Late Night Ramblings

A friend texted me happy half-birthday yesterday, reminding me of how much things have changed since I spent my 21st birthday in a hotel in Seattle six months ago, waiting to board a plane on my first international flight. It was probably the first time in about a year that my whole family spent the night under one roof.

Life changes.

Sometimes a lot more than you expect it to, as in all of our cases this year. 2020 has certainly been full of change.

Six months ago on my 21st birthday I would have never imagined my life as it is now. I was busy planning out my travel plans for the year, most of which got cancelled.

I didn’t make it out to California, or Virginia, but some new life changes I haven’t been expecting has happened.

I had a lot of time during the shut down to work on projects. Believe me, it wasn’t a vacation. I got most of my second book done, “The Bull River Gang; Book One, Thief in the Night.” I’m still working on some final edits and then I have formatting to work on. My goal is to get that out before school starts … in a little under two weeks.

I also finally got my Etsy shop, Hannah’s Honeybees, up and running. It was a ton of work getting the labels created since I had to work from scratch, but it’s finally up! Right now I have four different variations, peppermint, pink grapefruit, lavender, and unscented. I’m working on figuring out a few more to add. I also got a local store to carry them which is super exciting.

Then just while I was busy with all that, BAM! I got thrown a job offer and now I am a full-time copy editor at the local press.

With my new job and college (at which I’m working as managing editor for the press and senator on student gov), I decided it was high time to move to town. It was sad giving up my beautiful home on the cattle ranch, but everything kinda’ just fell into place so I went along with it.

This morning I drove the 10 minutes from my new apartment to downtown to shoot a session for one of my photography clients. I sat by the beautiful water fountain and thought, boy am I blessed. This is my home.

Eight Historic Places I want to Visit in the U.S.

Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Traveling has always been a dream of mine. There’s so much in this world I would love to be able to experience firsthand. Movies like “National Treasure” make me want to just hop on a plane and take a walk through all the historical places. I did have the amazing privilege to visit Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia among a few other national historic sites on a cross country trip when I was 14. Here is a list of eight places I want to visit someday in the U.S.

1. Mount Vernon in Virginia

George Washington’s Mount Vernon mansion

Ever since seeing photos of this beautiful estate in my history book as a young child, I have wanted to visit the home of our first president. George’s Washington’s Mount Vernon is a beautiful part of colonial history. The farm includes the Washington’s mansion, gardens, distillery, and more. The website includes a virtual tour of the mansion’s 21 rooms, including the news room which I am most interested in as a journalist. I used to spend hours looking through a tourist magazine of the place.

2. Monticello in Virginia

Jefferson’s Monticello plantation

Thomas Jefferson’s famous cannonball clock sparked my interest in visiting this plantation. Jefferson had an interest in inventing which shows up in his home. The location also hosts many events including Jefferson reenactments.

3. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum just seems like one of the coolest historical sites to visit, not to mention I’m already a fan of the sea. I’ve always been super interested in visiting this place, especially after watching “Johnny Tremain” as a kid. You can also visit the home of Paul Revere, the oldest home in downtown Boston.

4. The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

The Alamo

I always loved Smitty in John Wayne’s “The Alamo.” We even named a family dog after him. Besides the fact that it’s located in Texas, which is somewhere I’d like to visit again, I’ve always wanted to see this old mission after reading about it.

5. Alcatraz Island in San Fransisco Bay, California

Alcatraz Island

I remember reading a story book about the three prisoners who escaped this island, and have since then wanted to visit. You can get cruise rides up to the island and then take it at your own pace through the prison with their self-guided tours. I had the pleasure of walking across the Golden Gate Bridge when I was younger.

6. Washington D.C

The Senate building

There is so much to see in Washington D.C. If you’ve ever watched Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” I would probably do exactly what he did, go on a tour throughout the whole district. I would especially like to visit the Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History (that’s where the “National Treasure” part comes in XD.)

