Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!!!

I have some goals for adding more creativity in my life!!!
  1. follow more creative people on Instagram-- find someone new once per month
  1. take one picture per day
  1. go to the Open Paint hour at the studio bi-weekly
  1. learn to play the guitar! Weekly lessons and practice < 3 times per week

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Getting creative again!

I am feeling the creativity flowing again, and wanted to share some of my recent projects!

Lots of painting, photography, traveling, and coloring!  But, also decorating is now a creative hobby of mine.

This summer I moved into a new place with AWESOME views!

And, carried over the design from my previous apartment.  Lights are new, and perfect!

for those of you who follow me on other social media, you're probably sick of seeing this, but it was such a cool project, I had to include it in this blog post!
This bench was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest. It's painted cinder blocks, and wood stained two by fours, I did not make the cushions, however. 

In addition to the patio, I'm having fun decorating the rest of the 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment:

As the weather turned, I found pleasure in taking photos of the change in colors:

 Orchard in Yakima, WA

 The tree next to my balcony

Mount Rainier from my balcony

Along US Highway 2

In October my parents came to visit!  We did a whirlwind tour of the Peninsula, and Mount Rainier National Park

And now winter is starting!  I decorated for Christmas, and am anticipating a good snowfall!

I have been painting and coloring a lot!  I don't have photos of my coloring, but here are a few of my most recent paintings:
(Mine's on the left!)

This is my current painting station set-up in my second bedroom!  Early this morning I painted this Happy Koi!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Shel Silverstein Favorites

A project that has been in my mind for a few years now, is to frame poems by Shel Silverstein.
Here's a few poems that I would choose for my project:


If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hop-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!


There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
"I feel ghat this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong."
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What's right for you--just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.


Ricky was "L" but he's home with the flu.
Lizzie, our "O," had some homework to do,
Mitchell, "E" prob'ly got lost on the way.
So I'm all of love that could make it today.


I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war.
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.




So what if nobody came?
I'll have all the ice cream and tea,
And I'll laugh with myself,
And I'll dance with myself,
And I'll sing, "Happy Birthday to me!"

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me--
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.


My dad gave me one dollar bill
'Cause I'm his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
'Cause two is more than one!

And hen I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes--I guess he don't know
That three is more than two!

Just then, along came old bling Bates
And just 'cause he can't see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!

And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!

And then I went and showed by dad,
And he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head--
Too proud of me to speak!


Please don't tell me I should hug,
Don't tell me I should care.
Don't tell me just how grand I'd feel
If I just learned to share.
Don't say, "It's all right to cry,"
"Be kind," "Be fair," "Be true."
Just let me see YOU do it,
Then I just might do it too.


How many slams in an old screen door?
Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
Depends how good you live 'em.
How much love inside a friend?
Depends on how much you give 'em.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Graduate School?

I've wanted to go for my Masters Degree for the past 6 years.  Finances and geographic location have hindered this dream of mine.  I miss being in a campus setting, and all the benefits of living in academia.  

If I do go back to school, I want my degree to be in something interesting,  not just something that will make me more money.  Which brings us to the debate of Urban Design vs Public Administration.  With Public Administration, I could become a City Manager and make a salary that ranges from $90,000-$200,000 per year, depending on location.  Urban Design would be a lot more creative, however, I would have to find a consulting firm, and work my way up through the ranks.  BUT I WOULD ENJOY IT MORE (potentially).

I have always been artistic, and creative.  Urban design and architecture have always been very interesting to me.  Am I "good" at being creative?  Would someone want to buy my creative services or ideas?  Is this what I really want?

Many of the graduate programs I have researched advertise that their programs prep you for the AICP exam, and ____%  of their students pass the AICP exam on the first try... well, I already did that in 2012... I am a certified professional land use planner, which is great for me!  And some would argue that I don't "need" a Masters Degree.  I don't think going to get my masters degree is about fulfilling a financial/career/promotional need.  Continuing education is a passion of mine, always has been.  Getting my Masters would fulfill the need to better myself, help me find purpose, as well as, feel important, and successful.  I would be proud of myself if I obtained a masters degree!!  Even more proud than I was for myself, for achieving AICP at 27 years old.  

Knowing that I want to challenge myself and pursue this goal, is half the battle.  And now, to find out the Where, and How.  The 10 schools I would consider attending which offer a masters program in Urban Planning:  

  • Eastern Washington University, Spokane, Masters in Urban and Regional Planning
  • Portland State University, Masters of Urban and Regional Planning
  • University of Oregon, Masters of Community and Regional Planning
  • University of Washington, Seattle, Masters of Urban Planning
  • Cleveland State University, Masters of Urban Planning, Design, and Development (sister lives in Cleveland)
  • California State University at Northridge, Los Angeles, Masters of Public Administration with an emphasis on Urban Planning
  • Michigan State University, Masters of Urban and Regional Planning (Have an undergraduate from MSU in Urban and Regional Planning)
  • University of Michigan, Masters of Urban Planning
  • Wayne State University, Detroit, Masters of Urban Planning
  • University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Masters of Art in Planning
Public Administration graduate programs are more widely offered by Universities.   My only concern is that I will HATE some of the aspects of PA, like the financial part of municipalities.  I am not an accountant, I have no interest in learning tax laws, etc.   However, I know it's an important aspect of how cities function.   Many schools offer online degrees in Public Administration as well.

