Monday, July 6, 2015

Day #16: Shake Your Shoes

I'm back! Sort of! At any rate, I'm dropping in for today!

I hope you all had a good Fourth of July. A friend had a pool party, where I was effectively pushed into the pool while still in my regular clothes. I couldn't be too irritated; I've done to a few friends before, too. Then I sat on the roof of our barn to watch fireworks. It was a very clear, warm night out with a surprisingly low number of bugs, so it was ideal. As always, I waxed a little philosophical sitting on the roof. There's something about rooftops that make the world suddenly seem full of possibility and magical. This year was one of the best Fourth of July's I've ever had in a long, long time.

I have mostly been busy with dancing. I've been casual swing dancing for almost a year now, but I decided about two months back that I actually want to get better than okay at it. I'll be honest about my dancing: I'm not bad. I can keep rhythm, I learn fast, I'm getting better and better at being in tune with my lead, keeping my arms stiff (but not too stiff), and trusting my lead. But I still have a lot to learn. I still have to fight myself to not try and anticipate what the lead is going to direct me to do, my arms go floppy sometimes still, my elbow doesn't always go where it's supposed to when being pulled into closed position, and my trust in my leads isn't complete. Granted, this in part does have to do with who I'm dancing with. I have a total of I think four leads who I trust completely, but then I find that sometimes I don't trust myself to know what my lead is telling me to do, so I falter on my moves.

I'm a fair dancer, but I'm not good.

At the same time, of course, when I watch videos of me dancing, I discover that I'm actually not as bad as I think. My footwork on East Coast is actually quite good! My left arm stays where it should in turns and spins, while my right maintains almost the proper amount of tension. But this is why I'm taking Intermediate East Coast classes - to polish all of that. I finished up the beginning lesson last week and took a Charleston class on top of it - and pat on the back, I finally can do the turn through! Which is serious progress. For whatever reason, I couldn't figure the turn through out, even though the mechanics are perfectly simple. Starting tomorrow, though, is the Intermediate class - should be fun!

However, I always get a nice reality check at my Lindy Hop class. Regarded as the most (or at least one of them) athletic, most complicated social dance style out there, I'm far from being even moderately good at Lindy Hop. I've watched videos of Lindy Hop championships and admired the style. It is awesome and fun and exhilarating - and hard. Sure, I have the triple step down; that's the easy part. The very easy part. Perhaps, in fact, the only easy part. Whereas in East Coast swing follows get to be a tiny bit lazy, Lindy Hop is dependent on both. Between the footwork and maintaining proper tension in the arms and back, it's a lot to work on. Last night's class was a lightbulb moment for me in terms of footwork, but now I face the frustrating fact that: I don't have anyone to practice with outside of the class. It's not impossible to practice, but it does make it really hard to work on some things, like tension.

Like starting anything new, I had an idea of how hard it would be in the beginning, but I didn't quite realize how hard it would be. However, that's also part of why I signed up. I enjoy a good challenge, and Lindy Hop is definitely that. I love East Coast, but was perhaps getting a little lazy with it because it is a more relaxed social style. Lindy Hop is keeping me on my toes, constantly reminding me what I'm doing wrong, what I need to fix. It would be a little disheartening, but I never back down from learning something and I know that the more I do it, the more I will improve. And it's been a while since I've undertaken a task that took effort.

But my dancing escapades don't stop there. A friend and I are seriously considering taking Blues on Thursdays - and possibly a mix of dances on Fridays. Because why not? I spent my childhood and teenage years not getting to dance. And now I can; mine as well take all that I can. And every form of dance helps me be more and more aware of myself, and that in turn helps me with all the other dancing I'm learning.

All I can say is: I am so glad I invested in several pairs of dancing shoes!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Absence

Hey, everyone!

So I know I've been big-time absent from this blog. A lot has been going on to where it was hard to maintain two blogs (this one and The Reading Hedgehog), and I had to take a break from both when I got back from New York. So, yes, life has been crazy.

Which you would think means I would have been focusing on this blog more, since it is a personal blog and designed to relate the craziness. I guess I'm still learning the finer points of personal blogging.

As a quick overview: I have been traveling, and hopefully I'll get posts up about that sometime in the near(ish) future. When I got back from traveling, I got super busy with taking more swing dance classes - including Lindy Hop. I've also been busy making summer plans, hanging out with friends, outlining my gameplan for finding a new job in the very near future, and reading and writing.

