June 5, 2017

Animated Blog Photo

In the world of Gifs and Boomerang, static photos are becoming obsolete! Before long even our newspapers will have animated photos! Of course I am just being over dramatic, but honestly, animated photos really add so much life to the text. As every blogger knows, photos are essential to a post and a fun way to capitalize on embedded images is to make them animated.  I'll be showing you how to easily add a roll over animated image to a post on your blog. Anytime someone's mouse in on the image text will appear. It is super fun! Quick disclaimer: this only works for Blogger blogs.

To begin you will find a photo you want to animate. Once you know your photo, go to www.picmonkey.com  and you will begin to edit your photo. I love picmonkey because it is free and super simple to use. They have a variety of fonts and image filters you can pick from to use. 

Get creative and edit your photo however you want! Once edited, save the photo under a different name than the original. You will need both. Ideally, you want your image size to be around 615 x 410 px. If it is larger, you will need to resize it. There are tons of online tools that will resize your photo for you. I am partial to http://www.reduceimages.com/

When your photo is the correct dimensions, go to your blogger dashboard and create new post. Add BOTH photos (original and edited) to the post. Make sure they are original size.  Then switch your screen from "compose" to "HTML". Two boxes of text should appear. In each box will be a URL for your image. These will be important. Keep this window open, and then go to the post you want to add your photo to. 

Once again switch your post to "HTML". Now copy this code into your post wherever you want your image: <img src="URL OF THE MAIN IMAGE GOES HERE" onmouseover="this.src='URL OF THE HOVER IMAGE GOES HERE'" onmouseout="this.src='URL OF THE MAIN IMAGE GOES HERE'" /></a>

The next step is pretty simple. The Original image URL will go in the spot where it says "URL of Main Image Goes Here" and the edited image URL will go in the spot where it says "URL of the Hover Image Goes Here". Be sure when you are copying your URLs that you don't copy the quotation marks. (On that same token, keep all quotation marks in the code).

When you publish your post and scroll your mouse over the image your edited photo should take the originals place making it look animated. Welcome to the future. 

May 29, 2017

10 Bitter Truths About Losing Your Mom

Seven years ago, I woke up on the first day of summer before freshman year of high school. It should have been the start of an amazing summer. Instead, it was the start of the most traumatic moment of my life. I was in the downstairs of my house when I heard my mom call for me. She sounded distressed and I remember my first thought being "What did I do now? I just woke up".  I wish I had just been in trouble. However, when I went upstairs to see what she wanted I didn't see an angry mother, I saw a panicked one who was struggling to breathe. 

She wanted me to help her to the shower because she thought a shower would help her feel refreshed. I asked if she wanted me to call for an ambulance, but she told me absolutely not to (My father had just started working at a new company and we weren't signed on with the insurance yet). With her arm draped around my shoulder we walked halfway to the bathroom before she said she wanted to go back to bed. We turned around and began back to her bed. When we arrived at the side of the bed, she stopped breathing and lost consciousness. At that moment I screamed bloody murder for my sister who was home from college. 

We called 911.

Luckily, we live directly in front of a fire station so an ambulance was at our house in 30 seconds (I kid you not). The EMTs were able to get her conscious for a few minutes, enough for her to tell them what was wrong. Then her heart stopped the first time, and that was the last time I ever heard my mom.

Early on May 30th, after a long day and night in the ICU, my mom passed away from a massive pulmonary embolism and life changed forever. 

Losing my mother at 14 was harder than most people realize. In the seven years since her death, I've learned some pretty bitter truths about losing a mom as a teenage girl.  I wanted to make a post to share them, maybe to help people understand the loss. 

