Thursday, August 13, 2015

Summer Update

As always this time of year, my time at home is dwindling much too quickly. Tomorrow is the last day of my internship, which is a little bittersweet. I would by lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to it being over, but I've also had a great experience there this summer. And plus, my internship ending means my summer is about to end. This has been a pretty great summer!

Mini golf with my mom
Our company picnic at the Saint's Game - we
broke the Guinness world record for the largest
ever pillow fight!
Book shopping with Kelly

I have about a week and a half between the end of my internship and leaving for school, and I am very grateful for that. My parents and I are going to be gone for nearly a week camping though, so I am realizing more and more that I am running out of time at home. I've already been trying to set things aside little by little to take back with me to school. Making decisions about packing for an entire year is always difficult and time consuming for me, so it helps to do it a little bit at a time. Pack jewelry one day, bedding another day, etc. I leave for school early in the morning on August 25th. (My classes don't start until August 31, but I have training for my on campus job so I get to move in a few days early.)

Another exciting update - I finally got my drivers license this week! That might not seem too exciting for somebody about to turn 21 years old, but it is what it is. The last few years I've just never gotten around to it, I didn't have plans to get a car so I didn't figure I needed my license. Also, with school expenses and studying abroad paying insurance seemed like it might be difficult. I finally decided this summer was the time, and thankfully I passed my test the first try (despite trying to drive with my parking brake on once, oops!) It's a big weight off my shoulders just to have it over with, next summer presumably I'll be getting a job and needing a car at some point (weird...)

Through my time abroad, and having this summer internship while I've been home, I have become more excited about being done with school and entering "normal" life. Getting a job, a car, eventually my own place to live. I've always been a homebody and I've always loved school, so I've never necessarily looked forward to being done with it. I'm starting to accept and even get excited about moving on to the next phase of my life. It's kind of nice for me to look towards the future and genuinely feel excited about those things, at least to some extent (job searching, on the other hand, still doesn't sound fun).

I'm just feeling pretty optimistic in general these days. I'm excited about going back to school (it's been about 9 months since I've been at Wellesley!) but also excited thinking about what might come next. My main complaint is that I wish there were more hours in a day - I've been very excited about lots of craft projects and organization lately, but I haven't had nearly as much time as I would like to work on them. Among other things, I've wanted to try braiding this t-shirt rug for a while now, and luckily I found a bunch of old shirts around my house to use! I thought it would be perfect for my dorm room, if I can ever manage to finish it...

I know my excitement will probably be dampened somewhat when I get back to school and start getting homework assignments and having to apply for jobs and everything. But for now I'll just enjoy being excited about the possibilities that the future holds, and getting to spend some more time with family and friends before I leave for school.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Day Trip: Giant's Causeway

One of these months I'll stop posting about my time in Ireland. But, that time has not yet come! You'll have to bear with me for a while yet trying to finish all the posts that I have planned :)

As I talked about in this post, in Ireland I got a lot better at doing things on my own. My final day trip in Ireland was to Giant's Causeway, and I ended up going alone because all of my friends had either been there already or weren't available. I went on a lot of bus trips similar to this one in Ireland, Scotland and England. They were always great, because they bring you to places where you wouldn't otherwise have visited (and you don't have to figure out transportation yourself). On the other hand, they can be frustrating because they are often more expensive than transporting yourself and you have no say in how long you spend at each location. On this particular trip I wished we had more time at a couple of the main sights. I am still a fan of bus tours in general, though, and Ireland is a great place to do day trips due to its relatively small size. I was able to see many parts of the country that I never would have made it to on my own, without having to spend money on hostels. I wanted to share about this particular trip as an example. (If I can remember what happened, that is! It's been awhile. Good thing I take an excessive amount of pictures.)

Giant's Causeway was one of the main sites that I wanted to visit the whole time that I was in Ireland. It's a natural volcanic rock formation in Northern Ireland where there are hundreds of hexagonal rock pillars. The bus tour that I chose went to The Dark Hedges, The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle, and Belfast. Here is the story of my day in pictures!

