Weekly Roundup | Quiet & Loud

Friday, March 18, 2016

You may have noticed my near silence this week. You may have also noticed a post I published and quickly unpublished earlier this week titled "A Post Where I Complain and Feel Sorry for Myself," in which I did exactly that. You may have also noticed that you could click on it and read it in full on Bloglovin' because even though I unpublished it here, I didn't think to delete it there. It's gone now, but it was available a full 24 hours.

The reason I unpublished it is because I try really, really hard for this to be a positive space. I'm not always successful in that, because dammit sometimes you just want to complain and have someone say "I hear you." I put it all out there in that post and even now I'm considering republishing it, regardless of how negative and angry and ungrateful the whole thing sounded, because that's life. Sometimes you have really negative, angry, ungrateful days and I don't think that my personal space on the internet should be wiped clean of that reality.

I don't have the energy to pretend here.

I've had a rough week, as if you couldn't tell by that post and everything above. Because of that, I stopped reading blogs as much and definitely haven't been posting. I stepped away from consuming so much social media and news (although I do admit Tweeting a few times) and it was a breath of fresh air to take a step back and not have a million and one people shouting so much information and so many opinions at me from a screen. I feel as though my mind has been more quiet and I think that's exactly what I needed. I still need more, too, so I almost didn't even show up here today.

The good thing about turning off the sound of the internet is that my mind has been allowed to wander. The book I'm writing has been coming more and more together in my head, something that can't happen with the constant intake of mindless information the internet provides. I've been able to sit in the quiet and truly think about life and goals and how I'm really feeling right now. It has been refreshing. I recommend everyone give it a try sometime.

On the complete opposite spectrum of quiet, I give you the only bit of a roundup I'm doing this week, because computer-free time can always go for a little music:

Listening To

Weekly Roundup + A Blog Survey

Friday, March 11, 2016


Any day now I will be setting a launch date for my newly-designed Wordpress blog. You know I'll be screaming from the rooftops when this new site launches, so I promise you won't miss it. I'm excited about the clean, professional look it will have as well as specialized travel pages that will make navigating my site much easier than it is currently.

Even as I've been dedicating so much time to setting up my new site, I've been concerned about the content, quality, and consistency that you find here on Em Busy Living. I know that when I'm busy I'm not as consistent, and sometimes the topics of my posts are all over the place. EBL isn't much of a "honed-in niche" blog, but I do have some recurring themes, even if they're sort of broad. I decided to throw this survey into one of my "Weekly Roundup" posts because it is my most consistent series, but I'm even asking you to critique my "Weekly Roundups" in this survey.

Please help me out by spending 5 minutes answering these 9 questions. Your feedback will help me more than you know.



And now, on to my roundup...

ICYMI

Watching
  • Cooked (Netflix) Cooked is a beautiful four-part documentary series that delves into the world and history of cooking. Following the research of author Michael Pollan (whose recent book Cooked is what this docu-series is based on,) we're taught the history and basics of cooking around the world and throughout time based on the four earth elements: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. This series reminds you how beautiful and what an act of love cooking is, and that we should all aim to spend more time cooking from scratch for and with those we love.

Blog Love

On the Internets

It's Okay to Change Your Mind

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Several months ago Coley, creator of the site "Life Goals Mag," reached out to me and asked if I'd like to contribute to her online magazine. After finally clearing my schedule enough to do so, I've finally submitted my first post, "Why It's Okay to Change Your Mind." It went live yesterday, and you can read it right here!

The Malawi Music Project | Guest Post

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A few weeks ago I mentioned on one of my Weekly Roundups that my friend Tara is living in Malawi, working with the Peace Corps. I've known Tara since high school and she is one of the most selfless and caring people I've ever known. She and her husband Matt spent years in preparation to join the Peace Corps and even though their volunteer time with them is over, they've managed to figure out a way to stay in the country for another year to continue their work.

I've been so excited about what Tara is doing in Malawi that I asked her to write a guest post about her current work, the Malawi Music Project. Tara and the MMP are in the middle of a big fundraiser and I wanted to give her the opportunity to share her story with my readers.

- - - - -


Think back...waaay back. What is your earliest musical memory? Was it something along the line of singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or learning to play it on a piano or plastic recorder? Was it learning a round for the first time and singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in three parts? Or maybe it was singing the alphabet?

I bet most people reading this right now can think back to their formative years and remember at least one time music was used in their school. For most people these are fond memories and help inspire creativity and for some it opens a world of extra curriculars, belonging, and professions.

