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So I’ve had this site for a long time. I used to write pretty regularly, no matter how busy I was. I always seemed to have something to talk about, whether it was about awesome musicians, the Endangered Wolf Center, Michigan and the Great Lakes, or some other obsession of mine.

Then life happened.

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Pluto 2015Greetings, fellow Earthlings! 🙂

You might have heard yesterday that history was made, especially for us here in the United States, as a NASA spacecraft successfully passed through Pluto’s solar system and was able to take some neat photos of the planet. The U.S. is the first nation to have reached Pluto (although no one has actually landed on it – yet), and we have now reached and photographed every planet in our system. Yay!

While we have a cool picture of Pluto to admire for now, it will take about 16 months for measurements of the dwarf planet to be transmitted back to us. A few days ago, however, it has been determined that the planet is “somewhat larger than many prior estimates,” according to a mission update that was issued earlier this week.

In the meantime, we humans are having a bit too much fun with the photo shot of Pluto. Here are a few of my favorites!

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Credit given to Brawl In The Family

Credit given to Brawl In The Family

For as long as I’ve known, Nintendo and its many fun games have been a huge part of my life. From receiving my very first system when I was a little kid for Christmas (the SNES – had to share it with my big brother) to the endless tournaments and Smash Brothers battles with my friends after college, Nintendo had shaped my childhood and has given me the best friends I could ever ask for.

To say that I was sad to hear that Satoru Iwata had passed away this weekend is an understatement. I’ll admit, though – I don’t know a lot about the behind-the-scenes of Nintendo; I just play the games. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not appreciative of all the hard work, creativity, and ingenuity that Nintendo and its many wonderful people possess. I learned, though, that many of the games I grew up with were thanks, in one way or another, to Iwata-san. Hearing that the person who had his hands in many different games I love had died shook me, my husband, and my many gaming friends.

Last night, I started thinking about all the games that Iwata-san touched and the memories I have because of those games. Here are some of my favorite games/memories:

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If you know me, you know that I hate summer. It’s my least favorite season of all. I don’t like being hot, and I hate being chased by inquisitive, brave insects (especially those doggone wasps!). Don’t get me wrong, I love having longer periods of light, but I really just hate the hot, sticky days of summer and all those mosquitoes just waiting to bite my poor body.

Instead of grumping the whole time through summer, I try to see the positives. Summer is the time when I can hang out with my friends in a local park while my husband plays onstage with the town’s municipal band. It’s great dress-wearing weather, and I have more ability to walk outside, especially once the sun starts going down (and not freeze, that is).

Music is a super important facet of my life. Oftentimes, songs will evoke certain imagery in my head (and I try to draw them out) or the reverse will happen – an event that occurred while that song or band was playing will imprint itself on the song, and it will always have an association with that song. That’s happened quite a bit, even in the summer.

With that, here are the best 25 summertime songs for me (arranged alphabetically by title):

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Grande Peacock Cake You might remember me talking about my friend Nathan a few years ago. He’s the insanely talented guy who whips up amazing snow creatures every time there’s a substantial snowfall in his area. In fact, since I last mentioned him, he’s made a snow griffin, a snow queen based on The Chronicles of Narnia, a howling wolf, a lion, and even the head of Queen Elizabeth II!

For the longest time, Nathan has been making cakes. He’s made them ever since I’ve known him in college. I would find him preparing plans for the next cake for a family member’s birthday or a friend’s wedding, or sometimes I would ask if he wanted to hang out, and he would say, “Sorry, IggyNapster! I’ve got to take someone’s cake to their wedding!” or “I need to make the top tier of this one cake I’m working on!” And that’s okay, especially because he wound up making my wedding cake almost five years ago (and it was beautiful AND delicious!). 🙂

Peacock cake face 1I knew Nathan was talented – anyone with eyes could see that – but every time I see a work of his, his talent just keeps getting more and more honed. His recent endeavor is this magnificent peacock cake that he made for someone’s wedding. When I saw this photo, I had a really hard time believing that the bird was actually made of frosting. I mean, really, do you see how real that looks?! It really looks as if some life is reflected back in those marble-like eyes, like it’s staring at you magnanimously, imparting some long-hidden wisdom onto you, the privileged viewer, before it leaps into the air, spreads its wings, and vanishes.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it would be an easy task for me to take a knife to this cake. It’s such a beautiful work of art… but then again, I wouldn’t want it to go to waste, so I would certainly feel compelled to eat it. That and seriously, his cake is THE BEST cake I have ever eaten in my entire life. And I like me some cake.

