Thursday, January 26, 2006

Update Your Links/Bookmarks/Favorites....

I've finally gotten around to switching this blog over to a new format and a new domain. I tried to import this blog into the new one so that all my archives would be available in one place, but the pictures thing didn't work out quite right. Therefore, I have decided to keep this blogger account as my archives (don't worry I'll link it off the new site) and I'm putting all new posts on the new one. So from here on out, if you want more of me you'll have to go to the following place....

If you are one of my English 4040 classmates, you'll want the following blog...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

One Thing I've Noticed (If You are Perfect in Every Way, Please Disregard.....)

When I was a kid in school I never put a lot of stock in that left brain vs. right brain, visual vs. audial (is that how you say that?), math vs. language psychobabble. But when I was a kid, I also thought I could do everything (I mean come on they tell you can if you just put your mind to it) so that shows how much I know. But being in the English department at school and working in an IT job (read: comptuer job) I've found this split to be very true.

******Warning: The Following is Extreme Overexaggeration. Handle With Caution!**********

The guys I work with in my office (yes, they're all guys) can't put a sentence together. And English people can't open email. For some reason my illustrious and illustrative blog friends can put two and two together, but they're kind of weird anyway.

****************End of Exaggeration. Please Take Deep Breaths and Continue*************

Seriously though, it's not the easy thing in the world to speak clearly or keep your HTML syntax neat (and working properly). Therefore, I have decided to post some helpful links that deal with these two seemingly opposed areas.

So apparently I'm the only chump who actually bought this book, when I could have just read it online. Actually, my copy is very cool, it was just published last year and it's an illustrated version (you can see it here there's even a nifty video), but I digress. This book has been a standby of English literature and composition for almost a century and it offers really simple and really useful tips on writing and grammer. The best thing about this volume is that it's small and doesn't bog you down with technical diatribes on past participles and gerunds, or even worse split infinitives. It's pretty amazing to me that this little book still has a great deal of currency now.

I was just introduced to this page today, but I wish I would have known it existed earlier. I have already put one of its tips to work, changing my archives from a list to a pull down menu. I plan to turn all my links into pulldowns because I think it looks nice. Ward did this on his site and I have been wanting to ever since I saw it. I haven't gone through a lot of this page yet, but I'm pretty excited about it's potential and I think it's simple enough for anyone to understand and easily incorporate their tricks into their own blog. Happy upgrading! (Bonus point for the cool illustration at the top)

As an English major, I am by law required (punishable by removal of tweed apparel) to own the latest edition of the MLA Handbook For Writers of Research Papers (it's up to 6th in case you were wondering), but I hate flipping through that thing. Fortunately some librarian at our own Ellis Library has linked to this fabulous online (and may I add free) guide to citing works, which I use frequently. Seeing as you can now be thrown out of the country for simply thinking in another person's words (be careful quoting from your favorite episode of Arrested Development) I would highly suggest at least being aware that this exists.

4. A Little Something Off the Wall for My Illustrator Comrades...the Best Kept Secret of the Blogging World...Martha Stewart?!?!?
I'm a convert. I own every issue of Real Simple magazine, but I opened a Martha Stewart Living at the dentist the other day (by the way if you live in Columbia, Dr. Eric Burton at Accent Dental is the best dentist ever. They give you parrafin wax hand treatments while they clean your teeth and they are the nicest people in the world). Real Simple is emblematic of the life I hope to lead, whereas Martha's magazine is so much more practical that I have already started incorporating her many tips. Even right here on my blog. In the latest issue she included this fabulous piece about how to fancy up some ordinary ceramic dinnerware and teapots by painitng dot patterns on them. The pieces are so simple and beautiful I wanted to do this project right away. Unfortunately, Nick has met his threshold for my projects and I don't really have time (or space to store the new fancy dishes). But I wanted to do something to this blog (notice the new banner?) and I had the brilliant idea of photoshoping color into the templates on her site and adding them to some fancy lettering. Voila, new banner for this site and my wedding blog (in our wedding colors, in case you were wondering what those are going to be). I have a feeling Miss Martha is going to show up here a lot.

