Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Why I LOVE Star Wars


Friday, December 18, 2015 was a great day for many, many reasons...one of them being the fact that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was released to the masses.

And it was magical.

If you told me a year ago that this year, I would have finished all of the Star Wars movies by the time the newest one came out, I would have laughed. It took me forever just to watch Episode IV and half of Episode V in college, so I couldn't imagine finishing the rest of the series. But then, I had some great friends who convinced me to take part in a series of weekly Star Wars parties to finish the series by the new movie's release date.

And when December 18 rolled around, I discovered that I absolutely loved this franchise.

It's not that I didn't love it before. In fact, I loved the original trilogy (my favorite is a toss-up between "A New Hope" and "Empire Strikes Back"). And even the prequels were fun to pick apart and watch for the sake of getting a certain baddie's backstory.

But it was the release of the newest movie in the series that really got me excited about the franchise as a whole. I hadn't had so much fun at the theater since the Harry Potter films. I laughed. I teared up. I reveled in the nostalgia. And most of all, I was completely and fully invested in a well-crafted story that just so happened to be decades in the making.


So, why do I LOVE Star Wars? Well, I could say the special effects, the characters, the settings, or the plot at large, to name some things off the top of my head.

But the truth is, I love Star Wars because it's a crystal-clear-cut battle between good and evil.

Let me explain.

With any of the movies, there's a Light Side and a Dark Side. There are no good guys on the Dark Side, nor are there any bad guys in the Light Side. If they walk amongst their counterparts, they are either undercover or conflicted, but they still profess to be with either side. Nobody is morally ambiguous here, and there's definitely no fence-straddling. In fact, when a character is trying to be good or reinvent themselves, they immediately associate themselves with the Light Side/Resistance/Rebels as opposed to the Dark Side/Empire/First Order. And if a bad character is torn between the two, they will fight their hardest to remain on the Dark Side.

Sure, the bad guys have the cooler weapons (see Darth Maul's dual-lightsaber or Kylo Ren's sword-like lightsaber complete with a hilt), but the good guys are usually better at aiming (see anyone vs. a Stormtrooper) and - even better - they win in the end. Even when things seem bleak, the good team is the winning team.

I really think that this applies to faith. Sure, people who behave wickedly may seem to have it all, but really, if you trust in God in all things and rely on Him even when times get dark, walking in the light will be far better in the end, and the victory will belong to those who trust fully in God, obey His commands, and live faithfully for Him.


And that, my friends, is why I love Star Wars. Well, that, and the adorable droids. :)
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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Makeup to Fly Out the Door With

I had one of those days recently where I needed to get out the door, and fast. As in, having only minutes to actually do makeup fast, along with the rest of my routine.

If you have five minutes to spare, fret not, dear reader. I have a list - a cheat sheet, if you will - of products that you too can use (and that I personally love) to fly out the door with. You'll be polished for any situation, whether that's work or school, and you can add products as the day goes on if you need a little something extra.

Also, quick disclaimer: you don't have to use these exact products. Use the ones that work best for you and your preferences.

Without further ado, on to the makeup! :)

Makeup to Fly Out the Door With


1. Thick, Cream Based Concealer - This usually has the consistency of a typical foundation. Apply this first over any areas that need to be evened out (like under your eyes). I recommend finding a brightening concealer as well, just to help illuminate your skin. But if you don't want to go the concealer route, I recommend a tinted moisturizer, just so you get that coverage along with the moisture (plus, that dewy, fresh texture is awesome).

2. Volumizing Mascara - Then, go straight to your mascara. Use one that you know will last all day (waterproof or not), and your eyes will pop instantly. Tubing mascaras have always worked well for me (see the Too Faced mascara linked above), since they only come off with remover and/or warm water.

3. Brow Gel/Pencil - Brows are the frames for the rest of your face, so well-groomed brows will help you feel extra-polished. Use your favorite brow gel or pencil to set and groom your eyebrows however you like, whether that's making them stand out or just polishing them up.

