Organization

My Minimalist Bullet Journal for 2017

It’s been a couple of weeks since 2017 has started. I started off the new year with some tweaks to my bullet journal. 2016 wasn’t the best year for using my bullet journal. I used it a lot when I was in school but not so much when I was working. I’m aiming to be more productive outside of work this year though! In light of my new goal, I decided it was best to revamp my bullet journal. This year’s theme is work-life balance. One of my friends jokingly said, “It seems like you never have any fun.” Thus, I resolve to have more fun!

Monthly Habit Trackers

I’ve never stuck to a habit tracker in full before. This year I aimed to make them as minimal as possible. No rulers were used in making these. It took about half an hour to do all twelve months. I condensed the monthly log because I really don’t have that many events, usually.

Monthly Health Trackers

On the other side of the monthly habit trackers are the monthly health trackers. This mostly focuses on physical health with a side of mental health too. I’m trying to track my calories, steps I’ve taken, weight, and my mood each day.

Dailies

The Verdict

Since I had a couple of weeks to settle into my bullet journal, I can safely say that I’m still pretty bad at using my bullet journal everyday. Honestly, this is definitely a mental health thing. When I find myself in a depressive slump, I do not feel like doing anything. You can tell when my mind became a little clouded and it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that I finally got out of it. Hopefully, February will fare better.

Books

Book Blogger Hop #4 (01/27-02/02/2017)


Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

How many books have you statted but just couldn’t finish? Submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews

How many? As in, a specific number? Too many to count. Actually, that’s not accurate. I don’t really know the answer to that question. There have been a lot of books that I gave up on. The most recent book was The Rebel by Albert Camus, however I am determined to finish it. A couple of Amy Tan books were hard for me to complete. Cryptonomicon is another one that I’ve started and restarted to read over and over again. Yeah, there’s a lot… No way I could list (or count) them all!

Music

I Listened To: Electra Heart by Marina and the Diamonds

Disclaimer: Lyrics relating to suicide is mentioned in this post.

Another disclaimer: I’m not good at writing reviews but I do like expressing my opinions. This is in no way a professional review but rather how I personally feel about this album.

I know Marina and the Diamonds’ album Electra Heart is one of her personally least favourite works but I like it a lot. Many people think Electra Heart represents an alter-ego but it’s rather a personality that Marina holds in disdain. I actually kinda love it. While some songs do resonate with my own personality, the overall theme of the corrupted American dream doesn’t coincide with my reality. But you have to admit that there are some catchy tunes on this album.

The album starts off with Bubblegum Bitch, which I was really apprehensive about at first. It turned out to be a really high energy song with a fun and catchy chorus. The guitar ripping througg the song really made it for me. It added a certain ironic feel that set the tone for the rest of the album.

The much loved Primadonna comes right after. It’s a little jarring to think about two different types of people as the topic one after the other (although, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive personalities). However, this was the song that got me sucked into Marina and the Diamonds. I hate to say it but Marina’s voice is perfect for capturing the entitled persona in this song and I fall all over it. Even though you know she doesn’t deserve anything good, you can’t help but give it to her.

Unfortunately, I am not a huge fan of Lies. I like slower songs but I really hate that cheesy drum clap thing going on. It’s not you, Marina, it’s me.

Homewrecker is a favourite of mine. I love the image a stereotypical American woman casually destroying marriages. Okay, that sounded bad. I don’t condone that at all but I just find it amazing how well this song captures the stereotype. It’s so easy to picture this person in your head.

The next track on the album is another one of my favourites: Starring Role. While thinking about this song, I realized how self centered all the songs on the album are so far and this is no exception. This song speaks about being the number one in someone’s life and not willing to take second place. However, it’s not as selfish as it sounds and I can sympathize with it. I also can overlook the cheesy clapping because I get chills whenever Marina sings “The starring role.”

I will have to admit that I don’t have any strong feelings for The State of Dreaming. I like how it picks up during the chorus and they way Marina sings “My life is play” but in between those moments, it’s a little boring. Ultimately, it’s a song that I would skip sometimes.

