Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Few of my Favorite Links {#23}

Hey y'all! It's been quite an eventful week/weekend thus far. I've officially moved out of my apartment and in with Brett which is super exciting! We spend most of this past weekend packing, moving, and settling into *our* new space. We're adjusting back into sharing space with one another full-time but it is so nice to only be a couple of steps away at any given moment and planning dinner every night. There are still some boxes to be unpacked and furniture to be moved but our place will feel like our home very very soon! 

We will be celebrating Fourth of July weekend with a Weezer concert tomorrow (thanks for the tickets, Lindz!) and a trip to New Hampshire to spend the actual holiday on the lake with my whole fam which includes a visit from my South Carolinian sister! It will be good to all be together again. That hasn't happened since Thanksgiving! I hope you all are planning fun, eventful holiday weekends as well!

I'm really happy with this month's selection of favorite links! It's a good combination of things that I love and things that I'm looking forward to this season. I hope that you can find something to enjoy in this handful of internet gems and be sure to share your favorite links of the moment in the comments!

Game of Thrones Houses as Pokémon 

Talk about two of my geekiest obsessions colliding to make something awesome! This is a series of illustrations created by Kaleb Raleigh that reimagines the house sigils of Game of Thrones as Pokémon evolutions! (The series is titled A Song of Blue & Red... awesome.) All of these are pretty awesome and accurate to what I would have imagined them to be. Of course, I had to share with you my favorite house here (#TeamTargaryen fo' lyfe) but I strongly encourage you to click the link and check out the other houses as well!

The Little Prince Official US Release Trailer

The Little Prince is one of my all time favorite stories and I am OVER THE MOON that it is being released as an animated feature on Netflix in July. I guess this film was dropped by its original studio at some point in the process so I am extremely happy that Netflix did the smart thing and picked it back up! If you haven't read The Little Prince, I strongly - STRONGLY - encourage you to do so and be just as excited as me that this is happening!

Simone Biles Floor Routine at the P&G Gymnastics Championship

Raise your hand if you're excited for the Olympics!
ME: *flails arms both arms around in the air like an idiot*
So I've been watching some of the Olympic trials and championships for Olympic sports in preparation for the summer games and getting SO PUMPED for the Olympics! It's just over a month away and I can't wait to sit on the couch all month and be amazed at how talented these athletes are while I shove handfuls of chips and Oreos into my face. This gymnast, Simone Biles, is incredible and a force to be reckoned with. Just look at this floor routine - especially that last pass. WOW. She won this championship and will be going to the Olympic trials for the Women's team, but I don't have a doubt (barring disaster) that she will be representing the USA in Rio. She is amazing!
Strawberry Ravioli with Balsamic and Basil

This recipe looks incredible. It looks complex to make, but sooooo delicious to eat. And a perfect dish for summer, too! The blogger that wrote about this recipe said that it took them a few attempts to make it the way it appears in the image above (I'm pretty sure that making pasta is ALWAYS a pain in the ass) but that the pay off is super worth it. I would love to attempt this recipe some time this summer because it looks so yummy!

What links have you been loving lately?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spring 2016 Favorites!

Another spring has flown right by which means it's time for me to share with you all what my favorite items of the season were! I had quite an extensive list when preparing for this video but pared it way, way down to the things that stuck with me through the whole season. I really love all of these items that I talk about in this video and hope that you find something to enjoy among these items as well! Enjoy!

Items discussed in the video:


MUSIC: "Hamilton: An American Musical" Original Broadway Cast Recording 

FILM: "The Barkley Marathons"

FITNESS: Fitbit Flex & Garmin Forerunner 230

CLOTHING: Birkenstock Madrids

BOOK: "Greyhound" by Steffan Piper

Thursday, June 23, 2016

2016 Reading Challenges Update #2

Apparently, I was a reading MACHINE this spring! This is mainly due to my parents buying me several books that I had on my Amazon book wishlist, the quick nature of reading a comic or graphic novel, listening to audiobooks on my runs and long commute to work, and finding a novel I genuinely couldn't put down (isn't it the best when that happens?). I really put a big dent toward my GoodReads goal of reading 20 books in 2016 and managed to find some fun books to go along with the PopSugar reading prompts! Check out my quick reviews of each title below, and check out what I'm currently wrapped up with at the very end of this post!

