Polishing Your Prose, Part 9: This Versus That


Well, here I am again barely slipping in this month's polishing your prose post before the end of the month. Hopefully this series has taught you a thing or two about writing. We've only got 3 more left after this one! 

I've talked about words before on this blog, and this month I wanted to offer a few definitions that I see a lot of people get confused about. 

Who vs Whom

The best way to explain the difference is to show you a few examples: 
1.  a) Who is calling? b) Whom is calling? 
The correct answer is A. 

2.  a) Who are you taking to the dance? b) Whom are you taking to the dance?
The correct answer is B.

So what's the deal? How do you know which to use? There's just one simple thing to remember. This is how I always think about it: 

Who = he/she
Whom = him/her

Here's what you do: Let's use the first example: Who is calling? First, you need to answer the question: Who is calling? He is calling. She is calling.
Then, use the above scale. Who = he/she. So the correct word to use is: who. Who is calling?

Or how about example #2: Whom are you taking to the dance? Answer the question: I'm taking him or, I'm taking her.
Whom = him/her. Voila! 

It might sound a bit complicated and confusing, but as long as you know the substitution code, you'll know which word to use.

Now let's see if you can figure these three out: 
  • When you go to the concert, who/whom are you taking with you?
  • Who/whom are you talking about?
  • Who/whom is coming to dinner tonight?
Farther vs Further

I'm going to rat Jordan out. He switches these words up all the time. I try not to be that person about it, but sometimes I do correct him. I can't turn it off. But it's pretty simple really.

Farther refers to a physical distance. An actual, measurable distance. 
Example: Chicago is farther from Texas than Oklahoma City is.

Further refers to a distance you can't measure. 
Example: I don't want to discuss this further.

See? Now wasn't that easy?

P.S. Here are the answers to the who/whom questions: 
1: When you go to the concert, whom are you taking with you? I am taking him.
2: Whom are you talking about? I am talking about him.
3: Who is coming to dinner tonight? He is coming.

Where I Show You My Underwear Drawer


Last year, in a spurt of uncharacteristic frivolity, I bought a subscription to Real Simple Magazine. Since that time, every month a magazine arrives in my mailbox, full of easy recipes and home decor DIY ideas and fashion advice, and I look at them and admire them; I even flag my favorites for later. But rarely do I do anything with them. Every once in a while I'll make a recipe, but usually they just get forgotten in my stacks of bills and junk mail. 

In every issue, there's a feature where they show you 5 new ways to use something. In one issue a few months back, they showed 5 ways to use an egg carton. I'm sure I flagged a few of those to use later, but in the August issue, I discovered a truly brilliant use for an old shoe box that I knew I needed to not let go to waste.

This is my underwear drawer. 
I covered up a few things, mostly because of the internet creepers. And because my dad reads this blog. He also happens to be an internet creeper himself, but that's not the point. (Kidding, Dad. I love you!)

Okay, so my underwear/sock/bra/sports bra drawer is always a huge mess. Is it just me? For most people, this probably isn't a huge deal, but when I want to be as quiet as possible in the mornings when I get up before Jordan, I really do need to be able to quickly find a pair of socks or a sports bra in the dark. Or, you know, when I don't have my contacts in and wander around like a blind person. 

A few months ago I bought a set of these from the Container Store: 
Find them here.

I love these drawer dividers. First of all, they're adjustable to extend up to 18", so they fit pretty much any size drawer. Also, they're natural cedar, so they smell great. The dividers are also lined so they won't snag on your delicates. 

Still, even with my awesome new drawer dividers, there was extra space that was keeping me from being completely organized. I kept grabbing socks when I wanted underwear, etc. Enter, Real Simple's idea to: use leftover shoe boxes as drawer dividers. Am I the only one who thinks this is brilliant? Maybe I'm just way behind and everyone else has been doing this for years. I don't know, but I always have shoe boxes lying around, and I was excited to try it out. 

The first box I found was for a pair of heels, so it was nice and big. Great for my loads of socks. The second was a perfect fit for my sports bras.
I took everything out of my drawer and played some tetris. After a few tries, I finally found the perfect combination, using two drawer dividers on either end and two shoe boxes in the middle. Since the middle part was surrounded on all ends by a wall, I figured I didn't need another shoe box and simply stacked my bras down the center. 

