Friday, April 25, 2014

Calling all Small Bloggers!

I have Liebster Award nominations to give out...but I realized, most of the blogs I know and read are over the 200 follower limit! *Gasp*

You know what this means. If you've got a small blog that needs some extra lovin' and well deserved attention, comment the link below!

I'm Not Watching You

Daily Dose of Cute time!

It's no secret we have two little mischievous love-bug dogs. We really try to train our dogs well. But, seriously, little dogs? They're so cute - and it is a trap. It's like with babies. All of their bad habits make you laugh, you cannot help but think they're adorable. Everyone else, maybe not so much.

Knowing this we are constantly working on training and retraining our dogs. For a rrreeaalllyyy long time we allowed our dogs in the kitchen, but they've a habit of getting under foot and staring up at you with those "isn't that piece of carrot for me?" eyes. The latter is less of a problem than the former, where my grandmother is now getting to the age where her balance is terribly poor. To curb this behavior we now vanquish them to the other room.

Most of the time they go to the living room...but on occasion....

...On occasion Amara'll peaks her head through the curtains and watches us from there.

It's like she thinks she's getting away with something

{Like my post? Check out my last, sponsored post, Creative, Organized and Expressive with BIC® 4-Color™ Pens! , to find out how the 4-in-1 pen can help you express yourself and organize your busy life!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Creative, Organized and Expressive with BIC® 4-Color™ Pens!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of BIC 4-Color pen. All opinions are 100% mine.
When I was younger I had a magic pen. Wherever I went, I had more than just black ink at my ready. Pink, greens, reds, blues - I had a rainbow of colors in one pen.

Who remembers the all-in-one multiple color pens we had as kids? You know the ones I’m talking about, where all you had to do was click down your favorite color – blue, red, green, or black – and BOOM! Instant color. When you wanted to switch colors? No problem! Just click down one of the other colors and it was there; no need for multiple pens. These were my magic pens. They were my favorite! I never had to carry more than one pen on my person because the pen itself contained 4 Inseparable Colors in 1 Pen. The pen felt as if it were a special secret of mine I cherished daily. Then, one day I couldn’t find it anymore. For years I carried multiple pens around, ignorant to other options. I had no idea 4 Inseparable Colors in 1 Pen still existed in one pen until I saw these commercials for BIC® 4-Color™!

Cue a wide-eyed, heart pounding, edge-of-my-seat watching gasp. They do exist!

In that moment, I knew I’d met my newest investment. My “magic” pens were back.

I am a pen addict. Pens are everywhere in my house. Pens are in my desk, in my backpack, in my purse, in my pencil holders on my desk, in the center console of my car, and in a filing cabinet beside my desk. Sometimes I find them stuck in between cushions or buried in quilts. I’ve got pens coming out of my ears. Why would I still need 4 Inseparable Colors in 1 pen?

Whenever I go to buy a new pen, no matter its purpose, mom looks at me and says: “More pens? You don’t need more!” Then I try to convince her I do indeed need more. This particular persuasion argument was simple: The BIC® 4-Color™ pen isn’t a regular pen. This pen means convenience, less clutter, better organization, a lot of fun, and, most importantly, saved money. (As a college student swimming in loans, money is always a huge issue.)

Here’s why:

As a college student, the most important thing you can do is stay organized.  As a high school student, the most important thing you can do is stay organized. As a (insert your profession here – full-time mom or dad to business person), the most important thing you can do is stay organized. I learned this in high school from hard honors, college prep, and dual enrollment courses. Organization keeps stress at bay. It saves a lot of headaches and hair pulling. This applies for everything from to-do lists to class notes. (All of your note-taking means nothing if you cannot keep your thoughts organized!) The best way to organize is with color!  Color coding is a fun and easy way to organize thoughts or outline; the BIC® 4-Color™ pen makes this even easier.

My usual tool for organizing course notes, formulating outlines, or any other thought collection is to carry around this bag of colored pens, black pens and pencils that is bursting at the seams.