Power and Control is true to its name and Marina’s voice just exudes the song’s theme. There’s something about that booming voice that portrays confidence that the song calls for; someone ambitious who wants to get as much as possible with as little work as possible.

A lot of people seem to like Teen Idle a lot but I think this is one of my least favourite tracks on the album. The teen angst is just too much for me. Much of this album is over the top and extravagant but I can’t seem to enjoy this. I find the song a little bit boring but I like the irony in how the line “feeling super, super, super (super!) suicidal” is executed in a cheery way. But this song doesn’t jive with me at all.

The slow songs continue with Valley of the Dolls. While this isn’t a super favourite, I don’t mind this song much. I like the chorus a lot and the lyrics are pretty relatable. In my opinion, this song speaks of donning multiple personalities but ultimately not knowing who you really are at the core. It’s a pretty dark and speaks of death. Death of another personality or the physical person, I’m not sure.

I understand that the album is essentially a concept album that is operatic and has a story arch in the fashion as Green Day’s American Idiot but it’s a little bit draining to have so many slow songs in a row. There are theories that this album’s second half indicated the dying of the Electra Heart persona. This is not to say that Hypocrates isn’t a good song but I prefer it when I’m not listening to the album as a whole. I really like the mellow guitar and and the twinkling strings and Marina’s voice taking a softer and less abrasive tone. This is another song that I don’t mind much but don’t like it enough to save it to my Spotify library.

The album finishes off with Fear and Loathing which marks the end of Electra Heart. I do not like this song much. However, I am impressed with Marina’s higher register even if I still prefer when she reaches those lower notes. Conceptually, it isn’t a bad way to end the album.

Overall, I drastically prefer the first half of the album. I like this album but it’s not one I’d go out of my way to buy but rather buy select songs off of it. The concept is interesting and Marina doesn’t play around when it comes to her lyrics. It’s pretty cohesive as a whole. I really admire Marina and I like how she is continually trying out different things. Let’s see where she goes next with her music!

Books

Book Blogger Hop #3 (01/20-01/26/2017)


Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

What was the one time you thought the movie was better than the book? Submitted by Tomi @ A Bookworm’s Guide to Life

Okay, this is a really tough one. I am sure I have watched plenty of book movies but I haven’t always read the book counterpart. Honestly, the only thing that comes to my mind is probably the Harry Potter series or maybe the first Charlotte’s Web movie. I think I probably need to read more books that were made into movies…

There are a whole bunch on my list though!The obvious ones like Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump have been on my to read lists for forever.

Movies

I Watched: Rogue One

Spoilers, beware.

I am not a huge Star Wars fan. I watched the first trilogy very quickly, bits and pieces of the second trilogy, and The Force Awakens. Honestly, most of what I know about Star Wars is from the Lego video games and Family Guy. However, my lack of knowledge of the franchise didn’t stop me from going to the theaters and watching the latest installment.

When I first watched the Rogue One trailer, I was left wanting for a little more. There were characters I haven’t seen before and it revealed little about the plot. I avoided any spoilers about the movie, somehow, so I truly was going into it with zero expectations. Overall, I enjoyed it.

The IMAX Experience

Because we missed the showing we originally planned to see and I had to get home at a certain time, I picked the next showing which was IMAX. It didn’t really click with me that it was IMAX until it was five minutes before the movie started and I looked down at my ticket wondering why there wasn’t a theater number on it. Turns out, the theater number was “IMAX.”

Now, I don’t have an eye for special effects or resolution or whatever film buffs look for in terms of aesthetic quality. But right off the bat I realized that the movie was definitely not made to be 3D. There wasn’t a whole lot of depth and quite honestly, I forgot I was watching a supposedly 3D movie. In my opinion, skip the IMAX, you’re probably not missing much.

The CGI

Okay, I wasn’t completely spoiler free going into this movie. I had read somewhere on Reddit mentioning Princess Leia being recreated with CGI and not recasted. Thankfully I didn’t remember that comment until the scene where Leia appears. My first thought was, “Woah, that’s CGI?” I honestly think they did a great job.