For the last two years I have been working in Malawi as a Peace Corps Volunteer spending most of my time and energy in areas of youth development, female empowerment, and HIV/AIDS prevention. Early in my service I decided to infuse the arts into my curriculum. Growing up the arts (theatre and music mostly) were my means of escape, expression, and understanding a world I had yet to experience but deeply desired to be a part of. It allowed me to imagine life from another perspective and occasionally—in a more tangible way—gave me the opportunity to travel and meet new people. Through traveling choirs and theatre competitions I was given an outlet that would not have existed to me without them.

When I started working with students in Malawi, it didn't take me long to realize that nothing close to my experience was offered. There was a deep chasm that desperately needed to be filled with outlets for creativity. Music, drama, and art classes are not at risk of being cut in Malawi because they are not in the school budget to start with. However, I can tell you there is much potential waiting to be unlocked.

This is why when I came across Malawi Music Project, I jumped on board as fast as the team would let me. It's a project that was started in 2009 as a cooperative between Peace Corps and Music Crossroads Malawi. It's a week long, camp-style intervention that brings together young musicians from all over the country to hone their musical skills and learn to write songs with important social messages. In December of 2014 I participated as a camp counselor. It was phenomenal experience and you're welcome to read more about it here, on my blog.


This year, with a shift in funding availability and in an effort to make the program more sustainable, we have had to make a few changes. We have moved the project from the Christmas holiday break to the Easter holiday break, given more responsibility to Music Crossroads, and our biggest change...we've shifted completely to crowd funding as our means for financing the project.

Why crowd funding? With our typical grant source of funding no longer supporting national interventions, we wanted to give others a chance to show how much music has meant to them! The youth that come to this camp are self-taught, highly dedicated, but in a lot of cases have never played with other musicians. Imagine if they knew that well wishers from all over the world supported their dream!

What does your money do? It helps us transport youth from all over Malawi to the capital (a first for a lot of them), helps provide lodging, food, facility rental, teachers, and supplies.
  • $20 lodges one student for the entire week
  • $35 feeds a student for the entire week
  • $65 will cover a student's lodging, meals, transportation and supplies for the week
  • $125 will cover the total cost of one participant: everything listed above, but also includes teacher's fees, electricity, a live recording of their music, and facility rental.

What can you do?

This truly is a once in a life time opportunity for most of our participants. Help us make it happen! Any and every amount counts!


You can read more about Tara's time in Malawi on her blog.

Weekly Roundup | Wait...It's Friday?!

Friday, March 4, 2016


I just slept in later than normal, wandered into the kitchen, and poured myself a cup of coffee. It was while scrolling through Bloglovin' that I suddenly noticed other bloggers' "Friday Favorites" and "Weekly Roundup" posts and yelled out, "It's Friday?!" I seriously forgot it was Friday today. What is my life?

Maybe it's because my mom came for two days at the beginning of the week, making me feel like Monday and Tuesday were the weekend. We lazed around, drove around through different parts of the city, and visited a few antique shops and a greenhouse.

Or maybe it's because I've been so busy these past couple of days. Freelance work, designing the interior of Claire's next book, and working on last minute touches on my new Wordpress blog design have had the hours slipping away.

Anyway...in the spirt of not having missed a Weekly Roundup since I started them...here we go!

ICYMI
  • On Wednesday I shared some photos and info on the Virginia Aviation Museum, which is a great little spot to check out in Richmond if you like planes.

Watching
  • Downton Abbey Finale! This was why Mom came to visit; so we could watch the finale together! Well, we didn't get the memo that there was a week break before the finale this coming weekend. So we did what needed to be done: we went to Target and bought the season on BluRay. The finale was amazing! And I'm so sad it's over.
  • Ghostbusters (Trailer) This one has been under a lot of scrutiny, but this trailer proves (to me) that it's going to be just a wonderful and funny as everyone hoped!

Blog Love

On the Internets
A Blissful Haven

Visiting the Virginia Aviation Museum

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


A few weekends ago, Dan and I found ourselves with a free Saturday afternoon. One of the most random—but most relaxing—things we sometimes do when we don't have any plans is head to the closest airport to hang out and talk while we watch the planes land. We hopped on I64 east in search of a great spot to park for a while near Richmond International Airport.

On the way in, we spotted signs for the Virginia Aviation Museum and decided it would make a great stop. The museum is located just north-west of the runways, along the left side of Airport Drive as you head towards the airport entrance. After visiting several aviation museums in California, I was skeptical about what this small museum may have to offer, but I should have first considered Virginia's strong military history and Richmond's proximity to North Carolina's Kill Devil Hills (the home of the Wright Brothers' first flight.)

The Virginia Aviation Museum may have been small in square feet, but packed in over thirty historic aircraft and reproductions, as well as several engines you could study up close. This museum also featured far more hands-on and educational exhibits than any aviation museum I've seen so far. I was very impressed! Dan is far more versed in airplanes and aviation history than I am and showed me around the different planes they had on display. I'm trying to convince him to become a volunteer!


