Does anyone else think the past two months have flown by? They have on my end. Life offline was especially busy in mid / late September, so all I remember of August now was that it was quiet and calm. (Unless I’m missing something! *lol*) This also means that while I’ve found time to write blog posts lately, it’s been a challenge to stay on top of comments or friends’ blogs. Hopefully this is only temporary, and I apologize for any delays in responding or returning the favor.
So, what are some of the fun events and “little things” that have brought me joy recently? I’ll share them below the jump. And as always, I love hearing what you’ve been up to and what’s been making you happy as well. So feel free to share that in your comments. 🙂
What Made Me Happy in August
Back in June, my parents gave me one of their tomato plants so I could try my hand at growing vegetables at home. And while I’m not exactly known for my green thumb, I was curious – and determined – to see what would happen.
The good news? The plant kept growing! I checked it daily to see if it needed watering and to ensure pests like these weren’t there. (Be warned, the tomato hornworm is DISGUSTING.) And through August into September, the plant yielded a grand total of… five tomatoes, two of which ripened enough for eating. (*lol*) I think the plant didn’t get enough sun. My deck is shielded by a roof overhang (I live on my condo building’s top floor), and that side of the building only gets direct sunlight in the morning. So I can’t say the experiment was successful enough for me to try it again next year… But it wasn’t a complete failure, either. Especially since those two tomatoes were YUMMY.
Don’t let the size of this small museum in Brewster, Massachusetts fool you. It’s jam-packed with exhibits on Cape Cod’s natural history, from glacial shaping and coastal erosion, to regional wildlife and natural habitats, to archaeological artifacts of local Native American peoples. There are also nature trails to explore, bee hive openings in the summer, a live “osprey cam” filming from the nearby marsh, and a downstairs aquarium with fish, crustaceans, and other marine creatures found in the area. And if you’re bringing children, no worries! Everything at the museum is kid-friendly, and the weekly calendar is packed with fun activities.
My favorite part of the museum? The Butterfly House, a mesh-enclosure garden featuring monarchs, red admirals, swallowtails, and other butterfly species in all stages of their life cycle. So my parents and I saw them as caterpillars feeding on milkweed plants, in chrysalises inside a fishtank, and, of course, their beautiful adult forms flying around the “house.” And as you can see in the selfie above, sometimes they land on the visitors!
Chia Seed Pudding
My new favorite summertime breakfast! I’ve been meaning to try chia seeds for a while, and this recipe at Eating Bird Food was the perfect introduction. It’s super-easy to make and can be tailored for vegan, gluten-free, and other diets.
To make chia seed pudding, you need chia seeds, any milk and sweeteners of your choice, and vanilla extract. (The recipe calls for coconut, almond, or cashew milk and maple syrup; I use regular milk and honey.) Mix those ingredients together, then let the pudding sit for at least a couple hours (or overnight, if that’s easier.) This gives the chia seeds time to absorb the liquid and create a thick, smooth texture similar to tapioca pudding. Once the mixture is ready to serve, you can add spices or fresh / dried fruit to your liking. So far I’ve made it with cinnamon, nutmeg, dried apricots, sliced strawberries, and chopped peaches (though not all at once!), and it’s been delicious and refreshing every time.
What Made Me Happy in September
My Birthday! And Vacation!
I took the first week of September off from my day job, since I didn’t want to work on my birthday (September 5th). 😉 I didn’t have any major travel plans; the main purposes were to write, relax, and have fun close to home. Here’s what I did that week:
- I visited my parents the weekend before my birthday (Labor Day weekend here in the U.S.) and spent that Saturday in Chatham. We walked around downtown, shopped a little, and saw seals at the Chatham Fish Pier. My brother and I also walked the John Wing Trail near the Cape Cod Natural History Museum. Most of the photos above are from Chatham and the trail walk.
- On my birthday, I took the train into Boston and had dinner with Gabriela Pereira, my boss at DIY MFA! Gabriela was in town that week to present at a marketing conference. So it was too wonderful a coincidence to pass up the chance to see her, especially since we didn’t get to see each at Writer’s Digest Conference this year (I opted not to attend).
- I went to An Unlikely Story’s Open Mic Night that week after not being able to attend for most of the summer. And to my delight, they were selling A Literary Tea Party, the cookbook I’d written an introduction for! (Check out last week’s Creativity Corner for more details, including a photo.)
- Most mornings began with yoga or pilates. Ahhhh. 🙂
- On top of the writing and revisions I did that week, I received another acceptance letter from a poetry publication! I’ll share the link and more information once the poem is online.
- If you’re curious, some of my birthday presents included books (see the book haul photo above), new pajamas, tea, gift cards, and this gorgeous “Cape Cod Sunset” necklace with matching earrings.
OH! And guess what else I did on my birthday? I registered for the 2019 Iceland Writers Retreat! OMG I’M GOING BACK TO ICELAND NEXT YEAR!! 😀
The 2018 Boston Teen Authors Festival
I first went to BTAF in 2015 because one of my favorite authors, Leigh Bardugo (Grisha Trilogy, Six of Crows Duology, Wonder Woman: Warbreaker), was there. This is an annual event in Cambridge, Massachusetts where YA authors speak at panels, sign books, and interact with fans. And goodness, has this event grown! More panels spread out over two venues (Cambridge Public Library and the neighboring Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School), over 30 authors, and more people than 3 years ago. Plus, I knew a few people who were going this year, so I was able to hang out with a group of fellow writers and readers all day.
Because of this year’s format, I was able to attend four panels: world-building, writing a series, “unlikable” female characters, and power struggles and rebellion. (Check out the full list of panels here.) As for the authors I met, my two highlights were Julie C. Dao, who I first met at the Boston Book Festival last year and now had the chance to tell her how much I enjoyed her debut novel Forest of a Thousand Lanterns; and Nova Ren Suma, who has quickly become one of my favorite authors with eerie magical realism novels such as The Walls Around Us and A Room Away from the Wolves. If you’d like to know more about my day at BTAF, check out my Twitter thread about it here.
The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience
Finally!!! Last Christmas two of my friends gave me tickets to the Worcester, MA show scheduled for this past Saturday (September 29th), and OMG it was AMAZING! This 2-hour+ live show features key compositions from the TV show Game of Thrones and Ramin Djawadi, GOT’s composer, conducting a live orchestra with vocalists and solo musicians. The moment they began playing the main title theme, I felt my every hair stand on end. And from there, it was a thrilling journey through the show’s seven seasons, including iconic numbers such as “Goodbye Brother,” “The Red Woman,” and “Light of the Seven.” It was a concert experience of a lifetime, and now I need to get my paws on the official soundtracks for every single season. 😀
On a Related Note, I’m (Finally) on Instagram!
Notice anything about my GoT concert photo? Yup, I’ve finally joined Instagram! If you’re on there too, feel free to follow me by visiting my profile page here. I’m planning to share photos of nature, the books I read, writerly musings, tea, and other things I love.
How was your August and September? What made you happy during those months? How successful have you been with growing vegetables and other foods at home? Which concert(s) have you attended that was the “experience of a lifetime”?