Sunday, March 30, 2014

Daily Dose of Cute: Adorably Vicious

Everyone needs a daily dose of cute. When you're feeling down or stressed googling "cats in cups" or "puppies" is the best pick-me-up possible. Instantaneous happy! Cute makes the warm fuzzies bubble up inside; smiling is irresistible and awing is uncontrollable. Because of this, I am now doing a Daily Dose of Cute on this blog, a reminder to find the cute that surrounds us and revel in it.

As I work on a more substantial blog posts for you, I thought I'd share my first Daily Dose of Cute: the most vicious Her Royal Queen of Fluffdom ever is. (The background barking is her sister, Amara, the Energizer Bunny.)

video

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Time for a Study Break

"You're too buried in your books!" So says my pooches. Focusing is impossible when I have cuties like this girl distracting me.

Peaches seeking out lovin'.
This little begger is trying to convince me to put down the homework and cuddle or bring her up into my lap. (Either option is a recipe for productivity disaster!) There is no whining. No barking. She's digging very adamantly at the armrest, my pant leg, even my laptop stand. When I reach down to pet her she leans way in to use my arm for leverage to lift herself up. When that doesn't work she pushes my arm over her head with her nose and stares up at me with these "love me" eyes. She isn't demanding. If anything, her subtle clingy nature makes her harder to pass over.

I mean, look at that face. Look at those precious, "I'm so cute and adorable" eyes. Her sweet, polite way of pausing every so often instead of barking obnoxiously. The way she'll resort to staring innocently up at me, perking up her ears and wagging her tail as if to say: "Cuddle time?" 

How am I supposed to resist?


You Will Pet Me

I'm sitting here, trying to get my pre-Spring Break homework done. My face is buried in books, research and homework assignments. Meanwhile, Amara keeps staring up at me on occasion, willing me to pet her. I sneak a peak down every so often to meet several minutes of "love me" eyes. (Which makes me melt every time.)

Evidence: Amara tying to Jedi mind-trick me into
giving her some lovin' 

This whole "being productive" thing might fall through.

Whoops.

"My dog ate my homework" might be an overused excuse, but how about "my dog was too freaking adorable?"

Friday, March 14, 2014

Wishin' on Summer

After looking outside to see the sun greet me good morning, I cannot say that I'm disappointed yesterday's snow is melting. I'm fantasizing about summer: warm weather; hours of endless sunshine; beach walks, listening to the ocean lap against the shore, feet buried in hot sand; swimming in the lake; completing summer class homework sprawled out on blanket on our lawn; adventuring on nature trails, my camera in hand; photo shoots with friends - just for fun; painting and drawing whatever inspires my mind; blogging until my fingers fall off; seeing my friends and family, making wonderful memories with every second spent; watching afternoon turn to night by the light of a fire, my nose buried in a book while stars emerge overhead; finally getting around to some serious work on those books of mine; reuniting with my Kids Can Grow family and exercising my good friend, Green Thumb; daily meditation without time limit (rather: as long as it suits my fancy); putting my nose to the grind stone when it comes to my own business; yard sales on Saturdays and every bit of unplanned adventure that falls in between. I seriously cannot wait.

I should've known that sitting in sunshine, looking through last
year's photography would've left me thirsty for salty shores.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's Getting Hot in Here

My parents are very giving people. They're always willing to lend a hand when they can. Endlessly they share insight, wisdom and talents. Mom's researched dozens of times for people out of her on volition. Dad has run down the street to help a struggling neighbor just as much. For me and my brothers they give up everything, especially their love and their time.

This...this time I could have done without their generosity.

They have given onto me a well-wrapped, perfectly presented virus.

(Haha. Get it? "It's Getting Hot in Here." Hot equals fever. No? Not funny? Okay. Just a bit of delirious humor for your morning.)

Casualties include: my sleep, two boxes of tissues, mental clarity, my nose,  and possibly my sanity. For a future doctor, I'm a pretty lousy sick person. The truth: I'm a bit of a whiny baby. All I want do is be able to breath clearly, sip some tea, pop in a comfort film, and curl up and sleep the sickness away. That's it.

