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swhisted
26 April 2013 @ 10:12 pm
It seems like April always brings an insatiable thirst for new music with it and I don't know why since my BFF/CP always gifts me with loads of new music every year for my birthday. Luckily, despite getting a little carried away with music purchases, I was still able to control myself far better than I did last April this year. New this month...

I The Mighty - "Speak to Me"

I could really make a whole post about just this band because if I had to pick one band that stood out the most this month, it's easily them (which you may find surprising after the next Music Friday Best Of pick). A Lot Like Birds posts this video on their FB feed since they're currently touring with the group and they've got a new album coming out and I hadn't even listened to the whole song before I knew I had to have it. And that song just wasn't enough so I quickly acquired their latest EP, too and played the crap out of it all. Their new album can't come out soon enough. If you like the song below, you should check out "Dancing on a Tightrope" "The Dreamer" and/or "These Streets Are Alive." Heck, go get the whole EP because it is totally worth it.



Paramore - "Part II"

It should be no surprise to any of you that have followed me for a long time that I love Paramore and consider them one of my favorite bands, so you should have expected me to be super jazzed about their 4th album releasing the day after my birthday, especially since it's been a really long time since their last album. I'm not going to say I was disappointed with the album because I wasn't, but the sound is different. Less heavy rock, more bouncy rock. I'm okay with that because I like both versions anyway and I think it's a reflection of the place they are in their lives now (which I hope equates to happier), but I was hoping for a little something like my old favorites and unfortunately it wasn't there. My actual favorite track on the album is "Future" but "Part II" comes in a close second. I wrote a more in-depth review of the album HERE if you care to read more.




Luca Vasta - "Cut My Hair"

I have no idea who this chick is or if anything else she's done is worth your ear's time, but this song got an insane amount of plays after Amazon MP3 suggested it on Tumblr. Like I The Mighty, I hadn't even finished listening to the song once before I'd already purchased it because I just knew I needed it. The clunky beat is too catchy not to enjoy.




Some other artists/tracks worth checking out:

Phantom Planet - "Making a Killing"
Skillet - "Sick of it"
Rock Mafia - "The Big Bang"
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Sacrilege"
Beady Eye - "Flick of the Finger"

What are you guys listening to these days? Anything I need to check out? (asks the music hungry fiend like she needs it...)

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Current Music: I The Mighty - "The Dreamer"
 
 
swhisted
24 April 2013 @ 05:48 pm
It was both a good month for pre-orders and bonus books as birthday gifts!

IMG_2157 [50%]

Dead River by Cyn Balog
The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Rules (Project Paper Doll, Book 1) by Stacey Kade
Inferno (Chronicles of Nick, Book 4) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Walking Dead Vol. 4 by Robert Kirkman

Have you gotten any good books lately?

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Current Music: Beady Eye - "Flick of the Finger"
 
 
swhisted
17 April 2013 @ 01:48 pm
I've got a new addiction and while it will do lots of good for others, it might start to hurt my pocket. Still, a good deed based addiction is something I can feel better about my pocket taking a hit for than a selfish one.

I first discovered this organization through author Jackson Pearce. She was tweeting about these awesome shirts she was getting for a good cause and so I checked them out.

Sevenly features a series of new shirt designs every week, for just those seven days - never to be sold again, created exclusively for the charity they're sponsoring that week, and seven dollars of every purchase goes towards said charity. To date they've raised over 2 million dollars for charities!

For someone who likes to donate to a good cause, but has no way to find the sometimes obscure causes that need the most help, this is a perfect place to look. And, you're not just forking over your money, you're getting an awesome shirt for showing some love.

And these shirts really ARE awesome. The fabric is super soft, even after the first wash. They're tagless, but screen printed on the inside with the size, their logo, the charity you supported so you never forget, and the bible verse that they based their idea for this project on (Matthew 22:36-40). And if you're not into the cool designs they create every week, there are other simple products you can buy to support the cause, too!