Goodbye bulk, hello convenience.

The majority of my backpack weight is this beast.  I need colored pens for organization all of my black and colored pens are being lugged around with me! Pen weight adds up fast and is awkward and cumbersome. Plus, buying all of those extra packages of colored pens adds up in price! If I run out of one pen color, I have to buy a pack of four or five colors I do not need to get the color. (The excess pen-clutter adds up fast, too.)  Being able to carry only one pen around with me, complete with four fun and expressive colors, lightens my backpack, lightens the load on my wallet, and increases my productivity, no more wasting time hunting through my pen bag for the right color!  Where I had to carry a mass of pens, I will now only have one.

Best of all: BIC® 4-Color™ are refillable!.  No more having to constantly rebuy my pens every time I run out. (As an eco-friendly fanatic, the less “junk” I throw away, the better.)

Here are some ways that the 4 distinct colors (and their unique personalities) of the BIC® 4-Color™ pens can help organize your life:

When creating To-do lists…
- Red: Important & urgent (and for crossing off your completed tasks!)
- Green: Important and semi-urgent
- Blue: Important and not-urgent
- Black: neither important nor urgent.

When organizing my planner…
I organize by color! This helps me coordinate what I have due for classes and for appointments throughout the month.  For example: Red, for all of his Type-A-ness, is for the urgent stuff, like exams and major assignments. Green, who is often left out in favor of the others, tends to be for meetings or appointments. Blue, always in competition with Black, beats him in a race for the lesser important assignments, such as weekly things. Lastly, Black, the “Undisputed Master of the World,” usually lists the courses, any extracurricular activities such as seeing friends, or personal goals for the week – since they seem to rule my world.

Other ways BIC® 4-Color™ pens improve your busy life:

- Organizing notecards. As a busy college student, one of my study methods is creating notecards. This is a valuable study method I learned in high school. Sometimes I create notecards on the run! Separating definitions from examples or emphasizing important words using different colors is only one color-click away with the BIC® 4-Color™ pen.

- Organizing note outlines before or after class. Outlines are a great way to stay organized! It is another great study technique as well. Headings, subheadings, definitions, examples, and emphasis are all easily organized with the different colors BIC® 4-Color™ pens offer.

- Organize and outline thoughts, for any project. Whether I am outline a novel, a blog post, an email, or a letter having four colors in one pen conveniently allows for planning what I want to say. (And for having fun while doing it!)

- They are great for fun and expressive proof reading. Red likes when things are correct, so it is great for correcting papers! But if you are in the mood to give jealous Green a little bit of lovin’ give him a shot at the game.

- Lastly, my personal favorite: note taking.
Rather than keeping that bulky pen case on me to organize my notes, I can use one pen! Colored ink is my way to organize notes in the heat of an intense lecture. Definitions, margin notes, concept drawings, side-topics, separation of topic headings – in all of these I alternate colors. Normally, I have to sit with my huge pen case on my lap, digging and scrambling in between colors to search for the next.  But no more! With BIC® 4-Color™ pens, I am just one click away from a new color. I do not have to worry about missing vital lecture material while searching for a new color, or risk losing the color all together: one click and I have my desired color.

BIC® 4-Color™ pens are not only great organizational tools. They also fun & colorful creative expression!

Last week, I was super excited to use my laboratory partner’s BIC® 4-Color™ pen on our creative project.  We labeled, drew, and decorated a model of the digestive system with the use of two BIC® 4-Color™  pens! (Which, I might add, we won 1st place for our colorful, creative, and accurate depiction.) It was my first time using the new BIC® 4-Color™ pens and without question, I was sold. They wrote smoothly and their color was vibrant.

