Monthly Archives: January 2013

National Literacy Action Week


Did you know that January 28 – February 3, 2013 is National Literacy Action Week?

If you’re like I was a month ago, you probably have no idea what that means. Allow me to enlighten you!

National Literacy Action Week (NLAW, not to be confused with Next-Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon which is a real thing. Google it.) is a week in which individuals/organizations raise awareness for literacy in their communities and its link to various social justice issues. You’ll see some shocking statistics below that show the binds between the importance of literacy in regards to social justice. You can find more information about NLAW here.

The organization where I serve is participating in NLAW by chalking: going to local places and writing statistics about literacy, quotes about literacy, and promoting our organization by writing our website. I was hesitant at first about chalking and its impact, but it’s actually been really fun and a great opportunity to spread the word about literacy! If you follow me on twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen the barrage of tweets about literacy, #NLAW, and photos from our chalking adventures. I’ve enjoyed spreading the word and enlightening people in Durham about literacy!

Monday we went to a local bookstore and chalked on their front sidewalks. It was our test-run, so to speak, and although we were prepared, we weren’t very organized at first. However, it turned out well and we talked to a few passersby about how our organization is trying to help Durham!


With one of my fellow AmeriCorps members after chalking!


60% of America’s prison inmates are illiterate. Can you believe that?!


Quote by Frederick Douglass


Had to include this since it’s why we were chalking!

Wednesday morning we planned on chalking at a local Center but the weather had other plans. After a random drizzle over Durham, we set back out to chalk up some stats and quotes and promote literacy! We were on a long sidewalk next to a fairly busy intersection and we got lots of stares, honks, waves, runners running by, and “I don’t believe that”‘s. Apparently, they don’t know the alarming statistic that 20% of Durham residents are functionally illiterate. 




I know quite a few of adults that make up that 14%.


love this quote!


this one breaks my heart. I can’t imagine!


mandatory foot + hashtag photo


wohoo! #NLAW


Literacy –> Self-Advocacy –> A better life!


We had a lot of sidewalk space to fill in so I suggested this silly “HOP into literacy” hopscotch idea.

Other stats :

– 21% of US adults read below a 5th grade level. (National Institute of Literacy)

– 32 million US adults can’t read. (National Institute of Literacy)

– 19% of high school graduates can’t read. (National Institute of Literacy)

– 774 million people worldwide can’t read. (National Institute of Literacy)

– 85% of juveniles who enter the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. (

– Low literary costs $73 million per year in terms of direct health care costs. (


You may not be a resident of my community, but I’m sure wherever you do reside there are literacy issues that cause other issues. What are you doing to spread the word about the importance of literacy?


Although National Literacy Action week is almost over, it doesn’t have to be! We can advocate for literacy year-round and help people in our community learn the invaluable skill set of reading & writing. Feel free to participate in the NLAW activities/conversations/tweets using the #NLAW hashtag!




Ten Minutes of Weather Talk


I’m sneaking away from working on spreadsheets and calling students and assembling tutor training binders for this: ten minutes to type then hit publish. Ready, Set Go.

Of course now that I am actually sitting down to put the thoughts (that have been swimming around in my head) into a post on the interweb, I can’t seem to remember what it is I want to say.

So… I’ll talk about the weather. It’s a safe topic.

A cold front has hit… finally Winter has made her appearance. Last week it was mid-60s one day, and sleet and slushy snow the next night. And tomorrow, that wintry mix is in the forecast again. Color me happy.

I’ve never claimed to be a cold-weather lover, but something about it is comforting to me. The past few nights I’ve gotten home from work, changed into pajama pants and some cozy, over-sized t-shirt, heated up a mug of vanilla soy milk, and jumped in bed to read. Nerd alert. But at least the cold weather gives me an excuse to get into bed before 10:00 and get all cozy and warmed up 🙂 With snow on the ground outside, that’s even more of an excuse for me to make some soup recipe I pinned months ago, put on fuzzy socks, and read another book on my Nook.

It’s funny because I think my love for colder temperatures has only recently started- and I blame San Francisco. Yes, I have yet to blog about my trip and post a ridiculous amount of pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge & Bay area, please forgive me. 

Although I was unprepared for the cold temperatures that I experienced while there, I came to enjoy the cold chill that hit my face as I walked out on the city streets. I came to look forward to bundling up in a scarf and my vest (that was a life-saver & warmer!). I came to anticipate the icy cold wind before even stepping outdoors. And of course I grew to love having an afternoon coffee break in Starbucks, just so I could have a few minutes of warmth 😉

I know I complained about the cold San Francisco temperatures while there, but I honestly miss them. I miss walking down busy city streets trying to get from Point A to Point B, hands in my pockets saying warm. I miss the city lifestyle and the little escapes from the cold on every corner.

One minute left to write. I shouldn’t have looked at the time because now my fingers are going to type faster than my brain can come up with the words and form coherent sentences and thoughts.

I said all of that about the cold weather and city to say this: I miss city life in the Winter. In cities you walk most everywhere and it’s great exercise and it keeps you somewhat warm. In cities there are coffee shops and cafes on every corner, waiting to be entered. In cities there are so many people who are waiting to be met- who knows who they could be?

