Archive | June, 2010

Some more information on my trip…

30 Jun

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…and what it means for my blog.

If you want to know the specifics of my trip – where I’m going and what I’ll be doing there – see this post for more detailed information!

When are you leaving and for how long?

I’m officially leaving July 5th, and I’ll be gone for about a month.

Are you going on a posting hiatus? If not, what’s the posting schedule going to be like?

I sure hope not. If things work out properly, there will still be new posts appearing on this blog, even while I’m gone. I’ve been working on pre-writing posts that will automatically be published in my absence. (That’s the plan, at least.) However, since it’s not really practical to write things like Weekend Links and Slowed Down Sunday weeks in advance, I will put those on hold until I come back. In other words, posting will be reduced to Mondays and Wednesdays, probably until the week of the 8th.

What about comments? Aren’t they moderated?

I moderate comments here to some extent, (once I approve one of your comments, you’re set) but I’m experimenting with ways that will allow people to comment more freely so there won’t be a backlog of comments that need approval. Hopefully spam won’t be a huge problem, but I’m willing to delete spammy comments by hand once I come back. Replies will have to come after I return, though.

Can I still contact you by email/twitter/etc?

Feel free to send me emails or otherwise contact me, but keep in mind that I almost certainly will be unable to respond until I’m back and settled.

If there are any other questions or comments, post it in the comment section.

xoxo, Tara

I’m Going to Tanzania!

28 Jun
Map of Tanzania

Tanzania! Karagwe District (part of the Kagera region) is in the upper left-hand corner.

So, remember that cryptic announcement from yesterday? Here I’ll go into greater detail about what exactly I meant.

Long story short – on July 5th, I’ll be staying in Tanzania for a one month study abroad. I’ll be back the week of August 5th.

Why?

A committee has generously selected me to be a cohort for a fantastic fellowship program that gives sophomore women in college the opportunity to study abroad during the summer in the area of study of their choice. My choice, as you can see, was Tanzania. I’ll be talking more about this wonderful fellowship sometime down the line, so keep an eye out – especially if you’re a rising sophomore (or you just like to plan) and you attend university in the Pittsburgh area (and some parts of Philadelphia…but mostly Pittsburgh).

What?

In submitting my application for the fellowship program, I indicated that I would like to study economic opportunity. While in Tanzania, I’ll be conducting ethnographic research under the broad topic of women in rural Tanzania and the obstacles they face in reaching economic independence and greater personal utility. While in Karagwe, I intend to narrow the focus of my research abstract and eventually build a fully formed research paper through ethnographic interviews. Wish me luck!

I’m also trying to pack as lightly as possible (a HUGE difficulty for me, as I am a chronic overpacker) and I’m trying a lot of new things – plus, I’m flying internationally solo for the first time! – so I’ll be discussing what did and did not work when I come back. Hopefully most, if not all, will fall into the “did work” group.

Where?

Tanzania! The United Republic of Tanzania is a nation in East Africa, bordered by Uganda (where I’ll actually be flying to, and taking a bus to Tanzania), Kenya, Rwanda, and Mozambique, among others. You can find the city Dar es Salaam here, as well as the famous Mount Kilimanjaro. I’ll be living in a rural village of the Karagwe district of Tanzania, which is in the Kagera Region. In the area where I’ll be staying specifically, I will have limited access to electricity, land lines and internet. It’ll be a really tough adjustment for me – I’m especially glued to my laptop and am quite possibly addicted to the internet – but I think it will also be a very important learning experience that I’m really looking forward to. My boyfriend, however, wonders how I’ll possibly survive. I’ll be visiting during the cold period, which I’m thankful for, truthfully. However, I’m sure their winters don’t compare to good old Pittsburgh’s!

I'll be spending time at the local hospital as well

When?

I will be leaving July 5th and I will be gone for a full month.

What Will Happen to the Blog?

As I mentioned, I will have very little, if any internet access during my trip. Part of what I’ve worked hard on is making sure that there will be as little disruption to the normal posting schedule as possible, but there will be a decrease in posting frequency while I’m gone. Emails and comment replies will also have to wait, most likely. I’ll discuss this in more detail on Wednesday, but I’m going to try continue posting original content, as well as some great contributions from guests even as I’m on my trip. I’m trying to win a Black Weblog Award, so I can’t let my blog fall by the wayside! Stay tuned for more information.

Are any of you guys planning a major trip? Or have gone on one recently? Talk about it in the comments.

xoxo, Tara

I know you guys must be tired of this by now, but if you haven’t already, please consider nominating me for a Black Weblog Award. You can find more information at this post.

Slowed Down Sunday – 6.27.2010

27 Jun

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Hi everyone, and happy Sunday!

