unexpected morning fun...

Today I woke up to someone ringing the doorbell. These dudes came to the house to clean out the air vents. They were perfectly nice but told my roommate (the homeowner) that we have dust and mold and other crappy things inside our ducts. Obviously we want to get rid of that. But Laura had plans and this will take a while, so here I sit, staring at ladders and listening to giant vacuums suck the life out of our basement:

One of the weirdest things is not knowing what to do with oneself while this is going on. It's loud, so I can't watch TV. I'd like to shower, but I don't want to be absent if the dudes have a question. I also don't want to go upstairs and they'll have to hunt for me. So, blogging wins!

Let's talk about more fun things! Last night I went to the O's game with my best friend. She works night shift in a hospital so I don't get to see her as often as I would like-- it was a treat! We had so much fun. We kept trying to make it on the big screen and entered all the social media contests hoping we would win. And we did! We entered the contest to have free food delivered to our seats. We saw one girl win on the big screen, so we thought it was over. We cut our losses and Alicia went to get us fries. But as she was gone, an Orioles employee came to our seats and told me we had won! Alicia came back with fries just as he went to get our free ones :) Horrible timing, but we loved those crab fries and gave the ones we had bought to a homeless guy after the game.

And because you guys know how much I love my puphew, Ripken, here he is watching Alicia's husband go off to work. He always watches them leave and it's half heartbreaking and half adorable.

I probably won't post over Labor Day weekend because I have about a million things going on: dinner at a friend's tonight, breakfast with a friend tomorrow, hanging out with a friend tomorrow afternoon, party at Alicia's tomorrow night, a friend's birthday on Sunday, and visiting with a long lost friend who is coming home from San Francisco on Monday. Yay for being social!

give me all the caffeine...

Hi, hi, hi. Let's all just be really glad it's Thursday, okay? I know I am. I'm feeling a bit Carrie Bradshaw this morning-- sitting in bed drinking the world's strongest cup of coffee (that was half accidental), typing away on my laptop. The only thing missing is my morning cigarette, which has never been a thing in my life at all. Carrie will always be the coolest smoker, FYI.

This week has had its challenges. My work had to transfer me to a new project because the old one is shutting down. The good news is that I am getting transferred with my coworker Nick, who I adore. He's just the best person to work with and we make a good team. The bad news is that we have to drive 40 minutes away for the new job. The super good news is that we even have jobs, because as of today, we would probably be laid off. I'll take staying employed, thank you very much. I will say that I've loved having a break from getting up at 6 AM this whole week. 8 AM feels so much better.

So instead of working, here's what I've been up to!

After sitting in the house for a few days, I got dressed up for dinner with the girls. The curled ponytail worked out much better than I expected-- I'd never tried it before. Of course, after posting a photo to Instagram, I got texts asking me if I was going out on a date. YES! I had a hot date with a lobster grilled cheese and a pomegranate martini.

My best friend and her husband built a fire pit in their backyard recently (they are such DIY-ers), and we made the BEST grilled cheese with the campfire sandwich maker thing. So good.

My puphew Ripken (or Mad Eye Moody, in this case) hung out with us by the fire! No, the picture isn't sideways... Alicia was holding him and as per usual, he flopped over. This is a rare instance where his tongue isn't hanging out the side of his mouth like a goof. I love him so.

These moments are keeping me sane... there is so much work related stress in my life right now, and I welcome these distractions. I'm looking forward to the long Labor Day weekend before I have to start the new work assignment. Hope you guys have fabulous plans!

life by numbers

2 :: the amount of days i have been at home this week due to work crashing and burning

8 :: the hours in a day i spend applying to jobs

5 :: songs to practice for church

4 :: days that will be happily filled up for the labor day weekend

1 :: long lost friend that is coming home to visit

4 :: the number of Project Runway episodes i binge watched the other day

300 :: about the amount of money it will take to travel somewhere that i want to go [or way more]

2 :: instruments i would love to buy but can't right now [ukulele & mandolin]

and that's all for now.

