I’m only 18 years late.

Remember that one time I said I was going to write more? I know, it’s been so long ago, even I barely remember that happened. What is it with life and getting in the way of things? Between traveling, getting work/school/life stuff squared away for the fall, and family duties, this summer has flown by faster than Harry Potter on a broomstick.

Oh, what a convenient segue…

Harry Potter spoilers to follow. So if, by some weird twist of the universe I am NOT the last one to get on board the Harry Potter train– or should I say, the Hogwarts Express– you might not want to continue this post just yet.

One thing that has not gotten dropped by the wayside, however, is my finishing reading the Harry Potter books. I know, I know, I’m late to the party. REALLY late to the party. Like nearly twenty years late to the party (and my mom thinks ten minutes is bad). But I finally found my other shoe and ate some dinner on the way in the car and ARRIVED to the sweet, blissful, heart-wrenching, lovable party world of Harry Potter. And I quite love it.

Firstly, there’s the whole “the books are amazing,” thing, which I don’t feel I need to reiterate too much because there’s been a whole eighteen years of people gushing about them. They’re well-written, interesting, nostalgic, clever books that’ll have you holed up reading for hours. And if, perhaps, you’re not so keen on doing the hard labor of reading yourself, there are two amazing audiobook versions (that have probably started real-life minor skirmishes in rural parts of the fandom. Guys, they’re both great. Settle down.). Not to mention an entire fan culture already in place from several decades of books and films. It’s the stuff of dreams, really. But, we all know that stuff and it’s pretty much universal knowledge at this point. So cool beans, whatever.

But NOW… now that I’ve finally read all the books, I can allow myself to dive into the vast fandom culture and enjoy the whole world of Harry Potter goodness. From Pottermore (apparently I’m a Ravenclaw) to funny tumblrs like this one to the films and beyond, I can finally chill out about Harry Potter spoilers and enjoy social media for the first time ever. Seriously, there’s HP stuff everywhere. STILL. Like, yeah I knew Dumbledore died (although I thought it was in the last book, so when he died before that I had the equivalent of two cows), but aside from that I tried to keep myself as pure as possible to have the best first-time experience I could, and do you know how hard that was? TOO HARD. But totally worth it.

I’m sort of glad I didn’t start reading until everything was completed (books and movies alike), because just thinking about having to wait a year or two in between installments is a special kind of torture. The original book releases span ten years. Ten years of traveling with Harry on his journey. I only spent a year reading through them and I’m already exhausted. But in a really good “I wish there was more” kind of way. I am a bit jealous of the much deeper emotional component that I’m sure came with the slow, gradual unfolding of the story. I mean, you spend seven years reading about good-hearted Dumblydore and then he up and DIES? And then gets trash-talked for most of the last book? I would be in tears every day. Not to mention the reveal of Snape, the death of Fred, or the courage of Neville. Heck, if I think about it too long, I’ll be in tears just thinking about how I would be in tears if I had lived the real-time story of the series. BECAUSE FRED. Excuse me while I go cry in a corner.

Speaking of Fred, one of the biggest shocks to me was the fact that the Weasley twins became my favorite characters, even from book one. Going into it I fully expected to find them annoying, but heck no, techno. MY FAVES. My babies. AND THEN FRED FREAKING DIES. I hate J.K. Rowling. But I love her. But I hate her.

So basically I’m in a weird state of elation and depression about finishing the books. Yay all the other HP stuff! Boo not having anymore books to read. Excuse me while I go waste away exploring Pottermore for the next 67 years.

I thought I was a Hufflepuff all this time,

Anna Beth

P.S. Do leave a comment with any interesting, funny, essential, etc. Harry Potter related things I should know about. Aside from this youtube video, I’m a pretty blank slate.

Advertisements

Can you have too much beach?

After my exciting Hilton Head trip, I met up with the fam and headed off to Holden Beach for (almost) a week of family time.

DSC03392

Lovely little place, isn’t it?

PHOTO_20140725_123722

This was the little peach beach house we rented. Built in the 1930’s, it was rather charming! Dark wood paneling; old, comfy couches; fun mosaics on the bathroom floor; and cute little door knobs much older than I.

DSC04482

DSC03909DSC04497c

The rustic (but fully furnished) inside made the perfect place for evening board games and movies.