I hope you don’t mind that I took a short blogging vacation. I have big things coming up in my life – which I will go into more detail about on Monday! – that took up a ton of time over the past week or so. Anyway, here are the things that have made me smile recently!

♥ Toy Story 3 – I know it’s strange that I put a movie on here first, but really guys? I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I went to see it with my boyfriend opening weekend and even though it was a minor struggle (we had to order tickets three hours in advance – and then we got there over half an hour early to wait in line) it was so worth it. It was a fitting end to the Toy Story saga and it had your favorite characters from the first two installments, as well as a bunch of great new ones. (Ken, anyone??) Plus, as in all Pixar movies, you had to keep an eye out for little easter eggs hiding among the scenes. (Did anyone spot Totoro?) It was a bit emotional because I grew up with these movies (I had the first one – on VHS. Shock!) and it was an end of an era for me just like it was for Andy, the boy who owned the toys. Loved it, I highly recommend it. One thing though – don’t bother seeing it 3D unless you have to (my theater only offered it in 3D, for instance). It doesn’t really add much.

♥ Being Handy – I have worked around the house lately, which is something I’m not used to – in fact, it’s something I almost never do. I just helped to put together a shelf for my bathroom! I know it’s not exactly a “notable” achievement, but for me, this is a big deal. I never do stuff like that. Which is why I mention it here.

♥ The final countdown – Things are coming together! It’s down to the wire! If you follow my blog closely (or even not-so-closely) or you follow me in another medium, you know what I’m talking about. It’s coming close and I don’t know how to deal. I’m a huge mix of emotions but we’ll see what happens!

♥ Misc Loves – Checking off your list; finding a perfect outfit by chance; regular sessions at the neighborhood pool; BRAIDS; the smell of Herbal Essences’ Hello Hydration mixed with Organix Coconut Oil conditioner (mmm); crab feasts; my lovely princess puppy – she’s so cute I can’t stand it; finding kitty breathmints and watching my cat go crazy (reminding me why I hid them in the first place!); having one-on-one girl time with close friends; the 30 Day Shred; my sister and her general weirdness; beating Super Mario Galaxy 2 (basically. I got all 120 stars, but now they’re asking me to find 120 green stars. Maybe later.); getting good news in the mail; serendipity; putting your thoughts and wishes into the universe – and seeing them slowly start to come true; finding just what you need right under your nose

What makes your heart smile this week? Post about it in the comments!

xoxo,

Tara

ps – If you like what you read here (and I hope you do!), don’t forget to nominate me for a Black Weblog Award. For more info, click here!

Music Video – Kelis: 4th of July (Fireworks)

16 Jun

The first music video from Kelis’ album Flesh Tone, Acapella, set a very high bar with costuming, artistry and overall “wow” factor. I was mesmerized from beginning to end and I fully expected her second video on this album for 4th of July (Fireworks) – which, coincidentally, is my second favorite song on Flesh Tone – to hit some sort of sophomore slump. There is no way, I reasoned, that this video could live up to Acapella.

While I am not as blown away this time around, I can certainly say it lives up to its predecessor. She revisits desert theme from Acapella, as well as the tribal motif that made use of ornate headdresses. As in Acapella, Kelis can also be found in a contemporary club scene, this time in a darkened hall with neon magenta strobe lights and a venue that eventually (spoiler alert!) goes up in flames.

Of course, the costuming is never lacking – with every scene change, Kelis is dressed in a notable, eye-grabbing outfit. Then again, I firmly believe that everything is better with sequins and glitter, so your mileage may vary.

Are there any music videos that you’ve been really into lately? Let me know in the comments.

xoxo, Tara

ps – If you like what you read here (and I hope you do!), don’t forget to nominate me for a Black Weblog Award. For more info, click here!

34 Ways to Combat a Gray Day! (or a Sunny Day, if you’re still bored)

15 Jun

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Sorry about posting a day late, everyone!

While summer is well-known for sunshine, not every day can be bright and sunny – in fact; we’re coming up on storm season! There are many things to do when it’s beautiful outside but what can one do when picnics and runs to the ice cream truck aren’t necessarily an option? I’m here to help! Many of these things take minimal resources and suck up varying amounts of time. While not all of them are necessarily productive, they may help you get through a dreary afternoon inside.

◊ Rent a movie, pop some popcorn and have a showing

◊ Make a “red carpet” out of two or three towels and have a movie premiere in your hallway with friends. Bonus: Someone can be Joan Rivers.

◊ Paint your nails in the brightest, sparkliest colors available to remind you of brighter days

◊ Light a candle and roast s’mores for one

◊ Visit TV Tropes and read. You’d be surprised how much time you can use up reading that site.