One of the planes that had previously been out front of the building was missing, but we found it a few days ago when we visited the Science Museum of Virginia, which is soon opening a new exhibit called "Speed."


Visit
Online: www.vam.smv.org / Facebook
Address: 5701 Huntsman Road, Richmond, VA 23250
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 9:30am - 5pm, Sunday noon - 5pm
Admission: Adults $6.50, Youth & Seniors $5.50, Military members free

Weekly Roundup | Heartbreak

Friday, February 26, 2016


This past week can only be described as heartbreaking for so many reasons. I personally did not suffer, but I witnessed from afar as people and places I love have dealt with incredibly difficult and devastating situations this week.

> Two of my lifelong neighbors passed away this past week, one from each side of our family's property. They were both elderly and had been suffering poor health for years, but it was still difficult to hear and know they are gone. Just to put this into perspective, there are only seven homes in our tiny neighborhood; losing two people is 20% of my parents' neighbors.

> Then I witnessed two mothers' heartbreak. A girl I graduated with lost her nephew after a lifetime of medical issues. They buried him on his fifth birthday. His mother's blog is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Then a girl I went to college with found out that the little girl she's pregnant with has a rare tumor and will not survive the rest of the pregnancy. I can't imagine such news.

> And then came Wednesday's storms. Dan and I later took shelter in the bathroom, the only place in our apartment without nine-foot windows. The winds were terrifying and the sirens all around town were going off. I was glued to my phone, watching updates on Twitter and absolutely terrified that one of the many rotational clouds heading directly toward downtown Richmond were going to stir up more trouble. I'm so thankful that things ended uneventfully for us here.

Such a tough week; sorry to be so depressing! I've spent a lot of time these past few days very thankful for everything in my life and that our families aren't facing anything incredibly difficult right now. I can only pray that those I know who are suffering will find some peace and that it will all get easier with time.

ICYMI

Blog Love

On the Internets

Help the Victims of the Appomattox Tornado

Thursday, February 25, 2016


I rarely use this space in this way, but one of the devastating tornados that touched down yesterday in Virginia hit far too close to home.

Appomattox may be a familiar name to you, even if you're not sure why. It was there, 151 years ago, that the Confederate's General Lee conceded to the Union's General Grant, ending the Civil War. These days, Appomattox is a sleepy town in south-central Virginia, but it's filled with wonderful people who currently need all the help they can get to rebuild a large part of their community.

Last night we had a devastating line of storms come through Virginia that had tornado sirens blaring and people taking shelter in basements all across the state. The community of Evergreen, just a few miles south of Appomattox proper, had one resident killed and over 100 buildings damaged or completely destroyed.

These photos by the local paper, The News & Advance, are heartbreaking.

The location of the touchdown was only twenty miles from my parents' home, who were taking shelter in the basement with my kitty while so many nearby lost everything they owned. I keep imagining what it would be like to find out the home I grew up in had been torn apart by a tornado...such an unlikely thing for Virginia in the first place.

I'm very familiar with the area struck by this tornado and cannot imagine what it will be like to drive through here the next time I go to my parents' house.

If you would like to help this community recover from the immense damage done by this terrifying force of nature, I've collected several links below to state and local organizations who are stepping in to help:

  • Gleaning for the World is a nonprofit based just 13 miles from the Evergreen area. They are already on the ground there providing disaster relief in the forms of food, water, and personal care items.
  • American Red Cross of Virginia is on location in Appomattox providing emergency shelter and other forms of relief.
  • God's Pit Crew of Danville is sending their Crisis Response Team to Appomattox to help in any way possible. Contact them if you would like to assist them in person.
  • Animal Emergency & Critical Care of Lynchburg is donating free time and services for all animals affected by the tornado in Evergreen.

Three people were also killed when another tornado touched down in the community of Waverly, Virginia, a town just 23 miles southeast of Petersburg. The Red Cross is also providing relief for this community.

Lunch at Kuba Kuba

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


After this weekend, I'm more excited than ever to keep exploring Richmond and discover all of the great things this city has to offer. Richmond has been going through quite the resurgence over the past decade, revitalizing historic districts and showing up on "best of" lists of all kinds. Just in the last couple of years, Richmond has made Conde Nast's list of best Southern Food Destinations, National Geographic's list of Where to Travel for Food in 2016, and was Departure's 2014 pick as the Next Great American Food City. Richmond is a foodie city!

We had no plans or obligations this past Saturday, so Dan and I decided to pick a random place to have lunch and go from there. Funny enough, the tech who installed our Verizon cable was the first to recommend Kuba Kuba as we chatted while he worked. Dan loves a good Cuban sandwich, so off though The Fan we went.

