One Lovely Blog Award: Super Tardy

Ok, Rebecca nominated me last month for the One Lovely Blog Award. It’s time that I get down to business and tell you 7 things that you probably don’t know about me.

onelovelyblog-300x288

1. I am obsessed with large cups/mugs. I have the hardest time passing up a super-sized mug at TJ Maxx. I asked for (and think I am getting) several large cups for water for Christmas. I used to fill my water bottle up a lot when I was working, but now that I’m at home, I don’t fill up a water bottle. Several of my medications are dehydrating, so I am trying to focus on the water.

2. I have lived in 4 states and moved 5 times. I moved to South Carolina in high school and then to Northern VA after college. A few years later, I came back to South Carolina!

3. I’ve never had a pet that wasn’t a Shih Tzu. I wanted a dog when I was in middle school. I was absolutely fascinated by dog shows and even went to one with my mom. Even though we were on dial up internet way back then, I did a ton of research and showed my parents that Shih Tzus would be perfect for our family because they barely shed and sleep a lot. Now, we’ve never owned anything else. Rylie, the puppy we got back in January, is my 5th Shih Tzu!

056

4. In high school, I thought that I wanted to be a doctor. After I took anatomy class, though, I realized that science wasn’t for me. Plus anyone’s blood that isn’t mine grosses me out. I went to college with the intention of going to law school, but after the end of my first class on the first day of college, I decided that I didn’t want 7 years of school. I went into law enforcement analysis, but then wished that I’d pursued further degrees in English! Oh, how I miss classes. Unfortunately, my life has not gone as planned in any way, shape, or form! Funny aside: Although I am not a doctor, I spend a ton of time going to them! Not funny, actually. *Sad Face*

5. We quit cable tv this summer, and I am much happier for it! (Books, books, books!)

6. I play(ed) the piano, flute, bassoon, and oboe. I did marching band for two years after a year of dance team. #iwasacoolkid I love to dance. Some people say I’m good at it.

dancing 2011

 

Dancing cira 2011

7. I feel like no one ever knows the bands that I listen to–sometimes they even make fun of me. It’s not like I talk about it a lot, though! In college, people would actually come to me for music recommendations on a regular basis or ask me to make them a special playlist based on a few bands they liked. I actually made friends because people would connect to my shared iTunes (my college was VERY small and we were on one network) and when I got introduced, they would want to know all about what I was listening to.

7.5 I still track my listening habits on Last.fm. I’ve been tracking since Fall 2006, so why stop now? Am I the only one who had an account? Should I give you an example? Here are my top 20 artists from the last 8 years combined–so I went through a phase or two, but Valencia, Fall Out Boy, Anberlin, and Needtobreathe really are my favorite bands (don’t judge!!):

Valencia, The Summer Set, Fall Out BoyYou, Me, and Everyone We KnowEvery AvenueAll Time LowMy Favorite Highway,  The Maine, Fireworks, Dropout YearHoliday ParadeMayday Parade, The Goodnight Anthem, The Less, The Rocket Summer, Hit the LightsAnberlin, Search The City, You Me at Six, Needtobreathe 

Bolded bands have been seen in concert one or more times. I was an avid show/concert goer for many years. I would give anything to see Fireworks, but I missed their last Charlotte show because the line up was so long that I didn’t think I could stand up for that long (venues with absolutely no seating are the worst!). I also missed The Rocket Summer’s last stop in Charlotte because I was sick. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to see him because he hasn’t released any new music or toured since then, so that must mean new album+tour?

And that’s about it. If you want to know a little bit more about me, you can read my About Me, follow me on Instagram (Shih Tzu pictures everywhere!), Facebook (I post a lot about music that I like, articles from smart people, and pimp my posts), Twitter (once every few weeks I say something witty), or Goodreads (where I update my status and share my thoughts more than people probably want to know, but I’ll check what you want to read and are reading every.single.day.). So, stalk me? No, not like that. But be my friend!

I now pass the torch on to:

Megan at Latte Everyday

Elizabeth at My Cup of Sparkle

Gennie at New Home, New Name, New Adventure

Kacie at Life, KV Style

and anyone else who would like to do it because I am so late to this that I can’t think of people who would want to do it and haven’t already done it! Plus, I’m going to bed. #bye


signature
Categories: Updates Tags: , , ,
*Insert Negative Title Here*

Last week, I decided to test a theory. While I definitely don’t blog for stats, they do play a role in the development of my blog. I hope that isn’t a shock.