4. Lip Gloss - Finally, add a lip color of your choice. On days when I want to stay neutral, I like a sheer pink gloss, but if you want to go a little more bold, rock a lipstick in a bright shade.

What's your favorite makeup to fly out the door with?
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pumpkinfest 2015!! ( + Festival Tips)



This past Saturday, Candice - one of my best friends from college - came up to spend the whole weekend with me, and we set our sights on my hometown's Fall festival, Pumpkinfest.

I've blogged about Pumpkinfest before, but this year brought a lot of new adventures and parts of Pumpkinfest that I'd hadn't experienced before (and I've been going to this festival for years).

So, to go along with this post, here are some tips for you to try when you attend your next hometown festival or fair. :)

  • Try unexpected food. Had Candice not pointed out the fried rice stand on the corner of the street, I wouldn't have had some of the best fried rice I'd ever had. If you come to a festival hungry, try something new and unexpected if it looks really good. You may find yourself a new favorite.
  • Take ALL the pictures. Though the structure of a festival generally stays the same, there'll sometimes be new and exciting booths and attractions to try. Plus, there may be changes to those old favorites that you might miss if you don't take a closer look. Take pictures of both old favorites and new things that you like, and you'll be glad you did.
  • Actually stop and enjoy things. This goes with the previous tip, but if there's a new attraction that you like or an old favorite, take the time and actually enjoy it. You'll enjoy the festival or fair a lot more if you don't rush through it.
  • Finally, HAVE FUN. Go by yourself, or with people you love. Take pictures, and take it all in.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Guide to Planner Stickers

Planner by Ruskerville

As you guys may have seen on my Instagram (and my Pinterest), I've been interested in planner decorating over the past several months. I've always loved using planners, but ever since I got into planner decorating, I've had a lot more fun with the organization aspect of it, because I actually have a lot to organize now that I'm an adult in my mid-twenties working.

If you happened to be wondering why I use certain stickers, and what stickers I'd recommend that you use, you've come to the right post. I'm going to list certain stickers I'd recommend for certain functions, as well as where you can find the most adorable decorative stickers. Also, the majority of these will be Etsy shops, so they're handmade and extra-awesome.

Without further ado, let's get started! :)

Functional Stickers

Examples of functional stickers: Headers, Checklist boxes.
Part of a Ghostbusters kit by Keatown

If you're just stepping into the world of agenda/planner decorating, I definitely recommend that you start with more functional stickers first. They have a purpose, from labelling to listing, and they come in a variety of colors, so you can either create your own color scheme or use them as part of a larger decorating kit.

Here are the functional stickers I use. You can search for any of these on Etsy, plus adding the type of planner that you have if you want (like, checklist flag stickers for Erin Condren):
  • Checklist flags/boxes - to write lists and such
  • Headers - to establish those to-do lists or any other section you can think of.
  • Appointment boxes - blank stickers that are typically smaller to write basic things such as appointments; it sets them apart in your planner.
Then, if you're looking for specifics, you can search for those, too, like movie theater ones to mark off your cinema visits, or tiny stethoscopes for your doctor's appointments. Hey, you can even find clouds with adorable faces on them to mark the weather.

Sticker Kits

Super Mario kit by KG Planner

To take the guesswork out of coordinating colors, I like purchasing kits. You can find these to match the colors of certain planners (like the Erin Condren or Plum Paper Planner), or you can search by theme (such as Doctor Who or ice cream).


Decorative Stickers

Palm trees and other beach-themed decorative goodness by Clicky Chick Creates
(the raccoon is to commemorate me passing by some tiny raccoons in the country)

This is where the fun stuff is. SO many Etsy places have themed stickers, from Pokemon to Unicorns, and it's so easy to find a theme if you want to venture into fun decorating to spice up your agenda. How you decorate is up to you.

Here are the shops I like to purchase from the most for decorative stickers, mainly because they have kits of my favorite things (like Guardians of the Galaxy, any Disney princess you can think of, and so much more!):

If you're looking into sticker-ing your agenda/planner, I hope this was a quick and easy guide for you! Do you use stickers? Do you have favorite sticker stores? Please let me know in the comments! :)
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Instagram Roundup of my 24th Birthday

Guys. As of this past October 8th, I'm 24 years old. That's crazy

So here are some Instagrams of what went on that day and beyond!



