November 10, 2019

House Plant Tour | Fall 2019



easy indoor house plants

Hi, I'm Michelle, and I'm attempting to turn my bedroom into the Amazon Rainforest.  If it wasn't obvious by my job as a landscape designer, I love plants! Now that I have my own apartment, I have been able to collect more house plants.  There have been a few casualties (cough cough Apple), but I wanted to show off my current house plant collection as of Fall 2019! I personally love these types of posts, so I thought why not do one on my own blog!

WHITE & RED NERVE PLANT:
Fittonia albivenis 'Mini White' & Fittonia verschaffeltii 'Red'

Sun: Filtered Sun Light - Nerve Plants can get really leggy and sad if they don't have enough light.  My red nerve plant had a year where I lived in a dorm room with very little sun and the poor thing shows it. 

Water: Moist Soil- These guys are funny, if they get thirsty they start to wilt pretty fast, but water them and they will perk right back up! Such a Drama Queen!

Nerve Plant

Nerve Plant
My friend gave me this pretty white nerve plant to take care of!

SNAKE PLANT
Sansevieria trifasciata

Sun: Low-Medium Light

Water: Low water needs

These guys are perfect for beginner plant parents. They don't require much attention! My cat has knocked over my Snake plant like a million times and he's still thriving. 

Snake Plant

GOLDEN & JADE POTHOS
Epipremnum aureum

Sun: You could put these guys in a closet and they probably wouldn't mind. They can handle pretty much any amount of light you offer them!

Water: Just water when soil is dry. They can even handle inconsistent watering schedules.

These plants are seriously the most chill. I've had one of mine for 6 years now, and have propagated so many others from it. 

pothos

pothos

PETRA CROTON
Codiaeum varegatum 'Petra'

Sun: This bad boy loves his sun! 6-8 hours to be exact! He is pretty finicky when it comes to hot days though.  He didn't enjoy the hottest days of our Texas Summers. 

Water: Water when soil is dry.  During those super hot days, as I mentioned, I had to water him pretty much daily.

croton plant

CALADIUM
Caladium

I bought this plant on sale for 50 cents! It was pretty much dead when I got it, and I've been attempting to bring it back to life! It's been an adventure, but there are finally new green leaves sprouting!

Sun: This dude likes the shade. 

Water: Moist soil 

caladium

caladium

ALOE VERA
Aloe vera

My Aloe Vera has sacrificed so many leaves to help my sunburns. If you have pasty ghost skin like me, then this is the plant for you!

Sun: Filtered bright sunlight for this guy. 

Water: This guy is a cactus, so he doesn't need a ton of water. Make sure his soil is completely dry before watering.

aloe vera

DRACAENA
Dracaena marginata
This little one was an impulse buy one spring day after my horticulture class.  He is a chill plant.  I've never really had to worry about him. A little love and care and he is good!

Sun: Medium Light
Water: Water when soil is dry

dracaena

FALSE DRACAENA
Cordyline australis 'Red Star'

This guy is a lot like the Dracaena, he just likes a little TLC and he's good! He even survived the hot Texas summer no issue!

Sun: Medium Light

Water: Water when soil is dry

cordyline


JADE SUCCULENT
Crassula ovata

I have these hanging on my patio, and I love them! 

Sun: Bright sun

Water: I only water these guys once a month, however, we have had a lot of rain which might be helping out with their water needs. 

jade succulent


DUMB CANE
Dieffenbachia spp.

I love this one.  I feel like it really makes my patio feel more like a tropical oasis when I'm chilling outside. I use to have it in my apartment, but after adopting Apple I moved it outside since it's poisonous to little kitties.

Sun: Bright, filtered light

Water: Water when soil is dry

dumb cane

PINK CHINESE EVERGREEN 
Aglonema spp.

I love the pop of pink on this guy! So pretty! 

Sun: Low light
Water: When soil is dry give it some water

pink chinese evergreen



AIR PLANT
Tillandsia spp.

