Category Archives: Books

Do you have Dorm Decor?

Decorations n Stuff

 

(Poster – Godfather, Poster – Archer, Painting – Triptych [Three Panel Painting], Banner – NorCal, Fountain – Sculpture, Indoor plants – Juniper Bonsai Tree)

The nice thing about dormitories and apartments is that many come pre furnished and include basic amenities. However, the first thing that you probably notice when walking into your new dorm or apartment is how empty it looks. Sure there may be a few couches, a dining table, chairs and a bed, but for the most part that’s basically it. Even the walls are tend to be blank. Simply put, a new apartment looks cozy, but seems lifeless. In order to make an apartment or dorm your home, you have to give it your own personal touch. So I’ve decided to come up with a list of just a few things that I do to turn a house into a home:

1. Throw up some banners on the walls. A themed banner or flag from your state (or country) is an especially good idea if you are living out of your native state (or country) – don’t be afraid to be proud of where you come from! A large banner can also be hung on a blank wall to add some life to the monotone colored interior. If you’ve got an upper floor window, you could also let the banner fly loose to let the world know what you’re all about.

2. Get some posters to decorate your room. It’s your room so it should reflect your interests. Put up some posters of your favorite movies or t.v. shows. Not only will it make your room feel more decorated but it will also male your room feel more personal and comfortable.

3. Add some paintings in your living room. Your living room is usually the first thing guests will see and often times will be the place that mosts guests will spend time when visiting you. Having a few paintings on the wall will add some class to your apartment and if all else fails while entertaining guests, they can serve as last resort conversation pieces.

4. If there are some empty spaces in your apartment or dorm that the furniture does’t fill you can always add some small sculptures to make your place seem more full. As with paintings, sculptures can add some class to your place and serve as conversation pieces.

5. The last item on the list is to add some indoor plants. Indoor plants literally add life to an apartment. They add color to your humble abode and make your place seem more lively. Apparently taking care of plants is also said to be a cathartic exercise and can relieve stress such as the zen Juniper Bonsai tree.

How do you decorate your place?

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Back To School Basics

Back To School Basics

 

(Paper – College Ruled, Pens – G2 Ballpoint, Pencils – Mechanical BiC pencils, Binder – Organizing Folders, Backpack – Classic JanSport, Notebooks – Mead Spiral Notebooks)

Summertime Sadness (Sorta)

Well it’s that time of the year again. Near the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. Take a trip to your local Target or Walmart and you’ll see signs that Summer is nearly over. And I’m not speaking metaphorically – you will literally see signs marking sections that are specific to “Back to School” items.

For all you parents out there “Back to School” is the start of the daily routine of dropping the kids off and picking them up several hours later and possibly attending PTA meetings every few weeks – just another list of things to add into your already busy schedule. But if you are a kid or even a young teenager, school is most likely at the center of what you do. It forms the basis of your social life, teaches things you may or may not find useful in the future, and hopefully opens your mind up to the possibilities around you. We’ve all been there and whether you love it or you hate it, school forms the basis of our formative years. For those of us lucky enough to have the motivation and means to pursue a higher education, schooling becomes even more important. In college almost everything you do will involve school and I’m not just referring to studies and homework. The people you hang out with will more than likely be classmates, roommates, or people in your dorm. You may find yourself working one or two jobs at a time to pay off those pesky student loans, to keep up with housing payments, to afford school books, or even to buy groceries. Basically school becomes your main focus (hopefully) and for good reason: it’s a springboard to future career tracks as well as a realm of various possibilities even if you think that the material you are learning is “useless”.

If you’ve managed to read this far without getting bored, you’re probably wondering what that rant had to do with “back to school” stuff. Well the answer is simple: Since schooling is so important (as previously indicated), it makes sense to be prepared from Day One. All of the items on this list are oriented to college students, with a focus on practical, inexpensive, and light weight items.

The first thing that you need obviously is something to hold your books, supplies, and if you have one, a laptop. A rugged yet lightweight backpack is ideal and if you’ve got a tight budget, I’d recommend the Classic JanSport backpack. It’s really the basic backpack that both looks the part for a college student and is durable enough to last the year.

So backpack, check. Now for items useful in classes, you’re obviously going to need something to take notes with and on. Mead Spiral Notebooks are great to take to class because they don’t take up space in your bag and because they can serve as both your notebook and your source of lined paper for written assignments or essays. If you’re not the person that likes to keep different notebooks for different classes, then you can keep all your notes together in one big Binder. All your assignments and notes will be organized and available in one place. Of course if you don’t buy a spiral notebook, you will need to stock up on a lot of college ruled paper. As for writing tools, I prefer G2 ballpoint pens simply because they are relatively inexpensive and are very smooth to write with. I would however advise buying a few cases of these pens as they may get lost or broken frequently. If you need a pencil, say for some sort of math class, I would recommend buying Mechanical BiC Pencils in bulk. These pencils are very convenient as you don’t need to sharpen them, they’re almost always ready to use, and they use number 2 pencil lead (the type that most scan-tron tests need).