For the past three weeks, I've bought a shirt and I'm definitely hooked on the product and the organization. Such a brilliant idea to encourage people to help others. So far, I've supported the following causes.

2

I chose this as my first because as you might remember, I studied Secondary Special Education in college and worked with autistic kids for a few years afterwards. I will always have a soft heart for special needs kids.

3

This one because how can you not want to help families in violent homes?

4

And this one because, again, soft heart for special needs kids -- especially when they're without a loving family. Also, the shirt I got is the gray on in the bottom right corner. It says: CHOSEN Fearfully and Wonderfully Made which just happens to be part of one of my favorite Pslams.

It's become something I look forward to now every Monday, that moment when the campaign changes. I can't wait to see what I might support next week. You should really check them out and get involved, too!

For more information visit: http://www.sevenly.org
 
 
Current Music: I The Mighty - "Speak to Me"
 
 
swhisted
16 April 2013 @ 08:46 am
Got

Is it just me, or is Game of Thrones pretty boring this season? I know it's just 3 episodes in and there's still plenty of time for action to go down, but so far it's hardly held my attention. I've watched the past two seasons in marathon style and I'm beginning to think that part of why I liked the show so much was because it's meant to be watched this way. On a week to week basis the episodes move too slowly for me.

But I am watching a show similar to Game of Thrones that has excellent pacing and has surprised me immensely by how great it is.

VK

I probably shouldn't be so surprised. This is the third really great History Channel series I've gotten into (Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible series were both exquisitely done). Not only is the cinematography stellar, but the casting couldn't be more on point. Travis Fimmel in particular portrays Ragnar Lodbrok perfectly.

I've been a fan of his for a while now, but more because my favorite author (Sherrilyn Kenyon) pictured him as one of my favorite characters in her Dark-Hunter series. I'd seen him in a few things before, but really didn't think much of his acting. To say he's improved a bit for Vikings would be an understatement. I can't imagine another person in his role doing a better job.

And the plot line is constant, never weighed down with unnecessary sex scenes that do nothing to add to the story itself (which is rather common in Game of Thrones, though it's yet to happen this season luckily) or secondary plot lines that make the overall story more like a soap opera. I find myself both confused and amused by how much I'm rooting for these ruthless Vikings over the Christians (when I am in fact a Christian), but that's how well these characters have sold themselves.

If you're not watching Vikings yet, I urge you to check it out. If you're a fan of Game of Thrones, you might just find this more entertaining. ;)

 
 
Current Music: Luca Vasta - "Cut My Hair"
 
 
swhisted
15 April 2013 @ 03:06 pm
I keep meaning to blog, but for one reason or another, life hasn’t permitted it. I had blog posts planned in my head, but now that they’re hardly relevant, I’ve decided to just do a short recapping of where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing.

My birthday was last Monday. As I suspected last year, it was far less exciting than it’s been in the past, which as a person who loves birthdays, disappointed me. While I think this was partly because I’m not thrilled about getting older, it was also because that weekend all sorts of sad/bad things happened in my family.

My grandmother’s sister died unexpectedly, my own sister had a pregnancy scare and spent time at the hospital, and some drunken punk was dead set on giving my father a heart attack by harassing him daily (he even went as far as physical property damage).

I had taken a long weekend to “celebrate” my birthday, which really only consisted of reading a lot of books and going out to dinner because my life is so riveting (duh). While I did make it to dinner, reading books didn’t happen because my mind was too consumed with all the woe going on in my family. So, my house is extra clean now and I baked my first apple pie because these are the kinds of things I do when I’m stressed/sad. Such a lovely way to spend your birthday, right?

It wasn’t all bad, though. My friends and family lavished me with lovely cards and gifts, small tokens of love that I appreciated greatly. And dinner was chaotic as always, but in a way I love because despite the rough time my family was going through, they are always entertaining when we’re all together. Really, I can’t complain.