Decisions, decisions.  Why do I always have to take the hard route in life?  hahaha because I am constantly looking for ways to better my life and find my "purpose"?.... but the "what's your purpose" discussion is for another day, and another blog post!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The past year of my life-

   For the past year I have been rigorously studying for a professional certification exam. The exam is the Comprehensive AICP exam for Urban Planners to become certified in the planning profession.
   My interest in becoming certified began about a year ago (Feb 2012). I wanted to challenge myself and further my career. The exam is offered twice a year in May and November.  In my researching the exam, and how to begin the preparation to take the May 2012 in particular, I realized that I had missed the deadline for applications.  Dern! 
   However, I could still apply for the November 2012 exam window. Great!  Then in the excitement of taking on this new challenge I decided to spend $200 on a online study course, not realizing that the course finishes before the May exam.  Ah!  Therefore, I was basically cramming from March-May trying to get all the information I could derive from the online course before it closed.  Which by the way, was a great resource.  If there is anyone out there reading this blog (doubt it) AND considering taking the AICP exam (probably even less likely) you should sign up for the Planetizen AICP study course.  There are video sessions, an active messaging board, the Planetizen staff responds to questions promptly and provides lots of support. 
   Between May and June I was spending my time collecting necessary documents and forming my exam application. The application in itself was a true test of how serious you are about becoming a certified planner. There were essay questions, minimum professional experience requirements and letters of recommendations. Thankfully I had a great team of friends and colleagues supporting my through the application process.  Not only did you have to apply by June for the November exam you had to pay the application and exam fees when you submit your application... $495, ouch that one hurt a little bit. I made the application deadline and then played the waiting game.
   Even though I wasn't sure if I was allowed to take the exam yet, I was so excited that I still studied off and on, and purchased the necessary textbooks ($245!) finally on August 18th, I received the email confirming that my application was accepted and I could indeed *try* to pass the AICP exam in November of 2012!!  I was ecstatic to say the least.  We celebrated that email as if I had already passed the exam.  It was nice to know that all my hard work was recognized and that I am qualified to become a certified planner.
   Now it's time to get down to business.  During the 6 months I was preparing to apply and study for the exam I did a lot of reading on blogs, websites, including the site, about what the exam was going to be like, and what to expect.  Only a 64% pass rate, 1000 questions worth of information but they only ask you 170 during the exam.  Of those 170 exam questions 20 of them are just questions the exam committee is testing out to see if they want to include them on the next year’s exam.  Of course they don’t let you know which of the 170 are going to be the 20 that you are not graded on.  That’s how they getcha.  Most people I conversed with regarding the exam were on their second and third attempts.  If you don’t pass in November, you can pay a lesser fee to retake it in May and so on. I DID NOT WANT TO TAKE THIS THING MORE THAN ONCE. 
  Between early September and November 10th (my exam date) I took every fee hour to study.  I was reading all the textbooks cover to cover, taking notes, re-reading notes from the Planetizen course, recording myself reading and playing it back, AND creating some 500 flashcards.  By the way, if you are still reading this and plan on taking the AICP exam I will more than gladly share my notes or other materials. However, I recommend doing it on your own because flipping through someone else’s notes you really don’t retain as much information as you would if you created the notes yourself. I also recommend the website because it is *FREE* and they have hundreds of practice questions where you can get immediate feedback.  They even explain the answers and offer links to the topic resources.
   The scheduling of the exam was a whole other process.  You had to wait for the testing company to send you an authorization code that is unique to you.  Once you have this code you have to find a testing center where you’d like to take the exam.  I didn’t receive my code until a month out from the exam window.  My only options were (Seattle 4 hours away or Spokane 2.5 hours away).  I chose Spokane so we could stay at Northern Quest Resort & Casino!  (I will blog about this wonderful place another time).  The exam window was around 4 weeks November 1- 26th or something like that.  I chose November 10th. I was very anxious to get this thing over with as soon as possible.
  I have to mention my support system again, because you guys are great:
  • In the weeks leading up to the exam best friend took me out hiking and she would quiz me with my flashcards. & an impromptu session with a psychic who read my cards and predicted that I would pass the exam, among other things.  (I will blog about the psychic reading soon!)
  • My boyfriend who happens to know a thing or two about planning would answer my very random questions about permitting, subdivisions or other planning topics that I don’t deal with on a daily basis. 
  • And my state Professional Development Officer (PDO) sent all Washington applicants an email so we could start study groups.  All of us were located a few hours apart so we made a study outline and shared information via email.  I think that worked out pretty good for everyone.
   The week leading up to the exam was very stressful.  As you would expect, I was anxious and nervous.  What if I didn’t prepare enough, what if I spent too much time studying a topic that wouldn’t end up on the exam at all, what if I get asked questions that I literally had no clue how to answer?  What if I fail?
   Friday night we stayed at Northern Quest Casino, had a quiet dinner and I allowed myself to have a glass of wine to help me relax. I used the hotel computer to go through some practice exams again and went to bed as early as I could get my thoughts to settle. I woke up multiple times throughout the night worrying that my three separate alarms weren’t going to go off and I’d miss the exam.  I left with ample time to get lost, cause I’d never been to the testing center before, and I am not too familiar with the City of Spokane.  I used my phone navigation to get me there, but I had printed map quest directions, just in case. 
   Needless to say I was over prepared and over dramatizing the whole thing (I’m a girl, that’s what we do.)  Anyway, the day of the exam I actually ate as if I was about to run one of my half-marathons (another topic I will blog about later) which includes a banana, a raisin muffin with peanut butter, a Red Bull and a Gatorade.  I didn’t want to fill up too much because I knew that they would track your bathroom use, and you’d have to get wanded going in and out of the exam room like you are a criminal entering a courtroom.  TMI warning- none of that mattered, I was so worked up about the exam I made myself sick.  Had to use the bathroom multiple times, and I think the facilitator thought I was cheating because she came into the bathroom looking for me.  (Embarrassing)
   All of the drama and excitement leading up to the exam paid off.  I PASSED!  I made the facilitator double check that I did indeed pass, and she handed me a print off with signature and raised stamp to prove that I passed.
   Phew. Now it’s time to celebrate- well sort of.  We did celebrate the completion of the exam and had a great rest of the weekend.  However, the way the AICP certification works is that after the testing window closes they will begin to review all the exams to make sure there were no glitches and then they begin the process of sending you a formal notification and such letting those who passed know they have to pay more money (of course) to become an AICP member.  The weeks between the November 10th exam day and when I received my official certification letter, January 31st were hard weeks for me.  I had passed the exam according to the testing center, but it wasn’t “official” until you received the letter in the mail.  Also, I wasn’t allowed to put the AICP acronym behind my name yet, so I couldn’t share and celebrate with many people.  SO MANY RULES! 