Kuba Kuba sits on the corner of beautiful Park Avenue and North Lombardy Street in The Fan, across from the playground in the Park & Lombardy Triangle. What I would do to live here!


Kuba Kuba is owned by chef Manny Mendez, a local serving up Cuban classics based on the recipes of his family's heritage. I immediately spotted Mendez behind the grill when we walked in and was excited to see him running the show. The bodega-like atmosphere reminded me of a busy New York City diner; I could easily imagine that it was this rushed and busy all day long, but I never personally felt rushed. It was laid back in the best way.

Dan ordered the Cuban Sandwich (roast pork, Smithfield ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard,) and I ordered the Lunch Roast Pork (bowl of mojo-marinated roast pork with black beans, white rice, and platanos). I'm not usually a fan of fried plantains, but Kuba Kuba's were really great; not too sour for my taste. The roast pork had a really great flavor and pretty much fell apart when you touched it. I was also pleasantly surprised by their cornbread; I expected it to be an afterthought, but the extra vanilla in the mix made it taste more like dessert. There was so much food that I brought half of it home. I can definitely see us visiting Kuba Kuba again, especially so I can try the spinach and ricotta empanadillas and a slice of their famed tres leches cake!


If you visit Kuba Kuba, be sure to explore the surrounding neighborhood as well. There's even a Richmond Mural Project mural along the Park Avenue side wall.


Visit Kuba Kuba:
1601 Park Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23220
804-355-8817
www.kubakuba.info

SCATTERBRAIN's 4th Birthday | $150 PayPal Giveaway!

Monday, February 22, 2016

I'm so excited to be teaming up with Jae from SCATTERBRAIN and several blog friends to offer our readers the chance to win this giveaway! Today is her Four Year Blog Birthday and she felt like this would be a great way to celebrate!

When I started "seriously" blogging last spring, Jae was one of the first bloggers to really reach out to me through commenting and social media. We lived only two hours apart (me in Orange County, her in San Diego) but unfortunately we never had the chance to meet. I hope the next time I find myself in SD we can plan a double date! Meeting new people and making new friends all over the world is by far the best part of this whole blogging thing.

Annnd...you probably want to know more about this giveaway, huh? We're giving away $150 in PayPal cash credit and a 2oz pot of hand-poured makeup brush cleanser from Swirl & Sparkle to one lucky winner! You have a week to enter and a bunch of chances to win! Good luck!

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Ailee (Snapshots & My Thoughts)Anne (Love the Here and Now)Annie (MontgomeryFest)
 Becca (Becca Dorr)Corinth (Explore with Corinth)Emily (ME!)Jae (SCATTERBRAIN)
Jan (sights)Kati Rose (Constantly Seeking Wonder)Kelly Louise (Six One Six)Shayne (Shayne Blogs)Raisa (Little Town)Valerie (Valerie Randomness)Swirl and Sparkle

A few notes:
  • For the free entry, please enter "Em Busy Living" as your blog of entry. This helps Jae know which blog you're entering from.
  • This giveaway is open internationally to anyone 18+ with a PayPal account.
  • Giveaway ends Monday, February 29th at 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time.
  • All entries will be checked and double-checked! No cheating :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Weekly Roundup | Write Creative

Friday, February 19, 2016


This week was incredibly productive, creatively. Once again my mind is spinning with how many projects I have lined up to work on, both for myself and for others. For one, I'm making the big, scary move to Wordpress soon. Instead of designing and developing my own, I took the easy route and purchased a really nice theme that I can customize as my own. I hope I can get everything moved over sooner than later!

Secondly, I started writing! It's crazy to think about (for me,) but for the first time I've actually started writing a backstory, world building, and developing characters for a story that has been rattling around in my head for a while. No, this isn't the historical fiction I spoke with some about, but a completely different kind of story altogether. I haven't totally shelved the historical fiction idea, but that story is too close to my heart for it to be my first actual foray into writing like this. I hope to share more on all of this soon.

Random: I played laser tag for the first time this week for my friend Evon's birthday. What have I been doing all of my life, never having played laser tag? It was so much fun.

ICYMI
  • I shared my personal adoption story on Monday, the first post of my series called "Ask an Adoptee." Thank you so much for all of the supportive and kind comments! You've made me feel brave for putting it all out there. I have a post lined up for another question, but I'm anxious about putting that one out there. All of this is really intense for me for some reason. Again, thank you. And thank you for your patience.

Watching
  • The Walking Dead YOU GUYS. The mid-season premiere was so insane. Never has so much happened in such a short amount of time on that show. If you watch the show and haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for!?
  • Brooklyn After reading the book, I couldn't wait to go see the film. Now I know why it has been nominated for so many awards! (It also has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) It was so sweet. I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry...

