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So you want to teach yourself Japanese? Part One

I took a year of Japanese in university - and in that year of intense study and group projects I had mastered hiragana, katakana, and some Kanji. I was doing well. Then the class was over and I no longer had an opportunity to use what I had learned.

90% of my fluency went up in smoke.

One of my 2019 goals is to re-learn all that Japanese fluency that I lost. I'm pretty much starting from scratch, so if you're also interested in teaching yourself Japanese, I invite you to come along on this journey with me.

Materials:

GENKI: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, 2nd Edition
GENKI: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese, Workbook
JapanesePod101 and their Youtube Channel
Memrise.com - Japanese
DuoLingo App - Japanese
Essential Japanese - but ONLY for the audio CD

I also have a variety of handouts, practice sheets, and some flash cards from my old university class. I will strive to provide links to those resources as I'm able to locate them! 

げんきですね〜
I found this fun graphi…

Losing Out in Lowertown - Goodbye to Kelly's Depot Bar

In operation since 1989, Kelly's has been an institution in downtown St. Paul, serving up simple pub fare and a limited number of local taps to an unpretentious crowd who are, in all likelihood, more family than strangers.

But on April 30th, Kelly's will close their doors for good.


The first time I had a chance to visit Kelly's Depot Bar was in 2016 when I first moved to St. Paul. My then significant other worked out of a location based in the area and they would frequently gather at this pub after a long shift to decompress. I can easily see why this was the place to be - after a day of being berated and pushed around by the general public, one could easily relax among this crowd of ordinary working folks.

On the corner of Wacouta and Kellogg, Kelly's Depot Bar sits right across the street from Union Depot - which used to be a hub for transportation by train back in the day and now mostly just shuffles people by bus around the city and maybe out to Chicago or the nea…

Four Ways to Protect Yourself from Negative Energy

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may get a small commission at no extra cost to you.*

It's 2019 and unless you've been on a digital detox or holed away in some cozy cabin off the grid, you know there's a lot of toxic and negative energy in the world these days. We encounter it everywhere - at work, at the coffee shop, and even online in our social media communities.

While it may be difficult to avoid coming into contact with any negative energy, there are steps we can take to protect ourselves and our homes from all that unpleasantness. Here are four easy things anyone can do:

1. Clean & Ward your Space

Clutter tends to put most of us into a real funk, so the first step to making sure our energy is clear and untainted is to clean up our living space. Do a little Marie Kondo'ing if you haven't yet, but it's also important to make sure that you're wiping down and disinfecting the surfaces in your home.

If you…

Job Hunting While Mercury is in Retrograde

If you aren't familiar with the concept of Mercury going retrograde, I can only assume you've been living under a rock. But what does it mean for Mercury to go 'retrograde' and how might that affect your quest for a job?

Let's break it down:

Mercury Retrograde is defined as a period of time in which the planet Mercury appears to move backwards in orbit - it doesn't actually of course. It's just an optical illusion from our vantage point on Earth, but within the realm of Astrology this retrograde observation can have serious side effects.

The planet Mercury is associated with things like communication, travel, information, and critical thought, so when the planet appears to move backwards or "goes retrograde", all of that goes haywire too. Emails get lost in the digital ether, flights are mysteriously cancelled, the exact time of that conference isn't listed on the event flyer, and you forget everything you'd had rehearsed for your upcoming…

Shopping Local: The Minnesota Edition

I believe in the importance of shopping local and giving back to your community. Shopping at local establishments or doing business with those who are part of that community is a great, but often overlooked, way to do this.

Today, I'm sharing with all of you SIX* businesses that are run by local women in the Twin Cities, MN. These wonderful creators and business owners are passionate and dedicated to their crafts - so check them out!

(*The exception here is Jennifer from Solid Gold Aquatics, but since I went to high school with her, I decided to include her also!)


Samantha Rei

"Samantha R. Crossland began her fashion design career with her label “Blasphemina’s Closet”, one of the first Lolita clothing lines in the US, in 2000. After closing “Blasphemina’s Closet” in September of 2013, she started anew with her new eponymous label “Samantha Rei”. “Samantha Rei” embodies the sweetness, femininity and attention to detail that has come to be expected from the designer."