I wrote about my frustrations after the experiment because when I write something that feels important, I feel like it gets passed over in favor of fluffy posts. I concede that “fluffy” posts have their place in lifestyle blogs. If I want to put something up every single day, there should be a mix of reflective posts that connect with the audience, posts that offer something new to the audience (like tips/tricks, how-tos), and those sorts of things. Link ups of what’s currently going on in your life are what build the blogging community. And some people, like The Style Dunce, have even made list making into an art form. Her lists crack me up. And of course, there are always sponsored posts.

However, I had noticed that “negative” or negatively titled posts received a significantly greater amount of hits and comments than really positively titled posts. Posts about my favorite things, why I like things, or anything that would conjure a strong positive connotation get passed over (cue crickets chirping), while anything slightly controversial (Why I Don’t Like Your Blog, 5 Books I Couldn’t Stand) performed two to three times better. I only got a B in AP Statistics like 8 years ago, but I’m thinking that falls under statistically significant. Why I Don’t Like Your Blog was meant to be controversial. And 5 Books I Couldn’t Stand were just that. 5 books that didn’t strike my fancy–and part of the experiment.

Anyway, I thought that it was quite interesting that negative titles really bring in a lot more traffic. I really wouldn’t have thought that negative titles would have such a strong pull for people, but in a day and age where the 24 hour news cycle feels driven by controversy and scandals, maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. In the words of a band that you’ve probably never heard, but I loved during college, The Audition, controversy loves company.


signature
Categories: blogging
ReadMe! App Review (Learn to Read Faster!)

readme 1

Earlier this year, I read about a new app that would allow people to read faster. The article that I read had a sample of the app, so that you could test how fast you could read. So, about a month or two ago, I decided to see if the app was available yet. To my pleasure, it was! For only $2, you can read as fast as you want–up to 1000 words per minute. I like to read fast, but that’s too fast, even for me!

You can test yourself here!

According to the Spritz website (the company that created ReadMe!), most people read around 250 words per minute. A quick Google search confirmed that. Using the app takes some practice, I will warn you. They recommend starting at 250 WPM and then moving up from there. I tend to change my speed, depending on my energy or when the last time I used it.

Right now, you can’t read any Kindle (.mobi) books or any ebook with DRM on it. Any DRM-Free Epub book can be opened in the app. I like it the best on my iPad, but you can use your iPhone or any Android device.

readme 2

How to Add a Book to the App:

After you’ve downloaded a DRM free epub, email yourself the file on the device where you will want to read it.

readme 15 readme 16A Sample of the App!
readme 3 readme 4

Hint: I had a really hard time getting the app started at first. I would just hit the screen over and over until the reading started. What you need to do to get it started is to touch the bottom of the screen and push up! readme 5

This is what you will see at first, but the screen is completely customizable!
readme 6
readme 8 readme 9readme 18You can change the background color and the opacity of the background. I prefer the tan color with a solid background, so I am not distracted by the other words.

You have to create an account and sign in, if you want to read more than about 450 words per minute. I’m not sure why, but it’s quick to register and doesn’t cost anything.

Some books are better suited for this type of reading than others. I tried to read The Time Traveler’s Wife with the app, but it was just not making any sense. Once I started over with the audiobook, I couldn’t believe how much that I had missed. That book, if you haven’t read it, not only is non-linear in the time line, but the narration moves back and forth from the man to the women, so the nuances are very important, and I missed them!

However, I did read some lighter books that were more straightforward with the app. I don’t think I missed anything.

Another one of my favorite features of the app is that it tells you how much longer you have left until you are finished, based on your current reading speed!readme 19

P.S. This is not a sponsored post. I just really love this app and wanted to share!

What do you think? Would you try it? What’s your favorite way to read?


signature
Categories: Reading, Review
Taking Your Own Stock Photos

Whenever I have my good camera with me, and I’m at a new location, I use the opportunity to take “stock” photos. I take pictures of interesting architecture, landscapes, close ups of plants, or anything that could be used on my blog. That way, I’m usually never searching the internet for a free stock photo!

Taking Your Own

When I write posts, I usually like to have some type of graphic, which could be pinned on Pinterest or show up on Facebook. Plus, the graphic just looks nicer! I use Picmonkey or Canva to help me, though. I love Canva because they have templates that already mix fonts that I would never think about. Now, if I decide to use Picmonkey, I have been able to do a little bit better on my own.

Here is an example of a photo that I took at my grandmother’s house on Thanksgiving:

028

Then I used my photo with Canva to create a graphic for a post. I zoomed in on the photo, added a filter, and mixed the fonts!

