the pages that stole my heart // 2014

There are exactly two weeks left in 2014.

Wait, what?

Being my senior year, I've found that time is flying much too fast as I'm attempting to savor every moment that I can.  But here we are, 14 days out of 2015.  336 hours.  And that's all.

One of my favorite things about 2014 was the great books that I've read.  I set myself a goal to read 25 books this year - about two a month - and I'm currently at 28 books and counting! One of the major things that I'm looking forward to on Christmas break is the fact that I can read all day erry day in the comfort of my own home [read: while laying on the floor] and hopefully push that number up to at least 30 books for the year.

I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish to bring you my top ten books of 2014.  But 2014 isn't over yet, so one of the books in my pile to be read over break has the potential to join that rank. With that in mind, I'll talk about my top nine books of the year and letcha know what the tenth was when the clock strikes into 2015. [Also, PicMonkey didn't have a collage template for ten book covers, but we can pretend that that's not the real reason that I'm not doing ten here.]

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
I waited far too long to read this one as it's been sitting on my shelf for ages.  The ending was ruined for me so I went through the entire book in anticipation for the [SPOILER] moment when I would love Mr. Darcy. [SPOILER] I wasn't disappointed.

2. Z - Therese Ann Fowler
Biographies and the 1920s era are two of my favorite things. Add in Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and you're golden.  Evidently Fowler knew that and wrote this book just for me.  Obviously.  

3. The Book Thief - Mark Zusak
Talking about taking a long time to read, I think I had a bookmark stuck between The Book Thief's pages for almost nine months. Once I finally had a long time to devote to reading, I sat down and knocked off the last 300-odd pages in a single setting. The narration in this book is fantastic. 

4. Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand
Read this; I dare you! Unbroken opened my eyes to the world outside of my little bubble and has caused me to think differently about a lot of things [including fresh water] since I finished it at the end of June. 

5. All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
I'm not usually a huge fan of war novels, but this book offered a unique perspective that I've never seen before. 

6. The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan
I had this assumption in my mind that this was an old ladies' book club book that I would in no way enjoy. After reading it, I've realized that even if it were an old ladies' book club book, I would still have put it into my top nine. The views of life and lessons that can be learned from this book are huge. The story is woven together so smoothly that I can't help but think that Tan should be made a book saint or something. 

7. Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
"That killed me." If you don't get the reference, you have to read the book! Another book that I've been meaning to read for a while. Although I couldn't relate to Holden quite as well as other teens have, I could definitely relate to where he was coming from. I sped through this one pretty fast and really enjoyed it.   

8. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. I love it, I love it, I love it. The first 50% of it was read under the covers after lights out during camp this summer. I know, I'm such a rebel. Shhh. 

9. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
I'm not actually finished with this one yet so it has the potential to become my least favorite book ever, but for now, I'm loving it. I'm reading it for my A.P. English class at school with the hopes that it will indeed prepare me for any theme that the A.P. test might throw at me to write about. 

What were your top ten  nine books of 2014? Do we have any in common? 
xx, Allison


[E] is for [Expensive Rugs]

location // Kusadasi, Turkey

When I'm talking "expensive rugs," I'm not saying rugs that are hundreds of dollars. Nope, what we're looking at here is thousands and tens of thousands of dollars. I don't even think that "expensive" covers these rugs appropriately! 

But while I'm saying that the Turkish silk rugs are beyond pricey, I actually don't think that they're grossly overpriced. I mean, $10,000 is way more than I'm ever spending on something that I wipe my feet on (and if I ever become a millionaire and start to spend my money like this, someone give me a reality check, please.), but when we got an up-close and personal look at the amount of work and effort that goes into each and every rug, I began to see a little justification for the hefty price tags. 

Before boarding our cruise ship and leaving Turkey in the wake, we took a pit stop at a Turkish rug maker. Walking in, the first thing that caught my eye was a giant loom. Sitting in front was a Turkish woman that was dwarfed by the loom which she was threading. The particular rug that she was working on had been in progress for over a month and seemed as if it were barely even started! Each and every row of silk that she twisted and pulled into a future finished masterpiece was so intricate and complicated.

The next thing that we crowded around to catch a glimpse of was how the silk was gathered.  I can't even explain the process because I don't know the technical terms and I'm not about to make you read sentences like "and the worms were in this thing and then they spun it and then they used this other thing to get the silk and . . . " so you can probably google the process if you're interested. But it was really, really cool and all I could think of was how someone even invented this process.

Then we were given apple tea to drink as they unrolled like 30 rugs for us to see. Petting and stepping on the rugs were encouraged, so we all looked like we had dropped something in the carpet as we walked around hunched over with our eyes on the floor.

Overall, seeing the process of how Turkish silk rugs are made was really interesting. Would I ever buy one? No. Even though they are so beautiful and unique, do you know how many other things I could buy with a couple thousand?

Would I visit again? Yes! Because then I would get apple tea and maybe be able to pick up the lingo of silk gathering so I could explain it a little better.

I did not leave the rug place empty-handed though! I picked up a rug bookmark for only €3 which I totally thought was a steal until I found the same exact ones in the Turkish bazaar about 10 minutes later with a price tag of €1.

Oh well, I guess that I can say I bought an overpriced Turkish rug then.

Have you ever seen the process of rug making?