In my personal life, BIC® 4-Color™ pens are great for organizing story outlines or making side commentaries on what I need to refer back to, change, or add. Without the colors, commentaries become muddled. Most of my writing is on the fly – in bus stops, at doctor’s offices, or while I’m curled up in the corner of a coffee shop. It is also usually spur of the moment and unplanned. When inspiration strikes, I heed her sweet call! Carrying around a pen case to hold my colored and black pens to suffice this is a pain and simply not practical. Carrying around just one or two BIC® 4-Color™  pens, though? That’s music to my ears.

They are also a great way to journal or write letters, in multiple colors for whatever fits your mood! The 4 colors of the BIC® 4-Color™ come with 4 distinct personalities for expressing whatever mood, feeling or thought you may have. Some days when I am journaling, writing letters or brainstorming I feel like writing in red, green, or blue ink – something different than black – dependent upon my mood. Blue and black are more serious colors, for serious business – though they may have to vie for who wins my attention. When I need to make corrections or I am feeling Type A, demanding perfection and correctness, I might want red. Green and I share a common bond; we’re kindred spirits. He is a foodie, I’m a foodie. He’s the quiet one, sometimes overlooked, as am I: he’ll always have a special place in my heart and a constant home in my journal. But without the BIC® 4-Color™ pen, I might not have the color on me I need to express myself in that moment because I didn’t want to lug around my pen case. With the BIC® 4-Color™ pen that problem is solved: 4 colors, one pen, and easy portability.

Confession: I’m a closet doodler. Perhaps not what most people think of as a use of artistic talent, but doodling is an artistic weak-spot of mine. When I cannot take the time to create professional pieces of art, I doodle – in notebook margins, on printer paper, whatever I can get my hands on. I cannot help it! Fun & colorful expression is a huge part of my life. 4 colors with 4 distinct personalities help in expressing different moods and feelings through my doodles. It is how I de-stress and express myself when I have no other means. The color variety in one pen allows me to immerse in my doodles, filling them with color. I can really “get in the zone.” My friends and I have even doodled together, passing around the pen, each using a different color, to create one master doodle together!

I am looking forward to stocking up on these and using them throughout my summer semester.  I am also super excited to find out that there are more BIC® 4-Color™ color options in select stores throughout the country and world. Check out BIC for more information on the 4-Color pen and all its options.  Visit your local stores or shop online in the convenience of your own home at Staples or Amazon to purchase a pen of your own. Experience the awesome!

To get to know the four colors better, you can follow BIC® 4-Color™pen on Facebook and Twitter. Follow their adventures, enjoy their fun daily updates (from selfies to live tweeting and Green’s poetry), and receive more information on BIC® 4-Color™!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, April 21, 2014

Movie Monday

I love movies. This was determined during Netflix Needs. Since I love them so much, I figure I might as well do something productive with that love. Enter: Movie Mondays. Where I take a movie (or more) that I watched during the week and discuss it. Anything from whether I liked it or not, to what it made me think about. Heck, to what I snacked on while I watched it. The sky's the limit!

This week...

While You Were Sleeping

Netflix has been doing movie switch up. A lot of new movies have entered their Instant category, much to my immense excitement. While You Were Sleeping is one of them. This movie has always been one of my Christmas favorites. Sure, it's a bit cheesy and predictable once you get into it. But the cast and loveable characters are too great to even worry about that. I could watch it on repeat - over, and over, and over again.

A young woman, swept up by her father's tales of how he met and fell in love with her mother, gets entangled in her own love story. Except, hers comes with a bit of a twist. She, a romantic, pretends to be engaged to an unconscious man after saving his life.What she doesn't plan on is falling in love with his family - or any of the unexpected twists and turns that falsehood takes her on.

Sandra Bullock plays the main character, Lucy. I have yet to see a movie in which I dislike Sandra Bullock. I have seen her in Miss Congeniality, The Blind Side, and The Proposal. While I'm on that roll, I should also admit that I have yet to see a movie in which I dislike Bill Pullman, who plays Jack, the unconscious man's brother. I have seen him in The Newsies, Casper, Spaceballs, and Independence Day, all of which I loved. If you enjoy either of them in other roles, there is a high plausibility you'll like this one.