I got this guy at the Ren Fest several years ago, and I often forget I have it.  It's in a magnet that I have hanging on my fridge. 

Sun: Filtered Sun

Water: Misting and an occasional bath

air plant

VENUS FLY TRAP
Dionaea muscipula

Meet Steve! He has an Instagram @stevethevenusflytrap. Yeah, he's kinda famous. Venus flytraps are the gateway drug to an addiction to buying carnivorous plants. 

Sun: bright sun

Water: needs to be sitting in distilled water

Food: Freeze-dried blood worms twice a month if indoors

venus fly trap



PITCHER PLANT
Nepenthes alata

This is Ricky! I bought him this summer at the Dallas Farmers Market. It took me a few weeks to figure out what he liked. Unfortunately, he lost some pitchers during that time, but he's doing great now and has lots of new growths! 

Sun: Bright, filtered light

Water: Distilled water about 4 times a week.  Likes humidity

Food: Grasshopper about once a month

pitcher plant



POTENTIALLY BEGONIA?

I'm not 100% sure what this plant is.  My friend gave it to me as a graduation gift.  It gets these beautiful pink flowers. I think it might be a begonia but I don't know.  If you happen to know please let me know!

begonia


At that wraps up all my current house plants.  I currently have several plants in a shopping cart online so I might have more to show later! Also, let us all give a moment of silence to my Cape Sundews that Apple ate... She's a plant murder! Don't worry I will be replacing those pretty gals soon!  Thankfully they weren't poisonous to cats!  What plants do you have? Are any of these one's you'd want to buy? Let me know!





November 3, 2019

Welcoming Autumn

fall outfit

Farewell, summer! Although your abundant hours of sleep and radiant hues of green were quite the pleasantry, I certainly will not miss the beads of sweat plunging down my back or the intense sultry heat radiating from the sun.  Rather, I will welcome in my longtime friend, autumn, with its crisp, cool temperatures and a brilliant array of colors.

The first drop in temperature always brings a change in the ambiance and spirits of people as they prepare for the new season full of festivities and new experiences.  Children, who have been hunkered away in their icy, acclimatized homes throughout the dog days of summer, begin to venture out into the natural world.  They dance and play in the colorful leaves that have plummeted to earth from their home branches and if you listen closely between the giggles and squeals, the sound of these leaves can be heard crunching underfoot.  

With the change in temperature and the welcoming of a new color palette, switches from shirts designed to assist with the constant pools of sweat to sweaters ruffled with ivory lace and jackets lined with fuzzy angora appear everywhere in clothing stores.  Boots rather than sandals begin to fill the shoe departments and scarfs can be seen around people's necks as they scamper to and fro.

Taste buds also begin to crave a change! No longer does the tongue desire sweet tea infused with peach flavoring, but it desires warm, smooth pumpkin spice lattes.  Salads fall to the wayside as delectable, aromatic soups take their place.  Fall vegetables line the produce aisle, and like a rainbow, they display a wonderful spectrum of colors from crimson to butterscotch.  Pumpkins and squash are for sale at every street corner.  Wal-Mart no longer has areas filled to the brim with school supplies; they have been replaced with Halloween decorations, candy, and costumes for children.

With autumn comes excitement and apprehension that no other season can muster. It brings about the ending of the year.  It is the end of many good memories and accomplishments. Consequently, I welcome autumn with open arms and say my bittersweet good-bye to summer.

fall outfit

fall outfit

Failed attempt to take a cute leaf throwing picture

fall outfit

October 29, 2019

Healthy Cheap Lentil Stew

lentil stew


I'll keep this intro short because let's be honest,  you're here for the recipe, not my thoughts.  When I first moved to my new city and started working, I wanted to be very careful about how I spent my money. I have also been trying to lose weight (shout out to being 15 pounds down from when I started my job!). So I knew I need cheap AND healthy meals! I came across this video on youtube and decided to try out the lentil stew. Y'all I make this practically every week! It's so easy and I can make a big pot at the beginning of the week and not have to worry about cooking.

lentil stew


The total price per serving for this lentil stew is only 80 cents (assuming you already own all the spices- if you don't have those staples in your kitchen yet, the first time making this might be a little more pricey). Let's break down the cost per serving:

Potatoes: 22 cents
Garlic: 15 cents
Carrots: 18 cents
Lentils: 14 cents
Bullion Cube: 06 cents
Tomato Sauce/Paste: 04

Total Price per Serving: 79 cents a serving!

