Mismatched Mess

of life, love, fashion, & forgetting to update


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Dover Travel Video…and Bloopers

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I have begun making travel videos for our adventures abroad.  I love these videos and wrote about my basic plan for them last week.

Our trip to Dover last weekend was so fun.  After I made the initial ‘pretty’ travel video,  I decided to make a blooper reel as well.  In the videos I show you serene scenes of landscapes and buildings set to lovely music,  but in reality my husband and I are two dorks and our commentary is so contradictory to the lovely scenes you see.  Have a look!  And check out my YouTube channel for more #TexansAbroad funny and lovely videos!


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#TexansAbroad | Dover, England

Dover Castle Grounds

This past weekend me and Taylor took a 40 minute train ride to the coast to visit the town of Dover. Hopping off the train, we made our way through town in search of a map of Dover and breakfast.

There was nothing remarkable about the particular breakfast place we chose. It called itself The Mean Bean. It served strong coffee and cold pastries. It was rather early so the place was empty when we sat down. As we sipped our lattes and made a loose plan for our day, the coffee shop slowly began to fill up. Each and every customer greeted the owner with conversation and camaraderie. They spread themselves out amongst a few tables, but the conversation never stopped. A few patrons table-swapped to have more personal catch-ups with their friends. The place filled with laughter, British slang, and the smell of coffee. We had stumbled into a local establishment.

This was actually a major find for us. We love Canterbury so much, but between all of the universities and its only industry–tourism, you can’t just walk into any given place and be met with locals. This place was the real deal. It was wonderful and amusing and refreshing.

Dover was refreshing.

Dover, Kent Ocean

Dover still has quite the tourist draw, with its famous white cliffs, a major castle, and its lovely seaside location. But there was such a difference between it and Canterbury. We were thrilled to step away from the hustle of tourists in Canterbury to the slower paced Dover.

We had an amazing time hiking the cliffs, visiting the castle and eating like locals.

Dover, Kent white cliffs of Dover

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Motivational Monday – Reflecting On Losing–and Finding–Focus

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1. 5 Steps to a Productive Morning by thedailypositive.com | 2. How to Lazy-Proof Your Day by Bravely | 3. Progress, not perfection daily goal checklist by EliseJoy | 4. Motivational Poster by The Motivational Type

There’s something so fluid about productivity. That is, if you allow it to be fluid.

I can go weeks with doing everything right. I can follow the few steps I’ve laid before myself; waking up early, maintaining a decent pace at work, even exercising and cleaning. I can be wholly there and I feel great. I feel amazing, actually. Each day gets better and better as my body adjusts to a productive schedule and a full life.

It only takes one day. Not one day to allow myself to take a break: one day to stop everything. It’s like I’m cursed in a fairy tale. As long as I stay productive I can be the adventurous, independent hero the story knows and loves, but as soon as I stop, I turn into the slothful troll who does nothing but make a mess of the story line.

Maybe that analogy made sense.

I am not a marathon runner in this race of life. I’m either sprinting full speed ahead or tumbling down a hill so fast back into a lazy way of living, and I’m still trying to figure out how to balance this. I know this kind of laziness is not healthy for me. Sleeping late, eating terribly, no exercise…. it physically hurts me. The back pain I’ve been dealing with for years comes back full force, my skin starts battling between too dry or too oily. Sure, I still work and still get things done, but nothing feels good. Nothing inspires me.

It’s interesting that I do this to myself. So yes, I’m still figuring it out. Perhaps it will always be an issue, but as I learn to work at home and learn more about myself, I feel like I’ll be able to better manage myself more and more each day. I’m just going to make being productive a habit that I can’t break.

So here’s to you, Monday, the start of another work week and another chance to make this week a healthy, productive one!


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Finding Ways to Keep Focused

Seinfeld | George Falling Asleep Under Desk

A couple weeks ago I described losing focus while working. I linked it to being uninspired with certain projects and blamed it on my personality type. (There’s always something else to blame, isn’t there?)

