Back to School Y’all

Site/flow mapping
CC BY-NC Flickr user boxman

This week, in addition to revamping my blog a bit, I started fall classes at SI.  As much as I dread the insanity that a full load of graduate classes brings, I LOVE “back to school” season and all of the hope and excitement that it brings.  Before the readings, before the boring lectures, before the all-nighters, there is this.  This feeling, this hope, that perhaps one of these classes you’re about to dive into will be the one that changes your life.  And of course, organizing your backpack and folders and buying supplies is pretty awesome, too.

So far I’ve only attended one class, as most of my classes are on Mondays.  And last Monday was Labor Day, hence, no class.  So it’s like I get TWO first weeks of class.  I mentioned once before–really confusingly, I admit–what I am studying, but I’d like to share a little more about my actual classes.  Chances are I’ll be showing off some of my work here over the next few months and it would probably help to know where it’s all coming from.  So, without further adieu… my fall schedule:

Database Application Design

Bright and early Monday morning I’ll be diggin into some MySQL and PHP code with my favorite instructor, Dr. Chuck.  He’s got some great resources on his site, so if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to program in Python or build an app with Google App Engine, check it out.  Anyways… in addition to honing my database coding skills in this class, I’ll be doing some group design/consulting for a client with some fellow students.  People like to hate on group work in school, but it is seriously the best way to learn how to apply skills in the real world.

Interface & Interaction Design

Ooooo doggy, this one’s gonna be exciting.  As the name implies, this course is the flagship user interface/interaction design course at SI.  In addition to learning the basic concepts of UI/IxD, I’ll get to do some practical application in class and design/build something for a client with another student group.  That’s two, if you’re counting.  I’ll likely be doing some of what is pictured above… BRING ON THE DRY ERASE MARKERS!

Content Management Systems: Configuration

I’ll be wrapping up my Mondays with this course, which is often referred to as “the Drupal course” even though there are 3 courses in Drupal at SI.  You’d think with a title like “Content Management Systems” we would be using more than one, but Drupal is the most robust, complex, and scalable of them all, so that’s what we work with.  However, I may be dropping this one as I’ve done a lot of work in Drupal recently and this course may be a little too intro for me.  And, it requires another client project.  That would be THREE. GROUP. PROJECTS.


More coding.  This time in Java, which I am completely new to except for some haphazard JavaScript I’ve played around with.  I’ve already attended two of these classes and the good news is: I like the teach.  Bad news is: the textbook cost me $130.  Seriously.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Transformative Learning & Teaching with Technology

This course is my cognate, meaning it is hosted in another school.  In this case, it’s the School of Education, which I am mad familiar with thanks to my M.Ed..  I’m pretty sure this is a theory course, so I’ll be reading and writing mostly.  About technology as an educational tool.  Oughta be interesting, as well as give me a break from all the coding.

So there you have it.  This is what will be occupying 60% of my time this fall.  Probably more like 80%.  Shit.

Are you a student?  What’s kinda learnin you got goin on this semester?

xo Em



Awesomania Housekeeping

Aloha dear readers!

CC BY-NC-SA Flickr user inf3ktion

In case you didn’t notice, things are lookin a little different around here.  I finally got a little bug up my ass to cross some things off of my Awesomania to-do list.  This week I…

  • Migrated my blog from a hosted site to a self-hosted WordPress site.
  • Installed a bunch of kick-ass WordPress plugins, including some that Sarah at Silly Grrl recommends.
  • Installed a new theme because the default just didn’t do it for me.
  • Redirected my feeds to Feedburner.
  • Set up an Awesomania Facebook page!

I’ve got a lot more to tackle, including designing a custom theme for myself, fancyin up my RSS feed, and adding a lot more awesome in general. So be on the lookout for ch-ch-ch-changes as time goes on!

Most importantly–thanks a bunch to everyone who stopped by during the transition and didn’t flame me or anything. Y’all so sweet.

xo Em




Awesome Friends // Facebook Love

So, I have a Facebook page for my blog now.  Partly because I felt bad pushing auto-updates to all of my friends and partly because it is part of my INTERNET DOMINATION STRATEGY!  Just kidding.  Or am I?

If you’ve ever set up a Facebook page–for your blog, your freelance business, your band–you know the sad and lonely feeling of having “0 likes” staring at you.  It sucks.  And it makes you feel like a total loser broadcasting your page to all of your friends.  It’s like, “Hey guys… nobody else likes this stupid thing.  Why don’t you?” People ignore you.  It’s common and understandable.  We’re all so overwhelmed by social media these days!

This is why a little incentive is needed on occasion. The other morning I was staring down 25 likes on my page–which is the point at which you can assign a username to your page, btw–with a mere 4 more to go, so I put out the following call out to my Facebook friends:

The next 4 people to like my blog’s FB page will get a really exceptional shout out on the interwebs!

