06 November 2011

goodbye for a while

won't be posting for a bit. my boyfriend committed suicide on tuesday night. can't think, breath, eat, sleep, anything. not successfully anyways. didn't know it could be so hard to swallow or keep things down. everything is heavy. don't know what i'm going to do in the next few months, but i dont have it in me to blog. maybe in a little bit. thanks for reading, i know i'll come back eventually.


17 October 2011

Stretched Too Thin

is how I am feeling recently. Needless to say I've been quite absent in the blogging world, but not for lack of trying. I simply have absolutely no time. I'm at school monday-thursday, I work thursday nights and all day friday and saturday. Typically I have sundays off and I use that time to do all my homework, clean the house, etc.

But that's not all. I recently agreed to help out one of my coworkers with an independent film project. He's a dj and was asked to do the music and sound effects recording in order to get the film ready for upcoming festivals. Since I'm a media arts major and have a bit of experience with sound effects recording he asked if I would help him out. It's been fun work, but it's also been long, tedious, and complicated. I spent all of saturday night after work doing it, and then much of sunday and sunday night, and today I'm going to have to spend several more hours working on it. It's not for nothing, though, I will be getting IMDB credit as well as a small portion of sales if the movie is picked up.

And then there are the trips to prescott. These are frequent, though not as frequent as I'd like since they're my only chance to see my boyfriend, my parents, and many of my closest friends. They're always fun but they always mean cramming with homework as soon as I get back and spending a minimum of 6 hours out of my weekend driving.

Lastly theres the whole trying to be social and act like a college student thing. With my minimal free time, I pretty much try to fill every second with something enjoyable or relaxing, such as zoning out in my bed watching silly tv shows or hanging out with stewart or going to parties and activities and such. Unfortunately, when I do have time to do these things I get bogged down thinking of all the stuff I'm going to have to do later, so it's not nearly as enjoyable as it should be.

I hardly ever have time to do things like keep my blog current or keep my house completely clean or even go grocery shopping or cook my own food. It's nuts.

I really wish things could go back to simplicity- I miss not having anyone depend on me to do things. People asking me to cover their shifts, project partners needing to meet during my few precious free hours... it's all just too much. The days fly by because I'm constantly busy but I feel like I'm always slipping behind, I can never quite catch up with all my obligations and work. I haven't responded to any emails since like the beginning of the semester, I haven't even really had time to fully read them. I want to feel like my work is done, like I can just relax, but I seriously don't have time to. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

The end of the semester can't come soon enough, and honestly neither can graduation. I really hate having to go to work and go to school. It's just not a good way to live. In my finance class, we learned that a full time student who works more than 15 hours a week significantly raises their chances of getting bad grades and is much less likely to graduate. I work 21 hours a week and I can certainly see why that might be the case. It's freaking difficult.

Anyways, vent sesh over. Just had to get that off my chest, and now you understand why this blog has been so lame recently.

If I find any free time, I will try to devote it to posting more, because I miss it so.


Fall Fix-Up: Finance

Ugh, money. it seems like there's never really enough of it. I know I hardly ever go a day without thinking about money in some way, and I know a lot of my friends have the same issues and difficulties.

I'm taking an online personal finance course this semester as one of my gen eds. Primarily we are learning about budgeting, real estate investment, buying and selling a home, and applying for mortgages. I just had my midterm yesterday and found to my surprise at 11am that I had to write 3 3-page essays by 11:59 that night. This wouldn't have been that big of an issue if I hadn't already agreed to work with one of my work-friends on a film project all day as well as do various other important assignments for today. I ended up spending the hours between 7pm and 11pm just sitting in my apartment and writing nonstop. It was not the most pleasant day off from work and school. On the bright side, however, I now feel quite well versed in the issue of personal finance management.

I'm just a kid in college so I won't act like I know what to with finance in the larger scheme of things. But there is one thing I have learned which my professor claims to be the most important rule in finance, and I will discuss that today for my fall fix-up.

The rule is that you should always keep your spending on must-haves to 50% or less.

Must-haves are all the necessary costs of living such as electricity/gas/water bills, rent, clothes, and food. In the 1970s, the typical family had one spouse working and spent on average about 54% of family income on must-haves. This left a wide margin of 46% for savings for the future and wants. Wants include things like family vacations, dinners out, the occasional morning cappuccino, etc. In 2005, the typical family had both spouses working, and yet 75% of total family income was being spent on must-haves. This left only 25% for wants and savings for things like retirement and college. This means two things: our economy has changed drastically since the 1970s, and the average American family is trying to live in a way they can't truly afford.