As I anticipate the even colder temperatures and the wintry mix tomorrow, I’ll be daydreaming about San Francisco and city life in the Winter.

I can’t believe I just admitted to that.

Oh well, time’s up.

Hey Guess What


It’s “Hey Guess What” time, also known as “I’m too busy to write a blog post about my California adventures and upload all of those photos, so instead I’m going to tell you about my crazy life lately.”

Betcha didn’t know what you were getting into when you decided to read this post, right? 😉

Without further adieu, hey guess what-


– this North Carolina girl has been California-sick since returning home. I miss the warmer weather, the people I met, the languages, culture, and the city-life. Never thought I would say I missed the city!

– I’m over halfway through with Anna Karenina! I’ve been reading it off and on since August, but lately I’ve been reading a few chapters every night on my Nook. Surprisingly, I’m really enjoying it!

– I’m currently tutoring a GED Writing student. Actually, I’m currently blogging while he writes an essay, but technically I’m still tutoring.

– I started watching Downton Abbey last night! The first episode was alright… I’m curious to see what happens next though and figure out what all of the hype is about! 😉

– Cream soda is probably one of my favorite simple splurges at Foster’s Market. I usually stick with water at restaurants, but Boylan‘s Cream Soda gets me every time!  (Foster’s has an amazing pastries/candy selection so sometimes I’m tempted by those things as well!)

– This week (and last for that matter) have been super hectic at work. We’ve been intaking/testing new students, having new tutor orientations, and gearing up for tutor training next week which is a whole other ordeal! I’m working nearly 11 hours each day, and will be so glad when things slow back down!

– There’s a Dirty Girl 5K coming to the area, and I’m hoping to sign up! Any local chicas want to be on my team?

– I got up early and worked out yesterday. Despite the fact that I thought I was going to pass out (too much tabata on an empty stomach. Oops?), I had so much energy throughout the day and slept so well last night!

– Tuesday was a great day overall. I woke up early and got a great start to my day by working out, cooked breakfast & lunch, made it to work early, tested some new students, got a latte with a friend, tutored my student, started a new online Bible study, and was in bed by 11. Wohoo!

– My GED student just got confused on how to determine when to use “it’s” and “its” and I had to Google it. And I’m a Linguistics major. Fail.

– Don’t ya hate how life can get so busy and you can’t seem to make time for friends? I do. That’s why I’m glad some friends from college were in my neck of the woods Friday night- I met them for dinner and we talked for hours!

– My cousin and I have been going to church together for a few weeks on Saturday evenings. I prefer going on Saturdays, and it’s been nice hanging out with him outside of family get togethers. We spent 30 minutes in the parking lot talking about life! (And for the record, that’s a record- the most he’s talked to me in years!)

– I have been having the craziest dreams lately- one night it was about someone I’ve talked to but haven’t met in person, and last night I had a dream I was pregnant. It was sooo crazy… it felt so real! I don’t know where these dreams have been coming from but I wish they didn’t seem so real!

– I’ve been emailing a friend from Australia who I met in LA and it’s fun finding out about life “Down Under!” I’m definitely going to be vacationing there in the future.

– AWOLNATION is going to be in Raleigh in March. Anyone want to go to the concert with me?!

– Speaking of vacations, I’m already looking forward to spring break this year. Hopefully I can take a little trip! 🙂

– The past four nights I have debated whether I should read, blog, or watch Netflix before bed. Clearly, blogging has taken the backseat :/

– Apparently snow is in the forecast for my area tomorrow night? That’s just according to twitter and word of

mouth, so I’m not sure how reliable that is!

– Sauteed garlic, kale & chickpeas are a new favorite combo for me. So quick, easy & tasty!

– Um, a GED student showed up for class at 7:56 and class ends at 8:00. Crazy.

– I’m counting down the minutes until I can leave work and go home. My bed (and vanilla soy milk) is calling my name. And of course there’s still the inner debate between watching Netflix or reading Anna Karenina… what would you choose?


I promise a San Francisco blog post in the next few days! 🙂


Daily Prompt: Clean Slate


Explore the room you’re in as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Pretend you know nothing. What do you see? Who is the person who lives there?


As I push open the white door into a room of green and brown, I at once realize I’m inside the bedroom of a single post-college female. Something about the stacks of books that range from British Literature to Linguistics to Spanish textbooks, gives off that vibe. My eyes are drawn to the books first because nearly every surface of the room is covered with a few books… the nightstand, the dresser, the bookcase, the desk, the chest under the window… This female clearly likes to read.

Next, my eyes are drawn to the walls: a family photo, a collage of pictures of little tanned-skin children, a black and white mask, a painting of a lake and mountain, a scroll with flowers and Chinese symbols written in calligraphy, a painting of water lilies, a red and white flag, empty frames, a poster of Audrey Hepburn. I’m sure these items tell so much about the person who sleeps here, and I’m curious as to why each item is so special.

