Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Answer Me This, Vol. 18 - Home is Where My Appendix Isn't

Summer is here and Kendra over at Catholic All Year has done the entire internet a huge favor by bringing back probably my favorite link-up in the history of ever: Answer Me This! Every Sunday from now until August we will answer 6 questions as asked by Kendra and link-up to share our answers. It's the internet's favorite cocktail party and I'm so happy it's back.



Posting late this week, sorry. I got dragged to the middle of nowhere in Eastern Nevada last week and it feels like I'm still catching up on life, let alone the blog. On to the questions!
 
1. How long have you lived in your current home?
I have lived on Jacaranda Lane (not the real name of my street, but might as well be) for 4 years now. I have yet to really finish "unpacking" or learn the names of more than my absolute immediate neighbors. This doesn't bother me, though, because the not-immediate neighbors are way more transient and short-stayed than I am it seems. I've thought about moving out many, many times in the past, but ever since my uncle moved out and I realized that I actually like it here, I've been okay with staying. This is not my for-ever home, though, but it's a good for-now home.

  2. How do you find out about news and current events?
This is shameful: Twitter. I get Tweets from certain celebrities, actors, and public figures sent straight to my phone so sometimes I wake up in the morning and there's a dozen or more tweets about the same thing. Also Facebook tells me things sometimes, too. If neither of those is quick enough on the draw, I know my roommate will fill me in when I get home. I actually like hearing news from her because she's able to tell me really awful things without making me super sad about them because that's why I avoid news in general: I'm trying to keep the sadness at bay.

3. Would you be able to make change for a twenty right now? For a dollar?
Nope. I'm that typical millennial who almost never carries cash. I have plenty stashed at home for emergencies, but I feel really vulnerable if I'm carrying around lots of cash. It's like, "Hey, muggers, please come steal my purse!" and I'm just not a fan of that. I have recently started carrying smaller bills (tens, fives, and ones) because I feel silly going to Del Taco or something for a $1 burrito and using my debit card to pay for it. That's kind of dumb.

4. What's the craziest food you've ever eaten?
I'm not the most adventurous eater (not picky, just not super adventurous) but I had some really gamey venison in Germany several years ago (like, really gamey) which was a bit much for me, and I've had squid and octopus and the usual "exotic" foods grown-ups scare 5th graders with. I also ate catfish in New Orleans (I never thought I'd actually eat catfish) and it was one of the most delicious things I've ever consumed. I'm working towards being more adventurous and not always getting "the usual" when I go out to eat. I'm pretty good at eating like the locals when I travel, though.

5. Which of the commonly removed parts have you had removed? (tonsils, wisdom teeth, appendix, etc.)
I am currently (not) missing:
Wisdom teeth - all of them - from the summer before I started college. Extremely painful, came out of anesthesia hysterically crying and disoriented, and couldn't take the Vicodin because it made me violently ill and threatened to undo my stitches. Also, I couldn't kiss my boyfriend for 2 weeks. When you're 18, two weeks is an eternity.


Appendix - removed 3 years ago this past April. I went to urgent care thinking it was an abdominal infection or something (this had happened twice before mind you, and both times they said it 'probably wasn't as bad as you said it was' and gave me a shot of antibiotics and sent me home. I hate doctors). After a pregnancy test and lots of vomiting they let me go to the ER where I took two more pregnancy tests before they determined it was clinical appendicitis and gave me morphine and scheduled surgery. You can read all the details of how awful that whole experience was HERE. (Warning: I was under the influence of a lot of painkillers and cabin fever so there's quite a bit of swearing in that post - sorry.)

6. What's your favorite sport to watch on TV? 
Basketball. Lakers' basketball. Otherwise, I don't like watching sports on TV. I'll attend a volleyball game or watch a minor league baseball game if I have people around me to talk to between interesting things. Generally speaking, though, I'm not a sports watcher or enjoyer. At all.




