Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why Write?

With not having a job right now I was running out of things to do to keep me busy during the day. A good friend told me to try out calligraphy, and can I just say that I'm so grateful I did! Calligraphy is amazing and addicting. It has a way of calming you and sucking you in. It's the same feeling I get when I do embroidery. I'm focused in on this simple task, be it a stitch or a stroke, that everything else fades away and I become relaxed. I just write, or I just sew and nothing else matters.

I came across this video though and thought I would share.

Why Write?

Now if you don't have 16 minutes to just sit down and watch this TED clip, then scroll a little further. But really, you should watch it.

The medical loving side of me caught on to this research he mentioned... Here are the notes:

-He took a cognitive psychology class and studied how handwriting helps develop the brain. During the different tactile movements of doing handwriting, the brain is engaged in more areas and the information is ingrained into the brain. The same was not found to be true with typing however, which does not involve the same type of differential tactile movements.
-Handwriting was also found to be incredibly helpful in small children who were learning to read. By forming the individual letters they had a deeper understanding of the anatomy of each one, and were therefore able to recognize it when it came time to read it on the page.
-Cursive was found to be even more beneficial to the brain. Researchers and scientists have done brain scans on children learning cursive and found that the different parts of the brain engaged are similar to those that adults typically use for writing and higher reasoning. The screen went blank when the kids were doing typing because it didn't involve the same type of tactile movement.

Interesting right?! I love learning about how amazing the body is and how things effect each other.

Here's another article for you:

Why Writing by Hand Could Make You Smarter

I think it was in high school that I decided I wanted to start writing in cursive more. (I'll have to check my journal for sure though.) I had to do a google search for the cursive alphabet for some of the letters I had forgotten from elementary school. Cursive became my primary handwriting for my journal and remains still. I love cursive. It's so fun and fast and beautiful.

If all of this hasn't inspired you to take a second look at your handwriting then I don't know what will. It's never to late to try something new. Start with cursive and just a normal pen or pencil. I think knowing cursive beforehand has been helpful with picking up calligraphy. And then try some calligraphy. I'm excited to really study it out and practice. I find myself looking at billboards now and imagining the direction that the strokes would need to go to produce the thick/thin look of the letters. Pathetic I know but whatever. It happens!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekend Getaway to Orange Beach

Scott has a work schedule that's called a 9/80, meaning he works 9 hour days Monday through Thursday, and then he has every other Friday off. The Fridays that he does work are 8 hour days. Last weekend was one of those wonderful 3 day weekends for us so we decided to see what Orange Beach, Alabama was like. It's only a 3 hour drive from where we are and the sands are white and the water is warm. It felt wonderful... as long as you were in the water. We didn't have a big beach umbrella so laying out on the towel was toasty hot, sweaty, humidity goodness. The heat is intense down there right next to the gulf!

The only thing about the area is that there were a lot of little fishes that you would accidentally step on, or they would nibble at you. And there were even these little jelly fish looking guys and I got stung on the arm by one. (No worries, nothing happened except a stinging sensation that lasted for about 10 minutes). Now there were some speed boat racing going on right out in front of us, so I can't decide if they were stirring up the water and causing all the fish to come closer to the shore, or if that's just normal.

 Quaint little place to stick a restaurant don't you think? We loved it.

We weren't sure what to do for Saturday, and we knew we didn't want to go back to the beach because we had already checked out of our hotel, so I searched online and found another little gem hidden away.

Walter Bellingrath was one of the first to open a Coca-Cola Bottling Company in the southern area, and let's just say he made a pretty penny from it. He and his wife ended up creating a beautiful garden that covered 65 acres, with the help of an architect. They opened their garden to the public in 1932 just for one day, but it turned out to be quite the attraction. It's been open ever since and now you can also tour their home that was built around the same time. 

The house was built in a "U" shape with this courtyard in the middle. They had no air conditioning yet so the shape of the home helped the air flow better through the house.

The gardens were amazing, and completely worth the humidity. :)

They had many different themed areas. The couple traveled to Europe at one point and was very influenced by the English style gardens. They had an area for that, an Asian garden, a Bayou, a large rose garden, and a few others. The garden is most popular for all of the azaleas and camellias that grow there.