music monday :: new imogen heap

image via google

I'm sure many of you have heard of Imogen Heap. This lady, while not exactly mainstream, has captured the hearts of many with her unique sound, intuitive lyrics, and ability to create and do everything herself. I saw her at a show in Philadelphia back in 2006 (I think), and she puts on an amazing one-woman show. From the looping to the vocals to all the background sounds, I don't know many who can do what she does. Here's an example:

And here is the song that started the craze (seeing her do this one live was incredible):

All this to say that she has something very special going on. She just released her new album, Sparks, last week. As a longtime fan of her work, I was super excited to see what else she would bring to the table. I'll just say this: she doesn't disappoint. (Although my favorite albums will probably always be Ellipse and Speak For Yourself.) You can listen to Sparks on Spotify, as well as her other work.

oh hey, friday.

image via google

I am getting ready for a job interview at 9:30, and I have to say, I am ready for this process to be O V E R. I have been interviewing a lot which is great to gain interview experience, but I just want a new job already! Do I still have a job? Yes. Will I still have that job in October? No one knows. All I want out of life is stability and a place to work that I enjoy. I will never be able to function as one of those people who gets a job and doesn't like it, but stays there for 30 years because "it's a job." I want my life to be more fulfilling than that! I want to have fun with my coworkers and do work that I care about. I have tasted bits and pieces of this over the years, but nothing all in one place. Maybe it doesn't exist. But the more I can try to stretch myself and expand my horizon, I will. All I know is, if I'm unhappy where I'm working, I can't stay there. Absolutely cannot.

So, cheers to Friday and (hopefully) a positive interview. Crossing my fingers that this is the one! (PS - isn't that office space gorgeous?? Where can I get that job? haha)

babies & tattoos

Last night, Instagram told me that my good friend (basically sister) Amanda had her third baby-- a gorgeous baby boy with the most amazing name. Welcome to the world, James Remington! (Doesn't he sound like a rock star?) I can't wait to hold this little guy and see how his two sisters interact with him. And congrats to Amanda's husband Dustin for finally getting a boy ;)

In other news... I've been a tiny bit obsessed with watercolor tattoos lately. Seriously, aren't these beautiful? Even tattoo haters can't deny that these are pretty. I may have to get my fix soon. Believe it or not, a lot of the best artists for these are not where I live... shocking, I know. And while the last image isn't watercolor, it's one of my favorites on Katie Shelton.

above images via google

via skunkboyblog.com

So, yeah. Babies and tattoos on the brain this morning. Not a bad thing!

why it's okay if you don't do the ALS challenge.

So, the ALS challenge. I'll cut right to the chase: dumping a bucket of ice water on yourself or donating $100 to ALS research is all well and good, but what about all the other causes out there? Personally, I take the money I earn from working pretty seriously. I've done some budget cuts in my life as of late. I'm not rich, and I'm still trying to save enough to provide for myself and support causes that I believe in. Withdrawing my monthly donations to save some money has crossed my mind. But I know that there are people that need my dollars more than I do.

I am picky about the causes that I support because I want to feel passionate about where my money is going. I want to believe in what I am supporting. That's not to say no one should support ALS-- I'm really happy they have increased their donations and are getting recognized. That's awesome! But for me, my heart is elsewhere. It's with the little girl I support in Singapore, making sure she has an education and a future. It's with my friend Christina who is living and working with kids in China. It's with giving people clean drinking water, something we take so lightly in the States. It's with doing a lot for people who can't do much for themselves. 

All this to say that ALS is a wonderful cause to give to if that's where your heart is. My heart just happens to be passionate about other things at the moment. After all, we can't all give to every single cause that's happening in the world. It's just impossible. But I can do my best to give where I strongly believe I should. After I taught English in China in 2006, I developed a huge heart for international causes. That's just what I want to give my money to; I can't help it. We all have to make a choice about where we want to show our support. So, I politely decline the ice bucket challenge, but applaud those who take part. We all want to make a difference-- just in different ways.

life lately.

