Life: April 2020

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Well, we made it. April and quarantine month #2! I don’t know how it went for y’all, but this month was definitely a lot better than March, which was basically an emotional roller coaster. I’m going to model this month’s wrapper-y post somewhat like last month – quarantine edition!

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– Friends

So obviously, our school closure that was supposed to end by May 1st changed to being the entire year. The tedious routine of going to school is never something I thought I would miss, but I do. For my friend’s birthday, a bunch of us went over to her front yard and stayed apart and talked for awhile. And today, I went over to another friend, A’s, house and (staying ten feet apart and wearing masks) we filmed a video for our youth group challenge. After we did the first take, my A’s little sister pointed behind us and yelled “moose!” And sure enough, there was a cow running up the lawn (for those of you who don’t know, that’s a female moose). We scattered quickly as A’s mom started yelling at the moose to not eat her tulips.

For April Fool’s Day, my friend D and I played a prank on our other friend, E. D spent hours recreating E’s Instagram account by using screenshots of all of his posts and using almost the exact same account name. I FaceTimed E and told him that there was someone on Instagram with the same account as him, and when he checked it out, he freaked out and starting asking who would be creepy enough to have the same account as him. When D and I told him it was us, he just called us idiots and we started laughing hysterically . . . it was the best. 🙂

– Quarantine

Quarantine continues, guys! There’s honestly not a lot to say here . . . I’ve been doing puzzles, watching a lot of Outer Banks and Love is Blind, and working on my current writing project, which is my book So You Can Understand Me. I’ve been Zooming a ton with my friends and commiserating about not being able to hang out. And I’ve been streaming A LOT of online YouTube workouts. 😂

– School

Thankfully, I’m almost done with school. I think technically my last day is in late May, but I’ll be done with almost all of my classes by this Friday (I already finished my two foreign language classes, though!) The only thing I’ll have going on is a online writing workshop I’m doing until late June, which is when I’ll be done with my history curriculum, too. (That’s a homeschool class though, so it’s okay – remember I’m part-time public schooled and part-time homeschooled.) Being this close to the end of the year is super exciting, and I’m not going to bore y’all by continuing to talk further, as I’m sure you guys are just as thrilled to be done as I am. Keep up with the Zooms, guys!

– Skiing

The summer training has begun . . . if you aren’t super familiar with how cross-country skiing summer training works, we use what are called rollerskis (picture below) to imitate snow skiing. Now that the snow is melted in town, I can ski on pavement! Last summer it got up to 100 degrees here, which made rollerskiing absolutely torturous. But hey, when you love skiing . . .

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Not my image, and not sponsored by Fischer – though that would be cool

We use poles to make it as much like actual skiing as we can, and it’s super fun – and a ton of work. Seriously, after today’s ski, my abs are killing me. Rollerskis also don’t have brakes, which means if you start going down a steep hill . . . well, that’s the last we’ll be hearing from you. 😂 Just kidding, just kidding.

Or not.

– The good things

There was a lot of good this month! First off . . .

I BOUGHT A CAR!

I am now the proud owner of a Subaru. I guess it works. I ski. I sort of already portray that image to the outside world.

When I told A I bought a car I made her guess what kind it was and her first guess was a Subaru. When I asked her if I seemed like the kind of person who would drive one of those, she instantly said yes. So yeah, I guess it works. 😂

Second, because prom is obviously cancelled, I decided not to waste a perfectly good dress and decided to dress up and do my hair and makeup anyway. Here’s the final result:

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Hehe my dress is too long and it touches the dirt but it’s okay. 😉

Also . . . I cut a total of three inches off my hair since quarantine started, so it’s nice to have shorter hair again.

One last thing. It’s summer in Alaska, which means we get to have another Midnight Sun and be forced to use blackout shades in an effort to get decent sleep. It’s a lot of fun to be out at 11:30 at night and have it be warm and sunny!

Anyway, this month has overall felt more stable than last month. We have summer to look forward to. Everything will be okay. Continue to stay safe and far apart.

XOXO,

Morgan

How was your April? How close to being done with school are you? Are you ready for summer? 😉

So You Can Understand Me | Camp NaNoWriMo | #40k

Hey look, it’s another NaNoWriMo post . . .

Welcome to my first writing-related post on SS&SS! I talk about what I’m reading quite often and give y’all book reviews, but since it’s April and Camp NaNoWriMo is in full swing, I thought now would be an appropriate time to share a bit about the novel I’m writing.

