You may remember, around a year ago, I opened an Etsy shop. I discovered how surprisingly easy it was to create watercolor marbled mugs and figured I would try and sell them online.
Spoiler alert: this isn't a rags-to-riches story. I did actually sell one mug-- and I realized that I wasn't going to be able to make any profit with shipping costs as high as they are. So, I took the mugs down, and figured my Etsy days were over.
Skip to present.
I don't really do New Year's resolutions, but I do make new semester resolutions. Every time I start a semester I start out with such lofty goals. I'm actually going to read my textbook before class. I'm going to go over my notes and not just when I have to when doing homework. I'm going to spend spare time reading academic papers related to my tentative research area.
And, every time I get a couple weeks into the semester, these goals mysteriously disappear. The textbook is only opened when I'm stuck on homework, and my class notes are put away after class and not pulled out till the next class. And don't even get me started on the papers/textbooks I need to be reading for research!
So, I decided to set myself up for sucess and make (and use) a weekly planner. Before the week starts, I'll plan out exactly what I want to get done during the week. I'll be specific on the paper I need to read, the chapter in the textbook I need to study. It'll also help me become more organized with meal planning, something I never fully got the hang of last semester.
I wanted something simple, with plenty of room to write out homework deadlines, meeting times, and all my goals. I also have an obsession with water color; mix it all together and you get the following weekly planners!
I can't believe I have a watermark on something I made. What has my life become? I contemplated making it say "haha suckers" but figured that would be too antagonistic.
I made the weekly planner in three new and exciting colors! (how's my pitch going?) Blue, green, and black&white for those trying to save their poor ink supply. Check them out!
I'm excited to use them. I know I'll hole-punch them, but I haven't figured out how exactly I'm going to store them. A binder is too bulky for what I want, I might find a folder, or make a cardboard cover like I did with my journal. And maybe this post will hold me somewhat accountable, and I won't let my goals fall by the wayside this semester!
One can always hope.
Friday, January 8, 2016
I've spent my break exploring some really good books-- my latest obsession is a site called Goodreads aka the best thing ever. It literally comes up on my computer before Google. That's how much I use it. It's a site that helps you keep track of the books you'e read/want to read. It also helps me find books I love. I rounded some up books to recommend that I've read and loved recently!
by Anthony Doerr
10/10I'm not the first to rant and rave over this book. It's a mammoth, 530ish page novel that I read in two days (or so). It tells two stories, one of a blind French girl, the other a young German orphan boy and weaves their stories into the tapestry of WWII. What makes this book unique (to me) is that it refused to turn a blind eye to the complexities of being a German in WWII. It doesn't hide behind the label of evil which is often cast (rightfully so) upon Nazism. It forces you to hear the story of the German solider just as much as you hear the story of the blind girl living in a captured French town. You don't have to sympathize at all with the German boy's story but you have to hear it.
Beyond that, the writing is beautifully lyric with metaphorical phrasing that really sticks with you. The author skips past cliches and deals with the harsh realities of the war. The story skips from the girl to boy but also skips in time-- a feature I loved but can be offsetting to some.
By Jasper Fforde
Part wish fulfillment by the author, part detective drama, this novel takes place in an alternate universe where literature takes on a religious like importance. Rather than going to the movies, one would go to a live showing of Richard III, put on my audience members because of course everyone and their mother knows, and loves, every line to the Shakespearean play. The ideas presented are wonderfully fresh, even if the writing can be a little lacking. The characters weren't fully fleshed out, but I just loved the universe they lived in so it was a fun read.
By Cassandra Rose Clarke
A Tale of Love, Loss and Robots really sums the whole thing up-- even if I am partial to the Oxford comma ((which would make it A Tale of Love, Loss, and Robots)) but maybe the author's going for something really meta with the omission of the comma, thereby grouping 'loss' and 'robots' together more intimately. This beautiful, expansive novel follows Cat, the daughter of a 'mad scientist' starting when she's a little girl meeting her new live-in tutor, a robot who acts and looks quite human. You watch as she grows up and makes decisions, some good, some heartbreaking.
The novel reminded me of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro in the fact that there is a lot of stuff going on in the background. There's the creation of sentient(?) robots, activist groups fighting for rights for the robots, an apocalyptic history which turned part of the US into a wasteland and created deadly hot summers but none of those things are the main focus on the book. Rather, the book is about people, about relationships-- about, like I said, love and loss. The writing was beautiful in a melodic sort of way. I hate to say more because one of things I love about reading is discovering what is going on while I read it. But yeah. Go and read this amazing, albeit somewhat depressing, novel.
Like I mentioned, I hate reading summaries. On the back of the book, on websites-- I do my best to avoid them. What I do instead is read the first sentence or so of the summary, just enough to try and get a feel for what the book will be like. If those couple of sentences sound promising, I get the book from my library and try it out.
