Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Book Wrap-Up

All of these cover images are from Amazon.com

Hey, y'all! :) I read some intense books this month, but they were quite amazing. In this post, I want to round those books up, and regardless of if I've given them a full review or not, I want to talk to you about them briefly and what my thoughts were about each one.

So, without further ado, let's get right into the books I read in January!


The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This high fantasy novel was a recommendation from my mom, and my goodness, I'm glad I picked this up. It's fun, I loved the protagonist, and I loved the world-building. I also loved the magic system. It was a delightful journey all around, and I recommend it to anyone, regardless of if you're into high-fantasy.

For my full review, click here.


Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Y'all. This book is GOOD. 10/10, would recommend. ALL the stars. Go read it right now.

For my full review (and why I like this book so much), click here.


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Now this one was interesting. It's about a post-apocalyptic world that's reeling from "the collapse" caused by a pandemic, and in this world, there's a traveling symphony that goes around from settlement to settlement performing Shakespeare. There are also other narratives that take place in the present day (years or even just weeks before the pandemic).

This novel is intense, but very good. The writing style felt a bit jarring at times, and there were a couple times where some characters behaved badly (in my opinion) and it upset me, but I still really enjoyed the story and the main characters (Kirsten was my favorite).


 Did you read any good books this January? Let me know in the comments! :)
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Friday, January 30, 2015

On Blog Design, and My Recent Redesign



If you've visited my blog in the last couple of days (since Wednesday), you might notice that things look a smidge different around here. What started out as a blog header change turned into a spontaneous redesign that I'm absolutely loving. :)

So how did it come about?

I changed the header earlier this week to a different font, and at the same time, I felt like the blog was missing something. I wondered if I wanted to add any sort of extras to my sidebar, a signature...but nothing was really striking my fancy.

That is, until I discovered that one of the blogs I follow on Bloglovin' recently redesigned her blog. It looked really good, so I scrolled down to the bottom of the page to see who the designer was, or if she designed the layout herself.

That's how I discovered Pipdig, the same guys who designed one of my top favorite fashion/lifestyle blogs, InTheFrow.

They do custom templates that are absolutely gorgeous. I found one I absolutely adored, bought it, customized it myself using the template designer and some HTML know-how, and it's now the best it's ever looked. Ever. The guys at Pipdig know what they're doing for sure.

Was the purchase worth it? 100% yes. I originally wasn't going to buy a template, and I would not have made the purchase if I didn't absolutely love it. Plus, I blog a lot anyway.

Does this mean I'm not going to change the colors again later if I'm so inclined? Given my track record, probably not. But I'm absolutely LOVING my bright mint color scheme right now, so it'll stay this way for the next good while. :) And this layout is definitely sticking around for the long haul; call me obsessed.

What do you guys think of the new look?
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Adventures at the Ace



This hotel. My goodness. Where do I even start?

It's a hipster's paradise, complete with slick typography wherever you look, great music, and quirky and happy little details. The closest thing I can think of that's even remotely similar back home is Barista Parlor, but that's teeny-tiny and mainstream compared to this place.

(On a side note, I literally couldn't stop instagramming things there. There's just too many wonderful things there to photograph!)



Here's what I love:

  • The atmosphere (see above)
  • Listening to ALL the great music with Mom (we blasted Adele, Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, and Bastille, to name a few)
  • The coffee at King's Highway is AWESOME. (Best caramel latte ever!!!)
  • They have a PHOTO BOOTH.
  • And they also have fire places, which make excellent reading nooks
  • The hotel plays great music intermittently outside and in the lobby. (Examples: Vance Joy, Gnarls Barkley, Muse, and many, many more)
  • Did I mention how great the caramel lattes were?
The restaurant, King's Highway, is a really, really fun place to eat. It's a converted Denny's, but you wouldn't be able to tell it from the eclectic mix of rustic and retro decor.

Also, they have an awesome grilled beef burger. YUM.



Besides exploring and relaxing in and around the hotel, Mom and I took part in a crafting workshop hosted by Heather Ross. It was great fun with great company. :)

Here's what all we did:
  • Wove on a loom and learned how to weave in fringe (which is actually way easier than it looks)
  • I made a DRESS. :) It's super cute, turquoise, and reversible.
  • I learned crewel embroidery (which is embroidering wool thread through linen...it's easy!)