7. Plymouth, Massachusetts

Plymouth Plantation, a living history museum

And of course, there’s Plymouth. This cute town has so much history! You can see the Plymouth Plantation, a living history site, and other historical places like the Plymouth Rock.

8. Independence Hall in Philadelphia

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Here’s another “National Treasure” location. Imagine being in the same room where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed. I’ve also always wanted to see the Liberty Bell.

Bonus: Prince Edward Island, Canada

Prince Edward Island

You know I’m an “Anne of Green Gables” fan. I’ve always wanted to visit Green Gables and see the Haunted Woods and Balsam Hollow trails for myself. It’s my dream someday to vacation to this island. I’ve even spent some hours looking up the cheapest lighthouses to book.

Where do you want to visit?

My Guide to Staying Sane as an Online Student

Life threw us a curveball.

As a college student, being forced to adjust to the change of online schooling because of COVID-19 can be quite difficult. We’re not seeing our friends, getting face-to-face help, and even our assignments are changing. Most of us just can’t wait to be done.

That said, here are some tips I compiled for staying motivated through this stressful time.

  1. Mark a Calendar

Have you been waking up and wondering what day of the week it was? (Because, ahem, I did.) Tack a calendar to the wall beside your bed and start crossing of each day.

2. Keep a Schedule

Don’t change up the normal routine of your day. Wake up, exercise, eat breakfast…. If you start staying up late and sleeping in all the time you’ll lose your routine and the week will just become one long, uneventful day.

3. Make a to-do list.

Start off your day by compiling a list of each thing you want to accomplish, and finish the list by the end of the day

4. Don’t Procrastinate on Homework

This is the worst pitfall to give into. Don’t do it! Make sure you put aside time for homework as if you were actually in class. Add it to your schedule and keep track of all your assignments. If you can, most online classes give you the opportunity to get ahead.

5. Reward yourself for completing your tasks

Take a break. Go on a walk. Eat some ice cream. FaceTime a friend. Watch a show. Read a book. Paint. Sew. There are so many things to do! If you need some ideas, check out my blog post on things to do in quarantine!

What Staying at Home Looks like for Me

Since moving back from CDA, my life has had quite a few changes!

The most significant of course is that all my schooling is now online. I actually don’t mind that too much, surprisingly. I miss seeing my friends at school, and I think I learn better in a classroom environment, but having my school online has helped me in terms of scheduling. Especially with the school magazine this semester.

Not too glamorous pic a classmate captured of me working on the magazine at our old Airbnb.

Taking 8 classes (double of a full-time semester) has been a bit challenging in terms of I don’t have time for all my homework, especially with the school magazine. This week is production week, and I spent all last week trying to get as much homework out of the way so I could spend this week on the magazine. It comes to a point where I’ll have to admit, I’ve done my best and spent countless hours and late nights on it. It’s as good as it’s gonna get.

So in short, that’s what staying at home looks for me. Working on school nonstop. But there are also the moments…

Like when I took a walk down the driveway and realized I looked like a little kid running away from home to all the passerby.

Or had a three-way FaceTime with my long-distance bestie so I could meet her military boyfriend.

Or invited my sisters over and we spent an all-nighter binge-watching the seventh season of “When Calls the Heart.” (Seriously LOVE that show. Team Nathan or Lucas, folks? My vote is with Lucas!)

From left to right: Nathan, Elizabeth, and Lucas from “When Calls the Heart”

Those are the memories I’ll remember. What memories have you been making?

Back to the Good Old Comedies

Some of my favorite comedies are the old ones. I thought since we were all social distancing and relying on virtual friends, I’d share a few of my favorites.

“You Can’t Take it with You” – 1938

“You Can’t Take it With You” is one of my all-time favorites! It’s a love story about a rich banker’s son played by Jimmy Stewart (another reason I like it so much 🙂 ) who falls in love with his secretary who has an eccentric family. The mom is a writer, the sister is a dancer, the grandpa is a stamp collector, and dad makes fireworks in the basement. The story centers around the couple’s plan to get their families to meet on agreeable terms…and the rest is chaos! I’m sure you’ll love the Sycamore family as much as I do!

