DSC_8766 DSC_8771 DSC_8776 DSC_8786 DSC_8792 DSC_8803 DSC_8808 DSC_8811 DSC_8841 DSC_8846 DSC_8862 DSC_8868Dear P,

The last week has been one of the greatest of the whole year. I am so grateful for my big family (which includes you).
Your pictures look beautiful and I love hearing about your adventures. However, no matter how awesome your life gets overseas, I’ll be jealous for your company.

Here’s some pictures of my latest journal entries celebrating December and November. I left my old journal at school, so I don’t have my stuff from before, but I think that’s fitting. As we start a new year, I think it’s important to remember that it’s easier to think in smaller chunks than whole years.

Have fun, stay safe, and keep in touch,

E

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50 Unconventional New Year’s Resolution Ideas

Dear P,

We’ve never been the kind of people who are into normal New Year’s Resolutions like “Lose ten pounds” or  “Quit smoking”. Therefore, I’ve made a list of more interesting resolution inspiration. I’ve put stars by the resolutions that are particularly for me.

1. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro*

2. Adopt a candy-free diet. Sugar is my addiction and it makes me feel as burned-out as a hard drug.*

3. No E! shows or magazines that revolve around judging people.

4. Do 3 nice things for people every day*

5. Keep a logbook. I made mine out of an animal book I got for two dollars at goodwill.*

6. Make every present you give this year.*

7. Wake up at 5 or 6 AM and go to sleep at 9 or 10 PM. See James Altucher’s Daily Practice, as well as this article about how waking up earlier increases creativity and productivity. *

8. Run a marathon on Valentine’s weekend* (hint- there’s one in Austin)

9. Visit at least one continent you haven’t before*

10. Create something every day. Write a poem. Make a watercolor painting. Bake a cake.*

11. Go on a road trip. Make a perfect playlist and read Jack Kerouac while you’re at it.*

12. Have at least 3 positive, meaningful interactions with people every day. At the end of the day, do Barbara Fredrickson’s positivity meditation, in which you send three nice wishes to as many people as you like. Example: “May P be healthy, May P be happy, May P be safe.”*

13. Kiss at least three non-humans. Last year, I kissed a snake, a frog, and a puppy.

14. Eat an apple a day. I don’t know if it keeps the doctor away, but it can’t hurt.

15. Take a picture of one thing every day of the year. I don’t have any suggestions of what to do with all the pictures at the end of the year, but you can probably think of something.

16. Learn or practice a new language*

17. Learn to code

18. Give away all the clothes you don’t like but have kept for whatever reason. Life is too short.

19. Have at least one magnificent, all-stops-pulled party.*

20. Make a playlist for each month, then try not to listen to those songs again for awhile. Musical memories are powerful.*

21. Don’t lie. It eats you from the inside.*

22. Start conversations with strangers. You never know where they may take you.

23. Have at least ten new ideas every day (again, thanks Altucher)*

24. Don’t buy clothes from the mall.*

25. Volunteer at least an hour a week. More if you can spare the time. If you don’t know how to get started, check out this awesome website.*

26. Make sure to see both old people and young people at least once a month. It can be isolating while in college to only see 20-year-olds. Diversity is important to keep perspective.*

27. Use all the gift cards people get you. This is the only exception to Rule 24.*

28. Get your eyebrows done regularly. I get mine done once a year, they look amazing, I vow to get them done more often, and then I forget about it. Brows make such a difference in the way you look, especially if you have bushman eyebrows like me.*

29. Write thank you notes for all gifts, material and otherwise.*

30. Go to office hours, and not only professor’s. I was inspired when my uncle got a lot of famous people to write letters to his son when the son got an eagle scout. He did this by simply emailing them.*

31. Eat big breakfasts (thanks, Ben Franklin)*

32. Eat things off the floor if you drop them. It’s good for your immune system.*

33. Spend more time naked. Benjamin Franklin recommended taking dry baths, or laying on the ground naked. I think this is brilliant and, as Americans, we should all learn to embrace nudity a little more.