It also wasn’t until I went on Reddit did I realize Tarkin was done in CGI as well. Not once did I get an uncanny valley vibe from that character. Now that I’m looking at screenshots after the fact, he does look significantly more cartoony. Still, it looks pretty impressive. Maybe my favourable opinion is due to the 3D masking some of the obvious CGI giveaways.

The Story

Like I said before, I had no idea what to expect going into the movie when it came to the plot. Since I’m not too familiar to the universe, it took me a while to grasp what exactly what was happening but I got the jist of it.

There were some cheesy moments, such as when Jyn goes to the Alliance with her father’s message and nothing comes out of it but wait, some people totally believe her and will go against their organization to help her! I get that it was necessary but it was a tad predictable.

The ending kinda left me in shock. When K-2 was killed my jaw hung open slightly. Then Donnie Yen died (I really don’t know the characters names very well) and I was getting a bit teary eyed. Then the big dude who follows Donnie Yen everywhere exploded. The deaths never stopped coming!

But what surprised me the most was the bittersweet ending. The mission is complete but many lives were sacrificed. One of the Rebel councillors implied that it would have been a suicide mission and it was. The last scene reminded me of the end of 2012, of the two people holding onto each other in the incoming tidal wave. Honestly, it was a beautiful scene.

The Characters

K-2 was a very refreshing character and I enjoyed his comedic relief. And I think that’s the only character in the entire movie that made a lasting impression on me.

Throughout the entire movie I was trying to determine Cassian’s accent. French? Spanish? I still don’t know. Jyn was a little bit of a disappointment but I was thrilled at a female lead, even if Jyn felt extremelt flat. Donnie Yen’s character was pretty badass and I enjoyed his dynamic with his big sidekick. Tarkin was wonderfully creepy and fit the bill for a stereotypical villain but that’s all he was.

In short, nothing spectacular about the characters.

The Summary

It was a good movie. I don’t have much to complain about other than the flat characters that I felt little attachment to. Was it worth like $20 for the IMAX? Nope. But I think most people are pretty pleased with the movie and so am I.

Books

I Read: Mary and The Wrongs of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft

I recently finished reading Mary and The Wrongs of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft. I received this book from a friend of my mothers. I actually received multiple books from my mother’s friend, many of them classics such as Villette by Charlotte Bronte, Emma by Jane Austen, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly (who is, by the way, the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft), etc. I managed to find many books that I enjoyed from her gift.

Honestly, I am mixed about this book. It is essentially two separate stories in one: Mary and The Wrongs of Woman. There are many similarities between the two of them. Both feature a leading female character: Mary in Mary and Maria in The Wrongs of Woman. As you may notice, their names are basically the same since Mary is the English version of Maria. Both are woman who lament the married life. They had married the wrong person, both arranged marriages, and grieve their loss of freedom. Their hearts are captured by a men named Henry. There is much suffering their lives. The similarities go on and on.

At the time this was written, women wanting to be independent must have been a radical idea. Some might say this theme of female independence is extremely feminist. The pains Maria goes to attempt to get a divorce are great and lengthy. Mary avoids to meet her husband for as long she can. In Wollstonecrafts words, wives are the property of men who can do nothing but sit silently and become a slave to their husbands. I strongly felt for Wollstonecraft, as these works must have been incredibly autobiographical.

While I applaud the sentiment behind them, I am not sure if I liked this book much. The exposition can get long and tedious. The Henry in The Wrongs of Woman goes into a lengthy monologue about his history that goes on for four pages although he prefaced this monologue by saying he did not want to talk too much about himself. The Mary’s inner dialogue can get extremely tiring and too lavish in words for me to fully comprehend their meaning.

However, this book did stir my emotions and my eyes teared up a bit at points. I am so grateful to live in a world where a woman has more freedom. It’s sad this isn’t universal across the entire world, yet, but I would say progress is there. As someone who is also apprehensive of tying myself down and getting married, I truly did empathize with these characters. Being with someone for (supposedly) the rest of my life is a great decision that really should not be taken lightly. Even now, it’s expected for everyone to go down this path but for those who don’t wish for it, it should never be forced upon them.

So, would I recommend this book? I’m not sure. I don’t think I would actively go out of my way to do so but I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it. It’s definitely worth a shot. Would I keep this book? Sadly, no. This book is going into my donation pile.