Peacock Cake Face 2Anyway, as far as I know from Nathan, his cake-making days are nearing their end. While he enjoys making these gorgeous creations that bring smiles to everyone’s faces and awaken a sense of awe in ourselves, he laments that it is a very stressful endeavor. Knowing how Nathan operates, I could see how it would take a toll on him. He cares that deeply for not only his art but also for the person he has intended it for. It’s nothing but the absolute best for the ones he cares for, and I truly admire him for that.

Whatever Nathan goes on to do, I know it’s going to turn some heads. You just can’t ignore talent like that. If you want to see more about Nathan and his cakes, check out this awesome news clip! And to my “little brother” Nathan, thank you for sharing your talent with the world, and never ever stop!

Photo credit goes to the Washington Post.

Photo credit goes to the Washington Post.

If you asked me 7 years ago who Sufjan Stevens is, I would’ve probably given you a weird look and said, “Uhh… I dunno? Is this a trick question?” I was still firmly rooted in the world of Genesis and music done by the many members of Genesis. Not to diss on Genesis at all – their work is amazing! But my world was also very small.

It wasn’t until November 2008 that my friend (who wound up becoming my husband) told me about this amazing musician named Sufjan. He played a few songs from the Illinois(e) album in his car, most specifically “Chicago” and “The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders.” He showed me “Chicago” because he figured I’d dig the groove, and he gleefully showed me “The Tallest Man” specifically because of the time signature. I had admitted it was cool, but I wasn’t ready to open up my little world yet.

“Here. I’m giving this to you. Give it a chance, okay?” he said.

A few weeks later, I drove myself to school (I was a teacher then) with that CD in my car. Slowly crunching through the snow, I wondered which track that one song I liked was. I searched and searched, forgetting what the intro sounded like, and found it just as I pulled into the parking lot (it was a very short drive – less than a mile). There was something about that song that wouldn’t leave me alone. I had to keep listening to it and had to dissect the layers of vocals and instrumentation. Even when I visited Chicago with a few friends that December, I couldn’t help thinking about that song and humming the chorus as we trudged in snow toward the Field Museum. To this day, that song conjures up images of the beautiful Windy City blanketed in snow.

I wouldn’t realize the profound effect that Sufjan and his music would have on my life, but he slowly crept more and more into my life. After Illinois(e), I was exposed to Seven Swans, specifically “Seven Swans” and “The Transfiguration.” Then in the summer, I was given a burned copy of Michigan. I would find myself saying, “I’m gonna put that one Suf-jam guy on, I think,” and would start listening to his music. “Dear Mr. Supercomputer” would play when I raced to the gym in wintertime. “Decatur” came on when I drove to visit my best friend when he lived in Champaign (I actually wound up blaring that song with the windows down when I went through Decatur, which was a huge mistake because that city was… well, stinky.). “The Mistress Witch of McClure” would play in between class times as I waited for my next class to come in and take their seats. Slowly, this wonderfully talented musician began to permeate my life, and I wasn’t even entirely aware of it.

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Hello there, fellow readers! I just wanted to take a quick minute to announce that I’m back after a short hiatus. I had taken a much-needed vacation and have just returned. I promise I will be updating you with lots of juicy stories including my journey in and around Kansas City, the joys of authentic barbecue, and, of course, fulfilling yet ANOTHER dream by going to a Tigers game! 😀

See you all soon! There will be pictures and all sorts of debauchery awaiting you soon!