Learning Challenge: Reading out Loud

This seemed like a good challenge to try for the week because I was taking notes over different ballads of Robin Hood. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to read a ballad silently, but it’s hard. They’re meant to be sung and, while I wasn’t about to try and sing them, I could at least read them aloud to get a feel for the rhythm and meter. I think it helped a lot! I was far less likely to zone out or start skimming if I was reading out loud.

I actually do this in a lot of classes if I don’t really want to do the reading, but I know that I need to. Reading out loud doesn’t just ensure that I’m paying attention. It also increases retention of information and just makes it more fun! The only drawbacks are, if I forget to make sure I’m alone, people might stare at me funny, and I have to drink a lot of water since I’m talking so much!

Image: Index by Negative Space. Source: Pexels

Wikipedia Trail: From Maid Marian to my Favorite Book!

Maid Marian or Marian Fitzwater is such an iconic part of any Robin Hood retelling. She is also super inspiring and I love that the “old fashioned” tales have a strong feminist character. I read about Robin Hood and Maid Marian for the reading this week, so I started here for my Wikipedia trail!

Among all the cool information about the legends of Robin Hood and Marian, there was a list of literary adaptions, including one by Robin McKinley. I followed that link, because she is the author of some of my favorite books! My personal favorite book that she wrote is called The Blue Sword. It’s set in a fictional world called Damar (McKinley has written several stories and books set here) and about a girl named Harry who has to learn to be a soldier and help save her home. It’s kind of awesome! So I obviously had to follow that link on McKinley’s Wiki page.

Honestly there really weren’t that many links on The Blue Sword’s Wiki page (whoops), but there was a link to The Hero and the Crown, which was the sequel to The Blue Sword and the first Robin McKinley book I ever read – although the book itself is technically a prequel to the events that happen in the Blue Sword. Researching these books makes me want to read them, and other classic books like them, all over again. Maybe I’ll find time to do that over winter break!

Image: The Blue Sword book cover. Source: Wikimedia



Famous Last Words: Are We There Yet?

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m currently relaxing at my parents house for Thanksgiving break and I can’t help but thinking, are we there yet? I get to this point every semester, where it seems like I’ve been taking the same classes for much longer than the three-ish months it has actually been. I’m ready for finals and I’m ready for a longer break with no homework! But I also know myself pretty well, and I know that about 5 minutes into Christmas break I’m going to get very bored and want the spring semester to begin.

I’ve enjoyed the classes I’ve taken this semester – Geography of Wine was particularly fun. But I’m also looking forward to getting back into my Chemical Engineering coursework in the spring. I feel like this semester, and last spring to an extent, were almost a vacation. I wasn’t taking any engineering or hard science classes and was instead working on my International Studies degree. But, since I want to go into medical research, it felt like I was taking a lot of classes for no reason. As difficult as they might be, I am happy to throw myself back into the Engineering grind.

But first I do have to finish this semester. I’ve already finished my Geography of Wine class, and I’m pretty close to ta king care of Mythology and Folklore. I think that all I have left in Model UN is one paper, and then the finals for Microeconomics and Microbiology. My microbiology lab also has two more assignments and and exam and lab practical. It’s not a ton, but it will sure keep me busy for the next couple weeks. I’m still aiming for that 4.0 GPA and as long as I study hard for my finals, I think I can do it! And then I’ll be that much closer to next semester!