Rethinking

Here are a few more examples:

stock photo

F L O W E R

 

Easier to (1)

 

Ten (2)

 

You can always use stock photos from Unsplash or Death to Stock Photos and customize them with Canva or Pickmoney!

What’s your favorite way to create graphics?


signature
Categories: Uncategorized
Bloom Where You Are Planted + Win $100 for Charity



I am so excited to talk about the Bakken Invitation honorees! One of this year’s honorees is  Haruko Sato, who not only bravely underwent Deep Brain Stimulation surgery (DBS), but also is the founder and former vice president of the Dystonian Friends Association. The Bakeen Invitation honorees overcome a life-changing medical challenge, like dystonia! I’ve heard dystonia described not as a death sentence, but a life sentence. I really know the feeling. Persevering through the pain to give back to other people who suffer is extremely inspiring.

Bloom Where You Are Planted

You can read more about all 10 honorees here!

Sato, who resides in Japan, says that she wants to raise awareness for dystonia (woot woot!) and get information about DBS out to people who are considering the surgery. The surgery can really help a lot of people who suffer from dystonia. It is two separate surgeries that involve placing something in the patient’s brain and a control box in the chest. Personally, I have met several people who have benefited from the surgery. However, the severity, location, and cause of the dystonia, can all effect a person’s eligibility for the surgery.

Once, I heard a researcher from NIH mention that it is believed that there are more undiagnosed people suffering from cervical dystonia alone than the number of people who are currently diagnosed with every type of dystonia. It is an extremely underdiagnosed condition–the average patient waits 5 years from the onset of symptoms before finally being diagnosed. I hate to think what the average number of years would look like if all of the undiagnosed people were factored into the number.

So, raising awareness is not only important for getting research funding, but simply getting patients diagnosed is extremely important. Furthermore, raising awareness gives people a sense of community and belonging. Until I attended a national conference, I had never met anyone else with my condition in person. It is extremely lonely to suffer from dystonia, even when you have a wonderfully supportive family and good friends. And, just from being a member of an online support group and emailing with people who have found my blog, I seem to be in the minority when it comes to having a supportive family. Dystonia patients need emotional, physical, and even financial assistance.

My diagnosis inspired me to start my blog. I want to give back to the dystonia community and people who suffer from chronic illnesses, in general. I don’t have the physical capability to go out and talk to people or provide assistance, but through technology and my English degree (who knew this thing would come in handy?) I feel like I contribute in a small way. I may never be on the board of a dystonia group or lobby for funding in DC, but I have learned tips and tricks for dealing with dystonia. I want to consolidate all of the information in a comprehensive way, which I hope this blog does for people with dystonia.

There are so many gaps in information about life with dystonia and pain management–and even treatment options–when a newly diagnosed person does an internet search. Sadly, doctors aren’t a great resource for that type of information. A good neurologist will be able to give a patient Botox in the right places at the right dose every 12 weeks, plus maybe prescribe an oral medication or two to help patients deal with the dystonia. But, like I said earlier, it is really hard to find information about pain management and even relationship advice. Dystonia touches every part of my life. Through my blog, I not only want to raise awareness so that the undiagnosed will be diagnosed, but I want to let other new patients know that it’s not an easy road, but they can and will survive.

Now it is time for me to get off of my soapbox and tell you about how you can get involved with giving back to your community!

10 tips

I know that I am super partial, but I love what Haruko Sato said about blooming where we are planted. As a new college graduate, I had a million plans for my life. Just over a year later, my diagnosis meant letting go of 999,998 of those plans. (I got to get married and have a dog, so two out of a million isn’t too bad, right?) I am planted in a place with a diagnosis that needs awareness. I was more fortunate and blessed than words can begin to express because I already had Tourette’s Syndrome. So, I was already seeing a movement disorders specialist once I realized that my symptoms were a little more than just tension headaches and fibromyalgia. It can take months to get an appointment with a movement disorders specialist in the first place, plus most people don’t even know that they need to go there. They just head to the chiropractor and try to manage their pain.

So, my early diagnosis prevented permanent damage to my spine. It also gave me a little bit of a head start on learning about living with dystonia, since I knew what I had. Some days it is really hard just to survive. The pain can be indescribably bad. But, I want to bloom where I am. I want to use the knowledge that I’ve accumulated to help people. Before I got sick, I was very social. Now I want to take those skills and translate those to the virtual world, where I can create community for the chronically ill. Being sick makes it hard to show up to physical support groups, but it only takes an internet connection to communicate with other people.

