October 18, 2014

"The Great Gatsby" Discussion

Lizzie Diana's Great Gatsby Discussion Review

So, first things first–an apology is in order. I have no legitimate excuse for being this late, so suffice it to say that I am sorry, and I will attempt to improve in the future.

Now–Gatsby. As with Pride and Prejudice, there is a great deal to be said about this novel–far more that I could ever say in one blog post. This time, however, I will attempt to be somewhat more brief.

Daisy as the American Dream

To begin with, I am going to narrowly define the American Dream as the supposedly great financial and social mobility allowed for by America’s lack of de jure aristocracy. As a poor boy initially, Gatsby aspires to Daisy, a treasure trove of wealth and beauty that could be his for the taking.

For the first part of the novel, Daisy is inexplicably magnetic to nearly everyone she meets. Nick describes the ripple of her voice as “a wild tonic in the rain,” which he later realizes is the sound of money.  Additionally, the color she is most associated with is gold. The buttons on her dress are gold, she carries a little gold pencil, and when Gatsby met her she owned gold and silver slippers. For the most part, this gold (associated with Daisy and wealth) is usually portrayed positively. Gatsby certainly holds positive connotations with it. The lights in his house are yellow, his gorgeous little car is yellow, and the flowers at his front gate carry the scent of pale gold. Gatsby has essentially worked constantly for the last five years for her: adapting himself to the idea of Daisy, reading Chicago newspapers to just catch a glimpse of her name, and buying a house just across the bay from her dock. Gatsby is obsessed with the concept of owning Daisy; he will do whatever he must to obtain her. He throws grand parties that he does not even allow himself to enjoy on the off chance that she will wander in one day. And after establishing himself as a great party giver, he drops this lifestyle entirely after Daisy shows the slightest disapproval. For Gatsby, Daisy is beautiful and alluring, but in truth she is also selfish and devastatingly careless. It is important to note that Gatsby’s beautiful, yellow car, a mark of his great financial achievement, becomes a deadly missile under Daisy’s careless hand.

Tom and Wilson as Foils

Tom Buchanan and George Wilson are, in my opinion, perfect opposites. Tom is a large, blustering man, while Wilson is comparatively small and withdrawn.  Tom Buchanan, despite his ranting absurdly about being  “Nordics . . .and we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilization,” he has made nothing. Tom does not work, he did not earn his wealth, and he does not produce anything. He only rides on the backs of men who work, like the butler who ruined his nose with silver polish and Wilson himself. Even aside from his abject racism, Tom’s statement is absurd. Wilson, on the other hand, works for everything he has. He lives in among the ash heaps, where he pumps gas and works on cars. Wilson only wants to buy Tom’s old car off of him so that he can make a little extra money.

The most important distinction, though, is the way the two of them react to responsibility. Tom takes no responsibility for any of his actions. He takes another man’s wife from him without considering the consequences, even though he not only has a wife of his own but also a child with her. Wilson, on the other hand, carries the guilt both for his own blindness, and also for Tom’s actions. Once Wilson discovers that his wife has been seeing someone else, the guilt  for actions he hasn’t committed makes him physically ill, and he looks as though “he just got some poor girl with child.” Compared to Tom’s carelessness, Wilson is supremely careful. Tom has everything that the American dream could offer him; after all, he has Daisy. Wilson, on the other hand, is subject to the ideal of the American dream–he wants to make a better life for himself and his wife–but that ideal will never belong to him.

Dr. T.J. Eckleburg and the Owl Eyed Man

I believe it to be generally understood that the billboard of the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg represents God in some capacity. His eyes watch over the land of ashes, and particularly the house of the Wilsons. Wilson himself tells his wife that even though she could fool him, she could never fool God.
Similarly, Owl Eyes is present at Gatsby’s parties, living in Gatsby’s house, but he doesn’t spend much time interacting with the other guests.

I realize that this connection is rather tenuous. However, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the one man, other than Nick and Mr. Gatz, who comes to Gatsby’s funeral wears remarkably thick glasses. He is, similarly to Dr. Eckleburg’s eyes, an observer. Nick says of him “I don’t know how he knew about the funeral, or even his name.” Owl Eyes and Dr. Eckleburg do not participate in the primary action of the story. They are only present to observe, and, in the case of the Owl Eyed man, to see Gatsby on his way.