The main sources of must-have spending are homes and automobiles. Many people have taken out loans larger than they can realistically pay back (thanks to deregulation of banks/mortgages) in order to pay for things like new cars and large homes. They can't really afford these things, so they are constantly pinching pennies and tightening their belts just to pay the monthly bills. Whereas, if they had simply bought a home they could afford even if it is slightly smaller and perhaps a used car instead of a new one they would be much more financially free. The extra financial freedom means a better ability to save for the future- savings which can ultimately be used to buy the bigger home or nicer car when the timing is actually right.

I think it's important to create a budget and evaluate how much you are spending on must-haves and wants each month. My course teaches that ideally, you should spend 50% on must haves, 20% should go into savings, and the remaining 30% can go towards wants and any unforeseen expenditures. 

Personally, I'm fine with living in a smaller apartment and driving a used car if it means more freedom to do things like take weekend road trips and go out to dinner with my friends. I had never heard of this way of budgeting money before, and I found it very interesting.

If you're interested in learning more about this idea, check out the book All Your Worth by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi. It goes into much more detail :)

Another fall-fix up coming at you later this week!

14 October 2011

Fall Fix-Up: Nutrition

This week is going to be a double fall fix up, because I didn't have time to post last week! To be honest I haven't really had time to post ever, and it makes me sad. Between school, work, homework, trips to prescott to visit linn/friends/parents, housekeeping, and maintaining a wee bit of a social life, I've found I really have no time at all. I look forward to the day when I don't have to work AND go to school. just one or the other is fine with me. Anyways, I hope that one of these days I will not have so much work to do and have enough free time to blog regularly like my heart desires :)

Today I'm going to be talking about nutrition, and tomorrow, since I have my personal finance and family planning midterm, I will be talking about money.

Nutrition is something I care about a lot. I've been a vegetarian since I was 13 years old, although I've flipflopped quite a bit- sometimes going to one end of the spectrum and eating a vegan/raw diet, and sometimes "cheating" frequently, as I did in Greece over the summer. There are a few rules I always try to stick to though, and I'd like to share them with you.

1. Eat Food. If you've read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, you've heard this one before. Actually, that book has a lot of good tips and you should check it out. It's a quick read- took me an hour while lounging on the beach in mexico last winter. anyways, this isn't as simple as it seems. It rules out a lot of the things you find at the supermarket. Read the ingredients on the things you eat, and if you can't picture in your mind one of the ingredients, it's not food. If your grandmother wouldn't know what it is, it probably isn't food. This can be expanded upon by saying "eat whole food". as in, things that are one ingredient. fresh fruits and vegetables are best. The fewer ingredients listed, the better usually.

2. Don't eat until you're full. Eat until you aren't hungry anymore. In french, one says "J'ai faim", which means "I have hunger". There is no way to say "I'm full", rather, you say "Je n'ai pas faim", meaning, 'I do not have hunger". Eat with this mentality. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to process a full stomach, so if you stop eating when you're full, you're already 20 minutes too late. Something that goes along with this tip is "drink your food and chew your drink", meaning take the time to chew your food thoroughly and enjoy it, and keep your drink in your mouth long enough to fully appreciate it. Not only does this make eating more enjoyable, it slows down your pace and keeps you from scarfing everything down before your brain can process it.

3. In my experience, counting calories is the best way to lose weight. I like to think of it as science. a pound is about 3500 calories, which means if you want to lose one pound you have to burn 3500 calories more than you consume. If you figure out approximately how many calories you burn in a day just from the processes of living, you can figure out how many calories you can eat (without exercise) to maintain your current weight. Then it's just a matter of reducing that number and/or adding exercise to your daily routine. Eat like you normally do, but count your calories for a day. You will probably be amazed at how much you actually consume. This website has been very helpful to me, and a lot of restaurant websites now carry nutritional information as well. I like to keep a food diary or use the My Fitness app on my droid in order to keep track of my daily calories- it really helps to be knowledgeable about just what you're consuming each day.

4. Ignore the food pyramid. 6-11 servings of bread/grains a day? Are they kidding? when was the last time you you ate 9 slices of bread or servings of rice or pasta in one day? It was evident to me early on that this model of nutrition was not going to work for me- find something that works for you. I prefer to eat mostly fruits and vegetables, maybe 2-3 servings of grains a day, and 1-2 servings of dairy/protein. It's different for every body though and as long as you are getting the vitamins you need and are minimizing fatty, sugary, starchy foods, you should be fine.