Your Turn!

Here is the even more exciting part; it’s where you get to help your community! One person will be selected at random, on December 30, to win a $100 Visa Gift Card that they should use in giving back to their local community!*

Just (1) visit the website for the Bakken Invitation honorees and let me know which honoree inspires you the most and why, in the comments section. (2) An additional entry will be given to each person who tells me a little bit about how they give back to their community OR how they would use the $100 for charity!

Fun fact: My college’s motto is Dum Vivimus Servimus, which means While We Live, We Serve, so community service has always been a huge part of my life!

*You must be 18 to enter and based in the United States.

Many thanks to Medtronic for sponsoring today’s story and encouraging me to live on and give on!


signature
Categories: Cervical Dystonia
Keurig 2.0 Review

Disclaimer: I was provided this product in exchange for an honest review. I purchased some of the K Cup flavors for myself.

Keurig 2.0

I had never considered buying a Keurig. I drink a lot of coffee. I love large coffee mugs more than anything. However, a Keurig seemed like a fun novelty.

It arrived when my college roommate, Micah, was over visiting. We decided to set it up and try it out. In college, Micah and I shared a coffee pot, but had to get our own creamers because we didn’t like the same flavors. So, it was fun that we could each make our own cup of coffee in a flavor that we liked best. My husband happened to be out grocery shopping, so I asked him to pick up some other flavors!

k cupsI was a little disappointed when I found that my only brewing options were 4, 8, or 10 oz. Micah chose 8 oz and I chose 10 oz.

011

014My 10 oz cup of coffee was incredibly weak, so I decided I could only brew 8 oz at a time in the future.

024015The ability to chose our own flavors and brew coffee quickly was quite a novelty. It was fun, but I think it would be an expensive habit, in the long run. My husband and I have a Bunn coffee maker that keeps hot water in the back, so I can make 10 cups very quickly. The good thing about the Keurig, though, is that every person can chose their own flavor. Before the Keurig, we either brewed plain coffee and used different flavor creamers and syrups.

041

The next morning, my husband and I decided to use the Keurig. We each chose a flavor and drank it. Then I brewed a pot and drank the rest of it!

I also tried out the hot water feature of the Keurig. I have an electric kettle that I usually use to boil water. Instead, I took my large mug and filled it with hot water from the Keurig at 6 oz at a time. It took several minutes to fill my mug because I had to do it over and over. I did like that the water wasn’t boiling, so I didn’t have to wait for it to cool down so long.

025

The carafe that comes with Keurig 2.0 could use some upgrading, too. It isn’t insulated, so you either need to be able to drink it all at once, like me, or be willing to reheat it. The Keurig 2.0 also has the ability to be set to go off at a certain time, but there is nothing to keep the coffee warm, again. You either have to not hit the snooze button or microwave it!

So, my overall assessment is that the Keurig 2.0 is a fun novelty that I’ll probably use for an afternoon cup of coffee over the winter, until I drink up all of my K Cups. After that, I’m not sure if I will use again. It takes up a ton of counter space, so I’m not sure where I’m going to keep it… our coffee bar is totally full. We also keep things like crock pots and the rice maker in the closet upstairs because there isn’t room in the kitchen.

If you have the counter space, only drink a small cup of coffee at a time, and would rather spend 50 cents a cup for a flavored cup of coffee at home, instead of your usual Starbucks habit, then the Keurig 2.0 could be a good option for you. If you’re like me, though, and prefer a pot of Maxwell House with some hazelnut creamer, then it might not be your most cost efficient option.


signature
Categories: Review
When You Really Love a Post: A Challenge

Sometimes I write posts that I love. Like, I will write them and want to hit publish right away, but I know that I need to wait until the morning or another open day, due to scheduling conflicts. I get a little Christmas Eve feeling when I know it’s about to be published.

Once that magical post goes up, I try to promote it. I do the best I can to reach other people with that exciting post. However, those posts usually flop. I don’t get it. I may have poured my heart and soul into a post that I think will be helpful to other people, explain hard topics, or just generally be awesome, but I get crickets on the blog.

The next day, I might post something silly, like just a bunch of pictures of Christmas decorations, and my phone will go off for days with comments pouring into that post. Some of my worst posts (in my opinion) still get comments weeks after they’ve been posted, while my best work goes unnoticed. My husband hypothesized that maybe it’s easier to leave a comment on pretty pictures or something funny, but it’s a little harder to leave a comment on a post that is challenging.

