd have this poster set. These CDs would be on rotation in my multi-disc player: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Monday, September 2, 2013


This fall, I joined in on the 30 Days of Lists challenge that has been around in the blog community for a while. While I'm not into all the scrapbooking/crazy journal designing, I do like listing. I'll be posting daily photos of my lists on my Instagram, and also a snapshot of my favorite list from the week on my blog with Valerie, What's Your List? Follow along if you are a fellow list-maker!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Throwback Tune

After watching this awesome video of Kristin Chenoweth singing with an audience member (who happened to be a voice teacher and an amazing singer), I got inspired to bust out my books of showtunes this afternoon.

Nothing tells you how rusty you are at your instrument (I'm considering voice as an instrument here, too) than trying to sight read tricky rhythms/chords or belt out notes that once came easily to you. I need to train & practice again. But regardless, here's a little video of a song that I sang a billion times when I was in high school. It was my "go-to" song for auditions, talent shows, weddings, you name it. I sang it so much, in fact, that it joined the ranks of "Broadway songs I never want to sing again" (along with On My Own from Les Mis).

Here it is - a throwback to those glory days. The song is Someone Like, not the song by Adele, but from the (quite underrated) musical Jekyll & Hyde.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Well, after one month of "couch hopping" and living in other people's homes, we finally have our own place to call home! It's an awesome side-by-side/duplex house, and it has an amazing living room space, a great fenced backyard for the dogs, and is really close to our workplaces.

Starting to fill up!
Now time to unbox, furnish and decorate, and schedule our first game night! ;) Here's to many new and exciting adventures in Madison!!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Crochet Along Link Up!

Summer is always such a busy time, even more so for me with a cross country move and a new job, but I was so glad to be able to host this month's crochet along and take a little breather to whip up these two awesome projects!

The watermelon coasters were extremely fun to make. For some strange reason, I enjoy crocheting in the round more than straight lines. I used a sturdy cotton yarn so that the coasters hold their shape well.

As mentioned in my previous post, I chose to use the invisible finish method so that the edge remained smooth and without that bulky knot that we usually use to finish off projects. I only made four coasters, but I might make a couple more to add to the set! :)

The "Trek Bracelet" was SUPER easy to make (it's pretty much just single crochets up and down),  and I am kind of annoyed with the color I ended up using, but I just basically used some scrap cotton yarn I had from a previous project. I guess it is kind of cool how it turned out to be pink in the middle and white on the edges, though.

I did alter the ends a bit, simply because my clasp was WAY smaller than the one used in the original pattern. It also stretches quite a bit, so for my next bracelet, I'll probably make it just a bit shorter to begin with to accommodate the stretch.

Which project did you work on? Link up your blog/Twitter/Facebook posts, Instagram photos, etc. below!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Crochet Along Update

Things have been a little crazy, because just like Alycia, we are in the transition stages of moving!! But I committed to hosting the Crochet-Along this month, and I've actually completed both the projects! I won't reveal them in this post (link up will be on the 29th!), but I wanted to share a few tips & tricks I discovered while working on them.

For the Trek Bracelet: The clasps I got weren't even close to as large as the ones in the original I improvised. Instead of crocheting directly onto the clasp to begin, I just made a "loop" on BOTH ends of the bracelet. To do this, I simply just started the project with a ch 2, and then continued with "Row 2" in the pattern as written. When it gets to the part about making the border near the clasp, I just made a ch 3 (as stated later in the pattern) instead.

I then attached jump rings to each looped end, and added the clasp to one end. Easy peasy! This was a super quick and easy project, too! I'll probably make 2 or 3 more in different colors before the month is up :)

The watermelon coasters were quite easy, too, though joining new colors can be a bit tedious. The only modification I suggest is to use the "invisible finish" method outlined here (which I learned through one of Alycia's previous Crochet-Along projects ;)). It makes the edge of your project so much smoother without the "bump" caused by tying off the yarn.