Image: Legs by Greyerbaby. Source: Pixabay

Reading Notes: Robin Hood (B)

  •  I’ve read plenty of stories about Robin Hood pretending to be a beggar or sheppard or anything under the sun. I’d like to see one where he pretends to be himself, but no one believes him. Or one where he pretends to be someone rich and powerful instead of impoverished, just for variety.
  • Little John going begging makes no sense. How could he have gotten 300 pounds from beggars?
  • I like the story of Robin switching places with the old woman. It seems the most similar to the Robin Hood stories I’m familiar with.
  • I like this version of Maid Marion! She didn’t wait around and fret about Robin Hood, she disguised herself as a man and went searching for him! If I write a story, it’ll probably be about Marion and what she was doing as she looked for Robin
  • The trickster is tricked! I like the king and how he was able to fool Robin Hood. I feel like Robin and the Sheriff wouldn’t be able to make up though.
  • I find it interesting that there is several different versions of Robin Hood’s death, but I prefer the one where he dies fighting, even though him shooting an arrow to mark his grave is nice imagery

Bibliography: Bibliography: The English and Scottish Popular Ballads collected by Francis James Child.

Image: Lucy Griffiths as Maid Marion. Source: Fanpop

Growth Mindset: Lesesucht

I love reading. I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I can remember – my whole life, if you ask my family. Today I found out that the German word “Lesesucht” means a reading addiction. Sounds about right to me!

I’m the type of person that doesn’t go anywhere without a good book. If you catch me staring at my phone for a while, then I’m reading. I even have a countdown until the release of few novels I’ve been waiting for! I have a reading list longer than my arm and, if I could, I’d sit at home all day everyday working my way through that list, one by one. I’m not antisocial, I just love reading!

When I was working on making growth mindset motto for an assignment, I was wandering through the internet, waiting for something to jump out at me, and this quote definitely did. It’s something that Oscar Wilde once said. It may not be overtly related to growth mindset, but I think that it speaks to someone who is always wanting to know more. That’s what reading is, right? Every book you read can teach you something; that’s why I love books so much.

Image Source

Reading Notes: Robin Hood (A)

  •  I’ve always seen Robin Hood portrayed as a great guy, but here he kind of isn’t. It might be interesting to write a story that explains why he became a good guy, or a story where he really is a villain.
  • Does Robin Hood adopt every person that wanders into Sherwood?
  • I wonder what Allen a Dale’s bride was thinking as all this happened. Or how she felt about moving to Sherwood
  • I like that Robin comes across as more of a trickster in these stories. Trickster tales are some of my favorites!

Bibliography: The English and Scottish Popular Ballads collected by Francis James Child.

Image: Robin Hood and Little John by Louis Rhead. Source: Wikimedia

Famous Last Words: Procraftinating

Yup, you read that title right. ProCRAFTinating is something that I’m really good at, and it’s that time of the semester again. My friends made up that word to describe what I do every semester for the few weeks leading up to finals. I love crafting and I find it really relaxing, so it makes sense that toward finals I always find myself painting, sewing, or knitting. Or embroidering, like I did all weekend instead of homework or studying, which was really fun, even if my hand kind of aches from holding the needle for so long.

It’s kind of a vicious cycle, because once I’m done crafting I’m immediately swamped with the stress I had before, as well as additional stress because I just “wasted” so much time. But I love crafting so much! Sometimes I just need a break from homework and everything else to make something for myself or a friend! It’s hard to find a good balance. Taking time for myself is important, but so is school and my GPA. Which is more important? Should I prioritize one over the other?

The answer to that is “probably not.” I feel kind of like a pendulum that keeps swinging from one side to the other when I should be in the middle. On the bring side, the laws of motion say that the pendulum will loose momentum (due to drag and such) and will eventually come to rest in the center. And, until I find that wonderful balance, I’ll have some really awesome crafts to give all my friends!

Maybe I should allot myself a little time every day or every other day for crafting, so that I can de-stress without losing an entire weekend. It sound like a happy medium, if I can convince myself to stick to it! 🙂

Image: Personal photo of the craft I made this weekend

Learning Challenge: The Happiness Jar (Part 2)

Last week I wrote a post about something I found while browsing the class blog called the Happiness Jar (read my first post here) and I decided to try it. Now I get to tell you how it went!

My first thought is that this was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Paying more attention to the nice things going on around me was great, but trying to remember to write them down and keep track actually added stress to my days. I was hoping this would be a calming or relaxing thing to do, but it wasn’t. Maybe because it was for class?