Thank God I don't suffer flu and colds often.

This year there is a nasty set of viruses going around. Everyone I know seems to be laid up for weeks, unable to shake it. Those who shake it early seem to get knocked upside the head with a new one just after! One virus settles in and vacates and another that was lying dormant rears its head. (This happened to me; I'm currently recovering from virus #2. Like, what is this? I refuse to be a breeding ground for virus replication! Cells, whatchu doin'?! Get on this!) My family and I are fairing better than others. We'll have only been down a week each - and luckily not all at once!

While I cannot claim to know 100% why we're doing as well as we are when our friends and acquaintances are struggling for weeks or even months to bounce back, I do attribute it to a few factors. (Disclaimer: This is only my own opinion, so don't take my word for it. I'm not promoting any of these, claiming them to be cures or encouraging individuals to take them, particularly without a doctor's consent.) Our diet is full of nutrients and very little processed foods; throughout the entire year we all take immune-boosting and supporting herbs;  we supplement vitamin D,
especially while we're ill, as we tend to have low D levels; crushed, fresh, uncooked garlic in raw honey on toast is a daily snack when we're sick, something Dr. Andrew Weil swears by; Oscillococcinum and Umcka are our go-to cold and flu virus care treatments, as well as Elderberry, Olive Leaf Extract, Echinacea and Oregon Grape Root.

As I ramp up the Wellness-Mobile into hyper-drive to get over this last leg of illness, I was reflecting on the non-food/herb/supplement tricks in our household for making sickliness less miserable. Here are some fantastic, harmless tips to keep your cold or flu less miserable:

  •  Nasal congestion? Prop up your bed! Dad has been doing this for me since I was little. Stuffing a few extra pillows under the mattress puts the bed on an incline, making it a bit easier to breath. I have done the whole "sleep propped up on pillows" thing and find propping  up the mattress much easier on my neck and back.


  • Nasal steam baths. Super simple! There are instructions all over the internet for this, so do a little research and find one you like. The basics are: boil some water on the stove, remove the pot from the heat, stick your head over it, cover both the pot and your head with a towel (making a tent) and inhale through your nose. This really helps me with nasal congestion.

    Like I said before, there are many different instructions on the internet. Some of these suggest scented nasal steam baths, some do not. In the past I have used apple cider vinegar and water nasal baths, as well as eucalyptus. Before trying something, I recommend doing a little research, talk to local health food stores, and talk to a medical practitioner of some sort (herbalist, allopathic doctor or naturopath for example).
  • Stay hydrated! This is probably totally self explanatory, but I had to include it. It really helps you feel better. It is also great for drainage of mucus.
  • Coconut oil on raw noses. Have you ever tried applying moisturizer to a tissue-beaten nose? Youch! That baby stings. Coconut oil is a painless way to moisturize and heal that area. (I haven't tried Calendula, but supposedly that is good on skin irritations, too. I'm just not sure if it is safe around your nose and mouth. That would be something to check with a health store or herbal practitioner in order to know for sure. I know coconut oil is.)
  • Honey in tea. Plain ol' sugar will not do the job here. The honey soothes and coats a raw throat. Tea can be medicinal and aid in health promotion, or it can be simply healing through the experience of tea.There's something relaxing and warming about holding a mug of tea, its scented vapors wafting into one's nose. (Whether or not you can smell the said vapors, it doesn't matter.)


  • Natural, non-medicated saline nasal spray with aloe. This is great for stuffed nose nightmares! When I am sick, not only do I get congested, but sometimes that congestion dries my nose. The spray aids in clearing congestion while at the same time soothing irritated nasal passageways.


