Last Sunday, I returned from one of the best trips of my life: a week of immersion in the Spanish language spent in Oaxaca, Mexico with my class. Normally, when I tell people this, they react with absolute shock and confusion– some school took a bunch of teenagers to Mexico? Who does that?

Let it be known to the world that no, in fact, I did not sit around on a beach all day. We had school (if you count two hours of Spanish class in the morning school), so it’s not like this was some kind of opportunity to slack off, and in the afternoons, we set off on tours of museums, ancient archaeological sites, and marketplaces crowded with locals and tourists alike. Our meals and any extra time on our hands we spent with our host families.

Oaxaca is gorgeous. I can’t say that enough. The architecture is beautiful and a single building is about a thousand times more colorful than the entirety of Chicago. Everyone was really nice, too. Our Spanish was only a little step up from rudimentary (or mine was, at least), but people took it in their stride, waiting patiently as I struggled to find the right words to say something.

I don’t want to waste your time going on and on about the things I learned, the things I saw– it could take several days to read it all. But if there’s one thing I could say to wrap it all up, it would be that this was an experience I’ll never forget.

I’m taking the next couple of weeks off for spring break, so I won’t be posting for a while. Let’s hope that April’s better to us than March: we’ve still got snow here, after all.

The 777 Writing Challenge

I’ve been stuck with an awful cold for the past couple of days, so I’m not going to try and write an eloquent, beautiful post today for fear of accidentally making absolutely no sense (which has happened on occasion). Instead, I’m going to do a tag I saw the other day on The Librarian Files (for your information, I was not tagged, I’m just lazy and sick and unable to write anything decent today, which is why I’m doing this tag. Plus, it looked like fun.) Here are the rules:

The 777 challenge requires you go to Page 7 of your work-in-progress (whether writing or editing), scroll down to Line 7 and share the next 7 lines in a blog post. Once you have done this, you can tag 7 other bloggers to do the same with their work-in-progress.

Here’s my excerpt, from the unnamed work-in-progress I’m about three-quarters of the way through drafting right now:

“Lucky for me, I won’t end up having to fight anyone anytime soon. I’ve got plenty of time.”

“The time may come sooner than you expect.”

“Well, I’m glad to see you so positive about things.”

“There’s no need to be so sarcastic, Siri. I’m being realistic. It’d be better for you to know it and not need it than to have your life depend on it and not know a single thing.”

Siri opened her mouth to retort, but the sound of clicking heels echoed down the passage, and she closed it abruptly.

The footsteps stopped, then started again, this time closer than before.

“Out of the hallway,” Katia hissed. She flung open the barred door of Siri’s cell and shoved her inside. Siri heard the turn of a key, and then the sound of light feet on the floor, growing distant as her sister darted away.

And now for my seven tag-ees:

Rohan at Writing Stories Rocks

Victoria at Stori Tori’s Blog

Rachel at Stained Glass Windows

Rae at What Happened to the Wallflower?

Red at Awkwardly Artistic

Katherine at Spiral-Bound

And (drum roll please) . . .


Hopefully I’ll be not-as-sick and able to speak in comprehensible sentences pretty soon, since I’m planning a longer and more time-consuming post for Friday as a little sign-off before I take a week or so long spring break from blogging. If I’m still watching Netflix in a haze of sickness on my bed, though, it’s probably going to be a little simpler, but regardless, I’ll see you on Friday.

Sunday Posts Poll

As regular readers of my blog know, I generally post craft-oriented stuff on Sundays: sometimes tutorials, sometimes recipes, sometimes lists of related links. I was taking a look over my past Sunday posts, and I started wondering, what would you  like to see more of on my Sunday posts? Take a minute to answer my survey below to make sure that I post the kind of content you’re looking for, and I’ll do my best to take it into consideration while planning future blog posts.

Body Image

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about an issue that affects women (and some men as well) all over the globe: body image. I thought that because it’s such an important topic in our current society, today, in honor of women’s history month, I’d post my own thoughts on the topic.

The media constantly bombards us with photoshopped pictures of the ideal image of Western beauty– teeny-tiny waist, long thin limbs, unnaturally long necks, a weight of 90 pounds soaking wet, and a ‘natural’ set of size-H boobs. Right. Natural.

And then there are the pictures of ‘fitspo’ and the like floating around the internet, cramming into the feeds of every single social media site in existence, of girls with thigh gaps and stomach bridges and ribs sticking out of their torsos, the majority of them effects of serious eating disorders.

As much as you may try to ignore these pictures and the accompanying comments people make, they have a habit of burrowing into your head and whispering soul-crushing thoughts without your notice until it’s too late.

Everyone has their Kryptonite.

Mine just happens to be my height. It’s the first thing anyone ever notices about me– “You’re so tall,” they say. All I have to do is look in the mirror, but for some reason, people think I’m blind to the fact and that it’s their duty to humankind to alert me to it. When I blush, embarrassed, they rush to say that it’s a good thing. There are people who would kill to be that tall.