◊ Find a loved one (significant other, pet, stuffed animal) and have a cuddle party

◊ Take a wonderful nap as rain beats on your windowpane

◊ But a new garden plant in preparation for bad weather and enjoy effort-free watering

◊ Pick a take-out place that you want to try or haven’t eaten in a while (I like Yelp, but for added fun, try the Wheel of Lunch) and call it in. Kick back and wait for your food to arrive.

◊ If you don’t mind rain, take a jog outside! You never know – it might be refreshing! Be sure to take a warm shower afterwards.

◊ Relax into a steaming hot bath and let the pitter patter of rain lull you into relaxation

◊ Avoid driving to the mall and do some online window shopping. Not sure where to start? Amazon is a great source for most things you may need, but just to browse, try Shop Style.

◊ Host a personal dance party in your bedroom

◊ Take the time to learn a skill or do a craft you’ve been meaning to try

◊ This seems obvious, but read a book! Escaping to a world unlike your own may help you forget dreary weather.

◊ Make a mixtape filled with mood music. Do you want to listen to something that reminds you of the rain and gloom? Would you rather play something that brings to mind heat and sunshine? It’s up to you!

◊ Take some time to yourself and make fantastic plans for the future

◊ Make that phone call that you’ve been putting off for ages

◊ Teach yourself a basic magic trick. Searching “learn magic tricks” in a search engine should get you started.

◊ Look up one of those amazing TV shows you never had the time to get into or have to catch up on – for me it’s United States of Tara and Dexter – and have yourself a personal marathon

◊ Google “fuck yeah + your favorite topic/celebrity/color/etc” (omit the plus sign) and see if it has a corresponding tumblr. If not, make one!

◊ Learn to play a common card game – Spades, Poker, Hearts, etc. Next time it starts up at a party, you won’t have to watch on the sidelines!

◊ Do something in the bathtub that doesn’t normally happen in a bathtub. I like eating cake. A word of warning: be careful with electrical devices!

◊ Make an account on We Heart It and “heart” to your heart’s content

◊ Look up your friends’ birthdays (if you’re on Facebook, this is incredibly easy) and mail them a personalized card instead of sending a text or writing on their wall. You’d be surprised how easy this is and how much people enjoy it.

◊ Doodle!

◊ Write a resolution list – resolving to do better isn’t just for New Year’s! From personal experiences, these work best when you are both brief and specific. It’s hard to keep up with a long list of vague things like “be neater”, “be more mindful of money”, “don’t suck at life”, etc.

◊ Are you the type of person that feels like you never know what to wear? Take the time to plan out a couple “go-to” outfits – things you know you look good in when you’re all out of ideas. You’ll be thankful for them someday!

◊ Write positive messages to yourself and stick them on your bathroom (or bedroom) mirror. Consider dispersing them where more people can find them.

◊ Take the time to imagine the ideal place you could be. A tropical island, perhaps? Seeing a show on Broadway? Or maybe you’d rather be on Unicorn Planet?

◊ Now that you’re done brainstorming, provided your ideal location isn’t fictional, what does it take to get there? How can you do it? Using Kayak’s explore feature can help you get a more concrete idea of what it could take.  Now start taking steps!

◊ Go through old newspapers and magazines and create an inspiration board. It could be for anything: your favorite color, a mood, your future plans, your favorite fashion looks…

◊ Create an account on OKCupid and take their various tests. Answer their match questions too! Even if you’re not looking for love, it can still be quite fun.

◊ Take photographs of your everyday life – try to vary up the perspectives and viewpoints. You’d be surprised how memorable things can be if you take a second glance.

Next time you’re stuck inside for a dreary day or you’re just plain bored, I hope these help! Post your favorite rainy weather activities in the comments.

xoxo, Tara

ps – If you like what you read here (and I hope you do!), don’t forget to nominate me for a Black Weblog Award. For more info, click here.

Slowed Down Sunday – 6.13.2010

13 Jun

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Hello everyone, and happy Sunday! Here is my weekly list of things that made me extremely happy. :3 First on the list – UNICORN CUPCAKES. I’m not kidding, I want the cake mold that makes them sooo badly. Anyway!

♥ My Boyfriend’s Back! So, after a two-week holiday in Turkey, I finally have my boyfriend back! I missed him so much – if you talk to me personally, you’d know this first-hand. I can’t wait to sit down with him and look at his pictures and hear stories about Istanbul in detail. But mostly, I’m so glad he’s back! Yes!!

♥ World Cup – The World Cup has everything. I feel like a citizen of the world watching, (I mean, they do call it “the world’s sport”), it’s full of athleticism, nationalism and hot men running across a field. They also have an amazing theme song, which I know is unofficial, but it beats the official one by a mile. Plus, the live posts on Oh No They Didn’t make my day. The USA-England game was pretty epic (for us Americans at least…) and the lulz to be had are epic. I haven’t had this much entertainment in ages. Germany and Australia are playing at 2:30 EST and I’ll surely be watching!