That's it for this round of Answer Me This!  If you have a blog, answer the questions and link up with us over at Kendra's in this post. Don't have a blog but still want to play? That's okay because the whole thing is made up and the posts don't matter - leave your answers in the comments either at Kendra's post or right here! I'd love to hear from you!



love,

Willow





*Note: The Answer Me This logo image belongs to Kendra Tierney over at Catholic All Year and is used as part of a link-up only. The "Evil Appendix" comic is from Awkward Yeti and is used with permission. The "Basketball Season" t-shirt image has been sourced. All other images in this post are property of Whitney Miller.* 

Monday, June 22, 2015

52 Lists, Week 25

Happy Monday! Welcome to my 52 Lists Project, wherein I feature one list every week for 2015. To join in with your own list, scroll down to the link at the bottom, print out your own list, and then share it however you wish!

Week 25: List Your Favorite Summer Activities
Summer is in full swing here in So Cal and while many people (I'm looking at you, people in school) will be gallivanting about chasing down ice cream trucks and organizing picnics in the park, I will be languishing in an office, remaining as pale as though it were still January. However, there are some summer activities I enjoy on my days off, and here's that list:
  • BBQ-ing
  • bike rides at the beach
  • watching fireworks shows
  • going to Disneyland
  • spending a day at the pool
  • camping
  • hiking
  • visiting the farmer's market
  • going to the county fair
  • going to the OC swap meet (followed by an afternoon at the beach)
  • stargazing
  • concerts in the park
  • toasting marshmallows (and friends) at bonfires
  • eating tomatoes from Mom's garden
  • roadtrips
  • going to the lake
  • eating hot dogs and potato salad
  • binge-reading poolside
  • experimenting with summer cocktails
I especially love a good mint julep, with properly crushed ice and good bourbon. Yum.

*My camera capabilities are currently out of order so I will update a photo of my list when they are restored. Sorry for depriving you of my fantastic photography skills.*

How about you? What are your favorite ways to pass the time and keep cool in the summer? Got any great cocktail recipes I should try out? Let me know in comments or with a list of your own!


Love,

Willow



For more fun with 52 Lists, click down on "52 Lists" in the little categories section at the bottom of the post, and go over to Moorea Seal's site to see more!

Check out Moorea Seal's entire project at her blog below:
http://www.moorea-seal.com/p/52-lists.html  



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Yarn Along - Tali's Tallulah, Week 4

Greetings! Obviously one of my favorite things is reading, but I'm also very fond of knitting. Ginny over at Small Things hosts a lovely little weekly link-up where we showcase what we're working on and what we're reading. Once you're done here, head on over and see what everyone else is up to!



I got so much knitting done this week and I'm quite proud of myself. I had almost 3 hours of knitting time at my Saturday night babysitting job plus another 3 hours on Sunday night. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my smaller size needle on Sunday so I didn't get to start on the ribbing of the hem on the body until Monday. Monday turned out to be quite successful knit-wise because I had to take my Oma to check-up with her optometrist and wound up sitting in the waiting room for about an hour working on the ribbing. Monday night was more babysitting so I got even more of it done and after a couple more rows I'll be ready to finish up the sleeves! So much knitting!!!



Reading:
I'm still working my way through To the Field of Stars and I'm still really enjoying it. There are a few things about it that aren't so wonderful, but on the whole I'm really enjoying it. It's reading like a real story instead of a travelogue or guidebook (so it's refreshingly different from my last two Camino reads) and I'm really loving Fr. Codd's writing style.


In other knit-related news, I got a new knitting bag! I'd been using a cloth tote/shopping bag for a long while and it was falling apart. Julie at Knitted Bliss ran a post about her sponsors for the month and one of them is Madbird Knitting & Accessories who makes knitting bags and totes and the like, and there was a discount code offered so I figured I'd look. They're rather pricey but the fabrics are so beautiful and the totes are really sturdy, plus I really needed a new dedicated knit bag and I had a discount code so I went for it and bought the large butterfly tote. (Apparently the butterfly one is sold out but I've linked to one that's the same size and type in a different fabric.) It even came with a small zippered pouch for notions and a built in yarn guide that snaps so you can change the yarn you're working with whenever you want! And the tote itself has a magnetic closure which is really nice, and longish handles. Look at it!