Happy Tuesday, friends! You know how sometimes you forget to take a step back and see how great your life really is? Yeah. That was me yesterday-- the most boring work day and struggling over the concept of getting a new job. So today I dug into my iPhone photo library to remember the little things that make me happy, and not focus so much on the big, crazy parts of life.

my friend's baby, Evie. she is THE sweetest.

sometimes i just stop in the middle of the road to photograph a herd of deer.

my church building.

my friend ashley's puppy, Chewy. named after Star Wars, of course!

seeing Nickel Creek, FINALLY. after many years of wanting to.

old crow medicine show. amazing talent.

And for your listening pleasure, two of my absolute favorites:

music monday :: shovels and rope

image via google

I first started listening to Shovels and Rope over a year ago when I heard them on WTMD. (Which, if you're a Marylander, you need to be listening to. They play the best stuff. I'm constantly Shazam-ing their songs.) Cary Ann and Michael put a new spin on folk-rock. They each played their own music before deciding to combine it, and I think that was the best decision ever. And even better, they got married! The sappy part of me always gets excited for musicians who start off in a band and end up together. Le sigh.

Their new album Swimmin' Time is coming out next week on August 26... don't miss it!

shark week!

You guys, I have a thing about Shark Week. On one hand, it scares me. I text my best friend without fail every year when it's on to tell her I'm afraid and I want to snuggle with her dog. On the other hand, I LOVE IT. Sharks are such cool creatures, and despite the fact that they kill people sometimes (oops), I think it's important to learn more about them. Plus, they're pretty badass.

image via google

Anyway. The reason why I brought up Shark Week is because my roommate's work building flooded slightly, and someone did this:

Photoshop for the win! I think it's HILARIOUS. I almost wish there had been an actual shark in there.

And to end this, a video that explains what the first photo is about. This was an obsession among my friends in college... you're welcome! (This is the full version, but you should just stop at about 6:49. After the song, which is really the best part.)

what they wore :: a great 7 AM moment

Literally, my thought process for this outfit was this: "Can I get away with wearing a casual summer tank top to work?" Clearly, according to that sweet older man, it was a great choice. He even told me he had a pink shirt that he wanted to wear, but didn't know what his boss would think. I told him to go for it.

Also, my lack of jewelry today is insane. There's not a thing on me. Does my ID badge count as an accessory? It does now.

And here's your anthem for the day! Because I'm seeing them this weekend (!!!).

it's only 7:31 AM...

... and I already need the biggest cup of coffee in the world. I slept through my alarm and woke up at 6:30, which is usually when I'm getting out the door. At 6:38, I left. That's got to be a new record, even for me. At least I brushed my teeth. I skipped wearing moisturizer and packing yogurt for breakfast. Thank God for versatile black work pants and leftover frozen pizza. 

editor's note: seriously sad news about Robin Williams. I grew up with Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, and his other work. I also don't know one person who doesn't think he's hilarious. He was a genuinely nice person and an amazing talent. Definitely going to spend some time watching his films over again.

music monday :: that time i saw Ben Folds with the BSO

A few weeks ago, I got to see one of the coolest shows of my life. I think I first started seriously listening to Ben Folds in college. What a dude. He has always been able to play and write like a genius. He has hidden (and sometimes not so hidden) stories behind every song. He always has something to say. (When I found out that "Brick" was written about his girlfriend's abortion, I knew he was worth listening to.)

Growing up born and raised near Baltimore and also a musician since third grade, I have always had a special love for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. I loved visiting the BSO on field trips as a kid.  It's become increasingly sad to me that appreciation for orchestras has been dwindling. I say, eff that. They have more talent than anyone you'll hear on the radio.