The bed is made, but the end of it is covered with shirts and jeans and cardigans; I’m sensing the occupant of the room is indecisive in her outfit choosing. A pair of brown boots lay carelessly on the floor alongside a red purse. A heavy-duty backpack is on its side in front of a closet door, its contents spilling out, including a word search book, a ziploc baggie of travel items, and a vest. A camera sits on the edge of the nightstand, next to an empty glass bottle of Izze with a dead flower in it. 

The desk is covered with mail, papers, books, and it’s a wonder that anyone ever sits at it. 

The dresser is cluttered- necklaces, an ipod speaker, tank tops strewn across the top, and of course a few books stacked here and there. A beautiful teal blue stained glass lamp lights up the corner of the room, adding a warm homey feel to the room.

There’s a stand with movies aligned across a shelf, books across another, and craft supplies across yet another. I wonder how many of those movies get watched?

The bookcase in the little alcove is, you guessed it, covered with books. New books, children’s books, old antique books… there’s no telling how many dozens of books reside in this room. 

Despite the fact that the female who lives in the room is graduated, she clearly has a penchant for learning and expanding her horizons. I see little trinkets of other countries in different places throughout the room… a jade elephant, a box of chopsticks on display, a wooden box with “Peru” in cursive… a traveler sleeps here, and possibly dreams of traveling the world. 

This bedroom is cluttered, but comfortable and I wonder if the personality that lives here is as eclectic as this room would suggest.



It’s kind of ironic that this topic is the daily prompt because my Sunday plan was to clean my messy room! It’s always hard coming home after traveling and having a busy work week and having to sleep in a messy/cluttered room. I’ve already started a pile to take to Goodwill 😉 

Also- about all the books- it’s impossible for me to get rid of a book… unless it’s one I hated reading. I’m a bibliophile and am constantly adding to my collection. And oh, I got a Nook for Christmas so clearly my family is only feeding my addiction to books and reading 🙂

I promise there will be some California recap posts this week so stay tuned! 


High Five for Friday


Choosing favorite things from this past week was a breeze… except for the narrowing it down to 5 part. There were so many favorites from this week!

1. The tour I took to the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles! I made a new friend on the walk uphill, and got to see the sign super-close up!


2. Acting a fool in Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. It was fun.


3. A delicious veggie burger from Kitchen 24 in LA! Seriously, I’m craving one now!

4. Coming home to one excited & sweet puppy.

Screen shot 2013-01-11 at 12.07.15 PM

5. A blog signature thanks to Design Eat Repeat!!! Mel is sooo talented with graphic design and I highly suggest that you check her blog out!


blog signature

Also, this is my first time linking up with Lauren although I’ve been reading her blog for months! 🙂




I have a weakness for chocolate, it’s true. 

Just a few days ago I was in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square and I was in awe of all the chocolate, literally spending nearly half an hour in the store picking out the perfect bars to take home for family. 


I was clearly so excited that I forgot how to spell Ghirardelli


just a small section of the shop

(Side note- if you ever go on a trip and want to bring me back something, chocolate is always welcome with an open mouth embrace.)

I can’t get enough of the flavor… and whether it’s white, milk, or dark, it is one of the things I treat myself to occasionally.

And I may or may not have eaten two pieces of dark chocolate last night before bed…

One would assume that when it came to choosing an ice cream flavor, chocolate would naturally be the number one flavor scooped into my bowl, but alas, one’s assumption would be incorrect!

When it comes to ice cream, vanilla is my go-to!  

I like the clean, crisp, fresh taste of vanilla. Sounds like I’m describing an apple or something, right? hah. 

Vanilla can be paired with anything and it intensifies any accompanying flavor. A single scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of a warm brownie… on apple pie… with a square of birthday cake… with sprinkles… with fresh fruit… I think it’s hard to go wrong with vanilla ice cream.

I didn’t discover my love for vanilla until a few years ago. My dad has always gravitated towards vanilla ice cream, and I guess I picked up on it from him.

Plus, when a girl craves ice cream and all that’s in the freezer is vanilla, you better bet she’s going to eat the vanilla ice cream! 😉

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Are you a fellow vanilla lover?


I’m linking up with the Daily Post for today’s prompt



Was it really just 48 hours ago (minus 3 for Cali time) that I was on a tour of Beverly Hills with the Los Angeles hostel?

48 hours is a short time and golly how things can change in such a short span of time!

While I am physically back from California, mentally and emotionally I am still out there… soaking up the Cali sun while waiting on a bus… pulling out my phone constantly to take pictures of a building, a star on Hollywood Blvd. In my mind I’m still out there meeting people and seeing the sights. Gosh how I wish that were true.

I have so much to share from my trip. But in the mean time I’m still processing.

Processing what I learned about myself. What I learned about California and traveling in general. What I learned about people. What I learned about the power of communication, the power of friendliness, the power of patience. (waiting on the metro can get frustrating sometimes 😉 ) Traveling is always a learning experience, and that’s one of my favorite things about it!

I learned a lot from my little California adventure, and I hope to share it soon!

As I continue this process of processing everything, here’s a sneak peak at just a few of my pictures.