These are of course just the basics of what a college student will need for classes, but other than course-specific books or materials like calculators, they really are the only items that every class requires.

Speaking of books, many college students complain about how expensive their textbooks are at the college bookstore. Well in case you don’t know, Amazon has a special offer for college students that sign up for student memberships, with discounted shipping and other great benefits to help you save some money. For some text books, they even have a “rent” option that allows you to order a book for the semester at only a fraction of the normal cost.

While summer is coming to an end and you are making all your preparations for the coming Fall season, don’t forget to enjoy yourself the last few weeks of vacation. After all, Summer’s not over just yet.

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Vacation on the Road

Road Trip collage

 

( Road trip Book – Scenic Drives in a America, Lonely Planet – California, GPS – Garmin, Eye cover – Travel Eye Cover, Neck Pillow – Travel Pillow)

 

So last week I wrote about a bunch of fantastic places in Europe, and named some of the most popular tourist sites in those countries. Well if you are the conscious traveler, then you would have read that article and saw a giant price tag associated with traveling overseas. Well you wouldn’t be wrong. Vacations overseas are expensive and booking flights alone cloud set you back a few thousand dollars. So the question is, where can I go on vacation that won’t break my bank? Well if you own a car and live in America, I have two words for you: ROAD TRIP!

Yes, the good old fashioned road trip. A chance to get out and see what really makes America the land of the free and home of the brave. To experience all of the land of liberty from sea to shining sea. By this point, you are probably thinking “But America is full of great places, where should I go first?” well to help you out with this, you should plan your route, and a Road Trip Book of some of the most scenic routes in America would be a perfect place to begin. Start your trip from your home and plan out where you want to go first. If you live on one of the coasts, try exploring the entire coastline before going cross country. If you live in the Heartland of the country pick a coast and explore it! The point is, of course to have fun and enjoy the experience of the trip, not just to look forward to the destination. But try not to get lost that would definitely put a sour mood on your trip. So to stay on task and get to your destinations bring along a GPS. Sure you could use your Map apps on your phone, but car mounted GPS are designed for road trips and offer great advice on traffic and surprisingly accurate time-of-arrival estimations, meaning if you’re in a rush, you’ll never be late!

This brings me to another point. Make sure to bring along friends and family. While it’s perfectly fine to go on a road trip solo, it may get a little boring and the experience may not be as exhilarating. Plus, if you bring some friends along, you get the added bonus taking turns behind the wheel. And that means less stoping on motels on the highway and less money you have to spend. Instead of having to rest at hotels every few hundred miles, just prop up a pillow throw on an eye cover and take a snooze while your friends make up a few miles.

So what places would I recommend? Well as a Bay Area native, I would have to say that touring California is a must do if you plan a road trip. And since there’s simply so much to do in the best state in the country (totally not biased) read up on some of California’s most popular tourist attractions and see what appeals to you.

Like I said earlier, the point of a road trip is to enjoy both the journey and destination, so don’t get frustrated at some traffic and don’t rush yourself too much to get from one place to another. Just pack your bags, pick a route, and see where the road takes you.

 

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Euro Travel Destinations

Lonely Planet FranceLonely Planet ItalyLonely Planet Germany Lonely Planet EnglandLonely Planet FrenchLnely Planet Italian

(Lonely Planet – France, Lonely Planet – Italy, Lonely Planet – Germany, Lonely Planet – England, Lonely Planet – French, Lonely Planet – Italian)

 

 

For me, Summer vacation is already halfway over and in several weeks I’ll be back to the grind of schoolwork. However I realized that during this summer I haven’t actually had time to go on a proper vacation. This got me thinking, if for some reason I had enough time from between now and until mid-August to go traveling, where would I want to go? The first thing that came to mind was Europe. But Europe is full of different places and cultures so where exactly did I want to go? Well I’ve compiled a list of European countries that I think would be great summer destinations.

First off France. When you think of “vacation to Europe”, France is most likely one of the first countries to come into mind. It is a very popular tourist attraction spot, not just because of the giant iron tower in the middle of Paris, but because of the rich cultural history of France. Whether it’s touring art and architecture in Paris, wine sipping in the south near Marseilles (Marseille) or along the Rhône river, or enjoying the beautiful view of the Alps near Grenoble, you can never get bored in France. However, if you’re not fluent in french, you might want to take along a french phrase book, just in case you find yourself in a room without any English speakers.

