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 You may have also noticed a post I published and quickly unpublished earlier this week titled "A Post Where I Complain and Feel Sorry for Myself," in which I did exactly that. You may have also noticed that you could click on it and read it in full on Bloglovin' because even though I unpublished it here, I didn't think to delete it there.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The reason I unpublished it is because I try really, really hard for this to be a positive space.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...


  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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."

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