GoodReads Yearly Reading Goal: 12/20
PopSugar Reading Challenge: 12/40

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell
PopSugar Category: A dystopian novel
Audiobook, 4/5 

This is the second George Orwell novel I have read in the last twelve months. I had heard of my friends reading this in their lit classes in high school but it was never assigned to me, so downloaded this to my phone to listen to on my commute. It is so freaky how many parallels you can draw from "Animal Farm" and apply to our present-day government and society, and as dystopian novels often make you feel, it is depressing! This book is another reflection of how important it is for everyone to stay informed and have the capacity to form their own opinions on the world around them.

"My Dog: The Paradox" by Matthew Inman
PopSugar Category: A book under 150 pages
Hard copy, 5/5

This is a cute little graphic story all about Matthew Inman's (creator of The Oatmeal) dog. Anyone who has owned a dog at some point of their life can 100% relate to it. Dogs are those lovable doofuses that make life so much better and this story perfectly illustrates what it means to have a four-legged pal that will love you unconditionally.

"Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants" by Matthew Inman
PopSugar Category: A book you can finish in a day
Hard copy, 5/5

A collection of comics from the Oatmeal that will make you literally laugh out loud an want to show all of your friends, it is so easy to devour this book in one sitting. This isn't a book that follows one plot line, but that seems to be the general norm whine comes to comics. This is definitely a book to pick up on a day you're feeling down. It will cheer you right back up with its truthful silliness.

"How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You" by Matthew Inman
PopSugar Category: A book written by a comedian
Hard copy, 5/5

This wraps up the three Oatmeal books my parents got me for my birthday! Another great and light hearted comic that had me laughing the whole time. This one is all about cats and how being a cat owner can be a real love/hate/fear relationship because you can never quite know what's going on in their tiny heads.

"Starsruck" by Yael Levy
PopSugar Category: A book with a blue cover
Kindle eBook, 2/5

This book was not great. It is about a woman in a loveless marriage who is trying to save that marriage but also trying to solve a mystery and at the same time taking care of a celebrity in her own home that she hit with her car on accident for some reason? The writing in this book is light enough that it's almost forgivable that the plot is so jumpy. It seems that this book was trying to be just too many things at once and if it just stuck with one story line it just might have been okay, but honestly it was hard to take this book seriously.

"Wonder" by R.J. Palacio
PopSugar Category: A New York Times bestseller
Audiobook, 3/5

"Wonder" is about a little boy named August that has a physical deformation and his first year of going to public school. He and his family faces many challenges based on his appearance, but the main character and the family perseveres. This book has a wonderful cast of characters that I would have loved to learn more about. I believe that the author has created several "spin off" stories featuring some of the supporting characters of this book which I would be interested in reading. It seems that the characters around August are really what gave this book depth, but I understand why those characters aren't explored more. Being a middle grade book made this particular title hard to connect with, but that's to be expected. It wasn't written for my age demographic! It's a perfect book, though, for middle schoolers and I can understand why it has done so well in the middle grade genre.

"Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy" by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen
PopSugar Category: A graphic novel
Hard copy, 4/5

"Lumberjanes" is a series of comic books that was introduced to me by one of my favorite booktubers and I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of the first four books! It's a very cute story about five female friends who are all Lumberjane Scouts and kick total ass in the wilderness. I would love to collect more of these comics and introduce them to little girls around the world because these characters are awesome! The art is beautiful as well, which is totally something that I can really appreciate.

