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weekly wishes #22

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December 30, 2013
So I've decided that the first sentence of a blog post is officially the most awkward sentence in the world. Usually I just say 'hi, friends' or something like that, but I kind of feel like I'm just greeting my computer + that's just weird. So super random survey, how do you start your posts? I need help...

Wow, I'm beyond weird today. 

For real, let me just get to it. Last week, my goals were to spend intentional time with my family + get some cleaning done! I made the first goal because my family is very sociable + likes to spend time together (I know, and they think I'm the weird one). When I hole up in my room, people tend to get mad at me. And it's not because I don't like them, I'm just an introvert. So I made sure this week to spend time with people on my own terms. That means generally not in big groups + doing non-stressful things. Like my grandma and I spent time reading together and my sister and I organized our jewelry together. Things like that.

And let me tell you, I aced my cleaning goal! I did make a goal to do 30 minutes a day, but I never really timed it. But I pretty consistently kept things put away in their proper place + spent a little time cleaning up areas that got out of control, like my desk or bathroom cabinet. 

In the process, I found that I hoard pencils, hand sanitizer + makeup. I have four bronzers. Four. I don't even wear bronzer... I also have over 200 pencils, and six bottles of hand sanitizer. That's just weird.

(p.s. is that font so Seventeen magazine or what?!)

Point is, I did good. 

So when I was brainstorming goals for this coming week, I sort of made the mistake (uh, I mean brilliant decision) of asking H for ideas. So in case it wasn't obvious, we have H to thank for the first two...

+Well first some background. I hate just about any social situation in which I have to make small talk. I hate meeting new people (except like through blogging or other common interests). I hate dancing. The last time I was at a situation that incorporated just one of those (dancing), I had a panic attack. Obviously, I'm not in a hurry to relive that experience. But unfortunately, weddings incorporate all of the above. And even more unfortunately, H has a cousin getting married on Saturday and I just might die (okay, okay, I'm happy for the guy; it's not unfortunate). It seems kind of silly to make a goal not to die, but I'm gonna do it anyways. And I'm going to dance with H, that's part b. Oh, sweet baby Jesus in the manger, this might be bad...

+Send H a random compliment every day of the week. Haha of course, this was all his idea, but I'm happy to oblige. And while we're at it, let me introduce you to the amazingness that is Daily Odd Compliments. You're so welcome.

"Flying Squirrels"

That's all for my goals for the week! But since we're on the topic of awesome things, let me share with you a non-literal rockstar who is quite possibly the most awesome blogger around, Z of Sometimes Z Takes Pictures (off whom I totally ripped yesterday's post).

The Best of Call Me Sassafras in 2013

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December 29, 2013
Wow, where do I begin? I began this lil baby of a blog on May 24th of this year and it has been such an adventure. I never imagined blogging would be such a big + fulfilling hobby of mine, just a few months later. So today, I just wanted to copy Z of Sometimes Z Takes Pictures and be a little nostalgiac + remember a couple of my favorite posts since May. 

In May, I struggled to figure out what exactly I wanted this blog to be, but I knew I wanted to be part of the blogging community. In this month, I found one of my favorite playlists ever on the Anthropologie spotify account (Cover it Up // An Anthropologie Playlist). A few days later, I opened up about what it's like to leave a childhood home for a much nicer house + shared some song lyrics that matched my feels (Thoughts on Moving Out).

In June, I got real and explained the real reason why I watch Jerry Springer--and why we need higher standards of honesty in our lives (Why I Like Jerry Springer).

In July, can I just solicit a few 'go you!' yells because I posted 34 times. It was a month full of inspiration and time to blog, which we all know isn't always plentiful. Right at the beginning, my boy H came and guest posted his Tips for Long Distance Relationships. This one ended up being a reader fave! Clearly y'all like him better than me...I also wrote my very first science post, on my hero Marie Curie (Marie Curie, Karate Chopping Stereotypes) and wrote a guide for maintaining a good mood (Funky Mood? Not for Long!).

In August, I wrote a series called Love Your Brain, which, you guessed it, is about loving your brain (Part one, two, three). I also shared some design tips that any blogger can use (Easy Peasy Tips to Make Your Blog Prettier in 5 Minutes).

In September, my favorite post wasn't even one by me! My friend Kate from Diaries of an Essex Girl shared 5 Ace Design Resources for Bloggers. But in my second favorite post of September, I enlightened y'all with 3 wonderfully weird music genres: celtic rock, electro-swing and gregorian chants (Weird Music Genres that Aren't Actually that Weird).

In October, I gave you my tips and tricks for managing school, jobs and life in general (Get Stuff Done). In October, I also switched from Wordpress to Blogger, making a very unorthodox blogging decision, but I've never looked back.

In November, I decided to rein in my design business and work with patience. I acknowledged that I'm still growing my skills + decided to offer blog design services. I also introduced one of my favorite projects to date that is currently helping me end 2013 on a high note and start 2014 right (Six Weeks of Wellbeing).

And finally, December. My favorite post of this month was where I got a little nerdy with you and showed you how to organize + make perfect playlists in iTunes (4 Ways to Get More Out of Your iTunes Library).

Just a heads up, a lot of my images got lost in the transfer from Wordpress to Blogger and I didn't bother to save them, so they're gone. Please forgive me for some old posts that may be missing pictures or are badly formatted! I'm slowly trying to fix them! 

Oh and if you really want to make my day, leave me a comment on an old post! Disqus decided to be stupid on me and lost all of my comments before the switch so most of my old posts don't have any comments! Sad face.

What was your favorite post of the year? Please share it in the comments!

A Very 1950s Christmas Playlist

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December 25, 2013
Merry Christmas! (If you're a non-Christmas celebrator, sorry. Just skip this whole post.) I hope your day has been merry + bright so far!

Okay, so this isn't really a real post, I just wanted to share one of my all-time favorite playlists (oh look! I'm the genius who made it) for Christmas. Enjoy!

How are you spending your Christmas?

weekly wishes #21

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December 23, 2013


Hi loves! Merry Christmas Eve Eve! So I've always said that it's impossible to get in the Christmas spirit in NC. For one, it's raining out. Oh and it's also 75 out, which is so not okay. But I'll be in Michigan soon enough, frolicking in the snowy goodness! Haha I hate warm winters...