It's only been a few days, so there's still time to mess it up again, but I really feel confident in my latest drawer organization. Using the shoe boxes was just what I needed to put it all together. Score one for Real Simple and one for me! 
(P.S. Just for reference, my drawer is 32" L x 14" W x 7" H.)

How do you organize your underwear/sock drawer? DO you organize it? Give the shoe box thing a try and let me know how it works for you!

How to NOT get on the big screen at a baseball game


First of all, for those of you who disagreed with me about my review of Tina Fey's book Bossypants, thank you for sharing your opinion so kindly. I fully acknowledge that I am in the minority on this one. To be fair, I was coming off a pretty serious book, and I don't know if I was quite ready to jump right into Bossypants so soon. In any case, it's different strokes for different folks, or however that weird saying goes. 

Now, a short tale about something that happened two weekends ago when Jordan and I drove to Texas to visit my family.
 As you probably know if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, the Reese family is 100% ridiculous, and when the six of us are together, you just never know what's going to happen. Now that Jordan's joined the mix as our seventh, it's only gotten more ridiculous. 
If you don't believe me, read this post immediately about a little game we invented on a camping trip called Egg Roulette. And then read this post about the time we murdered Tweety. (Or just click on the "family" tag to the left and read them all because they're funny, and I'm not just saying that because I wrote them. Be sure not to miss the one about the inappropriate tie my grandpa wore to my cousin's wedding.)
Anyway, two weekends ago Jordan and I drove down to Texas to attend a Texas Rangers game with my family. We got pretty good seats in the upper deck, third-base side, and we spent the majority of the time between innings trying to get on the big screen. During innings--or during the commercial break for those at home--the camera randomly pans around the stadium and lands on unsuspecting spectators. 

Spectators like this guy. Seriously? 
Usually the camera lands on either hot blondes (which makes me mad on multiple levels [one being, obviously, that if such is the case they should be showing me]) or small children who are being ridiculous. 

Our family must have had neither, because despite our best efforts--waving, shouting, looking cute--the camera came nowhere near our section. We were being so obvious about it that the usher even offered some unsolicited advice: 
"The camera," he said, "doesn't come up to the third deck except sometimes during the kiss cam."
That's when I switched seats with my brother so I could sit next to Jordan and try to look as "together" as possible. The huge chipmunk pocket of sunflower seeds he was hoarding in his cheek wasn't going to help our cuteness cause.

So we watched the game and cheered, all the while keeping an eye out for any type of camera equipment and secretly booing the hot blondes. (Okay, maybe that was just me on that last one.)
It was during the fifth or sixth inning (there is still some debate on this) when Jordan announced he was leaving to get nachos. My brother and I decided to go with him, but when we got out to where the concessions where, there was a huge line. Daniel gave up instantly and went back to our seats. I decided to be nice and wait it out, but when the inning started back up, I told Jordan I was leaving him to fend for himself. 

Not two minutes after I sat down, "Deep in the Heart of Texas" started playing over the loudspeakers. My dad stood up and started clapping and stopping. I thought it was weird, but when my mom, sister, and brothers followed suite, I couldn't be the only one left out. So I stood up too, and the six of us clapped along to the song. 

And then, miracle of miracles.
I saw us on the big screen. 

Well, actually I saw my mom and dad, and I started freaking out. 
"LOOK! LOOK! IT'S US! LOOK!" I was screaming and jumping and pointing. Not exactly playing it cool like the hot blondes, but whatever. My brother, who had been alerted by my screaming, started waving like mad, and soon there we were in all our glory. I actually wasn't in the shot originally, but just before the camera left us, it moved over and zoomed out to include me. Because of the hotness, no doubt. 

My dad told me later that he only knew we were on the big screen because the guy behind him tapped him on the shoulder, pointed, and said, "You're on." 

It was only after the excitement from our five seconds of fame had died down that I noticed Jordan wasn't standing next to me. The poor guy had missed it because he was standing in line for nachos. But instead of feeling bad for him, I just felt a wave of gratefulness that I hadn't missed out on it because I was waiting for him. It's moments like these when you realize what truly matters in life.