DSC03953 DSC03763DSC04523

My bedroom had the most darling little white dressing table. I quite enjoyed the coziness of the setting for a read during late night thunderstorms.DSC03734a

The front porch was just as darling as the inside– a perfect perch for reading or rocking or snoozing with the beach right in view.

DSC03357

DSC04118 DSC04048 DSC03804Mom particularly liked making sure the local seagulls were nice and fat.

DSC04239

DSC04160 DSC04148

Not to forget the fun beachy amenities, such as an outdoor shower, hose for sandy feet, and porch-strung clothes line for soggy suits.

DSC04510 DSC03671

Surrounding the house were tons of brightly colored wild flowers– with practically a field of them behind– and a little garden of yellow ones in the front too.

DSC04422 DSC04416 DSC04396a DSC04461a DSC04449

Holden is also a perfect distance from both Wilmington, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC, so the family enjoyed several little part-day trips for putt putt, seafood, ice cream, and shopping.

PHOTO_20140720_183958PHOTO_20140720_192654PHOTO_20140723_134809DSC03326 DSC03284

And then there was the beach. A right nice little beach, mostly full of families and couples. Hilton Head was so fun with it’s hubbub and plethora of things to do, but Holden was a happy contrast with few tourists and a very laid-back feel.

DSC03576 DSC03549 DSC03494 DSC03434

I even bought a skim board and gave it my best go. After seeing it done all week on HHI, how could I not? Spoiler: I sucked. But I’ve vowed to work on my skills so I can one day wow passerbys (yeah right).

DSC03378And thus concludes a little peep into our relaxing week at Holden. I quite enjoyed it and hope it becomes a family tradition. Can’t wait for more sand and sun next year!

Anna Beth

DSC04010

How to Have a Cheery Rainy Day

rainboots

Sunny days aren’t the only ones that can be exceptionally cheerful. Give me a good misty, gray day and I can be quite happy about the whole event. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case with many people, so I thought I’d share some ways I make rainy days cheery…

 

socksss-8850

  • Keep your feet dry and warm. This applies to both warm and cold rainy days. No matter the temperature outside, keeping your feet dry and warm will make all the difference in whether or not your rainy day is cheery. I know those cute flats are really tempting, but soggy feet have a way of letting misery creep in like nothing else. Wear something that will keep that moisture out, or bring an extra pair of socks to work/school. And when you get home, pull out those fuzzy socks!

bad-hair-day-solutions-medium

  • Let your hair do what it wants. This hits particularly close to home as I am one who has unruly half-straight, half-curly hair. On rainy days I know there is no point in straightening my fringe because with the first sign of humidity– boing! So take some stress off your day, let yourself sleep in a bit longer, and don’t get frustrated when that *thing* (whatever it is) happens with your hair. Rock it, just for one rainy day.

stock-footage-close-up-hd-movie-of-a-record-player-playing-a-vinyl-black-record

  • Put on some good jams. Listen to music that makes you happy! Sometimes I like listen to something pretty mellow with a bit of spunk (read: Jack Johnson or jazz), but in general it’s just most important remember that rainy days don’t have to be just slow, depressing music. It’s okay to bebop around town with your favorite summery music or even just the radio. It’s okay to crank up some classical while doing the dishes and pretend you’re posh and elegant (or at least I’d be pretending). It’s even okay to throw it back with some disco (and accompanying bell bottoms, duh). Honestly, any and all music has the potential to be a good soundtrack to a rainy day, so don’t limit yourself.

201012-w-hot-chocolate-lake-champlain

  • Eat your favorite food. Not that you really need an excuse, but rainy days are good ones for eating your favorite food. Knowing you have that “hot and ready” pizza waiting for you when you get home can be really motivating and exciting. Making the short drive to Starbucks for a cup of hot chocolate on your lunch break can make the afternoon seem a little more cozy. Popping a bag of fig newtons in your purse to munch on later could potentially change your world forever (or at least a day that might otherwise be dreary).

umbrella1_lg

  • Get a colorful umbrella. Just because the world is gray doesn’t mean you have to be! This goes for your clothing as well, but I have found investing in a good, happy umbrella has made a huge difference in my rainy days. In a sea of boring, gray and black umbrellas, your little guy will be a beacon of color and cheer for more than just you. I can’t tell you how many comments my own floral umbrella has received! Besides the fact that it just makes me happy. Confession: Sometimes I look forward to rainy days because I get to use my umbrella. It’s sad.. sad, but true.