I highly recommend it!

Escape From Planet Earth

I really expected this movie to be a "dud." Not once did I see a trailer for the movie and think: "that's going to be a movie I'll enjoy." Er - I was wrong. Admittedly, I enjoyed this a lot more than Shrek: the Musical. As in, I really liked it. The characters were great and balanced each other. For instance: the careful, safety-oriented, mission control operating, genius, think-before-actions brother and the charismatic, exceedingly-confident, showy, macho-man, mission-going, act-before-I-think  brother. As a sibling, I can appreciate the bickering between them and all jealousy involved. The parenting situation was very realistic between Gary Supernova (one of the main characters) and his son, filled with ups and downs but surrounded and permeated by love.

I also loved the cast involved. (Including William Shatner, Ricky Gervais, Brendan Fraser, Rob Corddry, Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Sofia Vergara among others.)

But someone's got to wonder, with all of the armor Scorch wore, how come he didn't have a helmet to go along with his space suit? And what happened to both of the villains? We found out the fate of one, but the other was never revealed! The basic line of the plot was expected. Earth is a Dark Planet, not understood by the alien race featured in the movie. (Basically, humans equal evil and uncivilized.) Multiple life forms have supposedly landed on earth without ever escaping. One alien ventures there, goes missing, a rescue mission is enacted - but even with the basic underlying plot there were unexpected twists that kept it interesting. Nothing goes according to plan or expectation!

I loved and appreciated that the emphasis of the bond between siblings, even when the relationship may not always be flowers and sunshine. Kira Supernova is BA - the fact that a strong woman chose to stay at home with her kids,  loves it and is no-less spectacular for it is a great message: you are just as valuable as a mom to your kids as an other position. The "welcome to Earth" video at Area 51 was humorous. The imprisoned aliens at Area 51 were great characters. The chase scene through the grand canyon reminded me distinctly of the initial chase scene between Will Smith and the aliens in Independence Day (my favorite alien movie ever). I'm not going to lie, that alone gave this movie bonus points in my book. But it was the evolving relationship between Gary and Scorch that sold me. Watching the brother's come to realize how much they need and love each other made my heart swell. It is refreshing to see movies with valuable morals and healthy messages. (I'm such a sucker for things like that!)

Maybe it is the nerd in me or maybe I'm just too darn sentimental, who knows, but I'd watch this movie again - for sure. If you enjoy cartoons or "kids"/family movies, check it out. You might be surprised to find you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

I did not anticipate doing anything today other than bury my nose in my books, enduring waves of terror and crushing anxiety as I realize how close my deadlines are and how important and vital these grades are for my GPA. And yet, after a morning of homework and school, an unexpected offer from a dear friend left my family and I with Easter plans.

 Getting to spend Easter evening with two of my friends - they're sisters - and their family was the highlight to the day. I cannot have imagined a better way to celebrate this day than with a family I have known so long that they are practically family.  They are wonderful, loving, giving people. Whenever we've needed them, they're there. My relationship with the two sisters (who are my friends) has only grown as the years go on, even after periods of letting it accidentally slip away. Our friendship is stronger today than it ever has been before. They each have a special place in my heart, forever and always. I am so grateful and humbled that they opened their hearts and home to us this evening to share this day. 

Friendship is full of synchronicity.

While at the transfer station today dad picked up three brand new, never used glass bottles. For free! The guy was just going to throw them out if we hadn't brought them home with us.  (Say, what?!) I have been wanting one of these for a very long time. (We have great hiking thermoses we use daily, but I'd rather use them for their true purpose or on very hot days, as they keep water cool.) I'm so super excited to have them now! However, my friends and I had to giggle...True friendship is when your water bottle (that you only just received!) matches their nails (which they painted this morning!).

My newest addiction: zucchini pasta. Zucchini pasta is the best food creation ever!
I now want to eat it all the time. All day, every day.

