A Few (More) of My Favorite Things

favorite things

I’m sitting here, windows open, on this lovely day in late August, listening to the dulcet tones of construction equipment and heavy machinery. There is no way that the high school football stadium behind my apartment will be anywhere near ready for the beginning, or let’s be honest, the end of the season this year. Wonder how that’s going to work out for them. Hmm. Anyway

Things are coming together for the wedding, which is pretty exciting. Once we find our DJ, I’ll probably feel like I can kind of relax for a while. I’m looking forward to looking at dresses for my BridesDames and my co-MOHs, and we have our engagement photo session at the end of next month. There is still much to be done, but just not right now. Since I announced that I was engaged on a previous favorite things post, I thought it could do another one with other things I’m loving right now, like…

1. Beauty: CoverGirl Outlast Lipstain

I currently have two different shades in my purse to go with whatever attitude of outfit I wear to work. I bought my first tube of it prior to my cousin’s summer 2010 wedding in Houston. I knew I was going to need something that would last all day and wouldn’t sweat or shmear off in the heat. CoverGirl had just come out with this line, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Besides staying on all day, it has more of a matte finish than a glossy finish, so that gives it more brownie points. I also like how light-weight it is, and the fact that its basically a Sharpie for your lips. My personal favorites are Teasing Blush (415) for everyday looks and Wild Berry Wink (440) for something a little more dramatic.

2. Food & Drink: Chobani Flips Almond Coco Loco

The first time I tried Greek yogurt, I wasn’t too impressed, and actually thought it was somewhat bitter. Of course, I love frozen Greek yogurt, especially Ben & Jerry’s Banana & Peanut Butter flavor, so when I saw this the last time I was out grocery shopping with Brian, I thought I’d give it another go. When I was younger, I loved the Yoplait Yo’Crunches where you’d mix in the M&Ms or Oreo cookie crumbles in the little tub on top of the yogurt cup, but they weren’t that healthy and slightly expensive. The Chobani Flips were on sale for 10/$10, so I couldn’t pass that up. I’m a fan of dark chocolate anything, so this was pretty tasty, in my opinion.  Now I just need to go pick up a few more… maybe the Key Lime flavor?

3. Music: Lorde – “Royals”

I heard this song on The Summit while heading home from work, and thought it was super catchy. (I discover so much good music on The Summit. I don’t care to hear One Direction or Miley on my drive to work.)  Ella Yelich-O’Connor (better known by her stage name Lorde) is a 16 year old New Zealand singer-songwriter. According to Huffington Post, Lorde is the first woman to be on top of the Alternative Music chart in 17 years… so.. since before she was born.

4. Internet: Disney Ladies From Last Night — Not entirely SFW

Somewhere near NYC, Wendy needs some assistance.

I think I came across this website via Imgur, another photo-sharing site that Brian and I like to look at together for the LOLs. The format is simple: take a random Text From Last Night and then superimpose it on a corresponding screen cap featuring a female character from a Disney (or Pixar, some people are so picky…) movie. Many of these are not suitable for work, considering the state most people are in when they send a text worthy of making it on TFLN, but here are a couple of my favorites:

Someone in Philadelphia is missing a kitten.

Can’t be Pittsburgh Dad. Jeffy stole all his books.

5. End of Summer Sales, Whaaaat??!?!

Clothes. (Treat yo’self.) Fragrances. (Treat yo’self.) Massages. (Treat yo’self.) Mimosas. (Treat yo’self.) Fine leather goods. (Treat yo’self.)

There’s not much I love more than a sale, online or otherwise, and this summer, I think I’ve done pretty well with my sweet, sweet deals. I’m signed up for email alerts and online coupons for pretty much all of my favorite stores. Some of my best scores include:

  • $120 of stuff from Bath & Body Works for $45, including gifts for all of my bridesmaids and a few treats for my mom and sister.
  • $111 of clothing from Old Navy for $37, all on clearance + 30% off, and then free shipping.
  • $60 in shoes from Target for $25 — 2 pairs of flats for work and a pair of strappy sandals.
  • $57 worth of stuff from Kohls for $1.25. Yes, the period is in the proper place. Two candles and a set of makeup bags for less than a vending machine soda.

Always wait for the end of the season, when stores start to put out things for the next one. My Old Navy and Target finds can all easily transition from summer to fall. My B&BW haul happened during their Big Semi-Annual Sale. Look for ways to stack coupons on top of in-store percentages off, which Kohl’s is awesome for. This past spring, I was able to get a Vera Wang purse for 27% of the original price through a combination of in-store sales + mobile coupons + a store grand opening gift card we got at the apartment.

What are your favorite things right now? Introduce me to something I might never have seen before. 🙂

Making a Symphony Out of Science and Making Learning Fun

It’s been a while. Summer, weddings, and Caribbean vacations will do that though. But, that’s no excuse. So I’m back! Miss me? Haha.

One of the main reasons that I’ve been MIA for the last month is that I’m on the job hunt, and every time I use my computer I feel that I need to be searching for jobs and not blogging. And every time I think about blogging I feel kind of guilty. But, I feel that I applied for an acceptable number of jobs today, and as I’m bored at the moment, I’m taking some time to pen the blog post that I’ve been thinking about for a couple weeks.