Isn't it preeeeeeeeeetty? Here's a collage of all the features:
 


I'm not making any money from this post or all the linking, I'm just really excited about my new knitting bag. I'm definitely looking forward to using it when my knitting group starts our next sweater project at the end of the summer. It's the perfect size for a medium to large project like that (a blanket would be way too big but a sweater should fit nicely!).




Whew! That's it for me today. You can also find notes and detailed specs on this project on my Ravelry Page. What have you been reading and knitting lately? Let me know in comments and then head over to Ginny's to see what everyone else is up to!

Love,

Willow






*Author's Note: The Yarn Along button in this post is property of Ginny Sheller and is used with permission. All other images used in the post as well as text are (c)Whitney Miller and may be used only with express permission. See the About Page for details.*





Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Book Review: Camino de Santiago - Practical Preparation and Background



Stats:
Author: Gerald Kelly
# of pages: 144
Original Publication Date: July 4, 2011
Publisher: Createspace (self-published)
My Copy: Second Edition April 2015

My obsession with El Camino de Santiago de Compostela continues with this fantastic little guidebook by Camino veteran Gerald Kelly. I really enjoyed it. Truly.

It should be noted that this book is self-published and has a few typos and a couple of formatting issues. This is inevitable when dealing with a self-published work (a mark of the sad state of the publishing world in my opinion) but honestly they weren't really problematic. Mr. Kelly opens the book stating that it's self-published, and that efforts have been made to correct any and all errors, so the few typos that persist weren't too irritating. The only issue that truly frustrated me consistently was the way the text ran almost all the way into the crease between pages. This made the text in those areas difficult to read and I found myself bending the spine considerably more than I like to with slim paperbacks. Otherwise, the self-publishing thing wasn't an issue.

I really loved the way the book was set up, so that you didn't need to read it cover-to-cover if you didn't want to. It's a short book to begin with, but I think the way the chapters and sections are worked makes it invaluable as a reference guide. The first (very brief) section introduces you to the Camino - what it is and why people walk it. The second section is all about preparation: what to bring, how to pack, how to prepare, and how to get to Europe if, like me, you don't live on that particular continent.

My favorite part of that section was that instead of making a comprehensive list of everything you need, Mr. Kelly broke it up into three: the essentials, things you can bring if you want to, and what to leave at home. He also doesn't really push specific items or brands, but rather offers the pros and cons of a variety of options and allowing the reader to make an educated decision about what might best work for him or her. I found that to be an intelligent and considerate format and I greatly appreciated it both as a reader and as a prospective pilgrim.

The next part was all about walking the Camino itself. Mr. Kelly wrote about what a typical day on the Camino looked like, and what the hostels are like. He wrote about what to eat and where to buy food, when to drink the wine and when to stick to water. He talked about the potential dangers people face (mostly heatstroke and heart attack) and a variety of ways to deal with blisters. It is a lot of information to digest but it's broken up into bite-sized chunks and generally well-written. He covered a lot of topics but again, all of them fit into pretty small sections and sub-categories and it's easy to bookmark the sections I want to go back to.

After the main section on the day-to-day of the Camino there are shorter sections on other pilgrim routes in Europe, nature and architecture, as well as a chapter on the history of Spain. Some people found this section unnecessary or too long and boring. While I skimmed through most of this section myself, I felt that it is important for non-Europeans to understand Spanish history in order to better understand the nature of Spain today. The history lesson is followed by a Spanish phrase guide as well as some explanation of the differences between Castilian, Galician, and Basque Spanish as well as the variety of regional dialects spoken in Spain. The phrase guide is useful and I liked that instead of trying to teach rudimentary grammar Mr. Kelly simply offered a list of common words and phrases that the pilgrim needs. I personally plan to brush up on my conversational Spanish in the next two years anyway but I like that this phrase guide is available.

