good morning, Monday: Better late than never.

I know, I know – it’s not morning any longer!  This particular morning found me rushing to get to class and I had no time to craft a Monday pick-me-up post.  However, while the day is already in its postmeridian hours, I still have a multitude of things to do.  I’m running on just a few hours of sleep and absolutely need some external forces to jump-start my afternoon.  Here’s what I’ve come up with to keep me going on this sleepy Monday:

First, some happy news: Over the weekend, I received notification that four of the dogs up for adoption from Friends of Retrievers Rescue found their forever homes.  Not only is this happy news for those pups, but means that four spots are now open in foster homes and four new dogs can be pulled from shelter situations and listed online for adoption.  Happy news always helps me get through a long day, and this is some of the best I’ve heard in quite a while!

Next, I’d like to share a song I frequently turn to in times when I need to self-motivate.  I can’t listen to “Ce Jeu” by Yelle without breaking into my ridiculous version of dancing.  There are few jams that pump me up quite as well as this one, and I hope you find it works the same wonders for your Monday afternoon as it will mine:

And there you have it!  Instant Monday motivation, brought to you by animal lovers and French pop stars.  Happy Monday, y’alls!

To Be Caffeinated or Not To Be Caffeinated?

…that is the question, and for me the answer is decaf (I shudder even writing the word).  My longing for more rest has compelled me to try going caffeine free.  I’ve been drinking coffee since elementary school – when we were younger, my brother had terrible asthma and one of the home remedies my parents employed to battle it was coffee.  This wasn’t a frequent treat, but I gained a taste for the stuff early.  It wasn’t long before I was sharing a pot of coffee with my father while we chatted on the deck in the mornings.  When I began waitressing at age 14, my fate was sealed: coffee and I were to be dear friends.

Fast forward some years.  Mine is not a fancy habit, as I prefer my coffee to be strong, black, and lukewarm.  I recently purchased a french press and have delighted at making coffee every morning (…and afternoon…and evening..).  Unfortunately, my sleep patterns are quite erratic and I can never seem to get sleep during the hours I allot for it.  To help regulate my internal clock and allow myself to be better rested this semester, I will be avoiding all caffeine.  I’ve been without for nearly two weeks now, but still feel like I’m lagging a bit.  I suppose that after years of caffeine consumption it will take some time to convince my sleepy cells that they don’t require an infusion of coffee each morning to function.

I’ll be frank: mornings are lousy without coffee.  I relish in being able to drink a warm beverage and curl up with the crossword (this activity is perfect for us lazy folks who want to give the illusion that we’re adults).  I love the smell of coffee filling my kitchen and how it warms my insides on the coldest of days.  (Is it obvious that I miss the stuff?)

Well, to combat my pangs of longing for delicious coffee, I’ll be filling the coffee-void with other warm beverages, like tea and hot cider (all decaffeinated, of course).  I’ve been searching for inspiration, some ideas to keep my decaf momentum going, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

What better way to encourage myself to make tea than with a cute tea infuser?  This one from the Beehive Kitchenware Company has a steep price tag of $58, so it may be something I need to save my pennies for.

Alternatively, I could craft some homemade tea bags from cheesecloth like these ones by Bonzai Aphrodite.

Most likely, I will employ the french press I already have for the purposes of tea brewing, similar to this system employed by Off the (Meat) Hook.

Maybe I’ll start drinking more hot cider, too!  This is from a recipe at Bravo Alpha Events, and I think I’ll be trying it out soon.

If it comes to it, I’m not above ordering coffee-scented scratch-and-sniff stamps.  Apparently, these were released in Brazil in 2001, according to Oddee.com.  (Can we all pause and contemplate how much better the USPS would fare if it made all of its stamps scratch-and-sniff!?)

I’m hoping that I can kickstart myself into a healthier year than the last, and going caffeine-free seems like an appropriate first step.  I’m only on my second day of courses for the semester, so I could change my tune in a few weeks when the workload increases, but for now I’m off the coffee-sauce!

What to do…

…when you wake up on the morning of your Russian final with flu-like symptoms?

Apparently, I have succumbed to some type of mild winter illness on the least opportune of all days.  That’s alright, I’ll make the best of it.  I’ve been up since 4:30am studying and pacing the house (when did I start getting test anxiety?!), so I knew I needed to do something that would help me be calm, focused, centered.  Some people might turn to prayer or meditation to soothe their worries, but not me.  No, I don’t need those things – I just need Bruce Willis.

In the Andrea versus Russian Final battle, I’m John McClane.  Bring it on, Hans.

