Dec 28, 2013

2013 Year in Review and a Look into 2014

Here we are, at the end of another year! Here are a few highlights from 2013!

I started a new feature on my blog, called Book of the Month. On the first of every month, I recommend a book that I had read the previous month. It's a little hit or miss, but that's the way reading goes sometimes, isn't it?

A friend and I started a "letter game" for writing. We have now started our second story.

I turned 25!

In June I went to Prince Edward Island, fulfilling one of my New Year's resolutions, and a dream of mine!

Sis and bro-in-law made me an aunt with the arrival of Baby E in July. Bro and I then went and visited them in August.

In October I decided to apply to graduate school. Well, it didn't start out that way. I first just decided to take the GRE, to have that avenue open for me, and then quickly decided to apply to grad school while I was looking around at programs. This meant that the last couple months of the year were spent studying for the GRE and filling out my application. My application is in (except for one letter of recommendation) and I am going to try to forget about it until I hear word.

In addition, this year I've learned a lot about being strong and healthy, as well as the people in my life who love and support me no matter what.

As for my other New Year's Resolutions. I did write often, until about July when I started having to look for new jobs, and then I started studying for the GRE. I'm getting back into it though, and will hopefully have more time to write as 2014 begins. As for the "exercising with some frequency"--I did okay for about the first three months, then I stopped. Then in September I started up again, and I exercise about 20 minutes a day three or so times a week using a work-out app called Sworkit. Not ideal, I know, but it's better than nothing.

Now, to try to see the future and look forward to 2014 . . .

I now have until June to find a new job. Starting in January, I'll go down to working three days a week, so I'll spend the other two days a week "working from home". I'm planning on writing in the morning, and doing some job searches in the afternoon. I did apply for two jobs this month, but have yet to hear back from them.

There is also my grad school acceptance/rejection to get--sometime around March I think. If I get into grad school, then I will not be taking a vacation this year because money. If I don't, I still may not be taking a vacation this year. It all depends on whether or not I get a job. If I am able to go on a vacation, I have no idea where I want to go. I have kicked around the idea of New York and seeing Broadway plays, but I don't think I'd want to go by myself. It can't be anywhere too expensive, since I don't have as much vacation money this year as I did last year. Suggestions? Probably somewhere in the US.

Well, there we are! The year didn't turn out how I thought it would, but then, nothing ever does. I look forward to whatever new adventures 2014 brings!

Dec 15, 2013

Afternoon Tea

Friday after work three of the girls I work with and I decided to go to Afternoon Tea at the Grand America Hotel. We'd actually had it planned for a while, as a special Christmas treat, and because we like doing things together.

Even though I spent 8 week in England, I had never been to afternoon tea. Truthfully, I just started drinking herbal tea about two months ago. I know. What kind of Anglophile am I?! I had also never been inside the Grand America, even though I have admired it from the outside, because it's just a beautiful building.

And it's just as beautiful inside. Lush carpet, beautiful chandeliers, a harp player, tile floors. It made me feel like I had a lot more money than I actually do. Or ever will.

The tea room is just off of the lobby. In my head I was picturing a tea room like this:

When actually there were couches and chairs as well as tables. The four of us sat at a table with beautiful dishes. The waitress came to get our order of tea (I ordered chamomile citron), and she poured hot water into a wine glass sitting on the middle of the table. The glass had a pellet like thing in it called a "tea flower." While we enjoyed our tea, the pellet bloomed into a flower!

Our first course, as we waited for our tea, was strawberries and chantilly cream. Then our tea was brought out. We each had our own tea pot, and we shared a sugar bowl which had real "lumps" of sugar. For the record, I take one lump. ;) We also got sandwiches at this point.

There were five different kinds of sandwiches, with enough that we all could have one of each. There were ham on marbled rye, chicken salad with almonds, egg salad, cucumber, and a smoked salmon wrap. There were also scones with clotted cream, lemon curd, and strawberry jam.

Then came the pastries. There was orange madeleines, jam cookies (I don't remember what they are called), vanilla cream cake with fudge, double chocolate cake, and macaroons.

The atmosphere was perfect. I'm not a huge fan of eating out, usually because there are so many people and it's so loud. But this was perfect. Everyone was in their little groups, and the noise level just seemed like a murmur. For the most part I didn't even notice the other people. There are large windows which let in a lot of light, and tall ceilings. At the opposite end of the room from where we were is a large fireplace. Of course, the company was great too. We all love Jane Austen, England, and period movies, so we talked about that, and sometimes we just sat in silence and enjoyed the food and atmosphere. It really did make me feel fancy and rich.

This is definitely something I want to do again, for special occasions. I would suggest it to everyone else too.

Dec 12, 2013


This might come across as kind of weird for some people, but one of the things I like the most is when I am comfortable enough with another person that we can be in the same room with each other and not feel the need to talk to each other.

I know, sounds really weird.

But think about it. You know that you really feel comfortable around someone when you don't feel the need to fill up the silence, or when you don't feel uncomfortable with silence. It's the best feeling in the world to just be with someone.

Last night, M was working on one of her final papers on one edge of the couch, and I was lying on the other part catching up on my reading (now that I don't have to study for the GRE anymore, I've been able to read four books already this month!). And we just stayed like that for an hour or more. If we came across something interesting, we'd share it with the other, but for the most part we sat in companionable silence. It was great.

This happened last year with my parents last year, too. We had the fireplace going and we all just read our respective books, enjoying being together in such a close and relaxed way.

This is not to say that I don't enjoy conversation with the people I love (and, you know, other people that I like too), because I do. I like talking to M about our days and sharing funny things. I LOVE talking to my mom. This is also not to say that I don't enjoy doing other things with people. I like watching movies, and sharing in on our likes and dislikes.