Have I convinced you that this recipe is cheap and healthy?! Well, let's dive into the meat and potatoes of this recipe! Quick Disclaimer: I used my phone for these pictures so they are low quality!

lentil stew

lentil stew

1. First Chop up your potatoes and carrots

lentil stew

lentil stew

lentil stew

lentil stew

2. Next, add avocado oil to your pot and let it heat up. 

3. Add garlic and allow to brown a bit.

lentil stew
lentil stew


4. Add in potatoes and carrots and begin browning

5. Add in all your seasonings (these can be adjusted for your taste)

lentil stew

lentil stew


6. Once all your veggies are nice and browned, add in 3 cups of water, tomato sauce, bouillon cube, and lentils.

lentil stew

lentil stew

lentil stew


7. Allow soup to come to a boil, then cover & reduce heat. Allow it to simmer for 25 mins.

lentil stew

lentil stew


I told you this recipe is easy and so tasty! Let me know if you try it out over on my Pinterest!

lentil stew

lentil stew

October 27, 2019

How to Choose the Right College



Howdy Y'all. I am back to share some friendly post-grad advice about choosing the right college.  In particular, I want to talk about the differences to be considered between different types of schools.

 When I first went to college I went to a private art school out of state. After a semester and some extremely cold Minnesota weather, I decided to transfer.  At that point, I had missed all the deadlines to transfer to a University, and frankly, I had no idea anymore what I wanted to do.  That Spring semester I enrolled at the local community college while I figured out my next step. Of course, as you all know by now, I ultimately ended up at Texas A&M (WHOOP!), which is Tier 1 Research University (and potentially a cult, but you didn't hear that from me).  Needless to say, I've tried out a few different types of schools. As a senior trying to decide where to go, I had no real concept of how all colleges were different. I imagined them all to be like what I saw in movies. Not the case at all.

If you're a high school senior and wondering what college is the right fit for you or how to choose the right college, hopefully, this rundown of each school's pros and cons will help you get closer to your decision. Also, please take this list with a grain of salt, because these are my opinions. What are the pros to me could be cons to you and vice versa. Also a little disclaimer: the images of the campuses I am using come from their respective websites. 



Private Art School:  When it comes to private specialized colleges, I can really only speak with confidence about art schools, but I do feel that many of the ideas can be applied to other private liberal art schools. Ever since sixth grade, I wanted to attend an art school, particularly Savannah College of Art and design. When my senior year came, I only applied to art schools. While I got into SCAD and got a scholarship, Minneapolis College of Art offered me a substantial amount of money to go. Needless to say, that is where I went for a semester. It definitely was not the school for me, and my pro and con list may reflect that, but I'll try to be as unbiased as possible.



PROS:

1. Focused Academics: A good thing about attending an art school is you don't have to take a bunch of "basics" like you do at other schools. In my curriculum at MCAD, not a single math, science, government, American history, or physical education class was ever in my degree plan. Only classes that involved art or fostering my art on a business level were included in the curriculum. If you're not a fan of other subjects this is definitely a positive attribute to art schools.

2. Companies that Hire Direct from the College: If you're into the art world, then I am sure you know that companies like Disney hire directly from colleges like CalArts. Attending an art school that has these sorts of connections through prominent alumni can be very beneficial to landing a job after graduation. 

3. Community: If you want to be around like-minded individuals who share a lot of the same interests, styles, and beliefs that you do, then art school can be a great place to find a community.  If you were ever bullied in high school for your interests, I think art school could probably be a great place of healing by finding like-minded individuals. I actually heard one girl I knew at school express this sentiment. 