I want to challenge you, people of blogland, not to just skip past posts that are uncomfortable. I know that I don’t leave a comment if I disagree, usually, because I just don’t care that much/want to start an argument. However, if someone writes a post that isn’t just fluff, at least read it – maybe even acknowledge it. Especially for small bloggers, who just write for fun and because they are inspired, it is important to be read. Those are the people with something to say. They keep showing up because they want to share with you

I hate writing posts about my favorite blushes, top 10 whatevers, etc., when I know that I only write them to boost my statistics. Those posts get read. They get shared! They get comments. But, they take about 3 brain cells to put together. It’s not a coincidence that the first three posts I had this week all started with “5.” Let’s just call it an experiment to compare the performance of those posts with a post that I wanted you to read and care about.

Not even the best writers can turn out something soul-churning every single day, but when they do, take notice! It kills me to see fluffy blogs with 80 comments on someone’s favorite fall clothes and Rstyle links everywhere.


signature
Categories: blogging, life thoughts
5 Books That I Couldn’t Stand

I love to read, but I had to quit these five–other than one. I finished it, but I actually threw that one away. I hate to throw away books, but it was so bad, I couldn’t subject anyone else to it!

B O O K S  T H A T  I

The Finkler Question

the finkler question

 

This one won the Man Booker Prize. However, I couldn’t get past the first few chapters. And I tried many times!

Winter’s Tale

winters tale

So, the movie looked like it would be good. I still haven’t watched it, though. I did try to read the book, but it was so unbelievably bad that I had to stop–and I had even dedicated a lot of time to the book, too. The plot was so far out of the realm of possibility that I couldn’t stand it.

War Brides

war brides

Only a few pages in and I could tell this one was not worth my time.

Crime & Punishment

crime and punishment

Ok, I know this is a classic. And I could see the potential, but I decided to move on to other books.

Grace for the Good Girl

grace for the good girl

I read this book in it’s entirety, but it was horrible. I read it for a small group at church, but I found that it was a waste of time. The entire premise, that there are “good girls,” falls apart at the very beginning. Yes, some of us never had “rebellious” stages, but everyone has fallen short. I felt like there are way better books to study or spend time reading.


signature
Categories: Uncategorized
5 Favorite Christmas Movies

Countdown to my FIVE favorite Holiday Movies!

Favorite

5. Rudolph

rudolph

 

When I was younger, I hated this movie, but my mom loved it. She insisted that we had to watch it every single time it came on TV. Now, it’s a tradition that I can’t break!

4. Home Alone 2

fiflthy animal

This one is just so funny!

3. The National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

christmas vacation

 

I’ll admit that it took me a long time to get around to watching this one, like last year, but now I love it!

2. Home Alone 1

home alone 1

1. Die Hard

die hard 1

 

die hard 2

 

Self-explanatory for why I like this one, of course. Yippee ki yay!

 

Honorable Mention: In the Good Old Summertime. Despite the name, the majority of the movie takes place during the Christmas. Judy Garland is the best!

in the good old summertime

What are your favorite Holiday movies? What do you absolutely have to watch every year?


signature
Categories: Uncategorized
5 Favorite Instagram Accounts

Ok, I love Instagram. It’s probably my favorite form of social media. I thought that I would share my five favorites today!

Marnie the Dog (marniethedog)

marnie the dogMarnie is the funniest, cutest, and most famous Shih Tzu ever. Mine are funny and cute, but they don’t get to hang out with celebrities in New York, like Marnie.

Texts From Your Ex (textsfromyourex)

textsfromyourex

I know have gotten so many of these types of crazy texts from exes/guys, but I sure wish that I could have come up with some of these witty responses.

Your Shitty Family (yourshittyfamily)

yourshittyfamily

 

We all have crazy family members. These funny people are kind enough to share their crazy texts.

 

Tinder Nightmares (tindernightmares)

tindernightmares

Now, I’ve never used Tinder. I hadn’t even heard of it until after I was married, but I have friends who have tried it. A friend of mine’s roommate met her boyfriend on there, but after watching this Instagram account, it seems like that was one in a million.

Bros Being Basic (brosbeingbasic)

The key to this account is to read the hashtags. There are a lot of them.

brosbeingbasic brosbeingbasic 2

Aside from the ridiculously funny pictures and captions, these funny guys really capture the essence of what most girls post on Instagram.

What are your favorite accounts to follow? You can follow me here!


signature
Categories: Humor