Airport Survival Guide // 5 Steps to Take

Let's just put it out there right now that I'm no travel expert.  But, I've traveled.  Therefore, I have experience. And therefore, I know things like not to take your filled water bottle through international airport security because that leads to them not liking you very much.  Hey, live and learn, I guess. And you're getting some free advice out of it, so it paid off?

Anyway, having a bad experience at the airport can ruin the start of your adventure quicker than almost anything else can.  You know, like missing your flight. Just a tad frustrating. Just a tad.

Airports don't need to be any harder than they already are. If you've flown at least twice, there's probably a pretty good chance that you've run into a squishy situation or two.  The people who fly a lot and have traveler's cards bubbling over with miles and miles have probably gotten the process down to a science. (Example: they empty their water bottles before heading to security.) That's not me. But I have learned a thing or two about airports on the way.

1. Be prepared with your age. 
I don't know whether adults are asked this or not, but every time I have flown, a (usually) cranky TSA worker asks my age to make sure that my parents aren't actually kidnappers that stole me and are flying me to another country. Here's what not to do when asked that question: "Ummmm . . . . . (insert three second pause) eleven!" Unless you want an extra suspicious glance shot your way, know how old you are. (That one was courtesy of my sister, by the way.)

2. Bring rations. 
After a long flight from Munich, Germany to Chicago, I was hungry. It wasn't just a normal "oh, I guess I could eat now," it was on the border of hangry. I was more than ready to be home in my own house eating my own food that I didn't have to pay for in euros.  However, our flight from Chicago to Detroit (home!) was delayed by about two hours. That's when I knew that the hanger couldn't wait. I found a kiosk with some fresh looking food and proceeded to buy some yogurt, a little cup of fruit, and some juice. And then I paid nearly $20 for it. Ouch. A granola bar or two could have saved me a little lot of moola and the people I was with wouldn't have had to deal with my hanger.  So, food is a yes. Just believe me on this one.

*And no, I do not consider a few peanuts and a couple pretzels as rations.
Don't believe the "happy" part. One small handful of crackers is considered a pre-snack in my mind.

3. Apple Juice
 . . . you know, like an iPhone charger? Clever, right? I think I saw that on Pinterest (. . . basically the source of 93% of my ideas.) But you know as much as I do that this is a necessity. Long hours in an airport can drain your battery just as fast as it can drain your mood.  However, when you go to plug that Apple into the juice, what happens when everyone else seems to be having an energy crisis at the same time? You end up wandering around to other terminals and eventually taking the walk of shame back to your own still holding your dead phone.  That's when you wish you had bought one of those portable chargers that looked so handy. (Hint: they are handy.) So while other people are wandering around in search of an open outlet, you can be the envy of the terminal with your own little personal electricity source.
* I use the Halo charger and it works great! I recommend it! 

4. Don't Give Any Extra Volume to Your Hair
This little tip is courtesy of my mom (hi mom!). You know the drill for getting past TSA.  Stand in line, bring as little attention to yourself as possible, take off every little piece of metal on you, turn off your phone, try to hold your carryon, boarding ticket, little metal pieces that you took off, purse, and what feels like 37 other things all while attempting to appear as least suspicious as possible. My mom passed all of that criteria with flying colors. Well, except for the last one.  Apparently, her fluffy hair seemed a little too fluffy for these TSA agents and she was pulled aside to have her hair patted down. Her hair, you guys. Have you ever heard of someone getting their hair patted down? If this is a common occurrence, please tell me so I can stop acting like it's one of the craziest things in the world. Thanks. 

4.2 Extra, Extra! // Don't have the same name as someone on the FBI's Most Wanted List
This piece of advice also comes from my mom's experiences.  If you don't want to be subjected to intense questioning, change your name.  That process might just be easier than having to deal with TSA agents that think you're a terrorist.

5. Don't Choose the Wrong Car Rental Company
I haven't had many experiences with car rental companies (considering that I'm not even old enough to rent one!) but I can say that every single time that I've stepped foot in one of those places, I've gotten a headache that has lasted for the entire three hours I'm stuck there (when we had been promised an "in and out visit" . . . lies.).  After a long flight, all I want to do is leave the vicinity of the airport as soon as possible, not wait around for a car. I can remember one time that my sister and I watched Monsters, Inc. one and a half times in the waiting room of the rental car company while they shuffled cars around trying to find the one that we had requested.  And let's not even talk about that one car we got with the USO (unidentified slimy object) on the seat. No, let's just not even go there.

Rental car companies just seem to be a pain in general due to the long lines, confusion, and nastiness found stuck on the seat cushions.  I really think that RelayRides has found the solution to those problems though! At airports all across the U.S. you can rent someone else's personal car. Instead of having to deal with massive crowds, overworked service people, and having the car you request mysteriously disappear, you only meet with one person - the owner of the car! They can rent their own personal car out to you (and you can bet there most likely won't be any USOs found in there!) for daily, weekly, or monthly rates. Now that sounds a whole lot better!

*I have never had any personal experience with RelayRides, but you can bet that when I turn 25 and can finally drive a rental car, I'll be checking it out! RelayRides contacted me and asked if I would get the word out about their great service. I'm receiving no compensation for this post, but I do honestly think that RelayRides is worth a look!

How do you survive the airports? Any funny airport mishap stories? Do tell!