Last week, I made a wish just to be efficient. I had finals + lots of stuff to do and I'm oh so happy to be all done. I really feel like I succeeded pretty well in being efficient though. I didn't really feel overwhelmed about any of my finals! But I should probably wait to get the results back before I get all confident.

This coming week is probably going to be stressful for me. I'll be honest, it's hard for me to spend time with my family. And it's not because we fight (much), but I'm just so different than the rest of my family. They're all extroverts, love dinner parties and family game nights while I just want to hide by myself somewhere. I know I sound kind of silly--I love my family. But it's hard to be constantly pushed to be social when that's just not something I am capable of doing for long.

So I have two goals for the next week:

+Spend time with my family members on my own terms. If I'm intentional about spending time together in small doses and in a comfortable environment and all, then everyone is bound to be good to go. This might mean spending a little time cooking with my mom or reading with my grandmother.

+Clean for at least half an hour every day (until I leave on Friday, that is). I've been in a pretty big cleaning kick lately, which actually never ever happens to me. So I fully intend on getting as much as I can out of this weird mood of mine. I cleaned my desk the other day + actually scrubbed my bathroom (please be impressed). On the hit list? The bins in my closet + the top of my dresser (which I haven't actually seen in years).


And can I just share a little dose of happy? First off, I'm not the hugest (sorry, not a word) fan of A Beautiful Mess because who has time to make their own giant Jenga set? Not me. But I do really love their app. If you don't know about it, it's a (99 cent) app where you can add doodles, filters, borders + words to pictures. I also got the new iPhone 5s (you bet I got the gold) so I can actually take good pictures now. So there are a multitude of selfies to be had. And happy dose #3? I got this lovely scarf c/o Dottie Q and no, it's not cold enough to wear it, but I still wear it because it's freaking gorgeous.

What are your goals for the week? How do you survive a lot of time with family?

4 Ways to Get More Out of Your iTunes Library

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December 21, 2013
Guys, it's about to get nerdy in here. Get excited.

Let's start with a bit of a story about Allie, shall we? So over the last three or four years, my dad has made me take four or five of those "career placement" tests--you know, the one's that ask you to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how fun 'building a birdhouse' or 'answering the phone' sounds to you (hint: the answer's always 1). Basically, my dad thought that as there's no way I was capable of knowing what I wanted to do with my life so I had to get some people in an office a thousand miles away to tell me.

Anyways so every time I had to take one, 6 to 9 weeks later, I'd get a massive package in the mail, with all the answers I need for my life, ever (sarcasm). Every single time, the tests told me the same thing. I should work with science (not people! ha, they know I'm an introvert), numbers, data, etc, etc. Well actually one time, a test recommended me for 'personal services'...meaning being a bartender or a manicurist. Yep. (Not that there's anything wrong with either of those, just not for me.)

Point is, I have a through-and-through, dictionary definition analytical mind. But I could have told you that. I mean, I'm the girl that plans out her day down to the minute and tries to get through boring runs by squaring numbers in her head. I could have saved you the money, Dad.

I literally analyze everything (guys, I promise I'm fun!). And my iTunes library is no exception. I get all organize-y and analyze-y to the max when it comes to things I love, so of course I have to constantly organize my iTunes library. So please, allow me to teach you my ways, young grasshoppers.

Remind yourself of forgotten music. 

Click the little squarey thing in the top left corner >> New >> New Smart Playlist. Then select "Last Played" and "is before" and then a date, I recommend a year before today. You may find some old favorites that you've just forgotten about (especially if you have a large-ish library like me) or you may just want to trash them all.

Delete that music that you think you like but actually hate. 

In theory, I really like the band Bon Iver. Y'know, they're folksy and acoustic-y and I dig that. So if someone asked me if I like them, I'd say yeah, sure. But my iTunes library "skip" filter tells the truth. The more you 'skip' a song (meaning it comes up in a playlist or shuffle and you click to the next song), the more you honestly don't like them. To see your skips, right-click on the menu bar on the top (with song/artist/time/date added/stuff like that) and select skips. Then sort it and see which songs you skip most. Just delete them. You can do it.

Rate your music + create a system. 

I almost hate to say it because I know it takes awhile but I've found it to be worth it. So if you're not super obsessed with music (like me), you can skip this. But if you are, make sure you're rating. As much as you can. As you're listening to it, try to take a second to click a rating in. Make definitions for what each rating means for you. For me, 5 stars would be a song I play over and over again. A song doesn't usually stay on 5 stars forever though. When I get a little tired of it, I bump it down to 4 stars, which means that I really like it. 3 stars means I like listening to it, but not all the time. 2 stars means I like the song but I'm really tired of it. Anything that deserves a rating below that should be deleted. I choose not to rate songs that aren't normal listening music. This means holiday music or music that I only listen to while working out or studying. I also try to go back through and rerate my 2 stars every once in awhile.

I like to make a few different playlists out of my ratings. One smart playlist is out of 5 star songs. The second is out of 4 star songs that haven't been played in at least a week. Then the third smart playlist is 3 star songs that haven't been played in at least a month. I put all three of these into a folder and shuffle from the folder. It tends to make a really nice mix of current favorites and songs that I like but haven't heard in a little while.

Delete duplicate songs.

For an easy, quick(ish) way to clean out your library, click view>>show duplicates. Delete the duplicates. You're welcome.

Next time, I want to show you all how I really analyze my iTunes library to find out more about my music-listening patterns. I promise you, it'll be so nerdy.

Until then, over and out.

Six Weeks of Wellbeing: Week Three Recap

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December 18, 2013
Well well well. What a week. I don't even know how to define this week; it hasn't been good or bad, just kind of 'eh'. Like you know in Despicable Me (which if you haven't seen...go see it. And the second.) when young Gru is trying to impress his mom and he's like a five year old building a rocket ship and his mom's just like 'eh'? That's how I feel about this week.

But still. It's been better than last week so I'll take what I can get. I didn't have a panic attack, fail any tests, or kill anyone so I'd say I'm doing alright. This week, doing good for myself was more of a mindset than actual actions. I tried to listen to myself and do what I felt like I needed, not what someone else would say I needed to do. 