Lastly, I have discovered my newest addiction: zucchini pasta. (Okay, not discovered. Rediscovered. We ate this for the first time last summer, but kind of forgot about it.) Tonight I pulled out our spiraller. I was craving pasta, but it is late and I did not want that I compromised. We're going to need to grow a lot of zucchini's this year. Mmm.

Zucchini pasta, tomato sauce, goat's cheese,
and beet greens. Yum! 

Today is a good day.

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope your day was as filled with love, in every corner, as mine was.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

OOTD: Dressed Up Casual

Today's life hack: dressing up yoga pants.

Hi, welcome to my house.
So, I know, it's a big no-no. Wearing yoga pants outside of yoga class or a gym is not the most fashion forward trend. But, listen, I'm a college gal. Some days I have to wake up in the wee hours of the morning and it takes everything in me not to wear pajamas to class. No one wants me wearing penguin pants to Biology.  Some days jeggings are not enough. Yoga pants are the most fashionably acceptable alternative that is closest to my pajamas.

It's the Finals Yard Dash. We're approaching finals week. This time of the semester always brings an energy slump. Every morning I wake up, stretch, and desire to cuddle in my nest of blankets. I loathe my alarm clock. The snooze button and I are great friends. The other morning I hit my snooze button 6 times! After each one I dove back beneath my blankets, pulled my comforter close, and imagined I was nested on a floating cloud. Ah, heaven.  Let me snuggle. It's not even the act of sleeping I long for; I just want to be lazy and lie around with mindless purpose. Impromptu nap times are frequent.  I've randomly flung my textbook onto one side of my bed and myself onto the other for a twenty minute nap more times than I can count.

Why photographing an OOTD post with your dog
is dangerous. Isn't that a schmexy shot.

I'm in a "I'm hot and I know it, but I'm too darn lazy to show it" kind of mood. I'm about ready to break out my Nerdfighter t-shirts pre-summer and wave my arms around like I just don't care. But I'm restraining myself the best I can. I'm compromising.

True to form, I'm keeping up with my Bargain Queen fashion status.

  • Pants: Target (bought last year on sale!)
  • Shirt: Old Navy (bought for nearly nothing last year when combining coupons and a buy one/get one sale)
  • Cardigan: Old Navy (purchased several years ago on sale)
  • Necklace: Khols (bought this newbie super cheap last week - clearance item!)
  • Earrings: Walmart  (Bought several years ago - the only part of this outfit I purchased full price. Totally worth it! I love having big "diamonds" to wear.)
  • Bracelet: Walmart (Purchased a set of these sparkly accessory items several years ago on clearance)
  • Clogs: Croft & Barrow at Khols (Bought for only a couple of dollars - no more than $7 - several years ago when they were on clearance.)
Up-close shots of the necklace, the bracelet, and, inadvertently, a few of my rings:
I've worn this necklace twice this week. It is easily my favorite new accessory!
I've got such a weak spot for sparkle.

Awkward hand selfie

Photo-credit: most photographs are courtesy of my awesome mama, who never judges when I run to her saying "I need to photograph my clothing!" Which is a blessing, since I'm technologically impaired when it comes to taking photos of myself.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

For the Love of Caramel

I have a passionate love affair with caramel. Delicious, sweet caramel with it's rich, sticky goody-goodness.

Honestly, I was unaware of  this  love for awhile. (Blasphemy!) I enjoyed caramel, but rarely ate it. Chocolate always seemed to be my one-and-only. (Hot fudge sauce and I were are  BFFs, as tight as epoxy) Then I created a character whose weakness is caramel; it is the only food she passionately loves and craves. Her coffee, her doughnuts, and her go-to candies are all caramel. Writing as her multiple times a day made me start to crave caramel!

Give me a spoon. Let me dunk it into a bowl of freshly made, warmed caramel and spread it concave-down on my tongue, reveling in taste-filled bliss.