How are your projects coming along? Feel free to leave any questions in the comments, or tweet us with the hashtag #CrochetAlong and I'll try to help!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

neither here nor there

Both Matt and I have officially started our respective jobs in Madison. Our apartment search has come to an end, thought we won't be able to move into our new place until August 15th. So basically, we are currently living out of a suitcase during the week, then heading back to Milwaukee for the weekends (where our doggies are staying with Matt's parents). Hopefully we can find a more "permanent" temporary place to stay for the next couple of weeks...but we've been thankful to have friends and/or friends-of-friends who have been generous enough to let us stay at their apartment/homes for a little bit.

Though things are in flux at the moment, I'm looking forward to starting our life here and finding fun & new places to explore.

I have to find that long lost blogging mojo, too...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Habitual Homebodys Crochet Along

I'm a fan of Alycia's Crochet-Along link up on Habitual Homebody, so when she asked if anyone would like to host this month, I gladly offered! For July's project, I wanted to choose something summer-y and fun, yet functional. While looking at nautical themed knots and jewelry, I stumbled upon this quick and easy bracelet pattern. Also, Alycia also showed me a pattern for some cute summer coasters, and I decided I couldn't choose, so you are getting TWO projects to choose from this month :)

#1 The Trek Bracelet
Photo via Felted Button


The pattern can be found at the blog, Felted Button. She has great pictures to go along with each step, so it should be fairly easy to follow along!


-Twine (she suggests 3lb strength which is about DK weight) OR any cotton yarn (I will be using Lily Sugar n' Cream cotton yarn)
-I hook
-Keychain lobster clasps (can be found in the jewelry section at any craft store)

#2 Watermelon Coasters

Photo via Make and Takes
The pattern can be found at the blog, Make and Takes. Again, there are great photos accompanying the pattern so it should be easy to follow along!


-Red Yarn, Cream Yarn, and Green Yarn (It looks like they are using cotton yarn, like Lily's Sugar n' Cream) 
-H hook
-Yarn needle

-Black Yarn (optional for seeds)

Timeline for both projects:

We will be linking up here on my blog on July 29th. Grab a button, and crochet along with us! You can choose either project to do...or both!! :) I will be posting updates with tips/tricks along the way, but if you have any questions, feel free to comment or send a tweet using the #CrochetAlong hashtag on twitter.

Happy crochet-ing!!

Please grab a button to spread the word!
Habitual Homebody Crochet Along

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Belated Anniversary Surprise

Matt and I aren't really romantics, we don't often celebrate birthdays or anniversaries in a grandiose fashion, and we definitely don't do Valentine's like "normal" couples. But we do enjoy going on adventures :) Since we weren't able to do anything super awesome on our four-cubed-versary, Matt "surprised" me with a night stay at a fancy hotel we've been interested in since we got married. I say "surprised" because I already knew we were going, but he planned it all himself ;)

We didn't tell any of our friends, since we wanted to just do something incognito, but we took a trip up to Appleton this past Monday for our adventure. The weather on our drive up was beautiful:

We drove into town and made our way to the Copper Leaf, a boutique hotel right in the heart of downtown Appleton. After checking in and getting dressed for dinner, we went out to our favorite restaurant, Fratello's, an awesome dining establishment inside a renovated hydroelectric plant right on the Fox River.

Foolishly, I didn't take any good pictures of the outside of the hotel OR the inside of our suite, but it was nice and cute with a whirlpool, and also a bottle of wine for the anniversary couple :) *how sweet* Though I did manage to snap this fancy artwork that was hanging in our room, which upon seeing it I immediately thought "Lannisters!" :D

Thanks for the secret adventure, hubzy! We will be back in Appleton this Sunday for an OFFICIAL visit, and hope to see all of our friends either at church or out for lunch!!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Science Saturday 5.1: Speedy Cheetahs, Citizen Science & More

After moving and trying to get settled in, as well as the start of summer, it's time for a new installment of SciSat! I'm aiming for new posts every other week.