1245693935995407

  • Spend time with your pet. If you have a pet, spend time with it. Granted, fish aren’t so easy to spend time with, but a good cuddle with your puppy can make the world seem much brighter.
  • aaalaundry2Do something productive. Most of us have work and/or school that helps us fill our time on rainy days, but even if it’s your day off, do something productive. I find sometimes a wave of grogginess comes over me when the sky is low and wet and I end up sort of laying around and hoping for dryer days. Just getting up and doing something– anything– can help break that dumb feeling and kick your mind into enjoying the coziness of the hour. Rainy days are perfect for blankets and netflix and warm beverages, but sometimes you just can’t enjoy those things as well until you’ve gotten up and done something useful with yourself. Check something off your to do list and you’re sure to better enjoy another hour in your blanket fort.

burts-bees-honey-chapstick

  • Chapstick. Don’t as questions, just use it.

Book-in-bed

  • Watch a TV show/movie or read a book. Basically, just do something fun (after you’ve been productive), and don’t feel guilty about it! It’s raining out anyway, what else are you going to do? Take a walk? Didn’t think so.

girl-at-rainy-window-1024x682

  • Have a good attitude. THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT. But also probably the most difficult. If you start your day with a negative mindset, your day is going to be a lot harder to make cheery. And, unfortunately, rain gets blamed for a lot of un-cheeriness. Just because you wake up to find the yard is covered in slosh doesn’t mean you have to huff about the day. Yes, you could potentially get soggy on the way to work. Yes, it makes grocery shopping particularly annoying. YES, it means no good beach weather. But you weren’t going to be able to go to the beach anyway, right? Besides, now you have a great excuse to be extra cozy and warm and cheery. It is raining after all, so why not make the best of it? Keep that chin up and smile at the beauty of a world dotted with raindrops!

 Warm and cozy,

Anna Beth

 Images courtesy of images.google.com

The Fault in Our Stars: An Unpopular Opinion

I finally read The Fault in Our Stars. I was surprised. But probably not in the way you’d expect.

tumblr_lxw9ii3BDg1qzz1dro1_500

One reason I love Christmas holiday is the whole reading-by-the-fire aspect. A crazy music school life doesn’t lend itself well to much reading outside of required materials during the school year, so I quite enjoy some time to catch up on current (and not-so-current, such as a bit of Charlotte Bronte or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) literary favorites. This past Christmas included the New York Times Best Selling, soon-to-be-released-in-movie-form, tumblr favorite, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.

Well. It sort of did. I got a chapter in before I realized, after having enjoyed some blissfully intellectually challenging reads, I wouldn’t be able to stomach the “modern, young” approach to writing. At the time I thought I’d never pick it back up again (I even complained about how juvenile the whole thing was to my best friend.. and then quickly recanted as I admitted I’d only read the first chapter or two), but about a month later in a moment of Saturday morning weakness, I caved. Not wanting to crawl out of my warm nest of blankets and cats just yet, I pulled it out one more time.

augustus-waters-hazel-grace-john-green-the-fault-in-our-stars-favim-com-524292

I should probably say at this point that I in no way consider myself a book snob (although admittedly it sounds as so up until this point). I enjoy fluff books just as much as classics– probably more so sometimes if I’m completely honest. In fact, sometimes I find myself reading classics because I feel like I should, not because I want to. But then a lot of times I end up enjoying them quite a lot, so perhaps it pays off in the end. Anyway, it’s not that I’m saying The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) is fluff, but that’s just the point.

With it being critically acclaimed, so popular I’ve been assaulted with it practically since it was released, and highly anticipated in it’s newest form– movie adaption, well, I was sort of expecting something that would blow my socks off and then magically regenerate them as mittens. But I can’t say that’s exactly what happened. BEFORE YOU HATE ME, let me explain. And also let us take a second to imagine socks being reincarnated as mittens, because that would be pretty cool.

images (1)

To be completely fair, I get that John Green’s writing is quirky and amusing. I get that this book is listed under the young adult section– the inference there being that it’s intended audience is somewhere between the ages of 14-17. I get that it’s a refreshingly frank look at cancer, something that has affected a huge amount of people, either personally or relationally (myself included). I get that his intent was to capture the characters and thought processes of teenagers, which he does quite well.