Blog Love

On the Internets

"Ask an Adoptee" Series | My Personal Adoption Story

Monday, February 15, 2016

When I randomly opened the floor to all sorts of adoption questions several weeks ago I was surprised by how many serious and in-depth questions I received. I'm sorry it has taken me to long to begin this series, but I've struggled trying to figure out how and how often to fit this subject into my blog, which is usually focused on my current life, books, some travel, and exploring places near where I live.

Sometimes talking about my experience and the subject of adoption in general can be emotionally exhausting. Because of this, I do not want to make adoption a main focus of my blog, and cannot guarantee that this will be a topic I bring up frequently. If you have come to my blog as a new reader because you are looking for more information about adoption, please enjoy this series, but don't stick around expecting it to become a major topic of discussion. (I hope you will enjoy my blog for what it is as a whole and stick around anyway! I blog about books I'm reading, what I'm up to, and throw in a few city guides sometimes!)

Anyway, because this isn't a topic I've approached very much at all, it makes sense to start this series with the questions I've received asking me to explain more about my own adoption story before I start delving into deeper subjects. (Seriously guys, some of these questions are so hard!)

As a disclaimer, I'd first like to mention that I am in no way, shape, or form a psychologist. Besides researching adoption-related things on my own and taking a few psychology classes in college, I am not licensed to give any clinical advice pertaining to this subject. Please take this series for what it is: an adoptee using my own experience to discuss this subject in my own way.

Weekly Roundup | Busy Bee

Friday, February 12, 2016

Em Busy Living | Weekly Roundup January 12, 2016

It has been one of those weeks where I don't know where the time has gone. My to-do list is leaning toward ridiculous and most of the things I'm adding are long-term projects that I won't be checking off anytime soon. I find myself feeling guilty for focusing on some tasks instead of others. Besides that, I'm feeling really optimistic lately! It's been a really great week.

I had two interviews this past week! Crossing my fingers. They would both be great jobs.

One of my good friends from high school (and one-time roommate) came over with his girlfriend and their son on Wednesday night. It was great catching up, meeting his little family, and enjoying the fact that I have some pretty great friends in this city. I cooked dinner using a really simple recipe I found for homemade meatballs and was really excited about how tasty everything turned out.

ICYMI

Watching
  • War & Peace The BBC recently redid this Tolstoy classic as a mini-series, shown here in the US on Lifetime, A&E, and the History Channel. There are four two-hour episodes, and despite mixed reviews, I really enjoyed it. It stars Lily James (Cinderella, Downton Abbey), Paul Dano (Love & Mercy, 12 Years a Slave), and James Norton (Grantchester, Belle). You can watch it online with a cable provider log-in. (Title above links to Lifetime.)
  • Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates (trailer) I have two friends named Mike and Davy who are in a band named "Mike and Dave Save the Day," so we all thought this was an especially funny coincidence. I love the cast in this upcoming comedy: Adam DeVine (Workaholics, Modern Family), Zac Efron (Neighbors, The Lucky One), Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Into the Woods), and Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Rec, Safety Not Guaranteed). 

Reading
  • Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard After reading Red Queen in January, I immediately pre-ordered this sequel. I'm only a little ways in, but I'm already hooked. You can read my review of Red Queen on my post Monthly Reads: January.

Blog Love

On the Internets

Exploring Richmond's Shockoe Slip

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Exploring Richmond, Virginia's Shockoe Slip | EmBusyLiving.com

Richmond has so many neighborhoods. With the revitalization of downtown and many surrounding neighborhoods—each with their own feel, history, and flavor—it can be difficult to keep them all straight and to decide where to start exploring first. I decided to start with the neighborhood closest to me, Shockoe Slip.

Shockoe Slip is a very small neighborhood in the historic downtown area. According to the district's website, "Shockoe" is derived from the Native American word "Shacquohocan," their word for the large stones along the waterfront of the James River, and the "Slip" part refers to the the fact that this area once contained the locks system that brought merchant and passenger boats up into the loading basin that was once nearby on Main Street. The borders of this area are Main Street to the North, Canal and Byrd Streets to the South, 15th Street to the East, and 12th Street to the West, so it's a pretty tiny district.

Exploring Richmond, Virginia's Shockoe Slip | EmBusyLiving.com

The original Shockoe Slip area was built prior to the Civil War, but was destroyed when the majority of the city was burnt down during the war as a way of stopping Union soldiers from obtaining anything from its many supply warehouses. After the war the city was rebuilt and many of the buildings standing today are those that were built from the ashes in the 1860s. The architecture here is of the "Italianate" style.