CONS:

1. Expensive:  The most obvious of the cons is certainly the price of attending art school.  It's expensive. As previously mentioned, I got a fantastic scholarship, but even with most of the tuition being paid, there were still a lot of other expenses that are just more than they'd be at a state school. Private schools are pricey. Consider the price before going to one. 

2. Subjective Grading: I had a professor during my semester at MCAD that gave me a C (she did eventually raise it to a B because I challenged her on it) on a project because "it wasn't my personality"... Mind you this professor hardly remembered my name in a class of 10 people. She most certainly did not know my personality. When it comes to art, what one person may love, another may hate. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is definitely something to consider before attending a college like this.  While architecture can also be pretty subjective, one thing I can say is grading was often more objective as to whether your design achieved the function and your renderings accurately depicted the concept.

3. Limited Interest Exploration: Unlike universities, where you can take classes outside your major and learn new and unrelated topics, you more than likely won't have this at an art school.  As I mentioned in the pros section, academics are very focused. If you wanted to learn something like horticulture or archery, chances are there won't be a class available at an art school. 

4. Fewer resources: If you read my recent post about how to study in college, then you know I think college resources are a Godsend. Art schools, probably won't have this. MCAD didn't. We didn't even have a real dining hall either. Parking on campus was a situation. Being a smaller school they just can't support a lot of the great resources that a university can (doctors, nutritionists, counseling, tutors, etc.)

5. No Athletics: I'm from Texas. Football is king here. I didn't realize how much I would miss going to football games until there wasn't any to go to. This was a definite con for me. I may not be a huge football fan, but I enjoy the revelry that goes on during a football game. Wearing your school's colors, tailgating, taking a picture, etc. that is all so much fun to me.  Seeing other people going to games on facebook while I was just chilling in my dorm made me miss it a lot. 

Community Colleges: I feel like community colleges get picked on so much, yet they are such a fantastic resource.  I know I overheard a lot of kids senior year making fun of others who were attending the local community college in the Fall. They weren't smart enough to get into a University. Heck, I had people make comments towards me when I went there during my in-between semester.  The truth is, community colleges are great!



Pros:

1. Cost: Community Colleges are cheaper in almost all aspects than a university. This is great, especially for someone who may not have the finances or feels comfortable taking out a student loan. Even living in the limited dorm space the college may offer tends to be cheaper than a university. Additionally, if you can't afford all four years at a university you can always attend a community college for 2 years, and then transfer. That way you only end up paying for 2 years of a university's tuition. 

2. Flexible Schedule: Community colleges tend to understand that a lot of their students have families or work. Most offer classes at night that traditional universities wouldn't. My father actually used to teach several night classes at the community college I went to.  This helps students get the credits they need without struggling to manage a family or work or both. 

3. Explore your interests at less cost: Since community colleges are cheaper, if you want to take a class that isn't in your degree plan you have more freedom to do that, than at a university. Just to give a quick comparison a 3 credit course at the community college I went to was roughly 400-500 dollars vs. at a university that can be 1500-4000. Big difference! 

4. Smaller Workload: Community College classes do tend to not be as intensive as universities. If you're someone who may struggle with a large workload or balancing everything, community colleges are a good option to still get an education but not have to "hate school"

5. Less Intimidating Transition: For some people, it is hard to leave home. That's ok! It means you have a good home, nothing wrong with that. Community colleges can allow you to still have the college experience, but not have to deal with both the transition in education level and the transition away from familiarity. 

Cons:

1. Only Associate Level: Most community colleges don't offer programs where you can obtain a Bachelors. Some do, but even if they do it may not be a lot of degrees in which they offer it.  If you know you want to ultimately get your bachelor, then you will have to transfer schools. 

2. Lack of Campus Life: Most community colleges don't have a large campus life. With a lot of the students being commuters there just isn't an emphasis on-campus life. However, you can find schools that have the extracurricular activities you are looking for. The school I attended had an art club, athletics, a dance team, etc. So there were some options available. 