This is the dress I made. :)



Thanks for reading my Palm Springs adventures!

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Joshua Tree + Cabazon Dinosaurs

Last Thursday, Mom and I decided to make a day trip out to Joshua Tree National Park. We'd both heard so much about it - and we had the time to burn - that we thought that it'd be a fun stop during our Palm Springs adventure.

The drive over there was a sight in and of itself. I'd never seen so many windmills in my life (especially ones of that size). AND the hills were also gorgeous.





After about an hour's drive, we finally hit the national park. To be honest, we actually didn't get very far into the park, but we saw exactly what we wanted to see. The rock formations are gorgeous, and so are the trees. It's amazing how different and vast God's creation is across the country, especially in comparison to the rolling hills I'm used to in Tennessee.




While we were on our way out, I remembered that there were some dinosaur statues in the area. The Cabazon Dinosaurs were some that I'd seen on Pinterest, so I told my iPhone to take us there.

I'll be honest, the area is kind of sketch, so we were in and out of there really quick. However, it was hilarious to take pictures by the giant Brontosaurus, AKA Little Foot for all of you who watched "The Land Before Time." :) (Also, the magazine I write for is doing a Dinosaur-themed issue, so I thought it was fitting.)


This is what you do when you realize you're in Jurassic Park.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Palm Springs: The Highlights


Oh, Palm Springs.

Where do I begin?

There's absolutely nothing quite like Palm Springs, California. It's on the smaller side in some ways, but it's great and big and vast in others. Giant mountains surround the entire area, and - in true Californian fashion - there are TONS of palm trees...and vast amounts of desert, of course.



Here are the things I absolutely loved there:
  • Normas @ The Parker (best donuts EVER)
  • Shopping at El Paseo and Cabazon Outlets
  • The Palm Springs Art Museum (Mom and I got to walk on an installation, and one of the photographs there was based on a character from Final Fantasy IX!)
  • Reading. A lot. I finished two books while there. :)
  • Palm Desert, Yucca Valley, and Joshua Tree National Park (full post to come!)
  • Manhattan in the Desert (best French Dip & Eggs Benedict EVER)
  • Cabazon Dinosaurs
  • The entirety of the Ace Hotel
  • Downtown & Uptown Palm Springs (such a unique area!)

Long story short, this place is pure magic. :)

And now for some more photos!


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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thoughts on Pages #14: Vicious


This book. Oh. Goodness.

Never have I been blown away by a superhero story quite like this one.

Synopsis

"Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end? 


In Vicious
, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question."


(from Amazon)

Characters

Victor and Eli, in an attempt to do research on ExtraOrdinary people (AKA EO's), acquire superpowers themselves through death-defying experiments. As a result, they gain unique abilities: Victor can inflict and take away pain upon himself and others, while Eli can heal himself and is essentially immortal. 

Victor grew on me. Even though his power was the most volatile, he was one of the most selfless characters in the book. He struggled with jealousy quite often (especially in the past with Eli), but when it came to protecting those he cared for, he did so without question. Those who care about him do the same (I LOVED Mitch and Sydney! And Dol!).

Now, the character I was the most intrigued by was Eli. This is not a spoiler, so don't freak out: Eli is a Christian. His faith is actually what drives his actions in the book, but in a way that's self-seeking. He thinks that it's his God-given duty to eradicate anyone else who happens to have superpowers. I've never seen a character use their faith in this way, but that particular facet made him memorable. I'm a Christian myself, so while it was refreshing to see a character pray (in fact, he even places his life in His hands at one point towards the beginning of the novel),  it was also important to show what happens when it becomes less about pleasing God and more about pleasing oneself and justifying actions for personal gain.

The rest of the superheroes in the story have really intriguing superpowers. Some of the heroes are ones we meet for a few pages, and then they're gone (to quote MAGIC!, Eli, "Why you gotta be so rude?"). But, nonetheless, every single character had a role in the story, big or small, and their threads all tied together very nicely.

Setting

One half of the story takes place in Lockland University - where Eli and Victor attended college - and the other half takes place in various locations around the city of Merit.

Really, all I have to say about the setting is that it's really conducive to the plot. It almost fades into the background while the characters and plot take the stage, which are truly the most important.