Their house is on the edge of the Fowl River so naturally they would need their own huge private dock. 

It was a fun little weekend getaway. I think the next one we'll hit Pensacola Beach and see which one we like better. They're almost right next to each other but we heard Pensacola is more crowded. Orange Beach was nice though. We'll be back for sure!

And the Bellingrath Gardens and Home, was so lovely. I love learning about people and what they did and the stories about them. When Scott and I were in Oregon, we toured Captain Flavel's house as well. I think I see a pattern starting to emerge... haha find me some old houses please!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Global Wildlife Center (aka "FEED ME!")

Number 6 on the Tripbuzz website for things to do in Covington, LA and given a 96% rating was the Global Wildlife Center. So Scott and I decided to check it out last weekend.

Basically, it's a park where a bunch of wild animals (all grazers) roam free(ish) and you ride in this covered wagon train and feed the animals. They have these miniature deer, zebras, giraffes, emus, kangaroos, and a bunch of other animals that I had no idea what they were.

(Some playing around before getting on the wagons.... Scott mid yawn. haha)

These are the cups of food that you can buy. You can also buy an entire bucket... which is definitely the better option. The animals chow down! Also, they are known to take the cup right out of your hands.

It was so hot out there. I was getting a little sweaty. Also, it started raining at one point and those "covered wagons", don't actually mean they'll protect you from the rain. Which lead to my entire backside getting wet and adding on to the sweat. Yum-my

Tiny deer! They're so cute. 

Don't know what happened to this guys poor horn, it's bent all the way back. 

The animals swarm the wagons. They know that you have food hidden inside and they want it!

Apparently you're not suppose to feed the zebras with the cup. You're suppose to just throw the food on the ground, because the zebras will still bite at you. But what the heck, I fed him with the cup anyway.

Zebras are so cool.

Longest tongue ever. Also, his throat alone is a bottomless pit.

One more cute zebra for you! There are also giraffes but they don't come up to the wagon train very often. So, next time I come here, I'm doing the private tour. Which means you're in a smaller car and you drive up to the giraffes! There are two baby giraffes as well right now so I definitely doing it!

Anyways, Scott and I had a great time. If you ever happen to be around here, I would completely suggest it, along with light weight airy clothing, water, buying the bucket of feed, and the private tour. :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

5 books I read over and over

I was looking at all of the books in my bookcase the other day and I realized that there are five books that I always come back to. Books that I've read multiple times and will continue to read over and over again. Would you like to know what they are?

In no particular order, here they are:

{1} Jane Eyre: by Charlotte Bronte

The first time I read Jane Eyre I thought it was boring and couldn't read past her living at the school as an orphan. Which is ridiculous because that's the very beginning of the book and it's a short section. Eventually my younger sister read it all the way through and was in love with it. So of course, I had to try it out again.

I love this part... "Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?... And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you."
(Also, just reading that has my mind singing the song from the broadway that uses that exact same line in the lyrics.)

{2} Life of Pi: by Yann Martel

When I was younger, the cousins would draw names for Christmas gifts. One year, the cousin whose name I had drawn had this book on her list. I bought it for her and was immediately curious about it. Eventually I read it and instantly fell in love.

The book has these little nuggets of goodness throughout the book.
"To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."
That line! It gets me every time.

Some people have a hard time getting into this book. It's slow at first and they can never make it to the ship sinking. Which is a bummer because after that is where it really gets good!
People also have a problem with the ending of this book. I love the idea that it carries though. "The world isn't just the way it is... we bring something to it, no? Doesn't that make life a story?"
It's the idea of creating a story in order to live through or with a moment. To remember things just a little different so you can still enjoy the memory. 
If you've seen the movie, Big Fish, the dad does this same thing with elaborating the stories and weaving in all sorts of tall tales. It's his way of becoming immortal through his stories, even though his life was more plain and ordinary.

