For the Last Week…

My Lady Jane

If you follow my instagram you may have noticed that my last two photos have been a little… unseasonal looking? Considering I hail from Northeastern Pennsylvania and the place has been cold and grey and snowy for the last month or so, my photos definitely may have seemed a little out of place.

Well, that’s because I spent the last week in Florida at Disney World!

Disney Castle

I’ve always had a soft spot for Disney, and had never gotten a chance to visit as a kid, as when we were saving as a family for a trip, in the end we decided that putting in a pool would be a better use of that money, since it would last oh, 20 years as opposed to one week.

No regrets there. In fact, I feel like I was able to appreciate the overall Disney experience far more as an adult than I would have as a kid (and god, did I love that pool). It’s SUCH a great vacation experience, and they have all sorts of little details covered that make the whole thing super easy and super relaxing – even at the budget resorts. We went for the first time three years ago, and decided pretty much as soon as we returned that we’d go back as soon as we could afford to.

Well it took three years, but we managed to get back. And the second trip was even better since, having already been there once, we didn’t feel pressured to cram every sight, ride, and experience into 5 days.

I’m not going to write a full post on the trip because we just did too much, but while I was there I read three books, and took a ton of pictures. If you’re interested in the visual side of my trip you can follow along on my instagram @magpiemakingdo over the next few weeks as I get photos up, and reviews of the books are forthcoming as well!


Arts on the Square

Arts on the Square Sign

Saturday me and the boys drove down to Scranton (NEPA’s largest major city center) to attend the 2nd annual Arts on the Square, which is essentially a gigantic craft fair that wraps all the way around Scranton’s Courthouse Square. The event is organized by ScrantonMade, a group that does an amazing job promoting the arts in the area and which has made some amazing strides in the last couple years.

I hadn’t known about the event before a few weeks ago when my favorite etsy store, Tiny Galaxies (who’s owner I just happen to know and love to pieces – I promise the fact that it’s my favorite is unrelated to this fact – you’ll understand when you see what I bought) posted that she was going to have a booth there this year. So we, not knowing much about Arts on the Square, decided to head down to see her figuring that after we stopped by and said hello that we’d walk around a bit, grab some brunch, and make a nice little afternoon of it.

scranton courthouse

Well, let me tell you – a beautiful afternoon it turned out to be, and I was quite impressed with the event. The weather was perfect, they had a TON of amazing venders, some great live music, and it was just a really great time overall.

panda chalk drawing

The Pop Up Studio was handing out free sidewalk chalk for people to decorate the sidewalks, resulting in everything from the cute to the sublime to grace the sidewalks of the square, and there was yarn bombing on lamp posts, benches, and my favorite: the historical markers.

Yarn Bombed Historical Marker

Two of my favorite things: yarn and history. How can you go wrong?

But anyway, onto the really good stuff: What I bought! My main intent when we went down was that I was going buy a pair of earrings from Sara at Tiny Galaxies, and nothing more, but instead of one pair I ended up walking away with three BEAUTIFUL pairs, plus some other stuff.

So I wasn’t really a good girl Saturday. But it’s okay, because my financial situation is finally looking up and I’ve actually got some money to burn… or at least that’s what I told myself.

But whatever my justification, I don’t feel bad about it. Because, well, just look at these beauties!

fine silver earrings by tiny galaxies

First these lovely Fine Silver earrings – a pair of which I’ve been wanting basically since we met Sara and I found out about the store. They’re like the perfect everyday work earring for me. Formal but still simple, and sparkly without being too super dressy. You can find similar in gold here.

glitter orbs by tiny galaxies

Next are these awesome multi-color glitter globe earrings. These are her biggest size at about 8 mm, and these are just my absolute favorite. I have several pairs of these in my collection already, and they’re basically just the perfect everyday earring. I’m particularly pleased with this pair because they’ll go with pretty much everything and anything.

Black and gold big dangly earrings by tiny galaxies

And then the last pair of earrings are these big black and gold danglies. I’ve been looking for a new pair of concert earrings for forever – it’s hard to find black earrings that really stand out and sparkle without ending up distracting to the audience – and these will be just perfect. While I definitely CAN wait for concert season to be upon us again, I really can’t wait to wear these.

Along the way as we walked around and left Sara to her sales, I also picked up two things for my office – a ScrantonMade mug and a hand painted matryoshka. The mug, I just couldn’t not – it’s so cute, I’m a big sucker for anything with the PA map on it, and ScrantonMade is definitely the kind of organization I want to support. As for the matryoshka – apparently there’s a Russian Art Gallery in Scranton! Who knew? It’s hand painted, and comes from Igor’s Russian Art Gallery (which doesn’t have a website). She’ll have a lovely new home in my office, where astoundingly, even after 4 years, I still don’t have a matryoshka. May not be astounding to anyone else, but, well, matryoshki have been a decorating constant in my life since, well, forever.

mug and matryoshka

Overall, Arts on the Square was an amazing time. And I’ll definitely be stashing more money and carving out the day for next year’s event!

FINALLY Finished.

reading outside

Today I have some photos from our annual end-of-the-year retreat with the students at the lake property our university owns, and some good news!

I FINALLY finished First into Nagasaki.

lakeside boats

This has become the breaking point for me, and I’ve finally just accepted that I cannot read for pleasure during the semester. It’s simply not possible. This book should have taken me a week max, and instead it took me a whole semester. I think I just have to accept it.


That said, the book was a great read. Some amazing insights into Japan post-surrender, and some amazing stories from the POW camps.