My Thoughts

I have a soft spot for superhero stories.

I'm a Marvel & DC fan, I enjoyed the TV show "Heroes", and I have just loved the genre for the majority of my life. But I've never been so perplexed by and left breathless by a story like Vicious. It's dark and gritty novel, but it's well-written, and it makes you think about what it really means to be a hero. It also teaches the lesson of the perils of when selfishness goes way, way too far. It's intense from the first page to the last. I'd recommend it for adults and young adults (rating it PG-13 for violence; but it's like any Marvel movie out there).

So, I give Vicious by V. E. Schwab five cartons of chocolate milk out of five. It's a thrill ride from start to finish.

Want to see what I'm reading next? Check out my Goodreads and feel free to follow me there! Also, please leave any recommendations in the comments if you would like.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Thoughts on Pages #13: The Name of the Wind


I picked up this book when I was kind of disillusioned by a book that was just..."meh". So, I decided to finally read this high fantasy novel, one that my mom had been recommending to me for the past few years.

Y'all, that was a great decision. I have a new favorite author to add to my Top Ten list.

Synopsis

"The riveting first-person narrative of a young man who grows to be the most notorious magician his world has ever seen. From his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime- ridden city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that transports readers into the body and mind of a wizard. It is a high-action novel written with a poet's hand, a powerful coming-of-age story of a magically gifted young man, told through his eyes: to read this book is to be the hero."
(from Amazon)

Truly, the less you know about the actual story, the better (because I'd be wandering into spoiler territory, and trust me, you don't want me to spoil this one). So, I'll just tell you that this is the coming-of-age story of a living legend, as told by a living legend, to a Chronicler. The narrative switches back and forth from a quaint inn in the countryside to Kvothe's story.

Characters

I'll only get into the protagonist in detail, so let's talk about our red-headed hero, Kvothe.  He's wickedly smart for his age, but he's innately good. While he is good-natured, he won't let people walk all over him, nor will he stand by when those he cares for are in danger. He's one of the best teenage protagonists I've ever read - believable and heroic at the same time - and I had absolutely no trouble empathizing with him.

The supporting cast is excellent, and some of their roles in this story shift, which will keep you guessing right up until the very end. Also, the villains are super-creepy.

(My favorite characters: Kvothe, Bast, Denna, and Fela.)

Setting

This world is a delight. It's reminiscent of a renaissance England and Italy combined, and I absolutely love it.

Actual setting aside, the magic system in this story is the best. There's so much mystery surrounding it, but once you get into what it actually involves, it's intriguing. Basically, the magic system is focused on alchemy and science, and to the outsider, it looks like true "magic". This is also where the University comes into play; people can go to this University to actually get a degree to be an Arcanist (a magic user). Seeing all this play out on the page was quite cool.

My Thoughts

I'll be honest, here: this book took me a while to get through. It's over 600 pages of novel goodness, and as such, the pacing did get a little slow for me at times. But once the plot picked up, it ran. This book is a journey, as Kvothe's story is a journey. I got excited for him and felt sorry for him on multiple occasions. I reveled in each location. I got excited when the magic system was developed further, and speaking of twists...the ending was really, really, really good.

Therefore, I give The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss five lutes out of five. This high fantasy is a journey worth taking, and I look forward to continuing it in the sequel.


Want to follow my reading adventures and see what I'm into? Follow me on Goodreads! Also, feel free to recommend any books to me in the comments!
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Friday, January 16, 2015

How I Travel Journal

Travel Journaling used to feel like a foreign concept to me. I would normally get so caught up in taking in wherever I was - especially if the place is brand-new to me - that I completely forgot to write it down. In short, I'd be too busy.

However, I gave travel journaling a shot last summer when I went to Italy...and I had a blast! I found a method that worked the best for me, and it was fun to keep up with it. I enjoyed it so much that I intend to travel journal again on the next trips I have coming up.

So, how do I travel journal? Well, I'm glad you asked! :)

What Tools I Use

Blank notebooks have been my jam. Lined notebooks are fabulous, too, but I like to doodle in mine, and it's fun to just get my experiences on the page immediately without worrying about lines. (I think it's the former art student in me.