And yet that’s not true as I shift into my next topic: Photography. I’m pretty sure I’m finished *trying* to be a photographer as a side thing. I will still take pictures because it’s what I’ve always done and I will still try to perfect the craft because I want to grow as an artist, but I’m finished with offering my services outside of my family. I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me or commented how good of a photographer I am and how they’d love for me to shoot their family or kids, etc… and even though it’s incredibly hard for me to have enough faith in myself to agree, I do. I even offer to do it for free as I build my portfolio, but every single one of these people (EVERY ONE OF THEM) has gone off to have professional photos done instead for a hefty price. I’m tired of extending myself like this. It’s almost as if they’re mocking me when those professional photos pop up online. It’s not that I think I could do better, in fact I bet I couldn’t, but I’m tired of people baiting me into something I’m already scared of doing just for the sake of saying something. NO ONE TOLD YOU THAT YOU HAD TO COMPLIMENT MY HOBBY, PEOPLE. If you’re not sincere, please just say nothing at all! I can’t continue to be led on this way. So, I might just remove the update altogether from my monthly reviews. If there are really great pictures I feel are worth mentioning, maybe they’ll get their own posts if you guys care to see them. In the meantime, I will shrink back into the introverted photographer I’ve always been and just be happy with my pictures because I like doing it, not because I’m trying to be something more than I am.

I should stop now, but I have more to complain about. It’s no secret I’ve been struggling with this weight loss thing lately. Since October it’s been one sugar sponsored holiday after another and I fell weak to it all with the best of them. I’m relieved the holidays are over with. I truly want a break from refined sugar, but my mind and tongue are not on the same page about this yet and so I find myself scathing the grocery store for obscure things like Berger cookies as if I actually need them. I know that if I just avoided them altogether, I’d be making this easier on myself, but instead I get this ridiculous idea that I can limit myself to one a day because that’s not all that bad, when in reality I know they won’t even last 4 days.

I hate that I know what needs to be done, I’ve done it before and it’s not all that hard, and yet my willpower is crap and I enable its inability to stand strong. In other words, I’m an idiot and I know it and yet I continue to be one. Obviously, I’m a genius.

So at this point, I’ve almost crept back up to my highest weight ever, making all my effort last year a total loss. It disappoints me in ways you can’t imagine if you’ve never struggled with weight. I cleaned and prepped a week’s worth of healthy food this weekend to get myself back on track with this healthy lifestyle I’ve been trying to achieve. I also finally treated myself to new running shoes. I currently have none that fit; it’s been at least 8 years since I’ve bought a pair (I’m more of a “coat/jacket girl” than a “shoe girl”). It’s been equally as long since I really ran, but I used to love it and I need some cardio in my life so I’m determined to get back into it whenever the shoes show up in the mail. Hopefully these are the things I needed to turn my goals around in the right direction. I do have to say that for as much as I hate the warmer weather, it does register something in my body that says, “You are too fat for this heat, Sarah, get busy!” And so I’m listening, or trying to at least.

My apologies for so much negativity, but I’ve had a lot brewing in my head and it’s been sort of therapeutic just typing it. I promise you a happier post sometime this week, but until then… anybody got anything they’d like to get off their chests, too? Rant away.
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Current Music: I The Mighty – “Dancing on a Tightrope”
 
 
 
swhisted
01 April 2013 @ 08:43 pm
Doesn’t it feel like March almost didn’t happen? I could have sworn it was still February yesterday. Between being unusually busy this month and falling into a depressive state because of the season change, the end of March seriously snuck up on me seemingly overnight.


Writing:

I’m disappointed in my word count this month, though it’s still at least the minimum of what I’d like achieve every month. With the changing weather approaching fast, I was hoping to write as much of Dreamsters as I could before warmer weather pulls me away from it and summer novel starts to get chatty. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Maybe I’ll be able to keep Dreamsters alive in April, but Beyond the Trees (BTT or Summer Novel, whatever you’d like to call it) is already starting their summer dance in my head. I know it will be hard to keep it at bay much longer now that the temperatures are changing.

