Harvard

As an academic, a book nerd, and a lover of history; the thought of a visit to the Harvard campus has always been something to quicken my pulse.  Knowing my GPA and bank account would never be the factors to walk me through the prestigious wooden doors, it was as a visitor and a tourist that I would have to plan my time at the Ivy League University around.

So, naturally, as my husband and I planned our most recent trip to The Bay State, a stop at a school I have forever dreamt about was at the top of my ‘must see’ list.¬† We set aside an entire day to tour Cambridge; to wander around the campus and soak in all the history behind the brownstones.

2014-03-18_0001We were greeting with buzzing conversations and students scurrying up and down the winding pathways, presumably to get to their next class.  We stopped to take pictures of the Harvard squirrels snacking on animal crackers, and then continued on to where our walking tour directions told us to begin our adventure.

2014-03-18_0002It is at this point that I feel I must add a few disclaimers to my story.  My husband and I are both well-educated, professional adults.  We have travelled quite extensively throughout our relationship, navigating busy cities, consistently finding our way when our GPS insisted we were driving through the middle of the ocean, and even managed to remain married after spending more than 100 hours in a vehicle together in a one week period.  Harvard however, had us stumped.  It felt as though we were being challenged to some secret initiation test in which we were failing horribly.  Every door we approached required us to prove our enrollment with, what appeared to be a student card made of gold.  Either that, or a first born to offer.  Unfortunately, we had neither.

2014-03-18_0003My toes were cold, my nose was running, and I was completely defeated.  The only thing I wanted was to run my fingertips down the rows of old books and breath in the scent of years of pages being studied by scholars, but my travel sized Kleenex was my sole consolation.  Dragging my feet we made our way back to the T station with a promise to drown our sorrows in Boston cream pie.  My husband nudged me gently with his elbow and nodded at a gentleman walking toward us.  He looked like an English professor Рsmudged glasses, worn leather patches on his cardigan to cover his elbows, and arms stretched to their full-length with a load of novels.  He looked like a nice man, who would understand my need to visit the library.  I was confident he would sneak us in.  The distance between us grew shorter and just as my lips parted to ask for his assistance he looked the opposite direction and let one rip.  My hopes had been high he would be my golden ticket and instead he answered my call for help by breaking wind.  And that, about sums up my visit to Cambridge.

2014-03-18_0004

Valentine’s Day Wish List

Mr. T. and I promised each other we would skip the Valentine’s Day gifts this year as we’re heading out on a little holiday here shortly. ¬†We aren’t usually ‘big spenders’ on holidays, but instead spend our savings on groceries we turn into a yummy meal together. ¬†So, in light of us foregoing gifts this year, I did some online ‘shopping’ instead! ¬†Here are some things I would love to give or receive next Valentine’s day ūüôā

Cherylsorg

I’m pretty sure this is one of the neatest hand-crafted things I have seen in a long time. ¬†It is a fingerprint¬†articulated by book spines. ¬†Brilliant!

You can order them from Cheryl Sorg on Etsy here.

MaidenVoyageClothing

*Sigh* Maiden Voyage. ¬†I can’t sing the praises of this shop loud enough! ¬†Their clothing is so much fun. ¬†Their shirts are comfortable, beautifully creative, and completely unique. ¬†Their customer service is exception and I highly recommend them to anyone looking for something ‘different’ to add to their wardrobe!

This specific shirt definitely isn’t Valentine’s themed… unless your cat is your valentine, which is totally cool.

You can check out Maiden Voyage Clothing here.

MedBeachStones

So stinkin’ cute! ¬†My heart would melt into a big steaming puddle if someone gave this to me!

You can find it in Med Beach Stone’s shop on Etsy here!

PageFiftyFive

I told Mr. T. that if we were buying cards for each other this year, I would buy this one for him.

Page Fifty Five has countless witty cards in their Etsy shop here.

PigeonEditions

I LOVE this print and feel it’s necessary that it hang in my office. ¬†I’m going to have to buy myself a gift, because I can’t pass up this beautiful print!