Try as I might I didn’t get every day like I hoped I would. Here’s what I did record:

Monday –

Tuesday – I cleaned my room! I love walking into a clean and well organized room!

Wednesday – I went to the gym! I also got my Econ exam back!

Thursday – I got free dinner! I also got some good news about grades!

Friday –

Saturday – I got to set up and participate in a wine dinner/tasting

Sunday – I actually accomplished a lot of things, and finally got something done that has been on my to-do list for weeks!

Obviously I didn’t start the week off strong with missing Monday, but I’d say that 5 out of 7 days really isn’t that bad. Over all I think this was nice – looking back at my week just now was really cool, and it’s nice to remind yourself of the good things that happened. But I think because I was forcing myself to do it (not well obviously) it was more stressful than it should have been. I don’t think that I’ll keep up with this, but I’m glad I did it for a week!

Image: Positivity by MartaZ*. Source: Flickr

Winery Visit – Canadian River Vineyard and Winery

Recently I went to Canadian River Vineyard and Winery to do a tasting and tour. I didn’t want to go by myself and I didn’t know anyone else in the class who could go, so I ended up getting a group of friends from work who all went with me, and it was great!

We started out with a wine tasting – or I did at least. My friends all happened to be about 15 minutes late while I was about 10 minutes early, so I spent some time talking to the owners. They’re really nice! I told them I was in the class and they knew what I was talking about. We had a great conversation about Italian wines too, once I mentioned that I had been to Italy. And I had a glass of their Noble Blush wine while I waited.,

Once everyone (finally) arrived we got right to tasting! Canadian River had a lot more wines that I would have expected from a small vineyard in Oklahoma!

Our group sprang for a cheese and cracker and meat plate to sample while we were tasting, and I loved it! It felt like I was back in Italy again!

These are most of the wines I tried, with the exception of their award winning Chocolate Drop wine, which was good but not my favorite.

I went back a few weeks later to go to their grape stomp festival, and I tried a few more wines then, but I don’t have any pictures of those.

I got a glass of the White Zinfandel “to go,” and then we went on the tour!

We started by going into the field to see the vines.

Canadian River harvests in August, by hand, so that had already happened. But they only grabbed the grapes that were suitable for wine production, so there were still quite a few on the vine. They said those are used for the grape stomp festival (which was super fun!)

The guy giving us the tour really seemed to know his stuff, which was awesome. He brought a refractometer with him to show us how they measure the sugar content to determine exactly when to harvest. Their vines are 17 years old right now, and all of their wine is made from their own grapes (when they first started, that didn’t used to be true).

Then we headed inside. They have a de-stemmer as well as a crusher that they use, and primary fermentation happens in stainless steel holding tanks.

They use cultured yeast for fermentation (which I want to say is pretty common, but they specifically said that, so I though I’d include it) and age their reds in oak barrels for two years.

They get their barrels from the owner’s son, who has a winery in California. After he uses them for a few years, they get shipped to Oklahoma and used for a few more years. Yay Recycling!

They do all the bottling by hand and they use real cork, but I think they have a machine that labels the bottles for them.

and the owner said that they recently made a business deal that will get them in local stores next year! That was the end of the tour, which was timed perfectly. Right as we went back into the tasting room it started absolutely pouring, so we took our time packing up. I bought three bottles of wine from them: their White Zinfandel, the Dry Riesling (my favorite that they make), and the Chocolate Drop (for my mother – she loved it). You can’t see them, but I promise they’re in those bags! 🙂

Eventually it did stop raining, and then we took a few pictures before going to get food together! I had a great time and I can’t wait to go back!

Wine Dinner – Blu (Brunch)

So fun fact, me and my friend Courtney (who is also in the Geography of Wine Class) decided to go have lunch at Blu, and we were going to have an Italian theme Wine Dinner for lunch! Unfortunately for some reason they were only serving their Brunch menu – even though it specifically says on their website that the dinner menu is served from open to close. So Courtney and I had to get a little creative.