He finally came back, and we replayed the whole scene for him. He followed up our story with one of his own about a "sassy black lady" who got mad at him for paying for his Coke and nachos with a twenty-dollar-bill. 

Not to sound dramatic, but being on the big screen was SO AWESOME. Seriously. My brother Austin even got a text from his friend saying he saw us on the big screen. Legit. It was all the more awesome because we had clearly spent a good hour (at least that long) trying to get the cameras to find us. The people sitting around us got a kick out of it too. 
My only regret is that we didn't get a quick picture of ourselves actually on the screen, but you can't have everything. 

And for Jordan, sometimes you can't have anything.
Well, I guess except nachos. That boy does love him some processed cheese. 
P.S. I took this picture after the game. You can see Six Flags over Texas from the top of Rangers Ballpark. We have no idea what's going on with the purple lights on top of the roller coaster. UFO? 

Dear Tina Fey


Dear Tina Fey,

First, let me begin by saying that I think you're quite funny. My husband and I went to see Date Night in the theater, and I almost peed my pants I was laughing so hard. We even went so far as to purchase the movie when I saw it on clearance at Target for $7.

I recently read your book Bossypants, and I was disappointed to find that it wasn't as funny as I had been led to believe. To be honest, I thought the funniest lines were the endorsements on the back. It just felt like you were trying too hard.

It was a quick read, I will give you that. And I learned a few things about you that I didn't know before, like how you got your scar and how the whole you-being-Sarah-Palin-on-SNL thing came about. Interesting, yes, but unfortunately I can't give Bossypants a glowing recommendation. I rated it as a 2 on Goodreads, which means "it was ok." I don't mean to be harsh. Trust me, it could be worse. This was no Love in the Time of Cholera. Seriously, Worst. Book. Ever. 

But I digress. 

You're obviously funny, but maybe for now you should just stick to writing for 30 Rock. 

Respectfully yours,
Underwhelmed in Oklahoma City

The Granola Experiment, Episode 2


Last week I wrote about my first attempt to make homemade granola. It was less than delicious. In fact, it was burnt and I had to throw it all out. But nothing was going to stop me from trying again*, because if I've learned one thing in the kitchen, it's that a new recipe rarely turns out well the very first time. At least, it doesn't for me.

For my second try, I used a friend's granola recipe. She claims it's a family secret. I wasn't sure whether or not she was kidding, so I'm not exactly sure if I'm allowed to share this. But I'm going to. You're welcome.

4 cups of rolled/old fashioned oats
chop up nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc)

3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of water
2 tsp. of vanilla
(Pour this on the oat and nut mixture as soon as it comes out)

Mix together so it's all coated.

Put on cookie sheet. Drizzle honey all over. 
Can add coconut on top if you want---[Note: I did not do this, because I hate coconut.]
Add fruit after granola has cooled down 

Oven Temp: 275
Time: 45 minutes
The obvious difference between recipe 1 and recipe 2 are the oven temps. The first granola (the one that burnt) was at 350. This time, my oven was at 250. 

Clearly the 250 temp time is much better. 
My conclusion: this granola was quite good. It didn't get as hard as I would have liked, however. It was pretty chewy, which I think had to do with the honey I drizzled on top. After a few bites it becomes a serious jaw workout, but that hasn't stopped me from eating it all week. Next time, I might try cooking for longer or perhaps mixing the honey in with the brown sugar/water/vanilla mixture. 

I'll let you know what I find out. And again, granola tips are welcome. I'm still a newbie.

*In related news, Jordan is getting a little tired of my granola experiments. Just a few days ago he told me that he keeps finding oats stuck to his socks. Oddly enough, this has yet to happen to me, so I can only assume he's crazy.

My Three Levels of Loud (or, ways I annoy Jordan by doing absolutely nothing)


It's an undisputed fact of life that I am awesome.

Nevermind that my awesomeness is undisputed because I have yet to discuss it with anyone, the fact is, I am awesome at an uncounted number of things, including but not limited to: 

Being socially awkward, cooking macaroni from a box, throwing like a girl, forgetting to respond to text messages, and blaming my farts on other people. 