But somehow in the midst of that, I didn’t find the story all that endearing or well-portrayed. Endearing and well-portrayed enough for a “good” book sappy teenagers are bound to enjoy (which there is nothing wrong with), but good enough to capture the hearts of every twenty-something I’ve talked to in the past year and jolt it to a New York Time’s Best Sellers list for seven consecutive weeks? I’m not so sure.

The-Fault-In-our-Stars-quotes-36022141-500-333

Perhaps the golden egg of this book is its artistic treatment of terminal illness in the hands of a sarcastic, down-to-earth teenager doomed to die. Green certainly captures that character. If people were going on about that aspect of it and how clever Green is in his intentional adolescence, then I think I’d better understand the hype.

But that’s not what I’m bombarded with all the time at school and on tumblr and every time I go to a coffee shop (no really– pay attention next time you walk in a coffee shop. Guaranteed you’ll see someone with a copy of TFIOS tucked underneath their Mac like it’s their third lung. … OH MAN. No pun intended. My bad.).

Instead, people of legal drinking age everywhere are going on about how deep and insightful and romantic the story is. The few (admittedly) cute, quirky, or clever quotes included amidst the less-than-whimsical writing (which, granted, is probably a draw for some people) have been mercilessly superimposed over inspirational photos, some of which are seen sprinkled in this post. Even TFIOS tattoos are becoming common place among my peers. I guess it just makes me sad that my generation is so easily impressed, so easily caught up in a rather cheesy romance story, so quick to adopt what feels like an intentionally (and perhaps artistically?) shallow work. They truly are passionate about this story, and they make that abundantly clear through raving posts, hysterical youtube videos, and an impressive amount of tears.

01

So, while I do understand part of the novelty of it, I didn’t feel the writing was compelling enough for me to want to read another book by Green, nor do I think it deserves the massive (and I mean massive) amounts of hype.

Also, his frequent use of the word “nubbins” makes me uncomfortable. There’s nothing inherently wrong about that, I just don’t like the word because I’m dumb and have words that weird me out for no reason. It’s beside the point, but I felt I needed to get that out.

All that being said, no real judgement for those of you who have read and loved TFIOS, only a kind roll of the eyes and dramatic sigh. I’m not looking to start a war here, just simply state a personal opinion and perplexing confusion. I’m sure you have your reasons for loving, and by all means– share them in the comments! I may seem like a completely cold-hearted old soul, but I promise I’m not. Okay?

fault-in-our-stars-quotes-main-2-300x213

Anna Beth

All images found at images.google.com

My Favorite Things. Sort of.

If this snowstorm has given me one thing, it’s time to get things done. Which, as it turns out, now includes stupid blog posts and useless videos. Huzzah! Enjoy the following video in which I am really awkward and bad at explaining things:

 

A list of all the items I mentioned and where to find them:

Cool Thing: Bath and Body Works Paris Amour 3 Wick Candle (or any candle of your choice!)

Reason I love it: Um, duh. It smells really nice. Well, that and it is quite pleasant for early morning bathroom routines.

Price: $21.69

______________________________________

Cool Thing: Fleece Lined Leggings

Reason I love it: It’s like wearing a fuzzy blanket all day long. Basically heaven on earth.

Price: Depends a bit– apparently you can get the brand I have off of Bed Bath and Beyond’s website for $9.99 (link above), but there are countless other brands of fleece lined leggings that range anywhere from $10-25. Search Amazon and I’m sure you’ll find some.

______________________________________

Cool Thing: Brookside Dark Chocolate Covered Pomegranates

Reason I love it: Delicious, addicting, great for munching, and did I mention delicious…

Price: $16.07

______________________________________

Cool Thing: Hair flowers and bows

Reason I love it: Not only are the super cute to wear with a bun, braid, or even your hair down, they’re great for distracting from a bad hair day.

Price: $1.20-3.80/2

______________________________________

Cool Thing: Clinique Different Lipstick in “Rose Aglow”

Reason I love it: Lovely rosy, matte color that’s great for winter! Also a great lipstick in general, no matter what color you get.

Price: $15

______________________________________

Cool Thing: Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand

Reason I love it: Fantastic biography of a bombardier’s difficult journey in the South Pacific theatre during WWII– researched and written in a very thoughtful manner without shying away from the hard truths of war and suffering.

Price: $14.12 for hardcover, $10.99 for Kindle

______________________________________

Let me know if this inspires you to try something new, or post a comment of something you’ve enjoyed and think I should try! 🙂

 Anna Beth