  1. There will be a lot of people offering to help at first, and then there will be no one: I think this was by far the hardest part of losing my mother for me.  When she first passed away, so many people offered to help me anytime I needed it, and for the first few months, they meant it too. Unfortunately, as the months progressed, fewer and fewer people offered to help. My sister was off at college and my father traveled quite a bit for his job as well as worked a second job at night. This left me completely alone and often trying to fend for myself.  As frustrating as this is, I do think it taught me independence and I am thankful for the few people who did help.
  2. People forget you're grieving: After a while, people just become oblivious to your pain. Life goes on, and people have their own problems to attend to. That's fine, its natural, but don't discount your grief. Even if it has been 6 months, it is still legitimate.
  3. You'll feel like you're missing out: As I continued through high school I was immensely jealous of so many of the girls. They had their mom to go prom dress shopping with, to talk about boys with, to show them how to do makeup, to be a "dance mom" (or twirl mom in my case), and to make sure they always looked nice.  My dad is a good father, but he didn't understand the "girly" stuff which meant I just didn't do it. I'd trade anything to have my mom to go dress shopping with. Anything. 
  4. Jealousy: I hate to say it, but jealousy has played such a large role in my life since my mom passed away despite my best efforts. I'm jealous of all the people who still have their parents, I'm jealous of the people who lost a parent but still have large support systems, I'm jealous of all the missed opportunities, I'm jealous of my sister who had my mom through high school, and I'm jealous of the kids whose mom's helped them with college.
  5. There will be people who want to one-up you with their relationship with her: As crazy as it sounds I have heard "you didn't know her like I did"  numerous times over the past 7 years. It hurts to hear because, on one hand, she was my mother, of course I knew her, and on the other hand, they did have more years with her. 
  6.  People will talk bad about their own mother in front of you: I understand everyone has arguments with their parents, and that not everyone sees eye to eye with their mom, but there is a time and place for everything. I honestly don't want to hear you diss your mom who so obviously loves you. Heck, I'd give anything just to ARGUE with my mom again. 
  7. When you experience your first heart break, you're gonna wanna call her: Twice this past semester, I just wanted to call and get comfort and advice from my mom. The fact that I couldn't only made the broken heart more painful.
  8. You wonder if she'd be proud: I'm not the same person I was when she passed away. I was at the beginning of my teenage years when she passed, and now I'm a legal adult with one year of my twenties under my belt. I always wonder if she'd be proud of my academic accomplishments, of my survival in Minnesota, of the friendships I've made, or if she'd find me pretty. It's easy to say "Of course she would", but the truth is, I'll never really know.
  9. Losing your biggest cheerleader: Moms are almost always their kid's biggest supporter. My mother was no exception. After losing her, I felt like I had no one cheering me on anymore. That my accomplishments went unseen by everyone. Honestly, I still feel like that sometimes, but I know there are a few people out there who support me. 
  10. It does get easier, but there are still extremely hard days: They say time heals all wounds, and it is true for the most part. Seven years later, and I've learned to adjust and get used to life without my mom. There are still days, however, that make me miss her. You'd think holidays would be the hardest, but they aren't. It's the random day that just reminds you of a small memory that is painful. 
Losing a parent when you're young is hard, but I'm grateful for the time I did have my mom. She instilled in me values that I hope I live by as best as I can. Despite all the bitter realities that come from losing a parent, there are a few silver lining that the tragic experience has given me. I'm more independent, I'm great at doing housework, I try to have greater empathy for people (not always successful but I try), and I value life more than I did before. I take comfort in knowing that one day I will see my mom again, and it will be like no time has passed at all. 

"Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is remaking of life". - Anne Roiphe

May 8, 2017

11 Tips for Incoming College Freshman

Howdy! Well, I have successfully finished up my third year of college. Only two more to go! (Yay, 5-year programs!) After three years of college, I think I am finally starting to get the hang of it. When I was a senior in high school I didn't really know what to expect in regards to college. I had watched my sister go through her bachelor's degree, but even still there were things no one told me that I really wish someone had taken the time to say about freshman year of college.  There are so many expectations you have going into the fall semester that everything can be slightly overwhelming. If I were to go back and tell 18-year-old Michelle some advice to help with that overwhelming nature, these would be the tips I'd give:

  1. Take Campus Tours:  I can not stress this one enough. Make sure to actually go and visit different colleges and universities before packing your bags to move in.  I originally attended an art school in Minneapolis, Minnesota and I never once had been to Minnesota prior to freshman orientation. Let me say, had I visited MCAD before going, I'm not sure I would have gone.  I remember pulling up to the school after a 21-hour drive and just being very underwhelmed by what I was seeing.  The school only had 2 buildings, no dining hall, and the dorms were less than desirable. Not to mention, it was in a sketchy part of town.  Learning from my mistake, I made sure to visit both Texas A&M and Mississippi State University before making my decision on which one to transfer to. Visiting schools can be a good way to see which is the best fit for you. 
  2. It's Ok to Change Majors: So maybe you have dreamed of being an engineer since you knee-high to a grasshopper, but what happens when after round 1 of engineering math you realize you really hate math? You might feel like you're giving up on your dream to change majors, but trust me, you're just finding a new dream that you actually enjoy! My freshman year I was a comic art major. I had wanted to do sequential art since I was in fourth grade, but after one semester of it, I missed science and real world application. I still loved art but I wasn't enjoying myself.  Luckily, I started to look into other majors and discovered Landscape Architecture which combines design with science! 
  3. It's Ok to Transfer:  Prior to actually transferring myself, I thought it was taboo to change schools unless you had just graduated from a junior college. I'll be up front and say transferring is hard. Automatic admissions don't apply anymore, essay topics are monotonous, and some colleges only take a certain number of students primarily which are freshman. With that being said, transferring was the best decision I made! I went from being miserable in Minnesota to happy in Aggieland.  So if you aren't enjoying your school, look into transferring, even if that means reapplying for scholarships.
  4. Be Yourself:  This sounds straight forward, but for me, when I went off to school I was determined to reinvent myself to be the person I always wanted to be. I've always been the shy girl and I no longer wanted to be that. I wanted to be outgoing, fun, and the person people actually want to spend time with! It backfired.  I got the nickname "Cheerleader" at MCAD because I was annoying to be around. These days I do still try to be more talkative but I also realize that being outgoing isn't me and that I come off fake when I try to be something I am not. 
  5. Take Classes Seriously:  You'll hear people tell you that your GPAs doesn't matter, but they do.  They aren't everything, but if you keep goofing off instead of doing class work you'll eventually find yourself on academic probation or worse, kicked out due to bad grades. So have fun, but also do your best in class!
  6. Don't Procrastinate:  10 pages papers due at the end of the semester have a way of really sneaking up on you.  If you work on it just a little bit every week, by the end you'll just have to edit the paper! Procrastinating and being able to still get the worked done was doable in high school, but not in college. Trust me. 
  7. Don't Pull All-Nighters: There will be times when you need to pull an all-nighter, but don't do it for every major assignment or test.  If you have a big test, go to bed at some point. Your brain will function better and you will retain more information.  Not to mention, if you fall asleep on accident without setting alarm you could potentially miss your big exam! Yikes, been there, done that!
  8. Join Different Organizations: I am notorious for joining a bunch of clubs and only going a few times. The great thing about that though, is that I get exposed to a lot of different activities and I get to narrow down the ones I enjoy the most! It's also a great way to meet new people! Joining some organizations at A&M has been one of the best things for my shy self.  So go to those open houses and take all the flyers!
  9. You Don't Have To Be Best Friends W/ Your Roommate:  Freshman year I was determined to be best friends with my roommates. The problem was, we were polar opposites and did not attract. By the end of the semester, neither one of us liked the other. With my roommates since then, I've just tried to be a good roommate, not necessarily their BFF. I'm sure I'm not always the best roommate, but at least I get along with everyone and it is a good living environment. 
  10. Don't Feel Pressured to Find "The One":  I know at A&M there is massive pressure to be proposed to under the century tree, especially with the cadets in their senior boots and saber arches. Marriage is a pretty big deal and twenty-two years old is pretty young. Never feel like you have to find the man or woman of your dreams by senior year, and even if you did don't feel like you have to get engaged. There is nothing wrong with waiting until you feel ready for that commitment. You don't have to have a ring by spring.
  11. It is Ok to be Homesick:  One of my favorite quotes among many from Downton Abbey is "There's no shame in feeling homesick, it means you come from a happy home".  You're gonna be away from home for the longest period of your life thus far. You might miss your parents, siblings, bedroom, pets, or homecooked meals. That ok! I felt so embarrassed freshman year in Minnesota because I was SO homesick. I missed Texas, I missed the sun, the southern accent, my cat, my own bedroom, and so much more.  Loving where you come from doesn't mean you aren't capable of being on your own. 
I hope you're preparing to come to college in the fall that these tips helped you! Let me know in the comments where y'all are going and what is your biggest fear about college!

Vegan Deviled Potatoes

Is it even a family reunion without deviled eggs? I think not. But what if you're vegan? Those tantalizing little eggs covered in paprika will just taunt you! Luckily for you, I've got you covered! I've been playing around with a lot of vegan recipes lately because I feel my body just runs better on a primarily plant based diet. These deviled potatoes are addictingly good! 

To begin, microwave your potatoes for approximately 6 mins. You will want them to be nice and tender.  While the potatoes cook combine all your ingredients (minus the paprika) in a small bowl, and stir until well blended. 

Once potatoes are cooked and cooled, slice each one in half. Taking a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out small holes in each potato. ( you can set the scooped out potatoes to the side and they add up to make a nice small serving of mashed potatoes for later).  After you've made holes in each one, begin adding a dollop of your filling to the potatoes.  When you're finished, take the paprika and generously sprinkle it on the deviled potatoes.

Now you're ready to enjoy the delicious goodness of deviled potatoes! Honestly, I almost like these better than the real deal!