“That Darn Cat!” is another one of those funny older movies. Hayley Mills plays a teen who believes that DC (the cat) has come across a clue to rescuing a hostage from a bank robbery. She hires an FBI detective, played by Dean Jones, to come to investigate. The situation gets interesting and quite comedic as Mills and her older sister try to keep the detective undercover and away from the girls’ prying neighbors and jealous boyfriends. A few other Hayley Mills favorites are “The Parent Trap” and “Summer Magic.”

“The Love Bug” -1968

“The Love Bug” is a hilarious story of a low-luck driver Jim Douglas played by Dean Jones who gets a second chance with a car like none other, Herbie. Herbie isn’t like other cars; he has a mind of his own. Along for the ride are Douglas’s girlfriend and Tennesse, his odd and funny mechanic.

“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” – 1954

“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” is a funny old comedy about a newly married young wife who tries to marry off her husbands six brothers who share their home. It’s filled with fun tunes and exciting dance scenes.

Let me know of your favorite old comedies!

March Highlights – Moving Forward

These past two months have been a whirlwind of a ride, from the Philippines to New York City to coming back home to beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and finding that life as I had known it had been totally changed.

Trying to get some of my geography homework out of the way in our Airbnb.

Upon returning home from NYC, my classmates and I were quarantined in an Airbnb not far from our college campus. There we spent two weeks working endlessly on our school magazine. I’m not kidding it was literally wake up, eat, work on the magazine, eat, work on the magazine, eat, go to bed. (I love getting tasks complete so I’m a bit of a workaholic and was cracking down on all the staff.)

Our Airbnb newsroom.

You can imagine that such a repetitive daily routine gets a bit overwhelming. I have to admit this extrovert was going a little crazy, especially during the last two days. Overall, I thought it was quite interesting to see the effect that isolation would have upon me. To sum it up, I think I went brain dead in terms of socialization and wound up mentally exhausted from the overload of schoolwork.

I think I put on jeans twice during quarantine…maybe twice

As our quarantine lifted, my classmate and I got security to unlock the newsroom on campus so we could each grab a Mac to take back to our homes for continued work on the school magazine. We probably looked like regular thieves loading all that equipment up into my little black Ford Focus.

It was a sad day driving back to my CDA home and packing everything up there and loading that on top of my stuff from the Airbnb. I moved from two houses in one day back to my own little apartment up north to be closer to family.

My new home office.

After a day of recovery (plus some spring cleaning), I am back to work in my “new” home. My plan for the upcoming week is to get as much homework that’s possible out of the way so I have the rest of my semester cleared to work on finishing up my next book! (Did I mention I was a workaholic?!) What better time than now to finally get it done!

I also got a lot of planning for the next semester completed. I have one class for my photography degree that isn’t offered again until next spring, so I decided to just go to school for one more full year and study music theory. I also put in an application to run for student government. My friend Melissa helped me film a campaign video since everything has to be online and let’s just say it’s….well, not ideal.

Looking forward, I really hope that the skies clear up ahead! But until then, I hope I’ll be able to make the best of it and give some much-needed attention to tasks at hand. I pray you all are keeping sane through these wild times. At least the memes are good.

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Thoughts with Hannah

Hi my dear friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve shared something like this (and it pains me to think that as it is the most important thing in my life). As I sit here trying to get through my homework load at my newly arranged yet already cluttered workspace (much like my newly transitioned but already disorderly life), I realize that all too often when times are good, I tend to stick these serious issues in the backseat while I enjoy the drive. It’s not a new thought! But sometimes it takes a change to help me remember and reflect once again on to Whom I owe my joy, and why life is worth the living. And that’s what I’m here to share.  I’d like to talk about the greatest love story in history, and that starts with creation.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Gen. 1:1. God created us in His own image and breathed in us life. But we sinned against him because we were not satisfied with what He had given us, and our unity with God was broken. But from the very beginning, God created a way for sinners to be reconciled, and that Way was Jesus. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 2:5.