A Darker Shade of Magic was good, but quite different from what I expected. The first couple lines of summary on Goodreads talked about a universe where multiple, parallel Londons existed, and certain people could travel between them. This idea, I found quite fascinating and picked the book up. The novel did indeed have that, but that idea of multiple Londons was mainly used as a means to an end for the plot. It was well written and captivating but I would call it traditional high fantasy(think typical, medieval fantasy), rather than the innovative sci-fi/fantasy hybrid I had imagined it would be.
By Sara Donati
I read this epic historical fiction/romance novel last semester. I downloaded it from my library and thought I would give it a try. It's size was daunting (800ish pages?) especially during the busy semester. I was hooked from page one. This novel is about a 'spinster' (she was in her 20s but this is set in the late 1700s) who travels over the America where she is thrown into among other things, the strained relationships between the settlers and the natives. The romance was well written-- if a bit rushed, they married where I would have started dating, but perhaps that can be chalked up to historical accuracy. The writing really transports you to the New York wilderness and you quickly become attached to the characters, which are pretty well fleshed out. It is a long novel, but the plot is fast paced so it doesn't feel like you sloughing through 800 pages. I was quite sad when I reached the last page, but I recently found it is the beginning of a series! So I'll be checking out the sequel soon.
by Scott Westerfield
by Scott Westerfield
Stars: 8 / 10
I've always had this weird prejudice against Westerfield, author of the Pretties/etc series. I'm not sure why; I never really liked the Pretties series. However, I was looking for an ebook to read on my library's ebook website and this was the first title I saw. I thought the plot was intriguing so I downloaded it.
I read the entire novel in a day or so-- it was like candy; easy to read and hard to put down. The novel is really meta; it's about a young girl who wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo, something I appreciated since I did NaNo a couple of times during high school. Half of the book is her going to New York City and trying to make it as an author, editing her novel, etc. The other half of the book is her novel-- titled Afterworlds. I thought that premise was really intriguing. How does knowing, in a very concrete sense, that Afterworlds is a work of fiction change the way we approach it? In one chapter the girl talks about her difficultly in writing a certain scene of her novel; the next chapter you read that scene. It definitely causes you to interact with the work in a different way.
The novel had some issues but I really enjoyed reading it.
And that's it! Six books you need to check out. If you're looking for a light, quicker read, see Afterworlds. If you're into historical fiction then All the light we cannot see is a must-read. If you're into romance then you have two options: Into the Wildnerness and The Mad Scientist's Daughter though the latter can be rather heart breaking. And if you're looking for something really different and inventive please read The Eyre Affair, bonus points if you're a Jane Eyre fan!
Thanks for reading! ((I feel like there's a pun to be made here....))
Thanks for reading! ((I feel like there's a pun to be made here....))
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
How do I sum up my last semester of college? Freak snowstorms, free coffee, new haunts. There was the horrid, long wait to hear back from my grad school applications. There was the surprise snowfall on my birthday, the spontaneous Taylor Swift dance party in the field.
|It was pretty awesome turning 22 with this surprise--and PERFECT--cake|
Then, there was that epic road trip to Florida for spring break-- an amazing vacation we partially chronicled through vlogs (get ready for me to rock my one dollar aviators!). Needlessly to say, my vlogging career did not take off.
I discovered some great books-- such as American Gods by Neil Gaiman, such a game changer. Blair and I nearly stranded ourselves in a doomed icy journey to pick up Anna at the airport. We were barely a block from the apartment when we realized that sliding over the dark icy roads was not a good idea and headed back in defeat.
I discovered Brooklyn-99, after ironically writing up a report on its failings to represent the spectrum of femininity in the same approving manner it afford the spectrum of masculinity for my brief stint in a feminism class, and my life is not the same because that show is EVERYTHING.
And then, in May, I graduated with a BA in Physics with a minor in French. Which is crazy. I have a degree! I often forget that as I'm so focused on the next step, my final degree.
I spent the summer with my lovely Bryan-- our reunion was primarily anti-climatic as the affection lay mostly on my side. ((I retook a horse riding class that I had taken a coupe of summers ago and was paired with the same stubborn lovely brown horse)) I turned my back on the new kid for one second and the next thing I knew all the horses escaped their fields and were frolicking in their new found freedom. I relearned how to lope and how awful it was to change leads (Bryan never did listen to me).
And then, in August, I moved to Columbia to pursue my PhD in physics (biophysics most likely). It was my first time living alone-- meal planning and grocery shopping is a far cry from the cafeteria I had grown accustomed to. I taught my first labs-- and I think the kids kind of liked me! I took three classes, and somehow managed to finish with a surprisingly respectable GPA.
I explored the parks around Columbia, finding some cool trails. And I spent countless hours on the phone and skype calls with friends living too far away.
I've spent a large part of my Christmas break reading books-- I might rummaged together a post listing some of the recent gems I've stumbled upon.
I'm not one for resolutions, just reflection. 2016 should hold more physics courses and summer research! Who knows what stories I'll have to tell one year from now.
Thanks for reading! :)