"Greyhound" by Steffan Piper
PopSugar Category: A book about a road trip
Kindle eBook: 4.25/5

This was definitely my favorite novel that I read over the last few months. It's about a little boy who's flighty mother sends him away, alone on a Greyhound bus, to live with his grandparents across the country. He runs into trouble along the way but meets a trusty companion that sticks by his side and gets him out of several "jams" along the way. The only reason I didn't give this book a perfect rating is that there were a few loose ends that did not get tied up. I needed the satisfaction of knowing what happened! Otherwise, this is a wonderful book which I would definitely recommend.

Currently Reading:

"A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin - Brett and I have been reading this aloud off-and-on since last summer and have only just come to the end of the equivalent of the first episode! I'm sure we'll be trudging through this guy for a while but I hope to have it done by the end of the year to tick off the "A book that's over 600 pages" category. (Currently on page 107 of 835)

"The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien  - This was actually my November 2015 book club selection that got put down and picked up in short periods throughout the winter. I'm determined to finally get through this story once and for all before the fall rolls back around! (Currently on page 87 of 366)

"Sick in the Head" by Judd Apatow - Another book club selection, this time December 2015, that got put down in the middle of the winter and never picked back up. It's a book of interviews so it's been hard for me to sit down an devour the whole thing, but it's a wonderful relax-outside-and-kill-a-couple-hours kind of book so I'm sure I'll be able to get through it by the end of the summer. (Currently on page 109 of 489)

"The Paper Magician" by Charlie N. Holmberg - This series was on sale in the Kindle book store and I thought it would be an interesting to read a fantasy series as part of the "A book and its prequel" prompt! I only just picked it up after finishing "Greyhound" but I'm enjoying it so far. (And you can't really beat cheap books, amirite?!) (Currently on page 14 of 224)

"We're All Damaged" by Matthew Norman - My current audiobook that I only *just* started listening to this week. I'm having a hard time deciding if I like the main character - a guy who is angry at the world after finding out his wife cheated on him - or if his attitude annoys me. The story telling is honest and humorus, though, and I really enjoy that so far. We'll see how it goes!  (Currently on Chapter 5 of 46, 7 hours and 46 minutes remaining)

If you have any book recommendations, please let me know in the comments! I especially always look for book stop listen to on my runs, so please let me know if you have any good audiobooks to share. Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Taking a Breather

Hey everyone! Sorry for the lack of posting over the last two weeks. There's been quite a bit going on in my life that has prompted me to kind of take a step back from the internet and my usual hobbies. I've just wanted to stay present with my loved ones and enjoy their company instead of stressing about getting a post up on time or fussing with editing a video. To be honest, I just haven't had the energy and I needed to recharge offline.

During my brief hiatus I've been dealing with a lot - from the minor headaches of trying to fix both my laptop and a broken car window, to the stress of two of my closest friends in the area moving away and the planning of my own move, to the severe emotional weight that the tragedy in Orlando, the verdict of the recent Stanford rape case, and the discussions that I followed closely on the news and on social media directly afterwards has had on me and millions and millions of people around the world - it's been a lot to take in and process as of late and it hasn't been something that I really wanted to process online. Hence, my silence on both my blog and my YouTube channel. My plan to post about my Summer Running Tips or my Wanderlust for Thailand hasn't really felt appropriate at this time.

So, I thought it'd be best to take a bit of a breather. I've spent time to focus on getting my personal life in order and addressing curveballs as they continue to get thrown at me (life is full of those things, isn't it?), planning my move with Brett and spending quality time with Cullen & Erin before they move a few hundred miles away, and reflecting on my feelings regarding these major national events. Honestly, it's been very healing to take the time away and focus on what's important instead of stressing out about the schedule I've set for myself. After all, you can't really plan life, can you?