So You Can Understand Me is not my first novel, nor is it my second. I finished what is now a 66k word novel for NaNoWriMo in eighth grade. It was probably the biggest accomplishment of my entire life, right up there with making state for skiing this year. I finished it that November with around 30k words, but continued to work on it the next year and more than doubled the word count. I now consider it finished, though I really don’t know if I’ll ever publish it. The writing is pretty juvenile, but I’ve edited the manuscript three times and it’s improved very much.

Anyway, this post is not about that book, it’s about the novel I’m titling So You Can Understand Me – though that may be nothing more than a working title. My word count goal for Camp is 40k, but if I’m not finished telling the story at that point, I’ll extend it. I’m writing this post on April 3rd, and my current word count is 5,731, but by the time y’all read this it’ll be much higher.

The book is categorized as young adult fiction, and I’m going to give you the basic plot and descriptions of characters (along with pictures!) I saw a post like this on a friend’s blog and I thought it would be super fun to do on mine (shoutout to Faye over at EOAJ! She is also one of my Camp NaNo writing buddies).

(This story is losely inspired by a fantastic middle-grade fiction book called Seven Stories Up by Laurel Snyder. Highly, highly recommend it.)

The Synopsis

“15-year-old Harlie Castello lives with her alcoholic mother Jennifer, fending for herself and hiding from the endless questions from her teachers and best friend. Desperate to understand her mothers actions and intentions, Harlie finds herself tranpsorted into a different time, when her mother was a very different person. As Harlie begins to get to know her mother in a way she never thought possible, she gains understanding and discovers secrets burried beneath decades of pain.”

The Plot

Harlie gets into a huge accident one night and winds up in a coma for two weeks. During those two weeks, she spends time back in the late 1980s, as her mother’s sister Danah. The twist – Harlie had no idea her mom had a sister. She spends what is supposedly four months (less time than that in real life, of course) in 1989 getting to know her mom as a teenager.

Suddenly, Harlie finds herself in the mid-1990s, when her mom was in college. No longer playing the role of her mom’s little sister, she realizes she is now her mom’s roommate, Mackenzie. Same situation plays out – she spends a while with her college-aged mother before traveling forwards in time once more.

Now, it’s the early 2000s, when Harlie was just a baby. Instead of taking on the role of some important person in her mom’s life, she is now an invisible bystander. She observes her mom and her now-absent dad fight and fight and fight some more, until the moment when her dad ups and leaves. In present time, Harlie had absolutely no idea why her dad left, but now she gets to see the entire backstory.

The story is broken up into those three parts, and at the end Harlie wakes up in the hospital. Her mother, realizing how close she came to almost losing her daughter, takes steps to recover from her alcohol addiction. Harlie also makes contact with her father, who she hasn’t seen since he walked out that day so many years ago.

The Characters

Yay! Now for the fun part!

So obviously, these Internet photos are super airbrushed and very unrealistic-looking, but you get the idea.

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Harlie
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Jennifer as an adult – picture her with green eyes
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Danah
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Jennifer as a teenager
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Mackenzie
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Harlie’s dad – though he doesn’t have a beard (or a name)

And there you have it! #pleasedontstealmybookideaandplagiarizeit

Are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo? What do you think of my story idea? Would you read it if you picked it up at the bookstore? Do you have any suggestions or feedback for me?

XOXO,

Morgan

What I’m Listening To | Quarantine Playlist

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Hola, mis amigos.

While it may have been nice for the government to announce the coronavirus as an April Fool’s joke, let’s be realistic.

March may have felt like an entire year, and we’re still at home. I don’t know about you, but I have music playing constantly in the background whenever I’m in my room (which is about 95% of the time). As I mentioned in my Life post at the end of March, I upgraded to Spotify premium so I could play my music in whatever order I wanted. Probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – if you’re thinking about upgrading, I 10/10 recommend.

Because I listen to music so much, I’m always cycling through playlists and getting tired of the same old songs. If you have the same struggle, maybe this playlist will give you some good ideas!

Quick disclaimer, though . . . check with your parents before you listen to these songs! These are just my personal jams at the moment and different families have different rules about music enjoyment. None of these songs have parental advisory labels on them but you should still check.