  • Plenty of rest. I learned long ago that, for me anyway, pushing myself too much when I was ill only made the sickness stay. Now I no longer fight my body's desire to sleep or lay around. Listen to your body; give it the TLC it needs.
  • Move around. Movement helps lymphatic drainage which is super important. If you're like me and feel too much like crap to move, do a little self massage. Something as simple as stroking (with slight pressure) down your neck helps to drain that area. I learned this a long time ago when I became terribly ill, huge, swollen lymph nodes and all; a massage therapist showed me and my father how we could help my lymph system drain. This video here by Massage By Heather shows some self-massage drainage techniques for head congestion. I really appreciate her video because it informs people that there are contraindications (listed on her blog) and to check those before starting. This is always important!

Share your tips and tricks in the comments! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Netflix Needs

A year or so ago, my father was coaxed into one of the best decisions we've ever made: Netflix. Okay. So, "best decision" might be a bit grand. But I'm a huge movie lover! Movies are as much a passion for me as books. If I could, I'd have a book shelf dedicated to movies and television series.

As much as I love movies and television series, I also love getting stuff done. While I could waste my time zombie-watching my screen, I prefer to use it like a bit of spice to season a well-made dish. Multitasking for the win!

I...
write to movies
clean to movies
do homework to movies
chill and hang out to movies
recover (from anything) with movies
scrapbook to movies
exercise to movies
draw to movies
blog to movies
craft to movies

In honor of the Oscars last weekend, I thought I'd share with you some of my recent Netflix watches over the past year.


Favorites: Must-haves
Merlin
A dear friend got me hooked on this show awhile ago when she lent me her season 1 and 2 DVDs. Ever since I have been devouring episodes every school break I get, when I can afford time to do little else than sit myself in front of the television. (Until recently, I could only watch Netflix on my computer, which was a hassle as it always froze because of how many people we have using our internet connection. Then it'd get shelved for homework because I needed my screen. The short of it: Merlin watching was very, very slow.) Let me tell you: there is a reason I inhaled this show whenever I could. The show is addictive.

Even though I went in knowing how it would end, since it is Arthurian legend, and that it would rip my heart out, I fell right into the show, a glutton for punishment. The plot is complex and entangled. The characters are wonderful, deep, hilarious, dark, complex, flawed and perfect. The acting is amazing (I highly emphasize this - until the last episodes of the last season I failed to give proper acknowledgement to how strong these actors were).

Some of the episodes are creepy, others intense. The final episodes will break your heart. But the magic of Merlin is worth every moment.

New Girl
Word of mouth is everything! Another dear friend got me hooked on this particular show. While I had heard of it before, I did not know much about it. I had never considered it something that I would be interested in. But one evening of her raving later and I found myself watching episode after episode after episode!

The show is hilarious. The characters make and drive the show. They are unique and quirky. They are flawed, but, like with Merlin, they are lovably flawed. They weasel their way into your hearts and make a happy home there.

The only downside is that the episode are so short and Netflix only has two seasons! In two days of intense homework, I've gone through two seasons. I want more!

Sherlock (BBC)
It has come to my attention that I may have a love affair with BBC productions. (Merlin, Sherlock, Doctor Who....) Because of my love of all things Sherlock Holmes related, a librarian friend of mine suggested I jump on the Sherlock bandwagon. Many of my other friends were already in love with it and working their raving-magic on me. Bendict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are amazingly talented actors so I was more than happy to give it a shot. I wasn't disappointed.

Sherlock never disappoints.

Netflix has the first two seasons of Sherlock. The most recent, season three, I watched as it aired on PBS. I have only two words for you: WATCH THEM. (In this  case, caps-lock is appropriate.) The show is complexly written with intricately woven plot-lines. For me, though, as with any show I truly love, the characters drive my affections. The crazy-complicated plots of Sherlock would mean nothing without characters that draw the audience in - heart, mind and soul. Cumberbatch and Freeman bring Sherlock Holmes and John Watson to life. The bromance between them is incredible.

Seriously, just watch it.

Murder, She Wrote
I have been watching this show for as long as I can remember. I grew up on old television shows (such as Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, and Perry Mason); Murder, She Wrote has always been a personal favorite.  It's lighthearted and entertaining while fulfilling my love of mysteries. There's also something endearing about the idea of a writer murder-solver - Jessica Fletcher is almost like the original Richard Castle! (If you are not watching Castle, you're missing out.)