But there is something to be said for moments of quiet contented silence with someone you enjoy spending time with. It's a different kind of togetherness. It's relaxed, and calm. And it's moments like that when you feel that you really understand someone, and that person really understands you. Being together in that kind of situation seems to bring people closer in some way.

I hope that in my future I find someone who I feel comfortable sitting in silence with, as well as talking to them.

Dec 6, 2013

A Glance into the Past

I was watching Ramona and Beezus tonight (crying fest!) and there is a scene where Ramona gets her own room for the first time and she's really excited. Then Beezus comes in and tells Ramona about how scared she's going to be, sleeping in a room by herself in the dark. And it reminded me of something from my childhood. So, let's get in the TARDIS and head back to 1998.

Vworp vworp vworp

Up until I was 10, I shared a room with Sis. Our room was pretty big, and for most of the time we shared it, we had twin beds. If I ever got scared, I'd walk across the room and get into Sis's bed, though I always had to be on the side of the bed against the wall, which meant I usually got squished. For about a year before I got my own room, we had a queen bed that we shared. Sis spreads out a LOT when she sleeps, so I usually ended up in a ball on the edge of the bed.

So, when it came time to get my own room, I was pretty excited! We had just built an extension onto the back of the garage for my dad's shop, which meant that the room that used to be the shop became my bedroom. The door opened into the sink section of the bathroom, and there was no carpet, and just enough room for a twin bed, but it was going to be mine. (It's strange, I just realized that I still dream about this room, as if it's still my bedroom, even though I haven't lived in that house--or even been in it--for 9 years.) Anyway, I don't remember how it all went down, but I do remember being slightly scared when it came down to it.

If you've spent your entire life sleeping in a room with another person, and being scared of the dark, going into a room all by yourself is kind of scary! So Bro and Sis agreed to sleep on the floor of my room (my hard concrete floor with only a braided rug for a cushion) the first two nights.

It's kind of nice to know that your family is always there to sleep on your floor when you need them.

Dec 5, 2013


As you all know, I spent November studying for the GRE. I did take a break or two for social activities, including the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary! For a geek like me, it was Christmas a month early. But a lot of my time not at work was taken up by studying, learning new things, taking practice tests, then going over the practice tests (which usually included another person for the math). It was a busy month, with not enough reading time. Something I learned, though, is that I'm feeling pretty serious about grad school--if I weren't, I would have given up part way through the month.

Tuesday morning I took the test. It was a really rough morning. Have you ever been walking along, fine as can be, and then you just run into a wall unexpectedly? And you can't see anyway around, over, under, or through that wall? And besides that, you don't feel very good because you just smacked into a wall? Well, that's kind of how I felt the morning of the GRE. 

I had felt fine the day before, and slept well that night. But I hit the wall as I was getting ready to go. Roommate M was driving me since the test was taking place at the university she attends, and she was heaven sent. She talked me into getting out of the car (with some help from a phone call to my mom) and taking the test. And, boy, am I glad she did!

The whole test taking experience is kind of surreal--I know I did it, but I don't really feel as if I did. M walked me to the testing center--which was good because I never would have found it on my own--and figuratively held my hand through the sign in process. Then I signed in and had to read and sign a confidentiality agreement, where I had to copy a paragraph into cursive. I haven't written that much in cursive since I was in elementary school! And they don't even teach cursive anymore, so that's going to have to change soon. Anyway, I went in, they signed me in on the computer and took my picture, which was lovely (/sarcasm). I had to take my watch off, even though it isn't digital, and then I had to stand while they waved a metal detector wand over me. They also asked to see my wrists, which reminded me of Mulan, when she goes to the matchmakers and she has notes written on her arm. 

Then I went in and got started!

Two hours later I had a quick break and about an hour and a half after that I finished. You get your scores immediately, and I was surprised that I hadn't done that bad--considering the wall that morning. I did slightly better than I had on my practice tests (I always ended up with the same scores on allof my practice tests), and my verbal was above average and my math just below. I finished early (I've always been a fast test taker, which is good and bad), and M wasn't back yet to get me, so I just sat and watch the snow fall. I was exhausted! In fact, it took about two days for me to recover, which is why I'm writing about it now instead of yesterday. 

I went to work for about five hours, which made me even more exhausted. So I recovered by lying on the couch and watching Holiday Inn that night. Nothing like some Astaire and Crosby to help a person feel better. :)

I just want to give a shout out to everyone who was so supportive the past month and who sent prayers my way on Tuesday--I needed it more than I knew when I asked for it. 

Dec 1, 2013

November Book of the Month

Before I begin, here's an update from last week's book of the month. I read the second book, which used a lot more bad language than the first. That's just something that I'm not comfortable with, so I probably won't be reading any more in the series.

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent most of my spare time studying for the GRE, which resulted in me not only not having a lot of time to read, but also in not having any time to write any more posts on my blog. It will all be over on Tuesday though, and then I just need to finish my grad school application and I can "relax" and wait. Sigh.

This month's book of the month is The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry. This story is a bit of a Cinderella retelling, but I felt that Berry's approach and telling of it was so different that you didn't feel that you were reading the same fairytale that you know backward and forward. Amaranth follows Lucinda as a mysterious woman and a mysterious jewel appear one day in her uncle's goldsmith shop. When her uncle dies and her aunt turns her out into the street, Lucinda must rely on a witch, a thief, and a prince to help her to restore the fortune that was stolen from her when her parents died.

I love fairytales and fantasies, but it's hard to find well written ones. I was pleasantly surprised by this book and will probably read Berry's other book. Another mention is that it is published by my favorite publishing company (which probably shows what a nerd I am), Bloomsbury Press. I have never read a book printed by Bloomsbury that wasn't well written, well edited, and a good story. Take that as you may.

Happy reading!