I loved that this man walks the Camino every year (or close to it at least) so he actually knows what he's talking about. He's also tried and tested a variety of different walking styles and brought a variety of different equipment with him, and he's also talked to other people about their Caminos and what worked for them. Obviously I won't know what will work best for me until I actually go, but having a variety of opinions to draw upon will likely be quite helpful in two years' time.

I don't have any quotes to share because this book wasn't really the quotable kind. There were parts that made me laugh, but out of context they don't make sense.

Recommended Reading Level: Teen+ but mostly Adult. It's all about packing and walking almost 800km and exchange rates and blisters and I wouldn't give this to somebody under 18 just because unless they were getting ready to walk the Camino for their 18th birthday/high school graduation, they'd be bored to tears.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars. I have to deduct because the typos and formatting issue of the type running right into the crease were annoying. Also, while I did enjoy reading it, it didn't completely captivate me like a 5 star read would. Because it's a guidebook. Can't be helped, sorry.

Who Should Read It: People who plan on walking the Camino anytime in the future, people who plan on backpacking through Europe anytime in the near future, people who like practical guidebooks, people who like books about preparing for a very long walk, people who are considering walking the Camino for the first time.

Further reading to consider:
The author has a website where you can download a guide to a variety of Caminos for free (a donation is suggested but if you want it for free it's available but really, make a donation if you do!) at CaminoGuide.net

I'm already reading my next book on the Camino, this one written by a Catholic priest. I'm looking forward to a religious perspective on this crazy obsession of mine.

For more of the books I've loved, hated, and reviewed, please check out my Book Reviews tab.

Happy Reading!

Willow 





*Note: I am not now nor have ever been an associate or acquaintance of Mr. Gerald Kelly. This is an unpaid, unsolicited review of a book I genuinely liked and wished to share.*




Monday, June 15, 2015

52 Lists, Week 24

Happy Monday! Welcome to my 52 Lists Project, wherein I feature one list every week for 2015. To join in with your own list, scroll down to the link at the bottom, print out your own list, and then share it however you wish!

Week 24: List Your Favorite Things in Your Favorite Color
This is a funny one that my niece helped me think up. My favorite color is purple - any shade, any tone, doesn't matter. Lavender, magenta, royal purple.... I could go on. This particular list isn't very long, but here's the list of some of my favorite things that happen to come in my favorite color.
  • jacaranda trees (of course)
  • African daisies
  • pens
  • stationery 
  • forget-me-nots
  • blackberries
  • berry smoothies
  • my fairy dress
  • lavender plants
  • my teacup and saucer from England
So there you have it! Some of my favorite things in my favorite color.

*My camera capabilities are currently out of order so I will update a photo of my list when they are restored. Sorry for depriving you of my fantastic photography skills.*


How about you? What's your favorite color?Are there any of your favorite things that always come in your favorite color? Let me know in comments or with a list of your own!


Love,

Willow



For more fun with 52 Lists, click down on "52 Lists" in the little categories section at the bottom of the post, and go over to Moorea Seal's site to see more!

Check out Moorea Seal's entire project at her blog below:
http://www.moorea-seal.com/p/52-lists.html  



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Answer Me This, Vol. 17 - The Return of the Best Link-Up Ever

Summer is here and Kendra over at Catholic All Year has done the entire internet a huge favor by bringing back probably my favorite link-up in the history of ever: Answer Me This! Every Sunday from now until August we will answer 6 questions as asked by Kendra and link-up to share our answers. It's the internet's favorite cocktail party and I'm so happy it's back.



1) Any big plans for the summer?
Not really. Mostly I plan on working on the blog (I really need to update the template and header - it's sad) and organizing the office so that our current storage solutions are more useful and efficient. Boring? Yes. Necessary? Also yes.

I'm probably going up to Salem sometime in July, which should be nice.

There may also be a young man involved at some point this summer, but I'm going to play that one a little close to the chest for now and give you an update if  I have news in the next few weeks.

2) What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?
I believed a lot of things as a kid, partly because I was gullible and naive and partly because I had a wild imagination. I could be totally cynical right now and say the strangest thing I believed was that grown-ups actually know what they're doing (in reality I'm learning that we're all just making it up). However, I sincerely believed there were fairies in our garden until I was about 7.