Bonus: "Young and Beautiful"

To be perfectly honest, I have not yet seen the recent DiCaprio film adaption, but I have heard the Lana Del Ray song “Young and Beautiful” from said adaption. I find it fascinating that within the song, Del Ray sings “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?” to which she later replies “I know you will, I know you will, I know you will.” Assuming that she’s singing from Daisy’s perspective, I think that her conclusion is incorrect. Gatsby was so obsessed with turning back time–he wanted to get married in front of Daisy’s house where he met her, he wanted her to say that she never loved Tom, he claims that you can relive the past–I don’t think that Gatsby would ever be able to accept change, even due to aging. Based on what we see of Gatsby’s obsession with the past, I believe that he might be satisfied with Daisy for a short time, after she grew older he would eventually seek out a more perfect “Daisy” figure and leave the one he has behind.

As usual, any discussion or opinions to the contrary will be welcome. We’ll be announcing the next book for the club soon, which will cover the remainder of October and the entirety of November. Again, I apologize for the delay.

Best wishes,

September 20, 2014

Burgess Falls

Every year, my family drives to Burgess Falls to have a picnic with all my extended family that lives in state. It has become a fall tradition, and this year was our fifth year to do it. It's a beautiful state park only 20 minutes from the strip mall town of Cookville. The hike down is relatively easy, even though the sign says "Strenuous Hike," and it runs along the Falling Water River. There are three sets of falls, but it's the last one that makes the hike worth the effort. You can hike all the way down to the last falls and swim and explore (if you hike far enough down river you can find the ruins of the old hydroelectric plant, and those are quite fun to explore).

This year, I decided to practice some with my still-new-to-me DSLR camera. This was my first year taking pictures on something other than my iPhone, and I love how much better my DSLR took pictures of people. It captured the light perfectly. I think I'm finally getting the hang of manual mode!

I hope you enjoy the few pictures I'm sharing today! I really had lovely models :)

Top to bottom:
Large Falls

Last two photographs taken by Emmy.


Do you have any family traditions you love to capture in photographs? What's your favorite place to hike? Think Lizzie is learning to shoot manually pretty well? :P Leave us a comment!

August 1, 2014

LD's Book Club: August 2014 Selection

Hello Everyone!

This month, Lizzie Diana’s Book Club is going to be headed back to the jazz age. That’s right—this month’s pick is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald! I thought this novel appropriate for August as most of it takes place over the course of one summer. Additionally, it is mercifully short, which will be useful (to me at least) as school starts to pick up again! While Gatsby is far too deep for any single blog post, and I think it unlikely that we will break any new ground in Gatsby criticism, I do hope that we will come to see the novel anew for ourselves. Perhaps by understanding more of Gatsby with his extraordinary gift for hope, we will learn something of ourselves and those around us.

Best wishes,

July 30, 2014

"Pride and Prejudice" Discussion

So... Pride and Prejudice. I realize now that I might have bitten off more than I could chew for the first month of the book club. Overall, I enjoyed this novel—which I had not read in its entirety until now—and was somewhat surprised by how consistently and genuinely funny it was. Many of the topics that I picked up on were related directly to class, wealth, and gender with a sprinkling of other major topics mixed in. Without further ado, these are the topics of discussion for July’s book club.

Pride and Prejudice


Being titular, these ideas seem like the first subjects that ought to be addressed. As you all know from the reading (looks over glasses pointedly), these traits refer to Darcy’s pride, particularly of his social standing, which prevented him from being more open about his feelings for Elizabeth; and Lizzie’s predisposition toward Darcy after he snubbed her and those of her social standing at the first ball.

Despite his initial insistence that pride is a virtue, it acts as a corrosive force in his life on more than one occasion.  The example of this that stands out most to me would have to be his separation of Bingley and Jane. I personally see the greatest mark of his arrogance here. As only an acquaintance of Jane, he takes it upon himself to determine that Jane does not care for Bingley as she should. Elizabeth, of course, corrects this error during the first proposal scene, saying that Jane is modest to the point of keeping her feelings from even her sisters. While Darcy is somewhat receptive to Lizzie’s assertion, he still needs to make certain of Jane’s feelings by watching her in the chapters leading up to Bingley’s proposal.