♥ Laurence Fishburne in “Thurgood” – I haven’t been this impressed with a stage show – ever. I spent hours contemplating Laurence Fishburne’s acting and how it transcended any that I have ever seen in person. He wasn’t a man adopting gestures and intonations to imitate somebody else – he embodied Thurgood Marshall in a way that left the entire audience transfixed for almost two hours – with no intermissions! – he went from the retired Supreme Court Justice Marshall to the teenager saving money for college, to the young man developing a passion for law at Howard University, to the celebrated lawyer involved in the Brown v. Board of Education case to a Supreme Court Justice and back. It was absolutely riveting.

♥ Super Mario Galaxy 2 – I knew I’d be in love with this game and I was right! It keeps all the things I loved about the previous Super Mario Galaxy game (minus those “clean up” challenges – but that’s for another time) while adding great features like a new map screen, new power-ups (Drill Mario is epic) and most importantly, YOSHI!! I am not kidding when I say that I exclaimed, out loud, Nobody is safe! when I realized the scope of his enemy eating power. Plus, they kept the co-op, so you can play with a friend. I honestly feel as if the Wii is worth it for Wii Sports and the two Super Mario Galaxies. (Although there are other great Wii games as well!)

♥ Mini-loves: Being called ‘The Purple Girl”, getting wonderful goodies in the mail (Thanks Yes and Yes!); link love from Gala Darling; this text from my dad when I woke up this morning: “You are fine. Express what you believe to be true. No excuses or apologies!!”; Having a clean desk (I can’t even believe it!); finding my travel notebook from when I went to Italy, France and Greece four years ago (I can’t believe it’s been so long!);  eating take-out at two a.m. with my parents; drifting to bed with the sounds of my dad telling my mom: “Have you heard of Hardcore History?? It’s amazing” and her response: “Mhmmm…zzzzz”; having vivid dreams again; the anticipation for Toy Story 3; cutting up with my mother, aunt and grandmother on the way back from the Kennedy Center; getting tons of mileage out of a dress I wasn’t sure I was going to buy; hosting an awards ceremony for my kids at the learning center

What did you love this week? Share it in the comments!

xoxo,

Tara

Weekend Links – 6.11.2010

11 Jun

Happy Friday, everybody! As I’m typing this, South Africa is facing off against Mexico in the first match of the group stage. (EDIT: Because of my internet problems, I’m actually getting ready to watch France vs. Uruguay – but the Mexico/South Africa match was great!) If you haven’t considered it, try catching some of the World Cup – it’s fantastic! I became interested in it during the last tournament and I have a few friends who are deeply invested who make it even more important.

◊ You can learn about the World Cup on the official FIFA website, here. You can also view the match schedule at this link. If you’re watching the World Cup from the United States, you can get the station listings on ESPN Soccer Net – and if you’re American, you may be interested to know that The US plays England tomorrow at 2pm!

◊ Are you unfamiliar with the world cup? Here, the various teams are broken down into “American-friendly” analogies. Though I must say, equating the French with the Duke Blue Devils is nothing short of genius.

◊ I have been recently trying to upgrade my wardrobe, but I have tons of t-shirts from when they were my fashion staple. Plus, if you’re a college student like me, you’re bound to get plenty of free t-shirts throughout your college career. Here’s an article on how to dress up a t-shirt from The Fashion Bomb, as well as a vintage article about the same topic on Gala Darling’s blog.

◊ June is the month of summer, and Flickr blog documents it in their latest blog entry.

◊ I absolutely love this photography posted in Tha Hotness.

◊ I have never heard of “The Shadow Effect”, but this interesting book review brings it to light. I might have to check it out.

“it is only by embracing our duality [of good and bad] that we free ourselves of the behaviors that can potentially bring us down. If we don’t acknowledge all of who we are, we are guaranteed to be blindsided by the shadow effect.”

◊ I have always wanted to go to Disneyland, but this new attraction, “World of Color” all but cements it. I will be in there, a screaming, crying Disney fangirl through and through.

◊ As an aspiring blogger and student, I can relate – 11 Things to Do and Not Do When You’re Burned Out on White Hot Truth.

◊ In case you haven’t noticed, I am a super fan of Chaka Khan. Here are vintage pictures of Chaka being a goddess, as usual.

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◊ This is an amazing reimagining of the Sydney Opera House by artist Laurie Anderson.

Gorgeous sunglasses on Fly by A-Morir.

◊ Dream It? Do it! From Yes and Yes, by way of O Magazine.

◊ Eight Products You Think You Need – But You Don’t. I don’t know how I’d be able give up body wash, though.

Jam of the Week – Waving Flag: K’Naan featuring David Bisbal

Have any links worth a share? Post them in the comments!

Xoxo, Tara