Thursday, October 30, 2014

Inspiration: Japanese Handmade Dolls

This video is so inspiring.  And I loved the music.

You can read more on Colossal, one of my favorite sources for artistic inspiration.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fresh face

We've been having the school theater productions at school this week and so many parents think I'm a student... Despite the fact that the students wear uniforms and I dress in professional attire AND have a teacher name tag... Anyway... One parent met me today, did the usual exclaiming about how young I look, then said, "Well I'm a dermatologist and I just have to say you have amazing skin and that's mostly why you look so young!" 

Well how could I be offended at that? 

So I decided to take this opportunity to plug my mom's business. I've been using Mary Kay skin care for about 10 years now and I've always gotten compliments about my skin... I use the full range of products. Face wash, toner, night solution, moisturizer... Every night. So far so good! 

Shameless selfie...

If you're interest in trying it out, you can email my mom, Ruth, at or order from her website She ships anywhere, within reason. 

Maybe I'll convince her to do a giveaway on the blog soon. Stay tuned. ;)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Advantage of a Bath

Do you prefer baths or showers?

I've heard there are many advantages to taking baths.

They can help relieve certain skin conditions, infuse good things into your body (depending on what you choose to soak in), and are generally relaxing.

I love taking baths.

I just now realized one particular reason why I love baths so much.

I've made it about half way through one of my favorite books in the past 2 days, merely by reading during my nightly baths.

I don't take electronics into the bathroom (ever since 2009 when I accidentally dropped my cell phone into the toilet...), so baths are a time when I'm forced to read "real" books.  If I'm just sitting on my couch I might be surfing the web, watching YouTube, grading papers, or listening to music.  But in the bath, I read.

This week I've been re-reading a few books from the Mitford series, by Jan Karon.  They are some of my favorite books.  Why does a 20-something-year-old love books about a 60 year old Episcopal priest?  I don't know, there's just something about the books that are so endearing.

Anyway, thanks for letting me share my recent revelation.  Now I'm off to read some more!



Monday, October 13, 2014

My lips but better

Have you heard of the term, "My lips but better?"  It's a term used to describe lipstick or lipgloss that enhances your lip color but isn't too drastic or bold.

One of my favorite lip products of all time is the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Lip Balm Stain.  They feel like moisturizing balm yet leave the lips with a nice stain.  You can talk, eat, kiss, whatever, and the color stays on.  The balm wears off after awhile, but you can put any lip balm over the stain and it looks great and lasts all day.  I have the colors Sweetheart and Smitten (bright pink and bright fuchsia), and even though I love them, Peter hates them.  He hates when I wear anything "too bold" on my lips.

So when I was in Rite Aid, I randomly picked up the color, "Honey."  And when I went to put it on I just cracked up laughing because it looks exactly like my lips.  The color is almost completely the same as my natural lip color, it's just slightly darker.

To illustrate - my natural lips on the left, "Honey" on the right.

No makeup again...

Up close and personal...
I have weird discoloration under my bottom lip that makes it look like I overdrew my lips, but I didn't!

It's no Dior Addict Lip Glow, but it has Peter's stamp of approval, and I like it a lot.  What do you think?

What's your favorite "My lips but better" product these days?



Not a sponsored post, no affiliate links, just trying to be helpful.  :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

This weekend's projects

I'm trying to create a cute, curated bookshelf. It's not quite coming together. I need some baskets. And advice... More books? Trying to group by color... Should I continue in that vein? Too much random stuff? By the way, I'm going to get a plant for the vase on the bottom shelf and I put the foam cowboy hats there so that our kid visitors can access them. 

Meanwhile, in the office...

What are your weekend projects??



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Watercolor Flowers

When I started this blog I had just started a new hobby - watercolor painting.  I wasn't very good at it, nor am I now, but I still enjoy it every once in awhile.  It's relaxing.  I put on some music, have a snack, and splash some colors on the page.  Some of my very first blog posts were about watercolor.  You can see some here, here, and here, but please don't judge.   :)

Today I put on some Ralph Vaughan Williams (one of my favorite composers) and tried to paint.  But I was uninspired.  I kept trying to copy other artists, and it didn't turn out well:

Finally I told myself to paint something that I would want to look at.  And since I love flowers, I painted some flowers.  And that's pretty much what happens every time I try to paint... 