All that to say, I was extremely excited when my friend Elizabeth notified me that Ben was going to be playing with the BSO. He's done this before and with numerous orchestras around the country. But here he was in my backyard, and I was practically hyperventilating from the excitement. Truth be told, I cried through most of the show. Not embarrassing sobbing or anything like that, but a few tears came down for each song. It was emotional for me because I spent about 10 years of my life playing music in that kind of setting, and I really do miss it. I wish I hadn't been so quick to give it up after graduating high school, although I discovered my affinity and talent for guitar and voice. But you put me in front of strings and winds, and I will cry 100% of the time. When you pair that with a guy that I have so much respect for and kills the crap out of every song he writes and performs, I'm done for.

Here's a great example of why Ben is special. During the show, he said he had written a song about how his kids were unable to attend because their flight was delayed. He made up the lyrics and had an idea in his head of how he wanted it to go. So he had a piece of paper with his written lyrics, and started fiddling with the melody on the piano. He then directed every single section of the orchestra how to play the parts he heard in his head, and pieced it all together to create something amazing. When they played all their parts together and he sang his made up lyrics on the spot, it was insane. He did this right in front of my very eyes. And that, my friends, is what music is all about. Hearing, creating, and inspiring.

blurry iphone pics... sorrry :)

the talk :: baltimore love & hate.

image via google

It's been a crazy week here. I had a meeting from 9 AM to 5 PM yesterday. But on the plus side, I got to celebrate a friend's birthday by eavesdropping on the John Legend concert at Pier Six. That is one thing I love about Baltimore. You can just sit across from the pavilion on the dock, watch the boats, and hear the show for free! I plan on seeing many more of my favorite (too expensive to pay) shows from that view. Plus, you can bring your own wine. I call that a win. If you have a boat, even better!

Baltimore is not a city I would have originally chosen to work in. In fact, for many years I didn't even apply for jobs in the city. Cities are not usually my thing... I grew up in country farmland and enjoy having enough space to park all the time. But I gave B-more a chance when I got my current job through a friend. To be honest, I still dislike most of it. I hate the lack of parking and having to pay to park. I hate how congested it gets at rush hour. I hate the amount of crime (yes, all cities have crime, but Baltimore is bad). I hate that there are so many run-down sections of town.

But here is what I love. Concerts, First Thursdays, so many great restaurants, tons of young professionals like myself, Patterson Bowling (it's BYOB!), the BSO, sitting by the water, fun bars, good coffee, summer O's games, the history of the city, etc. As someone who started off hating the idea of working here, I don't mind it so much anymore. I still don't think I could live here, but I can definitely exist. :)

music monday :: jon hopkins

Today I'm sharing music to revive you. I don't know about you, but summer is winding down, kids are getting ready to go back to school, and I am so not ready for cold weather. Basically, I'm trying to make summer last a smidge longer ;) Who's with me??

With all that being said, Jon Hopkins just adds fun to life. (Not to be confused with Johns Hopkins, the hospital.) He's a writer of electronica that started off playing keys for Imogen Heap, one of my favorites! That's enough cred for me. He's done soundtracks, awesome collaborations, and he studied at the Royal College of Music in London when he was 12. Need more of a connection? He co-produced "Midnight" for Coldplay. Enough said, in my book! 

Give him a listen & enjoy the start of your week!

friday mornings at home.

Peace. Quiet. Messy bedroom, soft bed. Lost nose ring in the middle of the night. Instagram checks. Running the dishwasher. Fan clicking overhead. Long sips of coffee.
I never take these work-from-home Fridays for granted... they are always my most relaxing mornings by far. And on this Friday in particular, I get to avoid BronyCon 2014, which happens to occur in the convention center across from my building. Hallelujah.

I'm one of those slight procrastinators who puts off the small things until I can't anymore. When it comes to important things, I'm all over it. But you know... clothes strewn about my bedroom, bed disheveled and the sheets need washing, taking bags of clothes to the donation bin, keeping everything perfectly neat + tidy. Sometimes I feel like a little bit of a failure when things are out of order. But there is a painting a dear friend made me that hangs on my wall next to my bed and it says, "You don't always have to hold yourself together." It references 2 Corinthians 12:9 - "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Living an amazing life doesn't mean living a perfect one, friends. It just means doing the best you can and rejoicing in the little things.