(Me and Courtney trying to decide what to order)

So what did we come up with? We both decided to roll with the punches and have some wine with our breakfast (brunch)! We did get a few strange looks, but it was all for the wine, so it was worth it! I decided to get the “American” breakfast, because it sounded tasty, and it had an abundance of different foods for pairings, and the Passport wine flight because it seemed like the best bet (besides the Crimson and Cream, but Courtney got that).

(My Selections)

While we were waiting for the food and wine to arrive Courtney and I admired the general ambiance of the restaurant, which was really cool, and we noticed some Rorschach tests hung up on the wall. We debated about those, joked around, and generally had an awesome time!

(These were some of the decorations. I see a skull on top, a panda bear in the middle, and a crab on the bottom.)

Then the food arrived

(My plate)

followed shortly by the wine

(My flight)

and Courtney and I got started!

(Excited to pair some food and wine!)

After Reading the descriptions of the wines provided by the restaurant, I decided to start with pairing the Domaine de la Damase Grenache with the scrambled eggs, because of the description provided.

(Domaine de la Damase Grenache Description)

I figure the eggs would help mellow out some of that initial acidity and allow some of the other flavors to express themselves more. First I tasted the wine by itself so that I could see how it changed with the food. It was good, and I could definitely make out the spicy tobacco flavors, along with cherry. It had a lot of tannins, and the description did not lie about the initial acidity.

Then I tried it again with the scrambled eggs. They definitely mellowed out the tannins and the acid, like I hoped they would, and the fruity flavors did become more pronounced. I also noticed some hints of plum that I hadn’t noticed when I tried the wine by itself. The food also brought out the spicy flavors, which I normally don’t like, but they weren’t so bad, probably because they were accompanied by the food. Pairing one = success!

I had some bread and water between courses to try and make sure that I was coming at each wine from the same place.

The second pairing I decided on was the bacon and ham with the Stemmari Nero d’Avola wine. I thought this would work out pretty well because I recognized the wine name as Italian, and I’ve almost always had Italian wines paired with prosciutto. Okay, so it was a guess, but it turned out great!

(Stemmari Nero d’Avola Description)

The wine by itself was really sweet when it hit the tip of your tongue with strawberry and pomegranate flavors. It had a lot of tannins, but it was really smooth. Having it with the bacon brought out the sweetness, but left the tannic component and mouthfeel unchanged. The ham, on the other hand, brought out the sweetness in a slightly different way, so instead of strawberry and pomegranate, I got more cherry and black currant flavors. The ham also mellowed out a lot of the tannins, which I think was really nice. Over all, both the bacon and the ham worked with this pairing, but the ham definitely went better with the wine.

After a little breather and some more bread and water, I moved right along to pairing number three! The final wine, a Loca Linda Malbec, was one that I was really excited to try based on the description.

(Loca Linda Malbec Description)

I decided to pair it with the potatoes, because I thought that a neutral background might really let this wine show what it could do. I tried the wine first, like I did with all the others, and it smelled fruity and citrusy and fantastic. But then I tried it and I was very disappointed to be unable to find any of those fruity flavors I had been led to believe were there. The potatoes did let the wine express itself a little more, and I found some hints of chocolate and vanilla that weren’t detectable when the wine was on its own, but still no fruity flavors. I tried this particular wine three more times with different foods on my plate, in an attempt to find something that would bring out the fruit flavors that were supposedly there, to no avail. Honestly, I feel like that wine was a lie.

So Courtney and I tried each other’s wines, and then focused on finishing off our brunch, and just hanging out. It was really nice

(Wine pairings are done and I still have all this food!)

Overall, I think two of the three wine and food pairings went really well, although I don’t think I’ll be having wine with breakfast food again any time soon. But this was a really fun experience, and I can’t wait to do it again!