So without further ado, here’s a mix of my main playlists, in no particular order:

  • shut up – Greyson Chance
  • Rebels – Ivy Adara
  • Out of Love – Alessia Cara
  • Dazed & Confused – Ruel
  • So Am I – Ava Max
  • I Believe You – FLETCHER
  • Fortress – Lennon Stella
  • Rooting For You – Alessia Cara
  • Wasted Youth – FLETCHER
  • Blinding Lights – The Weeknd
  • Heartless – Kanye West
  • Friends – Ella Henderson
  • Over My Head – FLETCHER
  • Face To Face – Ruel
  • Famous – Ivy Adara
  • Princess – FLETCHER
  • Saturday Nights – Khalid
  • War Paint – FLETCHER
  • Sunday Best – Surfaces
  • Ring – Selena Gomez
  • Real Thing – Ruel
  • Give Your Heart a Break – Demi Lovato
  • Replay – Zendaya
  • Younger – Ruel
  • Almost Love – Sabrina Carpenter
  • Ruin That For Me – Avenue Beat
  • Glorious – Ella Henderson
  • L.A. – Rosie Darling & OKO
  • Ghost – Oliver Nelson Remix – Ella Henderson & Oliver Nelson
  • Riptide – Vance Joy
  • I Found You – Andy Grammer & Cash Cash
  • Lost – Blake Rose
  • Seeing Other People – MacKenzie Porter
  • Living Proof – Camila Cabello
  • stupid – Tate McRae (love love love this one and if you have TikTok you’ll probably recognize it)
  • Too Young – Sabrina Carpenter (Sabrina Carpenter’s older music is really good)
  • Clearly – Grace VanderWaal
  • Thumbs – Sabrina Carpenter
  • Seamless – Sabrina Carpenter
  • Have It All – Jason Mraz
  • Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men
  • La Di Da – Lennon Stella (10/10 a great song)
  • Wild Things – Alessia Cara (this one is a bop!)
  • death bed – Powfu
  • Maniac – Conan Gray (dance party, anyone?)
  • Had It All – Parachute
  • Someone To You – BANNERS
  • Peer Pressure – James Bay
  • River of Tears – Alessia Cara
  • In My Head – Peter Manos
  • better off – Jeremy Zucker
  • Yellow Lights – Harry Hudson
  • If the World Was Ending – JP Saxe & Julia Michaels (another one off TikTok)
  • Complicated – Olivia O’Brien
  • All My Friends – AJ Mitchell
  • Dancing With Your Ghost – Sasha Sloan (also a bop, kind of a sad bop, but a bop nonetheless)
  • Hard Sometimes – Ruel
  • Worst of You – Maisie Peters
  • Keep On – Sasha Sloan
  • Salt – Ava Max
  • scared – Jeremy Zucker
  • smiling when i die – Sasha Sloan
  • Still Into You – Meadowlark

My favorite artists at the moment are Sasha Sloan, Sabrina Carpenter, Alessia Cara, Ruel, and FLETCHER (though you have to be careful with some of her songs, because there’s quite a bit of profanity in a couple of them. These ones are clean though).

I also listen to quite a bit of Christian and country music, but neither of those genres really mix well with the playlist above, so I might save those for a later post if y’all are interested in seeing some of that.

Also I know some of those songs are better known for their TikTok videos, but I actually don’t even have TikTok. 😂 I see them on Instagram sometimes, however.

One last thing before I wrap this post up – you guys left so many sweet and supportive commens on my Life: March post and let me just say, they made my week! The responses from that post were completely unexpected but most welcome. Thank you for your support, I’m so glad to have made so many great friends on the blogosphere. 🙂

What music have y’all been listening to recently? Do you like any of the songs above? What are your song recommendations for me? I’m always up for new music!

XOXO,

Morgan

Life: March 2020

 

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This about sums up my emotions this month

 

Alas, March comes to a close.

Maybe it’s not alas. To be honest, March has not been the greatest month of my life. Or anyone’s, for that matter.

Normally if I was to write a month recap it would include stuff from every aspect of my life, except those have all been put on an indefinite hold until the coronavirus is all over. So instead of categorizing my month into different parts, it’s going to kind of be a random jumble of what went on.

*disclaimer* this post is probably going to contain some mini – or not so mini – rants about COVID-19, so if you don’t want to see that, please move on to another post. (Not political rants, just personal opinion rants.) This post might also be a little long – I’m kind of writing it to help me process and look back on in the future.

Enjoy . . .

– Friends?