I highly, highly recommend Moleskine notebooks. They come in so many sizes, colors, and varieties, so chances are high that you'll find the best one for you. I have used Moleskine notebooks to sketch, report (back in my college newspaper reporting/interviewing days), and - of course - journal. Plus, they're great quality, and will last a really, really long time. :)

poppin. Ballpoint Pen Set



From there, I'd just recommend using really fun pens. I have a penchant for colored pens (ask anyone I know), so I use those to title journal entries and doodle. Then, I'll use a black pen to actually write my entries out.


How I Actually Journal

So, here's how I put pen to paper and write out a travel journal entry. This is the method I personally use, so feel free to tweak whatever steps you want to fit your style and/or schedule.
  • Use bullet points. This was the best way for me to outline all the landmarks I saw in Italy, and it's very handy when you just want to say what you did and where you went. If there's a place that really struck your fancy, you can write about it in greater detail. I just really liked having all of the names of the places/landmarks I had seen in one, immediate place.
  • Write out the fond memories. Did anything particularly memorable happen? Any crazy stories that you have a feeling you will laugh at later? Anything so amazing that you know you'll remember it for the rest of your life? Write those stories down in as much detail as you possibly can. Those will be the ones that will make you say, "Yeah, I remember that!" and/or burst out laughing when you look back at your journal months or years from now.
  • Feel free to write multiple entries at once when you have downtime. I did the most travel journaling on the road, so if you're going to be chilling for awhile, feel free to knock a few entries out over a few days. (Another tip I have is to ask a travel buddy - or two, or five - to refresh your memory if you can't remember what you did on a specific day. I did this a LOT in Italy.)
  • When all else fails, take ALL the pictures, or Instagram everything. Pictures really are worth a thousand words, and you can use these to reference if you do want to write your adventures down later.

Do you guys keep a travel journal? If so, how do you keep it?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Title


While I was doing some stuff for work today, I remembered that Meghan Trainor was releasing an album this month. I had no idea that it was releasing sooner than I had expected, so I was in for a delightful surprise when I turned on Spotify and saw that her new, full-length album "Title" was ready to stream.

So, I hit "play" and enjoyed the album while I took care of items on my to-do list.

The album itself has a bubblegum retro feel that I was drawn in to, especially after hearing "All About That Bass" play months ago on the radio and YouTube. This mood carries through the album for the most part, but there are a ton of slow ballads on the album as well. Some of these are fantastic, and others are a little too mellow for my tastes.

As for what she sings about, the subject matter is primarily about guys. There are a few tracks on here that are really sweet. You can tell that she's not settling for just anyone (and won't let her friends settle for less either), and she doesn't want to move too fast in relationships. In fact, there were really only a couple of songs I didn't like.

Overall, I give this album 8 out of 10 pieces of bubblegum. It's a lot of fun, but I wish more of the album followed the same upbeat precedent that "All About That Bass" and "Lips Are Movin" had.

Favorite Songs: "All About That Bass", "Dear Future Husband", "Like I'm Gonna Lose You", "What If I", "Lips Are Movin", "No Good For You"


Have you listened to this album yet? What do you think?
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Unwinding


I enjoy the process of "winding down". I like when the tasks of the day are finished, and all that's left is to relax and rest before tomorrow comes. Sometimes, it's tricky to wind down, whether I'm thinking about the next day's events or I'm just wound up from the coffee or chocolate I had earlier (fun fact: I'm so sensitive to caffeine that I will actually still be awake at night if I have a cup of coffee at about 3-4 PM or so).

So, what is it that I like to do when I'm winding down? That's exactly what I want to talk to you about. :)

Watch YouTube Videos

I love watching videos on YouTube. In fact, I probably watch more YouTube than actual television; there's more to choose from, and it's all on demand (the same could be said of Amazon Prime, Netflix, and the like). I'll watch funny videos, or I'll watch makeup/fashion tutorials from my favorite vloggers and bloggers that I needed to catch up on.

Listen to Great Music

I actually discover a lot of great music at night, whether that's through Spotify, YouTube, or anywhere else. I'll either put on my headphones or play music through my laptop speakers while writing, catching up on blogs, or even actually blogging. :)

Catch Up on Social Media

This goes along with the catching up with blogs (I use the Bloglovin' app for that), but I like to scroll through my Facebook and/or Instagram feeds before bed.