For example, Monday I just finished taking exams and was just exhausted, even though I had just had the weekend. And I really felt like I should study for the exams I had the next day, but I listened to myself and decided not to. I gave myself an hour to lay in bed, watch SVU and pretend I was cuddling with H (he's sick; I'm lonely) before I got up to study. And you know what? That wasn't being lazy. Or maybe it was, but at the very least, I think it was strategic laziness. You know, laziness is important to a degree. And I think that because I let myself take that guilt-free rest, I was able to calmly prepare for my exams the rest of the night. 

This week, I'm setting a couple concrete ideas for my fourth week of wellbeing. I'm halfway done with the project and while I feel like I'm doing good for myself, I don't feel like I'm challenging myself. I'm only doing the things that feel good for myself now. But the sort of unfortunate thing is that the things that feel best for me (or you!) in the long run are most often the exact things that aren't very fun in the moment. So in the spirit of real wellbeing, I'm going to do things this week that have delayed payoffs. Here are some examples:

+Go for a run. I really hate running until I'm about ten minutes into and I realize I'm still breathing and I look super cute in my little fleece and leggings and headband. And plus, I find that those good feelings (endorphins?) really stick with me and make me feel great for a whole day!

+Clean up my living space. This can be as simple as picking up the dirty clothes on my floor (yes I am that girl) because having a clean floor can do wonders to help me be more productive and overall happier. But I may also spend sometime cleaning off my desk so you know, I can actually use it. 

+Work on my European History book and not leave it until the last minute (is that even possible for me?!). They say proscrastination sucks but that is soo a lie. Procrastination is awesome because you get to watch New Girl and eat popcorn and sit around in your PJs and pretend you don't have work to do. The aftermath, however, is terrible. So to avoid that, maybe I should not leave this huge book until two days before class. 

Just some ideas! Help me! What are some good-for-you things that aren't always fun at first?

Six Weeks of Wellbeing: Week Two Recap

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December 11, 2013

Some days, rules just need to be broken, even if you made them yourself. I promised to recap my second week in the Six Weeks of Wellbeing project today, but that's just not happening. It's been a really stressful week. I had a big research paper, not to mention exams coming up. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, our own wellbeing becomes overlooked.

But I'm not going to get mad at myself or let it bother me because that would go against the whole point of this project. I want to be good to myself, no matter the circumstances. So on that note, I want to start the next week fresh. 

I've actually pulled out a notebook (like it's actually physically sitting next to me right now) that I will use to document my self-good-doingness (totally a word) (okay, I lied, not a word). I've decided that my "theme" for the week is forgiving myself for my mistakes + learning from them, starting today. That's kind of hard for me to handle. I'm not sure how to differentiate the ideas of forgiving myself and learning from my mistakes. 

So just for starters, today I realized that I can be really rude to H when I'm stressed. It just happens. I say things to him that I don't mean unkindly but in my own preoccupation, I say things that I wouldn't say to anyone else. And part of that inevitable comes from a comfortable relationship, so that's great. But if I'm honest, I subconciously assume that I'm "more stressed" than he is or that my work is more important, even though I know neither of those are always true. And as equals in a relationship, I need to practice more respect for him because I love him. 

In the spirit of being good to myself, I'm publicly saying that I forgive myself. But that doesn't mean I'll forget about it, nor does it mean I'll act the same way (on purpose). 

How do you learn from your mistakes even if you've forgiven yourself? What can you forgive yourself for in the name of being good to yourself?

The corn on the left shows the damage that a Lepidoptera (corn pest) can have on corn. The corn on the right is the genetically modified corn that is resistant to the Lepidoptera larvae.

Bt corn is an example of how biotechnologists can manufacture genetically modified organisms (GMOs or GM foods) that aid mankind's survival. In this case, a gene from a soil bacterium (called Bacillus thuringiensis if you want to impress anyone at a dinner party) was found to produce a protein that can kill Lepidoptera larvae, a type of corn borer that likes to nom on corn. Scientists isolated this gene and inserted it into corn DNA, so then when the larvae try to eat the corn, they get poisoned (poor larvae). Farmers can use this new kind of corn as an alternative to using pesticides that target the corn borer. And less pesticides = less chemical pollutants in our water. Yay! There are risks, of course, but Bt corn is on the safer side of genetically modified organisms. 

And if the idea of eating genetically modified organisms weirds you out, just know that if you've had corn, soybeans or beets (random) today and live in the United States, you've most likely had genetically modified food. 

weekly wishes + being efficient + volcanic lightning

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December 08, 2013

Hello friends! Happy Monday! Unfortunately, today's not too happy of a Monday for me. I've got a big week with papers + tests + prepping for midterms next week. So the blogging may be a little sparse for the next two weeks but I'm here, I promise!

So how did I do on my weekly wishes this past week?

Goal #1: Unpack (on Monday). Okay, that definitely did not happen on Monday, but I did unpack Wednesday night, which is so much faster than I've ever unpacked after a vacation before. So I'm counting that as a success.

Goal #2: Catch up on design. Did I succeed? Sort of! I've finished Kelly's moodboard/plans and am working with Hannah. I definitely will work to be efficient this week to get it all done though!

Goal #3: Update my list of post ideas. Done, done and done! I can't wait for you all to see what I have up my sleeve for the new year! :)

For this next week, I'm making one overarching goal: be efficient. I have more to get done than Martha Stewart does at Christmas (not really) and in order to do it all, I need to be organized and focused! Expect a post about organization later this week ;)

That's really it for this week! Short and sweet.

Science Bit of the Day

Can I just say that it makes me really happy to know that this is actually a thing? Volcanic lightning (aka "dirty thunderstorms") is basically what happens when you mix a volcanic eruption with a lightning storm. And because eruptions are kinda sporadic these days (duh), they're also really difficult to study. Read a cool article about volcanic lightning for more information. And enjoy this photo for a minute please (from the link).

That's all for today, loves! Tell me--what were your weekly wishes this week? How can I be more efficient?

iPhone backgrounds + the creative initiative + batesian mimicry

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December 07, 2013
Hi darlings! How's your Saturday going? Unfortunately, I had a terrible day yesterday that was filled with anxiety, but I've decided that today's going to be better. Actually, I only found out you could do that a little while ago. That I can decide when I have a good day. Have you ever tried that?