Pigeon Editions has a lot of fun ‘collection’ style prints on Etsy here! ¬†Better yet, their prints are all buy 2 get 1 free!

RappysGoodies

I ordered some of these Harry Potter bookmarks for Christmas gifts.  I may, or may not have ordered a few for myself as well.

If you fell in love with them too, you can find them in Rappys Goodies shop on Etsy here.

ThatsSewEllie

At some point in time, I’m making this for Mr. T. ¬†He will look at, shake his head, and likely question why he married me. ¬†I’ll be proud of my work and insist he display it at work. ¬†He’s a pretty awesome husband.

The pattern for this purrfect gift can be found in That’s Sew Ellie’s Etsy shop here.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Goals – 2014

Most people do their New Year’s Resolutions post on January 1st… so I’m a little bit behind. ¬†Honestly, I was kind of scared to make this post. ¬†By writing these things down and committing them to the unforgiving expanse that is the internet means I’m allowing others to hold me accountable to these goals. ¬†And, for the first time in a long time, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to accomplish my goals. ¬†But gosh darn it, I’m going to try!

We’ll begin with, what I hope, is my most attainable goal.

I desperately want to get to a point where I’m able to read 100 novels in one year. ¬†In an effort to get to that point I’m bumping last year’s goal of 50 novels up to 65 for 2014. ¬†I’ve been tracking my progress on my Goodreads account. ¬†If you’re on there, please add me as a friend and join in the journey!

IMG_1165

I’m a workaholic. ¬†This isn’t necessarily a good thing. ¬†Because November is my birthday month (the big 30 this year, eck!) and it’s also NaNoWriMo, as a gift to myself and a celebration of my birthday, I’m going to save up for the rest of the year so that I can take most or all of November off to participate in 2014’s NaNoWriMo. ¬†This is a scary one for me for a number of reasons. ¬†1. I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. ¬†2. I do not have a game plan, with my novel-to-be or how I’m going to make this happen. ¬†I’m not even sure what I’m going to write about? ¬†3. What if I don’t finish, or what if my novel sucks (realistically, it probably will, but what if it REALLY sucks?). ¬†Wish me luck with this one!

IMG_2093

Get active! ¬†I want, so badly, to start running again, take a yoga class, play floor hockey with my husband. ¬†All of it. ¬†I used to run, every single day and I miss it more than I can tell you. ¬†I always allow my job to take over and never make time for me, to make time to do the things I love. ¬†I know it’s important, so I’m going to start making that time. ¬†I need to.

Shoot more film. ¬†I love my film cameras and love shooting film. ¬†I learned the art of photography using an old 35mm Pentax camera and I miss it. ¬†Again, it always feels like life is moving too quickly to slow down and take the time to shoot a few rolls of film. ¬†I really want to add film as an ‘add on’ to my photography packages and in order to do that, I need to start shooting it more often!

IMG_1164

Strive to learn and grow as an artist. ¬†I never want to stop learning, growing, and challenging myself so I always add this goal to my yearly list. ¬†The first steps I’ve made with this goal this year is to book myself a space in Sam Hurd’s workshop in Chicago this summer. ¬†He is an INCREDIBLE photographer and I can’t believe I’m finally going to have the opportunity to spend a day with him, learning his creative ways.

So, that’s my list for this year! ¬†Feel free to hold me accountable, ask me how I’m making out with these goals, or pester me for slacking off!

Dancey Cat

I’m a sucker for animals. ¬†I seek out their interaction and attention more so than I do humans. ¬†I’ve always been this way. ¬†I was the sad little seven-year-old feeding her goldfish with a toothpick when his swimming bladder burst and couldn’t swim upright anymore. ¬†Most would have simply flushed him off to fishy heaven, and maybe I was doing nothing more than prolonging his pain and ultimately inevitable death, but I couldn’t let go until I gave it my all. ¬†He held on for a few weeks, bobbing upside down in his little tank until he passed. ¬†Well, that’s my mother’s version of the story. ¬†Looking back now, maybe she had the good sense I lacked and put him out of his fishy misery during her allotted ‘fish watching’ time while I was away at school.