I will forever recommend Murder, She Wrote. Each day I watch it while I clean my room and am thrilled that Netflix keeps it on instant streaming.

The Magic of Belle Isle
An older, disabled, cynical writer who is hardened by life is touched and impacted by the love of a family. I have watched this movie twice, and I would watch it a third, fourth and fifth time, too. The story is sweet, heartfelt and uplifting. It is a great family movie!

Morgan Freeman is wonderful. I also appreciate seeing an individual with physical disabilities in a movie, as there is not a lot of representation.

Brother Bear
The fact that Netflix added this to Instant just about made my day. I haven't seen this movie since I was a kid! If you haven't seen it, get on this. Brother Bear is a great movie, riddled with adventure and humor, dusted with life lessons. And filled with great music! (I've owned the soundtrack ever since it came out. Can Phil Collins do no wrong? I've a love affair with this music, I swear.)

Sahara
A film to watch over and over and over and over again. Seriously. I have watched this film more times than I can count on my fingers and toes. It never gets old! The plot is exciting and well thought out. Penélope Cruz plays a hilarious, feisty, heart-driven World Health Organization doctor.  The interactions between Matthew McConaughey and  Steve Zahn's characters are the best. It is as much comedy as it is adventure, but with very little blood and actual violence. (There are a few scenes, but I choose to close my eyes at them. Overall, though, it is pretty viewer-friendly in the blood and "gross" scene.)

It only just came to my attention that this film is based off of a book (Sahara by Clive Cussler). If anyone has read it, tell me how you liked it in the comments! If you've read the book and seen the movie, I'd love to hear how you think they compare. My curiosity is sparked!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
There isn't much to say other than this was my favorite children's movie as a kid. Dick Van Dyke will forever be a favorite actor of mine. He never disappoints! This story, centered partly around an  inventor's beloved and magical car and the imaginary adventures it takes his family on, is funny, at times frightening and wholly heart-warming. I can promise it'll have you singing "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we love you" by the time it is through! 

Treasure Planet
One of the most underrated Disney films, along with Meet the Robinsons and countless others. When I originally saw this film it was in a northern one-room, old fashioned movie theater. Perhaps my love of atmosphere influenced me passion for this movie. Perhaps it was Star Wars that sealed it. Whatever it was, this futuristic adventure-story is a favorite of mine. If I didn't want to travel the stars already, I did after seeing this. It is funny and sweet, with loveable characters and filled with incredible depth and a wonderful moral.

Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall
Oh. My. Goodness. Stop what you are doing and go to Netflix. Right now. Go. Watch this. I am a lover of the Arts, without shame. Theater and musical theater captures my heart, sucks me in and refuses to let me go. This show is no exception. I have watched it twice, fallen in love with it twice. Now I truly understand why people love and adore it as much as they do; without having seen this stage production, I am not sure if I would have fully understood or appreciated the magic of this story. The stage brings it to life. It adds complexity and depth. It's just so good.

The Adventures of Tintin
First: the animation is incredible. It blew my breath away it was so realistic! (In that way, it reminds me a bit of The Polar Express.) I hadn't been acquainted with Tintin before seeing this movie, so I cannot speak as a lover or follower of the comic series. However, I have looked up pictures from the series. I am impressed by how they were able to stay true to the original artist's character design and artistic style while translating it into a 3-D animation.

Now the actual movie. The mixture of fantasy, action, adventure and flawed, loveable characters - such as Captain Haddock - sold me. Who would have thought that buying a simple model ship would lead to a grand adventure! (Not to mention I'm a bit in love with the relationship between Tintin and his pet companion, Snowy. Snowy is truly man's best friend.) I have only watch this movie once but it is worth multiple viewings. It won't disappoint!


Men in Black
So, okay, confession time. I have seen this before it was on Netflix. But, it's Men in Black! Aliens coming to attack planet Earth, secret government agency there to save the day, talking animal aliens, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones - it doesn't get better than that.