I digress.

Here are some of my favorite caramel delights:

I. Caramel Lindt Truffles

Lindt truffles are the epitome of what chocolate should be.
Delicious, savory and melt-in-your mouth delicious - this truffle had
me at first bite.

You know the saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder? Perhaps love and fond memory made this truffle taste sweeter. A dear friend had been away on a trip. On her way home she and her family stopped at a Lindt store. Aside from being totally shocked there was such a thing (and appalled that I'd never taken it upon myself to go investigate the scrumptious wonders not far from my home state), I was elated that my friend had thought of me. Truffles, she knew, were among my favorite of chocolates. Lindt truffles are especially my favorite, their creamy center melts perfectly in one's mouth so that each bit is a little bit of heaven.

And, can never go wrong with caramel.

Caramel is like pie - neither are ever wrong.

II. Caramel hot cocoa.

This winter Trader Joe's Organic Hot Cocoa Mix was my favorite cocoa. The cocoa I had originally been buying - also organic - was okay, but it was more sugary than chocolatey. When I want a cup of cocoa, I want a cup of cocoa. Mixing Trader Joe's packets with almond milk gave a thick, chocolate-rich decadent hot chocolate experience. It tasted as if it came from an expensive coffee shop. Nothing could make it better!

Nothing. Except for caramel.

This little treat is my dad's creation. During one busy study night he decided to combine my two loves - cocoa and caramel - for the optimal study elixir. He stirred in Whole Foods in-store made caramel (which we keep stocked in the fridge) and drizzled more across the whipped cream top. Ah, heaven.

III. Vanilla Caramel Whoopie Pie by Cape Whoopies: Maine's Gourmet Whoopie Pies.

Another delicious Whole Foods find! While not gluten free, this little whoopie pie is among my favorites I have ever tasted. Potential new favorite whoopie pie? I think so! For a vanilla and caramel whoopie pie, I was impressed that it was not sickly sweet. It was just sweet enough! What you tasted was the flavor of the whoopie pie, rather than the sweetness of it. The flavors melded together perfectly. (I'd originally planned to eat only half and leave the other for later, but, uh, about that....Party in my tummy?)

IV. Chocolate Brownie, Caramel Delight.

Fittingly, this delicious dessert is sitting atop a favorite book of mine: a children's book adaptation of Robert Frost's poem "Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening."

Rich, nut-filled, gluten-free, homemade chocolate brownies drizzled covered in Whole Foods' caramel.

V. Caramel Cup (no picture)
Peanut butter cups sans the peanut butter, add in the caramel. I make these once a year with the caramel from Whole Foods and a blend of various dark chocolates.

VI. Caramel butter

My new favorite butter! Hands down, no competition!

Say, what? Gourmet butter is a foodie's delight. Prior to my induction into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society this week, two alumni of my alma mater, who were also initiated into the society that evening, gave a talk on their life post-college. Seeing their success, hearing how they used the skills and ingenuity they acquired through their time at this university, both in the classroom and extracurricular, was inspiring.  You can find Casco Bay Butter's story (and their diverse selection of flavors) on their website. Two non-culinary majors transitioned from their careers into a gourmet butter business, focusing on local, organic produce. It was a slow, hard process requiring a lot of work. Both admitted it was incredibly rewarding. Eat local, eat well, support sustainable agriculture and support mom & pop agriculture -mottos that I find myself aiming to live by were the building blocks of their small company.

Samples were given out at the event. We took home this delicious salted caramel butter. The cream is from local organic farmers and the caramel is homemade. It is heaven in your mouth! The butter is the creamiest, most flavorful butter I have ever tasted. The caramel is not strong or overpowering. It is only a small hint of caramel, enough to let you know 'this is something special.' They've got several other flavors they make; I now look forward to trying them all! We tried another one, an garlic and herb blend - oh my potato fries! So tasty! (This salted caramel will always hold a special place in my heart, though.)

