Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wednesday Playlist

Music: one of the most effective cures for writer's block, the mid-week slump, and any lack of inspiration.  When the radio in our sweet little old car decided to work a few days ago, we discovered "Ophelia" by The Lumineers, and I'm very excited to be including it in today's playlist. 

The Lumineers: "Ophelia"

Vance Joy: "Fire and the Flood"

Nick Drake: "Pink Moon"

Kodaline: "High Hopes"

<3 Frances 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! 

It feels odd to have Easter in March this year when I'm so used to it being in April, but there are so many pretty purple flowers on the trees that it doesn't seem to matter, and the colors are all very spring-like despite a chilly breeze.  I hope everyone else is having a happy Sunday regardless of whether or not they're celebrating today.  We have a lot of homework to do (sigh) and lost a dear pet last week, but we're honoring the holiday with some memory lane trips courtesy of childhood Easter specials.  There's something very comforting about old holiday specials, and it's been sweet to revisit characters like Snoopy and Max and Ruby. 

Max & Ruby Easter and Spring Compilation
It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!
Here Comes Peter Cottontail
<3 Frances

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Horticultural Therapy

I've become maybe a *little* bit obsessed with horticultural therapy lately. I mean, saving the environment and helping people emotionally at the same time is pretty awesome, right?  Plus, I recently learned about this incredible type of bacteria in soil that actually makes you happy.  People don't often think soil equals elation, but Mycobacterium vaccae "mirror[s] the effects" (Gardening Know How) that antidepressants have on neurons. It sounds a bit crazy, but the whole process is actually rather simple: the bacteria is inhaled or touched, cytokine levels rise, and serotonin is produced.  This, in turn, causes you to feel good, focused, and centered.

Doing more research on garden therapy (because I love research), I learned that it was used for soldiers after World War I and World War II, and it's used today by organizations like Greenfingers, which brings gardening projects to hospices in the UK.   As a practice, horticultural therapy falls under the broader field of ecotherapy, which, as the name implies, uses nature therapeutically. In a world where everyone's online and indoors all the time, there's a bit of a "nature deficit," and it's incredible what spending a little time outside can do for mental (and even physical) health.

<3 Frances

Monday, March 21, 2016

Happy Spring!

Spring is officially here!  Yay!  It may be cold and rainy this morning, but I'm excited just thinking about the warmer days and pretty flowers ahead.  I love winter and autumn, but after the holidays things can get a little bleak, and the sunshine is always welcome.  To get the season started off on the right foot, here are some rather generic pictures of baby animals in nature.  As always, photo creds to their respective photographers.

<3 Frances

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Positive Vibes

There's a very overwhelming part of me that still feels like it should be 6:54 AM, but it isn't.  We've "sprung ahead" on the clocks, so now that dear little hour I'm so excited to get in the fall is gone.  I hope everyone is adjusting well.  I think I'm better now, but on Sunday night I lay awake in bed for a few hours wishing I could fall asleep.  Needless to say, Monday morning = tired.  These positive affirmations that my mum found were very helpful, though.  They may not be related to fatigue or the time change, but they're incredibly inspiring, positive, and true, and I think everyone would benefit from taking a moment to fully embrace what they mean.  My favorite right now is "Bedtime Affirmations for the Soul" because that title is just so awesome.  Happy Tuesday!

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<3 Frances 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Fukushima Five Years On

Five years ago, on March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck near the coast of Japan, devastating the island nation with a tsunami and causing a meltdown in three of the reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Though by now life has regained a level of normalcy for some, others continue to suffer the direct effects of the disaster, unable to return to their homes due to radiation and destruction and still in mourning over those that died.  Today, take a moment to send some support and loving-kindness to those brave souls continuing to suffer the effects of the Japan disaster.  As with other tragedies (Bhopal, Chernobyl...), the immediate incident may be over, but its impact lives on, and it's important to think of and honor the heroes and survivors every day.  If you're like I am and want to learn more about Japan five years on, check out this article.

A woman places a bouquet into the sea
Credits: Toru Yamanaka
<3 Frances 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Hubble Telescope Can See the Past


In honor of Throwback Thursday, here's some pretty amazing news: the Hubble Space Telescope has just broken the record for "cosmic distance" and seen the oldest galaxy humans have ever found.  The galaxy, which has been named GN-Z11, is from 13.4 billion years ago, which means it formed only 400 million years after the Big Bang.  In cosmic time, that's not a lot.  I was so excited to learn this because, up until now, it hadn't really occurred to me that we could actually see into the past.  But reading about this recent discovery, it all started to make sense.  Light from faraway galaxies has to travel a very long distance to reach us, "so the further the galaxy, the further back in time we see."  That means that an image of a star one light-year from Earth is an image of it from a year ago.  To get more science-y, here's an excerpt from Mary Bowerman's USA Today article:

"Seeing a picture of a galaxy when it was younger or all the way back to the Big Bang 13-billion-years-away, that light has traveled a long way," he [Patrick McCarthy] said. "It's like digging up a fossil, you see what life was like millions of years ago, it’s almost a fossil of the early universe."
For galaxies that are billions of years away, astronomers can measure the distance to a galaxy by measuring its “redshift,” which is caused by the expansion of the universe, according to NASA.
“Every distant object in the universe appears to be receding from us because its light is stretched to longer, redder wavelengths as it travels through expanding space to reach our telescopes,” according to NASA.When the “redshifted” light from these distant galaxies makes its way close enough for our telescope to capture, the information from the light allows researchers to see the galaxies as they were billions of years ago.
If that isn't cool, I don't know what is.

<3 Frances

Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday Playlist

Happy Monday!  Getting up really early for the SAT on Saturday makes me feel like today should be Sunday and not the start of a new week, but music can make even 5:20 AM better.  May the force be with you.

Sufjan Stevens: "Should Have Known Better"

Billy Corgan: "To Love Somebody"

Bright Eyes: "We Are Nowhere and It's Now"

Lykke Li: "Breaking It Up"

<3 Frances

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

3 Spring Trends We Love

Spring starts in 19 days, and, despite my love for snow, snowmen, and peppermint, I'm admittedly very excited about warm days, flowers, and (of course) baby animals.  We're getting a little preview of it now with 65 degree weather, and it's refreshing to step outside without freezing.  With that in mind, here's a sneak peak of what to expect trend-wise this season:

White Blouses
Suggested (AGAIN) by  Maddy Seiler on MTB27 (so many others have also suggested!):
Red Warehouse Coat Charlotte Olympia Shoes What Olivia Did:  
Russian folk-style embroidered blouse.  Ulyana Sergeenko, a fashion designer from Moscow.:
Nightgown-Inspired Pieces
pretty wedding night gown:
Balenciaga Spring 2016
Mary Katrantzou Spring 2016
<3 Frances