May 2, 2017

Vegan Curry Burger

Burgers are an American staple. It doesn't really matter the occasion we will still grill them up and serve them! Unfortunately, if you're like me, red meat can be difficult to digest which makes eating burgers risky business. Luckily, there are tons of vegan options out there that still taste amazing! My favorite is the curry burger. It has that meaty texture and an added spice to really bring the flavor full circle! I thought I would share the recipe with y'all! With only 60 calories per patty and 10 grams of protein, why not have seconds! This recipe was inspired by the Hungry Herbivore cookbooks!

Preset your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin by bringing your quinoa to a boil and allowing to simmer.  While the quinoa cooks, begin prepping all of your other ingredients.  Drain your canned navy beans and empty into a large mixing bowl.  Take a fork and mash the beans until they are of the consistency of refried beans. This is an incredibly therapeutic process. 

Once beans are mashed and quinoa is finished cooking, add in all other ingredients.  Stir these together until evenly blended. (yes it will look like mush)

Next, lay out some parchment paper on a cooking sheet. Parchment paper is literally a God-send when it comes to cleaning up.  Using a spoon or your hands create patties with your blended ingredients.  You can make these any size you want, I generally go for smaller.  Place the sheet into the oven. set the timer for 8 mins.  After 8 mins, take the sheet out and flip the patties to cook the other side for another 8 mins. 

Once your patties are golden brown, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.  Then you're ready to eat!! I personally think these taste amazing with a little mustard and lettuce on a whole wheat bun.  I hope you enjoy cooking these! Who knows, maybe you will bring them to your next cookout! 

March 21, 2017

21 Things I've Learned in 21 Years

Howdy! I've been MIA these past few months because a lot of really big life changes have happened. I won't go into detail, but if there is anything these trials have taught me is that God has a plan for everything. With that being said, I just turned 21 y'all! I can legally consume adult beverages! Turn down for what!? People who know me and read that probably just laughed their butt off because I'm definitely not a party person. It is an empowering thought though to think that I legally can be a party animal. It's crazy to think I've been around for 21 years. In retrospect, 21 years isn't that long and certainly not old, but I've learned a lot in life. I still have a heck of a lot more to learn, but I thought I would share 21 things that I've learned in 21 years! 

  1.  Spend time with family: I know there will be points in your life when you think hanging out with your parents is hands down the lamest thing you can do.  You're wrong.  I was 14 when I watched my mom die. I was in that annoying early adolescent phase.  I regret it. All those times my mom offered to spend time with me and I opted to go to the movies with friends instead makes me cringe. What I would give just to have even one more argument with her if it meant we could speak again.  Take time to be with your family.  They may annoy you and maybe a little goes a long way, but make sure you get that little bit then.
  2. The most attractive people are the people with hearts of gold: I will swear by this again and again. Someone may not have the most attractive face, but if they are kind soul you'll never even think of them as anything but beautiful. "For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone"- Audrey Hepburn
  3. Know your own worth: I don't care if you're like me and you have to write that you're a jewel and not a stone on your wall, just be sure to remind yourself that you are a worthwhile individual.  
  4. Don't let negative things foster hate in your heart:  Bad things happen. It's life. Don't let the suffering you experience turn your heart cold. Instead, let those things be a chance to learn compassion. After all, compassion is what binds us to one another.
  5. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh: I am a firm believer that laughter is the best medicine! You sad? Laugh! You sick? Laugh! You stressed? Laugh and then Laugh some more! Have people in your life that make you laugh and make you smile.  Those are the best types of people in the world.
  6. Don't stay in toxic relationships: Maybe it's a significant other or maybe it's a friend, either way if its toxic get out! This is probably the lesson I have the hardest time with. I'm always scared of angering other people that I don't watch out for my own well-being.  I think the thing to remember is that these people may not be bad people at all, they just are not good for you. It's ok to say goodbye. 
  7. Always talk to your pets: To them, you are their world. Animals show unconditional love. I think we can actually learn a lot about life from spending time with our pets. 
  8. Take care of your mental health: You aren't broken if you go talk to someone. In fact, you're showing a lot of self-love to put yourself outside of your comfort zone just to ensure your as happy as you can be. Sometimes it's just nice to talk to someone who doesn't have any invested interest to you and can be completely objective.
  9. Have inner strength: Like I said before don't allow your heart to become cold from suffering.  In dark times, hope is something you give yourself.
  10. The Golden Rule: Everyones heard it, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself".  It's straight forward, just treats everyone kindly.
  11. Keep walking till you find the next door: When one door closes, another one opens.  When we hit our lowest points in life, that when we are open to the greatest change. So when you find that next door, try out that room it leads too. 
  12. Acceptance: Denial does you no good. True wisdom begins when we accept things for the way they truly are
  13. Believe in yourself:  Believing in yourself goes along with inner strength. By doing this, no matter where you are, you will have nothing to fear. 
  14. Take pictures: A picture is worth a thousand words! Years down the line you'll have so much fun reminiscing over all the old memories as you look at photos.  It doesn't matter if you aren't photogenic, take photos of yourself, of where you go, and who you are with!
  15. Go to new places: I may have not enjoyed my time in Minnesota, but I will be forever grateful I went. I grew a lot as a person from my experience freshman year. It was my first time ever being in a different culture. It's good to see that there are plenty of people with different outlooks and customs than you. 
  16. Go on adventures: Maybe it's a fun road trip across the country or just a hike to a nearby attraction, go have fun doing something new.
  17. Trust your gut: Your gut reaction is generally right. Trust it.
  18. It's ok to cry: There is nothing wrong with crying when you're sad. I mean, don't cry over spilled milk, but if your Champagne spills its ok to cry!
  19. Bring a Jacket: When you look at your weather app and tell yourself you won't be cold, know that you are lying and grab your jacket. You will be cold without it.
  20. Purchase your movie tickets ahead of time: I'm the queen of choosing sold out movies. Don't be like me. By your tickets in advance
  21. Love: Finally, love with all your heart. Love often and love generously. "A good life is one inspired by love"- Bertrand Russell 
I can almost assure you I got to rambling on some of those, but I hope you enjoyed reading about my outlooks on some things! I would say I'll be posting more often, but with finals fast approaching, I doubt I will. As always, I hope you enjoyed this post! 