This is where it gets sad. I really can’t remember if I mentioned this on SS&SS yet, but we’ve been self-quarantining since March 1st because my grandma lives with us and she’s elderly, and my dad and brother both have bad asthma. So for our personal safety, my parents decided to pull us out of school the first week of March and not hang out with friends or go to church. I kept the real reason I wasn’t at school a secret from my friends that first week to avoid being called “crazy.” And then spring break happened the second week of March and I started to tell more of my friends because they started wondering why I couldn’t hang out with them over the break. Towards the end of break, the school district announced we wouldn’t be returning to school for another week – and the next day, they pushed that out until March 30th. Now, schools are closed until May 1 (which is about two weeks before summer break starts). In conclusion, I didn’t have to keep it a secret after that.

And now the biggest problem as far as my friends are concerned is seriously how much I miss them. I’ve gotten super close to a group of friends at school who ski with me, as well as some girls at my youth group and then some friends from AHG. I miss them all a ton – not a day goes by that I don’t wish I was with them at that very moment.

– Quarantine

Quarantine has been . . . an interesting experience. I can’t say it’s been good, but it hasn’t been totally awful, either. The biggest issue for me is I can’t leave my house to ski (I’m a competitive cross-country skier, which y’all know already), and that makes me super depressed. My family has spent a lot of time watching movies, but I’ve also been hiding in my room, so that’s not super great. But now that it’s the end of the month, our city has basically shut down and people are expected to stay at home unless they go outside for recreation, and then they have to stay six feet apart from other people. So I’m not alone anymore – all of my friends are going through the same thing I am.

– Swimming / Skiing

At the end of last year’s ski season, I got very depressed because I wasn’t training with a club team after the school season was over, and because of that I didn’t motivate myself enough to go ski on a daily basis. I was really hoping to avoid that this year, and now I can’t. I was planning on starting club swimming at the beginning of March for a couple of months until the club skiing season started and then do both of those simultaneously all summer. And now I’m not doing either, so instead I’m doing online workouts by myself – and a few times a week, I FaceTime my friend M (who doesn’t live in Alaska) and we workout together. That’s been super fun.

– Master of FaceTime

So yeah, that’s kind of what I’ve become this month. I would love to figure out how much time I’ve spent on video chat with people this month, because I know the number would be pretty high. I’ve probably spent a good few days of my life on FaceTime with my friends since the beginning of the month.

– Rant rant rant

I’m sorry, but I have to just momentarily. The beginning of March was really hard for me – I was a little scared to share my family’s situation with my friends. My few friends who I did tell early on all had very different reactions (some good, some not so good). The people in my life who thought/still think people are overreacting to the coronavirus didn’t get why I was at quarantined at home, and that left me feeling a little helpless . . . it was my parents’ decision, not mine. Another thing is people being selfish, and I don’t mean hoarding toilet paper (although maybe I do mean that too). People being clueless about the situation the world is in and going out in public and potentially spreading COVID-19 may not put THEM at risk – but it puts OTHERS at risk. People like my grandmother, my dad, and my brother. It makes me angry, but there’s also literally nothing I can do about it. I don’t want to overshare here on the Internet because my blog is public, so I’ll stop now.

– The good things

Like I said, quarantine isn’t all bad. I’ve started checking up with friends who live out of state or who I don’t talk to that much to ask how they and their families are doing, and that’s a really good thing. My dad has gotten funnier since he started working from home, and we see him a lot more than we did previously (he spends a lot of time working away from home in a different city in Alaska). I’ve found more time to play with my dogs, as well as blog (as you guys know!) and read purely for fun. I downloaded Spotify premium to listen to the music I want when I want, and I get up early and go ice skating at the rink up the street from us before people start waking up and walking their dogs. My room has stayed very clean, and I broke my nail-biting-when-I’m-stressed habit.  I’ve built stronger relationships with friends because we’re far apart and have to make ourselves think about purposely reaching out to talk. We have to think positively. And seeing all of the companies in the world come together to help our global community has been very inspiring. (Audible in streaming free audiobooks while school is out, guys!) If you need a smile, follow @upworthy on Instagram to see some seriously awe-inspiring videos and pictures.