Hitomi …

What to Wear to an Interview: Creative Edition

Let me preface: It's been a while since I've been to a job interview and the last time I interviewed it was for an Admin Assistant position. How you dress for a formal office role can easily differ from how you might dress for a more creative role - like digital marketing or social media management.

On Friday, I have an interview in downtown St Paul for an entry-level 'marketing communications' job and I'm . . . for lack of a better word - scrambling.

I don't own a pair of simple black trousers or a dress suit. My one black blazer (as you will see) is a little finicky and hard to coordinate. And I do not have a single pair of weather appropriate shoes that would not look horrendously out of place in a corporate environment.

(With regards to weather appropriateness - we just got another 8 inches of snow today. Ewww.)

So, I decided to scour my wardrobe to see what I could put together that would not only be interview appropriate but also fit the role of a creative…

Five Fun Science Fiction Novels to Read in 2019

What makes these five (well, six) reads so awesome? They're all self-published.Show these authors some love by checking out their work and leaving a review. :)
The Girl From Thandar (Synchronicity Book 1)
"When college co-ed, Scarlett, wakes up she knows something is off, but she has no idea just how off!Finding herself on a ship going god knows where Scarlett realizes she’s in trouble. Trouble turns out to be an intergalactic hell hole where slavery, prostitution and violence are not only accepted, but are the bread and butter of corrupt governments, criminals and raiders."

The Inter-Terrestrial: volume 1
"An alien scientist has a half-human "inter-terrestrial" son on the primitive planet of Earth. Aliens from neighboring planets (Mars and Venus) think they own the Earth and are adamant that it not be used by higher species without their consent. For twenty years, this alien father has been trying to figure out a way to get back to this forbidden planet to se…

Wardrobe Essentials for the Working Class Minnesota Girl

Minnesota is one of those states that experiences the extremes of each climate - sweltering summers, wet and muddy springs, frigid winters, and crisp autumns. So those of us working and living in Minnesota have learned the fine art of balancing a work appropriate wardrobe that also takes into consideration the weather.

This post contains affiliate links - if you make a purchase using one of the links, I make a small commission at no extra charge to you**


Your Winter Work Look:


My recommendation is to layer up - but to keep your outfit from looking bulky, pair slim fitting pants and a fitted button-down with an oversized and cozy sweater. If your office tends to hover around 40° like mine does, keep a cute scarf handy as well.

Unless you have a car or take a bus that drops you at the door of your workplace, you will likely have to clomp through a bit of snow - a warm pair of winter boots in a neutral color like black or brown are life savers!

You Will Need:


Slim Black TrousersA Button D…

How I Fail At "Adulting" Even Though I'm 31!

Inspired by this post from Sian Katherine, I thought it would be really interesting to examine the ways in which I, a thirty-one year old human being, utterly fail at being an #adult. In recognizing that we all have different abilities based on our cognitive understandings, physical and mental health, and socio-economic privileges, keep in mind that this is all in good fun, based on my own personal experiences, and that there is no one true way to 'adult'.



1. I do not possess a driver's license. When many of my sixteen year old peers were out getting their permits and indulging in six hours of behind-the-wheel training, I was quaking with anxiety and pretty much putting it off entirely. I first got my learner's permit when I was 18 and even though I did some actual driving, never pursued getting my license.

I'm 31, and I've only recently acquired my learner's permit again after at least a decade of no driving.


2. I have never mastered the art of curling my ha…

The Power of Perspective

The human brain is a funny little computer, made of squishy bits and spark plugs. Those squishy bits like to group together and form what more educated adults will tell you are "neural pathways."

These pathways contribute to our perspective. About everything, really. The brain doesn't like to work hard, so it will naturally take the path of least resistance. Coincidentally, that also happens to be the path we tread the most.

Pessimistic? Your brain made a smoothly paved road of gloomy tar for that perspective.

Optimistic? Your grey matter has been happily slathering gold over that foot path.

Generally ambivalent? Like me, your myelin sheath is probably thinner than sewing thread. Tightrope time.

There's good news though.

The brain is a remarkably elastic web of sticky myelin threads and while it's not easy, it is definitely possible to flatten the weeds on a new neural pathway. In other words, you can learn to change your perspective.



Let's do a quick exercise.