I'm going to try and return to blogging on Curves In the Road. I miss it; I really do. And I want to get back in the kitchen again, too, and share awesome recipes with all of you. So keep your eyes open; I will return!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day #15: More New Gadgets

Yesterday two big things happened: I finally got my highlights and a smashing new haircut. I have never gone this blonde before and I'm having to get used to it.

 And my mum and I went to the local(ish) Apple store so I could pick out my new computer. I made the geeks there very happy. I breezed in and said, "Alright, boys, I need a computer that does this and this and this. Here is my budget; pick something out for me." Normally, I don't like doing this to fellow retailers. I know what it's like to have a "not picky" customer who is, in fact, very picky and doesn't like any of the suggestions you give. But in my case, I really wasn't that picky. I just needed something that would do all the things I required. In the end, I walked away with the newest version of the MacBook Pro. I've been messing around with it a bit and love it so far.

Since it took hardly any time to get my computer - now named Colin - my mum and I had time to breeze into Powell's City of Books. Yes, I spent more than I intended, but my computer wasn't as much as I was expecting, so I thought: Why not? I completed some more series, so I'm not going to feel too guilty about it.

After that, we headed to Voodoo Donuts - because how can you go to Portland and not go to Voodoo Donuts? We seem to have the best luck whenever we go there; there's hardly ever any lines. And this time, there was no one else around. It's pretty unheard of; Voodoo Donuts is kinda of known for having hours-long lines of people, though I think that's mostly in the summer.

And then we decided to have an adventure. Donuts, computer, and books in hand, we headed from Voodoo back to where we'd parked. We figured if we cut one way, we would get there in the half the time from Powell's. We got a little turned around, a little lost, and I saw a part of Portland I could have gone my whole life without visiting. I can now say that I've been offered marijuana by some very high people, as well as a "very" tempting deal from a homeless guy to do a strip tease for a donut. That's sarcasm, by the way; I was in no capacity tempted to trade him one of my lovely donuts for a strip tease.

We eventually got out of the unsavory part of town and finally back into the safe spots. Other than being an interesting tour, I also got to test out how good of walking shoes my new sandals are. And I'm pretty sure they'll hold up in Nashville and New York.

I've spent all of this morning setting my computer up and syncing my iPod so I can actually listen to music on it. I intend in filling it up with lots of songs for my flights to Nashville. Unless I'm sitting next to some very interesting people indeed, I don't really want to talk to anyone. ;-)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Honey Balsamic Chicken

This recipe is courtesy of Budget Bytes!


Another quick dinner recipe that is yummy and can go with all sorts of things! Toss some vegetables with the chicken, too, and it's doubly good (if you like vegetables; I don't).

Ingredients
2 medium chicken breasts
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp honey

Directions
  1. Slice the chicken into six diagonal strips. Place the strips in a ziplock bag with the 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, and the salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients all together and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the remaining olive oil on a skillet over medium heat. Cook the strips until browned on both sides. Remove chicken onto a plate.
  3. Turn the heat to low. Add the butter and remaining 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Stir everything up in the skillet. Add the honey, increase the heat, and let the sauce simmer until thick (approx. 5 minutes).
  4. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, then add the chicken back into the skillet and toss until coated. Toss in vegetables for extra yummy and serve with rice!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Bookworm's Corner #6

The Bookworm's Corner is weekly updates on anything bookish! What I've read through the week, any books I've bought this week that I'm super duper excited about, recommendations lists, book news - whatever! This is where the Bookworm wades in.

What I've Finished

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
The Goddess War: #1
YA, fantasy
3/5 stars

The ancient gods are dying and Athena and Hermes are determined to find out why. The answer may lie with Cassandra, a teenage girl in Kincade, New York, who is the reincarnation of Cassandra of Troy: the girl cursed to see the future, but have no one believe her. The only problem is: Cassandra doesn't remember who she is - and Apollo isn't about to let her be used by the gods. So I read this for my book club, and so many members hated it that I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. When I finally started reading it, I knew that I disagreed with them. Antigoddess could be so much more and it does have nigglies and holes, but I liked it for what it was. I liked the plot and the Author's portrayal of the gods was very interesting and unique. We aren't seeing the gods in their full glory; for once, we're seeing them after they've been forgotten, after they have become less than gods, and when they are dying. At times the plot felt like it was running in place: stuff happened but it didn't really go anywhere. And I have questions. But this is the first book in a trilogy, and I'm willing to see where it goes next.

