Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sophomore Year and Being Old(ish)

So, it's been a while since I've posted anything. In my defense, I'm a sophomore now, and I'm expected to do more, more, more with the same amount of time. Homework? Oh, yes, I've got that. Play practice almost every day? Ah, yes, that too. Stress? Yeah, we're kind of old pals by now.

For any of you freshpeople out there, enjoy this time while you can. I'm not saying sophomore year isn't fun, but it's definitely harder than ninth grade. Especially if you're taking all honors classes. I'm in Honors History, Honors English, Honors Chemistry, and--worst of all--Honors Algebra II. Needless to say, I've got a lot on my plate.

Sophomore year is the overlooked section of high school. As a freshperson, everyone's always asking you about how you're adjusting to high school, what it's like, blah, blah, blah. As a junior, people want to know how you're dealing with SATS and all those other tests you have to take. Senior year is all about planning for college--looking into places, writing essays, submitting applications, ect. But sophomores? Nothing special happens as a sophomore. Us tenth graders are pretty much just forgotten.

I can't believe I'm fifteen. Honestly, I feel like I never got older than twelve. In three years I'm going to go to college and try to figure out my life, all while wondering if anyone else can tell that my mental state is still that of a seventh grader. Maybe when I was twelve I felt like I was still nine. Maybe we always just feel like we're supposed to be more mature than we are, but everyone has all these expectations and suddenly we have to be all grown up and make decisions and do taxes and scary things like that. I can't remember a time when I wasn't supposed to be "responsible," when I wasn't an adult-in-training.

As you can probably tell, I had no clear trajectory when setting out to write this post. So here it is. Take it as you may.

Later skater,

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Designs Are On Clothing!

visit my store!
Hey everyone! I have some exciting news to share with you. I found a really cool website called Zazzle, where you can upload your artwork and designs and put them on tee shirts, phone cases, mugs, ect. People order them, the company makes them, and you get a small royalty and the pride in knowing someone has your art in their home!

Well, this is exactly what I've been looking for, so I signed up for an account right away. Turns out you need to be registered with the IRS for taxes or whatever, so I had to fill out a tax form! Still not really sure what I'm supposed to do about taxes...but that's not the point here!

If you have any time, please check out my store HERE. I have a ton of tee shirts, tank tops, and phone cases. No pressure to buy anything, of course, but maybe keep it in the back of your mind when you're looking for gifts or new clothes.

Later skater,

PS. If you have a design you want me to put on something specially for you, please tell me and I'll be happy to oblige!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Birthday Campout

Hey y'all!

This weekend I celebrated my birthday with a two-day campground campout. My birthday isn't actually until Tuesday, but this weekend seemed as good a time as any to celebrate with my three closest friends.

Unfortunately, turned out it wasn't exactly. One of my friends could only come for the day on Friday, and not stay over, and my other friend couldn't come on Friday and could only come on Saturday through Sunday. Then my last invitee got sick and couldn't come at all. So in the end, I ended up spending the weekend with two separate friends and leaving one bedridden.

It was still fun, though. The campground had a really great pool with a little waterslide, which we spent most of our time in. A lot of my family came on Saturday, which was nice, and I got many birthday wishes, as while as cupcakes and all the snacks I could hope for.

Now all I've gotta do is tackle that honors Algebra 2 packet...*shudders*

Later skater,

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Good Day

Today was a good day. 

I'm not going to go into the details, but I just feel like spilling something or other. 

I attended a bookmaking and block printing camp with two of my good friends, Olivia and Maria. We made cool books and prints and I got to spend six hours doing art with my friends, which was fun and entertaining and just a good time. 

At our lunch break we walked to a nearby park and hung out on the swings, because no matter how old you get, swings are still fun. 

After camp we went down to the lake, and carried our things in a wheelbarrow/cart sort of thing that was very tippy. We alternated taking turns riding in it, and Maria--being a rookie rider--looked absolutely terrified the whole time (basically the cart could tip vertical at any point, and it's not exactly a smooth ride). 

We splashed around in the lake, ate Chex Mix and Goldfish on the shore, and then headed back. I spit water on Olivia and she spent the rest of the ride trying to get me back with her water bottle, which involved periodically chasing me and tossing water my way, while Maria sighed and pulled the very cart she was supposed to be riding in. 

What can I say? Summer has never been sweeter or sadder or more full, and with school right around the corner, I might as well enjoy myself. And you should, too. 

Later Skater,

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ink Stained Paradise

Hey peeps! Summer has been rolling along, and I've revived a couple new hobbies. Namely...fine art and watercolor painting!

I don't talk much about my art, but I've always liked sketching and painting. I've been cranking out the paintings over the last few weeks, so, with the help of the muses and a few inspiring online artists, I've decided to launch my own art blog, Ink Stained Paradise.

