Monday, April 17, 2017

Travel Diary: Portland, Oregon


Hello everyone,

During the last week of March, I was able to leave for a pretty exciting trip over spring break. Over finals, I was talking to my mom and telling her how bummed I was about not being able to plan a fun trip over break. A couple days later she came to me with a plan: road tripping it down to Portland and exploring the city. Of course I thought that was a pretty solid idea, thus we set out on March 27th and spent four days exhausting our feet and feasting our eyes while exploring the beautiful city of Portland.



So you can't really go to Portland and not eat lots of food, right? Thanks to a friend of mine, we were reccomenned an adorable local breakfast place called Gravy. It was very popular, as the wait time was quite long, but the food was pretty good and the place itself was adorable. My mom and I filled up on coffee and breakfast, then we explored the town around the diner we ate it. Sadly I didn't think to take any pictures, but it was the cutest little community, I would definitely revisit. 




Quite a lot of our time was spent exploring downtown Portland and checking out the different shops. One of the highlights was visiting Powell's, a three-story bookstore that takes up an entire block. it was probably the mostly beautiful place I've ever been, but I was an idiot and didn't take one decent picture (yes so much shame). 

But Portland overall is just a really lovely city. There were so many interesting looking buildings all over, just randomly in the middle of the city. It was really cool to see all the contrast from street to street, and of course attempting to take some pictures of them. I was also really struck by how clean the city was. I've been to a few well known, large cities and more often than not they smell a bit funky and have quite the amount of garbage along the streets. Portland was quite nice and felt very safe to walk wherever, which is always a plus. 





Another really cool place we got to visit was the Portland Art Museum. I really enjoy art, even though I'm a terrible artist myself, so it was really cool to see all different paintings and artists under one roof. There are so many different expressions of art, some I find quite breathtaking and some I am completely confused by, but all in all I had a good time. Plus, I got to see a Monet and Van Gogh painting! I was pretty excited about that, not going to lie. 




Again, I just really really adore the variety of buildings here in Portland, they're all so beautiful in their own way. I especially loved this pink skyscraper, isn't it just adorable? I have no idea what goes on in there, but I would love to work/live in a pink-tinted skyscraper.

After exploring the art museum for a bit, mom and I continued to explore downtown some more. We may or may not have done a bit (or a lot) of shopping. I don't know what it is, but there's something about being on vacation that makes spending money on yourself a lot easier than it is at home. I'm proud to say I didn't go too crazy, but I did buy a few things I probably didn't need. Even so, it was a lot of fun shopping with my mom and walking around the city.




Another really beautiful thing about Portland is its park along the water. As it was spring, it was the time of year when the cherry blossoms are blooming, making it even prettier than normal. It made quite the beautiful spot, and we were able to get some cool pictures. I thought it was a pretty cool spot, if I lived in Portland, it would definitely be a place I would go to often.




One of the last things we did before heading out the next morning was stop at Voodoo Doughnuts. It's likely you've heard of this place, as it is quite popular and actually part of the reason I wanted to visit the city as a whole (hey no judgment, people do crazy things for what they're passionate about). And I'm happy to report that these doughnuts are so worth the hype and trip down. No joke, they are without a doubt the yummiest doughnuts I've ever tasted. They were so fluffy and like eating something an angel made and dropped from heaven. Okay so I might be exaggerating, but gosh they were good.

All in all, I may have completely fallen in love with this city. I mean, how could you not? Beautiful buildings, a giant bookstore, super duper clean, and heavenly doughnuts, what's not to like? Aesthetically, it's quite the beautiful spot and totally worth the trip to visit. I may or may not be considering going again sometime this summer...we'll see. ;)




Have you visited Portland yet? If not, why?? Because you totally should and then let me know so I can meet you and we can go book shopping and eat doughnuts. Speaking of doughnuts, what are your favorite flavors? Are you a traditional person, or do you put weird things on your doughnuts, like cereal or bacon?

Hope you had a lovely Easter,

Elizabeth

Friday, April 7, 2017

Hey There April


Hello,

Wow, it's April, April!! I'm not quite sure where all the time has gone, seriously it feels like March went by in a flash. The first half of March was spent stressing over finals and the SATs, and then the second half was spent working and enjoying spring break. Now it's April and I'm back at it with school. But March, although as fast as it went by, it was quite an enjoyable month. Even with stressful finals, it was nice to check off a lot of stuff off my to-do list. I'm quite looking forward to April as well, along with the upcoming months. A lot of exciting things are happening (awesome classes, weddings, new jobs) and I'm pretty pumped to share a few of my life happenings with all you lovely people this spring.

Currently// housesitting for Elissa's family and chilling with her adorable dog, taking some awesome new classes at my community college, face timing Julia just because she's awesome, low key in love with my new blog design, attempting to create a pretty note-taking system for art history, trying to catch up on school so I can graduate, taking senior pictures, and writing a mini novel in verse (maybe).