If you haven’t realized, I’m a nerd. I mean, I have a Master’s degree in History for Heaven’s sake. If that doesn’t qualify as one of the pillars of all that is nerdy, I don’t know what does.

Well, actually….I think this post will cement just how nerdy I can be.

History, social studies, grammar, and literature were always my strong suits in school. Math and science — not so much. But, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t interested in those two subjects. For example, I wanted to be an astronaut for most of my childhood, then amended that to wanting to be an aerospace engineer who designed the next space shuttle. I quickly determined, however, that I could never be either of those things because, like I said, math and science simply didn’t agree with me.

Despite my shortcomings in those subjects, I’ve maintained a hobby-level interest in science — especially in the study of outer space and its proper, related subjects of astronomy and physics. I keep up with the new theories, love Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene, read books on black holes and string theory. But, it’s all very complicated and I would be lying if I said that I completely understand it.

Now, I’m sure this all sounds like pure intellectual insanity. It does even to me. But, there’s something about the subject that enthralls me.

It’s about learning what lies in the wider world beyond us, about how it’s almost impossible to fathom that we are seven billion people living on this one tiny planet, circling this small to average size star, in a solar system, in one small part of a large galaxy, that is an even smaller part of a huge universe.

Our planet, our universe is an amazing place. It is awe-inspiring.

The best thing about it though, is that you don’t even need to be a nerd like me to grasp its awesomeness, or appreciate its beauty.

And you don’t need to be a nerd to learn about the universe, its parts, or the forces that hold it together.

I recently discovered something fascinating on YouTube: a series of videos called the Symphony of Science. The Symphony of Science is not just on YouTube. In reality, it is a musical project created and produced by musician John D. Boswell who aims to “deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form.

In his videos, Boswell takes clips of well known scientists from various television documentaries and programs and strings them together to present  short yet engaging “lessons” on various scientific subjects. But, these aren’t just dry video compilations of interviews. No. Boswell then sets the videos to music and auto tunes all of the clips, creating a musical lesson that leaves you replaying the videos over and over again.

I wish science class had been like this in school.

Up to this point there are 15 music videos, which are available on YouTube or on Boswell’s website. Most are related to outer space, physics or astronomy and heavily feature scientists like Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michio Kaku, and Brian Cox. Others are concerned with the animal kingdom and life on Earth and feature other scientists like David Attenborough and Jane Goodall.

Here’s a sample of some of the videos:

1. “A Glorious Dawn” – the first video in the series and probably the best of them all.

 

2. “The Quantum World” – Morgan Freeman helps explain the forces of the universe.

 

3. “The Unbroken Thread” – the beauty of life on Earth and our interconnectedness.

 

4. “We Are Star Dust” – the universe exists in us.

 

So, what do you think? Do you need to be a nerd to appreciate science? To appreciate the universe around us?

Watch the videos. Learning can be fun.

Besides, it’s okay to be a nerd sometimes.

That way you can say:

DISCLAIMER: All Symphony of Science compilations are owned by John D. Boswell. All clips used within those compilations are the property of the programs from which he collected clips.

“Learning Not to Hope For What I Can’t Control”: Some Novel Melodrama

Jeannette’s most recent post is very fitting for my own life right now. The calm that came after graduation quickly devolved into a kind of chaos that is coming from all directions and exists at the middle of feelings of great happiness and great sadness. Happy or sad, life throws us for a loop sometimes and we end up scrambling to keep our feet planted firmly on the ground and keep our minds level. The bottom line is that when you’re stressed, or things aren’t going your way, or you are upset over something, you need to remember what is truly important and how to prioritize. You also need to put your problems into perspective.

There’s a quote floating around on Pinterest about the problems we all have:

Sometimes, our problems seem insurmountable. And sometimes they are almost more than we can bear. But humans are amazingly resilient and strong — we are capable of great things and can overcome that which seems to be impossible. Difficulties are often not as bad as they originally seem, because once we move away from our singular and narrow perspectives, we often see that our problems are not as bad when compared to those faced by others. Placing our problems in perspective doesn’t solve them, but it makes them easier to deal with.

———————————————————————————————————–

Hopefully, in reading my blog posts, you’ve learned some things about me. One of the things that I think carries through my musings is that I have a great appreciation for the world around me and everything it can teach me. I take great inspiration from the movies I watch, the music I listen to, the trips I take, the speakers I hear, the photos I view, and most importantly, the books I read.

I’m a book lover, but not what I would call a book snob. I see the value in every book, whether it is a profoundly moving or groundbreaking classic or a fun, easy read. Books convey human emotions and interactions to us, and even if the story itself isn’t the most original or creative, we can still learn things from them. Books are also cathartic and, sometimes, the simple act of reading a story can allow us to center our own thoughts and feelings on an issue going on in our own lives.

I recently read a novel published a few years ago that was just this kind of book. I purchased it last year when Borders was going out of business and thought it would be a simple, quick read. And it was, but at the same time it wasn’t. The events and relationships within gave me great pause, and made me very glad for the life that I have — even if it is sometimes boring, frustrating, or not exactly as I want it to be.