I'll be posting tutorials, works-in-progress, finished paintings, and more. If you have a second, pop on over and check it out.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sweet, Sweet Summer

Summer is slipping by. My summer is already half over, and depending on where you live, yours might be, too. So let me ask you this: how has your summer been so far?

There are three answers to this question: GOOD, OKAY, or BAD

If your summer's been going good, then hurrah! You've done at least half of the things on your bucket list. You've tried something new. You've had at least one meaningful experience. You are on track to make this the Best Summer Ever. I commend you. You are having the summer we all aspire to have. Keep doing what you're doing.

If your summer's been just okay, that's not so bad. You've had some good moments. Some boring/bad ones. Your summer hasn't been packed with thrills, but it hasn't been entirely dreary. Still, you could afford to spice it up a little. Take a risk! Do something uber-fun with your friends! Don't wait for excitement to come to you; seek it out! With a little work, you can turn this into a good summer.

Ah, you're the one whose been having the bad summer. Maybe it's rained every day. Maybe your super-awesome vacation got cancelled. Maybe your parents are making you stay in a hut in the woods, with no WiFi, electricity, or indoor bathroom. Or maybe you just haven't had an interesting summer; it happens. Fortunately, you can fix this. All you need is a little dedication, and a willingness to have fun and try new things. Stick your head out of your shell. Go actively search for opportunities. Try to really fill up your time. Hang out with friends, volunteer at events, go on bike rides, go shopping, take a long walk. If you're having a bad summer, chances are it means you're just really bored. Get off the couch and do something. I promise it will help.

Keep rockin' the summer vibes. For now, later skater.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Best Two Weeks of My Life

The silly photo they took of everyone on the first day

Two days ago I returned home from a two-week, sleepaway arts camp. And I'm not going to lie--it was the best experience I've ever had.

It was held at a college, and I shared a tiny dorm with cement walls and a hard mattress. There was one bathroom for ten girls and we had a crummy little lounge area with some lumpy, maroon couches. We were on the fourth floor, and it was quite a climb to get to our dorm. But it didn't matter. It was perfect.
My dorm room

The people at this camp were amazing. Everyone wanted to be there, and everyone was talented, accepting, inspiring and just all around amazing. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be--surrounded by a bunch of creative teens who loved art just as much as I do. It felt like a real community.

We got to choose two classes to take for the two weeks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In the morning I chose a class where we learned to make inflatable structures, and my end project was a giant, inflatable narwhal. My afternoon class was songwriting, which was a ton of fun. I wrote a bunch of new songs and it was great just to have some time to sit down and write.

The classes weren't the main part of the camp, though. Between classes, we had free time where students and staff could offer their own mini workshops. I took workshops on printmaking, bookmaking, watercolor portraits, a Nordic LARP where we pretended to be rocks (kind of strange and not as boring as it sounds--just look it up) and so much more. 

We were there over the Fourth of July, and the camp has a tradition where everyone makes a puppet and we have a parade through the streets of the local town. I made a Little Fish, which was one of the options, and on the Fourth I proudly swam my fish down the road. (Then when we were heading back I tried to hurdle over a wooden barrier and ended up tripping in front of everyone and scraping my elbow, but that's another story).

I cannot stress enough how amazing everyone at this camp was. It was the most supportive and open group of people. Everyone could just be themselves. I wasn't afraid to dance my heart out at the various concerts and dance parties, I wasn't afraid to speak up, I wasn't afraid to perform in front of them, because they were nothing but accepting.

Needless to say, when it came time to say goodbye, I cried. A lot. The saddest part is, I can never go back. Since this is a by-application, highly-requested camp, if you've already gotten in you're not allowed to apply again. I am going to miss everyone and everything so much. I don't think I'll ever have that kind of experience again. 

Playing ukulele on the green
Here's what I'm going to pass on to you: don't be afraid to try new things. I almost didn't apply to the camp because I was scared I wouldn't be artsy enough, because I was scared of not getting in, because I wasn't sure I was "ready." But if I had not applied I wouldn't have become part of something so wonderful. Do things that scare you. They always pay off.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Goodbye, Ninth Grade

Well, it's official. I'm no longer a freshman.

Today was my last day of school. When it finished, I had a hamburger at the all-school barbecue, and then went to get ice cream with Marika. And that was it. My freshman year was over.

Exactly one year ago today I was graduating eighth grade, moving on to greater things and bigger schools. And now 25% of my high school career has evaporated in what feels like a moment. I don't feel like summer has truly come. I feel like tomorrow I should be waking up and biking off to school. It's not summer yet. It can't be.