5. Finally, Mom, This One's For You: "There Is A Blog In Your Future" (You'd better listen, the woman with the crystal ball is looking right at you)
You see it all began way back when....My mom has bragged up and down to everyone she knows about how beautiful and well thought out and insightful my blog is, but when confronted about her own maternal contribution to my being able to blog, she has artfully avoided the matter. The truth is my Mom is a brilliant nurse who dispenses advice to the neediest of parents, be it at 2:00 am or in the middle of a grocery store crisis. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all her advice were available to the desperate public? And it doesn't stop there, this woman has made a name for herself by knowing where the best Pampers coupons and the free subscriptions to Parents are on that overwhelming sea we call the internet. If only she could link in public. If only. I know as a future parent, we need more people like her to get us through those sleepless nights when the baby's not crying because he's hungry, she's wet, he's teething, she's sick, but just crying for no reason at all (damn babies). Maybe she'll take this article to heart and call on her incredibly computer savvy daughter to answer the demand for just such a blog. Here's hoping.

Bob Loblaw's Law Blog **

What's a blog? There are blogs about blogs and blogging that will answer this question. The more appropriate question to begin this musing is what is a blog to me? Being in a blogging class this semester (yes, they really do offer those) has given me a lot of food for thought on the subject. I will probably be creating an ancillary blog for that class only, just so that I can gain focus (and hopefully an endless stream of things to write about). But that begs the question, what is so important to me that I would want to (or be able to) write about it at least three times a week?

I've really been thinking about how my perception of blogs has changed since I started this one in October 2004. After 95 posts I have certainly seen a lot of changes in the way I approach this project. Initially I began the blog as a simple and less exhausting way to keep in touch with my extended family. Around the time I started the blog I was having some health issues that everyone constantly wanted updates about, the blog, therefore, was a quick way to let everyone who wanted the info get it. I quickly found my stride with that aspect and began to take a more writerly approach to my updates (the best example can be found here, where I recount my surgical experience). At the same time that I started the blog, there were also the 2004 Presidential elections, which found their way onto my blog, simply because it was the best place for me to vent my frustrations. That was my first divergence away from simply chronicling things that happen to me (which is quite frankly kinda boring because quite frankly I'm kinda boring) and actually using my blog as a forum for me to rant.

Then one day in August of last year I got an itch I had to scratch. I have been interested in Photoshop for a long time (virtually my entire college career) and have learned all the ins and outs of the program, but I have always lacked the creative inspiration to create art of my own using the program. For some weird reason, though, I all of a sudden had an idea and I actually translated it from brain to paper (that doesn't usually happen). I remember the panic I felt as I posted it up on my blog (it's so exposed and anyone can see it!) because I had never intended my blog to be a showcase of my more secret side. I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to turn in assignments because I have an deep seated fear of being wrong. But I took a risk, a huge one (it still makes my heart flutter). At first I didn't make a big deal about it, but it was a huge rush to have something like that out there in the world. My rush was intensified when a total stranger (don't ask me how she found my blog) commented. From then on I was hooked.

I quickly revamped my approach to my blog, adding a much more interesting title than Megan's Blog, and realized that I finally had a place where I could indulge myself and my passing (and sometimes not so passing) interests virtually anonymously. I have always been a would be artist, or a would be writer, but I've never had the courage to actually put pen to paper, much less put it out where people can see it. But I have the firm belief that the internet inspires courage and breaks down people's inhibitions, otherwise we wouldn't the bazillion niches out there on the world wide web. So my blog became the place where (as I say in my description) I could become an ideal verison of myself, even if that simply means trying something new and it has remained that to this day.