Here lately, I've been enjoying an app called Steller. It's like following blog posts, but you check out people's photo stories. I've been looking up photo stories for places I'm planning on visiting soon. :) But they pretty much have a photo story for everything, and they're just fun to look through. I want to try to make my own photo stories using the app at some point.

Reading Novels

There's really nothing like a great novel before bed. :) I especially love reading in bed when it rains. (I have great memories of falling asleep to rain on my roof, whether I'm reading or not.)

Reading my Bible

Last, but absolutely not least, I read my Bible every night before bed. I usually use a Bible app on my phone for this, and I often read the "verse of the day" or a verse I'd bookmarked previously.

Also, I enjoy using devotional apps. My favorites are She Reads Truth and Jesus Calling.


What's your favorite way to wind down at night?
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Mondays are for Music #2



I like to say that my tastes in music are varied because I've been in art school and I've worked as a DJ at a radio station while at college. Discovering new tracks is a lot of fun for me, and I consider browsing SoundCloud or new Spotify playlists an adventure in and of itself.

While I love a wide variety of genres - Pop, Christian, Electronic, Singer-Songwriter - I've been gravitating towards dance-y (and generally epic) tracks lately. I thought I'd share some of these tracks I've found with you. :)


"Divinity" by Porter Robinson

I found this gem on iTunes, and it's been a joy to listen to on repeat. It's not quite dubstep, not quite dance, and not quite trance, but every element works amazingly well.  (The entire album is actually really good, too!)




"Keep Going" by Panda Eyes & Datphoria feat. COZY

Ever since I discovered dubstep back when I was a freshman in college, I've relished the really, really good dubstep tracks I've found over the years, from artists like Skrillex to Bassnectar. This song is one that I discovered recently, and I literally can't stop listening to it; it has an epic feel that I love, and would be a good track to introduce new listeners to the dubstep genre (either this or "Gold Dust" by Neon Flux). So far, this song has kind of been my theme song; I literally can't stop dancing to it when I play it.




"Song of the Lonely Mountain" a capella cover by Peter Hollens

I discovered this song on Christmas Eve of last year. If you like a capella music in any way, shape, or form, I definitely recommend checking out Peter Hollens' work. He's done TONS of great covers over the years, and this one is no exception. This song is from the first Hobbit movie, but it got me pumped for the third. (On a side note, I did see the last Hobbit film recently! The feels are mixed, but I still enjoyed watching it.) But, regardless of if you're an LoTR fan or not, this cover is way too epic to pass up. :)




What music have you been into lately?

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Friday, January 9, 2015

What I've Loved When the Weather Outside is Frightful

Cold weather in January is expected, but my goodness, the temperature has dropped where I live. We're talking 12 degrees and lower, here (which is probably normal for y'all up North and Northwest, but to a Southern gal, it's just too cold). The upside: we had a snow flurry this week! The downside: I'm getting over a sinus infection (0/10, would not recommend).

But just because it's crazy-cold outside, it doesn't mean that it's unbearable. Sure, going outside is a bad idea, but I've found ways to enjoy the freezing weather.

Espresso





My mom got an espresso machine for Christmas, and we've been getting great use out of it. There's just something about drinking a double-shot of strong coffee (with added sugar, of course) that makes me super happy. (Fun fact: I drank my first shot of espresso in Italy; I shared a single shot with my mom. Now, I'm obsessed.)

Movies & TV Shows

photo credit

I've caught up on this season's new TV seasons and I've watched some movies I hadn't seen before. The best movie I've watched in the past couple weeks has to be "Leap Year". It's SO cute and it makes me literally want to go to Ireland right now.

Reading


photo credit

Cold weather pretty much requires that you curl up with a cup of coffee (or espresso) and a great book. I'm working on reading a fabulous high fantasy right now - "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss - and it's SO GOOD. Expect a "Thoughts on Pages" review in the near future!

Writing (and Blogging!)

I've been working on some really cool writing things lately, from a grad school application, to articles, to a possible manuscript for my possible first novel (!!!). That, and this blog, of course. :) I have been loving coming up with new ideas for posts here lately, especially travel-related ones (just because I've been bitten by some kind of wanderlust bug. See "Movies & TV Shows" above.) I can't wait to share some more of my ideas with you!