“Roses” by Leila Meachem is billed as a modern “Gone With the Wind, ” tracing the triumphs and tragedies of a wealthy Texas family over the course of the twentieth century. It is a love story, but not just one between two characters. In this case, it is also a love story between families, and between people and their heritage. “Roses,” however, is also a story of hate, jealousy, and stubbornness — and what can happen when those feelings define relationships and family structures.

“Roses” is a frame story, beginning in the present and repeatedly reflecting on past events. The novel revolves around the character of Mary Toliver who, at more than 80 years old is re-evaluating her life and choices. Widowed and with no children, Mary is herself facing the end of her life. With little time left, she wants to correct the mistakes she feels she has made and she sets out to do so, changing her will to reflect her new interpretation of the past. Since childhood, Mary’s life has been completely invested in her family’s 100 year old cotton plantation, Somerset. She has sacrificed over and over for Somerset’s success, which has paid off as Somerset proper is now only one small part of a larger corporation, Toliver Farms.

Without warning, Mary abruptly decides to sell Toliver Farms and Somerset instead of leaving the company and plantation under the care of her niece Rachel, who has been learning the family business since childhood. Before Mary can explain her reasoning, however, something occurs that throws everything  into a state of chaos that leaves all who know Mary confused and shocked.

It quickly becomes apparent that the story of Mary Toliver is not solely her own. It is also the story of Mary’s oldest friend Percy Warwick, the story of her late husband Ollie Du Mont, and the story of her brother Miles Toliver (Rachel’s grandfather). It is the story of another will and its consequences, the story of curses and superstitions, the story of how our choices can affect everything.

—————————————————————————————————–

I really enjoyed “Roses.” But it is not for the faint of heart. It is a roller coaster ride of human emotion that will simultaneously make you want to stay up all night reading and make you want to throw the book across the room. It’s happy in its own way, but it is not a happily ever after kind of happy.

I makes you think about what is really important in life, about how life is different today than it was 75 – 100 years. It also horrified me in terms of how some people treated each other, and made me feel very lucky that my family is not that way.

Have you ever read a book that made you think this way? What are you planning on reading this summer?

Let me know, and, happy reading!

 

 

Channeling John Lennon: Ralph Rich is a Musician You Ought to Know

It’s no secret that we Dames like music. Pop, rock, classical, hip hop, and even some rap. We’ve also had our personal experiences with music. Abbie personally knows Red Wanting Blue, Jeannette has touched Josh Groban’s hand, and I wish I had touched Josh Groban’s hand…

Much of my high school experience was spent surrounded by music. Particularly, during long hours of choir and theater rehearsal where for weeks on end we would try to get the harmonies just right — to the point that we were sick of the songs, sick of each other, and physically sick. So not only do I love music, but I’m pretty skilled at discerning good music.

One of my new favorite artists is someone who I’ve known for nearly my whole life — even longer than I’ve known Jeannette (and I’ve known her since I was six.)

My new favorite artist is Ralph Rich.

A Northeast Ohio native (from Hubbard, a suburb of Youngstown), Ralph Rich has been involved in the local music scene for about 4 years, performing both as a solo artist and as a member of various bands including Krave, The Fuzzy Dice, and Super Cheef. He has played at multiple venues big and small including The Lemon Grove, Cedar’s, O’Donold’s, and Barley’s Pub in the Youngstown area, The Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Red Hook, New York, and Sadie Rene’s in Canton.

Rich, 24, began playing drums at age 4 and has played guitar since high school. He cites his main influences as The Beatles, John Lennon, Dashboard Confessional, and The Killers. Rich’s sound, however, also evokes the spirit of artists like The Goo Goo Dolls and John Mayer.

Rich has been writing music since high school, using personal experiences as inspiration, and his hard work is paying off. Looking forward to an eventual move to Los Angeles, Rich has just released his first EP. Comprised of original songs written by Rich over the last several years, the EP features six acoustic tracks that capture all of Rich’s influences.

The self-titled EP highlights all of Rich’s talents and his promise as an artist. My favorite tracks off the EP are “For You,” “Gia,” and “Leaving You Behind.”

“For You”: (Sample)

“Gia”: (Sample)

“Leaving You Behind”: (Sample)

Equally as fantastic, are the EP’s remaining 3 tracks, “I Want to Know,” “Think Back-Remember Me,” and “Heartbreaker.”

“I Want to Know”: (Sample)

“Think Back-Remember Me”: (Sample)

“Heartbreaker”: (Sample)

The CD version of Ralph Rich’s self-titled EP is available now directly from the artist. It will be available for digital download on iTunes and Amazon.com on June 1, 2012. It will also be available on Spotify on the same date.

Make sure you check out his Facebook Page here: Ralph Rich on Facebook.

Rich’s new EP is truly excellent and a representative of the talent housed here in Northeast Ohio.

Abbie may have Red Wanting Blue, but I’m looking forward to the day when I can say: “You know Ralph Rich? I knew him in Kindergarten…”

DISCLAIMER: All images and audio included in this post are the property of Ralph Rich.