I really don’t like being unproductive when it comes to my job, but I can’t deny that I work best in bursts of energy. When I have those inspiring, energetic moments I soar. I absolutely love the feeling. I can multi-task like no other; creating, emailing, advertising…all at once. It’s amazing. But just like with the energy you can get from a sugar high, the crash is inevitable. And with crashes come lulls.

That’s what I need to learn to deal with. The lull. I need to learn to better manage myself during THOSE times.

I’ve been working on finding that balance and have learned a few things about myself along the way.

1. I’ve learned that waking up early is GOOD. It’s so good for me. I feel better through the whole day just by giving myself the proper amount of sleep and waking up at a decent hour.

2. Scheduling is my friend. I do tend to go off schedule when I’m having one of those bursts of creative energy, but on a daily basis it’s helpful to schedule my days.

3. When in doubt clean out the email! My mind is as organized as my email. I take time each week to open, read and file away emails. That way I can focus on the most important projects.

4. Change of scenery…occasionally. Once a month or less, I pack up my laptop and find a coffee shop in town to work in. I’m not going to deny the perks of working from home,but working alone all day everyday can get tedious, even for an introvert. Changing the scene every once in a while really helps me recharge.


Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.


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Loss of Focus

The Office Jim Falls Asleep

A dull throbbing pain at my temple. The sound of a nearby wall clock ticking away the seconds. The steady hum of a computer fan. The rhythm of the office.

I blink my way out of a dazed expression and re-enter reality. I was just thinking about that one scene in The Office where Jim dies of boredom.

“No, not just thinking about,”as I look down at my to-do list,”living it.”

I adjust in my chair, realizing I had slumped over.

“What’ll it be today? A quick run to the store for a coffee? Or just go all the way and take a quick 15 minute nap right on the keyboard?”

I ponder where I’d go to get coffee…that 10 minute walk into town doesn’t sound too fun. But the 5 minute trip to the grocery store to check out their snacks and drink aisle wouldn’t satisfy my desire for a nice, hot latte. Better skip it.

“Need. To. Focus.”

I look up to my computer screen and see Facebook.

“Ugh. Oh yeah. I came here to update the pages for work and ended up scrolling nonstop through the most uninteresting news feed ever and why did I do that to myself? Facebook has me trained. Enough of that.”

Exiting the page the next Tab open is an article about ’10 Ways to Wow On Social Media.’ Scrolling down, I see an ad for another article: ‘When Baby Kittens Attack.’

“Yes!”

The first .gif of an adorable kitten lunging for a sleeping dog loads and, “Ugh when are the rest of these going to load I want to see kitt…”

“Focus!”…exits article.

“Yes…back to Photoshop. I need these retail banners finished before next Christmas. If that could be accomplished that’d be greeeat. Ha! An Office Space reference. This is my life right now. Alright, now what font would look best here?”

Changing the font on ‘SALE ENDS MONDAY!’ what seems like 100 times, I give up and delete the text.

“That was way too clichéd to write anyway. Back to square one. Ughhh this is hard. ”

Takes out phone and scrolls through Instagram. Stopping at an ad for a retail store, I’m struck by an idea.

“Wait. What if I created something like this for the store?…What if I create a whole theme?!”

I put the phone aside and open a new file in Photoshop. Product photos. Style. Colors. Arrange. A whirlwind of clicking as ideas pop into my head one after the other. My to-do list carries onto a second page as more ideas fill my mind. A mere hour passes and I’m emailing my boss the marketing strategy for the next month along with five example graphics.

I spend the rest of the work day excitedly carrying out the rest of my tasks. Energized, accomplished, and excited to begin the next day, I shut off my computer and leave the office. I walk 10 minutes to a cafe for a celebratory latte.