I never imagined that butter would be a dessert. But here I sit... salted caramel butter on a piece of toast in hand, savoring every bite. No regrets. Screw calories - eat the butter!

(...Hm. Looking back through this list, I realize that chocolate-caramel combination is a theme. Apparently the flavors were meant to be wedded on top of my tongue.)

So...(future) doctor's orders: drop what you're doing, go to the store...Get yourself some caramel. Eat all the caramel. Put caramel on everything that is chocolate. Buy it in butter! It's not exactly healthy, but it is fantastic. And you are so worth fantastic.

Stay tuned: coming up soon - Liebster Award nominations!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Looks Like I Need More Tissues

This morning I went out to the store with mom and dad. When we came home we returned to this...

The "I'm not Guilty" face.

...I wonder whoever did such a thing?

This compromising predicament looks vaguely familiar. Wherever have  I seen it before? Oh! That's right. Last year, interestingly enough, also during the spring semester, I came upstairs to find this:
"Do I get a treat now?"

Either Amara was a cat in a former life or Peaches cunningly knows how to create chaos and shirk off the blame to her little sister. The jury is still out on which is true. Regardless, cute levels are high.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

This Week on Pinterest

Pinterest and I have a very strange relationship. We have an on again off again relationship. I run away for a while, forgetting it exists, and then come back when something reminds me of it. I pin-binge. I run away again. And, from there, the cycle continues. Currently Pinterest and I are “on again.” The person to blame: Liz Bug.

(Normally I call my lifelong friend Laura by her name or “Mushroom,” a nickname coined for her ages and ages ago; however, just the other day my brain was spurting out random nicknames for her all over the place. As if it had a mind of its own! That little bugger. Lizzyloo was another one thrown about, but today we stick with Liz Bug. -- She’s going to kill me for this --)

Spring has finally come to New England; it has been a slow coming, but warmly welcomed after a harsh, bitter-cold, snow-filled winter. Everyone, it seems, is bitten by the Spring Cleaning bug. (What is it about the newness, rebirth and rejuvenation of spring that makes us all want to be reborn ourselves?) My mother and I are itching to clear clutter and reorganize. Friends and family are clearing out, preparing for summer yard-sales or future Goodwill trips. My friends and I are feeling restless, a desire to change up our lives.  And Liz Bug? Well, Liz Bug wants to redecorate her room. She has been planning  designs on Pinterest.

This past week was my “Spring Vacation.” (Note the quotation marks. It was less vacation and more leisurely homework time.) During a surprisingly free afternoon, I spent a few hours at her house.
 It was a much needed break from a hectic homework week. Spending a few hours visiting a dear friend and her family was just the ticket. Laughter abound, lying on her carpet as the sun streamed in her window, and going on adventures with she and her sister (who I am also blessed to call 'friend') – the fun was endless. (Beautiful days such as these make going back to 'hitting the books' incredibly difficult.)

While I lay in the warm sun on her carpeted floor, like a cat sprawled out in her favorite sunlit spot, my Liz Bug sorted through her drawers, dresser, stationary and closet. We were surrounded with the old parts of her life, making room for the new. (In some cases this consisted of her giving me her old stuff…one man’s trash is another’s treasure!) She showed me the pins of all of her plans. We talked about her options.

…For a while now, I’ve been feeling stuck. Other than my mother and one or two others, you are the first to know this. (Sharing is caring!) I feel like I’m standing, a stick in the mud, as life rushes past. My mind is intellectually growing, my courses change; but otherwise, I feel unfulfilled, unchanged. There is no growth. Sure, I watch Super Soul Sunday, I meditate, I grow spiritually. But I want to grow in other areas of my life. Right now, I feel very stagnant.