Anyways, I plan on having a great day. I've got some tutoring this morning, which I enjoy (yes, really) and then I'm going to a consignment sale later today.

A few weeks ago, I saw that Lena from This Lovely Little Day was hosting a linkup called The Creative Initiative. Basically, she gives a theme for the week + you can link up anything related to the theme that shows how you were creative this week. Mostly that means sketchbooks + things like that, but unfortunately, I'm poop with a pencil or brush. But I wanted to be part of it, so I asked Lena if I could make a sort of digital sketchbook and she said yes! So here are my "sketches" this week on the theme of dreams.

You can click either of them to download. The easiest way (on an iPhone) is to go to this URL on Safari and tap the iPhone. Then hold on the wallpaper image and tap save to camera roll.

I hope you enjoy them and check out the linkup!

Science Bit of the Day:

Mimicry is when one species imitates another one (usually in appearance) in order to protect it in some way. For example, if one species exhibited coloration patterns that a predator recognized as a signal of a poisonous animal, another species might mimic those patterns so that they will not be threatened by the predator. This is called Batesian mimicry. One example of Batesian mimicry is the coral snake and the milk snake. The coral snake is a red, black and yellow striped snake with deadly venom, while the milk snake has the same colored striped but is harmless to humans. The first image shows a Red Milk Snake and the second shows an Eastern Coral Snake. You may have heard the phrase "red next to yellow will kill a fellow; red next to black means venom lack" that is often used by outdoorsmen to tell these two snakes apart.

(image courtesy of the West Texas Herpetological Society)

This kind of mimicry is named after the English naturalist Henry Walter Bates. To show his theories, he made a bunch of plates out of these two species of butterfly/mothy things. The Dismorphia species is on the first and third rows and the Nymphalidae species is on the second and fourth rows. 

File:Batesplate ArM.jpg

Don't forget today is the last day of the ad sale! Get 20% one month with the code "HAPPYDAY" or get 3 months for the price of 2 with the code "IMANAWESOMEPERSON".

What are your dreams in life? And tell me mimicry isn't super cool!

Six Weeks of Wellbeing: Week 1 Recap

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December 04, 2013
Hello nuggets! Happy Wednesday! If you've been having a rough week, know that it's about half way over! And if your week has been fabulous, know that you've still got half of it left! How about that! :) Don't forget that this week sponsor spots are on sale! If you want to order 3 months, get them for the price of 2 with the code 'Imanawesomeperson'. (impossible to read, I know. It says 'I'm an awesome person' without spaces.) If you just want to try it out with one month, use the code 'happyday'!

Today concludes week one of my Six Weeks of Wellbeing project. If you didn't see last week's post, Six Weeks of Wellbeing means doing something everyday to cultivate physical/emotional health, healthy relationships and healthy actions. Find out more about the project here!

How I Did:

This past week, I didn't really bother to track what I did too thoroughly, which I'd like to do in the coming weeks. I have a few little notebooky things that I'll use! But this past week, I did some little things that seemed to add up. I worked out once and went for two long walks, which are so wonderful in this autumnal NC air. On Thanksgiving, I didn't want to limit what I ate per se, but I still wanted to, you know, not totally stuff my face. So I practiced taking lots of bites and chewing my food longer before I swallowed it. It sounds silly but I was the last one finished and I hadn't even had seconds. 

I'm trying to use this project as a way to cultivate wellbeing in little ways too, not just through exercise. On Monday, I had lunch with H and a few of his guy friends. At the end of our meal, I got up to take my dishes to the trash and offered to take H's and his friends' dishes, just as a little bit of nice. To my surprise, they were actually really grateful! I heard them talking as I was walking towards the trash and they were talking so enthusiastically, I thought they were making sexist jokes about me doing the dishes haha. 

But they weren't! They genuinely appreciated even a little act of niceness like that. 

Oh and on Monday night, I wanted to be nice so I made cookies for my family and brought a few to H to cheer him up since he's been pretty stressed lately. Except then I found out that he had made me cookies as a little thank you for being nice! So we enjoyed our cookies haha.

So this week, I have a notebook pulled out that I'm going to use to log my good stuff and I'll recap with you next Wednesday! I'd love if anyone else wants to join me, either on a blog or just mentally. Comment with me + try to make an extra effort to do good!

Science Bit of the Day

Today, I want to talk to you about the peppered moth and how it shows an example of natural selection. Natural selection, to go back to basics, is when a certain trait in an animal helps it survive so it gets passed down to the next generation until just about all of that species has that trait. The peppered moth used to be a light white/greyish kind of thing, which was swell because it could hide among light colored trees and lichens and stuff. 

But when the Industrial Revolution came along, the trees turned black from the smoke + lots of the lichens died (RIP lichens). SO, in order to blend in, the moths gradually all became black! That's called "industrial melanism", when animals change their colors because of pollution. And now that we're polluting less than in the Industrial Revolution (at least in a different way), trees aren't blackened with soot anymore (duh) and the moths are lightening again. How cool?! 

Side note, I'm actually terrified of moths. Totally irrational fear but we once had a moth infestation in our house and I'd hear them in my bedroom as I tried to sleep and UGH it was just terrible. So I'm not gonna show you the pictures of the moths, just in case anyone else has that same hatred of moths (I GET YOU!). If you want to see, here are the light ones and here are the dark ones. Same moth species!

weekly wishes + phytoremediation

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December 02, 2013
Hello pretties! I hope you all had a restful weekend and break if you're in America. Hopefully, you didn't get sunburnt like I somehow did!

For once, I'm actually kind of excited to have classes and work tomorrow and I love this feeling! I get to see H, I got a pretty new necklace that I want to wear and....I'm excited about a paper I'm writing! 


No, but seriously! Bear with me for a second, I'm writing on using transgenic (genetically engineered) plants for phytoremediation, which means that the plants are used either to help soak up oil or other chemicals after spills, either in soil or water. Haha point is, I'm excited about doing my research and putting together my paper. Okay, nerd time over. 

My weekly wishes for this week are actually pretty important, concrete things that I need to get done. First off, I need to unpack, today. I always leave unpacking until like I need the suitcase again for my next trip. It's kind of a problem. Secondly, I need to catch up on design! I'm not behind but I need to touch base with a few clients and I'm hoping to finish one client's drafts by Tuesday (that's you Kelly!) and another two by the weekend (heyy Sarah and Hannah!). So I've got my work cut out for me! But I can do it. 