Darcy’s pride is obviously also evident in the first proposal scene. He is unintentionally abrasive to Lizzie by bluntly enumerating the social and financial rifts between the two of them. These would have been tacitly understood by two self aware people. Rather than discussing them in a respectful manner, he chooses to dictate them to Elizabeth. He is imperious toward her on many occasions throughout the novel. He ignores her when they are together at Netherfield, choosing to read instead of conversing, and he refuses to dance with her because she is not “handsome enough to tempt” him.

To his credit, Darcy is willing to take Elizabeth’s criticism. By the end of the novel, he is not yet perfected, but much improved in his attitude. Despite her rejection of him, Darcy proceeds to be more polite to her than ever before (in my estimation) upon her unexpected arrival at Pemberley, and he discovers and pays off Wickham so that Elizabeth’s reputation will not be ruined. I personally find the latter act to be the greater of the two, even aside from monetary expense. Darcy had no real reason or obligation to take care of the Bennets’ problem, other than his part in not exposing Wickham previously. Rather than allowing the Bennets to sink or swim, he takes an active hand in the rescue of the girls’ reputations. Had he not done this, Elizabeth would likely not have been able to find a decent man willing to marry her. But, since Lydia is discovered and married off, Darcy has saved her from potential, future poverty and has given her a chance at happiness, even if this happiness is not with him. Further, he does not deliberately take credit for his actions; he allows the family to believe that their uncle, who would have had a direct interest in the matter, is the one to clear up the mess. That kind of sacrifice and humility, I believe, could not have come from pride, but from love. He is admittedly still proud, but he is more self aware and thereby capable of improvement by the novel’s end.


As our hero Lizzie has little in the way of standing, wealth, or power of which she may be proud, she must content herself with prejudice. Though she is an intelligent and typically happy person, I believe that she is somewhat insecure in her social position. Her family is not poor to the point of destitution, but they do not have enough money for Lizzie or her four sisters to have tempting dowries. While this would likely ensure that any potential suitors would be interested in girls instead of gain, it might also prevent good, poor men from marrying them to avoid poverty themselves. So, when Darcy appears at the initial ball and treats the townspeople with seeming condescension, particularly Lizzie herself, she is predisposed to dislike him, as he has every possible advantage that she herself does not have.

When Lizzie is discussing Darcy’s pride while visiting Netherfield, Darcy says that while his own fault may be pride, her fault is willfully misunderstanding people. This, in my own opinion, proves true, particularly in Wickham’s case. Wickham is a handsome, charming, and seemingly upstanding young militia man. Lizzie takes an instant liking to him. When he tells of his “plight”, how Darcy refused him his inheritance and doomed him to a life of poverty, Lizzie—already predisposed to dislike Darcy—cements her opinion of Darcy as a “disagreeable” man. When Caroline Bingley tries to warn Lizzie away from Wickham, Lizzie chooses to disbelieve her, as Lizzie has determined to like Wickham and dislike Caroline. It is not until Darcy reveals the entire story of his sister and Wickham that Lizzie believes Wickham is a scoundrel. Had Lizzie chosen to believe—or at least consider—Caroline’s warning, she might have been more willing to consider Darcy’s proposal or to 
hear him out with a clearer head.

In the end, I believe Elizabeth learns her lesson about judging without evidence (particularly in light of Darcy’s judgments of Jane’s feelings). I don’t believe we see Lizzie tested in the same way that she was with Darcy again before the end of the novel, but I do believe that because she was so sorry for the decisions she made that she will be more careful in the future.

“You Must Marry Him!”

In this section, I want to talk about the three times that one of the ladies of the novel is expected to marry, and in two times out of three times they do. Here I essentially want to touch on the choices that women of the era had in love and life.

1) Lizzie and Mr. Collins

Mr. Collins, as we see throughout the novel, is a thoroughly unpleasant individual. He prides himself in his self-perceived ability to flatter women. He is pompous, imperious, and self-assured of his own (and his Lady’s) piety. For example, Fordyce’s sermons, which he reads at the Bennets’ house, are also known as “Sermons for Young Women.” This to me indicates that he is not the type to preach TO an audience, but AT an audience.