{3} Cyrano de Bergerac: by Edmond Rostand

I have a special place in my heart for this little play. The movers packed this book with the cover bent and I nearly had a fit when I unpacked it. 
I was introduced to this book in high school. It was one of the books we studied in class. It's a play about a man with an abnormally large nose who is very witty and eloquent with words and also handy with a sword. He's in love with Roxana but she sees him as just a good friend. Christian is a new soldier and is very handsome and has caught the attention of Roxana but he gets tongue tied very easily and Roxana wants poetry and eloquence. So Cyrano helps Christian win over Roxana by telling him what to say and writing the letters for him. "You plus I equals one hero of the storybooks,"

Now it doesn't end there of course, but this book has little lines sprinkled throughout that make me laugh out loud sometimes! Cyrano is so witty and clever. "Call it a sort of lie, if you like, but a lie is a sort of myth, and a myth is sort of truth. No reason why Roxana should be disillusioned. Let's start a fruitful collaboration."

{4} The Fountainhead: by Ayn Rand

My last year in junior high, my English teacher gave us a list of books to read for the college bound student. Well, I love reading and I was obviously college bound so I would thumb through the list and underline titles that sounded interesting. Most of the time I had no idea what the book was even about. That's how I discovered The Fountainhead. It's kind of a catchy title and when I found out it was about an architect, I was sold. (I was interested in architecture at the time as well.)

Roark is an architect who battles conventional standards. He is a modern architect and in my mind I envision his style to be similar to Frank Lloyd Wright.

This paragraph defines Roarks ideas about architecture.

 The book is all about individualism instead of collectivism. Which is everything Ayn Rand is about. The book is a little bit of a hefty read as far as length goes. But I love her development of characters and her writing. 

{5} The Screwtape Letters: by C.S. Lewis

I can't rave enough about this book. I don't even remember how I came across it, but it's high up there on my list. And C.S. Lewis is pure genius.

It's about a devil named Screwtape who writes letters to his nephew devil, Wormwood, about how to go about tempting the human he's been assigned. He gives his nephew advice about how the humans work, what areas they are weak in and how to use that to an advantage. 
As you read, you have to flip things around a little to gain the full perspective. When he says, "the Enemy" he's referring to "God."
This is a hefty book, not in length but in quality. You almost have to read one letter a day and just soak it in until you can move on.

Really, the book is amazing and well worth anyone's time. I think I end up relating every church lesson back to this book. 

So there you have it, five more books to potentially add to your reading list!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Something About Trees

The other day I was thinking about my Utah mountains and I realized that I have yet to miss them. That's a little odd considering I love them and missed them all the time when I was up in Rexburg. But I looked around and I think I know why I'm okay out here.

Trees. Big, tall trees.

The mountains back at Utah cradle you in a way. You feel secure being surrounded by them. Like they're a comfort blanket.

The trees have the same effect to me. They're so tall and loom over you everywhere. You can never see very far without a wall of trees blocking the view. (Unless your driving on the Causeway or in New Orleans... that's a whole different ball game.) But I like it. It feels cozy.

(Views from my balcony)

There's a couple trees here that always catch my attention.

The first are Crepe Myrtle trees. They are literally everywhere. They don't have one solid trunk, but multiple skinny trunks. At the end of the branches shoot out these pink flowers that look like half of a lilac. Most of the ones I see are sparse like this one... and I don't love the look of them.

But if it was an older tree and more filled out, then you get this... Which is pretty cool.

The second are the giant Oak trees that just drip with moss. Really, I can't get enough of these trees! They are my absolute favorite.

I was driving around downtown Covington today initially to find the farmers market. What I found wasn't worth getting out of my car for, so I just kept driving through all these old small neighborhoods. I found the most amazing giant oak tree. Not even kidding you.

This giant amazing oak tree also happens to be growing right in the middle of the road. The photo looks like it's right in the center of the road like a round about, but it's not. It's on the edge right before the intersection. 
Anyways, these trees are everywhere, especially on our drive to church. It's a good thing Scott drives so I can just look out my window. :)

One last picture. This is right by my apartment! (Ignore the yoga pose, sorry!) I love this area though!