And I’m glad I did, because not only did I meet that 25 likes goal (31 and still going!), but I get to tell YOU, dearest internet, about these awesomely fantastic people.  Yeah yeah, I said “the next 4 people”, but the extra 2 are bonus material.  Feel free to thank me later.

stepMeet Stephan!

I first met Stephan when I interviewed for the Director of Student Development position and my first impression was “this dude knows what he’s doin”.  I got the job (obviously) and spent the next two years chattin and collaboratin with this stud on the daily.  What makes him awesome?  He’s a super-smart, driven, and unabashedly confident guy who is a student affairs badass.  And we could all use one of those, couldn’t we?



alliMeet Alli!

Talk about a blast from the past.  Alli was my bona-fide BFF back in the 7-9th grade era.  We shared a love of Alice in Chains and all things hilarious.  She is credited with introducing me to Snoop Dog (well, her and MTV) and we often battled over who was hotter: Eddie Vedder or Scott Weiland.  What makes her awesome?  These days she’s gettin her autism and neuroscience research on up in DC.  I know how to pick em smart, don’t I?



kellyMeet Kelly!

Although I met Kelly in person many moons ago through an ex-beau of mine, we’ve been internet buddies for a good 6 years or so.  Lucky for me, she’s back in the flesh as the foxy fiance of a friend of mine.  Perhaps you remember when she was in the running for a free wedding.  What makes her awesome?  A woman of varied interests, she brings the awesome wherever she goes.  With a rad attitude and a willingness to hang with us GCKB goofballs, she’s proven herself to be the cat’s pajamas.  Oh, and her mom reads my blog!


mattMeet Matt!

Could there be a more awesomesweetsmarthandsome dude on the planet!? I THINK NOT! This spectacular man is my little brother Matthew and OF COURSE he would help me out. That’s what awesome brothers do. I could write forever about what makes Matt awesome… a little tidbit or two: he invented his own monkey language in high school and is a killer drummer. And yes, ladies, he’s single! Unless something has changed in the last week or so.



jamieMeet Jamie!

Oh sweet, sweet Jamie.  AKA “Slow Poke”.  It’s been way too long, but Jamie holds a special place in my heart… we were kickin it on the reg during the time in my life that I would consider my “coming of age”.  What makes her so awesome?  She is easily one of the most humbly talented women I’ve ever known.  She can sing like a old-school jazz diva and dance like a chorus girl (to Eye of the Tiger, no less).  She’s got great taste and a serious obsession with all things Japanese.  Love her!


tinerMeet Tina!

Tina could easily be my new friend find of the entire decade.  Friend of a friend turned ride-or-die bestie.  It’s been a few years since we were inseparable, but that’s life for you.  Damn you, distance!  What makes her awesome?  Let me count the ways: she’s a beautiful, spiritual, blast to be with gorgeous dancer, with an open mind, a deep heart, bitchin style, and great taste in music.  Oh, and she can cut a mean hairdo, too.



amyMeet Amy!

Aww hell.  It feels a little unnatural putting Amy up there as she is and always will be P to me.  Besties since the nineties, this girl captured my heart when she put the moves on me in our high school calculus class.  What makes her awesome?  YOU WILL NEVER MEET A FUNNIER HUMAN BEING. Seriously, you cannot hang with his girl and not have a good time.  She’s a sweetheart with the mouth of a sailor and the hollow leg of a pirate.  And she is a culinary ASSASSIN!



So, there you have it folks.  Six totally awesome friends of mine that have shown their support for me and this blog.  I feel so lucky to have them and all of the other friends and family who have supported me and my projects over the years.  I hope I never forget to communicate my gratitude for having them in my life.

As for you, dear readers, I hope y’all will: (1) like this blog on Facebook; and (2) never forget to give a shout out to those who support you, no matter how ridiculous your idea might be.

xo Em


PS – I sure have some good-looking friends, don’t I?


Happy Birthday to Me! And Hurricane Katrina.

Thirty-one years ago today, yours truly was dragged from the womb… kicking and screaming and covered in blood from where the doctor sliced open her head while sawing through the gut of her mother.

Birthday cake at work!

True story.  One with a happy ending, of course.  But true nonetheless.  I even have the scar to prove it.

I’m typically quite excited about my birthday, but today I’m feeling a little morose.  Not so much because I’m another year older.  Come on, getting older just means getting AWESOMER.  No, today I’ve been thinking about Hurricane Katrina.  Which, in case you don’t remember or have yet to be reminded, occurred 6 years ago today.  Thanks to some recent conversations and a timely NPR segment about a new Katrina documentary by Harry Shearer of Spinal Tap fame (!), my skepticism about what really went down in the Crescent City has been renewed.