5. "easy" doesn't mean "healthy". I'm astounded every time I look on pinterest and I see a slew of pins of "Easy weeknight meals!". They usually are some combination of chicken, cream cheese, pasta, and a crockpot. and various other dairy products. these are the kinds of meals I see as comfort food that I would make for myself while wallowing in a boatload of self pity or spending a night in with sappy movies and a snowstorm. They are not things I would ever feed my hypothetical children on a regular weeknight as a regular nutritious supper. So don't fall for quick and easy recipes that also happen to be starchy and fattening. There are plenty of almost as quick and easy recipes out these that are actually nutritious and chock full of good stuff like veggies and whole grains :)

6. If any slight part of you has ever lightly considered eating vegetarian or vegan, look into it further. I recommend the book skinny bitch, especially for younger adult women. It's a lifestyle that is so rewarding both to you and to the animals you save, and there are so many wonderful substitutes out there that you will never miss meat, dairy, eggs, etc. Of course this is not to say that you have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to be healthy. It's just one way to do it :)

7. Eat whatever you want. This is the most important tip. Yes, I count calories and try to eat vegan and look for whole, healthy foods, but if I want to eat a giant bowl of fettucini alfredo or 7 chocolate chip cookies I let myself, and I don't feel guilty. Yes, I want to be healthy so that I can look good, feel good, and live a long, healthy life, but I also want to have a good time while I'm here. Food is fun, and a lot of food that isn't very good for us is freakin' delicious. As long as you don't eat it very often, it's ok to say to hell with nutrition and let yourself eat it every once in a while. That's what life is about. The little pleasures. In general, be healthy and do what's best for your body- but don't let that stop you from enjoying life and enjoying food :)

Those are my nutrition tips for today. I will try to be back a little later in the week with a few calorie controlled recipes, and I will do my best to be here tomorrow with my fall fix up- finance post.

have a happy, healthy thursday!


04 October 2011

Summer 2011

It's October, which means several things. 1, it's my favorite month! 2, I'm going to spend the whole month cursing the tucson heat and wishing I was having awesome Fall-filled October like the rest of the world, 3, it's definitely the end of summer and a summer post is way overdue.

Summer 2011 was insane. It was filled with so many amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences, lots of changes, lots of really difficult times, and lots of really wonderful happiness and love filled times. I swear, every year my summers just get better and better. Now let me rummage through my photos file and facebook to find evidence of all this awesomeness :)