I've blogged about citizen science before (here and here), but has compiled a great list of current citizen science projects, and plans to blog all summer long with stories about citizen science and their contributions to scientific research. I will definitely be looking into some of these awesome projects - especially the ones that are game-oriented!


Using a "non-insvasive 'cap'" to monitor brain activity, researchers have taken the next step forward in demonstrating how a thought-controlled device could work. Test subjects wore this cap, and were instructed to think of various movement controls as if they were flying a helicopter (clench left to move left, pull back to move up, etc). Their monitored brain activity revealed certain patterns which were able to be recognized over wi-fi control of the device. In the video below, a quadrocopter (a type of nanorobot) is controlled by these learned patterns, and navigation success rates were as high as 90%. This technology could be helpful for those with neurodegenerative disabilities, such as controlling a wheelchair or a robotic arm.

Get Adobe Flash player


Though the artifacts were discovered in 1899, it was only recently discovered that a Neanderthal bone fragment contained a 120,000 year old tumor. Using a micro-CT scanner, researchers were able to accurately image the bone, determining a fibrous dysplasia was present in the Neanderthal's rib.


We've all heard about how cheetahs are the fastest land animal, but until now, speeds have only been recorded on a captive cheetah running on a greyhound track (64mph). New scientific tracking collars have been placed on wild cheetahs in Botswana, and the data tracked the animals' position and acceleration, allowing greater control of speed/movement data. It turns out that while the fastest cheetah hit a speed of 59mph, the more significant data revealed that the cheetahs only averaged a speed of 33mph with greater maneuverability and agility. This makes sense as they must be quick to turn, dodge, and pounce after prey.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Greetings from Wisconsin

We made it! Approximately 900 miles in 2 days, following a 26' moving truck towing our RAV4, faulty air conditioning in our car, wired on Sour Patch Kids...we left Mississippi on good terms with plenty of memories and have arrived in our homeland.

Up next: securing jobs, learning to adjust living with my in-laws, and eating lots of custard, brats, cheese, kringle, and other Wisconsin-y delicacies.

This is home.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Movie Binge

It's no secret that I love movies. I love using letterboxd as a film diary and place to rate/review what I've seen. Every now and then I got through periods of movie madness when I just want to immerse myself in film and analyze it to pieces (like during Oscar season). Well this week, I started using the hashtag #moviebinge on Twitter (not a novel hashtag - boo, I thought I was being innovative) to tweet short quips about all the movies I was marathoning while cleaning/packing up the apartment. Below you'll find my full ratings*/reviews for what I watched.

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn 
I'll be honest, when I play Halo, I don't pay much attention to the plot. I mean, Master Chief is cool and all, but I don't really care about the other characters...But this web series/film makes me want to go back and play through everything just so I can pay closer attention to the "background" characters and plot. 

Following a young Cadet Thomas Lasky, we are introduced into the civilian perspective of the war...first with insurrectionists, and later with the Covenant.I thought the acting was decent, but the filming was quite well done (for a low budget operation). This definitely gives me hope for quality of the upcoming Halo TV series.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire ★1/2
Basically, this movie is Stargate: The Animated Picture. Milo Thatch IS Daniel Jackson (though I say Milo is slightly more awesome because Michael J Fox is the man).

I loved how the plot basically came down to this color scheme: Blue = good magicks / Red = EVILLLLL.

I understand what they were trying to do by adopting a different animation style (inspired by comic book artist Mike Mignola) and while it looks ok, it doesn't really work for me as a Disney film. It's just missing that "Disney charm" found in the Disney films of the golden age/prime/early 90s.

I remember this movie being bad, but not THIS bad. It's like the filmmakers wanted to destroy and franchise and have everyone hate their work.