Anyway, the point of my tail er…, tale, ¬†is to reiterate the way my heart swells when around animals. ¬†You can imagine what a trip to the zoo is like with me…

So, my story – a few years ago my husband and I were walking around our quaint little town and wandered by an apartment building. ¬†They had large living room windows which opened up to the road. ¬†It was early evening, the sun was starting to set, so their window, blinds open, was being backlit by their tv and lamps. ¬†…I know this is starting to sound like a stalking story, but it’s not, I promise! ¬†In the middle of their large window, presumably on the back of this person’s couch was a tabby cat, dancing. ¬†He was dancing and it was hilarious and warmed my heart more than I can articulate! ¬†He kept reaching up, like he was climbing an invisible ladder without gaining any height. ¬†We stood, in the middle of the road and laughed at this cat. ¬†It was a good ten minutes before we were able to peel ourselves away from the show; the cat, not what was playing on their tv. ¬†In the following weeks and months we talked about that cat nearly every day. ¬†We immediately called each other if we drove by and dancey cat was performing again. ¬†For a good six months, dancey cat was a constant source of laughter and happiness in our lives. ¬†We loved that cat. ¬†Then one day, he just wasn’t there anymore. ¬†I’m pretty sure they moved. ¬†It broke my heart. ¬†I’ve been sad about dancey cat for quite some time. ¬†Until today. ¬†Today, my husband sent me an email with a wonderful GIF. ¬†It was a GIF of dancey cat! ¬†…well it’s not THE dancey cat, but it’s A dancey cat and it made me smile. ¬†I’m sharing it with you here today and hope it will make your day just a little better as it did with mine ūüôā

DTbcZMt

.source.

Update!

It has been nearly a year since my last post. ¬†It’s ridiculous, really. ¬†I have been busy with work and life, but I miss blogging. ¬†I miss writing for me. ¬†I miss sharing my photos and adventures! ¬†So, I’m going to catch you up with what has been going on over the last ten months and then we’ll try this personal blogging thing again ūüôā

In 2013 I…

*Photographed 18 weddings and over 200 portrait sessions! ¬†Honestly, I’m not even quite sure how that’s possible, but my records say it happened so it must be true. ¬†Interested in looking through a few of those weddings or sessions? ¬†You can check them out on my site here: Ali Lauren Creative Services

*I said goodbye to my dear sweet bunny and had a tattoo done in her honor.

IMG_1106

IMG_1168
Still needs a bit of work in this image, but it’s completed now ūüôā

 

*I traveled overseas for the first time with Mr. T. to Dublin, Ireland.

IMG_0830 IMG_1649
*I was published by these guys: Lemonade and Lenses! ¬†I had another article published with them in January and have a third coming out in the March issue ūüôā

*I was asked to join the team at City Slicker. ¬†I’ve been writing for them for a few months now and I feel extremely fortunate to have joined such a great team of people.

*I participated in a handful of art shows and was asked to join the crazy talented team at the What Women Show for the Red Carpet photography.

IMG_1692

*We dropped everything and bought three tickets to game 5 of the NHL playoffs!  My Dad is a Blackhawks fan and we love the Bruins so it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

IMG_2041 IMG_2046 IMG_2049

*I crossed the two final bands off of my ‘Must See’ list ūüôā ¬†Great Big Sea and Sir Paul McCartney. ¬†I cried at both concerts.

IMG_2249 IMG_2595

*I drove in a vehicle for 70 hours with my Mom, Dad, and Uncle, to shoot my cousin’s wedding just outside of Alaska. ¬†It was worth every long minute of the drive! ¬†You can view the wedding photos I shot while there on my website here!

IMG_2351 IMG_2352 IMG_2358

*The CFL team Mr. T. works for, the Roughriders, won the Grey Cup!!!

photo

DSCF1150yes
Us trying, and failing horribly at taking a self-portrait with the cup!

*We brought another fuzzy bum into our family.  We adopted a Staffordshire Terrier named Anglea Lansbury.  Jelly, for short.

IMG_2606

And, just for good measure, a really funny picture of Gertrude to make you smile!