Etiquette Rules I (Personally) Find Pointless

Etiquette is a tricky realm in which to maneuver. Often, it varies from place to place and country to country. What's polite in one area of the world (slurping your noodles in Japan = 🖒) could be considered unfathomably rude elsewhere. So, let's approach this from a modern, millennial etiquette perspective, shall we?

Five Etiquette Rules I (Personally) Find Pointless

1.) Handwritten Thank You Notes- I try to be an environmentally friendly and conscious individual, truly I do. And I think that is perhaps why I have such a beef with "thank you" cards. Actually, any cards. Holiday cards, birthday cards, get-well-soon cards....it's all just paper. And it's all going to end up in the trash or recycling.

That tree died for something I glanced at for 30 seconds. If you truly want to thank me for something or wish me well, just email or text. Let me know in person next time you see me. If we are bosom buddies, you may even have permission to call and tell me.

2.) A…

Sci-Fi and Introverts

Today is World Introvert Day and also National Science Fiction Day! There's nothing I love more than curling up on the sofa with a soft blanket and good book, especially if it's a space opera romp that could put Star Wars to shame, but I'm also a sucker for the classics - so here are some of my recommendations for good Science Fiction novels and films!


Films:
1. Fifth Element
2. Lost in Space
3. I, Robot
4. Star Wars
5. Blade Runner
6. Alien
7. 2001, A Space Odyssey
8. The Man Who Fell to Earth

Books:
1. Dune
2. Ender's Game
3. Frankenstein
4. The Time Machine
5. Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep?
6. Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
7. A Wrinkle in Time
8. Oryx and Crake

What are your recommendations for good science fiction? Let me know in the comments!




*This post contains affiliate links - if you make any purchases using these links I may make a small commission. There is no extra charge to you!*

*Blogstice* - Winter Solstice Traditions

This will be my last holiday blog post, most likely.

Unlike the majority of bloggers who were participating in #blogmas this year, I choose to revive last year's pagan blogging tradition of #blogstice - a play on the word Solstice. Which is what I celebrate.

While this is old news to a lot of people, I'm sure there are still those out there who have no clue that a majority of our modern Christmas traditions and motifs pull from ancient European pagan customs and celebrations - and these traditions are still alive and used by modern pagans today.

I don't consider myself a "pagan" in the strictest of senses - I acknowledge the existence and reality of many pantheons of deities; I respect nature spirits, the wee folk and other inhuman entities; and I believe the planet is sacred and should be treated well - but I don't follow a specific practice or pagan religion.

I'm a secular pagan, I suppose.

That's why I mostly celebrate the solstices and equinoxes, …

🎅 Blogstice 🎅 - Why Are Christmas Colors Red and Green?

Did you know that Santa's robes were not always depicted as red and white? 
Did you know that Holly and its association with the winter holidays dates back further than Jesus?

Jump back in time with me for a moment and let's have a look at some Victorian era Christmas Cards, shall we? What do you notice?



The depiction we have in our heads of Santa Claus being a jolly old man in a fur-trimmed red suit is actually a relatively modern one. In 1931, Coca-Cola hired an artist to create an image of Santa Claus. This was hardly the first time a company had created their own spin on the beloved winter character, but Coke's ad campaign and marketing scheme that year was so successful that the image stuck - forever cementing together the red and white of a Coca-Cola bottle (or can) and our beloved Santa Claus.

Up until that point, depictions of Santa Claus were never consistent. Sometimes he was a tall, thin man in blue (as seen above) and sometimes he was a squat Jultomten that more…

*Blogstice* - Lowertown's European Christmas Market

"The European Christmas Market in St. Paul is a free event based on the traditional, charming, and festive open-air Christkindlmarkts that spring up in Germany, Austria, and other countries during the Advent season. Shop for unique, handmade holiday gifts and decorations from local vendors, drink Glühwein (spiced mulled wine), and taste European inspired food and delicacies during the first two weekends in December." -- St Paul Christmas Market

I have lived in or near St Paul, MN for a good number of years now, but I had never visited the Christmas Market down at Union Depot in the Lowertown neighborhood of the city. This year, I decided to remedy that.

I was not expecting the crowds.



From inside Union Depot, the Christmas Market looked like a packed can of sardines - wall to wall people - all cramming together between each stand to shop and eat. They shuffled forward slowly, like zombies, not generating nearly enough body heat to ward off the 23° F temperature.

And for some rea…