Academia: Round II

It was back to school for me yesterday, following my week of absences due to headaches.  I’m buried with homework, but should be caught up in the next couple of days if I can manage to stay inside and study even though it’s unseasonably warm out.  Portland’s Time and Temperature sign read sixty-four degrees earlier today, and I can’t quite believe I’m going without a jacket in mid-November.  Perfect weather for traipsing through the less-traveled paths of Portland.  Tomorrow I’ll post lots of pictures from one of our recent walks, but for now here are some photos of my triumphant return to school this week:

This lovely little photo shoot degraded into madness when Josh decided to chase me to my car with the camera…

This entire outfit, save the boots (a DSW present from my mom – thanks, mom!), was thrifted.  I just found the skirt yesterday and it may become my new favorite piece of clothing.  I’m lucky enough to be well-versed in the backroads of Maine and thus have found some of the best hidden thrift stores in the area.  Some time I’ll do a post on my favorite ones!

Dissenting Pharynx

Alright, so.  All of my optimism regarding my busy schedule, all of my suppositions that things would slow down?

Guess not.

I fear that my upcoming Russian midterm will be the death of me.

Life has only managed to get more hectic in the past few days, and I seem to have hit a wall.  Running between school, work, and home has beat my immune system to hell and I now find myself sore, grouchy, and approaching illness.  Today I woke with the familiar feeling of swollen throat-meats and knew it was time to increase my vitamin-C quotient.

Teddy tried to lend a hand but his cyrillic script is just awful.

All this amounts to is that I’ll be spending my Halloween firmly planted on the sofa with a bucket of treats.  (I am 100% pleased with this plan).

I need to rest up and regain my strength so I can power through until the end of the semester.  I have fantastic and amazing plans for winter break that include the most decadent brunch in New England and an appointment with Portland’s best tattoo artist, Cyndi Lou of Squid and Whale, to embark upon my chest piece.

Thus, I will keep my eye on the ultimate prize of snowy winter days spent catching up on sleep and having fun.  Until then, I need to take steps to make myself feel better.  Step one?  A big batch of comforting veggie chili that i’ll be making tomorrow.  My belly can’t wait!

Final thought: Is it just me, or does this look sort of wonderful:

Aha! An outlet for my thrift shop addiction.

There’s so much going on right now – it’s pretty great, actually!  I’m busy with school, house rearranging, and starting the Etsy shop.  Additionally, I’m chairing the History Students Association and last night had my very first French Club meeting.  We went out for dinner and drinks this week and I really enjoyed myself.  It’s not often that I go out nor am I adept at making friends, so I was glad to have a reason to socialize with people I may otherwise be too shy to do so with.

So about this Etsy shop.  Oof!  As it happens, cleaning, caring for, and storing a shop’s worth of items takes a lot of time and space.  This realization was the catalyst for our recent home reorganization project.  I decided that we were in dire need of an animal-free room in our place.  I love my furry friends and hate having to limit their access to our home, but animal hair is a constant issue in this apartment.  Thus, to keep items for the shop in pristine and pet hair-free condition, Josh and I have cordoned off one of the rooms for use as a storage area.  It’s currently housing all of our clothes as well as the items to be put on Etsy.  Josh found this clothing rack on Ebay, which is going to make organization infinitely easier.  I think it will eventually become a bit of a getaway spot for me when I need some alone time at home – it’s so clean in that room!

I hope that this Etsy project works at least a little bit.  It’s been progressing like molasses lately because of other commitments, but life should be slowing down a little soon.  If the skies would clear up and give me a little sunshine, I could go out into the woods and take the most lovely photos of all my things!  But until then, alas…

Méli-Mélo

The semester began merely three weeks ago and I am already craving freedom.  This term I find myself inundated with new and daunting academic challenges, because I have decided to pursue Russian as well as continue my study of French.  The language courses at school seem to be much more demanding than other classes (both Russian and French meet for more time each week than standard courses).  It’s been a whirlwind of flashcards and Cyrillic script since the outset and I’m exhausted already.  I want no responsibilities until December so I can curl up in a corner and enjoy the entirety of autumn at my leisure.

Right now I’m focused on small spaces: cozy nooks, tiny doorways, blanket forts.  I want to wear nothing but tights and laze around drinking cocoa while wind outside tears rust-colored leaves from dying trees.

I hope to break myself away from studies soon so that I may enjoy my favorite season.  Apples patiently grasp onto their branches, awaiting the day when I am able to pluck them from their stations and tuck them safely into my canvas apple bag.

There are goods to be baked and walks to be taken!  Fall in New England is most astonishing but much too fleeting.