Just kidding on that last one. Kind of.
But the thing I am most awesome at--and probably the thing I'm most proud of--is my ability to annoy Jordan while doing nothing more than performing routine functions necessary for daily life. Namely: talking, walking, and eating.

Allow me to explain. 

I'm not about selling myself out, but my advanced level of humility allows me the ability to do what many others cannot: acknowledge my own faults. 

The fact of the matter is this: I am a loud person. Over the past year and four months of marriage, my loudness has become more and more apparent to my dear husband, who is as quiet and introverted as I am loud and extroverted. Fortunately, my loudness is something I'm aware of. Unfortunately, it's not something I can control.

The following are his top three complaints re: my levels of loud*:

*You might be interested to know that when I told Jordan I was writing a post about three ways I'm loud, he immediately listed the same three I'm about to discuss.

To be honest, this first point is a bit of a sore spot for Jordan and I, mostly because it causes a great deal of embarrassment for him whenever we leave the confines of our apartment. I believe it's the main reason he's scared to take me out in public. The fact that I talk too loud is, however, something I will readily admit. I have an inability to whisper and an odd ability to shout when I'm just trying to speak at a regular volume. 
Case in point: 

Earlier this year I ran a 10k with my dad. The timing chips were the kind you strap to your shoelace, expect I'd never used that kind before and didn't know how it worked. Apparently I voiced my confusion louder than I intended, because a stranger in the middle of the crowd offered to help me, even though I was clearly surrounded by friends/family. This wouldn't have been that odd except directly after this happened I wondered out loud if my watch had a light on it. Almost immediately, a different stranger provided the answer by physically showing me where I could find the light on my watch.

I appreciate the kindness of strangers as much as the next girl, and I was grateful for the assistance; but when random people are constantly answering the questions you're asking yourself out loud, it's safe to assume you have a problem with volume. And probably also that you should stop talking to yourself. 
Jordan, however, doesn't like strangers and therefore doesn't like when I talk loudly enough for strangers to talk to us. He is less concerned about their kindness and more concerned about that fact that they overheard me in the first place because I was being loud.

Before you start thinking that maybe it's just Jordan, I feel I should mention that my loudness has been a longstanding family joke pretty much since the delivery room, when I came out at a whopping ten and a half pounds, screaming my chubby face off and looking like a two-month-old ready to take down the premies.

Which, I suppose, is as good a segue as any into my next loudness:
(Note: This is a picture of me sitting on a small pink bicycle and really has nothing to do with anything except that I was looking though pictures trying to find a good one for walking and got nostalgic about my very first bike that we sold when my parents moved to Texas.)

The second annoyance my presence bestows upon my lucky husband is the loudness of my walk. This is also something I am aware of. Unfortunately for me, can I really fix the weight at which I step? Is there physical therapy for this type of problem? This I don't know, but the fact of the matter is: I feel sorry for my downstairs neighbors, because I do walk heavy. Fact.

This, however, must be a family trait, because my younger brother also walks heavy. He was here visiting a week or so ago, and Jordan later said, "Man, your brother walks heavy too." So I obviously have no choice but to blame my parents. 

Seriously, though, I sound like a giant when I walk. Maybe even a giant carrying a dwarf. And I'm not fat! (Insert childhood flashback to my brothers calling me "whale.") You can hear me coming from rooms away, and even though Jordan gets annoyed by it, I'm pretty sure I'm just the sort of person Helen Keller would have loved to have around.

I saved the best for last, because this one confuses me. Question: CAN one eat too loud? Is that even a thing? Apparently it is and I can, as evidenced by the following episode:

Occasionally I will set my alarm to get up and go running around 5:15 in the morning. Jordan is, of course, fast asleep at this time. Unfortunately for him, he wakes up instantly whenever I so much as move my arm (see: patterns of sleep, which is an amusing account of all the ways I annoy Jordan while sleeping). Jordan being a light sleeper is fortunate for me or WILL be fortunate for me should our apartment catch on fire or a band of gremlins decide to break into our apartment and steal our futon.