The main little "strip" of Shockoe Slip is contained along Cary Street between 12th and 14th Streets. This small two-block-long street is made up of old "Belgian Blocks," which I've recently learned are not to be confused with cobblestones. (The more you know...) These two blocks are lined with locally owned restaurants, shops, and the beautiful Berkeley Hotel. The neighborhood might be small, but it packs a lot in. While I haven't experienced many of the places here yet in terms of eating and shopping, I'm excited to know that I can simply walk a few blocks to try them out.

So far I have visited, and am a fan of the following:
  • Fountain Bookstore 1312 E Cary Street | Small local bookstore selling a great selection of books, including many (and some signed) by local authors.
  • Citizen 1203 E Main Street | Fresh food made from scratch. Great pork tacos and popular for cocktails.
  • Jo-Jo's Pizza 1201 E Main Street | Pizza by the slice. The barbecue chicken pizza is so tasty.
  • Siné Irish Pub 1327 E Cary Street | Irish pub food. My friend Jared highly recommends their fish and chips.
  • Urban Farmhouse Market & Cafe 1217 E Cary Street | Coffee shop and cafe serving soups, sandwiches, and other small plates using local and fresh ingredients. Lots of vegetarian and vegan options.

There are so many more places in this neighborhood I need to try out, from Shockoe Slip Yoga to Mom's Siam Thai restaurant. There are also several attractions here, from the Canal Cruises a block south along the Canal Walk (or just the Canal Walk itself!) to the Haunts of Richmond ghost tour. Again, I'm amazed how much history and things to explore and/or try can be packed into such a tiny downtown district. I don't know that someone should visit with the intention of spending an entire day in this neighborhood, but it would definitely be enough to fill an afternoon, especially with a long canal-front walk after a tasty lunch!

Exploring Richmond, Virginia's Shockoe Slip | EmBusyLiving.com
Exploring Richmond, Virginia's Shockoe Slip | EmBusyLiving.com
Exploring Richmond, Virginia's Shockoe Slip | EmBusyLiving.com


Here are a few more places I've heard are highly recommended, along with a few more links to things to do and places to stay in the heart of Shockoe Slip. Zip Code 23219.

Lodging

Restaurants

To Do & See

There are several parking garages in the area: 111 S 12th Street, 100 Virginia Street, 1422 E Cary Street

Love the Past, Embrace the Present

Monday, February 8, 2016

Love the Past, Embrace the Present | Em Busy Living

We've been settled in Richmond for a month(!) now and life has returned to such a foreign state of calmness for me that I almost don't know how to deal with it. With our lives in such disarray and so unsettled for the last five months of 2015, a quiet month of routine and this newfound stability is a treasure.

Sometimes the days lean towards boring, but I'm trying to enjoy them as much as I can because (hopefully) I'll soon be employed and wishing for a day off to cook and clean and dance around the apartment as I do so.

Do you ever have so many things in mind that you want to do that you almost don't even know where to start? That's how I'm feeling lately. I'm almost overwhelmed with the number of things I'm excited to dive into and it's a wonderful feeling to know that my feet are planted enough in one place to start building a solid life here. I just wanted to come to this space today and throw it all out there.

Love the Past, Embrace the Present | Em Busy Living

Many of my goals for 2016 are tied to the idea that we've found a permanent place to call home. (At least for the foreseeable future.) Unlike when we moved to California, or even New York, we didn't move to Richmond with the idea that we'd just hang out here a couple of years and then move on to the next thing. I had forgotten what it felt like to let yourself grow roots without the caution of future heartbreak. When you know it's not forever, you tend to keep your guard up: don't love this place too much, don't make too many friends that you'll hate leaving. It's both a wonderful and terrible thing, loving and leaving a place you've called home.

I have missed California a lot lately, though. I miss our apartment specifically, and having the big sliding glass door open, the breeze blowing in year-round. I miss the palm trees and the dirt-covered mountains to the east, the ocean just twelve miles west. I miss Pieology pizza and Hawaiian bowls from Wahoo's Fish Taco and DK Donuts and eating takeout from Pick Up Stix way too often. (We clearly ate very healthy in California.) I miss the map of Tustin and how I knew how to get anywhere, from our grocery store to the post office to the perfect place to park in Huntington...I don't want to forget it. I don't want to forget knowing which ramp to use to get onto the freeway to go to the Spectrum or the frustration of driving through the canyon trying to get to Laguna Beach. I don't want to forget feeling like it was mine: my neighborhood, my Target, my favorite exit for less traffic to the beach. I just want California to always be a part of me, and while I know it always will, I don't want to forget the little details that I know will fade with time. Now that I have lots of time to think about it, and a new city to discover and learn my way around, I'm once again mourning the loss of leaving a place I loved.