1. We returned to Barista Parlor. Since I had been last year, I had visited the location closer to central Nashville quite a few times, but it had been a year to the day since we'd been the flagship coffee shop. There was a change in the breakfast menu from what I remember (no biscuits and gravy), but the egg, bacon, and white cheddar biscuit I had (I believe it was called the Moto Biscuit) was AWESOME. And, of course, it was the best coffee ever.

The rest of the day was spent in Nashville, gallivanting and doing other such happy things. :)

2. Later that evening, we celebrated at one of my favorite restaurants in Franklin called the Chop House. And while I knew a cookie cake was going to happen, I had NO idea that they were going to have a replica of my car on the cake (I drive a Mini. His name is Herbie.). It was such a happy surprise, and I had a fantastic day.



3. Last, but certainly not least, I did a spread of my birthday week in a new Ruskerville planner that I got for my birthday! I really like the layout and size of this one, AND...it's DOCTOR WHO THEMED. I'm planning (pun TOTALLY intended) on doing a new planner post here on the blog soon, so keep an eye out!
(P.S. If you want to know sticker sources for the spread above, please click here)
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Monday, October 5, 2015

Chicago, I Love You.



This time last week, I visited one of my favorite places in the country.

My parents totally surprised me with this trip. Over the weeks prior, it had been, "Block out these days", and "The weather will be pretty normal." When I found out we were all visiting Chicago for a quick getaway, I was totally thrilled.

So, here's what all we did! :)

Sightseeing

As with every time I've been to this city, there's no shortage of things to see in Chicago. We took a river cruise (which Mom and I had done before, but it was Dad's first time on the river) to see the various architecture and learn the history behind it. Also, shopping was involved afterwards. ;)

[edit: this is where they filmed the Choosing Ceremony scene in "Divergent"! I'd be Dauntless, in case y'all were wondering]



A Cubs Game

And then we went to Wrigley Field to see a Cubs game! It took them awhile to score, but it was fun getting to see this field for the first time. Again, so much history here!


Birthday Festivities

Finally, there was no shortage of birthday surprises, from chocolates to cake. It was truly a trip to remember. :)



And that was my quick wrap-up of my birthday trip to the city of Chicago! 
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Friday, October 2, 2015

The 1989 World Tour



Last Saturday, I went to an amazing concert with some great friends of mine. And we went to see one of my all-time favorite performers. :)

I guess I'll begin this post with the opening acts. I knew Vance Joy was going to open for Taylor Swift that night, but it completely slipped my mind that Haim was opening for her, too. I've talked about Haim before on this blog, and it was fun getting to hear them perform. Both Vance Joy and Haim were fantastic.



Then...came ALL the fabulous songs from the 1989 album. It's kinda tricky to get concert photos sometimes (especially on a phone), but I managed to get a bunch:



But let's not forget her guest stars. Taylor has been known to bring out epic guest stars in the past; when I've seen her, she's brought out Alan Jackson and Hayley Williams (of Paramore) to the Bridgestone Arena stage. But the 1989 tour had folks I didn't expect to ever grace the Nashville stage, but I'm SO glad they did. First was Leona Lewis (whose single "Bleeding Love" was huge when I was in high school, and yes, I sang along to every word).



And then...let's just say that Taylor introduced this guest as having just been inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame with his band the Rolling Stones.

Yep, I'm talking about Mick Jagger. As in, "Moves like Jagger" Mick Jagger. Needless to say, the crowd went wild.


Long story short, the entire concert was amazing. It's one of the best concerts I've ever been to, and I'm already looking forward to the next time she comes to town, though I can't imagine it being better than that Saturday night.


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Thursday, October 1, 2015

So I gave my logo [and blog] a fresh coat of paint.


So, you know how sometimes, the mood to make some changes hits you? Whether it's to your workspace or anywhere else?