Jesus was God’s only begotten Son, fully God yet fully Man, and the only One who had lived a perfect and undefiled life, therefore the only One who could lift the curse we had brought on ourselves. “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” Isa. 53:5. Jesus suffered a painful and humiliating death on a cross to pay for the salvation of His people. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:9.

Salvation is a free gift. We didn’t earn it, we couldn’t, and all we have to do to receive it is to believe and confess. While everything in the world we see seems to be changing so drastically, this Truth never changes. Jesus is way to eternal life. Don’t take that lightly! “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:28. Jesus is the reason that we can rejoice in the midst of suffering because He is Enough. He will never leave us nor forsake us!

 “I hadn’t asked Him to forgive me of all the sin in my life, and I realized all along that I had just been depending on my good works, and maybe my parent’s faith, to get to heaven.

And boy is that a joke, ’cause when I was on the brink of death, I realized that nothing I ever did was enough to pay for what I had done.

It had taken me all of just a minute then to recognize that the only thing that stood between me and eternal damnation . . . was the cross. So while I was lying there in that coffin, I asked Jesus to save me and make me His forever, because I don’t think I took it seriously before, but a close brush with death can make you rethink your life all over, and I knew right then that I didn’t want to live anymore without living for Jesus.”

-Excerpt from “The Summer of Our Lives,” some book that will start in existence if this old self will ever get around to finishing it.

10 Ways to Beat the Boredom

Social distancing, eh? That’s hard for us social butterflies. And quarantine is even harder!!! Well….unless you have a bajillion homework assignments and a magazine to create…let me just rant here.

The Great Escape -1963

To keep us all from turning into couch potatoes, here’s a list of things to do while you’re stuck at home.

1) Try a new workout routine

Remember all those times you said you wished you had time to workout? Yeah, you remember. Well, now’s that perfect time to start! We all need exercise being cooped up for this long period of time, so let’s get those muscles moving. There are plenty of workout routines you can find online, and even apps and Youtube videos. If you’re like me and need motivation, why not Facetime a friend and be virtual gym partners? There’s your workout and social time in one!

2) Learn a new dance step

Singing in the Rain – 1952

Ever wanted to learn how to dance? Now is a perfect time! If you have siblings or a spouse at home you’ve a a built in dance partner! If not, there are still plenty of dance steps you can learn on your own, and a whole bunch of Youtube tutorials out there! I, for one, have always thought that tap dancing was super cool!

3) Do-It-Yourself Projects

These are so fun, but with all the busy hubbub of life, I find that I rarely have time for them. Pinterest is full of DIY project ideas!

4) Try new recipes

Try making Clara’s Apple Dumplings from Growing Up Wilder!

The kitchen is my favorite place to be while at home! I love trying out new recipes, and especially EATING them! Pinterest is a great place for recipes! I also Google search for recipes a lot when I’m looking for something to use up a specific ingredient. There are also all those delicious recipes from my book Growing Up Wilder to try! Happy searching!

5) Clean out your closet

Who knows what gems you’ll fine? And how much space you’ll have for new clothes afterwards!

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6) Rearrange your furniture

It’s like moving into a whole new house! And you have plenty of time for readjustments and trial arrangements. After that you can start redecorating with your new DIY projects!

7) Try a Bob Ross painting tutorial

These are super fun, and can lead to some awesome bonding time for the whole family! If you don’t have the supplies at home, there’s always Amazon!

8) Get out that scrapbooking kit

If you’re like me, you’ve had these kits sitting around since you were born practically. I guess all homeschooled girls are expected to pick up scrapbooking at some point in their life. My scrapbook became storage holder for random papers, certificates, and homework assignments. #fail

Check out Pinterest for scrapbook ideas!