Reading// A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood and let me tell you, I'm really not a fan. The writing, although not bad, is not the type of style I enjoy, the main character is very distant and the narrative is just super odd. The story itself is also just not my favorite. I then started Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte and wow I'm in love and only 40 pages in. I adore Anne's style of writing and Agnes herself is such a real character. So far so good.

Listening// I've been listening to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack nonstop lately. I went and saw the movie a couple weeks ago with a friend, and then my mom and I went and saw it again while on our trip in Portland, and I fell in love with it even more. Classic music, plus the 2017 version has Obi Wan singing so obviously it's fantastic. 

Enjoying// Julia's post, where is the beauty (because whoa she is so talented and gives me all the feels). Elissa's post, hey there tired soul (because everyone needs to hear these words). Addy's post, two months (because everything about this was breathtaking). Raquel's post, The Righteous In This City (because God is good and it was so thought provoking). Cally's post, hope (because everything she writes makes me cry and I love her). And Clara's post, fragile (because so much scary truth).

Loving// spontaneous facetimes with awesome people, sunny days giving me excuses to wear sandals, road-trips with my lovely mother, bookstores that take up an entire block, buying new sweaters because discounts, Carl's Jr.'s waffle fries, starting new art journals, and spring break allowing me to sleep in and relax a little bit.

Disliking// rush hour traffic, yummy french fries making me fat, starting school again and forcing myself to wake up early, scaring myself by watching criminal minds before I go to bed, forgetting to pack food and my stomach making scary noises during class, headaches, and excessive ammounts of rainy days. 

Blogging// Hey There March, where I talk about my February happenings and March goals. Blessed is the One Whom God Corrects // Job 3-5, where I talk about Job and how God uses trials to shape us. And Top Five Winter Reads + Reading Stats, where I talk about my favorite reads of the past few months and how my reading year is going.

Hoping// to figure out how each of my classes work, get my SAT scores back, find out if I get accepted to my top college, force myself to work out more, eat out less, join a small group and dig deeper into God's word, and laugh more than I roll my eyes. 


How was your March? Any exciting spring break trips coming up (or ones that already happened?) And seriously can you believe it's April already? Guys where is the time going, this year is going by crazy fast.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Elizabeth 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Top Five Winter Reads + Reading Stats


Hello friends,

First things first, I finally redesigned my blog!! I've been wanting to do this for awhile and I'm so happy with how it turned out. As you can see, I even renamed my blog. Thoughts? Thanks to the beautiful and wonderful Julia, I was able to get something on the blog that I really love and I'm super excited for this new look, so I'm really hoping you guys like it too.

Today I'm discussing my top five reads of the winter. I thought this would be an easier way to discuss my reading life versus giving an overview of every book I read during the month. My winter reading season was pretty decent, so I'm really excited to share with you the new books I discovered and enjoyed during the past couple of months.

1. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent



  • THE WRITING IS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. Hannah Kent writes in a way that is so completely raw. At times it was so formal and stoic, and then other times completely atmospheric and haunting. She wrote in a way that placed you in the middle of the story, in the center of the characters' minds. It was phenomenal. 
  • COMPLETELY RAW IN EVERY WAY. Like wow, Kent weaved together a story the was so dark and bleak and kept nothing out. She was not shy about including the messy, grittiness of 19th century rural Iceland. My heart broke multiple times, let me tell you. So much hurt and human endurance were within these pages.
  • SO CHARACTER DRIVEN. This might not be a plus for some people, but I adore character driven books, so this made me even happier with the story. We follow the life of Agnes, who she is, who she was, and how she got to the point of killing her master. I was so deep into her life, it was difficult to put the story down.
  • HISTORICAL GOODNESS. I adore historical fiction and am so excited I found another one that I love. Kent actually was inspired to write this story from her travels in Iceland, which I find so awesome.
  • DESCRIPTION GALORE. As a person who has never been to Iceland, I don't know exactly what the countryside looks like, but that didn't matter with Burial Rites because Kent had such a strong descriptive voice. The characters, landscape, and environment were perfectly illustrated,

  • OCCASIONALLY A LITTLE TOO GRAPHIC. As I said, the story itself is extremely raw and Kent doesn't sugar coat anything, thus giving an occasional violently or sexually graphic scene. 
  • A LITTLE DRY PLOT WISE. You sort of know what the outcome is going to be when you start the book, so there's not a huge complex plot you're following. 



The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss



  • SO MANY HUGGABLE CHARACTERS. Kvothe is my baby, I adore him. He's sassy and smart and flawed and just adorable. And all the side characters are just precious little cinnamon buns (you know, except for all the evil people) and I want to be friends with them all. 
  • MAGIC. Umm this is a really solid reason and doesn't really need explaining, but the magic system is so cool!! Plus there's a magic school so obviously it's a pretty awesome read.
  • ACTION AND PLOT GALORE. So much was going on in this story and it really worked. I loved following Kvothe's life, rooting for him. and uncovering secrets. You span so many events with Kvothe, so it's just really cool and exciting. 
  • MUSICALLY TALENTED PEOPLE. There was so much focus on music and the importance of it. All I want in my life is to listen to Kvothe play his lute and sing. 
  • ALSO THERE WAS A DRAGON. Which is amazing and worth all 700 pages right? 