ISFP-active

This scenario happens to me all the time. I understand having mid-day lulls and the importance of taking breaks, but I’m learning that this lack of focus has a lot to do with my personality type. I hope to explore my ISFP personality and find ways to use it to my advantage! When I’m excited, I’m focused and determined. Otherwise I can really lose track. I hope to report back with some tricks and tips so that inner dialogues like the above happen way less often!

Want to learn your personality type? I used this site.
Also, sorry I made up the article about kittens. But here’s one just as good.


 

This was part of the Writing 101’s Blogging University. The prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t anymore. (I’m making a habit of not sticking to the prompt…but I don’t think it’s so necessary as long as I’m writing and learning…is that just me?)


 


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I Was A Band Roadie

Modern Miracle Crammed in the third row of a vehicle hooked up to a trailer of music equipment, I rode the miles of open highway to our first destination. It was time to tour. Get out. Stretch. Divvy up hotel room beds. Then back in the third row, travelling to the gig.

It was usually a small church, or an outside venue. Sometimes we performed to a massive crowd, other times…not. Get out. Set up. Cables and guitars, drum kits and sound checks. And me. T-shirts and stickers, SD cards and tripods. I was a roadie. Girlfriend to a guitarist and absolutely crazy in love with this band.

When I became part of the Modern Miracle family, I was immediately enamored. The energy and excitement to hear their music, to see my boyfriend perform…I was inspired.

38102_412366495669_3548101_nRight out of high school with a new laptop and Photoshop Elements, just beginning my college courses on multimedia, I had the desire to create something beautiful for this band. I sat in my dorm room listening to their music on repeat attempting to create something that expressed the emotion of the lyrics. I don’t think I’d look back at my first attempts to use Photoshop without training and call it a masterpiece…but I learned to use it through my passion for this Christian band.

As my place in the family grew, I started photographing them in concerts and photo shoots. Then I started creating t-shirts and posters and banners. I became interested in re-designing their Myspace page. If anyone remembers, the classic Myspace had a lot of really great features, if you knew html. So I learned html. I spent hours perfecting their page, creating a beautiful aesthetic. I eventually began creating Myspace page layouts for several bands. I had, perhaps, a year of html experience under my belt before I first took a class on it. Through the beauty of music, I had come into my calling.

Modern Miracle

Modern Miracle was a constant source of inspiration for me. The lyrics were poetic stories ready to be unraveled, the music was a strong force to be reckoned with, the band members were a multi-talented family willing to do what it took to get their music out there. For me, the songs were worship. I felt connected to God by listening to them. And I knew my work was worship, too. I worked to create beautiful pieces of art and I worshiped God while doing it. By art, I mean Myspace layouts and t-shirt designs…but it was all for God.

Let our dancing feet set fire with the powers of your Holy Spirit.
We are anointing every word we say. Let it resonate.

I’ve never been so connected to music before or after this band. I appreciate music; the talent, the energy, the effort. There are a few bands I love. But there’s a difference.

With Modern Miracle, there was a raw passion that went straight through me. All the hours spent at band practices and concerts. The time forming bonds with each of them. The late night work sitting on my dorm bed creating. The connection my boyfriend (now husband–plot twist!) and I made when we talked about this group.

Seasons change, life happens. I wouldn’t trade anything to go back, but I do miss that time of my life. I miss the people, especially. Perhaps that’s what caused such an emotional response—having the band members there, laughing and joking; creating unique, original music. Music that held their talents and skill; their pain and joy. I didn’t just listen or watch, they didn’t just play and sing, we grew into who we are now…and we did it together.

Turn from the world. Double portion for shame.
Suffer your own cross for spiritual gain.


This was part of theWriting 101’s Blogging University. The prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you? – (No. hehe)
All photos by me. ‘Diamond Palace’ video credit to D2S Records. Quoted lyrics are from the videos that follow them. Listen to one more song they never got to record!