First of all, the movie drags on and on. The movie felt like it had already built up and lost steam at the 40min mark. We're not even halfway through the movie yet?! While normally I think Matthew Broderick is "adorkable" (did I really just use that term? I hate that term), he was awful in this. Oh! Let's use "big words" to make him sound like a legitimate scientist...oh wait, he's not saying anything the average person doesn't already know. And the female love interest, I don't even know who the actress is, was AWFUL. She takes blonde valley-girl stereotypes to a whole new level.

I'm not even going to comment on the awful science regarding GOJIIIRAAAA...just so bad. The only reason to watch this movie is to see Hank Azaria as a ridiculous Jersey boy.

Street Fighter 
If you think about some of the movies that came out in the 90's, this actually makes a decent campy action flick. The fight scenes are good, and there is some semblance of a plot. And of course, no review would be complete without paying homage to Raul Julia - thought not his best role, he was still a commanding presence.

As a kid who didn't know any better, a movie about some cool video game characters seemed awesome. As an adult seeking nostalgia, unfortunately these characters fall short. Why was Ken Masters such a dweeb? Chun-Li is a reporter? Blanka is a product of Gatorade transfusions and brainwashing?

The acting is horrible all around, which is made worse by the cheesy one-liners and bad writing. But like I said, for a campy 90s popcorn flick, it hits the mark.

Blue Like Jazz 
This movie was...interesting. I have to re-read the book because I honestly didn't remember a lot of his experiences, but I remembered there was stuff I agreed with and stuff I didn't agree with. Since the book was more a memoir in the style of ramblings, it was a bit awkward to piece together the narrative in the film.

The acting was decent...better than most Christian indie films. But I feel like the movie suffers from being too "middle-ground" by not diving deeply into the doubt Don had, and also not fleshing out the relationships that helped him realize/strengthen his faith. The confession booth scene was powerful, though. It's not easy to ask for forgiveness when you're supposed to be a "holy Christian" but like Penny said in the film, "we all make mistakes, we all have our own crap."

Hopefully this film can help people (Christians and non-Christians) to put away the pretense and accept that we aren't perfect...and maybe find Christ along the way.

A "dark comedy," Special puts an interesting twist on superhero films, while taking a jab at pharmaceutical companies. Michael Rapaport is one of those actors who is in EVERYTHING but you don't really remember his name. He really shows off his acting chops in this film.

As with a lot of indie films, the ending is quite ambiguous, not really giving any resolution and leaving it up to the viewer to interpret what really happens to the main character. I like resolution (or at least a clearer ambiguity, if that makes sense) so that kind of ruined the plot for me. There were also quite a few subplots that could have been explored more (like the adorable stuttering cashier/possible love interest).

What movies have you seen lately?

*ratings are on a 5 star scale

Friday, June 7, 2013

Tea for Two

My history with tea goes back several years. I remember doing a persuasive speech assignment on the health benefits of tea vs. coffee back in high school english class. In college, when caffeine was a necessity, I turned to tea because I've never really liked the taste of coffee. But I'd always just bought the cheap tea bag brands found at the grocery story. When Matt and I first became friends, a couple months later he got me a tea sampler from Adagio Teas for Christmas (I didn't get him anything...shows that Matt was more ready for a commitment than I was ;) I keed I keed). That was my first taste of loose leaf teas. When brewed properly, the flavor is WONDERFUL. I was hooked.

Flash forward to a few years of marriage, and Matt and I have accumulated quite a stash of teas. But this hasn't stopped me from purchasing new blends to try. I've talked about Adagio's fandom blends before, and the site let's any member can create their own signature blends. My friend Valerie has become quite the tea blending enthusiast, and when she asked me "What would a 'Mariel' tea taste like?" What a challenge! How would I define myself as a flavorful tea?! Well I finally sat down tonight and tried my hand at making some blends.

My favorites are white teas, rooibos teas, & sweet and fruity blends. Matt's favorites are aromatic herbals like jasmine or lemongrass. So here we are, two signature blends inspired by our personalities & tastes.