3. Not all Credits Transfer:  If you are thinking of transfer to a university, you have to make sure your credits transfer and apply to your new school. Generally, you can go to the university's website and they will have a place where you can check credits eligible for transfer. 

4. Stigma Around Community College: As I mentioned, people can get real snobby about going to a community college. Its good to remember that you're still getting an education and helping yourself.  The value of education doesn't lie within what school you went to. 

State Universities: First, let me start by saying that Texas A&M is the best school (or cult, your choice). I loved getting to go to a big state school. The commemoratory that surrounds the student body even after you graduate is like nothing else. However, paying for four years of tuition is a big commitment, so its good to see the pros and cons of attending a school like this. 



Pros:

1. In-State Tuition: While not as cheap as community colleges, in-state tuition is much cheaper than attending a private school. There are also a lot of grants available that can be used at state schools. Honestly, compared to private schools, I think you get more bang for your buck. 

2. Campus Life: State schools usually have a very big campus life. Texas A&M, for example, had an activity fair each semester just to let students find the different organizations available. Let us just say, it took a few hours to go through all the activities available. There are also sports, and people just hanging out and playing frisbee, or hammocking on the quad. You name it, you'll probably be able to find it at a university. 

3. School Spirit: I had someone come up to me in a coffee shop hours away from my school, and said they noticed my Aggie ring. There is just a big comradery between people who went to the same school.  Honestly, dressing up in Maroon and White, and doing A&M's yells (no not cheers or chants but yells) is so much fun! That something you really only experience at a large school.

4. Professors who are experts: Universities can afford to hire professors who are experts in their field. Maybe they aren't the greatest at teaching (or maybe they are- Shout out to Dr. Newman who was recognized as one of the most admired educators of landscape architecture) either way you can learn a lot by getting to know your professors and being around them. 

5. Vast Alumni Network: State schools have huge alumni networks that can be helpful for getting connected in new cities and finding jobs. It's helpful to network with alumni that have a shared experience with you!

6. Resources: As I mentioned in my previous post, state schools have a large number of resources available to students that smaller schools just can't offer. This is definitely something to consider when choosing a school!

Cons:

1. Availability of Classes: With so many students attending a university, it can be a little tricky getting into classes that you need.  Seats can fill up very quickly.  I remember being in group messages where students were asking if someone had an early registration time if they could hold a seat for them in a class. Luckily, with my major, I never had an issue, but in some departments, you have to be quick to sign up. 

2. One on One with Professor: Unless you plan on going to their office hours, it can be hard to get time with your professor when classes can have up to 300 people. If you're someone who needs a little more attention when it comes to learning new material you might want to consider looking at smaller schools or making the effort to go to the professor's office after class.

3. Just a Number: It is easy to feel like just a number at a university with up to 85,000 students! The trick is to get involved in activities where you get to know people, and finding your place at a school.



I know this list is nowhere near comprehensive, and of course, is all opinion-based, but I hope if you were struggling to decided where to attend school this helped. If you have any questions about choosing the right college, feel free to email me or comment below! 



October 25, 2019

Weekend Trip to Rome

what to do in rome


I have dreamed of having myself a Roman holiday ever since first watching the enchanting Audrey Hepburn and handsome Greggory Peck zip away on their Vespa. Or maybe even a precursor to Audrey Hepburn, seeing Lizzie McGuire take the stage in Rome probably is what really won my heart to the historic city. One of the first trips I booked after arriving in Germany was to Rome. My friends and I booked our trip for the Friday after Thanksgiving. We left early that morning on a Ryanair flight (and yes I still do not suggest flying Ryainair!)  