34. Don’t watch the news.

35. Edit wikipedia articles in subjects you are knowledgeable about. Answer Yahoo answer questions. Translate wikipedia articles on Duolingo. In other words, give back on the Internet.*

36. Save someone’s life this year. I am getting my EMT certification, but if you don’t have the time for that, get your CPR certification. It takes about three hours and is worth it if you are confident you could someone’s life.*

37. Do all of these 50 date ideas with your significant other, or come up with your own.

38. Sing in the shower. Bring rubber duckies and chocolate-scented soap in while you’re at it.

39. Jump in every puddle you see, all year. This challenge is a lot easier if you live in our dry hometown.

40. Take more selfies.

41. Check your email once a day, or set it on your phone and only check it when it dings.

42. Use candles.*

43. When you are upset about something, talk to someone about it. However, if you talk to more than three people about your problem, you are just looking for attention. *

44. When you hear someone speak, work to come up with at least one meaningful question to ask them. This works to keep you engaged and keep the conversation moving.*

45. Build a treehouse. Build a fort. Build a firepit.

46. Write a manifesto.

47. Delete candy crush, Facebook and fruit ninja from your phone.

48. Drink more water. Just do it. You are made of water. Consider any water you drink an addition to your soul.*

49. Do stretches before you go to sleep. I’ve been doing this for a long time to combat my natural muscle-tighness. It hasn’t gotten me to the realm of normal flexibility but it has helped me get a lot better than I was.

50. Stretch yourself. January 1st is not the only time you should be creating goals. I create mine by the week, month, and day. Avoid the Okay Plateau by constantly pushing yourself to be better. It’s so easy to fall into stagnation.

Love,

E

Mundane

Dear E,

I hope you and your family had an amazing Christmas 🙂 From your snapchats it seems like you did. I miss you 😦 Being in Lubbock is weird without you, although I feel like I’ve seen a lot of our friends from high school in the past few days. I’ve also been watching a lot of movies and doing a lot of soul searching. This morning I woke up and went to the gym, where I wore long sleeves, which was a bad decision. In my defense it was freezing outside slash in my room so I was confused. After that I had lunch with my mom, who is a secret badass. Sometimes she says things or tells me stories and I’m just like, woah, you’re so cool. And then we went and got mani/pedis, which was fun. Well, I enjoyed the pedi part. For some reason, for the first half of the manicure part I’m just like “Wow this should be enjoyable BUT IT ISN’T BECAUSE YOU’RE PEELING SKIN OFF OF MY FINGERS.” It’s probably my fault because I bite my nails. Anyway, my fingers look really really nice now and I’m going to try my darnedest to not mess them up. After that we went to Ulta and I got a really cool eyeshadow palette and other mundane things and then we went to World Market, which is a really cool place. And that’s where I was snapping you from beeteedubs, I think I may have an addiction to journals….because I bought two more and I have so many unfilled journals already. Right now I am just trying on different eyeshadows and rereading The Fault in Our Stars. I am wondering if I will like it more or less this time. I typically don’t reread books ever, but I remember really liking this one. Also I couldn’t find the copy you gave me for my birthday (maybe you have it? tehehe) and so I ended up just buying another lol. C is coming over later, but that’s pretty much the recap of my day.

Anyway, I spent last night brainstorming topics  to write about and I’m going to try to post 15 times in the next 30 days. I’m not going to try to do grand posts or perfect posts because then I end up just not posting. So they all might be boring recaps of my day, but like you know you wanna know every single detail since you’re not with me 😉

I miss you LOADS. Can you believe we saw each other only like 5 days ago???

Hugs and Kisses,

P

P’s Favorite Things

Dear P,

Our hometown is still flat. It seems flatter without you here. I am missing you badly, and I feel bad that you are struggling with five finals.

Because you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, I am writing this post about some of your favorite things. I was feeling nostalgic about how you used to come to my house every day after/during school, and I remembered how you would grab a bag of Oreos and eat them in my room. A quick wikipedia-ing reveals that you are not alone-Oreo is the most popular cookie in America. “America’s favorite cookie”, if you will. It’s owned by the company Mondelēz International, which also owns…wait for it…Cadbury!

Cadbury reminded me of all the chocolate we ate while we were in London, which leads to one of your other favorite things: traveling! I have had the pleasure of traveling with you around Italy and the UK. You are the best traveling companion. Your enthusiasm and sense of adventure blaze a trail before you wherever you go. Even when we encountered problems, like the evil Scottish customs officer, you held steadfast. You kept your sunny attitude even when we did less-than-your-favorite things, like cooking or mosaic making. When we lived in our flat hometown and it didn’t seem like we were ever going to escape, you forged ahead and fought to bring joy to your every day. I was happy to join you in this battle: hence the birth of this blog.

Actually, our first forays into using the Internet to fight off boredom did not start off with this URL; it started with Hey America. That’s right. I still have the link. Hey America joined together two of your other favorite things: fashion and quotes. Your last post on Hey America was this:

This was a fitting last post on your first blog. You, P, more than any other person I have ever met, refuse to let anything get in the way of your using your days to the fullest. You persevere. Usually that word is used to imply arduous, trudging labor, but that’s not how you persevere. You make progress with joy. Whether you are competing at the national spelling bee, carrying our high school volleyball team to state, or pushing through five finals at MIT, you are working as hard as you can and having fun while you do it.