No matter how quiet I try to be in the morning, he wakes up. But then I leave for an hour or so to run, and he resumes his slumber. The tricky part is when I come back. 

Apparently the act of me inserting the key into the lock wakes him up (three rooms away AND through the closed bedroom door). Fortunately for him, he married a kind and selfless wife (that's me), and I've started leaving the bathroom fan on to muffle the sound of the key. This has worked well. 

It's worked well, that is, until last week, when I came back from the gym and immediately poured myself a bowl of honey nut cheerios. I happily munched along and slurped up the leftover milk (yes, I'm one of those cereal-milk drinkers) and then hopped in the shower. By the time I got out, Jordan's alarm was going off and it was officially time for him to be awake, so I walked in the bedroom and leaned in to give him a good-morning kiss. He gave me a halfhearted peck and then followed it up with this: "You eat too loud."

Um, good morning to you too, honey.
"What?" I said. 
"You eat too loud," he repeated. "You crunch on the cereal and slurp up the milk, and it's loud and it wakes me up."
(Insert: childhood flashbacks of my brothers calling me camel because I chewed with my mouth open. True story. Camel and whale. I really don't know how I've gotten this far in life without the help of a certified therapist.)

I'm sure I came up with a snooty retort, because I'm witty like that, but I can't remember it now. 

The point is, apparently I'm a loud eater, to which I say, "Jordan, dear husband of mine, darling love...would you rather have a wife who goes running three times a week and then wakes you up as she eats a heart-healthy breakfast or a wife who does not exercise and then wakes you up when she moves in her sleep and accidentally smothers you with her fat rolls?"
I think you see where I'm going with this. 

* * *
So there you have it Three ways I annoy Jordan while doing absolutely nothing. He's so lucky to have me, don'tcha think?

currently... wishing, reading, eating, anticipating, missing


[First of all, I MUST point out that the above photo was featured over at The Inspired Lens for the weekly theme "details." It was an exciting moment in my amateur photography life.]


I could eat 10 cake pops and not feel nauseous. (See above.) These were at a birthday party I went to this weekend for my friend's one-year-old daughter. Vanilla cake pops are like a tiny vanilla cupcake! I. Can't. Resist. 


Bossypants, by Tina Fey 
So far it's less awesome than I anticipated. I think maybe it's just a tad too random, but it does have its amusing moments.

Everything in sight. Seriously, people. My new running schedule is making me hungry all the time. Mostly, though, I'm still eating the granola I made last week. Oh, and I'm eating cake pops. At least, on Sunday I was. 


Jordan's and my Dirty 30 race on October 6. There will be zombies. It's going to be epic. 

My family. Thankfully, I'll be seeing them this weekend! The seven of us are going to a Texas Rangers game. It's nice to have a backup team to root for since my Cubs are fated to be terrible until the end of time. It's okay. I've made my peace with it. I still love Wrigley. (This picture was taken when Jordan and I went to a game this summer.)


How to Dress Up a Boring Present: Wrap Like a Pro


"It's all about presentation."

I can't tell you how many times I've heard my mom say this. What it means is this: 
You can make anything look cooler just by presenting it in an interesting way. Likewise, you can make something awesome look not as awesome if you don't present it right. 

Yesterday, I went to a baby shower. I like to get things off the registry because a) it's easy and b) people register for stuff they want/need, and people like getting things they actually want as opposed to something they hate and will have to take back later. For this gift, I decided to load them up with essentials like baby lotion, bath wash, pacifiers, and pampers wipes. All stuff they registered for, and all stuff they'll need--but not necessarily anything interesting to open. When it's all said and done, I got them a useful but lame gift. 

The trick is how you present it. 

I knew piling all the items in a bag and shoving a piece of tissue paper in there was a terrible idea. When you do that, they're just pulling out individual bottles of lotion one after the other. I knew it was boring, but it was my only idea. So I called the best gift wrapper I know: my mother.