As a gulf coast native, New Orleans has always held a special place in my heart.  Many long weekends of my youth were spent wandering the French Quarter, munching on beignets, and celebrating the music and debauchery of America’s most culturally rich city.  And don’t even get me started on Mardi Gras.  Meemmorriiiesss!

Anyhow, every time I think of Katrina I can’t help but remember the conversation I had with a bartender in New Orleans two years before.  In 2004 Hurricane Ivan struck the gulf coast and decimated Pensacola, my hometown.  It was a crazy storm, but we survived unscathed for the most part.  But after two weeks without power, my friends and I decided to drive over and spend some time in NOLA while they got everything back up and running at home.

Naturally, we spent most of our time there in bars.  While much of the trip was a blur, a conversation we had with a bartender still sticks out.  As we were explaining the reason for our trip, we got on the topic of how devastating a hurricane would be to New Orleans.  We tried to imagine how the historic downtown areas we loved would avoid the swells of the mighty Mississippi, but she interrupted us with “Oh honey, we don’t even worry about the Quarter.  Everybody knows they’ll blow the levees uptown to save the historic districts.”  Now, maybe she didn’t know what the hell she was talkin about.  But maybe she did.  Somewhat, anyways.

Enter the NPR segment: Harry Shearer was promoting his new Katrina documentary, The Big Uneasy.  In the film, Shearer explores the unreported (at best) reality of what caused our country’s most expensive “natural disaster” and how our government has failed to correct the issues that brought about the floods in the first place.  Complete with whistle-blowers!  I haven’t seen it yet, but as soon as I can get my hands on it…

So, although I’m deliriously happy and grateful to live another year… I’m still thinking about the thousands who weren’t so lucky six years ago.

xo Em



Most Awesome Week Ever // 8.28.11

Today, I’m celebrating the most awesome week 3 weeks ever.


surprising the shit out of my bestie Autumn for her 30th birthday // seeing old friends and making new ones // spending a day full of good conversation and laughs with my locked-up homie Wes // getting pedicures with my momma // laying on my mother-in-law’s couch while we talked and she watched bad television // love and excitement from my puppy after being away for several days // lazy days full of many episodes of Mad Men // starting my new web design job and loving it! // making future plans with Jeffrey // good music and stiff drinks // Jeff driving us all the way to Baltimore // not falling off the boat // medicine! // being in Pensacola // planning autumn adventures // picking up choice records from Jojo South // meeting Jeffrey’s childhood friends // long talks on a great front porch // touristin’ it up with the hubs // driving through an area of the country I’ve never seen before // meeting my new doggie friend Hawkins // delicious food with a spectacular view // writing long letters… with pen and paper //a sneak preview of fall weather // wrapping up my summer internship // wifi in the sky // surprise birthday party at work // sorta-kinda job offers // the first birthday texts rollin in // birthday party with the fam //presents! // also, this:

What awesomeness are you celebrating this week?

xo Emily

Awesome Summer Adventures // Part 1


I do believe I mentioned it before, but I started off my summer travels with a long weekend in the Windy City with my GCKB comrade and BFF, Jenny.  She lives in Atlanta and was heading there for the HOW Design Conference because she’s a bad mamma jamma Creative Director now.  Since Chicago is a mere 5 hours away, I hopped on a train to join her for the weekend.  It turned out to be a splendid trip because not only did I get to see her beautiful face, share in her design learnin, and check out (some of) the wonders of a new city, but my train ride to Illinois knocks off #79 and (almost) #84 of my 101 in 1001 list.

Unfortunately our time in Chicago was limited, so I stuck to the touristy Loop area while she was in sessions so we could meet for lunch.  Nevertheless, I got to check out some of the downtown Chicago greats like the Bean (or Cloud Gate, as it is officially called), Millennium Park, and the collection of badassery at the The Art Institute of Chicago. Check out my crappy picture of their awesome lions:

I also muscled up the courage to step out onto the sky decks on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. I didn’t get too far, though. There were 47 people crammed onto a 3×6 glass ledge and, well, I just didn’t trust it enough to hold us all for very long. Here is proof that I do have some balls:

103rd floor.

Look at that fantastic view!

What a view.

After a few days of goofin around as tourists, eatin well at Ginos and The Purple Pig, and lounging around in our dope hotel suite, we wrapped up the trip with a boat tour of downtown Chicago architecture. Which was a lot cooler than it sounds. Here go Jenny… ain’t she a beaut?


I had an awesome time.  However, thanks for the final memory of my trip goes to the girl who was giving her boyfriend a hand job across the aisle from me on the train home.  Way to go, kids.

x0, Em

PS – If you’re lookin for a more in-depth tourist review of Chicago, check out Gala Darling’s International Playgirl’s Guide to Chicago.  She actually did stuff.