I doubt that anyone who is not intent upon playing devil’s advocate would argue Mr. Collins’s merits. And yet, because of his position as the inheritor of Mr. Bennet’s estate, Mrs. Bennet can see him as nothing but the match Lizzie might not make anywhere else. Lizzie must marry, because it would be socially unacceptable for her to work and earn her own way. If left unmarried, she would be forced to live off of one of her sister’s husbands or beg her way through life. To Mrs. Bennet’s mind, the marriage of Lizzie to her cousin Mr. Collins is ideal. Her belief does not stem from the personalities or feelings of the parties involved but because the family fortune will stay within the family. This way, any of the rest of her sisters who end as old maids may return to their childhood home and be cared for from their family’s money, rather than being thrown out into the street.

Lizzie does not see a match with Mr. Collins as such a desirable arrangement. She is not a perfect person by any means, as I discussed earlier, but she does have far more sense in matters of the heart than her mother. Her rejection of Mr. Collins is in her own best interest, as she wishes to secure not the financial future of herself and her sisters, but her own future happiness. She expresses to Jane that she will not marry a man she does not like, and she holds to this sentiment throughout the book.
Some of her contemporaries, such as her mother, Mr. Collins, and one other lady we will discuss shortly, would say her choice was unwise.  I believe, as I think many of my own contemporaries would, that Lizzie made the decision that was in her own best interest.

Mr. Collins, mercifully, is not the only fish in any sea. You know. . . hopefully.

2) Charlotte and Mr. Collins

To my mind, the chapter when Charlotte tells Lizzie of her engagement to Mr. Collins is one of the saddest in the entire novel. Charlotte, who Mrs. Bennet tells us repeatedly is not as handsome as her own girls, has reached her twenty seventh year without finding a husband. By her own society’s standards, she is essentially an old maid. However, she is a bright, kind individual with many “amiable” qualities, as can be demonstrated by her close friendship with Lizzie.

It saddens me—and disgusts me, truth be told—that women of essentially every era but our own (and many of our own as well) are forced to marry not because of any personal desire, but because they simply cannot survive without the aid and protection of husbands. Charlotte Lucas deserved a man who loved her and who was as devoted to her as Darcy was to Lizzie. But, rather than being able to wait and find such a man, Charlotte felt compelled to accept the first offer of matrimony that fell her way. She was hopeless of ever finding a mate, and she felt that she was already a burden to her parents, rather than a valuable member of her family unit.

Upon entering the Bennet household,  Mr. Collins was not really interested in any particular woman. We see this when he asks Mrs. Bennet about Jane, only to be redirected to the next eldest daughter.  He only needs a warm, female corpse to fill the role of “preacher’s wife” in his parish, as the illustrious Lady Catherine de Bourgh demands. Unlike Lizzie, Charlotte feels that the need for a man, any man, is greater than her need for future happiness. I believe this to be one of the great tragedies of Pride and Prejudice.

3) Lydia and Mr. Wickham

Before anyone gets upset that I am directly comparing Lydia’s case to Charlotte’s, I do understand that Charlotte is something of a victim of circumstances, while Lydia makes her own bed and must lie in it. I do not particularly like Lydia, and she annoys me a great deal. My happiness at the conclusion of the novel would have little to do with Lydia’s happiness.

HOWEVER, I think it is important to look at the case from our modern perspective, and in light of the fact that she was only sixteen at the time that she was taken in by Wickham.
Throughout the novel, Lydia is an irrepressible flirt who finds any young man with breath in his lungs (save perhaps Mr. Collins) an endlessly fascinating toy. She collects and exchanges their attentions, like a bee hopping from one flower to another. For the sake of argument, I will say that Lydia’s behavior is primarily the result of youthful folly and flawed character, caused by the complete lack of restraint her parents place upon her. I do not believe that this absolves Lydia’s guilt, but I do believe that examining a character’s motivations is a useful tool in understanding and analyzing her actions.