The Mariel Tea is a blend of rooibos vanilla chai, black raspberry, & honeybush vanilla with an accent of raspberry leaves. MJ's Spiced Green Jasmine is a blend of rooibos jasmine, lemongrass, & gunpowder with an accent of cardamom.

Matt's tea is currently unavailable because they are restocking their gunpowder leaves, but as soon as it's back in stock, I'll be excited to order these and try them out! Feel free to try them and let me know what you think! Both tea blends are in a "'ship" meaning if you purchase them together, there is a 10% discount. I also have $5 gift certificates to send, so when you are ready to order, let me know!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Spectacle of Spectacles

It's been 2 years since I've had a new pair of glasses (which I blogged about here), and even then, the prescription I used to get them was outdated (or close to). It got to the point where I couldn't see the TV screen very clearly while sitting on our couch only a few feet away. Needless to say, it was due time that I got some newer ones.

Because we are moving in a week, I wanted to have an updated pair so that if I needed to drive, I could do so without having to wear my contacts for the whole 13-hour trip. So updated prescription in hand, I decided to try out the "First Pair Free" offer on that I've heard so much about.

I've been wanting some "hipster" frames (when in reality, they are actually well suited for me, since my prescription is quite high so the thick lenses look better in bigger frames anyway) so I went with these. It's a little nerve-wracking to go on faith ordering online, since you can't try them on first, but the price was right. I'd much rather order straight from the warehouses than have to pay an optometrist office some ridiculous rates.

Anywho, here's a comparison of my old frames with my new ones! What do you think? I'm still getting used to their HUGENESS, hahahaha, but I think I like 'em!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Taken at The University of Notre Dame

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Long Time Ago, We Used to Be Friends

I spent the past week near South Bend, Indiana to attend my brother's graduation from Notre Dame. It was interesting to observe his congratulations/goodbyes to his friends, because unlike my sister and I, he is one of the cool kids, a social butterfly, a big man on extreme extrovert.

This guy is pretty cool.
It made me reflect on my college experience. While many people state that the college years are "the best years of their life," I'm not sure I could say that about my 5 years (I was in a special 5-year double degree program). I think this is because I didn't actually know that I was really an introvert. Therefore, I didn't really know how to handle various situations/obligations at that stage of my life. This led to social anxiety, academic burnout, and emotional depression. Rather than becoming aware of my personality type and how to effectively use my energy, I began to close myself off from making friends and from trying my hardest in my academic pursuits.

Rather than investing in relationships, I clung to a select few people, and my social identity relied on them. I'd essentially "hide" behind them instead of learning how to utilize my own precious energy wisely. When those select close friendships faded, by proxy, so did all the other friendships/acquaintances I had.
She's the Watson to my Sherlock.

Rather than focusing on areas I was truly passionate about, I spread myself too thin and attempted to just "prove myself" instead of excelling in areas of strength. I hated the idea of academic advising meetings, simply because the thought of conversing with my advisor about my failures was stressful. And to this day, I still don't know what I'm doing with my life.

Over the past year, I've been learning more and more about my personality as an introvert. It doesn't mean I'm shy, quiet, aloof, snobby, anti-social, diva, or many of the other "negative" adjectives I've been labeled over the years. While I haven't taken the official Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, all of the free tests (however accurate/inaccurate they may be) that I have tried consistently say that I am an INTJ. And everything I read about that personality type describes me perfectly.

It was interesting to geek out with my sister about personality profiles this weekend. I think she said she was either an INFP or INFJ. While she's been described as the "shy wallflower," and I've been seen as the "arrogant snob," we both know that it's because our introverted tendencies influence or interactions with others.  If you *really* got to know us, you'd discover that she can be a boisterous and loud fanatic, and I can be an approachable and strong leader. It all depends on how comfortable we are in a given situation. However, we both decided that if we weren't blood related to our extroverted brother, we definitely wouldn't have run in the same circles ;)

I love these kids.
The more I learn about personality types, the more I hope to learn how to better ration my energy supply so that I can invest more in relationships and experiences. I want to be a better friend, a better life-long learner, a better wife, a better disciple...

