July 6, 2017

Sunflower Festival 2017

Howdy y'all! Goodness, it feels like yesterday I first went to Gilliam's Sunflower Festival in Lousiana. It's hard to believe that was two years ago! But as Aggies like to say, if it happens twice it's a tradition! My good friend Tay and I now have ourselves a tradition then! We once again ventured across the state border and saw the sunflowers!

Sunflowers are honestly so pretty and happy. I mean they have sun in their name, how could they not be happy flowers! Walking through the sunflower fields made me want Scott Joplin's Sunflower Slow Drag" to be playing. Bumble bees were flying from flower to flower, kids were laughing and playing, and people were making flower crowns. It was whimsical. We only had one small incident involving a bug landing on Tay's back, but luckily we survived! 

The festival has lots of craft vendors, live country music, and good festival food! Gilliam being a small town has many old time shops. They have a cute old fashioned grocery store that actually has a nice selection of drinks and snacks! They also have an old library (where the glorious A.C. was) that gives the history of Gilliam and of the Sunflower Trails. One of the best parts of the festival: I SAW A PUG!!!

After we finished up in Gilliam and collected our Sunflowers, we headed off to Shreveport to get delicious macaroons at Buttercups Cupcakes. We ordered a massive box with 24 total macaroons and just sat in the bakery as we tried all the flavors. I also tried a fancy glass bottle of water from Italy. If you don't hear from me in a while, it may be because I moved to Tuscany for the water! 

Overall, I loved getting to spend quality time with one of my dearest friends. Getting to share experiences like this with people you enjoy is one of life's greatest gifts.

July 5, 2017

What I Wore: Independence Day

Howdy! I hope everyone had an amazing Independence Day (or just an amazing Tuesday if you aren't from the USA). My Fourth of July is typically spent watching Top Gun and Independences Day, eating watermelon, and spending time outdoors. 2017 was no exception. However, unlike so many years of wearing those classic Old Navy Fourth of July shirts, I decided to go all out patriotic in my attire! 

Who doesn't love thrift shopping? You can spend 20 dollars and walk away with multiple articles of clothing! It's great! This cardigan I found at Plato's closet literally screams U.S.A (I mean it's the flag so...) Surprisingly enough, it was pretty comfortable to wear even during a Texas July. I simply paired it with a plain black tank top and denim shorts. 

As far as shoes, you can't get more American than classic Chuck Taylors.  Converse are always my favorite shoe to rock. They are comfy, stylish, and go with everything! You just can't go wrong with them! Of course, not pictured are my cute kitty cat socks. You'll just have to take my word that they are adorable! No outfit is quite complete without accessories. My bracelet and earrings both happened to come from the post office.  Our local office also sells really cute handmade jewelry (the perks of a small town I suppose). Finally, the sun was getting in my eyes so I finished off the look with my Landscape Architecture Baseball cap. 

So happy I live in the United States! Despite everything, I love my country. We have the strength to work through any obstacle! " Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it"- Mark Twain

Top: Target 
Cardigan: Plato's Closet
Shorts: Target
Shoes: converse.com

(Is it just me or did the panoramic shot mess up that flag?)

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!