I've heard other blogs comment or post about how blogging has becomes such an intrinsic part of their lives, how it's akin to breathing. I don't think I'm quite that involved in it (sorry again for the recent two month gap, but what are you gonna do?), but I there have been many surprising personal benefits to the habit. For example, that fear I mentioned about turning in papers for school has almost completely vanished (except when I know I'm turning in subpar work) if anything it's exhilirating to know sometimes that what I'm submitting is both 100% valid (because in English interpretations can't be wrong - now why didn't I figure that out sooner?) and not a slightly different version of someone else's paper (no I don't plagirize, you know what I mean). This blog has inspired me to take more risks and the wonderful (and extroadinarily surprising) reception I have recieved to my work, in particular my illustrations, has given me a lot more confidence in everything I do.

**If you don't get the reference, you're not cool. This can be remedied by subscribing to my newsletter for the bargain price of $24.50 per month and watching Arrested Development.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Illustration Friday: E is For...

I know it's late but I've been meaning to do this all week. I had been trying to think up a good way to post the big news here and then Illustration Friday popped up with the perfect opportunity. I know this illustration is not super complex but I think it accurately captures the elegance and simplicity of the moment Nick and I shared. Now, I bet you want the details, am I right?

As alluded to in earlier posts, Nick and I recently took a vacation out East. Of course, this presented the perfect opportunity for Nick to pop the question and make our engagement official. Before we left we had planned to stay in New York City for one night (we primarily stayed with Nick's Dad in Hartford, CT). So on Tuesday, January 3, 2006 we headed off to the Big Apple. After multiple delays (mostly us lolligagging) we checked into the hotel and began talking about dinner. Nick suggested I take a shower and start getting ready since it would take me longer than him. While I was in the shower (I found this out after the fact) he got on the phone to his Dad and apparently his Dad's collegues and got a multitude of suggestions for restaurants. He decided on Tavern on the Green and made a reservation. He got ready and debonairly got us to the restaurant, which I have to admit is a side of him I've never seen.

Tavern on the Green was like nothing else I've ever experienced. The dining room was still decorated for Christmas and it was beautiful. Nick ordered us wine and I had lobster bisque soup followed by Seafood Fra Diavolo (Pasta with scallops, lobster, and huge shrimp) and Nick had crab cakes followed by Filet Mignon. The food was excellent and it was nice to sit and enjoy each other's company in the romantic surroundings.

Since the restaurant is right on the edge of Central Park, after dinner Nick and I went for a walk. It was a little rainy, but after a few minutes we found ourselves completely alone in the middle of the city. It was then that he took his opportunity and asked me if I would be his wife. Of course, I said yes. I think his choice to propose in the park was the perfect symbol of our relationship. I'm a pretty high strung person and he takes his responsibilities very seriously so a lot of our relationship has been supporting one another as we take on whatever comes our way. To be in the park, alone, in the middle of such a chaotic city like New York, I think captures the level of comfort and security we depend on from one another.

I used to spend a lot of time imagining that moment, and I can honestly say that Nick exceeded every single one of my expectations. I love him and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I'm Having a Weird Transcendental Moment...

because I'm blogging from a class that's all about blogging.

I guess now that I'm in the blogging class, all of you can expect more posts because it's my homework now. I'm not sure how I feel about the association between homework and blogging. I hope it doesn't zap the fun out of the experience. But I honestly don't think it will. Although, for all of you out there in blogland who still visit after my long hiatus, I would expect more posts about metablogging (the nature of blogging itself).

One definite project I am going to undertake is transferring my blog over to my own domain name (don't click it yet, but it's going to be and giving my site a new look and new features (like fancy pull down lists, ooooh shiny). Please, please, please stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Blueprint For A Great East Coast Trip....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Updates to My Updates....

Seems like the most reasonable (and briefest) way for me to catch all of you up on the last month is to update the list of updates I have already posted. I promise to post on the highlights, but until I can pull it together, here goes....