Second item on the list is England. For all Anglo-Americans, England is the “Old Country” that place where your ancestors came from on a boat back some four hundred years ago. As far as travel destinations go, England is quite a popular choice, partly because everyone there speaks English. Of course there’s other reasons to visit England: London is a very popular tourist attraction with lots of places to go sightseeing – Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The London Eye and the River Thames just to name a few. If you want to get away from the big cities you could also tour the English countryside, and maybe stop in to see a few castles along the way. For me personally, I would like to visit the place of my namesake, the Isle of Sheppey, in Kent, mostly just to have a picture of me in front of a sign with my name on it.

Germany is one of my favorite countries, mostly because Germany is itself quite diverse. Visiting cities in the South such as Munich (München), Nuremberg (Nürnberg), and Stuttgart is a very different experience from visiting northern cities such as Berlin, Hamburg, or Hanover (Hannover) mostly because Germany is historically one big melting pot of various Germanic cultures. Cities like Munich tend to be very spread out and seem to retain most of their historical appeal, whereas cities like Berlin have a unique modern quality to them. Even after it’s rough history in the past century with the two wars and a divided country, Germany has rebuilt itself into one of the most modern countries in Europe since it’s reunification in 1990. And if you don’t speak German, don’t worry! Most people in Germany can speak fairly decent English, and even for someone like me – an American who speaks German – most people will hear my Americanized accent and automatically start speaking English. Pretty convenient.

Last on my list, but certainly not least is Italy, the land of pasta, pizza, and that funny looking tower that looks like it’s about to fall over. Italy of course has a history that dates back a couple thousand years to the Roman period and throughout the centuries has been home to some of the greatest artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michealangelo, Raphael, Sandro Botticelli, and Giovanni Bellini. Italy is also home to some well known cities such as Venice (Venezia), Milan, and Florence (Firenze). Rome of course is one of Italy’s most well known cities and probably one of the most well known cities in Europe. Why? Well besides it’s history as being the seat of the Roman Empire, it is also the location in which the Vatican city is located. As a result, Rome holds some of the old ruins of the Roman Empire, such as the Colosseum as well as some important Catholic sites such as the Vatican and Castel Sant’angelo. And in case you don’t know any Italian, or if you want to start learning, why not bring along a lonely planet Italian phrasebook to help get you by.

If any of these places interest you, check out the lonely planet travel guides to get more information on some of the popular attractions in these countries.

Of course this is not an exhaustive list of countries to visit. There are great places such as the Czech Republic, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, and many more. So the question is, where will your next Euro-Trip be?

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Summer Reads

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I’m not usually the type of person who could be found at home engulfed in a novel, but these summer reads have taken me on multiple adventures. If you’re in the market for a new book, check out one of these six books, I promise you’ll be just as hooked as I was.

The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson is set in 1727. Hodgson takes you on a wild journey through Tom Hawkins life. Tom refuses to follow his father’s footsteps and become a country parson, as he loves a life full of wine, beautiful women, and gambling. His interests soon get him in trouble with London’s debtors’ prison and a murder mystery unfolds. Although this book is not my typical read, it is a summer must.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris is a thoughtful novel about the mysteries of modern life. It follows the story of Paul O’Rourke, who is addicted to technology. When he encounters a fake website, Facebook page, and Twitter account created in his name, he finds that this online impersonation of him might actually be better than the real thing. Just like a little Catfish story!

Sara Shepard is the same bestselling author as the series Pretty Little Liars. Her novel, The Heiresses, has the same mysterious plot line. The Saybrooks are a beautiful and wealthy family but are troubled with many mysterious deaths. I won’t say any more about this thrilling mystery, just find out for yourself what is happening in this twisted story.

Heart of Palm by Laura Lee Smith is her first published piece, but nothing short of a rich novel. Smith’s story takes place in Utina, Flordia. The small town has failed to see any economic growth in years. She takes you on a journey with the Bravo’s, a wild family that encompasses the love of the town.

The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon is about the death of printed material and the power of the Internet. The main character, Anana Johnson works with her father at a dictionary producer, but when her father goes missing, her journey goes well beyond her control. It may be a metaphor for what is happening in the world, but you tell me.

Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende is a suspense novel featured in the New York Times. It is a coming of age story about Maya Vidal, who was abandoned by her mother. Her grandmother raised her in Berkeley, California. When tragedy strikes, Maya turns towards illegal substances and crime. Her wild life leads her to a remote island off the coast of Chile…but you’ll have to read more to find out what happens next!

Whether you enjoy reading or not, these books will all take you on a journey. Give them a try or research other books you might enjoy!

 

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