Lastly, (threeee weekly wishes?! How ambitious, Allie!) I'm going to update my list of post ideas. It's pretty long but nothing seems quite right lately. So I'm going to spend some time taking a closer look at my blog topics and try to come up with some exciting, new ideas! 

What are your weekly wishes? Are you excited for your Monday?!

Introducing: Six Weeks of Wellbeing

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November 27, 2013

Hello lovelies! How is your Thanksgiving break going? I'm in Florida with my family and I've been cooking all day which makes me super proud of myself haha. This girl cannot cook at all. I even took a picture of my potatoes to send H's mother since she's always trying to get me to cook. Y'all should be proud of me.

I want to tell y'all about a sort of project I'm doing for myself and invite you to join in. If you recall, one of my goals for the rest of the year was to do something good for myself everyday for the rest of the year and write it down. And I'm really excited about this. I'm putting more thought into building health into my life: healthy relationships, healthy eating + exercise, and healthy attitudes. 

If you'd like to join me, you're more than welcome to! At the end of each week (ending on Wednesdays), I'll be sharing some of the things I did during the week to improve my wellbeing. I'd love if you commented and shared what you did!

This project will be going on for six weeks--five weeks until the end of the year and one more week to start off 2014 on a good foot (can you believe it's almost 2014?! I feel like 2002 was yesterday).

So how about you? Are you in? Let's dedicate some time to our own wellbeing! 
Your turn: I plan to do things like call my grandmother, write thank you notes, and exercise. What ideas do you have for improving your wellbeing?  

recent design + folk music + the correct plural of platypus

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November 23, 2013
Hello lovelies! I hope you have had a splendid week and are ready for the weekend (I'm sure you are)! I have personally had a pretty great week! I've had a lot to do, especially design and it's been fantastic.

Most recently, I finished a redesign for Dee at A Deecoded Life filled with hues of lavender and a peaceful vibe. 

Anyways, I really love it and I know Dee does too! :) I also installed my most popular template (the "Honey Sugar") on Kathryn's blog "As Told By Kathryn". Super cute, right?

So I've been having a great weekend! Last night, H and I went to a concert for Keelan Donovan and Folk Soul Revival, who were both fantastic. Oh but we had both had super busy weeks and we got pizza (and garlic knots!) before the concert so I was like straight up falling asleep, even though the show was really good. I was literally dying (terrible use of literally #sorrynotsorry). Moving on, here are a few of my favorite songs that are literally awesome (completely appropriate use of literally):

Science Bit of the Day
Today's science bit is about platypuses, which unfortunately is the official plural, as I learned today. I've actually always said platypi, just to be annoying and pretentious. But anyways, here are eight things that you didn't know about platypuses unless you're just weird. For example, platypuses can use their bills to pick up mild electric signals in their prey. Cool, right? We're so nerdy.

That's all for today!

Over and out, nerdballs.

4 Genius TEDTalks (Part Two!)

| On
November 19, 2013
You can see Part One here!

Hello lovelies! As promised, I'm here to share some of my very favorite TEDTalks with you today. But
first off, how was your day? In the comments below, tell me one great thing that happened to you today! For me, I got a big statistics test back and got a 96. Oh yes, bow down.

Haha anyways, I hope you have had a fantastic day and if you live in my part of the world, hopefully you're getting ready for bed (which is what I should be doing right now....). If not, watch some of these TEDTalks and prepare to feel your brain literally stretch (bad use of the word literally)!

1. My hero (as of yesterday) Eva Vertes talks about the future of cancer research. Oh and she was only 19 when she gave this talk.

2. Holly Morris talks about what a person's connection to 'home' can mean--and why it makes a group of women live in Chernobyl.

3. Iwan Baan: Ingenious homes in unexpected places.

4. And finally, in a classic but wonderful TEDTalk, David Christian tells the history of the world in 18 minutes.

What about you? What's your favorite TEDTalk? Don't forget to tell me something great that happened to you today!

weekly wishes + orderliness + hippo flips

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November 18, 2013
Hello pretties! ]Can I just say this is the second weekend in a row that has just been fantastic? My team won our soccer championship earlier today, I love my new design + I've just been blessed by so many kind words from so many kind people today. I'm just really, really grateful.

As far as weekly wishes go, last week I made a goal to watch a TEDTalk everyday. So I failed at that; I maybe only watched them three days. But I watched more than seven talks so I'm counting this week as a success. I'll be sharing my favorites in the next few days!

In this coming week, I want to practice orderliness which sounds like something I'd be practicing in 18th century England or something, but it's more of a state of mind. I actually looked it up + it means 'the quality of appreciating method or system". And that's a big thing I strive for. Whether that means keeping my things organized or my living space or just my mind, I want to keep my life neat.

Science Bit of the Day

Not super sciencey, just cool. (Image + excerpt from The Guardian)

The week in wildlife: An elephant bull charges a female hippopotamus

An elephant bull charges a female hippopotamus as her calf scampers to safety. This female hippo was flipped several feet into the air as she stood her ground against an aggressive elephant bull at the Erindi Private Game Reserve in Namibia. (The hippo was just fine) (Also, how cute is the calf?!) Photo by Rian van Schalkwyk/Barcroft Media.

4 Simple Goals (Before 2014!)

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November 12, 2013

Hello dears! It's been a day of highs and lows. Classes were less than great today but I met my supervisor for my internship (with my town's Storm Water Services) + we planned out my time there + different projects I'll be working on. I'm most excited for a toxicology project we're planning on a local stream that involves collecting algae + bugs + identifying them under microscopes. AHH microscopy!! Macroinvertebrate testing! So much exciting!!

....and I lost you all. ANYWAYS. Point is, that was super exciting for me. For real, I want this internship to start like yesterday. What's been exciting for you today?!

Shifting gears (sorry, I'm incapable of making non-awkward segues), I want share some goals of mine. If you've been around here long enough, you know I'm like beyond analytical. If you looked it up in the dictionary, it would just be a whole page picture of me. I mean, I'm the girl that plans out my day to the minute. So of course, goals are totally up my allie (...see what I did there?). SO, since I already make weekly goals all the time, I had to come up with a new idea. How about goals for now until the end of the year?!