Within a minute she had come up with at least four brilliant ideas I never would have thought of myself.  The one I settled on required the least amount of materials and used all things I currently owned, minus a roll of cellophane, which cost about $2. I've decided to share the brilliant idea with all of you, should you happen to find yourself in such a situation in the future. 
The first step is to find a box that fits your loot. If you're anything like me, you have a collection of boxes lying around. Just find one that fits.
This was a baby shower, so I found some cute baby paper and wrapped my box once I'd cut the sides off. 
Then pack the box with the presents and tissue paper. And if you're anything like me, you have a ridiculously large stash of tissue paper lying around with your boxes.Sometimes I feel like I'm living on an episode of hoarders.
Here's the important part: wrap the box with cellophane. This is my mom's secret trick. It completes the box and makes it look like a real present. Plus, the gift recipient isn't pulling bottles of lotion out of a bag. 
The final step is to get a card and tie it around the ribbon. 
What do you think? Brilliant, no? I also wrapped a second gift for another baby shower. It's the season of babies in my life right now.
So that's how you spruce up bottles of baby lotion and diapers with cellophane and a leftover cardboard box. My lame (but let's not forget useful!) gift looks cooler than it is. Thanks, Mom.

Where I Become Convinced that Helen Keller Did, In Fact, Exist


{source via}
A few weeks ago, I read The Devil in the White City (you can read my review here). Helen Keller appeared for a brief moment in the book as a visitor at the World's Fair in Chicago circa 1893. Reading about her reminded me of my confusion over HK and the fact that for most of my life I have been unsure if she ever existed at all. 

I mean really: the girl was blind, deaf, and mute. HOW did she learn to speak and function like a fairly normal human? Is anyone with me on this? I'm not trying to be mean, but it's a little fishy, no?

I, therefore, convinced myself that Helen Keller was a hoax and couldn't have actually lived. 
But then she appeared in Devil, and I said to myself, "Self, you should read a Helen Keller biography." Because I realized that I actually didn't know anything about HK and therefore shouldn't be deciding important matters like whether or not she existed without doing proper research. 

Of course, I reasoned, reading her autobiography wouldn't prove anything, because if she didn't exist, obviously somebody else wrote the book. No, I would read a biography
about her.

So I went to the library and typed in "Helen Keller biography" and then searched through the list and ended up with: Helen Keller: Rebellious Spirit by Laurie Lawlor. It was just what I was looking for--information about the great Helen Keller and explanation as to how she learned all the things she did being deaf and blind. 

Since I doubt most of you have a strong desire to read a biography about HK, I decided to make a list of (what I found to be) the most interesting facts. These are the facts that convinced me that HK was an actual person. Now I can put the matter to rest and move on to investigating the moon landing. (Too soon?)

1. Helen Keller lost her hearing and sight at 19 months old. While she was very young, HK did have a faint memory of hearing words, which is what happened with the famous water pump scene. She had a flashback of one of the first words she knew: water. 

2. HK was a sort of child prodigy. She was extremely smart and had a fantastic memory. That's how she was able to eventually remember words and phrases in a way that wouldn't be possible for most other people/children.

3. It took over two months of HK's teacher, Annie, finger spelling words into her hand before she made the connection between the finger movements and actual things. Annie would literally spell every single word into Helen's hand all day long. 

4. Helen's teacher was young when she began teaching Helen. Maybe twenty, I think. Annie herself had bad eyesight and even started to go completely blind later in life. She was extremely possessive of Helen and throughout their lives continued to drain the pair of finances. Honestly, I found Annie childish and annoying. 

5. Helen could feel things that escape people with eyesight. The book said she could feel footsteps, which is how she knew when people were approaching and leaving, and where they were going in the house. She could also feel emotion. She knew when someone was angry or sad or happy just in the air about them. For example: if they were tense or if they sat down heavily or tapped their toes, etc. 

6. Helen's sense of smell was very important. She could fold the laundry and knew which clothes were hers just by smelling them. She could walk around town and know where she was just by the smells of the different shops she passed. She also knew when people entered a room or walked by her because of their smell.

7. Helen learned to speak. This is where I always got tripped up. How did she do that? 
Here's how: she would touch a person's face--lips and throat--while they spoke. She had a voice teacher who taught her to make the sounds based on how much air she pushed through her lips, how her lips moved, and how her throat stretched and contracted. Learning to speak took a considerable amount of time, obviously. She often got frustrated that she couldn't converse "like a normal person." 