Well, I'm excited to unveil something I've been mulling over for awhile now: a logo facelift! And with it, some blog redesigning!

The logo has to be the most drastic change, though. For the past while, [S]iW has always had a vertical logo, like this:

This was the very first [S]iW logo ever, circa January 2014.

But I decided to go with the circle logo, and I'm excited with how it came out. I made it using various elements I found through Pinterest (some I bought online). and I like to think it's got some significance, too: I chose the rope-like circle border as an allusion to my love for nautical things and how they're special to me. Then, of course, there's turquoise and gold glitter, my two favorite colors. Nothing much has changed there. :)

Also, the blog template is by PipDig again, and it's gorgeous. It's nothing too crazy, just turquoise and simple, clean lines, and I can't wait to use it as a platform to share more writing with you, because I've missed blogging and want to get back into it again.

What do you guys think of the new logo/redesign? Please let me know in the comments! :)

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How I Use My Agenda: Erin Condren, Stickers, & More



Last time I talked about agendas was back last year. I've made a few changes since then.

In today's post, I want to talk to y'all about what I've been using to plan out my work weeks, how I decorate/lay out a week, and where I purchase stickers to do said decorating. :)

What Do I Use These Days?




I was first introduced to the Erin Condren planner while I was at a wedding rehearsal dinner a year or so ago. A friend of mine had told me about the planners being used as bridesmaids' gifts (which is a really cool idea, now that I think about it). Years later, I heard about Erin Condren through a vlogger I've followed for years, Elle Fowler/AllThatGlitters21. Slowly, but surely, I watched her planner blog posts and planner videos, and I began to consider using functional stickers.

After I ordered some stickers (and LOVED using them to organize my Kate Spade agenda that I'd been using in '14/'15), and getting my mom hooked on planner decorating in the process, I eventually ordered a new Erin Condren planner to use through this and next year. After a looooooooooong wait (and a shipping delay), I finally received my personalized metallic Erin Condren Metallic life planner back in July. (As of the publication of this post, that particular planner is out of stock, but I imagine they'll add more soon. They add new covers all the time.)

The driving decision behind my agenda switch from a Kate Spade to an Erin Condren Life Planner was space. I only had a tiny block of space (made smaller after using functional stickers/any decorating) to write in work stuff, to-do's, and events. With the ECLP, I can use 3 blocks of space to compartmentalize everything into work, to-do's, and events, which - as busy as I am these days - is awesome.

How I Plan

This is what a typical week in my Erin Condren planner looks like before I load it up with things to do. I like to lay things out pretty far in advance, but then it'll get busier as the week goes on.


The supplies I use to create a week are:
  • Erasable pens: Colored pens are and have always been my primary way of planning things out, so of course these transitioned to the ECLP. The only difference is that I don't highlight as much anymore, since the barrage of colors was too much. I use Pilot Frixion erasable pens, which are FANTASTIC, and they erase super well.
  • Functional stickers: I used to collect stickers as a child, but planner stickers aren't all cutesy characters. There are flag stickers to create headings for to-do lists, reminder stickers with various icons, larger stickers to write to-do's or notes, checklist sticker flags with little hearts or boxes to denote each item, and so on.
  • Decorative stickers: And then, of course, there are times when I'm in the mood to add some fun to my weekly spreads, whether that's in a full theme or with a few extra touches. It's these fun details that can add fun to each week, and it'll be fun to go back over the year to see what I was into at different times.
Sticker Shops

Here are some of my favorite sticker shops I like to purchase from. All of these are Etsy sellers, so they are homemade and custom specifically for Erin Condren planners.

So, what kind of planner/agenda do you like to use? How do you organize your schedule?
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Thursday, August 6, 2015

July Book Wrap-Up

all cover images are from amazon.com

Hey, y'all! :)

So, 'tis time for me to write another book-related post. I've been incredibly busy, so reading hasn't exactly been happening a whole lot, but I read a few novels, including a couple I read while I was traveling over the past few weeks (see here, here, and here for details on that). And one of them may be my #1 book of the year.