Anyway, I hope you're all doing well and taking care of yourselves. I'm excited to get back to doing the things I love and sharing it all with you. I'll be back to my regular posting schedule tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Mixtape of the Moment: Spring 2016

Spring has been a blur (as it usually is) and I never really had a ton of time to really search for new music. Most of this playlist consists of songs that caught my attention while they were playing in the background while answering a marathon of emails or scrambling to get last-minute project accomplished before a large on-campus event. Most of these are super upbeat EDM/pop/hip-hop jams that kept me going through the frequent 12-hour shifts that were being pulled throughout the semester! (And to be quite honest, when I wasn't jamming out to this playlist, I would be rocking out to the Hamilton soundtrack. So. There's that. :P)

I hope you find a track or two you'll want to throw on your Summer playlist. Mine is well underway and I'm already very excited about the background it has provided for these warmer summer months! If you'd like to get a sneak preview on my seasonal playlists as they develop, follow me on Spotify. You can find me here! Also make sure you leave some of your favorite tracks from the season so I can check them out! :)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

June 2016 Goals

Happy June everyone! It has been a while since I've posted personal goals here on the blog. I did monthly goals when I first started this blog back in 2013 (wow!) and I switched to semester-ly goals when I started grad school, but I gave myself a break over the last year to just be present and enjoy my life outside of school and my first year as an honest-to-goodness full-time professional adult-type person. Now that we've had about a month to take a breather from the craziness of the school year, I thought it would be a good way to structure my slower summer life a bit by setting some new goals and sharing them here!

Keep a vegan/vegetarian diet Monday-Friday

If you've been reading along with my blog or watching my vlogs through 2016, you'll know I've been more conscious about what I'm eating when it comes to meat and dairy products. It's mostly for health reasons, but also for moral reasons as well. I'm generally a pretty tired person and it's so annoying to me when I want to get 100 things done but all I have energy for is to zone out in front of some Netflix. Your body does have to work harder to break down meat and dairy products, expending more energy that you can be using to do other things! I decided I'm going to take a crack at cutting out meat during the week to see how I feel. Hopefully it does bring me more energy and better health!

Read at least 3 books

I'm in the middle of two reading challenges (which I'll be giving you all an update on later this month!) and I have some more spare time to sit down and read during the summer so I need to embrace it! I just asked for some recommendations for books to listen to on my runs and my lovely Facebook friends gave me a bunch of titles to check out. If you have any books to recommend, please leave the titles in the comments! I would love to check them out.

At least 5,000 steps a day

This goal doesn't really have any rhyme or reason other than making sure I get my body moving every day. I spend a lot of time on my butt and as I mentioned in my first goal, I can generally be a very tired person. Hopefully setting this goal will make me feel more energized an motivated to move around every day. I am training for an October marathon for the 4th year in a row so I'm hoping that 5,000 won't be too tough to attain, especially on days where I actually have a training run scheduled. I just need to make sure I'm still moving on my off days!

Join a local running group

Danielle, my friend from work, and I are both training for an October marathon ad have decided to be long-run buddies once our training runs get up into the double-digits for mileage (honestly it makes all the difference to have someone you can run with!). I'm super pumped about that, but I also want to find a group in the area that consistently meets and runs for fun. This is something I've been wanting to do for months now, but now that I have some more free time during the week to commit to a group I felt like this was perfect time to try a few groups out. I've already scoped a few out on MeetUp so I'm planning on attending a few of those events and maybe making some new running friends!


I have a lot coming up in June that I'm very excited about! Brett will be officially done with grad school by the 18th which of course calls for a big celebration, and I also will be moving back in with him at the end of the month after a year and a half of living apart! We are so excited to start another new chapter of our lives and see where the journey takes us from here! The summer time is always such a wonderful time for us - we're both a lot less busy, are able to spend more time together, and are generally far happier because of it. Add in these two milestones and it makes for a wonderful season ahead! :)

I will be giving you an update on my goals at the beginning of July to keep myself accountable. 
I hope everyone has a wonderful June and that you've just as excited about summer as I am! <3