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Projects Before the Blog – A Look at My Antics with Abbey

Saturday was my cousin Abbey’s birthday. She’s a regular here on the blog, you’ve probably read a book review or two by her.

I’ve alluded to the fact that we’re no strangers to doing projects together. Hidden away in a shared Google Drive folder named The X Files, we have projects we’ve done for the past five plus years. I thought in honor of her big 2-5, I’d share some of the projects in The X Files that were completed before I made the blog.

The Cocktail Book

I’ve alluded to this one before, but we wrote a cocktail book a few years back. Our Christmas parties tend to get a little out of hand – we have themes and everything. One year our theme was “You Are What You Drink.” We all dressed up as our favorite drinks. Abbey had the cutest champagne costume and as a broke college student, I was a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

We like giving a gift to our large extended family each year as a way to say thank you to our parents and the aunts and uncles that make for such a special holiday. That year, we wrote a cocktail book with a different drink for each member of the family.

The book turned out real cute and with lots of yummy recipes. We have a few hardcover books lying around that come out around the holidays each year.

The South Park Animated Video

Another Christmas gift: we turned everyone into South Park characters.

As if that weren’t enough, we created a rendition of “Christmas Don’t Be Late” and changed the lyrics to correspond with each of our family member’s secret Christmas wishes. Unfortunately, my chipmunk singing was not the best and using Windows Movie Maker made it a frame-by-frame mess. But we certainly all made cute South Park characters.

The Trivia

Continuing in the Christmas spirit, last year’s theme was Disney Christmas. This year, paired with Abbey’s growing love of trivia, we made an epic Disney trivia. There were deep cuts and the slideshow was beautiful. Most of the slides relied on gifs, videos, and music, so posting pictures almost doesn’t do it justice. But here’s a few to give you an idea:

(My parents, brother, and I made a fantastic Incredible family, by the way.)

Other Projects

Aside from these, we’ve built board games, created a (horrible) podcast, and many more dumb ideas. Maybe someday I’ll tell those stories, but for now, a big happy birthday to Abbey – here’s to the next wave of our projects!

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Monthly Match-Ups

Monthly Match-Ups: Meet Alex

Even though this blog is only a month old, my aspirations of self-improvement and finding-myself-through-projects have a much longer history. By my side through all the craziest have been one of closest friends, Alex.

Go ahead and tell me that Alex and I aren’t the coolest people you’ve ever seen

And as far as life transitions go, Alex is in the midst of one too. Having recently just moved back home out west, he’s recently left me across the country. Fresh out of college, he’s job hunting and exploring. The universe is letting him absorb whatever life has to show him right now.

And just like with Abbey, it made perfect sense that he take on a project with me. We’ve been tossing around ideas and finally have a good one. Since Alex doesn’t quite know how much time he might have to dedicate to something and neither of us have anything we’re particularly dying to try, we’ve decided to do mini month-long projects. – Oh, and while we we were at it, a competition too.

So how do our monthly match-ups work? Simple: we challenge each other to learn and explore different skills and after a month see who wins. We hope to pick ideas to give us a sample without fully committing to anything too large. Additionally, we’ll give updates on our progress and Alex will write guest pieces.

This month we will be learning music theory. We’ll have a month to absorb as much information as we can and at the end of the month we’ll each take a music theory test (written and curated by our resident trivia expert, Abbey – don’t worry, she’s qualified!). We’ll have no knowledge of what we’re walking into, just to see who can be the best.

We both have an interest in music theory, so it seems like a good place to start. Remember when I told the story of my albums? Alex was there by my side the entire time. Remember the part where I said one of my friends made his own album? That’d also be Alex. These albums were made by us scrapping little parts of theory together, but we both know we only scratched the surface.

Maybe I’ll get some inspiration for my cover album project. At the very least it’ll make it easier.

Anyway, as much as I love him I can’t wait to kick his ass. Let the competition begin.

Project 4

A Brave New World – Introducing Project 4

Ever since I was a child, my cousin Abbey was a direct reflection of what I’d encounter next in my life. She was a year and a half older, so I would look at her with envy as she encountered milestones just a year before me – an eternity to a child. I remember when she learned to drive, when she graduated college, and when she started middle school (and obviously couldn’t be friends with her elementary-aged cousin anymore).

Though her and I now live about 2 hours apart, we still are just as close as we were as children. We constantly do projects together from genealogy research to writing a cocktail book (Jacqueline and Abbey’s Christmas Cocktails). So it made perfect sense that she had to jump in with a project as I started this blog. So here we are.

The cover of our Christmas cocktail book circa 2017

As we brainstormed, we realized that one thing we had both done as children but had stopped as we got older, was reading. Neither of us read anymore. Maybe it’s because we were both engineers – our textbooks turn us so far off to reading for pleasure. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop us from arguing which Harry Potter book was the best (she thinks The Prisoner of Azkaban, but obviously it’s The Goblet of Fire)

So with that in mind, we decided that Project 4 should be dedicated to reading. More specifically, we decided we were going to read 100 Classics.

So what did we choose? I present to you, the list.

Our list of classics that we will be reading in the next year and a half

Disclaimer: No one has any idea what the word “classic” means. We just chose 100 prominent books that we wanted to read. Some we have already read, some we haven’t. We know it’s not all inclusive, but honestly, we couldn’t be bothered to read more than one Shakespeare play.

Seeing as we are women of science, we did have to make some rules. So here are our constraints:

  1. Read the entire book: No cheating or Sparknotes!
  2. Write a quick book review after finishing: This will include a rating, how long it took us to read, what we knew about the book before reading, our takeaway, and whether we’d recommend it.
  3. Film a response after finishing: Unlike the book reviews, these may or may not be posted. We just wanted to film the seconds after finishing a book to send to each other with our initial thoughts.
  4. Finish the list before the deadline: August 23, 2021

Why August 23, 2021? It’s my last first day of school. We figured a year and a half was a good amount of time to read 100 books.

…that is until we realized how fast that is.

With only 580 days until the project ends, we average to a little over a book a week. Yikes.

As we float somewhere between reality and the fictional universes of these books, we obviously realize that this will be tough, but that’s what the point of these projects is – get out of your comfort zone.

Organization, Project 2

The Official Project 2 List

This holiday weekend has been all over the place. I met a psychic who told me to read more poetry, spent 5 hours broken down on the side of a snowy highway in the middle of the night, and recovered from a cold. Productivity hit a low.

Paired with finishing the first week of the semester, I might be even less organized than when I started Project 2. Oops.

Desperate to get something done, I’ve made a list of everything I want to organize as a part of this project. Here it is.

The official list for Project 2

It might not look like a lot but it’s going to take a while. Think of the list as a North Star – something that guides me to what needs to be done but certainly isn’t a direct map.

Anyway, some of these will be quicker than others. For example, organizing and donating books will be much quicker than cleaning out my email. Between my two emails, I currently have 20,114 unread emails and thousands more read – please help.

It’s not like I haven’t touched this list though. For example, with my emails I’ve probably cleaned out a good 10,000 already. Also, I’ve been chipping away at unpacking and making the house feel homey. I’ve even put up a photo wall!

A low-quality Snapchat of me in front of my magnum opus – the Photo Wall

So are things getting done? Yes. Slowly, but yes. With my list, I can hopefully declutter and make way for new adventures as quickly as possible.