Anyway, total word count for March was: 5,064 words.


Reading:

Within the first few days of March I’d already read 3 books and I think that says a lot about how much I deprived myself of reading in February. I had high hopes of finishing my current read and another whole book before March was over, but this three day vacation weekend I’d planned to do that in ended up being more exhausting than my average workweek. Still, I did read quite a lot this month, almost all of which were really great reads.



March Reads

Carrie by Stephen King (part in a collection)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson, Book 1) by Rick Riordan
Reasons I Fell For the Funny Fat Friend by Becca Ann
Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter, Book 1) by Jeff Lindsay
Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi (not pictured, e-book)
The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson, Book 2) by Rick Riordan
The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson, Book 3) by Rick Riordan
The Dark-Hunters: Infinity Vol. 1 by Sherrilyn Kenyon

(Titles are clickable and take you to my reviews on GoodReads)


I’d like to take a moment to say something that’s been on my mind a lot lately in regards to books. I read an e-book in March for the first time and am currently in the middle of another. I’d read a short story on my tablet before, but that only took a few minutes as opposed to the hour plus for these novellas. I always thought I wasn’t an e-book fan before, but now that I’ve read some, I can absolutely say I loathe them. These books I’ve bought on the tablet were only purchased this way because it’s the only format they’re available in, but I really wish they’d been available another way. For me, reading them on a tablet was like reading anything else I read online all day/night. And the story’s themselves are really good, but being forced to read them this way takes something away from the power of the story for me.

I just truly hope e-books are not the way of the future, not the end to the printed word. While I can tolerate an e-book here and there when I have to, I can never imagine myself learning to love them enough to choose them over a physical book in my hands.


Photography:

Even though I don’t love the weather change, I do have to say that, for photography purposes, the longer, brighter daylight has allowed for better photo opportunities. This probably means it will be a while before I test out my lights again because I’m just more comfortable in shooting in natural light so why not take advantage of it as much as I can, right? Anyway, I took lots of fun pictures of Gideon this month and the weather, but since I posted some of those in their own posts like ANNOUNCEMENT and WINTER’S FAREWELL, I’ll just share a few others I captured this month.

Blue Eyes
He's starting to look less like my sister and more like his dad.


Gideon in Lollie's Glasses
Gideon in Lollie's (my mom) glasses, with his dad. He think it's hilarious.


Easter Egg Hunting
At the church Easter egg hunt.




So, that’s it. March came and left with the quickness for me. How was it for you? Accomplish a lot?

P.S. Reminder – March Music can be found HERE!

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Current Music: Phantom Planet – “Knowitall”
 
 
swhisted
30 March 2013 @ 06:34 pm
I've had this secret for a few weeks now, but I can finally reveal it!

MY SISTER IS PREGNANT AGAIN!!!

I'm so crazy excited, you have no idea. I love being an aunt and can't wait to have another niece or nephew to love on and photograph the way I have Gideon. Here's the best of the photos I shot today for their announcement.

IMG_1825 [50%]


IMG_1890 [50%]


Rachel's Announcement

I'm not sure Gideon's all that thrilled about being a big brother. ;)

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Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: Nico Vega - "Be Giving"
 
 
swhisted
29 March 2013 @ 10:29 pm
Look, I remembered to do the Best of Music Friday on the right day this month! And this is despite being ridiculously busy and far past my bedtime. ::gives self a high-five::

Music was strange for me this month. At moments I clung to one individual song or artist and listened to nothing else for a week straight. Typically I have several artists to post on Friday, but this wasn't the case for most of March. I spent a great deal of time revisiting bands I've already posted before and a surprising amount of time listening to nothing at all. Anyway, most notable this month is as follows!