Let's go ahead and get into them, shall we?

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Adieh

This book had a premise that intrigued me: A 16-year-old king who murders each new bride he takes at dawn must be stopped, so a 16-year-old lady named Shahrzad volunteers to marry him and finally serve justice against a monster...but not is all as it seems behind the palace walls.

The story is based loosely around A Thousand and One Nights, the tale that the story of "Aladdin" originated from (and yes, there is a magic carpet very briefly mentioned in this book). I really liked the world-building (especially the juxtaposition of fictional kingdoms with real-world places in the Saudi Arabia area, like Damascus), and the characters were also well-written. I liked the idea of the magic, too, but it was just so brief that I didn't really get the chance to get into it (maybe in the second book in the duology, we'll get to see more). While the romance got a little insta-lovey and felt a little far-fetched at times across the board (not just the main characters), the novel was a nice read.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

This one has been recommended to me, recommended to me, and recommended to me some more. This was the first C. S. Lewis novel I've read since I finished the Chronicles of Narnia series years ago, and...guys...I'm recommending it to you right. now.

If you're familiar with Lewis' work, then you don't need me to tell you how incredible and thought-provoking his writing style is. The way he wrote this novel - specifically since it's written from the perspective of a demon to his demon nephew - will take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it's brilliant. It's fiction with enough nonfiction elements that you can take away from it and learn from. 

Rating: Straight up 7 out of 5 stars. (It's good enough that I'm breaking my own rating scale.)

An Unwelcome Quest by Scott Meyer

Guys. I finally finished this series...well, I hope it's not the end. This series has been a fun, fun ride, and this was an equally fun addition to it. 

Our heroes - Martin, Gwen, Phillip, Britt, and the rest of the gang - have all been gallivanting as per usual, until an evil wizard named Todd - who's been stuck in a high-security prison in Florida via magic for attempting to control human bodies against their will - comes to attempt to smite them. How does he attempt to smite them? By creating an old-school RPG quest for them to explore and conquer, of course!

Writing- and character-wise, it's just as fabulous as its predecessors. Story-wise, it started to wane a little bit, mainly in pacing and in some of the shock value elements (including some language, which hasn't been in the past two books). Otherwise, I had fun reading it, and I am very, very much looking forward to a fourth book if there is one.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

What books did you read this past month?

Also, if you want to see what I'm reading now - and what I'm currently into - please check out my Goodreads!
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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Ireland Adventures

Along with England and Scotland, I got to visit Ireland. This was my first time visiting this beautiful, rugged, and green country, and I wound up absolutely loving it. It's safe to say that every place I visit becomes a new place I love in some way, but there's something about Ireland that I just can't quite place. I think it's a solid mix between the history, the surprising - but delightful - modernity of the cities juxtaposed against the lush countryside, and getting to go there with awesome people.

Belfast

Our first stop after getting off the ferry across the Irish Sea from Alloway was Belfast. The city itself had a Boston-like feel to it, and it was easy enough to get to various places.

Here's what all we did there:
  • We did more church work in the area. :)
  • We hit up Pizza Express (my favorite pizza chain in the UK).
  • We got to visit the Titanic museum, located right on the shipyard where the Titanic was built and launched.
  • We visited various Belfast sights, including City Hall, the Parliament building, the Linen Hall Library (my personal favorite in the city), and St. George's Market (think the Pike Place Market in Seattle, but more indoors).

















Giant's Causeway/Antrim Coast

Throughout our Belfast adventures, we took various excursions to the Giant's Causeway area and sights along the Antrim Coast, including the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

This is where the amazing countryside is.













We also made stops by Carrickfergus Castle and Scrabo Tower (which was closed the day we went) as we traveled along the coast.






Dublin

Last, but certainly not least, my favorite city in Ireland, Dublin, was our final stop on our whole UK/Ireland trip.

Here's Dublin by day (including St. Paul's Cathedral + Trinity College's campus)...










...and here's Dublin by night... :)





And that wraps this trip up! I hope you guys liked this little series of UK travel adventures. :)

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