Thanks for being my best friend,

E

10 Ways to Make Art Even If You Can’t Draw

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Dear P,

Though you have never been the greatest of draughtswomen, I consider you to be an artist. I always enjoy looking at your journals, your writing is vibrant and your handwriting is precise and beautiful.

Art like yours is not just for walls. The catharsis of expressing yourself is a reason to make art all on it’s own, but you can put your creations to many uses. This is especially true during the holidays, when many gifts are needed of varying expense and thoughtfulness.

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(I got this pic here)

1. Terrariums

Over Thanksgiving, my aunt and I made several terrariums of plastic Christmas trees with glitter snow. We set these up on the mantle, where they glittered.

Whether you need Christmas ornaments, a place to put small plants, or a reason to use plastic dinosaurs, junk looks more tranquil in a glass case. And placing the objects in the container is relaxing in itself.

2. Collages

Collages are quick and easy. Each collage holds the stamp of the media it was collected from, the person who made it, and the times they were created in. Your journals (and this one I particularly like) are filled with lovely collages, but this can be used for more than just journaling.

You can use collages to make a personalized card for someone you love. For example, last year I made our friend S a postcard of a picture we had taken together. I cut out flowers and made them into a flower crown for S and had more floral patterns going on in the background. You can make treasured gift-wrapping paper out of collages. Add some funny quotes or anecdotes for added personality.

You can even make poetry from collage, like my friend Austin Kleon:

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3. Letters

Emails are not art. Letters are. Through letters, you convey yourself not only through your words, but through your handwriting, your signature, and even doodles. It’s another form of body language. If you want someone to know you care, tell it to them in a letter. It doesn’t have to be long, and you can add photos or inside jokes if just pen and paper feels too Mr. Darcy-ish to you.

4. Make Beautiful Snapchats

Snapchat has proved an interesting medium in 2013. IM is my favorite snapchatter, as well as the queen of unconventional art:

5. Decorate Cookies

There is so much inspiration on the Internet, especially Pintrest, for creating interesting cookies, hor d’oeuvres, and really anything delicious you could ever want. “Harry Potter-themed Christmas Cookie Decorating Party”? Check.

6. Have a Party

As you read this, P, I am probably obessesively planning the post-New-Year’s “Black and White Ball” I want to host with you. Hosting a party is a balancing act in every way. You must have the perfect mix of food, festivities, and decorations, or else things get awkward quickly. I am planning my party based on the iconic party Truman Capote threw in 1966.

7. Iphone Photography

Instagram and other iPhone has capitalized on the halfway-decent camera in ways that nobody could have imagined. I recommend the apps VSCO cam and Camera+. Through these apps and others, you can turn precious moments from your everyday life into colorful little illustrations.

8. Alter Your Clothing

Sew interesting patches of fabric as frockets, elbow patches, and the edges of sleeves or skirts. Use a bleach pen to write words on simple shirts. Tie-dye or mock-tie-dye your shirts, socks, or sports bras. Dye a thrifted denim jacket, or anything else. Write in sharpie on a pair of shoes, like IM did for my birthday:

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9. Wear a Perfect Outfit

Since you are the queen of dressing like you have a date with destiny every day, P, I do not need to go into this one.

10. Write on Your Mirror

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(I found this pic here)

Lipstick works well. Write nice notes to yourself. “You’re beautiful” is a classic.

Stay creative,

E

Nostalgia

Dear E,

I found a picture of us from the summer and decided I needed to post it because, obviously, you are my woman crush and today is Wednesday so a #wcw was in order. Here’s the picture.

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I couldn’t tell you all of the details from that day, but I do remember paddling around Barton springs in the same canoe, and you laying down in my lap, and me forcing that random guy to take photos of us with my disposable. He was teasing me about it, but it was totally worth it. I remember making everyone take jumping pictures, and not much else, but I know I was thinking there was nowhere I’d rather be than with one of my best friends.

After I posted this picture I went on to go stalk your instagram. Some of your photos got upwards of 180 likes (like the ones of me jumping tehehe). I remember when you really got into photography. Every moment was a photo opportunity. We were such a dynamic duo, you with your camera always on hand and me with my awkward poses.