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Smelling the Tulips | Writing 101: Day Two

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‘They’re my favorite flower,’ I hear my grandmother say, as I gaze over the vast field of never-ending violet. Ripples of color sway lazily with the breeze and, breathing deeply, I’m transported back to my grandmother’s kitchen. The soft smell of tulips sitting on the kitchen counter next to the coffee pot as Elvis Presley sings hymns softly in the background. She liked listening to that CD in the morning. I make my way through the field taking photos I can’t wait to post, excitement I can’t wait to share.

The things that connect us. The purple tulips in May, on her birthday. The slightly burnt coffee every morning strictly at 7 am. The voice of Elvis Presley in the morning. Things that connect all of us. The entire family. I don’t have to explain my nostalgia for Betty Boop, because they have the same nostalgia. I don’t have to wait for the laugh track when I mention my appreciation of salt and pepper shaker collections because they appreciate them too. They get it.

mamawThis woman who lived a full life, filled with everything from a childhood in the country to one of glitz and glamour. She lived. Her feisty, talkative personality filled her house with laughter. Her love of collecting filled her home, literally. But it was beautiful. It was all beautiful. Specifically I’m not talking about her milk glass collection or china teacup sets. Or her extensive, beautiful gold and diamond jewelry, mostly rings. She treasured those rings and wore them, all at once, on special occasions. No, I mean sneaking in her wardrobe as a child and playing dress up in her 1970’s polyester nightgown-and-robe sets. I mean waiting until she went to the kitchen to slip into her storage room to gaze wide-eyed at her giant collection of Betty Boop coffee cups and dolls and shirts. Once I gave her an old life-sized cutout of Betty Boop. She displayed it in her living room for years.

Finished Painting of Baker Homestead

We were never incredibly close. Or, perhaps, we were. To be close to Mamaw, was to savor the small moments. To be present and willing to listen; to be patient and willing to wait. I wasn’t a good roommate. I wasn’t. After college, I was just grateful for a room in her home at all. I came home exhausted from work and shut myself in my room to decompress for hours. I couldn’t stand watching The Bachelorette with her–even ironically–so I left that to my cousin. I would snap back with an attitude after 30-too-many-times her telling me to not wash my dishes/clothes/self while she was watching her evening shows. She couldn’t hear them, otherwise. I was patient, but I still think about the times I was not. Of course, she had an attitude as well. The kind of attitude that comes with the privilege of aging and not caring at all if what she said offended. To be close to Mamaw was to not care if she did offend, because you knew she was just trying to tell her funny story for a good laugh. Or she was just trying to make sure her precious Betty Boop valuables weren’t broken by the hands of a curious child.

I drift in and out of these memories of my grandmother. Visiting the fields of tulips is like an amplified megaphone; each petal, each smell shouting a memory directly at me. The beauty of those flowers, stretched miles and miles and miles, is overwhelming and awe-inspiring. These fields connect me to my grandmother, they connect us all. They affect me like they affect my family. There is a beautiful trust in that. Even thousands of miles apart, I know I am not alone. Through a simple song by Elvis Presley, we can share a memory, a story, a laugh. Through a single tulip, we can ensure our family history will be remembered in the most beautiful way.

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This was part of the Writing 101’s Blogging University. The prompt: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

I’d love to visit Amsterdam during their tulip season for my grandmother! It’s on my Bucketlist, even. This spring I at least hope to visit one of England’s beautiful gardens.


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Easter Weekend in Canterbury

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Taylor and I have been enamored with Canterbury Cathedral this weekend. We should have visited sooner, but we let it fall to the wayside.
Thursday we went to The Liturgy of Maundy Thursday service, which was such an experience. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke, and washed the feet of twelve of the church members, which was quite emotional. Then, as the choir sang, one by one all of the lights were turned off in the entire cathedral as the sanctuary was stripped of everything.

Friday we decided to go to an evening Requiem by Maurice Duruflé sung by the Cathedral Choir.