This is how I spent the beginnind of my summer. And a large of my time at home in general, at least before I got my new puppy that makes my older, sweet, perfect puppy feel like she shouldn't spend as much time with me. Internet, puppy cuddles, comfy bed in my nice familiar bedroom :)
My best friends in Prescott are the people I worked with last summer at Mama Edda's. And now 3 or them all live together, so I get to hang out with them all in one spot all the time :) every time i'm in prescott at least. This is from one of the first times this summer I went over to their place. I wasn't planning on staying the night, but then I did. It's kind of a long story with the blanket but basically while I was in Tucson all my prescott friends had a Lord of the Rings night where they all dressed up like LOTR characters. This blanket (and by blanket i mean awesome cape) was a part of one of the costumes. I was cold/jealous/probably a little bit tipsy so we decided I should get to wear it and take pictures and be part of the LOTR group. It was a fun night.
On that same night we played with this plastic dinosaur, sticking it ambiguously into as many pictures as possible. There are probably at least 20 pictures, but I chose this one cause it shows me and one of my besties Natalie :)
 On this day, I woke up at like 11, and decided I was going to work hard all day on getting the youth retreat catering stuff done. at 11:15 I got a call from linn, the boy on the far right, asking me what I was doing. Still in my pjs and having just brushed my teeth, I lied and said I was working on my catering job. He asked if I could get away from that for a few hours and come to frog falls (a swimming hole about 20 minutes away from downtown prescott) I thought about it for a few seconds and ultimately decided that having fun and making memorable experiences would be more important in the long run than spending the whole day working. 2 hours later here I was, drinking blue moon and hanging out with lovely, wonderful friends at a super awesome swimming hole.
 And then there was greece. These are not in order, and they are not my photos. This is at Mystras, an old monastery near Sparta.
I think this is at Pleuron, Greece. With my closest girlfriends of the trip (from the left) Laurent, Jessica, and Jill.
 Jessica and I thought it would be such a fun idea to pick up the ridiculously copious amount of flower petals on the ground outside of the Benaki museum in Athens and throw them in the air. It's pretty obvious in this picture that the girls totally know what's going on and the guys are lost as to what the point of all this is.
 We had to do both a site report and a reading as assignments on our trip. This is me giving my site report on the Charioteer at Delphi, Greece. I am so knowledgeable on this statue it's not even funny.
 One day in Santorini, we climbed down the 587 steps to the dock (i also climbed up them because I was too broke to pay for a donkey or the airlift, but theres no reason you should see a photo of that. 587 steps in 100 degree heat? you try that shit.), loaded up on a boat, and went to the volcano island santorini is next to, and the to the hot springs that are heated by the warmth of the volcano. While treading water furiously and waiting to climb up the single ladder to get back on the boat, we decided to get a picture. the group of people in the back is us, and I'm the sixth from the right.
 One of the most awesome things we did on my greece trip was perform a live reading of The Bacchae at a winery in Santorini. If you haven't read The Bacchae, well you should. Read all the greek plays that remain, in fact. They are all awesome. This is a picture of me reading one of my lines.
 Going back in time. This is at Olympia, in front of one of the many olympic temples. Olympia is small, by the way. just a couple blocks and some ancient ruins. Isn't that weird?
 Santorini again, right after having lunch at a super duper fancy restaurant with an awesome view.
 Back in time even more. Right after arriving in Santorini. We rode a very rocky ferry which made many of the people immediately next to us vomit. It was, um, not incredibly enjoyable. I mostly spent the time with my eyes closed and my ipod on, trying to pretend the rest of the cabin wasn't seasick and disgusting.
 Further back in time. This is in athens, in front of the legendary olive tree that Athena gave to the city of athens in the competition for who the city would be named after.
 Back on the boat in santorini, immediately before jumping into the hot springs water.
 on the almost last day of the trip, feeling very pensive and sad while waiting for the National Museum to open.
 Just a few minutes before I got in the taxi to take me back to the athens airport. So many wonderful friends made, so many wonderful experiences had, so much deep sadness and flittering excitement at this moment.
I flew from Athens, Greece straight to San Francisco California, and then drove to Mendocino, California. The next day, I started work as the head chef for the Mendocino youth retreat which was so much fun, so much work, so exhausting, and one of the best experiences I've ever had. I loved cooking for 30 wonderful individuals and I loved letting my recipes become worthwhile and enjoyed by so many people.
 Roadtrip back to Prescott with Stewie :)
 I got my perfect, wonderful, adorable pup this summer! Clementine has started to show so much personality and spunk, especially with her wiley age of 7 months. Right now she LOVES chewing on anything she can (she's teething), goes nuts when stewie or i come home, and has gained so much confidence from her socialization- she will approach people, lick people's hands, and explore when i let her off her leash. I have to chase after her to get her to come back sometimes :) when I first got her she would only stay by my heels and hide behind my legs :)
 So, I haven't fully disclosed this on this blog. But stewart and I broke up. No worries though! We are still the very best and closest of friends, we are still roommates, and we still have so, so much fun with each other. Not too long after we broke up though I started dating this boy, Linn. He's very sweet and fun and I met him when I started working at mama edda's last summer :)
 One of the parties we had in the second half of summer was a fancy schmancy party for our friend amanda's birthday!
 Then we had another formal wear party after my friend Natalie got back from Italy. I got there at 8pm and everyone was already wasted and passed out... so me and the 3 people that weren't done for already spent the rest of the night hanging out and taking pictures :) see below.

 above two: me and my girly lauren at said party :)
 We went on a picnic at goldwater lake! I made everyone sandwiches and I even wrote their names on all the bags. Cause yeah, i'm adorable. it was so much fun. We drank a few beers, played with puppy, and had fun on the playground :)
 More picnic :)
 This summer ended, as last year's did, with the VW festival. Stewie couldn't go this year due to his cousin's wedding, but I went with linn and there were lots of other people there that we knew. It was a really great time, and I'm already counting down the days 'til next year :)

It was a great summer, 2011. Thanks for all the craziness, all the good times, all the fun, all the sadness and hurt that let me learn so many lessons. I can only hope that the rest of the year will be as awesome as this summer was :)
hope your summer was just as awesome, and hope this coming fall is even better!