1. I did end up buying a coat after all. While I was shopping with my mom for her new winter coat, I picked up a black pea coat on a whim. Honestly I didn't even think it would fit, but it did - perfectly. I got it on the spot and I love it.
2. I guess that end of the semester push pushed me right out of the mood to write (which is why I haven't felt like blogging), but slowly I'm getting back in the groove, which is a very good thing because the new semester starts in a week!
3. I still have those 5 blog post ideas saved in my Blogger drafts file, and I have about 5 more now. One day I will get around to them.
4. I only read 1 book in December (guess I ran out of reading steam in addition to writing steam).
5. Still haven't watched very many movies. My brother got me the complete collection of Sex and the City (thank you, thank you, thank you) and Nick and I have been rewatching that instead of movies. Although, we did go see The Family Stone, which I highly recommend.
6. Christmas was fantastic. We spent the weekend before with Nick's parents and brothers. Nick's brother, Chase, got engaged on December 2 so we were able to celebrate that as well. We spent actual Christmas with my mom and brother and we went to my unofficial hometown, Alton, IL, to spend Christmas day with my extended family....something we haven't done in a few years. It was definitely a Christmas to remember.
7. Been on a clothes shopping spree lately. I'm not really sure what's gotten into me, usually I'm not into that sort of thing.
8. I absolutely love our car. I even missed it while we on our trip.
9. Still staying on top of everyone's blog. Sounds like everyone else has had a busy, but satisfying month.
10. I finished my graduate applications and I think I will recieve the decsions in the first part of march (fingers crossed).
11. We went on our trip to Hartford, CT. This requires multiple posts, which I have already begun working on.
12. While were in Connecticut, we got lots of snow. It even felt like Winter there.

One of these days, I will write in sentence form. Thanks for returning again and again, despite my absence.

Megan....January 10, 2006 (can you believe it's 2006?) @ 4:03 pm

Saturday, December 03, 2005

20 Quick Updates....Ready, Set, Go!

1. I sent the coat back because it wasn't cut right and the color wasn't flattering and I have now decided not to get a coat at all.
2. I wrote four papers last week and I have four due next week and four revisions due the week after that.
3. I have 5 blog post ideas saved in my Blogger drafts file, so prepare for the storm.
4. I read 6 books in November I would love to tell you about.
5. I really haven't watched a movie since The Stepford Wives over a month ago.
6. Okay, that's not entirely true, I did see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire three times.
7. Thanksgiving was fantastic. Nick and I visited his parents and had a wonderful and very relaxing time.
8. Bought new pillows for our bed, which I love.
9. We bought a new car last night. It's a 2000 Honda Accord EX with a V6 engine and it's by far the nicest and cleanest car I've ever been in.
10. Although I haven't commented, I have been reading everyone's blog everyday. Keep up the good work.
11. This week's Illustration Friday topic (Blue) was tailor made for me and it's so depressing that I probably won't have time to get it done.
12. I'm almost done with my graduate applications to University of Missouri, University of Oregon, University of Illinois, and University of Wisconsin.
13. We've booked our plane tickets to go to Hartford, CT on January 1 - January 7 to visit Nick's dad, who has relocated out there for a job. I'm really looking forward to going to Boston.
14. My mom's having minor surgery on Monday, I hope she recovers quickly.
15. We're going to Alton (where my parents are originally from) for the first time in a few years on Christmas Day to hang out with the whole family.
16. Did I mention we bought a new car?
17. I've been watching Spongebob while I work on my myriad papers, helps me grit my teeth and bear it.
18. We've had a few flurries, but I wish it would really snow here in good old "Misery"
19. The holidays are great because you have 8 billion excuses to hang out with your family, which is always a good thing, but they go by too quickly and it's oh so hectic. Blink, they're over.
20. I promise with all my heart. I swear on my fancy new computer, that I will return to regular blogging soon. I even have a major change on the horizon since I've registered my own site name and signed up for private hosting, which will give me a much broader range over this site. If you can just bear with me for a couple more weeks I will reward you handsomely with surprises, features, art, and books galore.

Happy Holidays Everyone,
Megan....December 3, 2005 @ 12:44 am