– God

I don’t talk about God much on my blog, or at least I haven’t in the past. If you don’t already know, I’m a Christian. I haven’t gone to church in about 6-7 ish weeks (to social distance before our quarantine), and going from church three times a week – for services, youth group, and volunteering with the middle school youth group – to not going at all has been extremely difficult for me. Our church is fairly large and I had a hard time connecting with the youth group and other students over the past couple of years, and I really began to feel like I fit in this year and make friends. So to have that taken away from me was one of the worst parts of this. BUT God has really shown Himself to me these last four weeks and I am proud to say I have read my Bible EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I am the kind of person who sucks at regularly reading their Bible, but I’ve spent hours reading it and doing Bible study plans online every night, and it has made a HUGE difference in how I’m dealing with our world’s current situation. I’m read the books of Romans and Hebrews and they were both very inspiring and mind-changing (especially Romans – read it, guys!) And fortunately, my youth group has moved to live, online hour-long broadcasts every week, and that has been fantastic. My church is also streaming services online every Sunday, so my family does church at home. (If you’re feeling stressed, go download the YouVersion Bible app and read the plans Anxious for Nothing or Not Afraid: How Christians Can Respond to Crises. The verses from those plans (especially Anxious for Nothing) are so relevant right now.

I’ll end here with this. One thing has stuck with me over the last couple weeks – Philippians 4: 6-7, NLT. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” The verse was talked about on one of our youth group broadcasts, and I’ve seen it repeatedly in my current Bible study plan and on social media. It’s really inspired me, and I hope it inspires you, too.

Anyway, this post has kind of turned into a diary entry and I didn’t really mean for it to, so please accept my sincerest apologies. Kudos to you if you stuck with me all the way through. I love you guys.

Stay safe and at home. Wash your hands. And, most importantly, be kind. Everyone is going through the same things you are.

XOXO,

Morgan

How was your guys’ month? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

Homer’s Flowers

Happy Friday, guys! For those of you still in school (which I don’t think is many at this point), you’re basically at the weekend already!

I took these pictures summer before last while I was in Homer, Alaska (which is kind of like at the bottom of Alaska on the gulf, but not on the Aleutian Islands – look at a map maybe, I can’t explain it 😂). They’re really beautiful and I thought it would be nice to share some positivity on the Internet right now. Enjoy!

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This picture was my profile picture for quite a while. 😉

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This one is called fireweed – when it goes to seed at the end of summer, it turns gray and looks ashy from a distance (smoky, like fire). The amount of buds left at the top of the plant are said to tell how long you have before summer is over. (These pictures are from early August.)

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Alaska is a truly beautiful place in the summer – come visit if you ever get a chance!

Hey guys, I need blogging inspiration! I have ideas for some posts, but I want to post the content YOU want to see, also. Comment below something you would like to see on SS&SS!

XOXO,

Morgan

Quarantine Room Tour | I’m Bored

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Finally! The post I have been waiting to do since I started my doll blog – which I didn’t do on that site for obvious reasons. Mini room tours only, please.

Now that our schools have shut down for the time being (#quarantinelife), I have wayyyy too much time on my hands. I’ve also managed to keep my room clean for nearly a month now, and I figured it was time to actually take these pictures and let you guys have a sneak peek at where I spend almost all my time. (Seriously. My room is like my own personal sanctuary.)

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We’ll start off when I first walk into my room, and this is the view we see. I have my desk, made out of filing cabinets and a very thin door laid on top. And my lovely spinny chair! That thing is fun.

On my desk is my laptop, which I’m typing this on. Next to it is my favorite lamp ever, you just tap anywhere on it to turn it on and off. And then is my makeup mirror; the box behind it houses my makeup collection. Also on my desk is my basket of shoolwork and a few other school-related things, which we’ll get to in a minute.

Above my desk, and unfortunately you can’t see the lettering in the picture, is a light-up letter box that currently says “PASS THE CHOCOLATE.” Mood of the week.

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We’ll step away from the desk for a minute and turn left, over to my bookshelf! I take very much pride in the fact that it is color-coded. That took ages to do.

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Here’s the full thing.

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Next up is my bed. I picked out the bedspread myself. I have five pillows on it when it’s made, but I only sleep with one of them. ☺️

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This is so out of order . . . these two things are above my desk. My Nikon (I took these pictures on my brother’s camera because I have to order a new battery charger for this one) sits above my desk on the little white ledge, and next to it is a day-by-day calendar of pictures from Paris.

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I pride myself on the amount of things in my room that light up – my purple star, two strands of white and purple Christmas lights, my light-up photo string, and a letter that is the first initial of my name (which haha, you don’t get to know).