What do y'all like to do when it's crazy-cold outside?
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Thursday, January 8, 2015

[Affordable] Suitcase Shopping Tips



Mom and I had a conversation yesterday about luggage. We have a trip coming up, and we were discussing what suitcases we were planning on taking. I have a favorite blue one that I've used for many trips; it's scuffed, but it's well-loved. I've had it for years. Mom has some suitcases that she feels the same way about.

So what happens when your suitcase gets too scuffed up, its wheels fall off, it completely breaks while traversing through airline baggage claims, or anything else that could send it to "suitcase heaven"? What do you do when you're in the market for a piece of luggage? Well, if you're shopping for luggage that's durable AND affordable, you're in luck. I have a couple places for you to look when buying suitcases.

T. J. Maxx

T. J. Maxx (or T. K. Maxx if you're in the UK) can have some great hidden gems, and some of them reside in the luggage section, or the clearance luggage. Your choices in color are quite limited, but the brands they sell are refutable and durable (that being said, be sure to research if you want to be 100% sure of what you're buying). My blue hardsided luggage came from T. J. Maxx. :)

Pro tip: Do NOT buy a black suitcase. Those are more likely to get stolen due to how similar they look to everyone else (I know this from experience). Instead, opt for a bright or a pastel color (or, if you want to stay understated, go with a brown or deep burgundy color).

Amazon.com

Not only does Amazon have great luggage at great price points, but they also have other travel essentials you might need (for example, packing cubes and travel wallets). The prices will vary depending on what's on sale and what brand you're looking for, but some of the pieces are available for 2-day shipping if you have a Prime account.

Pro tip: Buy a suitcase that fits the way you travel. Do you frequent many airports and/or fly internationally? Go for a four-wheeled slider suitcase. Are you more of a roadtripper? Go for a duffel or a soft-sided suitcase.

I hope these tips helped you out! :) Where do y'all find great suitcases?

Also, brief disclaimer: I am not affiliated with or sponsored by T. J. Maxx or Amazon. I just wanted to share my favorite places to shop for luggage. :)
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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

One Year of [S]iW.



Can you believe I started this blog a year ago today? I sure can't.

[Savannah] in Wonderland has been such a fun ride so far. I started this blog while on vacation in Disneyworld because I wanted a more grown-up space to share my thoughts and passions, and I've had a blast with it ever since. Also, today is my dad's birthday. (Happy Birthday, Dad!)

This blog has surprised me in so many great ways:
  • My audience has grown in number and in demographic. I started this blog as a way to document my thoughts and for my faraway friends to keep track of me, but I expected the demographic beyond that to be young women between the ages of 16-25. Now, I have folks of all ages reading [S]iW, both male and female. That means I've had to expand my range of topics, but it's been so fun hearing feedback from everyone, whether in person or online, near or far (I love talking to my international/faraway readers in the comments!).
  • Some of the topics I've posted about have inspired me in my other writing adventures. In fact, I actually adapted a couple of my posts into full-blown magazine articles this past year. Yay!
  • I discovered that I have a hard time sticking to one color scheme for a long period of time, but that's a-ok. Tastes change sometimes. The content will still be the same, though (and so will the gold glitter bunny logo).
  • Working on the blog has helped me with my writing in general. I can tell that my writing has improved over the past year just from reading through past posts. Writing something every day and getting thoughts out to the internet is so much fun, too, and practice makes perfect, especially as an aspiring author.
  • I've shared a lot with you, dear reader. I shared the story of how I became a Christian. I shared my first time visiting Italy. I shared my college graduation. And I intend to take you along with me for even more stories and adventures.

Truly, I just wanted to say thank you.

Thank you for visiting my corner of the internet, whether you just started following me or have been reading my ramblings for a while now. Thank you for your nice comments and feedback, whether it's been in the comment boxes or in real life. You guys are awesome, and I can't wait to share new posts with you into 2015 and beyond. I also can't wait to see where God leads me through this blog, too. :)

So, here's to a whole second year of [Savannah] in Wonderland! :)
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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Some Packing Secrets


I consider packing an art form sometimes. It takes time and energy to really get your suitcase ready for upcoming adventures, especially if it's a long trip or if you'll be visiting places with multiple climate changes.

