Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How to be a Tourist in your own City


I took this back at Pumpkinfest last year. I blogged about it here. (Hey, I can poetry! Haha.)

I love my hometown. I also love sharing my hometown with my friends from far and wide when they come to visit.

There are some days when I know exactly what to show new visitors, and there are some days when I have no idea what to do that's brand-new and exciting, especially if I know my friend has been to my hometown before. I get into this rut that since I've already seen something where I live, it feels like old hat, while my friend may see it as something totally cool/fascinating/hipster-esque/etc. But then again, I'm often surprised by how cool things in my hometown are. All it takes is a second look.

So, if you're planning on giving a tour of your hometown soon, here are my tips. :)

1. Use it as an excuse to photograph ALL the things.

Grab pictures of historical buildings, storefronts, whatever strikes your fancy. It's often fun to see something through the lens of a camera, and you'll often find new and interesting things about your hometown just by trying a different perspective.

2. Something going on? Take advantage of it!

Last weekend, there was a huge festival in my hometown. Some of my friends from across the country were in my area, so off we went, and we had a blast.

If there's any event going on - whether it's a festival, a fair, a concert, whatever - and it's practically in your backyard, definitely check it out. It's a great way to experience what your hometown has to offer.

3. Don't be afraid to check out something you haven't checked out in awhile.

The thing about hometowns is that they often change over time, but often, parts of it will stay the same, even when new establishments are added and taken away. So, if you have friends with you, try a place you used to go to way back when, but haven't been in awhile, like a restaurant or a quaint little shop. It'll be fun to experience something fresh together.

How do you like to experience your hometown? Are there any particular places you like to visit?
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Friday, April 24, 2015

Thoughts on Pages #16: Off to Be the Wizard

(photo credit: Amazon)


Last summer, I discovered a little fantasy called Ready Player One. It became one of my all-time favorite books, let alone one of my favorite novels I read last year. Since then, I've been trying to find a book with a similar feel, but to no avail...

...until now.

Storyline

Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard.

What could possibly go wrong?

An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin…and not, y’know, die or anything.

(Synopsis from Amazon)


Characters

Martin is fabulous as a main character. This is actually an adult fantasy novel, so he's 23 years old - actually older than the protagonist in Ready Player One.

Martin has a good head on his shoulders, and he's an absolute joy to read. His reactions to things around him are especially realistic, even when everything around him gets really, really crazy.

The supporting cast is also phenomenal (Phillip and Gwen are my favorites!). The villain is also awesome (I won't give him away in this review, but he's simultaneously hilarious and ruthless, and it works for this universe, and you definitely root for the good guys to win).

Across the board, everybody's well-written and also relatable, something you don't often see (but always welcome) in stories like this.


Setting

The story is predominantly about technology, but it's also about time travel, and it's done exceptionally well.

The setting jumps from Seattle to Europe in a hurry, but it's Europe high-fantasy style, almost to a cartoony extent. And I love it. The way the landmarks are described are just as delightful as the dialog and narrative itself.

My Thoughts

Basically, this book is Ready Player One meets Monty Python meets The Princess Bride. And it's absolutely brilliant.

I haven't laughed so hard at a book in a long time. It's a comedic romp through a stylized medieval fantasyland, and I absolutely loved the protagonist and how he reacted to it all. The comedy gets a bit juvenile in places, but there was no language (which is awesome for a book like this), so the fact that the book was clean more than made up for that.

The only time I actually had doubts about it was when there was a question on theology - as in, "oh, are we just one big computer program? Did God create the program?" etc. - that felt unnecessary, but I'm nitpicking here. This was such a fun read, and I'm so glad I picked this one up.

I give Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer five Commodore 64 computers out of five. I picked up the sequels, so I'll definitely be seeing what Martin Banks is up to in the whole series.

So that was my review of Off to Be the Wizard! Have y'all heard of this series?

Also, if you have any book recommendations for me/want to see what I like and want to read next, check out my Goodreads page!
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How I Make a Cup of Coffee



I think I've been a big coffee drinker since my sophomore year of high school. It started with those caramel apple ciders, those chai teas, and then I graduated (I guess) to the white chocolate mochas, and I've been hooked on trying new coffees from far and wide ever since.

While I love to try new kinds of coffee (like the very first cappuccino I ever had in Lido, Italy last summer), I like to think I have the way I make my coffee at home down to a science. So, I got the idea to share with y'all how I make a cup of morning coffee from this post from Cupcakes & Cashmere. I don't get really technical with my morning coffee, but I thought this would still be pretty fun to share. :)

1. Picking out that great coffee flavor.
I have a Keurig at home, but even with fresh grounds, it's fun to pick out the flavor of coffee I want based on my mood.

Here are the top kinds I like:

Fun fact: When I order coffee out at a regular coffee place (read: Dunkin' Donuts), sometimes (well, most of the time) I'll get my regular coffee with raspberry added in. It's great.