9) Try new hairstyles

I’ve always wished I was creative with hairstyles, but I’m more like the most boring person you’ve met. It’s basically either just clean or needs a wash for me over here…speaking of which I haven’t brushed it since the start of this quarantine also. 🤫But you can get creative with your lovely locks! There’s plenty of resources out there from hair books to blog posts to Youtube tutorials! Here’s a tutorial for the waterfall braid, a beautiful flowing look I’ve always admired.

10) Call long distance friends

I love Lucy -1951

And finally, when is a better time to catch up with all your long distance buddies! You might even try to do a conference call since all of your schedules have opened up!

Need more things to do? Check out my friend Anika’s blog where she posts her top ten ideas!

Have fun and comment your favorite at-home pastime!

Top Ten Books Every Girl Should Read

Growing up, I was an avid reader. I would read almost anything set in front of me (provided it was clean of course 🙂 ) whether it was in one of my favorite genres or not. I have memories of hiding in my closet, or behind a locked bathroom door so that no one would disturb me while I feasted on my pile of books.

Today, things are a bit different. I’m busier now than I’ve was as a child. Last spring I worked two part-time jobs as a waitress and lifeguard as well as nannied a few days and attended college full time. Somehow it all worked out. This spring I’ve managed to cut out a full workload again, minimizing the jobs but maximizing the classes. With all that, reading just seems to be squeezed out of the picture. Any spare moment I find, I try to devote to my writing or photography. (And believe me, it’s been sparse.) Those days of lazily dreaming through chapters are long gone and sorely envied.

I’ll never have a minute of regret for all those countless hours I spent meeting “new friends” and learning about their beautiful, interesting, mysterious lives. That said, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite books for young heroines. Feel free to comment on your favorite or mention one you think I should add to this list!

  1. A Life of Faith Series

I LOVE this series so much! There are five different sets of girls, Millie Keith, Elsie Dinsmore, Violet Travilla, Laylie Colbert, and Kathleen McKenzie. Each series focuses on one of these special girls and is filled with humor and history, but most importantly, important lessons and role models as these girls trust God throughout all their various trials. My favorite two are Millie and Laylie. I even got to interview the author, Kersten Hamilton! 

2. In Grandma’s Attic Series

Image result for in grandma's attic

Oh my goodness! Where do I start? This series is hilarious!! From pranking her brothers to forging signatures, losing the family buggy…Mabel gets into all kinds of scrapes! This series is set in a 19th century Michigan town. Best of all, it’s a series so you get to watch her grow up. 

3. Anne of Green Gables Series

If you want some enriching reading, here’s a book for you! L. M. Montgomery is a literary master. Her rich descriptions and details along with her richly developed characters set her books apart from others. And who can resist the spirited, lovable, red-headed Anne with an E? My favorite movie version of this film is 1985 series by Kevin Sullivan starring Megan Follows as Anne. There’s even a musical for this book!

4. Caddie Woodlawn

Here’s another lovable young girl! Caddie Woodlawn’s adventures are always so fun, from running around with her Indian friends to playing tricks on her cousin. Her wild, yet soft and compassionate heart, is what draws readers to love her. Also, unknown to many, is a sequel to the book, “Magical Melons” also published as “Caddie Woodlawn’s Family.”

5. Joy Sparton Series

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If you haven’t noticed yet, I love reading about adventurous young girls getting into scrapes, so here’s another one! Joy Sparton and her brother Roy are a couple of PK’s trying to get through their early teen years. I love Joy’s antics, and mostly her beautiful story of learning to live for her Savior. 

6. Little Women

A classic every girl should read! I learned to love all of these girls as if they were my very own sisters. Louisa May Alcott writes in such a personable way that makes you drawn to her characters. Her story is one of love, loyalty, and sisterhood as tears of anger and sadness along with those of joy fill these pages drawing the girls closer together as they walk through life together and apart. My favorite movie version of this book is the 1949 film with June Allyson.