Tasty Tuesdays: Mariscos Chihuahua

Every so often, I convince Stewie to skip class so that we can go out to lunch and hang out instead. I'm a pretty awesome roommate but a pretty terrible influence ;)

On these occasions we usually decide to do a sit-down lunch at one of the gazillion restaurants we haven't tried before. Once we moved to our new apartment on the SW side of Tucson (before we were NW) I scoped out all the restaurants nearest to us and looked them up on yelp. One of them got really fantastic ratings so I had been wanting to try it out for several weeks. Thanks to Stew's alarm not going off and us both being really lazy and hungry a couple weeks ago, we finally got the chance.

Mariscos Chihuahua is very unassuming from the outside. It's a little rundown, just a white and blue building with a tiny parking lot and a sign that has a drawing of a shrimp, which I first thought was a lobster. In fact, when I first saw the restaurant (before I looked it up on yelp), I pointed at it and said to stewie, "look at that weird little restaurant. Why does it have 'chihuahua' in its name but a lobster in it's sign? And it's disturbing for a restaurant to be called a tiny mexican dog, right? I would be so afraid to eat there." Obviously I am extremely white. And also I didn't know what Mariscos meant until like 3 days ago. It means seafood, by the way.
 Anyways, all these initial worries should be set aside, because this place rocks. Apparently it began as a little family run seafood stand in Nogales, Mexico, simply called "Mariscos". It was right next to a fruit stand called Fruteria Chihuahua. Eventually people started calling it the Mariscos next to the Chihuahua, and the name eventually just got stuck as Mariscos Chihuahua. The stand eventually got popular enough to become a restaurant, and when members of the family moved to Tucson and Phoenix they brought their recipes with them and the business spread. Now there are multiple locations in Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales, and Sierra Vista. The one I went to (on Grande and Speedway) though still maintained a total small-town family run feel which is something I love in a restaurant.

The inside of the restaurant totally makes up for the shabby exterior. There is a lovely beachy/oceany mural covering the walls, plants, nice tables and chairs, and cool molded ocean effects in some places.
I told stewie he should order the "dos equis and clamato thing, cause people on yelp said it's good". But I couldn't actually remember the name of the "thing" (it's a michelada), the menu didn't list the alcoholic drinks, and the waitress didn't speak much english, so stewie wound up with both a michelada and a dos equis. Which basically just meant I got to share with him. The michelada was delicious- dos equis, clamato, lime juice, salt and pepper. 
Like most mexican restaurants this place also gave us chips and really awesome salsa right away. The salsa is spicy- a good sign of a good mexican restaurant. If the salsa is every wimpy, you know the place is mainly catering to tourists/americans and isn't trying to be all that authentic. Another thing that instantly told me this place was going to be awesome was that they brought out a bowl of halved key limes with the chips, which is typical at restaurants in mexico but not all that common at mexican restaurants in america. it should be though. Lime-drenched chips and salsa are the best. Lime drenched anything is the best really. 

We ordered the Camarrones (shrimp) Culichi, which is apparently the dish that made them famous. It's also the dish that was raved about most on yelp, so yeah. It's (really, really good quality) shrimp drenched in some sort of magical green sauce served with rice and some fresh veggies. It was so, so, so good. We also ordered a plate of calamari, which was tender, lightly breaded, and served with a tangy tartar like dipping sauce. But we just dipped them in the leftover culichi sauce, cause it was that good. 
I forgot my phone so I had to take pictures with stewart's crappy non-smart phone. Like, it flips and uses T9 and doesn't even have a touch screen. O.o lol. so not only are these pictures crappy but they downright refuse to be rotated. sorry!

Yeah. sorry about those pictures. just, um, turn your head, ok?

anyways, so so delicious and I think about 30 dollars, maybe 35 after tip. And we had leftovers. So really not a bad deal at all for two people.

If you're in the southern AZ area you should scope one of these places out and give it a try, it seriously is one of my new favorite restaurants.

Have a tasty tuesday lovelies :)


26 September 2011

Movie Mondays: Natural Born Killers

This is one of those movies where when my friends heard I hadn't seen it they were like "WTF? We're watching it." This happens a lot, usually around 4pm on a weekday when we're sitting around scrolling through netflix instant trying to get someone to make a decision about what the heck to watch.
Natural Born Killers is reminiscent of a Quentin Tarantino film. This makes sense, because Quentin Tarantino wrote the story that the screenplay is adapted from. It's chock full of artistic, slightly disturbing lighting effects, tinted gels, canted angles, and lots and lots of bizarreness. The story revolves around Mickey and Mallory, a husband and wife duo who have taken to traveling across the US killing people for no reason other than the fame and glory it is earning them. Mallory was saved from her unloving and abusive family by Mickey, a butcher shop delivery man who delivered to their house one day. Together they kill Mallory's parents and then take off, continuing on their killing spree but always leaving at least one person at each crime scene alive to tell everyone that "Mickey and Mallory did this".