Now, one weekend in Rome hardly even skims the surface of everything to do in the city. That city is so deep in history I think it would take a few days at minimum to really get a good grasp of Rome. But our Roman holiday was really only 48 hours.  Did we still jam pack our day? Well of course! In case you're trying to determine the must-stop tourist destinations on a mighty quick trip to Rome, then you've come to the right blog! This is by no means a comprehensive list, but certainly a fun one!


what to do in rome


Explore The City at Night: Generally, I wouldn't advise this, and I still don't advise this if you don't have multiple people with you, but seeing the streets come to life in the piazzas was exactly what I imagine Rome to be like in my fantasies.  There were performs and artists along every street. Couples strolled hand in hand eating gelato, and tourists pointing at all the fascinating sites! Oh, wait... that last one was me! 

rome piazza

rome skyline

rome street art

Visiting the Colosseum:  If you go to Rome and don't do anything else, at least visit the Colosseum. This magnificent piece of architecture could hold up to 80,000 people and held some of the most gruesome gladiator fights and chariot races. We got a package deal where we paid for the colosseum and forums together.  Long story short, we blindly followed a guy up a hill for the tickets. He could have been a murderer y'all and we just followed him! But he wasn't and we got a slight deal!

rome colosseum

rome colosseum

rome colosseum

rome colosseum


Discover the Roman Forum:  Back during Ancient Rome, the Forum was the center of city life. It was used for religious, political, economic, and social purposes.  Now it's a hot tourist destination. It was raining cats and dogs when we went.  We got so soaked! I gave up on an umbrella after a while because it wasn't helping at all! At one point, we found a little covered vending machine, hid under it and got some snacks.  It was a memorable experience. If you go to the Roman Forum, please get some chips from the vending machine on my behalf.

roman forum

roman forum

Getting Run over by Vespas: Wait, what do you mean you don't want to get run over? Don't you know crossing roads in Rome is an extreme sport! Be prepared....

rome vespa


Visiting the Pantheon: My architecture professor once told us that when he first visited the Pantheon, he stood there and wept for 3 hours at its beauty. Funnily enough, apparently this building shouldn't be standing, yet it does. It's a magnificent building. Be sure to notice how the light enters through the oculus, opening in the ceiling. 

rome pantheon

rome pantheon

rome pantheon


Visiting the Vatican:  If you want to visit the Vatican, buy your tickets in advance. Also, be prepared to suffocate from the crowds.  If you can get through that, then visiting is wonderful.  For those who may not be familiar, the Vatican is home to the Pope of the Catholic church.  I don't know too much about catholicism, so I won't go into too much detail, but I know it's very impactful for those who are catholic to visit the Vatican. I personally loved seeing the Sistine chapel.  It was amazing.


vatican city



Sitting on the Spanish Steps: The iconic Spanish steps are a must-see! They are at Piazza di Spagna (Piazza di Spagna was our metro stop that was closed by the way, and we got lost trying to find another) We purchased some roasted chestnuts and talked on the steps as we ate. Talk about a perfect Roman experience. 

spanish steps


Trevi Fountain: Y'all, I tossed my coin into the fountain and a cute, Italian pop star did not come and whisk me away (Lizzie McGuire Movie reference). When we went it was extremely crowded, but I've heard visiting early in the morning helps you to avoid the hoards of tourists (of course I say that as a tourist- the irony). 

trevi fountain

trevi fountain


Seeing the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument:  This building was built in honor of the Italian king who unified Italy in the 19th century. After WW1 the monument housed the tomb of the unknown soldier. The building also became the setting for military parades during the fascism movement leading to WW2.

vittorio emanuele II monument


Eating Gelato: Oh there is gelato on every street corner in Rome! The best shop we found was right near the Vespa Museum.

rome gelato


Pizza: Finally, you have to eat Pizza for every meal in Rome because it is just so delicious!  Your stomach might hate you for it, but your soul will be relishing in the delight of each slice!

rome pizza


I hope this gives you a helpful rundown of how much you really can fit into 48 hours in Rome.  One thing I forgot to mention, pack your walking shoes! You're going to be on the go from dusk till dawn, but seeing all you can most certainly be done!  Also a big shout out for Lauren practically being my model in these pictures!