Crazy on the Outside - Tim Allen is amazing. I loved him in The Santa Clause movies. I loved him in Home Improvement. I love him in Last Man Standing. This movie about an ex-con's quirky rehabilitation into a better life is no different. I've watched it over and over and over again.

Play the Game
I am seriously bummed to say that this is no longer on Netflix Instant. (Though you can get it via DVD!) A heart-warming, funny, watch-on-repeat romance story. I adore it. Andy Griffiths does a great job at playing a grandfather to the main character. There is a "game" to dating and a way to play it right. Or, maybe not.


Others that I have watched and enjoyed:

The Host - While I was skeptical because of my disappointment with Twilight, I am happy to report it was actually pretty good! The concept of two people - or species - having to come together, understand one another and develop compassion to work together for the greater good won me over. And there weren't any vampires, so.

Daddy Daycare - Clueless dads trying to run a daycare makes for a hilarious plot line. It's all-around fun. Plus, there is a great underlying message about letting kids be kids and the importance of spending time with your kids. Daddy Daycare is totally on my To Buy Someday (TBS) list.

The Mistle-tones! - Confession: I mostly watched this because of Tia Mowry. I'm a lover of Sister, Sister and Twitches. But it is worth it for far more than that! It's one of those fun, cute made-for-television holiday movies that is great for passing the time.

Snowglobe - Another great holiday movie that is fun and cute and good for passing time. Sometimes what we think we want, isn't really what we want. The perfect holiday, family or world may not be as perfect as we think. A great reminder to be grateful for what you have.

Failure to Launch - A quirky, kind of unconventional romance movie. No explanation. Just watch. It is Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel and Justin Bartha. The cast is so good it needs no description.

The Switch - Should-be tagline: what happens when your best friend (guy) hijacks your medical insemination. It is funny as heck while at the same time pulling on all of your heart strings. Totally worth a watch!

Christmas Angel - One of my new favorite Christmas movies about little kids who think a neighborhood angel is looking out for them.

First Wives Club - A total feminist, fight the power movie with a strong, star-studded cast. (Including Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker.) There is something great about seeing a group of women take back control of their lives!

The Avengers - Because I am a sucker for all kinds of superhero movies. X-Men, Man of Steel, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk - I love them all! (Admittedly: the only one I haven't seen is Iron Man) If you love Superhero movies, especially all of the above mentioned, and you haven't seen the Avengers get on it!

Mirror Mirror - My favorite twist on Snow White that I have seen. It is hilarious and definitely a great family night movie. Super cute, out of the box, filled with great actors, crazy-fantastical costumes, and plot twists I've never seen before - I'd definitely watch this movie again. 

Check back in again for my Movie Misses/Flubs and my Wishlist.

What movies and television shows have you been watching? 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Three Blessings

Note: this post was supposed to happen on Monday, but I have since come down with a bought of Feeling Like Death virus. After a series of delays, Monday's post is now Friday's.

It's a Monday. The week just begun and already I'm dragging my feet. From the moment I woke up I knew I needed a morale boost. On the way home today I bought myself a treat,a Newman's Own Organics peppermint chocolate cups set. Dark chocolate is my favorite, silky, rich chocolate. Mint is soothing. As an anxiety-ridden student this week, I could do with a little soothing richness!

Bless local health food stores.

At home, settled into my recliner and fresh pair of pajamas, I tore open the package. Surrounded by homework, highlighters, dozens of pens and textbook stacks I already felt anxiety crashing waves against my internal peace; I needed a chill-pill.

When I went to remove a chocolate cup from the tray, I paused. I stared. Something about the choice of three cups struck me. It also struck me that I had never truly stopped to pay attention to how many chocolate cups were in the package. How strange. Years I have eaten this chocolate; years  I have overlooked the depth in a very simple fact. It sounds crazy, I know! It's just chocolate. But three has always been a very special number for my family, very powerful. Finding these three chocolate cups, as silly as it sounds, helped me to re-center. It reminded me of blessings.