It's a bit of a Bonny and Clyde like story, and you find yourself trying to decide whether you're rooting for the couple to escape the police or if you're hoping they'll get caught and locked up forever. The couple is obviously completely crazy but at the same time their love seems so loyal and true that it's hard not to kind of want them to live happily ever after. In a really, really weird and unsettling way.

The film also stars Robert Downey Jr. as a slightly crazy TV reporter. This is back in his coke-snorting days so the craziness comes off quite well.

So, it's a totally crazy, at times disturbing, thrilling, confusing, and fast-paced movie. Totally one of those classic films that everyone has to see once in their lives, just because it's so unique. It's from 1994, too, so it has a fun grungey feel to it that you don't get from modern crime movies. By no means is this a "family film", but if you're in the mood for something a little crazy, check this out.

Here's a trailer. It's not a very good trailer, but it's hard sometimes with these older movies to find decent trailers.

Fall Fix-Up: School

My friend Jessica has this as a doormat in her apartment :)
 Fall means a lot of things, but for the majority of people under the age of 22 (and a lot of people over the age of 22 as well) it means school. back to hitting the (400 dollar) books, trading sleep for good grades and a social life, playing frizbee on the quad (this really happens at my school. such a cliche.), and counting down the days until the end of the semester.

It's taken me longer than usual to get into the groove of the fall semester this year, probably because graduation seems closer than it ever has before. I've let myself get distracted with trips to prescott, work, and other little things and I've let a few reading assignments or "unnecessary" classes here and there slide.

But no more! It's time to crack down. In this feature I'm going to share a few of my own tips and strategies for how to stay on top of school (without letting it rule your life).

The single most important tip I can offer you is get a planner. One that has ample space for each day of the year from august to may. after the first couple days of the semester, gather all your syllabi and write down the reading assignments/homework assignments/due dates/test dates/etc for the entire semester for all your classes. For really important things like essay due dates or test days, highlight or put a star next to the assignment/test. This way, you'll never be wondering just what you have to do on any given day. All you have to do is open up your planner and it will all be written down for you. Also, it's really satisfying to cross off each thing as you complete it and to know that you have finished all your work for the day. Hell, you could even finish tomorrow's if you felt like it. But we're starting to talk crazy.

Now that you know exactly what you're supposed to do every day, try to actually do it on that day. There are plenty of weeks when I get caught up with various things and then find that I have 200 pages of reading to do for 3 different classes, 2 assignments, and a test to study for. That's way more to tackle than if I'd just done a little bit of work each day. Sometimes it's tough to convince yourself to do homework every day but it really is helpful.

So make the time that you do homework something that you might not exactly look forward to but can at least see as bearable. Choose a spot in your house or dorm or on campus that is comfortable and conducive to studying. This could be a specific nook in the library, a nice, secluded place outdoors, a comfy chair in your living room, or just your desk or your bed. The space should be free from distractions like traffic noise, other students, etc. If you like music while you study, play it. My freshman year in Portland, my favorite way to study was at my desk, with my feet on the heater under my window and a blanket over my legs (I'm always cold) and with my cupper's travel mug full of hot tea and a napkin full of cookies stolen from the bon. Mint tea+Chocolate Chip cookies= best thing ever, especially on a chilly, rainy portland day. This way, the activity itseld (studying) might not be all that enjoyable, but you can please the rest of your senses (music to listen to, something yummy to sip on/eat, cozy surroundings) to make the experience as a whole decent enough.

Planning on a day to day scale is very important, but planning for the big picture is just as if not more important. The first thing I did when I got to Lewis and Clark in 2009 was put together a 4 year plan. I figured out exactly which classes for my major/minor/gened I would need to take to graduate and arranged them in a schedule that made sense and left room for adjustments. The first thing I did when I got accepted to the media arts program at UofA was put together a 3 year plan. With each change I make- wether it's adding a minor, contemplating another major, etc I make a new 3 year plan to figure out how the classes I need to take will fit into my graduating on time. So many students go into college without really knowing what they're supposed to take to graduate on time... which is why the average student take 5-6 years to earn a bachelors degree. Since I've been planning since day one of my college career, it seems absurd that I would ever have to take more than 4 years to graduate- but that's because I took the time to figure out exactly what I'm going to have to do for all my remaining semesters.