Because packing can be a challenge, I've picked up and learned secrets over the years that have made my packing for trips so much easier. Today, I want to share those tips with you. :)


1. Write out your packing list in advance.

Planning out what you're going to pack can be tedious, but the sooner you plan things out, the better, especially if you're traveling internationally. Plus, if you think of something else, you can quickly jot it down on paper or your phone to remember for later (or pick up at the store).

The best help I've had with creating packing lists (especially with destinations I've never visited) has come from lurking Pinterest. If you search "[Insert Place Here] Packing", chances are good that you'll be able to find a packing list specific to the place you're going.

As far as what to pack is concerned, some people create a color scheme of clothes to wear; others pack by planning each outfit for each day. Pack in the way that's easiest for you. (I've created some packing lists on this blog, too, if you need ideas! :] )

Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your packing list:
  • How many days you'll be staying
  • What the weather will be like in your destination
  • What activities you'll be participating in (especially if you're going to a conference, workshop, or doing any sort of physical activity)
  • If you need to dress up for any reason (Church, nice dinner, etc.)

2. Roll your clothes instead of folding them.

This is an old trick that I've been using for a LONG time (probably since I went to England for the first time when I was 13 years old. I'm 23 now).

All you do is fold your clothes longways, then literally roll them up. The finished product should resemble a cinnamon roll. You can then stick your rolled-up clothing items into your suitcase. Rolling your clothes can free up a TON of space in your suitcase; you can set them on top of folded larger items, or be able to double your space by packing lightweight shirts, dresses, and knit items.

If you want to take it a step further and make sure your clothes don't come undone, you can wrap tiny rubber bands around the rolls. (You can find tiny bands in the hair and beauty section of drugstores or larger stores, like Target.)


3. Compartmentalize if possible (especially your smaller or fragile items).

Compartmentalizing is a great idea if you want to be as organized as possible. The idea is that you place items into bags, then place those bags into your suitcase or carry-on for easy access.

Here are some ideas for compartmentalizing:
  • Packing cubes for thinner clothing items or underclothes
  • Cosmetic bags or zip-loc bags for jewelry and (of course) cosmetics
  • Individual pouches or zip-loc bags for larger pieces of jewelry or necklaces that tangle easily
  • Tote bags for pairs of shoes
  • Quarter-sized zip-loc bags for toiletries (especially if you're carrying them on)

How do you like to pack for trips? Do you have any specific ways to make packing easier for you? Let me know! :)
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Thursday, January 1, 2015

An Instagram Roundup of Closing One Year and Starting the Next


1. I love my Galactic Green Tieks. They were a Christmas gift, and they're my new favorites.

2. I also received a Ciaté advent calendar. The different days all had different quotes, but I felt like this one fit me the most. Ha!

3. Dad and I went to Florida to get away for a few days. It was a lot of fun, and we had many adventures, including seeing the third Hobbit movie extremely late at night and drinking ALL the coffee.

4. Rosemary Beach is lovely around the Holiday season. Just drive through town and you'll find that the trees are decked in gorgeous lights. 

5. Speaking of drinking ALL the coffee...there's a funny story behind this Instagram snap. I posted this and tagged Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet, one of my all-time favorite local coffee shops down in FL. Upon posting, the owner called out to the entire shop, "Savannah Cake is in the house!" (savannah_cake is my username). The owner and one of the baristas were extremely appreciative that I gave them a shoutout via social media, and that was really sweet of them to give me a shoutout back.

6. Bananagrams is a game that I usually play with friends and family down here. I played a few rounds with some family friends of mine, and we had a blast. At the end of each round, we try to create a sentence out of the words we make (which usually turns into a hilarious story).

7. Sundog Books is my favorite bookshop in Seaside. I had to stop there while we were passing through. I can remember visiting this store a whole bunch throughout my childhood, and it's still a thriving independent bookseller today. Plus, there's a great record store upstairs!

8. This is my year-end snap of 2014. In it, I made a collage of four excerpts from the past year: my graduation, my family's trip to Italy, my family getting on the JumboTron at Fenway Park in Boston, and my 23rd birthday party with my pals.

9. And this is my very first post of 2015! Happy New Year, everyone! :)

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