It can occasionally be a little plodding, because these are essentially reporter dispatches, prepared for publication in newspapers (after assuredly editors had chopped things out). So the writing is very, well, reportery: concise, to the point, not flowery at all. I sometimes struggle with this kind of more technical writing when it comes to speed even when it’s not during a semester, having been mainly educated as a lit person until I hit my MA and switched officially to history.


But struggle aside, the stories and information contained within was well worth it. The main surprise for me was that very little of the book actually concerned itself with Weller’s experiences in Nagasaki, which is originally what drew me to the title. It was actually more about the POW experience than anything else.


End verdict? Highly recommended.

And now onto the next thing.

[photos taken with my point and shoot]

Another Quick NYC Trip… With a Few Broken Rules

The Met full with fountain

So I went to NYC last week for two days with my Mom. I never know how to handle these posts about our trips to NYC… my writing about them always seems too “boring vacation photo slide projector presentation.” We live in relatively close proximity to NYC – it’s only about 2-3 hours in depending on the traffic, so NYC visits have become pretty normal for us. We don’t really do any of the sightseeing or excursions or any of the other things that would make good blog fodder anymore. Basically nothing that people would care about. Particularly this trip, which was pretty utilitarian. We went up to see a show, killed some time during the day shopping, and then went home the next morning. It’s particularly boring because I was decidedly trying not to spend money…. I wouldn’t even have been able to go up if my Mom hadn’t wanted me to come meet her so badly (she was already up there for a work meeting) and paid for my bus ticket (thanks mom!).

So I guess I’ll talk about what a test of my new financial habits this trip was, and all the rules and regulations that I set for myself to help me prepare for the upcoming financial hit.

And oh, it was a test. A test that I started out acing, but ultimately failed. My mom and I hit all our usual spots – Lush and Sephora for cosmetics. And oh, Sephora as upped their nail polish game. I mean, just look at this:

Sephora Nail Polish Bar

But I managed to resist. I bought nothing.

Then my mom took me to her favorite yarn store in the city – my first visit to a NYC yarn store. While my mom is up there about once a month or so for work or to see my brother play – I can rarely go with because of work or finances, so I’ve just never had the chance to go yarn shopping in the city.

Knitty City

Ohhhhh what a challenge. As I’ve said before, the last thing I need is more yarn. But just look at this needle and button display!

Knitty City needles and buttons

Knitty City was small, but had sooooo much packed into such a small space. I suppose I should have expected that… it is in Manhattan, after all.

Knitty City inside

My mom did make it a bit easier for me to resist purchasing anything myself; she bought me two skeins and some stitch markers (thanks again, mom!).

Kyle Athayde Dance Party

After the shopping wore us out, we grabbed some grub and chilled at the hotel for a while before heading over to late night at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, where the Kyle Athayde Dance Party was playing (the show we came to see). They were so completely killin’, I can’t even really describe it. Here’s a YouTube recording – and this doesn’t even really do them justice.

It was the late night set, so as soon as they were done we went back to the hotel and crashed.

Knitting Nation sign

The next morning we left the city, making a stop in Nyack, NY to visit my mom’s other favorite NY yarn shop: Knitting Nation. Again, my first time there.

Knitting Nation inside

And quite frankly I got overwhelmed a bit. My self-resolve just didn’t last. After the previous day of impeccable self-control I just failed the test. I had brought some cash that my grandmother had given me as a “just in case” stash (mistake #1), and between Knitting Nation and the Pickwick Book Shop right down the street… well… I lost control. I broke my rules. I bought not only yarn, but books too – both items banned by my new restrictions. I mean, just look at the yarn!

Nyack bookstore

And the books!

History section nyack bookstore

I found four beautiful old hardcover Winston Churchill histories… and they were on sale! I couldn’t resist. And so I spent the rest of the ride home kicking myself for violating my rules. Jim tried to make me feel better as I texted him on the drive home. He assured me it was okay – it was a special trip, and I did use cash that I had stashed for special things. But I still feel badly about it.

going home

The weather on the drive home seemed to sympathize!

(photos taken with my Point and Shoot – except for the first one, which is from our trip up for my brother’s senior recital… I needed a title photo and none of the ones I took this trip really worked for that)

Quick NYC Trip

The Met full with fountain

Last week we made a quick day trip up to NYC for a very special occasion: My brother’s senior recital! After 4 long years of toil at the Julliard School, he’s gearing up to graduate, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. The final hurdle (besides finishing spring semester) for a music student is always the senior recital: you put on an entire hour-long concert yourself, and graduation hangs on it going well. Like a giant, public jury. It’s a pretty harrowing experience, even if you’re used to performing.

The Met Opera

Well, true to form, he did brilliantly. I couldn’t have been prouder of him. He is the most talented person I know, and seeing that talent displayed the way it was is enough to make a sister burst with pride. His playing was amazing (as always) and even more astounding were the pieces he wrote specifically for the recital. They were just wonderful.

Family in front of Fountain

Overall, it wasn’t a very eventful day, we basically drove up, showed our two grandmothers the school (with both at 80+ and one with a bad knee, they’re a little slow on their feet anymore, so this took us a while. But it was really sweet watching them see his school for the first time), grabbed some dinner, and then hit the highlight: the recital.


But, my Aunt and I, annoying as ever with our cameras, did grab some photos at Lincoln Center, and a few in the school itself before we left, which is what I have to share here. The recital itself was kind of a whirlwind, and I was so busy listening that the camera sat in my purse… and stayed there basically until we were rushing to meet our hired van afterwards. Luckily my Aunt was on duty with her point-and-shoot for us to get a few family photos afterwards, so I will have those for my scrapbooks, but none for here!

Recital Hall