January 29, 2017

DIY Donut Box

Howdy! School is in full swing, and so is all the homework. Bring on the mental breakdowns! Although, really school is off to a good start.  I finally found a small bit of time to post this DIY.  Who doesn't like donut themed items?? I know I do! 

I've had this little wooden box for so long, but I've never known what to do with it. Well, I have a little coffee machine in my room and I love to add stevia to my coffee. I decided this box would be perfect for keeping stevia! And what screams sugar more than a donut?  

I hope y'all enjoy this DIY!

Materials Needed:
Brown Paint
Pink Paint
3 Pastel Colored Paints
Circular Woodend Box

To begin the processes, take your brown paint and cover both the lid and box.  Light brown paint works the best in my opinion to mimic the color of donuts.  Be sure to paint with the direction of the wood grain. This will ensure a smoother paint job.  Paint about 3 coats allowing each coat to dry in between.

Next, once your lid is completely dry, take a pencil and lightly sketch the donut hole in the center as well as the shape of your frosting. Now using your pink paint carefully paint the shape of your frosting.  My pink paint was incredibly old and liquidy, so this took me roughly 5 coats and a lot of patience to get the paint to go on smoothly.  3 coats should do for new paint!

The final step is super easy.  Simply take your three other paint colors and using a small brush, paint on sprinkles.  Make sure to paint your sprinkles sporadically and in different directions to give the box that real donut feel! 

Allow your lid to fully dry, and then you are ready to use your donut box!! Heck, if you have donut holes your saving for a snack this would even store them! I promise this box is so useful and I instantly know where my sugar is now!

January 16, 2017

DIY Gemstone Pencil Holder

Howdy! Well, classes begin again for me tomorrow, but before I hit the books once again I wanted to share a DIY that is perfect for holding all your school supplies! When I was shopping at Target for planner supplies I found this adorable wooden geometric pencil holder.  My first thought was it looks like a gemstone!  So I thought I would share how I painted it to give it that real gemstone look. Hopefully, Y'all enjoy!

Materials Needed:
Wooden Geometric Pencil Holder
Three paint shades in the same color
Glitter Spray
Felt (optional)

To begin, paint each triangular section a different shade of color. Be sure when doing this that none of the shades are repeated side by side. I actually went through before painting and labeled what each section would be painted. This helped me avoid messing up the paint. When you're painting, make sure to go in the direction of the wood grain. If you don't, it doesn't look near as smooth.  I had to use about two coats total.

Using your darkest shade, paint the inside. Then let your whole project dry for about 30 mins.

This next step is optional, but I added felt to the bottom of my pencil holder so that the wood wouldn't scratch my desk.  Once your project is dry, take your felt and place your pencil holder on top. Using a marker or fabric pencil trace the outline of the holder. Then, cut out the shape and carefully glue the felt onto the bottom using hot glue.

Finally, to give your pencil holder that gemstone glow, spray paint the holder with crystal colored glitter spray. This not only seals the paint in but now it will be as shimmery as a diamond! Your new gemstone holder is perfect for holding markers, pencils, rulers, scissors, and anything else you can think of! Good luck to everyone in this upcoming semester and I hope this DIY works for you!