7. An Old Fashion Girl

This book tells the story of Polly, a sweet, timid young girl. It’s really all about character building. You’ll fall in love with Polly as she learns to maneuver through life. Another beautiful story by Louisa May Allcott.

8. Annie Henry: Adventures in the American Revolution  Series

This series can be a bit difficult to find, but definitely worth it. I love all the historical elements bound up in the little series as it tells the story of our little heroine, Anne Henry, growing up with the guidance of her family and particularly her father, the famous Patrick Henry. 

9. Five Little Peppers Series

This is another that might be hard to find, but such a sweet story of five young siblings growing up. There’s not much money in the Pepper house, and each child has to pitch in to help them get by. This is such a fun book to read and awakes your creative mind. 

10. Little House on the Prarie Series

And of course, the classic pioneer story of Laura Ingalls. My favorite part of this book is how Laura included all the detailed descriptions of food. There’s even a Little House cookbook out there! I also love the song lyrics and all the fun illustrations. Don’t forget the TV show with Micheal Landon and Melissa Gilbert. And, if you get a chance, watch the new musical!

Don’t forget to comment on your favorite book(s), and let me know of any you think I should add! Happy reading!

Times Square Unlike other Times

My journey to NYC and back amidst rising concerns from COVID-19.

Times Square, New York

It was possible…but probable?

We took our chances.

My classmates (those who didn’t drop out), adviser, and I attended the College Media Association convention at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square, New York City while COVID-19 concerns were still rising. 

The first day was pretty normal other than the smaller than average crowds. We walked several miles exploring the city and got settled in our hotel. 

Pizza shop in NYC.

On the second day, I left the convention early to try to find binoculars for watching a Broadway show. (I packed a couple hours before the trip in the college parking lot by shoving random things I threw in my car in a backpack I emptied. I had midterms and a choir concert the evening I flew out so I didn’t have much trip prep time🤷‍♀️)

Being a small-town girl, I didn’t really think I’d wander NYC alone. But there I was.

The Phantom of the Opera played in Majestic Theatre with some of the coolest effects.

I found a $29 ticket to The Phantom of the Opera at the box office a couple hours before the show and decided to snag that. Before the show, I met a classmate and we grabbed some NY pizza together.

As I left the theater, I found out that all Broadway shows were suspended until April 12th due to COVID-19 concerns. At least I was able to see one show! 

After a group meeting, we decided to finish our stay in NYC. My classmates and I went on a National Geographic tour, rode the wooden escalator up nine flights in Macy’s, then stopped at Junior’s Bakery to grab a cheesecake. We split that in the apartment using dental floss to slice it up and ate it out of the hotel cups. We weren’t able to finish the whole cheesecake that night but it worked out okay because we found a mini-fridge in a side room at the hotel while wandering around in our PJ’s trying to find ice for the ice bucket, our original storage plan. The mini fridge looked like an upgrade so we carried that back to our room. 

New York Public Library

The third day we left for the Museum of Modern Art in the morning, but all the museums were closed in NY for social distancing. We decided to just walk around the city and stopped by the Empire State Building and New York Public Library. Since almost all the convention meetings were canceled, we had to look for other things to do. I was able to attend some sections on photojournalism. 

NYC view from the Staten Island Ferry.

That night we had a group meal at an amazing Asian restaurant. We all got ramen bowls and ginger ice cream. Afterward, we took the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and a cool view of NYC.  On the way back to our hotel we grabbed some dollar pizza. 

Stardust Diner on Times Square.

Saturday morning we all slept in late and then went out for a brunch at the Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a cool restaurant where the waitstaff performs Broadway songs. That was quite a fun experience!

Central Park

We walked off our meal in Central Park then got dinner in Chinatown. The streets were getting emptier and more people were using masks. 

Sunday morning we decided it would be best to flee NYC as soon as we could since everything was shutting down. 

As of now, my classmates and I are self-quarantined and working on our school assignments online.

In two weeks we’ll know how much we liked this trip 🙂