Let's talk about regrets:
  • I regret spending too much time studying and not enough of it keeping my body & soul in balance.  I constantly skipped Bikram Yoga classes (my favorite!) I ate poorly because I was always in "study mode" and old habit die hard.  My focus was on the exam and not on my life as a whole.  Would the 20lbs I gained studying be worth it if I hadn't passed?  The answer is NO!  You have to keep a balanced life, regardless of what your goal is for that year, you have to keep yourself healthy. 
  • I also regret not asking my work to help pay for the exam.  Over all I spent $1160 on application fees, study materials, and even more if you count the hotel and travel accommodations to take the exam in Spokane.  And I will continue to pay for my AICP membership out of my own pocket. 
  • In regards to studying I regret not utilizing the PlanningPrep practice exams more.  I should've spent more time taking practice exams instead of reading textbooks.  Although, I guess if I passed I must've done something right. 
  • Lastly, I regret not blogging about the whole experience here.  This is a really long post, as you know, and I could've been documenting everything over the course of the year. 

   As you know, I received the letter confirming my certification; I sent the prorated membership fee and can now use the AICP acronym!!  Almost a year after I decided to take the exam and further my career I am here reporting that I was successful!
It feels great sharing my experience with the world and hopefully you are celebrating with me in some way.  I can’t help but wonder, what will I challenge myself with next?  Stay tuned…


Saturday, October 29, 2011

All Settled

Today we installed wireless internet!  I am so glad to have access to the internet at home.

Now for an update on the new living situation...

I absolutely love living with my boyfriend.  We had to cut back on a lot of  unnecessary belongings, and I have since taken two large loads of items to Goodwill.  Did you know that Goodwill accepts appliances like toasters and scales?  I was glad that I did not have to trash something that was still functional.

Also, since my last post I cleaned out my old apartment and was officially out by September 29th.  Thanks to a whole weekend of cleaning, two Monday's ago I received my FULL security deposit back!  To celebrate I took all the people who helped in the moving process out for a drink, it was a good "ending to an era".

Before locking the door that last day, I took some pictures...

All the flowers that my Boyfriend has bought
 me since we started dating 2 years ago, unfortunately the flowers
had to be thrown away.  At least I have this picture as a memento!
The last of the items to be moved out
I cleaned the kitchen so well, these
appliances look brand new!

Empty (&clean) Bathroom
Bare laundry area
Bedroom, I can't believe how much furniture
 I had stuffed into this small space!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Moving Success

The move to my boyfriend's apartment was a success. 
Thanks to the help from friends, and a little heavy lifting, all of my many "things" were either stored in the garage or moved to the 3rd floor apartment.
The good news is I didn't have to workout at all that week, lol.
The cleaning of my old apartment was also completed before the move-out date.  I think we did an exquisite job, and expect a full refund on my security deposit (yea, right.)  One can only hope :)  Regardless if I get my full refund back or only a portion of it, I feel good that I didn't leave the apartment messy or in poor condition.   

The conclusion of a life chapter has passed, and the beginning of this next chapter is well underway. 

Pictures to come, stay tuned!

Have a great week everyone.