Disclaimer--yeah, I didn't come up with this. These girls did.

1. Exercise twice a week, consistently. I know this is the less than the recommended amount and all, but let's face it, I've got stuff to do + I just can't commit to much more. That said, I'll aim for 3-4, but let's be realistic.

2. Do something good for myself everyday. As long as I go out of my way to do it, it counts. Eating fruit for dessert instead of that glorious key lime pie in my freezer, going for a run, doing yoga, spending time outside--all count!

3. Journal 5+ days a week. I'm really just going to set the bar obscenely low and challenge myself to a sentence a day. Like I said, let's be realistic.

4. Love myself. It's just not happening enough lately. And let's be honest, I'm one rocking female, so it needs to be happening.

What are your goals for the rest of the year?

weekly wishes + tedtalks + shark hearts

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November 10, 2013

Hello nuggets! First off, can we just admire this picture (source)? Look at the purple in those clouds! Gorgeous. Secondly, I hope your weekend has been full of good food and fun! I had one of the best weekends I've had in a long time. It included winning a soccer game, lots of design, some really good deep talks with H and actually being productive for once.

Last week (aka like three weeks ago), I made a goal to come up with ten new ideas for blog posts. Well, ladies + gents, I'm just a blog brainstorming bombshell because I actually came up with twenty-six new ideas. That's right. Granted they're not all really solid ideas, but there's six or seven posts that I'm really excited for. So now you have a reason to stick around (well, and my lovely face)!

I didn't use my gratitude journal at all, but I feel like I've been doing better about keeping schoolwork in perspective. Oh, I'll still complain; I'll find something worth complaining about in anything if you give me enough time. But I'm grateful for the work, really, I am.

This coming week, I will watch a TEDTalk every day. I did this a few months ago and it was really, really a lovely goal. I loved sharing my favorites with you at the end of the week + I think you all enjoyed it as well. So I'll plan to do that this week again. Do any of you watch TEDTalks? Care to make some recommendations?
Science Bit of the Day

WARNING! Don't click on this if you get grossed out easily, because it's sorta nasty. But for real, grow a pair and click on it, because it's super cool. I just had to warn you. Anyways, I saw this article about a week ago about a shortfin mako shark that got caught in New York (on accident). Two tapeworm taxonomists took the shark + dissected it to look for parasites. What they found is super gross (aka stop reading now, you pansies). They found that two anguilliform fish (aka eels) that normally live out in open water, had just been chilling out in the shark's heart. While it was still alive. Yeah, I know, nasty. But kinda freaky awesome too. You should go look at the picture and congratulate yourself for being a strong-willed human being.

happy things + taking it easy [free desktop wallpaper]

| On
November 09, 2013
Hello m'dears! Happy Saturday! Something about today just feels like a good day, am I right?

I spent the morning at my brother's football game + the book store where I found a brand new magazine called "Live Happy". And of course, I just had to pick that baby up and take him home with me (after paying for it, duh). I haven't read it yet but I've flipped through it and it just looks great. It has articles about incorporating happiness in your work, relationships, health and just your life overall. You can read more about the magazine here.

On the note of happy things, I just wanted to share this article on Pope Francis embracing a disfigured man. I'm not Catholic, but it still impresses me to see a man as the face of the church who seems so genuinely loving. I think we all can support that, no matter our religion!

And again on the note of happy things, I want to share some design that I was working on last night. I've been practicing with handlettering and putting it on design. And so with autumn basically here, this design seemed just perfect! I love it and hope you do too--just click it to download!

Have a wonderful weekend; take it easy!

get happy in 10 minutes (or less!)

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November 05, 2013
Hi lovelies! What a crazy Tuesday! My day's just been all over the place--how was yours?

Lately, I’ve been in one of those life stages where everything is just cah to the razy. You know what I’m talking about: late nights, stress, no time for ANYTHING. And I’ve been trying to figure it out in my own life–how do I stay happy when it feels like I literally don’t have time to be happy?

The trick that I’ve found is to find things or activities that give you a good ratio of happy to time used. That is, I wanted to find things that would boost my mood but not require hours of my time. I call these “shots of happy“. So when I get stressed or down, no matter what I’m doing, I carve out ten minutes and take a metaphorical shot and get on my merry way.

I’ve found that even when I’m busier than Martha Stewart at Christmas, those ten minutes are crucial. “But it feels like I’m wasting time!” my inner voice says. WRONG. Spending time on yourself is never a waste–but you should still use your time wisely! I encourage you to take ten minutes when you’re stressed, just on yourself! I find it not only makes me happier, but also makes me work more efficiently and keeps my brain clear. Win-win!

So in the process of this little stressful journey of mine, I’ve found these ten fool-proof, quick, you-better-do-these shots of happy.

1. Go outside. Yeah, yeah, you know this, I know. But do you do it? Literally, go outside for ten minutes. The fresh air will clear your thoughts and the beauty around you will make you think happy thoughts and voila, less stress! If you want to go above and beyond, take your work outside (if possible) for a whole hour a day. Bonus points: keep track of how much you get done indoors vs. out. I’d bet you’re more productive outdoors!

2. Achieve a little goal. Studies (don’t ask me which study but I know I heard it somewhere!) show that achieving a goal, even if small, can immediately boost your mood! So I’m giving you some goals. Choose a square foot of your room–clean it. Throw away five things, even if they’re just scraps of paper. Do one little thing you’ve been putting off. Make sure your goal is small enough that you can complete it in ten minutes. Done it? Great! Now for bonus happy, make a big deal out of it. Pat yourself on the back (literally!). Tell yourself ‘yay’ (literally)! Write a facebook status about how proud you are of yourself (not literally…don't be that guy).

3. Give a really great compliment. If you’re busy, this might be the one for you. This doesn’t take ten minutes. Heck, it probably takes ten seconds. But it'll make you feel great, pinky swear. How do you give a really great compliment? In my opinion, the best compliments are two whole sentences, minimum. First sentence is I [really like/love/adore/envy] your [scarf, devilish smile, cute way of eating sushi]. It’s so [why you like it]. That’s all there is to it! For example: “I really love your dress. The shape makes you look so fit and the color really complements your eyes.” There you go. A+. Bonus points if you compliment a stranger.