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To the right of my window is what I call my “Paris Corner.” In case you didn’t know, I am slightly Paris-obsessed and this corner is basically dedicated to that. The postcards are all from France, and the earring tree I think my mom bought me at Michael’s. The metal Paris skyline I purchased at the Louvre museum.  And then below all this are candles and trinkets and a little yarn tree I made. ☺️

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This is a view of part of my light-up photo string that runs alongside an entire wall in my room, above my closet and door.

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My bookshelf and bed . . .

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. . . and the view you get if you were standing by the Paris Corner. (You can see the light-up sign better here.)

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And now we’re back to the bookshelf again so y’all can see these cool origami foxes my brother made me for Christmas, which I absolutely adore. The little white one is made from a church bulletin and the even tinier blue one in the middle is made out of actual origami paper.

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More foxes, and my blue/purple shelf.

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On the top shelf are the white books, and some trinkets – a clay bunny, a tiny China doll, a little purple heart rock, a snow globe I bought in Las Vegas, and my first corsage from a father-daughter dance I went to in fifth grade.

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I’m way too lazy to rearrange these pictures. 😂 Here’s my bed again.

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And now we’ve returned to my desk, apparently . . . here are some school supplies – my spray-painited mason jar full of pencils and the supplies box behind it.

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The view out my window – not very pretty this time of year unfortunately. :/

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I guess the point of this picture is to show you what my floor looks like. Our basement (we live in a split-level, like many Alaskans) has flooded multiple times, and my parents got tired of replacing the flooring and decided to rip it out entirely and just refinish the concrete floor. It’s stained and waxed, and is actually really pretty, if not cold. And I just swept, so I’m not sure what the dusty look is about. 😂

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On the wall above my desk is my calender – completely empty at the moment! #thatquarantinevibe

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In case you noticed, the trim is not finished in my room, which is why the white strip between the ledge and the blue wall is visible. Anyway, this is the spot above my bed and it hosts my Bible, my devotional journal, some lotions and Carmex, my ereader, and the book I’m reading.

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Peep my feet . . . 😂 (I should paint my nails lol.)

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Weird place to end, but here’s another view of the purple star and a replica of a Parisian newspaper from a longggg time ago (haha I don’t know the actual date).

Anyway, that’s my room!

So, what do you guys think? And how are you dealing with COVID-19? Let me know (I’m so bored, I would love to hear from y’all). 😂

XOXO,

Morgan

We’re Back (I Think) + What I’ve Been Reading

Heyyyy guys. Long time no see.

It’s spring break, and I’m not going anywhere nice and warm for the weeklong break, so I thought I might as well jump back on WordPress for a bit. Maybe I’ll actually stay up to date with blogging.

If you follow my doll blog, you may notice that I haven’t blogged since *chokes* July?!? That’s rough. But maybe it’s okay. I’ve noticed that as I’ve grown up, doll blogging is no longer something I’m so interested in. And, since I’m completely bored at the moment, maybe it’s time to start lifestyle (or whatever you call this) blogging again.

(Or maybe I just missed you guys.)

I was going to post pictures of the knee-deep snow in our backyard, but there are so many snow photoshoot posts out on the Internet right now I figured that wouldn’t be the most original plan. Instead, I’m here with three new book reviews!

 

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Lovely War by Julie Berry

Where. Do. I. Start.

Oh my goodness. It has been so long since I’ve read a truly original book with well-developed characters I was beginning to think I’ve already read them all. Lovely War, which I picked up at Barnes & Noble solely because of the gorgeous pink cover, ticks all the boxes. The book opens when the Greek god Hephaestus catches his wife, Aprhodite, having an affair with Ares. Aphrodite, who is put “on trial,” begins to tell the love story of Hazel, an adorable British pianist, and James, an American soldier. And if that doesn’t sound intriguing enough for you, add in two more lovelorn characters – Hazel’s charming new friend Colette, and fun-loving African-American soldier Aubrey. One of the things I loved most about this novel was how it depicted not only the trauma soldiers with PTSD suffer, but brought awareness to the ill treatment of African-Americans fighting in WWI. This is ABSOLUTELY a must-read if you are a fan of romance, historical fiction, or both.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Age rating: 14+

 

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Home Front by Kristin Hannah

I was introduced to Kristin Hannah’s novels by a friend of mine at school, who loaned me The Nightingale (another incredible must-read, and her best book in my honest opinion). I fell in love instantly with Hannah’s beautiful writing skills, and Home Front did not disappoint. This book takes place in modern day, when mother-of-two Jolene Zarkades is sent overseas to the middle East to fly helicopters for the US army, leaving her daughters and failed marriage at home in the States. When she returns, injured, she isn’t sure that she can put her marriage back together, make her husband fall in love with her again, and heal from her wounds. And let me tell you, I actually teared up at the end of this emotional story, something I do not do often.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Age rating: 15+