Love these so much

As I stare down at these beautiful vintage-filter photographs Liz Bug took, pictures she gave to me instead of throwing away, I realize my love for vintage things. What is it that I love? I ask myself. It is a loaded question. As I ask it, I realize that my answers come only in whispers. Either I find myself unsure of what I love when asked on the spot, or I find myself only liking what I have liked for years. My rooms are decorated in such a way that depicts my very eclectic nature – anything from antiques to Star Wars and Harry Potter.  That is who I am. Ecletic. Yet, while so much of myself is in my space, I feel as if my space reflects me very little. The space is my teenage years. It isn’t now. Yes, most of my loves are the same…but they have also changed and expanded. I love Harry Potter, But I also love these vintage-filter photographs and the idea of them hanging across a clothesline in my room.

And so here enters Pinterest. I began pinning what I love.

A Holistic Health professor of mine once had us make a “Living in Your Truth” list. Mine got lost in the travel moving between school and home, but I am now thinking it is time to redo it. It is simply a list of truths – from your hair color, to your loves, to what makes you happy and uncomfortable, and to your absolutely nots. You keep the list on you. This list reminds you to never compromise your truth and to live what you love. Similarly, a mentor of mine had me create a vision board a while ago, but I never finished it. A vision board is a way to clearly envision what you desire out of your future. It’s a way of getting visually clear about what you’re aiming for. I always put my own roadblocks in the way from completing my vision board; whether it is time, materials, lack of desire, uncertainty in what I want portrayed – anything. I never completed the vision board because I never let it be completed. No more! This vision board – completed – is on the top of my To Do list.

Pinterest is helping that.

My Pinterest boards are becoming holding spots for my loves, my future goals, and my future projects. Some of these will end up on my vision board while others will stay where they are. Wherever they end up – printed and in front of my desk or in a webspace I can visit often – I am enjoying the adventure of the hunt.

Here are some boards I have been working on:
- Home
Craft room designs. DIY artistically stained furniture. Antique type writers. Home storage.

Saving ideas that I can use in my future home and where I am current, is fun. I work my creative muscle, deciding what design-style I prefer. I get to learn what I do – or do not – like.

- Wanderlust
This album is filled with the beauty of the world. The places I would love to visit someday.

My heart and soul cannot wait to travel. I have only tasted the freedom and excitement of travel a handful of times – most of them close to home. No taste has been enough to quench my thirst, my hunger for visiting and engaging in the world. There is so much beauty out there, so many sights to see and places to visit. How can I ever possibly stay in one place my whole life, without ever seeing the world, too?

For graduation, the leader of our Young Adults Against Dating Abuse group gave me and the other graduating senior our own copy of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss. I find that fitting.

- DIY Garden
This summer my family and I plan to have a large garden. Ever since I learned how to garden, I have had a green thumb. It’s an addiction, really. But our small raised bed gardens are never enough. We’ve spent years saying we want more room.

Finally, we’re going to get it.

My mother and I are also going to make a fairy garden. Looking up sweet, simple, homemade ways to decorate makes it feel like summer is right around the corner. One of my recent finds, and a personal favorite, is a little painted rock caterpillar.

Other albums I have been working on include…
- Art (among my recent finds for this album, my favorite is the art journal idea. Whenever I travel, I want to make a travel-inspired art journal, with my thoughts, pictures, tickets – anything and everything. It is such a creative, unique, beautiful, fun way to keep memories.)
- Scrapbooking (head’s up scrapbookers: Pinterest has super cute ideas. I look forward to using these in my scrapbooking over the summer!)
- Crafting (Christmas and birthday gifts galore.)
- Nails (consisting of nail polish)
- Wedding photography ideas (preparation for the wedding I am shooting in May)

Pinterest boards of what you love. Vision boards. Truth lists. These are tools to recenter, to get clear about what you want so that you can charge forth into life, taking it by the hand. They may not be the answer but they are a way toward it. Baby steps.

Making changes is my goal for this year. Trying new things each month was an item on my New Year’s Goal-list. That isn’t stopping now; it is only getting better.

What do you do when you're feeling stuck?