But they never say a word about anything else. I would so much rather have people call me smart, overly sarcastic, a hard worker, a good writer . . . anything other than tall. I never had problems with weight or anything like that, but sometimes the full novelty of my height will hit me and all I want to do is shrink to the size of an ant to stop all the comments and exclamations that follow me everywhere I go.

And then I thought, why do I care? If that’s all they notice about me, let them do that. If they can’t see past that shell of a person to what lies beneath, they’re probably shallow and ignorant, and I don’t need those kinds of people in my life. I still have the episodes when all I want to do is hide away and return, but it’s much better now.

So for all you people out there struggling with body image, and even for those of you who aren’t, I want you to take a nice long look in the mirror, face that Kryptonite, and tell yourself that no matter what the world says, you are more than the shell that defines you. You are strong, kind, smart, daring . . . the list goes on forever.

Don’t forget it.

Body Image-- Olivia Simone

My Top 5 Writing Tools

I only have time for a quick post, so today, I’ll be sharing a list of my favorite writing tools.

Google Drive

I used to write with Microsoft, and although Microsoft’s more visually appealing, I find that Google Drive is way easier to use. It saves automatically and it’s easily accessible from anywhere as long as you have access to internet. I especially like the comments feature, which I use all the time to make notes to myself as I write.

Writing Blogs

A couple weeks ago, I talked about my top 5 writing blogs. Usually, when I get stuck with my writing, I turn to that assortment of blogs to re-energize. I’ve learned a lot just from reading them on a regular basis, from how to get past writer’s block to how to clarify your theme to how exactly you get started in the publishing process.


I can’t stand writing in silence, so most of the time, I use music to get me into the mood for whatever I’m writing. I found that Youtube is great for this— it’s completely free and there’s a huge variety of music for any taste.


I’m 99.9% sure that Pinterest is one of the main reasons I procrastinate so much, so I was absolutely thrilled when I realized that I could use it as a writing tool and consider it working to create mood boards and character boards and pretty much anything else I need inspiration for.

Paper and Pencil

Yup, you read that right. I may like to write on the computer, but paper and pencil will be vital to writing forever. Whether I’m working out a plot, a timeline, a character, whatever, being able to visually map out something helps me see it clearer, and in turn, write it more clearly. There’s something very satisfying about starting with a fresh sheet of notebook paper and drawing all over it with little bubbles and scrawled words and arrows pointing in every direction.

My Top 5 Writing Tools-- Olivia Simone

I hope you enjoyed today’s post, and I’ll see you on Friday.

Quick Crochet Baskets

I’ve got another quick project for today: crocheted baskets. I’m hardly an expert when it comes to crochet (most of my projects are knitted or sewn for that reason), but even I found these baskets super easy to make. In the past, I’ve used them as weird little reusable gift bags: I lined them with tissue paper and filled them with an assortment of nail polish, mini bottles of hand lotion, chocolates, and all sorts of adorable little mini things (I can’t tell you how much I love the travel aisle of Walgreens). I’m planning to use my most recent one for storage– probably to corral the random objects that mysteriously collect on my bedside table. I added little crocheted handles to mine which although not mentioned in the pattern are easy enough to recreate.


Here’s the pattern:


  • bulky yarn (I used the heaviest I could find in my stash)
  • 6.50 mm crochet hook

Finished Dimensions

6″ tall by 6″ wide by 18″ diameter


This pattern is worked in double crochet unless noted otherwise.

Basket Pattern

  1. chain 8, connect ends
  2. chain 2
  3. 10 sts
  4. chain 2 and turn
  5. 20 sts (2 per hole)
  6. chain 2 and turn
  7. single crochet 20 sts (this forms the corner of the basket)
  8. chain 2 and turn
  9. 20 sts
  10. repeat steps 8 and 9 four times
  11. single crochet 20 sts (this forms the edge)

Quick Crochet Baskets-- Olivia Simone

It finally feels like spring here, and only a few little lumps of grayish snow currently decorate the streets and sidewalks, slowly melting away as the days pass by. Only two more weeks until spring break and endless hours to spend on Pinterest and (hopefully) writing. I hope that wherever you are, it’s warm and spring-like too.

On Spring

So I know I promised a longer post for today, but I may have to go back a bit on that promise, although the promised post will come out next Friday.

I found a quote while poking around the internet the other day that I thought especially fitting for this time of year.

On Spring-- Olivia Simone

Too many times we get all wrapped up in school and work and everything else and end up finding ourselves too busy to relax. We’re too busy running around in circles trying to get everything done, and all of a sudden, it’s summer and we’ve lost our chance of seeing a single glimpse of spring until the next year . . . when the same exact thing will happen.

This year, I’ve vowed to take at least some time to relax and get outside out of my schedule. It’s going to be difficult, since my schedule includes balancing school, dance, homework, writing, blogging, Pinterest, and Netflix, but I’ve found that even 5 to 10 minutes makes a huge difference. It may not be a hike through the woods or a full-on kayaking trip, but walking instead of driving when the weather is nice (if you live in a nice neighborhood), or even opening your windows wide open for the wind to drift in and send papers flying all over the room.

Take some time this spring to relax and ‘smell like dirt’ at the end of the day, and let me know how it works out for you.