3) What is your favorite amusement park ride? (can be a specific one at a specific park or just a type of ride)
I'm a big fan of roller coasters, as long as they aren't made of wood (Ghostrider at Knott's Berry Farm freaks me out - feels like it's going to come apart!). I love the kind that have vertical corkscrews the best.

4) What's on your summer reading list?
I should really dedicate an entire post to my summer reading goals (and I may still do that) but for now the current list includes the following:

Finish reading To the Field of Stars
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (re-read)
The Book Thief (re-read)
Emma
Sense & Sensibility
Start reading The Sparrow and try to get about halfway through it.
Penumbra's and Book Thief should go quickly because I've technically already "read" them because I listened to the audiobooks this past winter. The reason I'm reading the paperbacks is because I know that my comprehension is better when I see it and I want to be able to underline quotations for reviews here on the blog. You can read more about my reading goals for this year in this post.


For some reason I can't find my standalone copy of Emma so I may have to read it out of my Austen anthology. I don't mind though; it's a beautiful book.

5) Have you ever fallen asleep in public?
Several times, but the only time that really sticks out in my memory was also the most embarrassing. It was the spring of sophomore year and toward the end of the year in my drama class (sophomores could take art or drama as an elective - since I draw bad stick people, it was an obvious choice) in the afternoon. We didn't have much to do so we had a free period/study hall. I fell asleep and according to people sitting next to me, I began to snore. I was also having a strange dream and wound up falling out of my chair which woke me up. Thankfully the people I went to school with weren't mean because it could've been a source of harassment but instead it just became a good story.

6) What is your favorite smell?
This is hard because I really love the smell of jasmine and I also love my mom's perfume, but then there's also the smell of evenings after it's rained, when you can taste the metallic tang of moisture in the air and everything is clear and cool and fresh. And petrichor.



That's it for this round of Answer Me This!  If you have a blog, answer the questions and link up with us over at Kendra's in this post. Don't have a blog but still want to play? That's okay because the whole thing is made up and the posts don't matter - leave your answers in the comments either at Kendra's post or right here! I'd love to hear from you!



love,

Willow





*Note: The Answer Me This logo image belongs to Kendra Tierney over at Catholic All Year and is used as part of a link-up only. All other images in this post are property of Whitney Miller with the exception of the "Petrichor" image, the source of which I have linked to.* 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Yarn Along - Tali's Tallulah, Week 3

Greetings! Obviously one of favorite things is reading, but I also quite love knitting. Ginny over at Small Things hosts a lovely little link-up so once you're done here go visit and see what everyone else is up to.


I haven't done as much knitting this week as I intended, since I've been doing quite a bit of writing instead (there's another book review coming your way!). In any case, I've been working diligently on the stockinette body since I separated the sleeves, and I'm coming up on a place where I will have to decide if I want more stockinette for the body or if I want to do it exactly to pattern with a large ribbed section at the bottom. Personally, I don't really like the look of more than 1 - 1.5 inches of ribbing. Well, part of it is not liking the way it looks and part of it is I don't like having to knit that much ribbing! So I'm weighing my options and I'll decide probably by next week. If you have an opinion, please let me know in comments! The original pattern is here and my project page is here if you want to see what I'm talking about.


Reading Lately:
I'm making progress in my latest Camino read, To the Field of Stars. The prose is still beautiful and he's a wonderful storyteller. He's also quite funny and doesn't take himself too seriously, which is totally refreshing after Jack Hitt's take on things. I'll keep you posted as I keep reading. Oh, and you can also keep track of what I'm reading on Goodreads (in case you feel like stalking my every move, hehe).



That's it for me today. You can also find notes and detailed specs on this project on my Ravelry Page. What have you been reading and knitting lately? Let me know in comments and then head over to Ginny's to see what everyone else is up to!

Love,

Willow






*Author's Note: The Yarn Along button in this post is property of Ginny Sheller and is used with permission. All other images used in the post as well as text are (c)Whitney Miller and may be used only with express permission. See the About Page for details.*