Three delicious gems.

I closed my eyes, savored the taste of mint-chocolatey goodness and began to ruminate. In my head I began to list off my blessings, everything I was grateful for, and all that had gone well and right. Instantly my anxiety alleviated. It isn't eliminated, but no longer is it crushing me. Because of this new-found peace, I wanted to share three of my blessings with you:
  • Love and good company of family and friends. A friend who texts me just to say she loves me, another to make sure I'm having a good day. One friend who drops by on her way to work to see how a hard exam went and another who picks up a piece of chocolate, because she knows it is my favorite. Those friends who no matter how long between talking, you start where you ended, with whom it feels you've been friends forever, even if you haven't. The friend  you've never met in person but knows you like a sister. A sister-in-law who has become a sister, not because she has married your brother, but because of a foundation of friendship. Family who loves you unconditionally, with whom you cry, scream and love. Those who always understand your quirkiness.  I am blessed to have many of these people in my life. It has taken me awhile to realize this and appreciate how rare and precious it is. Nothing's perfect - not all of my family and I are close and friends and I have drifted apart over the years - but I am grateful for everyone who is or has been in my life.

  • Peaches, my soul buddy, being "alright." Her Royal Queen of Fluffdom is getting up there in age; failing health is inevitable. While I'd love to keep her a pup forever, I know that's impossible.  I'm just grateful she is not suffering. Every additional day we have together is a blessing.

  • Support and guidance of my parents. On occasion anxiety kicks in. I panic that I might not get where I want to be in life. I question my talents. Sometimes, I worry I may not be following my own dreams. Whenever that happens, my parents remind me of one thing: they love me. Whatever I do, wherever my life goes, they will love and support me as much as they can. Reassured of that, everything is less oppressive.

What are three of your blessings today?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

#LovingMe

Tonight's post is a bit late to the party. (It is my midterms, so I have more homework coming at me than I can complete in allotted time. This week has been and will continue to be for the foreseeable future stress-filled, homework piled, sleepless nights. To Be Written blog posts are stacking up in my drafts folder. Insanity!) This past week was National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. In support of this Her Campus Blogger Network encouraged members to share what they love most about themselves. More importantly: this is totally unrelated to physical appearances!

It is so important to remember that there are things to love about ourselves independent of our physical appearance.

A lovely heart surprise in the dishes.
I love my ability to appreciate and feel
gratitude for the "little" things, like
this.

Contemplating the "what do I love about myself?" question, I came up with three biggies.

  • Creativity. My light shines through creativity. Writing, drawing, painting, photography or even scrap-booking; when I can create, I blossom and grow. In the backyard, my father built a swing set. It's old now, showing the signs of wear. Well loved with rusting joints and fading wood, it opened the world to me. It fed my imagination, which is now wild-running and never stops. My creativity and imagination pull me into another world when I need to get through hard times. They serve as expression when I need to let myself free. They are how I show others how much I care. All of my proudest accomplishments come from creative adventures.

  • Playfulness. I love to have a good time. Having fun, laughing, giggling, and enjoying life, they're all part of my every day life. I'm not traditionally the "life of the party." I'm not a partier. Drinking isn't my thing, nor is clubbing. All the time I've been in college, I've never attended a dance. (Though I did go to every one in high school!) But I excel at play. It's what counters my studiousness. Being able to make life less serious, laugh at myself, and have a great time no matter what has gotten me through my darkest times. It has also brought countless moments of joy to strangers and those I love most which, for me, is the greatest treasure.

  • Resilience. At first I wrote strength, then I hit "delete." The truth is, I do not find it my strength that's admirable. Weathering a storm isn't remarkable; we can all weather that. But being able to weather the storm, to take life's punches, be knocked down on your bum and stand back up and face it all again - that's resilience. It's not the event, action or situation; it's how you stand back up again, how you handle it and how you move forward. So, resilience, that's what I love most.

What do you love about yourself?