 

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Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

I’m not sure what it is with these three books all being set during wartime, but Letters to the Lost was just as fantastic as the first two. I just finished it this afternoon after reading for three hours straight. It starts off when Jess, who just escaped her abusive boyfriend, breaks into an abandoned house and discovers a stack of letters from WWII. The story alternates between Jess’s point of view in 2011, and Stella’s point of view in the early 1940s, Stella being the owner of the letters. Stella, married to the vicar of her church, falls in love with an American airman named Dan and has an affair with him. Jess, along with her new friend Will, try to reunite Stella and Dan, who were separated during the war.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Age rating: 15+

Guys! Please read these three books – they are all incredible and extremely well-written. There is some adult content in all three of them (the last two having slightly more than Lovely War), but if you/your parents are okay with that, go ahead and give them a try. I really enjoyed all of them, and you probably will too.

Are y’all interested in seeing more book reviews in the future?

Until next time,

Morgan

 

 

 

Freak Alley Photoshoot (Boise, Idaho)

Hey friends! As I mentioned in my last post, I went on a trip to Boise to surprise my friend M for her birthday. While I was there, we decided to do a birthday photoshoot at a place called Freak Alley, which is in downtown Boise. Every year, artists paint the walls of Freak Alley, street art style. I won’t be posting the birthday pictures for privacy reasons, but I took some others specifically for this post. Enjoy!

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This was my favorite piece of art!

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Freak Alley is an awesome place to visit if you ever find yourself in Boise in July or August. People are so creative, right?

Have you ever been to Boise? Do you like street art?

XOXO,

Morgan

 

FLYING SOLO| Storytime with Morgan

Flying Solo - Storytime with Morgan

Hey friends! Happy August!

I recently returned from a trip to Boise to surprise my friend M for her birthday (it was a huge success), and it was my first time flying unaccompanied. Traveling by yourself, as I found, is a fantastic experience. Navigating airports by yourself can be a bit tricky, depending on their size, but is very rewarding to do it alone for the first time. And, of course, traveling brings new experiences and fun stories.

I thought it would be cool to share the experiences I had on this trip, and also post some pictures from Boise sometime next week. Enjoy!

This story takes place as I flew from Portland, Oregon to my home city in Alaska.

I sat down at my gate at PDX and opened the sandwich I just bought. Taking a bite, I watched the people around me. A young couple sitting a few seats down, a group of teenagers, and an African-American woman with extremely curly blonde hair filled the seats. Sitting across from me was an elderly woman and an elementary-aged child. The girl was dressed in a coloful outfit and a large black suitcase at her feet. The older woman, who I presumed was her grandmother, smiled at me. I smiled back.

When the gate agents began boarding, the older woman with the girl got up first and boarded the plane. Fifteen minutes later, my boarding group was called and I stood up to get on the plane. As I pulled my carry-on bag down the Jetway and throught the narrow aisle, I scanned the numbered rows for the one that matched my seat number on the boarding pass in my hand.

I soon located it, and realized that the elderly woman with the little girl were going to be sharing the row with me.

“Oh, you’re sitting with us!” exclaimed the woman, giving me a smile smile.

“Yeah!” I replied, waving at the girl sitting in the middle seat before trying to push my bag under the seat in front of me while simultaneously plopping down in my seat to let other passengers through the aisle.

Shortly after the plane boarded completely, the girl turned to me. “Want some?” she asked, holding out a small bag of popcorn. I smiled and took one. “Thanks.”

“Do you know how to do your own hair?” was the next thing out of her mouth.

“I do, actually,” I answered. “I can do braids, buns, ponytails, and a few other things.”

“Me too!” she said with a grin. “I can do a low bun, see?” And she pulled her hair into the elastic.

“Wow!” I exclaimed, exchanging a grin with her grandmother. “That’s super cool, did you teach yourself?”

“Yep,” said the girl.

“So, what’s your name?” I asked the girl, realizing that if we were going to talk about hairstyles, I should probably know her name.

“I’m Catrina,” Catrina informs me.

“I’m Morgan,” I told her. “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too,” she returned.

I pulled out my phone to text my mom.