As Mr. Bennet himself later admits to Lizzie, it was a great mistake to pass Lydia off to the Forsters and expect them to watch her as well as he might (though it seems to me that even he does little of this). Just as she did when she was at home, Lydia spends as many of her waking hours as possible flirting with as many men as possible. Unlike her two oldest sisters, she views her relationship with these men as something of a joke or a game, telling Mrs. Forster that she will “laugh” when she discovers that Lydia and Mr. Wickham have run away together. To Lydia’s credit, she does believe that Wickham intends to marry her, but both the readers and her two older sisters will recognize her naïveté and general misunderstanding of Wickham’s character. While Lizzie blames herself for not exposing Wickham’s character to those who might be in danger of him, I am not certain that Lydia would have believed Lizzie in the first place. In any case, I do not think Lizzie’s exposing of Mr. Wickham would have decided Lydia’s fate.

In the end, Darcy discovers the two of them at the home of the woman who helped Wickham hide away with his would-be wife the last time. Darcy promptly pays off Wickham’s debts and makes several other large expenditures of his wealth to make certain that Wickham’s marriage to Lydia goes through and the reputation of the Bennet girls is not ruined by that of their “fallen sister.”

This is where I begin to take issue with the circumstances surrounding Wickham and Lydia’s union. First of all, I find it extraordinarily unfair that Lydia’s sisters would become untouchable in the eyes of the other members of their class. I suppose I do understand that Lydia’s actions would reflect poorly on her sisters, as it is merely human nature to make assumptions about other members of a family based on one. I am not saying that this is a necessarily justifiable attitude, only that it is normal. However, I think that Lydia’s actions destroying her sisters’ chances at happiness is unjust.

Most of the rest of my problems with this union come from the way those around her react to it. Wickham become something of a joke Mr. Bennet tells to Lizzie, talking about Wickham as his favorite son-in-law. This is meant to be funny (and to be honest, is funny), because it is understood between Mr. Bennet, Lizzie, and the reader that Wickham is slime unworthy to lick his other sons-in-law’s shoes. And yet, Mr. Bennet does not seem to mind much that one of his daughters is to be trapped with this man for the rest of her life. Lydia’s husband does not love her and is morally bankrupt, but rather than part of a tragic story, he is part of a joke. Lydia being separated from him is not even an option; as I said before, she has made her bed and must lie in it. . .for the rest of her life.

What really sparked this windy discussion of Lydia’s folly is a statement from Mr. Collins in a letter to Mr. Bennet before her marriage to Wickham. He says, “The death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison to this.” I hardly believe this to be the case. After Lydia returns a married woman, Collins says that Mr. Bennet should forgive her like a Christian, but that her name should not be mentioned in the house any more. While I agree that Lydia should not have acted in the way that she did in any respect, I do not believe that her death would have been better for anyone. I suppose as far as her sisters’ marriage prospects go, he might be technically correct in his assertion, but to think that anyone could be so callous about his own cousin is difficult for me to comprehend.

In the end, I suppose I do not believe that Lydia made any wise choices throughout this episode in the novel, but I only wish that the mistake of a sixteen year old girl would not lead to potentially perpetual unhappiness.

Nature versus Nurture

One aspect of Pride and Prejudice that I have never really understood is how girls of such differing personality sprang from the Bennet family. I am not saying that all the people from one family usually have the same likes or temperaments. I suppose I primarily wonder how Mrs. Bennet did not manage to spoil Jane, Lizzie, and Mary just as she spoiled Lydia and Kitty. How did Lizzie escape from her mother’s influence?

We know that Lizzie is her father’s favorite, just a Lydia is her mother’s favorite. But how did this come to be? Is Lizzie her father’s favorite because she showed some early signs of restraint, or does she act with restraint because she is favored by her comparatively reasonable father? I personally would favor the former. I would think that Lydia’s outgoing personality would be recognized by her mother as like unto her own, just as Lizzie’s level-headedness would find a reflection in her father. In his initial letter about Lydia’s disappearance, Mr. Collins says that surely the Bennets are not to blame for her behavior, as she must have had some evil in her personality independent of them. Lizzie, on the other hand, makes it clear throughout the novel that Lydia was spoiled and allowed to do whatever she wanted. Mr. Collins blames nature; Lizzie blames nurture.

Similarly, at the end of the novel Darcy explains to Lizzie that his pride was taught to him by his father, As he grows older and meets her, he gradually learns to overcome the worse parts of his pride. Both he and Georgiana also seem to be somewhat reserved. Would that be a part of his father’s influence as well, or is that an inborn family trait?