Love the Past, Embrace the Present | Em Busy Living

But with that loss comes so much excitement. My family and friends from my hometown and Roanoke can visit any time they like, and I can do the same! I've found a local artist collective here in Richmond that offers workshops and classes on all things print-related, from photography to typography to screen-printing, and I can't wait to dive into some of those classes. I love exploring the city around me, from walking to Shockoe Slip to take photos of the architecture to driving up to Carytown to try a new restaurant for dinner. On a mission to do more freelance work, I'm taking on a marketing project for a cousin in an attempt to grow her business through social media...we'll see how that goes and how I can possibly develop that service into my own business. I'm planning future travel, and working out how to save up the funds to do so. I'm writing and reading and cooking new things, blossoming into this new person who has so much potential for growth in any direction I'd like. The possibilities seem endless, and I'm thriving and overwhelmed with that thought. It's incredible.

And as for this space...I have so many ideas. As I moved old projects and photos over to our external hard drive yesterday I came across so many memories. I found photos of past trips that I'd love to share on this blog (Miami! Switzerland!), as well as things I prepared from our time in New York. (I still have so much to share from that experience!) I want to explore Richmond and share a ton about this great city, from the murals that can be found everywhere to the great local dining and shopping scene. I also spontaneously accepted a ton of questions relating to adoption (as random as that seems for this space, though a huge part of my identity,) and I hope to do a series on my answers to those in some way soon. (Monthly? Twice monthly? What seems appropriate?) Where do I even start!? With all of it! The road ahead is wide open for me, and I've never felt so bold and ready to take it all on.

Today I'm letting myself sink into all of this nostalgia. It feels so good, and the future feels promising.

Weekly Roundup | Nostalgia is Tough

Friday, February 5, 2016

Em Busy Living | Weekly Roundup, Nostalgia

It's been a nostalgic week for me over here. I woke up thinking about California several days in a row. If you'd like to reminisce with me, here's a good place to start. I just really miss waking up with our windows open, a slight breeze blowing through and the sounds of parrots in the trees outside my window. I'm serious, we had wild parrots! I also miss our balcony, having Audrey kitty follow me around the apartment, and the almost guaranteed 72˚ weather. I miss exploring nearby towns with Chels. I have to stop now...I'll drive myself crazy doing this! I need to find a hobby, stat.

My brother and his wife are visiting this weekend! I'm excited to get out and see more of Richmond and enjoy the fact that my brother can just pop in and visit us for a weekend with only a two hour drive. See? We moved here for a really good reason! I still have a lot of adjusting to do.

ICYMI
  • On Monday I shared January's edition of Monthly Reads, a recap and series of short reviews of everything I read last month. I think I burned myself out after reading non-stop for the past few weeks, so I've put the books down for a while for my sanity.

Listening To

Watching (Trailers)
  • The Lady in the Van Based on a true story, British author/screenwriter Alan Bennet recounted memories of the homeless lady who lived in a van outside his London home, now brought to you in movie form. Starring Alex Jennings (The Queen) and the illustrious Dame Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey).
  • Me Before You Get ready to ugly cry. Based on the novel of the same name by Jojo Moyes, this story follows Louisa as she takes a job as a caregiver for a paraplegic, William, and the friendship that blossoms from their time spent together. It stars Emelia Clark (Game of Thrones) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games series), who clearly have some serious chemistry. There's also a Brendan Coyle (Bates from Downton) cameo, so I'm sold.
  • Kubo and the Two Strings This one will be kid-friendly, but I know adults who are rushing to it. This animation by LAIKA studios almost looks like claymation, but it's so beautiful. The story is filled with magic, action, and adventure and the characters are voiced by Rooney Mara, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Minae Noji, Art Parkinson, George Takei, and many, many more.

Blog Love

On the Internets

Monthly Reads | January

Monday, February 1, 2016

My reading habit really dropped off in the fall, which was both expected and unexpected in ways. I've been determined to get back into reading this year and have set my Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal at 30 books this year. The fact that I've read four books in January alone gives me hope that I'll reach my goals with no problem this year.

* Post contains affiliate links *

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Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
With my goal of spending more time on creativity this year, I decided that the best way to kick off 2016 was to dive into Elizabeth Gilbert's newest trending book, Big Magic. It seems like everyone has been reading this book, and with good reason. Although it has mixed reviews, I am one who immediately gave it five stars.

I love Liz Gilbert's way with words. She has a wonderful way of constructing even the simplest sentences with such preciseness and utmost effectiveness. As an aspiring writer myself, I'm always anxious not only to drink up all of her advice on life and creativity, but to also study her writing style. What a wonderful combination of advice and example!