ADORABLE LITTLE GIRL SITTING NEXT TO ME WITH HER GRANDMA. HER NAME IS CATRINA.

NICE. ARE YOU GOING TO WATCH A MOVIE?

YEAH. SPIDER-MAN, PROBABLY.

IS THAT APPROPRIATE FOR HER? SHE CAN SEE YOUR COMPUTER SCREEN.

IDK HOW OLD SHE IS.

I turned to Catrina. “So, how old are you?”

“I’m eight.”

“Nice. I’m **.”

I retuned to my phone.

SHE’S EIGHT.

HMM. MAYBE NOT APPROPRIATE THEN.

IF I HAD AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD CHILD, I WOULD LET HER WATCH SPIDER-MAN.

YOU WOULD NOT.

SURE I WOULD.

(Leave a comment below, would you let your eight-year-old watch Spider-Man?)

The plane took off shortly after, and I popped in my earbuds and started reading (Tell Me Three Things, if any of you know of that book). 

Once we leveled off, a felt a tap at my shoulder. I pulled my earbuds out and turned. “Yeah?”

Catrina looked up at me. “Would you like one?” She held out a bag of Hershey’s kisses.

“Oh, no thanks, I’m good.”

Catrina shrugged. “Okay.”

A few minutes later, I pulled out my own snack bag. A bag of Twizzler bites sat inside. I popped one in my mouth and offered one to Catrina. She took it happily.

And that’s how it went. We shared our candy and Goldfish and popcorn.

When Catrina’s grandmother ordered a Kid’s Pack meal for her, Catrina pulled out the Wikki Stix. “Wanna play with me?”

I smiled. “Sure!”

Catrina made a doll out of the wax sticks, and I created heart shapes and flowers. Turns out, Catrina had a lot more artistic talent than I did. Once I gave up and handed my sticks to her, she made a pair of glasses that actually fit on her face. Her grandmother and I laughed.

Towards the end of the flight, Catrina was getting restless. “How much longer till we get there?”

“About an hour,” I answered.

I too was getting bored, and started playing a game on my phone. Through my peripheral vision, I could see Catrina watching over my shoulder. “I bet I could play that.”

“You think?”

“Yeah.”

And that’s how Catrina wound up playing games on my cell phone for an hour and a half.

Once our plane landed in Alaska, I wished Catrina and her grandmother a safe flight to their home in another part of Alaska.

“Thanks,” Catrina said. “Have a safe drive to your house. Once, my family got into a car accident!”

“Oh no,” I replied. “That must have been scary, huh?”

“Mmhmm,” she answered.

Her grandmother explained the rest of the story. “Some guy wasn’t watching where he was going.”

“Yeah,” Catrina added. “He didn’t look left and right and left.”

As soon as the flight attendants turned the seatbelt sign off, I got up and Catrina gave me a hug. We exited the plane shortly thereafter and I waved to my new friends. Catrina and her grandma waved back.

I grabbed my suitcase from baggage claim and met my mom and brother outside the airport. After a wonderful five-day vacation in Idaho, it was great to be back . . . and with many great new stories, memories, and friends. ❤️

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Sorry, guys, that got a bit long, but hopefully you enjoyed. If you want to see more Storytime posts, let me know in the comments below. Have a fantastic day!

XOXO,

Morgan

Blogging Aesthetics ft. Emmie| Diary of a Daydreamer Blog Tour

Happy Thursday, everyone! I know I just blogged a couple of days ago, but I’m here with some very exciting news . . .

My awesome friend Emmie from American Girl World is launching her brand-new personal blog!

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As you can tell from the title, it’s called Diary of a Daydreamer. Emmie’s blog is super cool, and you should definitely give it a follow but clicking here.

Emmie was so kind to invite me to be a part of her blog tour, so today I’ll be posting some pictures she chose that will give you an idea of her blog’s aesthetic, to see if it’s something you’re interested in. And, since my blog is fairly new as well, I’ll be posting some of my pictures so you can do the same for Swingsets and Snapshots.

Enjoy!

For Emmie’s blog, here are several pictures to give you an idea of the overall aesthetic. All photos are from Unsplash.

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Awesome, right? I love the pink.

And, for my blog:

Credit to Unsplash, and myself. 🙂

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By the way, Emmie is doing an AMAZING giveaway over on her blog! The link is here if you want to enter (and you should!!!)

That’s all for now. 🙂

XOXO,

Morgan