Then there is Mary, who we have not said much of thus far. Mary does not seem to be anyone’s favorite. She only sits alone, reading books and being officious. Jane, too, is no one’s favorite (until her engagement to Bingley). Where did her quiet reason come from? Or how did Bingley escape his sisters’ class consciousness and spite? Could this owe primarily to their gender and need to marry someone of a higher social echelon?

I personally have no answers worth reading. But perhaps if you have staggered to the end of this, you do. I would love to hear from anyone with ideas.


I would just like to take this time to give a shout out to Georgiana Darcy, who is awesome. That is all.

I suppose the only conclusion I can draw here is that Pride and Prejudice is a topic entirely too large for one blog post. And, additionally, that this blog post is entirely too long. I will attempt to make future blog posts a more reasonable length. Feel free to share any views on these or any other topics pertaining to the novel.  I hope you all enjoyed this month’s pick, and stay tuned for next month’s announcement!

Best wishes,

July 24, 2014

North Carolina in Instagram Photos

Family vacation is something that I appreciate more and more the older I get. Maybe it's because I know that in just two or three years, family vacations might not be the same anymore. Growing up certainly has its downsides... But it can make you appreciate things you really used to barely tolerate. Driving hours and hours never seemed worth getting to see new places and have some serious family time; the drive doesn't seem nearly as bad now that I'm 20.

Two weeks ago, I was relaxing, reading, and soaking up the sun on Lake Hiawasse in North Carolina. NC is an absolutely beautiful state, with lots of mountains, waterfalls, and greenery. Beautiful places make me happy, so I thought I'd share the pictures I took on my iPhone while I was there. Enjoy!

As you can see, we spent a lot of time on the lake. 

Keep an eye out for some new things coming to LD's!


All photos taken on an iPhone 4s and edited with VSCOcam, Afterlight, Snapseed, and Instagram apps.

July 18, 2014

Complete the 100 Happy Days Photo Challenge. Done

Well, I can now check off another item from my 21 Before 21 list! I started the 100 Happy Days challenge at a time when I felt like I was barely hanging on: right before exams. I was exhausted and stressed, and honestly probably started it whilst procrastinating. I thought the challenge would be a good way to help me improve my eye for photography as well as help me appreciate more fully how blessed I am to have so much beauty in my life.

I'm going to admit up front that I did not take a picture every single day. On six occasions I simply re-edited a picture from another day, like on my cousin's birthday, or on the occasional Throwback Thursday :) BUT. I did POST a picture every day. It was difficult sometimes; I almost forgot on several occasions. The days that I worked all day were the hardest, mostly because when I would get home, there would be no good lighting for me to take a picture of anything!

Okay, so: Am I glad I did the 100 Happy Days Challenge? Yes. Definitely. I enjoyed the challenge. I love photography and my life; combining the two on a daily basis was a really great experience. 

Did I learn anything? Actually, yes. And the things I learned are really quite random, but I thought I'd share them anyways.

1) For starters, I learned how something small can change how you view your world. Taking a picture every day slowed me down; I had to find one thing every day that was photo-worthy, and if that doesn't change how you see your world, then I don't know what will. You will see things in greater detail and have a fuller memory.

2) I also learned that I love black and white. Some days I just couldn't seem to find good lighting, and my pictures looked grainy or had awful coloring. Black and white was an easy fix for this. A poorly exposed photo can look beautiful once you make it black and white; all the distractions and imperfections disappear. It's a great way to turn the focus of the picture from composition and color to what you took a picture of. 

3) I learned way too much about photo editing apps. I tried so many editing apps, it's not even funny. I was eventually rewarded though. I now have a great collection on my phone, and can easily make even the worst of iPhone pictures look decent enough to post on Instagram. My favorites include:
  1. Snapseed: This free app is made by Google, so it has to be great, right? This is my go-to for basic editing and correction: brightness, saturation, temperature... Snapseed fixes all these best.  It also has a great center focus option that is more adjustable than the center focus on most apps.
  2. VSCOcam: Somewhere between Snapseed and Instagram is VSCOcam. It has powerful filters that really change your photo, and all the filters are adjustable. The app is free, and so are multiple filters, but it does have ones you have to purchase. The free ones are still great, especially the skin tone corrector!
  3. Afterlight: This app isn't free, but it was worth the 99 cents. There are lots of filters, crops, light leaks, and more. It is also a great editor for fixing the color tone of photos. 
  4. Instagram: As much hate as Instagram gets, it is still the biggest photo sharing social media out there... And for good reason. With recent updates, Instagram is up there with VSCOcam... The filters are now adjustable and there is an expanded editing option. The only downside is we've seen the filters so often we can probably spot an Amaro filter from a mile away. I love Instagram, and I'm not afraid to admit it. It is always the last step in editing any of my photos.
The only app I hated is Camera+. (There's my one bad review.) It's just too complicated and not very visually appealing. 

