Monday, September 29, 2014

The (Your Name Here) Scholarship

Hey friends!

How's your Monday going? Apparently today is International Coffee day. I participated with my (new) normal: a half coffee, half milk and hot chocolate mix concoction. And now, I have all the energy. Weeeeeeeeeeee!

As someone who works in higher education, I find myself thinking about the cost of college a lot. I was fortunate enough to get several scholarships that helped me through (though I still have a good chunk of student loans as well.)

I'm going to be paying off my loans forever weeeeeeeeee!!
Let's say, many years from now, you're rich (congratulations, you!) and you believe strongly in the value of a good education (if it's not true, just go with me here...), so you want to set up a scholarship.

You can make any parameters on this scholarship you want -- it can go to someone from a certain background, of a certain race, going to a certain school, of a certain major or field of study. Whatever you want. It's yours to create.

What would your scholarship go to?

A few scholarships of my scholarships were named from the person who donated the money, and I'm always thankful to this unknown benefactor, who made the gift that made my education possible (or at least lessened the debt I went into to get that education). So I've thought about what I would want my scholarship legacy to be.

I think I might give my scholarship to the child of a small business owner or a social worker. That's what my parents do, or did when I was growing up, so I have a soft spot for people who pursue those careers and would love to help them and their children out.

What about you? Who would you want your scholarship to go to?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book review: Hopeless

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

I hadn’t heard anything about Hopeless when I picked it up -- I saw a tweet that it was free for Kindle and downloaded it for my trip to the Pacific Northwest. Hopeless falls into a new category of fiction you may have heard about -- New Adult. This isn’t a technical definition, but from what I’ve heard/read, New Adult is like Young Adult’s big sister. The characters tend to be in their late teens or older, the themes are a little more mature, and the romance is a little steamier / more explicit.

I enjoyed Hopeless. Sky’s relationship with Holder was -- not going to lie -- a little creepy at first, in the kind of way that if she was my friend in real life, I think I’d be worried for her safety. But if you can ignore that, their relationship had my stomach jumping. The ramped-up romance is definitely more than you’d see in a YA book, but definitely less than you’d see in 50 Shades of Grey (I assume).

I’m not going to lie, Hopeless is a little cheesy. But the plot is twisty and surprising, the characters are fun, and it’s a quick read.

I gave Hopeless three stars, but it’s probably more like a two and a half. It got me through my flight -- I’d recommend it for a four hour flight for sure, but maybe not if you’re in the mood to, you know, actually think about things.

Have any of you read Hopeless -- or any New Adult fiction? What did you think?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Anniversary camping

Pat and I have a tradition of camping to celebrate our anniversary. We're approaching 4 years of dating (October first!), so we went camping this past weekend. Despite living in different states, we made it work, meeting in the middle at Kansas's Prairie Dog State Park.

It. Was. Perfect.

Hope you all had a great weekend as well!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Book review: Ash

Ash by Malinda Lo

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

Cinderella retold

In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

I love retellings of fairy tales. In fact, when I was reading Ash, I was also reading Cinder -- two vastly different retellings of Cinderella.

Ash is much closer to the original Cinderella. Ash is young when her mother dies, and soon after, her father remarries. But, as with the traditional fairy tale, he soon passes too, and Ash is left with a cruel stepmother who blames her and her father for the crippling debt she’s left with. So (no surprises here), she forces Ash to become her servant.

I liked Ash a lot. It takes the traditional tale of Cinderella and infuses it with a lot more fairy magic. It also focuses a lot on the King’s huntsmen -- and, in particular, Ash’s relationship with the King’s Huntress. The tone of the book is mystical, and it adds a lot to the traditional story. The Goodreads summary calls it “Entrancing, empowering, and romantic,” and I definitely agree!

I liked that Ash was Cinderella, but not -- Ash runs with fairies, and (a bit of a spoiler) doesn’t fall for the prince and live happily ever after. Ash brings a bit of diversity to the world of YA, and it’s really well done. I gave Ash four stars. 

Have any of you read Ash? What did you think?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gym Pact App Review

Hello friends!

Have you all heard of the app Pact / Gym Pact? A few months ago, everyone was talking about it! I recently started using it and wanted to put my thoughts out there for anyone who is interested in trying it out.

When the app first came out, it was called Gym Pact, but I think they're rebranding to just call it Pact. Using this app, you set a goal for yourself for healthy behaviors you want to practice through the week: a certain number of times you want to work out, a certain number of days you want to log what you eat, or a number of veggies you want to eat throughout the week.

If you miss your goal, you pay up. When you make your "pact," you choose how much you want to pay for each day you miss. The lowest option is $5/day missed. So if I say I want to work out four times a week and then only do twice, that's $10 I have to pay up.

If you hit your goal, you get paid!

When Pact was all the rage a few months ago, I was hesitant to sign up. When I was training for big races, I wanted to be able to take rest days when I needed to and not worry about my Pact. But I recently signed up, thinking I could make money off something I should doing anyway.

So far, I really like using Pact! I have made pacts to work out and to log my food.

When I work out, I either use RunKeeper, which syncs with Pact to record my workout, or the motion tracker built in to Pact. One thing I didn't notice immediately is that the motion tracker is literally tracking your motion so if your phone doesn't move enough, even though you might be working out, it won't count. It also draaaains your battery. So mostly I've used RunKeeper and then synced my workouts. There's also another option to use GPS to identify your gym and show that you're there for long enough, but I haven't used that option.

For logging your food, Pact syncs with MyFitnessPal, which I've used before, so that's super easy. You do have to log three meals and at least 1200 calories, but that hasn't been a problem for me.

I haven't used Pact to count my veggies yet. From what I can tell, you take a picture of yourself eating fruits/veggies and other users vote on whether your picture is legit.

You don't make TONS of money using Pact. In the first week I used it, I made $1.25, the second week $1.28. I think you have to earn at least $10 before you can get paid. But it has been a good motivator for me to move my body since I'm not training for a race right now. I've returned to my days of walking during my lunch breaks (if you remember that, you've been here a LONG time!) and that counts toward my Pact!

Do any of you use Pact? What do you think?


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