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond
YA, alternate history
5/5 stars

It is 80 years after the Nazis won WWII with their genetically engineered soldiers that turned the tide of the war. Zara lives in Nazi-controlled America, trying to go unnoticed by the Nazis. Because she has a secret: she has mysterious powers. And if they ever found out, she'd be executed. I love all things WWII, and the idea of the Nazis having won the war is very intriguing. So of course I had to read this book! It was incredible. Minus the genetically engineered soldiers - the Anomalies - the author presents a very believable and frightening image of what things might have been like. The characters are really good and the plot fast-paced and engaging. I loved it.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Dorothy Must Die #1
YA, fairy tale retelling
5/5 stars

Amy Gumm is the other girl from Kansas. And like Dorothy Gale, she's been swept away from her boring life and into the land of Oz by a tornado. But this isn't the Oz Amy has read about. Dorothy has returned - and she's evil. Now Amy must ally herself with the Wicked and kill Dorothy. I hate Oz with a passion, after reading all 15 originals about two years ago. But this Oz - oh my gosh, this Oz was incredible. Creepy as all hell, dark and twisted and disturbing - and so awesome. Dorothy is one of the best villains ever! And Amy is a spunky, sassy protagonist with the attitude. I loved it.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Snow Like Ashes #1
YA, fantasy
3/5 stars

Meira is one of eight surviving refugees from when their kingdom - Winter - was taken by Spring and their magic stolen. Now, they're on a quest to regain their magic and restore their prince to his throne. At first I wasn't hugely impressed with the whole idea of kingdoms being stuck in one eternal season. But as the world building was continued, I liked it more and more. The characters were great - Meira very capable and tough - and the villain impressively intimidating. I didn't care for the love triangle - though it certainly wasn't the worst I've read - and the pacing was at times way too fast.

The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer
YA, thriller
4/5 stars

When Stephen is forced to move to boring small town Spencer, Michigan, he knows his life is going to go from sucky to downright awful. But then he meets a group of guys who hang out in the cemetery and he has hope that he's found friends. Until their little group starts to take a very dark and evil turn. . . .The author told me this book was like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. And that was literally all I knew about it before I read it. I didn't look up reviews or read the synopsis beforehand. And oh my gosh, this book. I don't know what this book did to me, but it was awesome. It was creepy and captivating and disturbing and frustrating as all hell. And that ending. . . .I still haven't gotten over it.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter: #4
Middle Grade: fantasy
3/5 stars

It's the beginning of Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Lately he's been having concerning dreams about Lord Voldemort, waking up with his scar hurting. But all worries are pushed aside when the Triwizard Tournament is held at Hogwarts. Harry is too young to enter - but then someone puts his name in the Goblet of Fire. And once the Goblet has chosen you, you must compete. I'm just enjoying this world more and more with each new installment. There's so much world building and attention to detail. Things could have moved at a much quicker pace, but I liked the character development and exploration so much that I didn't want it to. And then the book takes a darker turn at the end, promising further development in future books. Voldemort is probably one of the most pathetic villains I've read, but everything else sort of makes up for that.

What I'm Currently Reading

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan: On page 259
Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales: This week, I read N/A
Anderson's Best-Loved Fairy Tales: This week, I read N/A
Wolfsblood by Hazel West: On page 216
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie: On page 175
- A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin: On page 64
The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells: On page 70
- Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon: On page

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sweet & Sour: Derailed Plans and New Gadgets


Sweet & Sour is a weekly feature where I talk about one "sweet" thing that happened - and one "sour" thing. Because life throws us lemons and cookies! But because bad news should always come first, we're doing this in reverse order!

The Sour

It seems like it's been one of those weeks where any plans I make are derailed. Getting the group together to go see Insurgent has proven to be a bit more difficult than I thought it would, and I'm still so tired from being ill that I have had to skip rock climbing for the past few Wednesdays. I'm going to be so out of shape when I get back to it.
The Sweet

I got a new iPod! A nano iPod! A gorgeous green nano iPod!! See it here! Isn't it pretty?! My very old one broke a while back and I realized I needed a new one before I went to Nashville; otherwise I wouldn't be able to listen to anything on the plane over. o_0

Friday, April 17, 2015

Quote Wall #6

Quote Wall is for everyone to comment and share their favorite quotes of the week. Be it from a book, movie, other people - whatever you like! Share them in the comments and I'll put them up on the Quote Wall page!

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see." - Arthur Schopenhauer -