Awesome Eats // My Top 50

Mac n cheese

When I first saw CNN’s list of the world’s 50 most delicious foods, I was like ughh.  I mean… they got some stuff right.  But damn if it doesn’t look radically different than MY list of the top 50 most delicious foods.

So here you go, internet.  My list of the top 50 most delicious foods I have ever eaten.  AKA: the top 50 reasons I am fat.

I included beverages.  Because… mmmmmmm.

  1. New York-style thin crust cheese pizza.
  2. Lasagna and/or manicotti, but only if it is made by my mother.
  3. Chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing.  Again, only if made by my mother.
  4. Chocolate ice cream.  To go with the cake.
  5. Panang curry with chicken.
  6. Tom kha gai (Thai coconut milk soup).
  7. Veggie sushi with lots of wasabi.
  8. Fried calamari.
  9. French toast, especially when made by my dad.
  10. Bacon.
  11. Goi cuan (Vietnamese summer rolls).
  12. French bread.
  13. Rib-eye steak, medium rare.
  14. Lobster, with lots o’ melted buttah.
  15. Caesar salad, but only when made traditionally.
  16. Red peppers.  On anything.
  17. Warm cinnamon sugar cake donuts, especially from this place.
  18. Squash casserole.
  19. Fried okra.
  20. Peanut butter cookies, but only when made by yours truly or my mom.
  21. Feta cheese.  On anything.
  22. Biscuits.  Southern style.
  23. Honey baked ham.
  24. Caprese salad.
  25. Roasted or grilled asparagus.
  26. Apples.  Prepared in a variety of ways, including as nature intended.
  27. Cheese.  Many kinds, especially cheddar.
  28. Sausage.  All varieties.
  29. BBQ Pork.
  30. Macaroni and cheese, again, as prepared by my mother.
  31. Carrot cake.
  32. Chicken teriyaki.
  33. Fruit salsa and cinnamon chips.
  34. Dr. Pete’s Praline Mustard Glaze over cream cheese, with crackers.
  35. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  36. Grilled cheese sandwich.
  37. Soysage, egg, and cheese breakfast burritos, but only when made by my BFF, Jen.
  38. Grilled flank steak with my mother’s secret marinade.
  39. Mashed potatoes, only made by me.
  40. Garlic.
  41. Hummus, all varieties.
  42. Beer, almost all varieties.
  43. Fudge, especially when made by my mother.
  44. Chocolate chip and toffee cookies.
  45. Cheeseburgers.
  46. Green bean casserole.
  47. Chicken fettuccine alfredo, especially when made by my bestie Amy.
  48. Fried chicken.
  49. Bowman burgers!  Act like ya know!
  50. SUGAR!  Prepared as candy, many varieties.

What are YOUR most deliciously awesome eats?

xo Em

Into the Wild, Wild West

Road Trip!

CC BY-NC-SA  Flickr user: -Snugg-

While it isn’t the first time Jeffrey and I have talked about it, something in our hearts must have clicked right into place on Sunday night when we decided to begin planning our long desired cross-country road trip–FOR REAL.  Before then it was a “one of these days” idea.  Something that we have always wanted, occasionally talked about, and never took any action on.  We have lots of those.  Perhaps we’re just starved for adventure, but we decided that relinquishing the cross-country trip to the “one day” pile was no longer acceptable.

So be prepared, dear friends, for me to spend the next 8 months planning for and postulating about the total AWESOMENESS of the trip that the hubs and I will soon embark upon.  Naturally we’ve got to nail down everything from routes and itineraries to budget and packing lists.  Here is what we’ve got so far:


  • Departing ~late April 2012
  • 3 Weeks total
  • 3 days in Portland, Oregon w/my dear friend Jen
  • 3 days in Seattle, Washington w/Jeffrey’s cousin Colleen
  • Camping most nights, 2 nights (at most) in a cabin at a national park
  • Maple Mae as road dog
  • Drivin the Xbox

Must See Sights

  • Badlands (South Dakota)
  • Mt. Rushmore/Crazy Horse (South Dakota)
  • Sioux Falls (South Dakota)
  • Yellowstone (Wyoming)
  • Glacier National Park (Montana)
  • Mt. Rainier National Park (Washington)
  • Goonie Rocks! (Oregon)
  • US101 down the Oregon/California coast
  • Wine country (California)
  • Redwood National Park (California)
  • Yosemite National Park (California)
  • Sierra National Forest (California)
  • Death Valley National Park (California)
  • Grand Canyon (Arizona)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

It’s an ambitious trip already.  I CANNOT WAIT.

So, have any of you ever gone on a super-long road trip?  Any tips to share?

xo Em