IMG_2563

With that, I think you’re caught up on some of the major events since we last spoke. ¬†I truly do miss this space so I’m doing my best to pencil ‘blogging’ into my work schedule, which hopefully means you’ll be seeing more of me ūüôā

 

 

A little travel advice. What not to do…

web1

I like to think of myself as a relatively wise traveler.¬† I’ve watched Hostel, I know what can happen.¬† And, while being kidnapped and sold to a twisted, ‘Men’s Club’, isn’t, I hope, a likely scenario, I would still like to try and do everything in my power to prevent such an event from actually taking place.¬† All of this being said, on our most recent travels I must admit to doing something exceptionally stupid.¬† But, I will premise this with a story leading up to the stupid act in hopes you will understand why my judgement slipped and I agreed to something that could have potentially ended very poorly.

It was the final day of our most recent trip.¬† We had just stepped off of a nine hour flight and were getting ready for our final aviation journey which would take us home to our fuzzy housemates and comfy bed.¬† I was tired, hungry, and quite ready for our last stretch of travel.¬† Unfortunately the weather had other intentions. The snow was angrily falling from the sky creating chaos throughout the airport. ¬†As expected, our flight, along with 250 other flights, was cancelled.¬† After waiting in long lineups of irate customers and warming my ear listening to elevator music, hoping an operator would tell me what to do in such a situation, we were finally granted tickets home for the following day and reservations at a hotel to spend the night.¬† Little did we know that not having toothbrushes or a change of underwear would be the least of our problems…

With new tickets and reservations in hand we headed outside with 2000+ disgruntled travelers, all attempting to squeeze onto one of the five eight-passenger hotel shuttles forever on their thirty minute loops, seemingly to never empty with each new circuit.¬† Needless to say, our situation wasn’t improving.¬† Two hours in the wet, stormy weather later and our shuttle still hadn’t driven by.¬† After tracking down a phone that would allow us to dial out, we were greeted with the information that we were expected to call for the shuttle to come pick us up.¬† Also, it was booked solid for the next two hours.¬† Fantastic.¬† At this point the $100 cab ride to our hotel was sounding extremely appealing.

Now enters the young backpacker we had been conversing with on and off throughout our evening.¬† We find out he has a reservation number for the same hotel as us and we agree to share a cab and split the fee. This should have been the first red flag but I was hungry, cold, wet, tired, frustrated and clearly wasn’t on the top of my game.¬† He only told us he was staying at the same hotel after we told him where we were headed.¬† Never offer information like this.¬† Ever.¬† Strangers do not need to know where you are staying.¬† I don’t know why we told him.

So together we call a taxi and wait.¬† And we wait longer.¬† Many other taxis pull up, but ours does not.¬† We have now been standing outside in a blizzard for close to three hours waiting for a shuttle bus that didn’t know we were expecting it and a taxi cab which was much less enthusiastic than it’s ten minute expected arrival time.¬† Somewhere in the mess of people, shuttles, and snow, we were separated from our new traveling-companion.

While scanning the busy lanes for someone willing to take us to a hotel, any hotel, our ‘friend’ pulls up in the front seat of a ‘taxi’ and tells us to hop in.¬† Red flag number two.¬† There is no hood mount or door decal on the car.¬† Of course, these things didn’t occur to me until I was already buckled into the back seat of the vehicle.

I make very concerned eye-contact with my husband but he doesn’t understanding where my horror-movie-driven-fear is coming from.¬† I send him a text so as not to say these things out loud, asking where the trip meter was and why there were fast-food wrappers all over the vehicle and why our camping-savvy friend is conversing with the driver as though they are long lost friends.¬† My hands are clammy, my heat-rate has quickened, and I am starting to worry.¬† We are in an unfamiliar city, inside a smelly vehicle driven by a man who I was quite convinced wants to sell my kidneys on the black market and there wasn’t a soul within ear shot.¬† In the distant I can see a convenience store and pondered if he would stop if I tell him I just got my period and needed tampons.¬† I assume not.¬† A man who is willing to perform bathtub surgery surely wouldn’t be put off by the sight of blood.¬† The 15 minute drive felt like 45 and even when we finally spot the street our hotel is on I am still convinced the two men in the front seat are plotting whose appendix they are going to put on ice first.