4. Take a short drive. Take a road you’ve never taken before. Drive sketchily down random neighborhoods. Bonus points if you blast music and/or put the windows down.

5. Dance. Put on some fun music, close the blinds and dance. Just dance. Yes, you look stupid. Don’t let yourself care. Be silly for once. Bonus points: leave the curtains open! (gasp!)

6. Stretch. Take some deep breaths in; get the blood flowing. There are also lots of super short and easy yoga routines on Youtube. Some of my favorites are Erin Motz’s routines on DoYouYoga. Bonus points: invite a friend to stretch with you!

7. Read a book. Even in ten minutes a day, you have time to read. Choose a light read that you can pick up for just ten minutes today. No heavy nonfiction, think Nicholas Sparks or a comedian’s autobiography (David Sedaris or Tina Fey!) or something along those lines. Bonus points: read The Happiness Project.

8. Or, read some happy news. These days, it seems like every news paper or news channel is full of anger, murder, and war. For a happier alternative, try the Daily Good, the Good News Network or Happy News. Bonus points: set one as your homepage!

9. Write a thank you note to someone who doesn’t expect it. Your cleaning lady, the guy who gives you a smile along with your latte every morning, the friend that let you vent last week. No act is too small to appreciate and everyone loves knowing that they’re appreciated. Bonus: use a super cute card like any of these (free!) printables.

10. Choose your own shot of happy. Let’s be honest, there are some things that you really enjoy that other people might not! For me, that means noodling around on Photoshop or eating Chinese takeout. You do you, girl. (Or boy. I’m sure I have a few male readers…)

And there you go! If you learn one thing from this post, please know this: you are never, ever too busy to be happy.

Music for a productive day.

| On
November 03, 2013
Hello lovelies! Happy Sunday! I hope your day is restful and productive as you get ready for the week. Speaking of restful--daylight savings = awesome. This girl got like ten hours of sleep last night and that's pretty great.

Sunday is probably the day of the week when I do the most work. I always try to convince myself that I'm gonna finish all my work on Friday afternoons but all of a sudden, I find it's Saturday night and I've been watching Lifetime movies and New Girl hanging out with all the people that are just begging to hang out with me all day. So then I basically have to do everything on Sunday. (Seriously, you'd think I'd figure it out by now that it's not really a great system.)

But anyways, I believe that when you have a great amount of work, great music is necessary. So here's some music to get you through all your Sunday work.

We sound like this. Together. from xannie.julo on 8tracks Radio.

oh, my stars. from allielynn24 on 8tracks Radio.

One for the Road: Hope the Good Things Never Die from JanJohannus on 8tracks Radio.

What music have you been listening to lately?

living for the weekdays + free wallpaper + something new

| On
October 29, 2013
Hello friends! Happy Tuesday! Or almost happy Wednesday if you live in my part of the world. Usually on Wednesdays, my thoughts tend to sound something like this: "Still three more days until the weekend."

But I'm making an attempt at being positive by telling myself that my weekdays are not something to race through or get done with, even if it seems that way sometimes (/all of the time, ever). So I'm trying to focus on the potential that my weekdays have. My weekdays generally consist of classes, homework, tutoring and if it's a good day, exercise.

Instead of "still three more days", I'm trying this:

  • I have three more days this week to ace tests.

  • I have three more days this week to help a kid hate math less.

  • I have three more days this week to make someone's day a little less stressful.

  • I have three more days this week to do something fantastic.

When I focus on it that way, I find that I'm excited for tomorrow, because I can do great things with it. I can succeed in my school work and lighten someone else's load and just generally cheer other up with my witty words and stunning good looks.

Because if we're really just living for the weekend, then we're not living for much at all.

As always, I like to remind myself that my happiness is my choice (I figure if I keep telling myself that, eventually I'll remember it). So this is my new iPhone background. I invite you to use it as yours or share it however you want. Just click on the iPhone to download.

And nowwww, I want to try something new. Last week, I posted about science for the first time (not counting Marie Curie). I was really nervous about it, since it's not really a "blog-friendly" topic, if you will. But I got a lot of good feedback--lots of people said they loved it even if they didn't love science. And they loved that I was posting something that I wanted to, just because it's me. And I do want my blog to be "for me", as I think all lifestyle bloggers do. But I also want it to be read.

So I'm testing out a new idea to kind of integrate science into other posts. I will still have regular science posts (I think), but infrequently. Instead, I'll add a paragraph or two at the bottom of regular posts about science, whether it's something I've learned recently, something in the news or a video. I hope you'll find these little science bits interesting but not overwhelming if you're not into it! As always, please let me know how you like it.
Science Bit of the Day

The other day I heard a fascinating story on NPR about a neuroscientist named James Fallon who had studied the brains of psychopaths for many years. At a family dinner, Fallon's mom mentioned that he should look into his dad's family history. So he did, only to find that his own lineage was full of murderers and other criminals. He convinced his family to undergo PET brain scans so he could compare their brain activities to those of psychopaths. He found that all of their brains were normal (aka they weren't serial killers) but found a terrifying discovery within his own brain. Want to find out? Listen or read the story here.

get stuff done: tips + tricks + sanity

| On
October 26, 2013

Hi pumpkins! How was your week? It's Satturrrdaaayyyyyy!! Yesterday was an especially exciting day for me, not just because it was Friday but also because it was H's birthday! Which meant dinner and presents and happy things. But really, I was so glad his birthday falls on a Friday so I don't have to worry about classwork and everything tonight.

But speaking of classwork and just work in general, I want to share some tips today on how I get through crazy amounts of work. I've found a couple different tools and tips that help me get exponentially more things done.

1. The Pomodoro Method. This one's nothing new, I know, but it's good because it works. This method is best for when you have one task to work on for a long period of time. So this is great for using when working if you're self-employed or a freelancer or really whatever else you're doing. The basic premise of the method is that you work for 25 minutes, then take a break for 5 minutes or use that time to transition to another task. After 3-4 "Pomodoros", you take a 15 minute break. Read more about how it works here.

There are lots of tools online to help you with using this method. I especially like the "Simple Pomodoro Timer" app and The Pomodoro Method is really helpful because it keeps you from being distracted by email pings or other little distractions. It's much easier to let them wait if you know you have a five minute slot to deal with them in less than 25 minutes. I've found I'm much more focused and productive using this method.