I thought I'd show you the process I went through to get to a painting I was happy with.

I started by putting color all over the page.  I wanted to fill the entire page with color:

I thought about leaving it like that and adding some collage and/or quotes on top, but instead I went in and added some details with a sharpie:

I liked it, but it didn't feel "done," so I went in with some more paint and added some more dimension:

Aaand I like it.  It's not perfect... I'm a musician, not a painter, after all, but I am still proud of my little flowers.

(The lighting isn't great in my apartment, so my arms were casting weird shadows over the photos while I was trying to take the pictures.)

So that's how I spent my Tuesday evening.  What have you been up to lately?



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The South - Second Impressions

Moving to The South - Second Impressions.

Alabama is unlike anywhere I've ever been.  We might all speak English, but do we really speak the same language?

For example, here are two words: College Football.

To me, college football means, well, not much.  I don't really keep up with it, and I don't really care to.  Go Trojans!  Go Fighting Irish (that's Notre Dame, right?)!  Go ... um that happens to be playing!  If a game happens to be on, I'll watch it.  But isn't professional football what really matters anyway?  I love watching the Super Bowl.  That makes me a football fan, right?

College football is to Alabamians what soccer is to Brazilians.  It's what they live and breathe.  It's borderline sacrilegious.  In the same breath you can be invited to their church and then "evangelized" on why ______ (Auburn or Alabama) is better.  I've been told, by coworkers, that they're working on "converting" me to becoming an _____ (Auburn or Alabama) fan.

I offended quite a few people the other day when I said that I am passionate about things in life that actually matter.  They replied that that, too, is subjective.  Silly me, how could I forgot that college football players are saving lives, eliminating poverty and hunger, caring for the orphans, serving the needy, and protecting and defending our country?  Oh, wait...

Ok, ok, I digress.

But, seriously.  Alabama... Auburn... I don't care.  I really don't care.  But let's just keep that between you and me, shall we?  Otherwise I might soon be out of a job and/or friends.




P.S. Ok, ok, if you MAKE me choose, I pick Alabama... but that's only because I like maroon better than orange.  And also because I went to a conference at Alabama and their choral room was a-mazing.  Of course, I haven't yet been to Auburn's campus, so it's not really fair then, is it?  So we're back where we started...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Did you know?

In lieu of today's blogtober post (I don't have anything to share with my past self right now)... I thought I'd share this video.  I thought it was a great explanation on how music affects the brain.  I'm so grateful my parents made me learn a few instruments! :)

Did you learn something new today?  Do share!



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Blogtober Day 5 - My Fall Bucket List

Helene in Between Blogtober

My Fall Bucket List:

1.  Survive.

Peanut harvesting is coming soon (I'm allergic to peanuts), and soon the air is going to be filled with floating peanut particles.  An asthmatic's worst nightmare.  As much as I've been dying for a real "Fall," I just want this one to get over with.

Sorry this is kind of a downer post.  I'm sure all the other bloggers are writing about pumpkin patches, boots and scarves, campouts, s'mores, fire pits, hay rides, and more.  I do hope to experience all of those things as well.  But today, as I'm nursing a cold and trying not to stress about the competition I'm taking my choir to tomorrow, I'm stuck in survival-mode.

Sooo... what's on your Fall Bucket List?

Tomorrow I'll be taking a break from Blogtober to share with you a cool video I just came across.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Blogtober Day 4 - My favorite Instagram

Helene in Between Blogtober

Day 1, 2, 3

Day 4: My favorite Instagram

It was pretty difficult to narrow it down, but I'm sticking with this one.  This is when two of our favorite people (this lovely lady) came to visit us in Rio de Janeiro.  We had such a fun time with them and I think this picture turned out awesome!

P.S. you can follow my instagram here.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Blogtober Day 3 - One thing you can't live without


Day 3: One thing you can't live without.

Ok my answer is going to sound really strange for this one.  You're all expecting me to say something like, "Peter," or, "music," or "Mexican food," and those are all great things.  But my answer is this: I really, truly can't live without... my toothbrush!  And dental floss, too, for that matter.  I hate, hate, hate, hate the feeling of dirty teeth.  And I love flossing my teeth.  Sometimes I crave (and I don't use that word lightly) flossing.  Seriously, I'm weird.