I’m here, weeks later with all of my internal organs so obviously we escaped alive.¬† However, this experience was a little too realistic for my horror-movie-loving self and I do not care to press rewind and watch again.

web2

Book Review : The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

PWB

Book : The Poisonwood Bible – 543 pps

Author : Barbara Kingsolver

Publisher : HarperCollins Publishers 1999

Amazon : The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel

I have been putting this review off for weeks.¬† I have no idea why.¬† My notes have been sitting on my desk since I finished the novel and I have been meaning to write this but just‚Ķ haven’t.¬† So now that it’s 3:23am and the fireplace that keeps my office warm won’t start (it’s a brisk 16C in here right now) and the wind is screaming outside my window (welcome to Spring in Saskatchewan) and I’ve decided it’s a darn good time to finally write this.

I absolutely adored this book, but I really struggled with this review.¬† I didn’t know how ‘deep’ I wanted to get with the religious aspects of it because, well, I’m not a particularly religious person.¬† And, while I have no problem commenting on how I interpreted it, I know there are many out there who know a heck of a lot more about Christianity than I do and I wasn’t sure I wanted to engage in that conversation with my less-than-excessive knowledge on the subject.¬† I will make one comment though.¬† This novel was confrontational and quite critical of Christianity, and that’s one of the main reasons I liked it.¬† I enjoyed the challenge it created.

The second reason I struggled with this review is that I know next to nothing about the Congo.  Specifically the Congo in 1959.  Which, just happens to be the main setting of 90% of this novel.

So instead of the glaringly obvious theme of religion and the ever-present setting of the Congo, I would like to mention the characters and the text itself.

“Believe this: the mistakes are part of the story.” – Adah

DSC_2269web

This story is about the Price family.¬† They are a family of missionaries from Georgia, who volunteer their services in the Congo. ¬†Their living situation changes drastically with their move and they quickly realize just how different their lives as missionaries will be. ¬†Their story is told solely from the mouths of the five women of the family, mother, Orleanna, and daughters Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May. While reading, I was enjoying the novel so much that I was nearly three-quarters of the way through it before I realized there wasn’t a single chapter dictated from the perspective of the only male in the family, Nathan.

The prose throughout the novel was smooth and beautiful and each character’s voice was strong, distinct, and unique in their respective chapters.¬† While I grew to appreciate each girl and woman, I fell head-over-heels for Adah.¬† She describes herself as a “crooked little person, obsessed with balance.‚Ä̬† Between her physical disability and intellectual excellence she is one of the most eloquently written characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading.¬† There were bits of her that reminded me of my brother, and bits that reminded me of myself and together it just created a warmth and I couldn’t help but be hopelessly devoted to her.

I already know this is a novel I will return to many times.¬† It is one that I will read again and take away a little bit more each time.¬† So, even though I have no educated response to the religious tone of this novel, and can’t comment on the going ons of the 1959 Congo, I still highly recommend this novel.

“It is true I do not speak as well as I can think.¬† But this is true of most people, as nearly as I can tell.” – Adah

Collections : Yes please!

I’m a collector. ¬†I have a particularly soft spot for all things literature-related. ¬†More specifically Poe related. ¬†I love owning special, one-of-a-kind, items and I would love to add the following items to my collection of unique items!

1

Such a fun idea!

.via sweet tea apothecary – etsy.

2

Now if only I could convince my husband to play this game with me…

.via red star vintage – etsy.

3

The Shining is one of my favorites.

.via cushtea – etsy.

4

I need these.  Yes, need.

.via southern shoes – etsy.

5

My Penny Lane asked me to add this to the list.

.via jacqpot – etsy.

6

I would like to drink tea from this on Sundays.  It feels like a Sunday tea-drinking cup.

.via more than porcelain – etsy.

7

My current cell phone cover is starting to fall apart.  I would like to replace it with this one!

.via oh joy! photography – etsy.