2. Picking out your condiments.
Usually, I have coffee with my cream and sugar (ha!), so I usually put in 3 Splendas. If Splenda isn't available, I'll use regular sugar.

Now, creamers are a smidge more complex these days. It's crazy to me how there's literally every kind of creamer flavor out there (from regular to Girl Scout Cookies, just to name a couple!). My favorite is the Dunkin' Donuts Extra Extra creamer because it has sugar added. :) Otherwise, I'll use regular milk.

3. Last - but not least - picking out your mug.
Hey, that coffee has to be placed somewhere, right? I think that a fun mug can lift your mood in the mornings, especially when you have a lot of work ahead of you during your day.

Here are some that I found:

ModCloth Critters Wake Up Panda Smell the Coffee Mug Set



Pop Chart Lab The Compendious Coffee Chart Coffee Mug




How do y'all take your coffee? Or are you more of a tea drinker? Let me know in the comments!
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Monday, April 6, 2015

A Week in Grayton Beach, Instagrammed

Over the past couple weeks, I've busy. Busy having fun, that is. :) Amongst a fun work trip and time spent with family this weekend (along with actual work in between), I actually spent the week prior on vacation with my best friends from college.

Last year, we went down to Grayton Beach, Florida, an idyllic community that has become a second hometown of sorts for me. I've spent large portions of my childhood there, and I love sharing it with folks whenever I get the chance. We all got to return this year, and we had an absolute blast.

These are the Instagrams from that week, with their respective stories. Enjoy! :)



1. This trip to Sweet Cece's in Franklin all started with a Snapchat. The guys and girls split up into two different cars, and instead of making the correct turn to my house, they decided to go back up the street to get ice cream. Once they asked what they should get via Snapchat, we booked it over to Sweet Cece's ASAP. It was so worth it. :)

2. Us on the plane, of course. :) This was actually some of my friends' third time aboard a plane ever. Flying is always fun with these people.

3. Upon landing, we made the first of a few trips to the Donut Hole. Their coffee and hashbrowns are really, really good, and I made the discovery of dipping a red velvet cake donut into said coffee. It's a pretty fantastic combination.

4. And this was our first trip to the beach. :)


5. This was the first of many mugs of tea and coffee during the week. We either made coffee or tea at the house, or got some while we were out (see later on in this post).

6. One stop that we had to return to from last year was a little airstream trailer called The Melt Down on 30A. They're a grilled cheese stand! :) I always get the strawberry, goat cheese, and proscuitto sandwich whenever I go. It's awesome. (I know they also have a portobello mushroom one and a smoked turkey one, too. They do grilled cheese a ton of different ways.)

7. This was in front of one of my favorite local bookstores, Sundog Books. They always do something cool with their chalkboard, and that day was no exception. That quote is so sweet!

8. And this is Seaside at night from the second floor of the Sundog Books building, where there's a record shop called Central Square Records. Speaking of Central Square Records...


9. One of my friends got himself a ukulele from Central Square Records. They actually have ukuleles in every color of the rainbow, and one of my friends and I got pictures posing with it for posterity's sake. This ukulele is actually dark purple, and I kinda wanted to learn to play it. It sounds good, I'll tell you that!

10. During the week, we stopped at Don Pedro's for breakfast a couple of times. They have excellent breakfast foods, including Chilequiles, which are fried tortillas with salsa, sour cream, and bacon (like breakfast nachos). Their coffee is also pretty good.

11. This was from one of our walks to the beach. We ran into my parents and grandparents, who were taking the puppies to see the beach. I'm holding Harvey. :)

12. We had to do a jumping picture on the beach, obviously. 


13. On our second trip to Seaside, I wanted to make sure that we tried Amavida Coffee. It had been recommended to me, and I really liked it! I've had an iced caramel chai tea and a hot caramel latte there, and I hope to try some other coffees from them soon!

14. I took this on a walk to a coffee shop. Come to find out, it was closed, so we went to Don Pedro's instead.

15. One of my favorite pizza places in the area is called Bruno's Pizza. It's in Watersound, and they have an excellent buffet and cinnamon knots. I just happened to look up to find this adorable Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles painting, complete with the restaurant's logo on the box. Talk about a seal of approval! :)

16. I took this inside a bookstore I really like in Rosemary Beach. I absolutely love this chandelier because it reminds me of Peter Pan.


17. This is a candid shot of a few of us at Rosemary Beach. This is how we are on a daily basis. Maybe. ;)

18. We took fancy dress pictures on the beach, something that we wanted to do again from last year. It's always fun doing this, especially with close friends. 

19. This is all of us who dressed up.

20. And this was our last crew dinner of the trip. We celebrated a great week at Cheeseburger in Paradise. :)

I hope you enjoyed this little recap! It was fun to put together and go back through these memories.

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