Looking at the results when I googled "academic tips", I got a lot of the same old thing that you probably don't need to be told. "go to class prepared", "take thorough notes", "do the reading", you know. The thing is, I don't think the same tips are applicable to every class, and I think if you try to do the same things for every class you will end up wasting a lot of unnecessary time. During the first couple weeks of class, pay attention to your professors' teaching styles. Some may really expect you to remember important details from the reading, while others may assign the reading but then go over everything you need to know in class. Some may take attendance every day and expect you to take detailed notes, while others may post their lecture notes online and simply expect you to show up on test day and know the material. Obviously in a perfect world where we all have unlimited time and brain power we would do the same amount of work for all these classes just in the name of learning. But it's college, and we all know that college is part academia, part having fun, meeting people, experiencing new things, and exploring life as an adult. We have jobs and social lives and we certainly don't want to spend these four years with our noses in books the whole time. So adjust your learning/studying style depending on the teaching style of the class and the professor. If doing the reading does nothing more than tell you exactly what the teacher is going to say verbatim in class the next day, maybe just skim it. If the lecture notes are given online, don't worry about writing down everything word for word- just supplement the given notes with additional things the professor might say in class. This will save you a lot of time and effort without really compromising your gpa.

Those are my favorite tips, but here are a few more short ones:

-establish and look towards goals. Even if it's just getting through the semester or getting to graduation, know the steps you need to take to get there and feel accomplished as you take them.
- taking forever on a project or revising a paper a million times doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be better, and doing something all in one sitting doesn't mean it's going to be bad. Some of the best grades I've gotten were for essays I wrote in three or four hours the night before they were due. I went through the next morning and just made minor wording/grammar corrections before turning it in. Find a way of writing/doing assignments that works for you and don't let all those people tell you that you have to have at least three drafts or have to spend at least two weeks working on a paper for it to be good.
- Don't take it too seriously. Yeah, it's college, and it's your future, and it's expensive... but a few missed classes or assignments here or there are not going to matter in the long run. One failed test will not be the end of you. Just do your best not to let it happen again but don't freak out if it does. In the end it's the time you spent outside of class that you're really going to remember, not that one time you got a D on an essay.

What are your tips for staying organized and clear-headed in school? Interestingly enough my only class of the day today was cancelled so I'm going to do all that homework I put off last week ;)


25 September 2011

Fall Fix-Up Feature

As of last friday, it's officially fall. which means officially time to start a new feature I thought up. It's like spring cleaning, but it's fall so it's fall fix-ups! My life has been feeling really jumbled and crazy lately, and one day while lying in bed feeling sick and crappy and overwhelmed I decided it was time to reevaluate things. To make a plan, to divide my life up into categories and focus on each one to get back to a calm, happy, clear-thinking state. And then I thought, this would be a great thing to blog about.

Fall might be kind of a weird time to do this kind of thing, but if you think about it it totally makes sense. Fall is when I'm thinking about the future- about registering for spring classes, about figuring out what I'm going to do after college, about finding the friends I really want to spend the next year with, about finding a job for the school year. It's a time of new responsibilities and settling down and getting back into the groove of things after the crazy whirlwind that is summer.

There are 13 weeks of fall. Each week will have a theme, and I'll be posting at least one post (probably on sundays but we'll see) that corresponds to that theme. The posts will be about ways to improve/declutter/understand/work on that part of your life in an effort to be happier, healthier, and less stressed. I think it's going to be a really, really good thing.

Here's what we've got to look forward to:
This week I'll be discussing school. This is a good topic for this week because I'm beginning to pick out classes for next semester and I'm deciding whether or not I want to change my major. but we'll get into that more later. The other topics, in no particular order (it will be a surprise each week which one I choose to discuss) are:

are you excited yet? I know I am. I'll have the very first chapter of this series up later today so stay tuned :)

Happy autumn lovemuffins, Enjoy your cool weather if you've got it, I'll be sweatin' it out in the 90s down here in southern AZ.


22 September 2011


Guys, I have been a MESS lately. I came down with this nasty cold- stewart had it originally and I thought I had avoided it all together but as soon as her got better I got sniffly, coughy, scratchy, and snotty. Not fun. It sucked extra because I had the VW fest last weekend which I had been looking forward to all year, and it was made slightly less awesome by having to constantly blow my nose and chug cough syrup and pop pills and suck on lozenges. Only slightly though. It was still epically awesome.