Fall Out Boy - "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light 'em Up)"

I heard this on the way to church one Sunday and sort of loved that it sounded like Fall Out Boy, but didn't at the same time. I've enjoyed some of their music in the past, but I'm actually looking forward to this new album if it's more like this.



The Kills - "Cheap and Cheerful"

My friend Heather (edgyauthor) got me into this band a while back, but I sort of forgot to give the album she'd shared with me a shot. I finally rectified that this month and while doing so had a brain-fart moment. I'd been listening to this song on repeat for a week when I watched the movie Project X for the third time and wondered once again about a song I liked on the soundtrack that actually wasn't part of the soundtrack. After some small research, I realized the reason I liked the song so much was because it was the remix of the song I was already listening to on repeat. I swear, I'm a genius sometimes. ::sarcasm::



Mindless Self Indulgence - "It Gets Worse"

I'd been looking forward to this album coming out since Christmas. While there are plenty of great tracks, I have to admit I don't love it as much as I did previous albums, but that's totally okay. Still a great band that I'm happy to have new music from finally, especially when songs like this will help me with Dreamsters! :)



Nico Vega - "Million Years"

I got into Nico Vega in early 2012 with the track "Iron Man" but once again forgot I had the album and never gave it a second listen. For the past few weeks though the commercial for BioShock Infinite has been using their track "Beast" and not only is it making me want to play this game something fierce, it finally encouraged me to check out the album. I regret not doing it sooner it's that good.




Other tracks that lived on repeat:

Macklemore - "Can't Hold Us"
Korn - "Throw Me Away"
Marilyn Manson - "Devour"
Black Light Burns - "Lucretia My Reflection"


What held your ears attention in March? I'm always on the hunt for new tunes so please share!

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Current Music: Phantom Planet - "Making a Killing"
 
 
swhisted
27 March 2013 @ 06:51 pm
I was bad this month and bought additional books outside of my pre-order allowance. At least two of those additional books were rather cheap novella's, though, so I'm not feeling too terrible about it.

March Books

The Dark-Hunters: Infinity Vol. 1 by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Reasons I fell for the funny fat friend by Becca Ann
Destroy Me (Shatter Me, Book 1.5) by Tahereh Mafi (not pictured, e-book)
Unravel Me (Shatter Me, Book 2) by Tahereh Mafi
Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices, Book 3) by Cassandra Clare
Breathless (Firelight, Book 3.5) by Sophie Jordan (not pictured, e-book)

(Titles that have been read link to my review on GoodReads)

What books have you bought lately?

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Current Music: Nico Vega - "Million Years"
 
 
swhisted
25 March 2013 @ 09:40 pm
The first day of Spring was last week and while it's still relatively cold here, you can feel the essence of Spring beaming on you from the sun during the peak of most days. Everyone I know is fired up over warmer days, enthusiastic about the longer lasting daylight and the prospect of our landscape coming alive again.

Everyone but me.

Don't get me wrong, Spring is pretty and it's more tolerable than Summer at least (which I loathe like the plague). But I'm a Fall/Winter girl. It's like I have the opposite of seasonal depression. I'm my happiest, most productive self when it's cold outside. So when the weather starts to show signs of change into Spring/Summer, mentally I start to drift into dark places. And I hate it.

It's especially bad here in MD because our colder months are shorter than our warmer months and those warmer months go from freezing cold to blazing heat almost overnight. There's not really a gradual shift from Winter to Summer where Spring should exist. It's disappointing.

Anyway, needless to say, my mood hasn't been all that stellar lately. My sleep schedule is still out of whack thanks to Daylights Savings and the warmer days have left me mourning over Winter's passing. So imagine my surprise and delight when I woke up to this today:

IMG_1718 [50%]

It's like Winter said, "Take that, Spring!" And I totally cheered it on all day long. I know it won't last. The temperature will continue to creep into warmer days, but it felt so good to get one last great cold day, full of snow, before I had to truly say goodbye to my favorite season(s) of the year.
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Current Music: Nico Vega - "Beast"