Sunday evening we went, yet again, to an evening sermon and compline. We had a chance to take a few photos of the outer cathedral. I captured the Easter garden, with the tomb and stone rolled away, some lovely blue sky cathedral photos, and some shadowed photos of the new Queen of England and Duke of Edinburgh statues that the Queen and Duke themselves unveiled two weeks ago to mark her diamond jubilee. It has been tradition for royalty to have their statues added to the cathedral for many years.

We plan on taking in many more services and will definitely visit more often to see all there is to see of this magnificent place.

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And though our Easter may not have included hunting Easter eggs and eating chocolate (although I’ve been craving hard-boiled eggs all day, so that may be remedied), we DID decide to dress in pale green and blue, because pastel = Easter (right?), we get to see baby ducks everyday as we walk home, and we saw a duck waddling along on the sidewalk this evening. That pretty much covers our bases. 😉

Happy Easter!

 

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April Fool’s Day! | Office Pranks

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April Fool’s day has ALWAYS been my favorite day of the year. All the way back to elementary school, I was fascinated with the day. Being so clever as to prank someone? Gold.

My ‘best’ (*cough dumbest? silliest?*) prank ever dates back to Junior High. Cue pre-teen angst swirled together with a slew of boy-related rejections and a dollop of ‘still finding myself’ and you get the basic inspiration for this scheme. With a little planning (very little) and some basic acting skills, I successfully fed several boys diarrhea-inducing chocolate bars. (Pathetic, right?) My friends and I had such fun ‘luring’ boys to eat this chocolate despite the prank having ZERO GRATIFICATION TO US. It’s not like we asked them the following day if they had any “issues.”  I guess it’s the journey that matters, not the destination?

Sometimes the stars align so perfectly that you just know something was meant for you. I recently found out that one of the first mentions of April Fools’ Day  was written in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Oh Canterbury, I was meant to live here. In The Nun’s Priest Tale the character is tricked by a fox on “Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two…”  —March 32nd—or…April 1st. pranks

Last year, I had the best day at work full of pranks and laughter. It was my last day of working in that particular office, and at the end of the day I literally packed away my computer and belongings and moved to a different office building in a different city. It was really special to make my last day full of fun. A coworker, with a penchant for pranking, and I schemed and prepped a long time to come up with as many pranks as possible. You can see them listed below. (I know I posted this video a few posts ago, but really, I couldn’t leave it out)

This year, I’m living in the UK, but I just couldn’t let the spirit of pranking be cast aside! (Although rumor has it that my coworker partner-in-crime has some pranks up her sleeve…can’t wait to find out!) I decided to keep it really simple and civil this time with a care package from Britain, filled with snacks. I thought they’d get a kick out of the novelty of the different name brands.

The ‘prank’ is just a small letter included in the package. The sentences are completely non-sensical using many British phrases. Considering that I created these sentences myself with only the help of my experience and some Google searching, I doubt many of these sentences even make sense to local Britains! (Especially because many phrases are from different regions of England, as well as different time periods.) I included ‘clues’ on tiny slips of paper that ‘translate’ the words into American English. They’ll have to do some digging and rearranging to figure out what I wrote!

If anyone has any pranks to share, I’d love to see! I hope everyone has a fun day and that none of you get fooled by any of the media’s inevitable pranks!

Unfortunately their package hasn’t arrived yet, so I’ll update this post with the letter and decipher once they receive it!


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April Fool’s Day | Etsy Finds

My favorite day is coming up soon! I love pranking! Taylor and I are always trying to trick each other. When we first married he would prank me so much, that I’m conditioned to it now. His scares don’t get me anymore! (Public shaming)

I thought I’d peruse Etsy for some fun pre-made pranks to share here!

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Dentures Soap | Mail a Glitter Bomb | Outlet Sticker |  Prank Poster | Mac & Cheese Soap | Spilled Coffee

(The power outlet sticker was featured on George Takei’s Facebook this week.