I also have this weird itchy rash- don't worry, it's just on my arms, legs, and hands- that has been bugging me for like a month. I went to the doctor on monday- convenient cause I could also have her treat my cold- and she prescribed me some corticosteroid cream. hopefully it works. Yay for intimate medical details you probably aren't really interested in!

The point is that my slew of illnesses along with my long-awaited trip to Jerome/Prescott for the VW fest and the fact that I'm working two jobs and going to school full time are my stockpile of excuses for my absences as of late. Don't worry, I haven't been lazy- in fact I've got a mountain of posts thought up which I'm going to start working on as soon as I finish this up. some really awesome movie mondays, a fun little fall feature, an end of summer post, a vw post, all sorts of fun things. So get ready to have your blogger socks knocked off.

See you soon!

14 September 2011


is my weekend. i'm so, so, so excited. I'm leaving for prescott after I get off work at about 11:30 pm on thursday, so it's going to be crazy but so worth it to get up there and see all my lovemuffins! and then spend a wonderful weekend in jerome.

13 September 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Dip

It's that time of the year again, folks. With the start of school comes the start of college football, and i'm guessing normal football too but I've never really been very in tune with that. Anyways, all this fall-frenzy sports mania craziness means tailgate parties, game-watching sunday afternoons, and lots and lots of food. most likely greasy, cheesy, bready foods. and dip. more dip than anyone really needs, but we know we all love it.

in an effort to help us all branch out from veggies with ranch and potato chips with sour cream and lipton onion soup mix, I've decided to make this edition of tasty tuesdays totally centered around dip! Awesome, slightly more complicated but a million times more delicious dips that are certain to be the highlight of whatever sports-related event you're attending/hosting. hell, it doesn't even have to be sports related. it doesn't even have to be an event! If you want to eat an entire bowl of one of these by yourself at home, i totally won't judge you.

click on the pics for the recipes :)

Jalapeno Popper Dip
i love jalapeno popper anything. something about adding cheese and seasonings and breadcrumbs to a roasted jalapeno just wins me over every time. I don't see why dip form would be any different.

Italian Hoagie Dip
I don't eat meat, but for some reason this recipe really intrigues me. Classic sandwich in dip form? How could that not be totally awesome? This is from one of my favorite bloggers, and after this dip he also made a cheesesteak dip, a meatball sub dip, and a blt dip.

Zucchini Hummus
I love me some hummus, but I don't love the high calorie/fat content. Yeah yeah, i know it's the "good" fat, but a calorie is a calorie. This sounds like an awesome, healthier, lighter alternative to the real deal- and lord knows we're all up to our ears in zucchini right now.

Blueberry Cheesecake Dip
Sometimes you want all the ease and functionality of dip, but all the delicious goodness of dessert. This dip is here to save the day.

Cheddar Guinness Dip
This dip contains some of my favorite things. Multiple cheese, Guinness, mustard, and hot sauce. I might have to buy some Irish cheddar from T-Joes and whip this one out for irish day next year.

Hot Reuben Dip
Another sandwich-turned-dip, but from a different one of my fave blogs :) Strangely enough I love reubens although i don't eat meat (usually), and don't really like thousand island or sauerkraut. If you happen to live in the portland area, the vita cafe makes a freaking awesome vegan one. otherwise, just make this dip.

Clam Dip
hands down my favorite dip from my childhood. this was made for every get together, potluck, and camping trip. My family's was just cream cheese, clams, clam juice, and salt and pepper though. I'd be interested to see what it's like with these additions!

Buffalo Chicken Dip AKA Crack Dip
there are lots of recipes for this dip- titled "crack dip" for it's addictive qualities- floating around the internet. some of them include bleu cheese and bleu cheese dressing, but i'm more of a ranch girl so i'm more inclined to try this one. I imagine one would use celery sticks for serving :)

Cookie Dough Dip
my idea of a dough/batter replica dip is a bowl of raw brownie batter, served with spoons for dipping. while i'm home alone. but this sounds good too, i suppose ;)

Pizza Dip
Maybe you want all the fun of dip but your friends are more the delivery-pizza types. Compromise! This looks pretty awesome. I guess i'm just into things that are normal foods/meals turned into dip form.

Enjoy your fall/football festivities!