4) I learned that practice improves anything. I doubt any one else can really tell, but I can certainly see an improvement in my photography skills. I'm much better at finding good light and interesting angles, and it doesn't take nearly as many shots to get the one I'm wanting. I'm still no professional, but I feel like I have definitely gotten better.

5) I learned that everything is beautiful. This sounds so cheesy, and it probably is. But really... In the right lighting, anything can make a great photograph. Small moments that don't seem terribly important when they happen can make amazingly meaningful pictures. My favorite example is the picture I took of my mom sewing: she does it often enough, but the way the picture captured the moment is really beautiful.

Well, now that I'm done sharing life lessons, I thought I'd share my five favorites.

Thanks to all my friends who put up with a picture a day for so long. I loved this challenge and I may do it again one day. 

So, complete the 100 Happy Days Challenge: Done.


July 1, 2014

Lizzie Diana's Book Club: July 2014 Selection

As many of my friends know, I love to read. (And for those of you who I do not know, I'll go ahead and tell you now: I love to read.) From classics to fantasy, historical romance to young adult, I'll read basically anything, especially if it's cheap!

I'm an avid book collector as well; I own over 250 books and currently have a to-read pile that is nearly chest high. And I'm sure it comes as no surprise that the love of reading runs in the family. Both my brother and sister are book lovers and own quite a few themselves (though not as many as me!).

But there is one family member who has my siblings and I beat by a long shot, and that is my dear cousin, Honor.

I'm not going to even try to guess how many books she has squirreled away in her bedroom, but it's probably double what I have. In all honesty, I most likely learned my hoarding habits from her; at age twelve I was borrowing books from her, 10 or more at a time. It was a rather symbiotic relationship: she got more shelf space, and I got more books to read. Up until that pivotal point in my life, I was content just checking out books from the library. But something changed, and now I would so much rather own the book than borrow it. There's something extremely pleasing about owning one's own books.

As I was thinking of ways to expand Lizzie Diana's readership, I thought it would be great to start a book club! I also wanted to get some guest bloggers to occasionally write for us, so why not combine the two? I asked Honor, a book review blogger at Reading My Height in Books, if she would run the book club for Lizzie Diana's, and she said yes!

Here's how it works: Every month, we will read one book. At the beginning of the month, we will announce the book selection for the month so you can go buy, download, or check it out at the library. We will attempt to cover an array of authors and subject matters, but they will all probably be fiction. At the end of the month, there will be an online discussion on the blog, written and run by Honor. Feel free to ask questions and pose your own discussions in the comments!

Both Diana and I are terribly excited about our book club, and we know Honor will do an amazing job; she's a fantastic writer and already has some great books picked out.

I thought I'd let Honor introduce herself (and this month's books selection!), so without further ado, meet my cousin, Honor.

 Hello Everyone!

As Lizzie has said, my name is Honor, and I’m one half of the reviewing team at the (very young) blog Reading My Height in Books! I love books, and I've been an avid reader since I was small. As Lizzie also said, I have a *slightly* ridiculous library, housing upwards of eight hundred books. While I tend to prefer fantasy, science fiction, classics, and young adult novels, I’m more than happy to branch out.

As many of you have likely surmised from the spoiler on their Facebook page, the first book in Lizzie Diana's Book Club will be . . . Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen! So, over the course of July we’ll be reading the novel, and during the last week I’ll post a list of topics relevant to the book for discussion by myself and anyone else who would like to participate. Please feel free to comment, suggest topics, and recommend books for the coming months! If we hit some kind of unforeseen snag in the format—or if any of you have suggestions for improvement—we can always make changes in the future.

I’m looking forward to proctoring Lizzie Diana’s Book Club, and I hope you all are as well. Happy reading!

Best wishes,