What’s Making Me Happy: August and September 2018

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

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Growing Tomatoes

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.

Why the weird selfie angle? Look what’s on my head!

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History

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

Photo found at Eating Bird Food

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

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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.

The Kaldakvísl River in Mosfellsdalur, Iceland

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!! 😀

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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”?

6 thoughts on “What’s Making Me Happy: August and September 2018

    • Me, too! At least I was able to enjoy those two tomatoes. Unfortunately the plant developed a powdery-white rot a few weeks ago, and even when I snipped off leaves and branches to stop it from spreading, it eventually manifested on the stem. 😦 So all that’s left now is an empty pot that I need to clean. *lol*

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  1. It sounds like you had a fantastic past two months! Squee! Happy Belated Birthday! I’m so excited to meet you next year! I just submitted my partial scholarship app, so crossing fingers. That selfie with you and the butterfly made me smile. ^ ^

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did? Man, September already feels like months and months ago. *lol* I’ve been so busy in my offline life lately, but yes, I think August and September were good months for the most part. XD

      I’m so excited to meet you too!! And to celebrate your birthday in Iceland next year! 😀 I actually purchased my flight tickets last weekend, so now it’s just taking care of the little things (phone SIM card, additional savings, etc.). But there’s plenty of time for that. Good luck with your scholarship application, btw!

      Isn’t that a precious moment, a butterfly on your head? 🙂 I actually wrote a poem about it afterward. Maybe I’ll have some time to type it up this weekend…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww, I’m glad these last two months were good – and CONGRATULATIONS on the poetry acceptance! That’s so exciting.
    ALSO – ICELAND! I want to do that someday, it looks and sounds so amazing. (Bucket List – Plausible edition). It’s the time of year that is so dodgy. Can’t do that while still on the undergrad bus. 😦 But I’m an thrilled that you get to go and I look forward to hearing all about it ❤

    The butterfly selfie is cute – I love butterflies, and the botanical gardens near my school has a huge butterfly event every spring that is a highlight of my year. I always go and stand really still in hopes that the butterflies will land. On a funny side note, my endless love for butterflies amuses friends here – I think it's the fact that I'm always following them (butterflies, not friends) down random paths for hours . . .

    Tomatoes can be tricky – and hornworms are *so* nasty (shudders). Back when I lived with my parents on the farm, we grew a lot of tomatoes and I spend a lot of time tending to them. Your tomatoes you did get look beautiful.

    That GoT concert looks fantastic! That must have been so thrilling for you to go to, and it was such a thoughtful gift from your friends 🙂
    I did something similar a few years back – saw Return of the King with a live orchestra and choir and . . . I never wanted to leave. From the tuning up to the last note of "Into the West," it was an emotional roller coaster and immersive experience like no other. Other than that, last year I saw Evanescence on their symphony fusion tour, "Synthesis," and that was amazing. Amy Lee's voice is better live, she's just toned her vocals over the years, and finally seeing a band that has so much history for me was definitely an experience of a lifetime. Only other thing comparable was when I saw BTS – they put on a show that rivals ever musical, dance show, and concert ever. Their theme/story arc (at the time) was rooted in early 20th Century literary themes, so the visuals were insane (not to mention everything else). AAAND, I'll stop here because we all know that I don't shut up about music or concerts.

    Again, I'm glad you had a good month, and I look forward to hearing more about the poetry 🙂

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    • Thank you!! I actually just sent out two more poetry submissions today, so cross your fingers for more good luck in that arena. 🙂

      I’m so giddy about going back to Iceland. Last weekend I purchased my tickets – or, rather, used credit card points to purchase them. So instead of paying $400 to $500+ dollars, I only have to pay for $69 per flight for checked baggage. *thumbs up* I hope you get to go there sometime! Either for the retreat or any other time of year as a tourist. I’m seriously considering doing the Ring Road Tour in the future. You get to visit just about the entire island that way!

      You went to a Return of the King concert?? You mean, you HEARD Lord of the Rings OST music played LIVE by an ORCHESTRA???? That… that… must have been heaven. And now I swear I hear part of Twilight & Shadow in my head. (The music that played during Arwen’s scene when she abandons the Elves’ exodus, and when Renee Fleming sings.) ❤

      I've heard good things about Evanescence's Synthesis, but I wasn't sold on the new direction music-wise. I mean, I love Lindsey Stirling's take on classical crossover, but Evanescence's didn't work as well for me. Maybe I should give it a second chance, though…

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