Sooo what is the one thing you can't live without???

By the way, when I was doing online dating (where I met Peter), our profiles included "top 5 things you can't live without" and, yes, one of my top 5 things was my toothbrush.  And, yes, Peter mentioned it and thought it was weird.  But he married me anyway...

Thanks for reading!


Helene in Between Blogtober

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Blogtober 2014 Day 2

Read Day 1 here.

Eek, I had this scheduled to post automatically yesterday, and it didn't post!  :(  So here it is, a day late.  Day 3 and Day 4 will be posted tomorrow.  Sheesh, technology...

Day 2: Dream job when you were little/what is it now?

I always wanted to be a writer.  When I was in early elementary school I was homeschooled for a couple of years, and my mom made me keep a journal every day.  I had various prompts that I had to follow, but some days I could write whatever I wanted.  I loved to write and illustrate my own stories.  
When I was in middle school I was quite "emo."  I had a rough time of it at school, friends were not so nice to me, and I felt like "no one understood me."  Typical middle school stuff...  By that point my older sisters had all moved out and I finally got my own room.  I created a writing corner, complete with pillows and blankets, took my grandpa's old typewriter from the garage, and wrote poem after poem while sitting on the floor.  I was heavily inspired by E. E. Cummings.  I actually entered a couple of district-wide writing competitions and won second place for one of them.

Throughout high school I still kept journals, still enjoyed writing poems, but realized that maybe I wasn't as good as I thought I was, and maybe you can't make a living by being a poet...  At that time I was getting more involved with my music, I was playing violin in a really great orchestra, I started listening to operas for fun, and I decided I wanted to be a music teacher.

I went to college and studied music education and it was amazing and I loved every minute of it.  I especially loved conducting and music history.  When I was thinking about getting a Master's, I had a tough time with choosing between conducting and musicology.  I ultimately went with conducting because it is more hands on and interactive.  When I was in undergrad I had several professors who were very encouraging and supportive.  They told me I must get a doctorate and work at a university some day.  I wasn't really sure that I wanted to do that.  But now... now I wholeheartedly want to do that.  Now my ultimate goal is to get a doctorate and work at a university.

The thing I'm struggling with now is deciding if I want to eventually pursue a doctorate in conducting or in musicology.  Do I want to teach choirs and music education classes or do I want to teach music history?  If I had to make a split-second choir right now, I would choose musicology.  But my Master's is in conducting, so I'm not sure I'd even be accepted into a musicology program unless I get a second Master's...

Well anyway... that was a really long story.  In the end, I'm very happy with my current job.  The school is great, the students are great, and the salary and benefits are great.  It's not my ultimate dream job, but I'm happy to stay here for awhile.

What is your dream job?

Are you participating in #blogtober14?  If so, please leave your links so I can read them!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Blogtober 2014 Day 1

I decided to follow the #blogtober14 prompts for this month.  I thought they were interesting prompts and it takes the pressure off a little bit of thinking of interesting things to post about.  I don't like to post just for the sake of posting, so my blog tends to be neglected when I don't have any good ideas.

Even though I still have more Rio pictures to share, some heart-felt essays already typed up, and some other post ideas sitting in my drafts, I can't bring myself to drum up the emotional stamina needed to go back in and post them.  I'm in a weird place, emotionally, right now and especially when I think about the year in Rio, so I don't really want to post those particular posts quite yet.  Hopefully someday I'll be ready.  I hope that makes sense.  Anyway, on to the prompts!

October 1st: If you won the lottery you'd...

First of all I'd pay off all of my students loans and pay off the rest of my parents' debt.  If there was any leftover I'd take a trip to Europe with Peter.  Then if there was still any leftover I'd like to help my siblings and close friends out with any financial issues they might be having.  We also have a bunch of friends who are missionaries who could really use our support, and I'd really like to sponsor another child through Compassion again (had to cancel last year, after 8 years, because we couldn't afford it.  So sad.)

So, what would YOU do if you won the lottery?

Are you following along with #blogtober14?  If so, please leave me links to your posts!