So forgive me if I've ever seemed cold, uninterested, distant, arrogant, etc. I hope that I can appropriately approach my relationships with greater care and invest the energy into long lost friendships. Because you are awesome and deserve it!


Do you know your personality profile? Any good resources to share?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Best Mario Kart Level Ever

WI license plates on every car....people actually using their turn signals....smooth freeway roads...strategically placed construction cones...

Driving around the Milwaukee area for a bit felt SO good. I can't wait to be back home in a couple more weeks!

I took this photo of of the Marquette interchange a couple years ago.
It really is the best Mario Kart level ever.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Science Saturday 4.5: Breast Cancer, Bees, & More

Today's post is going to be short and sweet, since I am away on little brother is graduating from college this weekend! Yay, family time :)


The big news of the week was Angelina Jolie's op-ed piece about her double mastectomy. In doing so, she has helped open up the dialogue about of the genetic factors contributing to the development of different types of cancer. Here is a great write up about the history of our understanding of the BRCA1 mutation.


Have you heard about the Mars One project? The team plans to send colonization supplies to Mars by 2016, and to have settlers land by 2023. Apparently, over 20,000 people have applied to be part of the crew. The catch? This is a one-way mission.


I've never been a fan of math, even though math and biology run hand in hand. Here is a great write up explaining why bees choose to build their honeycombs in perfectly hexagonal shaped cells (read the linked article first, then watch the video below!).

Monday, May 13, 2013

Get This Look in 5 Easy Steps!

I don't blog about fashion or style or trendiness because that just isn't who am I as a person. But because the blogoshpere lends itself to these types of categories, I still am aware of the current trends and often get inspired by other people's cute looks.  And this is what usually happens when I try to follow the style trends. So here it is, my very own Fashion How-To:

Step 1: Be inspired by all the adorable ladies online who wear their hair in a cute messy top knot bun.
Step 2: Try it on your hair and fail.
Step 3: Watch YouTube videos demonstrating the "easy style".
Step 4: Get annoyed at some of the girls with WAY too much makeup and annoying personalities.
Step 5: Still fail at doing the top knot even after watching several tutorials.

What is this?!?!

I find it ridiculous that I can mess up a "messy look" hairstyle. Let's not even talk about how I don't know how to do makeup either :D

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"Wordless" Wednesday

Notes from Sunday, May 5th @ Clear Branch Baptist Church
Sermon Series "The Importance of Obedience - The 10 Commandments"
Pastor Jonathan Sherwin

Monday, May 6, 2013

What's Your List?

My lovely friend Valerie and I have teamed up to write a new blog designed for all you people who love to write LISTS!  We plan to update it every Monday and Thursday with a topical list subject & our answer. Our hope is that YOU will all join in the fun and comment with your lists!

Check it out here!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Music Inspiration: Josh Garrels

If you are a fan of music good music GREAT music and you haven't heard of Josh Garrels, then something is wrong with you.  He is the definition of indie artist: recording all of his music at home, hand pressing artwork onto CD sleeves, and making beautiful art that reaches the depths of the soul.

He teamed up with Mason Jar Music to record and film a bunch of music on location at Mayne Island, and the results are breathtaking. We just received our copy of the documentary film The Sea In Between and after watching it, I feel all kinds of inspiration...not just to be a better musician, but to be a better person (as cheesy as that sounds).  His lyrics speak so much truth about letting your faith be ever present in your life, and that the goodness of the Creator will be reflected in his creation if you let him in.