I seriously miss you so much. Looking through your instagram feed made me extremely happy and extremely sad at the same time. It brought back so many memories, of sunlight and the Texas heat and quests and having nothing to do except ride around in my car and blast music and find cool places to take pictures. We had it so good, E. The picture of you, me, JM, Gabe, and  Shalini in octathlon, being adorably awkward or the picture of the polaroids we took last New Year (which was amazing, because I can’t think of anyone else I would’ve wanted to start the night off with, slash holy crap, those gowns>>>>). There’s pictures of us making words with glow-sticks and spinning around in tutus we crafted with our bare hands. There’s pictures of us creating flower crowns in the summer and me throwing leaves into the camera in the fall and photos in libraries, in mirrors, in tunnels; the list goes on. Looking at all of your pictures makes me think of all the times we didn’t take pictures too, like when you and me and Wesley would skip orchestra to watch Harry Potter (woah the nerdiness of that sentence kills me), or when I would go to your house to nap in your bed because my house was on the other side of town, or that time we sat by the heart in the park and I cried my eyes out. It’s weird how many images our tiny old town holds for me. I can’t wait to be back so we can forge a whole new set of memories, hopefully with a few we manage to captures in time forever.

Sorry for being so nostalgic. Love ya!

P

P’s Selfies

Dear E, you inspired me to do my own selfie post because I kind of consider myself a selfie queen. if you look at all my selfies, you’ll notice that that they always include other people. In fact, I couldn’t find a recent selfie taken of only myself. I love taking selfies because you can shamelessly take as many as you want without bothering anyone, the person taking the picture doesn’t get left out, and its the perfect little snap in time. I have so many selfies with people saved up on my phone. People often ask me why I post so many selfies on facebook and usually my answer is “Look how happy we are!!!!” That’s my one and only rule for selfies—put a dose of yourself into them.

Love, you lots!!!

P

What Do You Want For Christmas?

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Dear P,

Today, there was a large, red-suited Santa Clause in the student center. I smiled at him and then went to Starbucks. I got myself a chai tea and him a hot chocolate. Pathetically, I then was too shy to give it to him and brought it to IM instead. She probably deserves it more, anyway.

Seeing Santa made me think about what I want for Christmas.

I have somehow developed an instant reward reaction to blank journals. Anytime I see one, I get a rush. I’m thinking of asking my mom or Mumsey for this logbook, like Austin Kleon has.

Why do I have such a strong reaction towards blank notebooks? There is no other material objects that I have such a desire for (except maybe books). I started this side blog awhile ago in homage to my journaling obsession.

I think my journaling habits stem from my love of the blank page and my fear of forgetting my own life. A clean, white sheet of paper has always been thrilling to me. It has unlimited potential, just like we did, P, before we came to college and realized we were not going to go through our entire academic careers without making a B. That’s what journals represent to me: a chance to reinvent my own life. It’s not that I’m at all unhappy with my current life; it’s more that the unknown is more exciting.

In conclusion, what I want for Christmas is a chance at a new start and an archive for all the fun I have had already. I am grateful for this blog in providing the latter and I will struggle to convince myself that only I can provide myself the former. No blank notebook needed.

Loads of love,

E

No Luck with No-Poo

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Dear P,

This is a picture of me the day before Thanksgiving with your friend G. At this point, I had gone three weeks without using shampoo.

Look closely at the picture. There is a greasy string of hair stuck to my forehead. My hair is up because it looked hideous down. The final straw was that I had a constant, slight headache that lasted for about two days. My hair, you see, is too heavy for my scalp to handle when it is too greasy. My family was horrified. Except for G, of course, who doesn’t notice superficial things like gross hair.

I was inspired to adopt the “No-Poo” method by this and this article. It sounded straightforward and appealed to two of my main sensibilities:

1. I am lazy.

2. I am cheap.

According to the authors of these articles, I should use baking powder and vinegar fake shampoo/conditioner for the first two weeks and then par down from there to once a week. I would only have to “wash” my hair once a week.

I lasted for three weeks. Honestly, I probably would have continued if I hadn’t had a headache and I hadn’t want my aunt to braid my hair. My hair had obviously started producing less oil: since I started using shampoo again, my hair has been as dry as our desert hometown. It still seemed pretty greasy on the day of the picture, though.

In conclusion, I would do some research into the chemistry of No-poo before I start putting baking soda and apple cider vinegar on my hair again. As my family pointed out, it is what fifth-graders use to make science-fair volcanoes. On the other hand, my hair did exactly what the articles said it would, so maybe I quit too soon.

People should try this they have hair that isn’t heavy like mine (so not you, P), don’t mind being greasy for a couple of weeks, and are very motivated to not have to use shampoo every day. The motivation is key.

Yours,

E