  • A BIT SLOW AT TIMES. Although I really loved the characters and there was quite a bit of action, there were a few times the story dragged a bit, but that's to expected in such a chunky book. Because of those slow moments, it took me longer to finish this book than it normally would have. 




An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir



  • SUPER DEVELOPED CHARACTERS. Like wow, all of them were so amazing and fleshed out. I adored our two main characters and their butt kicking friends. The evil characters were also nicely done and villains I enjoyed reading about. 
  • SO MUCH ACTION. Action after action after action. This was such a fast paced read and I couldn't put it down. Events were always going down and Sabaa Tahir was constantly keeping me on the edge of my seat. 
  • STELLAR WRITING. Tahir is a wonderful writer! She was descriptive without over doing it and created really natural characters with real dialogue. Nothing about the story and characters seemed fake-like, Tahir did such an amazing job of creating a fictional story that seems so real, I was fully immersed in the lives of these characters and the events that were happening. 
  • INFLUENCED BY ANCIENT ROME. Umm how cool is that? It's dark and violent and full of action and fighting. It's cool.

  • NOT ENOUGH WORLD BUILDING. Tahir was super descriptive with characters and setting, but there was not a lot of background information.
  • MISSUSE OF VIOLENCE. I like dark and suspenseful books, and there was a ton of awesome action from this book in particular, but at times it would use violence as shock factor without it doing anything to the plot, which was just annoying. 



The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith


  • SO MUCH CUTENESS. I don't smile or giggle a lot while reading books, but this book had me laughing and grinning all the time. The characters are little adorable cookies and wow I adored them.
  • SET IN AN AIRPLANE. They meet at an airport and then sit next to each other on the plane and have adorable conversations and fall asleep on each other's shoulders. *cue fangirl squealing*
  • THEN SET IN LONDON. And people have British accents so it's cool. 
  • ACTUALLY REALLY REAL. Although it sounds like it would have insta love and unrealistic characters, everything about the book seemed really natural. The situations and feelings each character went through were all relatable and the dialogue was actual human dialogue.
  • A SUPER FLUFFY READ. This was just a super easy read and I flew through it. It's a nice story to indulge in when you need something that isn't too heavy and has a happy ending. 

  • A LITTLE TOO MUCH CHEESE. Cute story, cute guy, but lots of cheese piled on top of it. 
  • MAKES YOU WANT TO MISS ALL YOUR FLIGHTS. Because if that happens you'll meet an adorable British dude named Oliver who will fall in love with you and buy you chocolate and bring you to London. Right?



Hidden by Helen Frost



  • WRITTEN IN VERSE. Which for some people this is not a plus, but I love anything in verse so this was a huge deal for me (If you have more recommendations on books in verse hit me up friends). 
  • POWERFUL STORY. It's about a girl who was accidentally kidnapped and the daughter of the accidental kidnapper. Their stories are really interestingly interwinded and there is so much development that goes on within the pages about dealing with your past, abuse, social status, and friendships. 
  • SUPER SHORT, FAST READ. I believe I read this in a day, I completely flew through the story. Helen Frost was able to create a powerful punch in such a short amount of time, which I really admire.
  • BEAUTIFUL WRITING. Hidden really reflects the kind of writing that I just really love. Everything about it was super atmoshperic and placed you into the character's minds, which I think is really important with writing in verse when trying to portray emotions and hardships.


  • OVERUSED TROPES. Rich girl with a group of rich friends vs. the poor girl. Rich girl realizes poor girl isn't that bad. Cute boy rich girls like falls in love with poor girl. Not necessarily bad or unrealistic, just a bit uncreative. 
  • ENDING BEGAN TO DRAG. The plot began to slow as the ending drew near since a few problems get resolved early on.


Reading Stats

  • 16/70 books read in 2017
  • six 5/5 stars read this winter (City of Heavenly Fire, Burial Rites, An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night, The Name of the Wind, and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight)
  • five 4/5 stars read this winter (A Little Something Different, The Stonekeeper, Anya's Ghost, Page by Paige, and Hidden)
  • five 3/5 stars read this winter (Graceling, The Horse and His Boy, Three Dark Crowns, Stalking Jack the Ripper, and The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History)



What books have you read this winter? Any recommendations? I would love to discover more historical fiction novels or books written in verse, so if you have any floating around in your head, let me know! Don't forget to friend me on goodreads so you can get daily updates on what I'm currently reading and enjoying.

Have a wonderful week,

Elizabeth 


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