Check out a clip of one of the songs from the film here:

To hear more of Josh's music, check out his Bandcamp page, where you can listen online and then download (with all proceeds going directly to the artist)!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Merry Month of May

It's now officially 39 days until we move back home to Wisconsin! I am preeeeeetty excited about it :D While we will definitely miss our church family and friends that we've built relationships with, the past two years here in Mississippi have just never felt "right."  Both Matt and I feel like we were definitely led here for some sort of purpose (me getting my degree & lots of great job experience, Matt learning to be a leader in a growing a church), but it's clear that our time is ended and God has other plans in store for us.

Photo taken by my dad (stole it from his FB) / Edited by me
I'm all done with giving lectures, and it's just smooth sailing from here on out...a couple review sessions and exams to administer, and then my first semester as a biology instructor will be finished.  It has been a great experience and I've learned a lot about myself in the process.  While some of my students definitely frustrated me, a lot of them were really encouraging.  Many of them were sad that I wouldn't be around next semester, because they wanted to take another course from me! That definitely reaffirms my belief that I am called to a future academic career.

Matt has been extremely proactive about getting ready for the move, so now that the majority of my teaching duties is over with, I'll be able to contribute to the great purge & pack.  It's ridiculous how much junk we've carried with us from apartment to apartment, in addition to NEW junk that we've acquired.  We will be moving into Matt's parents' newly remodeled basement, so we really need to get rid of a lot of junk so that it isn't taking up storage space.  Easier said than done.  (*Because I totally NEED to keep this file cabinet filled with old notes and papers*)

This spring has been killer on my allergies, and also McGhee's.  He acquired a flea allergy and has been suffering for the past couple weeks. None of the flea meds really seem to be working, and he started gnawing himself raw.  He's wearing the cone of shame and we just gave him a medicated shampoo bath, so hopefully he will feel better.  Here's a couple funny videos of him "scooting" on the carpet trying to itch his sores.  I feel so bad for him, but it's pretty funny :P

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pen pals, Geek girls, Drinkables, & Jams

I thought I'd do another vlog (take advantage of being home alone while Matt is at work so he can't judge laugh at interrupt me) and talk about some things that I'm currently obsessing over! (Maybe I'm a little bit inspired by Mandy's Obsessed feature on her blog).

I hate re-watching and editing these, because I realize how much I say "um" or "uhhhh" or "so....".  I tried to edit out most of those non-verbals, but pretty much every other sentence starts with "So..."

So I apologize. (see what I did there?)

Here's the linky-links!
Adagio Teas Fandom Blends
Plant Nanny
The Gray Havens

And here's bonus footage of JoJo being adorable ;)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Science Saturday 4.4: Brains, Bird Flu & More

Earlier this month, the White House announced the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies).  This project is a "bold new research effort to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury."  Watch the video introduction by NIH director, Dr. Francis Collins.


Speaking of brains, new research suggests that MRI scans can reveal images people are seeing when they are sleeping - this "dream reading" is reported up to 60% accuracy.  Volunteers were scanned as they began to fall asleep, and were promptly woken up (before reaching deep sleep) to recount what they were beginning to dream about.  Researchers compiled scan data with answers to create a database of visual categories.  Therefore, specific patterns of brain activity correlated with certain images.  It is noted that this technology is "idiosyncratic to the individual," so you would not be able to use a single machine to read other peoples thoughts/dreams.


China is currently dealing with a bird flu outbreak - involving a novel strain of influenza, H7N9.  While this strain has been around in birds, this is the first time ever that scientists have recorded the virus infecting humans.  As of April 12th, a total of 43 patients have been laboratory confirmed with influenza A(H7N9) virus in China; including 11 deaths (via WHO).  Currently, it does not appear that the virus can be passed via human-to-human transmission, but government health agency's are taking precautions to prevent a global pandemic.

Have questions about influenza virus? What exactly are those H's and N's you see in the media?  How do you know what type of influenza strain can infect humans?  Check out this lovely infographic has the answers!


Exactly how far is it to Mars?  Check out this amazing interactive web graphic to find out!