2. LiltUp. This is an online "to-do" list of sorts but with a timer built in. Basically, you put it everything you have to do along with how long you think it'll take. LiltUp tells you what time you'll be done and then starts the timer for you. I like this tool because when I get home from classes or work, I'll put in literally everything I have for the night (even dinner/shower), and then if I have extra time before bed, I'll put different fun activities and schedule them in between my tasks.

This uber-scheduling might not work for some but it is so helpful for me. The only thing I don't like about LiltUp is that there isn't an app, so I have to be at my computer. If I'm doing work that's offline, that's frustrating because I get distracted by my computer easily.

3. StayFocusd. This is a web extension specifically for Google Chrome but I'm sure there are equivalent tools for other browsers if you look around. In essence, SF has a couple different settings to keep your from wasting time on pointless websites. In one option, you can set a daily max of time on sites like twitter or facebook or whatever your weakness is. After that time, it just won't let you access them. You can also set SF to block certain websites say for a certain time, like an hour, or a certain slot of time. And my favorite SF option is called Nuclear. In Nuclear, SF will block everything on the internet for however long you choose.

One of my favorite things about SF is that you can't go back and change settings (i.e. give yourself more time in the first option) easily. To change the time allowances, you have to copy a paragraph (about procrastination) word for word with no mistakes. It's way harder than you think. Oftentimes, my lazy side will just give up and I'll get back to work.

How do you stay focused + productive?

radio stations for non-street youths

| On
October 24, 2013
Hi lovelies!

So I'm pretty much gonna get straight to it today. For a long time, I hated listening to the radio. Where I live, like 60% of the stations are Christian, which is great and all, but not my style. The rest are like top 20 and rap and I don't like feeling like a street youth all the time. (p.s. please tell me you got that New Girl reference. If you did, I want to be friends.) Anyways, so what does a non-religious/non-thugging girl listen to in the car?

For awhile, the answer was CDs. But that got really tedious to always buy new CDs when I want new music or burn them myself. And that's when I downloaded the glorious app that is iHeartRadio. Just turn it on, let it play. It's life changing, y'all.

Here are three radio stations you should listen to if you are not a street youth. 

The Current 89.3, courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio. Minnesota's Indie, Alt & Roots Station. Playing while I wrote this? An advertisement for a co-op (boo! to the ad, not the co-op). After the ad, "Seven Days, Seven Nights" by the Fratellis. Oh but the annoying thing about The Current is that you can't see the song name on the app--so frustrating!! But you can always look it up online when it's playing. And they have a cool show of Minnesota local music at 6-8 p.m. CST, on Sunday nights. Listen online here.

KCRW 89.9, LA's Independent Music, News & Talk. Playing while I wrote this? A piece on a woman with a driving campaign in Saudi Arabia--which was fascinating. After that, a song by Portugal. The Man--didn't catch the name. Oh and they have a really rad show on weekdays from 9am to noon PST called "Morning Becomes Eclectic" with live performances by bands. You should listen to it.

KEXP 90.3, "where the music matters". This one is not on iHeartRadio but you can listen online at Playing while I wrote this? "Dear Friend" by Jonathan Wilson and then "The Golden Age" by Beck. My favorite show is "The Morning Show" (weekdays, 6-10 am PST) which is this super peppy guy with random music for the mornings. Lurv.

Welp there you go. Thug-proof music. You're welcome. My work here is done.

Over and out.

Get Happy in 10 Minutes a Day

| On
October 19, 2013
get happy 10

Hi friends! I'm hanging out at the Nectar Collective today and talking about ways to get happy when your life is busier than Martha Stewart at Christmas. Click the banner to see the post!

it's not rocket science.

| On
October 17, 2013
it's not rocket science

I feel like most people have a skewed view of science. For instance, the majority of you probably believe that blog posts should not be about science and you're already done reading this. But if you haven't already clicked [x], let me explain to you why we should have blog posts about science.

What should we blog about? Our lives and our passions, right? For me, science is both. I know that science might not be what everyone wants to read about, but I've decided to truly embrace every blogger's motto--"I blog for myself." 

I consider one of my main goals in having this blog recklessly owning my own quirks in order to inspire other women (like you!) to embrace their own individuality. Quirks are good. They aren't something we keep to ourselves. Because that's borderline shame, and that's so not okay.

So to transition into what (I hope) will be a regularish post on science, I'd like to show you that science really is for normal people! In order to do that, I'd like to share with you some articles on science of all kinds that I've found interesting lately.

Has DNA Really Solved the Mystery of the Yeti? // The Guardian. Hint: it hasn't. Basically a geneticist named Bryan Sykes got ahold of a piece of hair that has been claimed to be from a yeti, founded in the Himalayan Mountains. After doing some testing, it seems to be related to an 40,000 year old polar bear jaw found in Sweden. This led him to think there may be an undiscovered bear population in the Himalayas.

Fat May Be Linked to Memory Loss // Life Science Network. Yet another reason to work on losing a little weight. "People with high amounts of abdominal fat in their middle age are 3.6 times as likely to develop memory loss and dementia later in their life."

Fishermen in Peru slaughter dolphins to use as bait for shark fishing // The Guardian. In an underground investigation, Ecostorm (an environmental agency) has discovered a ring of Peruvian fisherman killing dolphins for bait (which is illegal, as it happens).

Neanderthals Used Toothpicks to Alleviate the Pain of Diseases Related to Teeth, Such as Inflammation of the Gums // Science Daily. I mean the article title's kind of long enough that I think you get the gist without me summarizing it...

Sleep allows brain to wash out junk // Science News Magazine. A new study shows that sleep can clean out unnecessary particles from our brains, including proteins that can lead to Alzheimer's. So it's possible that sleep is linked to the next step in preventing Alzheimer's, how about that?!

Well friends, thanks for sticking with me. Listen, I'd love some feedback on a post like this. I know it's different, but I hope maybe some of you liked it. And if you didn't, please don't be mean and stop reading this blog altogether. I understand that you might not like everything I post. But I hope that my blog brings you something of value. Back on point, let me know how you liked this post and if you didn't (really!).

What kinds of science do you find interesting? What do you blog about that's a little unique, just because you're you?

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