Stop 1:
The day started with a short stop at The Dark Hedges, a dramatic tree-lined road (recently famous for being a filming location for Game of Thrones, that's kind of a theme in Northern Ireland! The main studio is in Belfast). These pictures really don't do it justice, you should look up other pictures of The Dark Hedges in County Antrim, it's especially beautiful once the leaves come in. The trees were originally planted along the road leading to a big mansion to impress visitors.

One theme of travelling by myself is lots and lots of selfies! I don't always feel like asking somebody else to take a picture of me at every location.

Stop 2:
Our next stop was right on the coast to see something called the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The Irish coastline is stunning!

Here is the rope bridge itself. Unfortunately it was too windy that day, so we weren't allowed to cross the bridge (when I saw how much it was bouncing up and down, I was actually okay with that). The bridge was built to give fishermen easy access to the little island. Apparently there's good fishing over there?

Stop 3:
Finally we arrived at the main attraction of the day, Giant's Causeway. This is the start of the path that went down to the site. I could've taken a bus, but decided to walk. There were beautiful views along the way, too!

In May, Northern Ireland is covered in gorse, these yellow shrubs. They were all over the place, and I loved the contrast between the yellow flowers and the green and blue of the fields and water. This is still walking down the path to the site.

Giant's Causeway was one of my favorite places that I saw in Ireland, I'm so glad that I made time to go. It's not as big or as grand as some places, like the Cliffs of Moher, but its such an unusual formation that its even more surreal. It felt like a big playground to me.

Obviously, there were quite a few other people there!

More selfies! And yes, it was cold enough in May to require the hat and scarf. The weather was actually quite miserable that day.

It looks completely manmade! All these rocks were shaped naturally.

Especially when I'm by myself, I like to get a little more creative with my pictures. These are my trusty tennis shoes that I wore for all my travelling (and promptly had to throw away when I got home!)

And, of course, Jet. He was my companion through most of my travels.

Stop 4:
Too soon, we moved on from Giant's Causeway and continued on our journey. This isn't a great picture, but we quickly stopped by Dunluce Castle, a castle ruin right by the water. It has an interesting history. Due to its location at the edge of a cliff, one night part of the kitchen fell into the water, killing many of the servants. (Lesson: don't build your castle on the edge of a cliff that might erode.)

Stop 5:
At the end of the day we stopped in Belfast for about an hour. I wasn't really in the mood for much exploring after a long day, and it was still rainy and cold. So, I stopped by a souvenir shop and a bookshop and got some hot tea. This is the town hall that we parked next to, it was about the only site I saw there.

Another picture of town hall from inside the bus, this kind of sums up the day! Very wet.

I hope these posts aren't getting old or repetitive. I'm still enjoying reminiscing on my travels, so I'm going to continue for now! More to come soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Book Review: Knitting Block by Block

Occasionally you guys get random book reviews from me, and that is mostly for selfish reasons (just being honest!) I found this great website called Blogging for Books a while ago where I can request review copies of books for free in exchange for posting a review on my blog. (If you have a blog and like books, I highly recommend trying it. And if you don't have a blog and like books, make a blog!) Anyway, just a reminder about why you're getting this post from me! So I can get another free book :)

I like knitting, and lately I've been wanting to learn how to knit more complicated objects and do more patterns. When I saw this book I thought it would be perfect. The concept is that there are tons of patterns for knitting squares, and then there are instructions for items that can be made from the squares. It simplifies more complex projects because mostly you're just knitting squares, and it makes projects more customizable because the book contains TONS of different patterns for blocks.

Ultimately I was a little bit disappointed by this book. To be honest, I haven't made anything from it, so maybe my opinion isn't totally valid (I have looked through the book quite a lot, just haven't had time this summer to knit much!). I love the concept, but I thought it would be more of a book for beginners, because it talks about this simple way to make things. There are a few patterns that I definitely want to try, but I'm a pretty new knitter. Most of the patterns in this book are a bit too advanced for me, and a lot of them I just don't really like the pattern enough to devote time to trying them.

Again, its a cool and different concept, and the book is beautifully presented and illustrated. But almost all of the patterns I want to try I need to find help and basic instructions somewhere else for me to be able to do them. This is a good book for patterns, but not the  best for comprehensive instructions or reference. If you're a fairly experienced knitter interested in learning a new method though, I definitely would recommend trying this out! And there definitely is something here for beginners too, but it'll be a bit more difficult to figure everything out.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.