Annie would finger spell a word into Helen's hand, and Helen would have her hand on Annie's lips, feeling how they moved and how much air escaped while she said the word. 

Helen's voice was not beautiful. The book said that when Helen met Thomas Edison (who was hard of hearing himself), Edison compared her voice to that of "steam exploding." Her friends described it as someone speaking with a heavy foreign accent. 

Helen could also lip read by touching her fingers to a person's lips or face, which allowed her to converse with friends (or people who didn't mind her touching their lips).

8. Almost all the photographs of HK you see are a right-side profile. This is because Helen had a deformity in her left eye. Later in life, Helen got glass eyes, which looked normal.
{source via}
9. Helen was extremely liberal, especially for that time period (early 20th century). She spoke out on civil rights and women's right to vote and work, and many people didn't appreciate her being so vocal about these sensitive subjects. But she continued to travel the country and speak on these things until she died. 

10. Helen outlived her teacher, Annie, and eventually died at the age of 87.

So there you have it! Helen Keller was a real person. I skipped the part in elementary school where we watched the HK movie, so I feel good about finally getting around to learning a thing or two about her.

The Granola Experiment, Episode 1


A few weeks ago I saw a post about homemade granola on a cute blog I recently discovered. I've been wanting to make granola for a while now, and since this recipe looked easy, I figured I should try it out. This is what I suspect will be the first of a few posts (well, at least one more) on my granola experiment as I attempt to find the perfect granola recipe. (The recipe for this granola is at the bottom of this post.)

The first step to homemade granola is buying the essential ingredients: oats, nuts, and fruit. 
Then I scraped the bottom of the honey jar and just barely made it. I actually didn't have quite enough, but I'd already been to the store twice that day and had no desire to leave the house again. 

I combined the nuts and oats in a mixing bowl. 
And added honey and olive oil.
Then I mixed in some spices and seasoning. 
Last, I covered a baking sheet with parchment paper and baked for 35 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring the granola every 15 minutes. The dried fruit was added during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
For this granola, I added dried cranberries, dried plums (chopped into small bits), and dried apricots. 
Here's the recipe I followed: 

2 cups oats (old fashioned, not the quick cooking kind)
1 1/2 cups nuts/seeds of your choice
1/3 cup oil 
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of ginger
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup dried fruit or other additions you like.
In a bowl, combine the oats and nuts/seeds. Pour in oil and honey (or maple syrup) and stir to combine. Add in seasonings and vanilla and mix well. Spread out on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 15 to make sure all pieces bake evenly. Add in dried fruit during the last 10 minutes of baking.

This first batch turned out a little over done. I'm going to try this recipe again and cook it for less time at a lower temperature. Hopefully that will fix the problem. I'm inclined to blame my crappy apartment oven. For the next episode, I will try a recipe given to me by a good friend. Results to come.

Have you ever made granola? Do you have any good granola-making tips?

Maternity Pictures of Someone Else


I had to put that in the title otherwise everyone would freak out.
This is probably the single most annoying thing about getting married. I say one little thing about feeling slightly nauseous, and everyone starts giving me a knowing look. No, it was just the gallon of ice cream I ate last night at one o'clock in the morning, but thanks for thinking I look like I'm pregnant.

In my quest to practice my photography skills, I have been hunting down anyone who might need pictures taken for any reason. I'm like a less-scary version of the paparazzi. 

This week I got the opportunity to take some maternity pictures for a friend of mine. I had no idea what I was doing and kept apologizing every five minutes. (I really need to work on that.) Nevertheless, my friends were fun and gracious, and the sun was blazing.
Ben and Stacy also have a 16-month-old who did not want to sit still. The following is the best shot I could get of him with his momma like this. I want to get some chalkboards, which will look a lot cuter than pieces of paper. I guess you gotta start somewhere, though.
It was fun taking maternity pictures, and you can be sure I'll be on the lookout for other friends of mine who need pictures taken! I really like photography, and I can only hope I'll keep improving.