Many times throughout Ms Gilbert's guide, I felt as though she were speaking directly to me. What are you waiting for? Do not be afraid to begin your creative journey. There is no time like the present. Things do not have to be perfectly lined up in your life before you can start. I'm more inspired than ever and ready to put pen to paper myself. Thank you Big Magic!

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
This book was trending so hard in 2015 that I don't know how I haven't read it before now. Having only been on the shelves for a solid year, the corresponding movie is already set to premiere in October this year. (And you know I have to read a book before I see the movie!) The movie will be starring Emily Blunt as main character Rachel and will also star Laura Prepon (OITNB), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible), Luke Evans (The Hobbit), Haley Bennett (The Equalizer), Justin Theroux (American Psycho), and many more names you will definitely recognize.

Honestly, it took me a while to get into this book. I read it quickly and steadily, but I had a very hard time liking or finding any sympathy for the main character. This may come as no surprise to you if you've read the book, and I do know that part of this story's genius is that it is told from this character's perspective. I won't go into details on why this character is difficult to love (no spoilers here!) but you do end up finding her more likable by the end.

The Girl on the Train is a twisted mystery, jumping from one point-of-view to another in order to shape and reshape the story before you. Frequently likened to Gone Girl, this one definitely keeps you guessing until the very end; I was unable to piece together the truths of this story until the characters started doing so themselves. While it wasn't one of my favorite books, it will make a fantastic movie.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
You may notice a trend here: everything I've read so far this month was extremely popular in 2015. It just took me this long to get my hands on them (and the time to dedicate to reading). Red Queen was no exception, showing up in countless review lists and plastered all over popular book-centered Instagrams.

This book has similar themes to other books I've read, but Aveyard has accomplished what so many authors who admire greats like Tolkien and R.R. Martin only wish to do: she has successfully created her own world, full of it's own rules. There is magic and power, a caste system dividing the population, and one ordinary girl who is thrown into a very unordinary world. There are predictable parts of this storyline (a futuristic war-torn world on the brink of revolution) but there were twists that threw me and that I never saw coming. Book two, Glass Sword, hits shelves February 9th and I've already pre-ordered my copy. I can't wait to see what happens to the characters. (And I wouldn't be shocked to see it as a movie in the future!)

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Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
This book is one that I was unaware of until the movie was already in theatres, but that didn't stop me from looking it up and ordering a copy! I don't always have to read the book first, but it sounded like such a great story and I wanted to hear it from the author's perspective.

Here's a link to the trailer for the film, by the way. It looks so good and I can't wait to see it! I've heard great things and it has been nominated for several awards this season.

This story is sweet, heartbreaking, and nostalgic. Somehow, Tóibín manages with great success to depict the internal struggles of a young girl as she deals with homesickness, the hurdles of a new life (in a new city and new country), and cautiously falling in love. I felt that I myself could have written the descriptions of what homesickness feels like, teetering back and forth between the good days and the bad. I could also relate to the struggle to define "home," to decide which path to take when presented with the opportunity to return to a more familiar, comfortable life, and the feelings that home isn't ever the same as it was when you left it. This is a must-read for anyone who has moved far away, or even for someone who hasn't.

Weekly Roundup | Crazy Lazy

Friday, January 29, 2016


It's been a lazy week. I've been a bit down and spending lots of time curled up in bed. Our friend Jared came into town Tuesday night and caught us up on his life. We wandered around a bit on Wednesday, showing him a bit of our new neighborhood and trying an Irish pub for lunch. I'm so excited that we're not too far away from friends anymore.

The Christmas package I shipped to my friend Di in the Netherlands finally arrived on Wednesday, a month late and soaking wet. Does anyone have experience filing claims with international shipping carriers?

I cooked like crazy this week. A huge shopping list and trip resulted in my being able to make all sorts of recipes I found on Pinterest, like this pasta (which was unexpectedly very spicy.this pot roast, and this tasty broccoli cheddar soup. (Seriously amazing!)

ICYMI
  • On Tuesday I shared photos I took of our snowy weekend, including a few shots of some of the awesome street art near the canal walk. Richmond is seriously such a cool city.
  • I have received a ton of really thoughtful questions on my Adoptee survey. Thank you! I wasn't expecting such in-depth questions (or quite so many). Click over if you're still curious; I'll keep the survey open another week or so.

Listening To
  • Matter by St. Lucia I'm so excited for the rest of this album to release. Four songs were immediately available with my pre-order and Dancing on Glass is already a favorite.
  • Colourblind by Hands Like Houses This is the first single from their new album, Dissonants. I can't wait to listen to the rest and hope they come nearby on tour soon!

Blog Love

On the Internets

I'm linking up with Anne from Love the Here and Now for this week's Blogger Love link-up.