Life

Cookie Icing Charades

The Game

Take turns to ice an object or living being onto a cookie. Everyone guesses what that person iced onto the cookie. There are no winners, just a bunch of people having fun and joking around about their lack of (or possession of) artistic ability.

The Background

Over the holidays I was baking brownies and cookies with my cousins. The brownies had left over frosting so we decided to ice the cookies with cool designs. I attempted to ice a snowflake onto my cookie and my cousin asked me incredulously what the heck was I doing. When I told him that I was frosting a snowflake, he laughed and wanted to try to ice something as well. It quickly turned into a game where we tried to guess what each other made.

The challenge was the fact that the cookies melted the frosting, the frosting was runny, and we weren’t professional cookie decorators. Nevertheless, it was a fun little baking session and there was a lot of laughs!

Our Cookies

Here’s what we came up with. In case you can’t figure it out, here’s a legend (left to right, top to bottom): test (AKA nothing), test, snowflake, wreath, baby Jesus, present, candles, Santa hat, manger, sleigh, Christmas tree, bell, glass of milk, candy cane, holly, Santa, snowman, star, angel, elf, stocking, poinsettia, fireplace, cookies.

Yes, those are pre-cut cookies
Books

My Favourite Book of 2016

This is very long overdue but I was blog hopping and came across The Daily Prophecy ran by Mel. Her latest post was a quick survey of all the books she read in 2016. At the end of her post, she posed the question:

What is the best book you read in 2016?

This is a very tough question for me to answer. I read a couple of very good books this year. Some notable mentions are:

  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • Waiting by Ha Jin
  • A Fisherman of the Inland Sea by Ursula K. Le Guin

However, there were two books that really stood out to me this year: Emma and Waiting. I can’t decide which was the better book for me.

Waiting by Ha Jin

This book tells the story of a man in an affair and a marriage that he cannot seem to get out of. He had been trying to divorce his wife for years so that he could marry the woman that he actually loves. However, he can’t seem to get past the law and the pity he has for his wife and his daughter who live in near poverty.

This love story was extremely touching and it really made me think about marriage. One of my worst fears is marrying the wrong the person. Another one of my fears is getting married. What does it mean to marry a person? In the eyes of the law it’s just seen as a formal union. To society, it may just be something you are expected to do and something to uphold at all costs. To others, it’s something that you need in order to express your utmost love for another person.

Jin’s voice is very authentic. As someone who is unfamiliar with the setting of the story, communist China in the 1960’s, it was very easy to get a sense of the culture and values. His characters were sympathetic and their struggles were, although a bit out of place in the context of a modern Western society, very real. This book left a strong impression on my mind.

Emma by Jane Austen

I was immediately charmed by Emma. Although, she is a bit over the top (like her over confidence in her abilities and tendency to over analyze), it made her character all the more enjoyable. Her antics and the way she interacts with others is almost laughable, but all in good fun.

For someone so disinterested in marriage, marriage is all around Emma. Marriages are conducted in her presence and married are made from her presence (or so she says). Her meddlesome behaviour into other people’s affairs opens her eyes to realize things about not only herself but of others too.

There’s not much that I can say about this book that is very thought provoking. Jane Austen adopts a light hearted and comedic tone with ease and the language of classic literature is always hard to resist. Overall, I think Emma made for great entertainment and was a fun book to read.

Conclusion: The Best Book of 2016

Even after writing all of this, I am still unsure. I think Waiting had more personal impact whereas Emma was a pleasure to lay my eyes on. I read stories to experience things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I read to be entertained, to think deeply, to feel, and to find bits of myself. Both of these books have hits and misses in this regard. Overall, I think I just might have to give the best book of 2016 to Ha Jin’s Waiting.

Books

Book Blogger Hop #2 (01/13-01/19/2017)


Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

Is everyday a reading day for you? Submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews

I’m trying to make it a habit of reading everyday. Realistically though, I only really read during the work week. Those days I specifically block out times for myself dedicated for reading: on the way to and from work (since I take public transportation). One day I’d like to read everyday, but I still have a way to go.