Alas, times flies by, and while nine months feels like nine days, I'm doing my best to accept that school is over and I am that much closer to graduating, going off to college, then losing all my support systems and being thrust into--gasp--the real world. That's a pretty terrifying thought, honestly. And I feel like it's all happening so fast. I just want to tell the world to slow down a little, to let me grow up, to give me some more time.

Ah, well. I know this summer is going to be a good one. So I'm just going to take a deep breath, calm down, and take it one day at a time.

Later skater,

Monday, May 18, 2015

What is Feminism?

At my school, our freshman year we have an end-of-year project in English instead of finals, where we are supposed to identify a problem and make a change in my community. After giving it some thought, I came up with this: I feel like the younger generation doesn't have an accurate understanding of feminism.

Maybe they have never heard of it. Maybe they aren't clear on what "feminism" really means. Maybe they are not comfortable enough with the concept to really affiliate themselves with it. After carrying out my project, I decided to create this blog post to educate you, my readers.

I'm sure some of you are feminists (you go!). But if you're not sure of what feminism actually is, here's a simple definition:

Feminism: The belief that men are equal to women, and should have the same rights, opportunities, and treatment.

Not so complicated, huh? That's the basic principal. Women, quite simply, deserve to be treated as equals to men. Below, I've pasted the information I wrote to put in a brochure for my project.


What is Feminism?
Feminism, quite simply, is the idea that there should be equality between the genders. It addresses issues like the wage gap between men and women, the over-sexualization and objectification of women, unrealistic and unfair standards of beauty and femininity, reproductive freedom, sexual assault and harassment, representation of women in the media and politics, and much more.

Am I A Feminist?
Do you believe that men and women are equals, and should be treated as such? If so, you, my friend, are a feminist! It doesn’t matter your gender, as the name “feminist” might seem to suggest, as long as you understand and agree with feminism’s core beliefs. There’s no shame in calling yourself a feminist--be proud of it! You are helping this society grow and evolve in a positive direction! 

Why Do We Need Feminism?

We need feminism because women in the US get paid 78% of what men do. Because women make up only 19.4% of the US Congress. Because the US has never had a woman president. Because only 3% of rapists go to jail. Because women’s bodies are constantly objectified, scrutinized, and over-sexualized. Because women are afraid to admit when they have been sexually assaulted. Because women are shamed for having sex, while men are congratulated. Because women are still commonly expected to take their husband’s last name. Because it is still unsafe for a woman to walk home alone at night. Because panels of only men are deciding women’s reproductive rights.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
Stereotypes About Feminism
There are many stereotypes around the word “feminism.” Feminists do not hate men. They do not think women are better than men--they believe the two are equal. Female feminists are not “less feminine.” There is no standard feminist--feminists can be anyone, with any appearance or background or the like.
 There you have it. Those are the basics of feminism. Just because women can vote doesn't mean we've achieved equality. We still have a long way to go--but you can be part of the solution! Be a supporter, an activist; speak out against misogyny* and sexism. Speak up when you hear feminism being misrepresented or misunderstood. Educate your peers. It takes everyone to change the world. 

While you're at it, take my survey and tell me why feminism is important to you.  Your answers will be recorded anonymously, and maybe I'll make a follow up post.

Go gender equality! 

*misogyny: dislike of or prejudice against women 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How to Have the Best Summer Ever

If you're anything like me, the moment April 1st comes around, you're itching for summer. The end of the school year seems just around the corner--all you have to do is slog through three projects, hop stepping stones across the raging stream that is finals, and then you're home free! Your summer stands ahead of you, long and never ending and full of possibilities and potential. This summer you'll finally build that tree house, write that novel, go on that cross-country adventure with your friends, try out water skiing! It'll be jam-packed with fun and excitement.

Or will it? I build up summer in my head. I envision it to be countless hours of enjoyment, bonding, camps and activities. Usually it turns out to be short, boring, and lazy. All the fun I imagined myself having adds up to maybe a week, leaving the other eight or nine empty. It's a let down. A disappointment.

Maybe you have this problem too. So, for both you and me, I decided to compile this list of summer activities. If you're bored during the summer, pop over and take a look, then pick something that you feel like doing. Some activities are challenging, some simple. Some require a friend, others you can do alone.

Without further ado... Ella's List of Things To Do In Summer!

Larger Commitments

1. Volunteer somewhere. If you're in high school like me, you need a certain amount of community service hours to graduate. There are plenty of places you can volunteer, which will get you those hours and give you something to put on your college resume. Research organizations and events to volunteer for online. Some things to get you started: your local Humane Society, Boys and Girls Club, your local library, running, swimming and other races. Call them or go on their websites for details.

2. Do A Summer Camp. There are summer camps for all ages, and plenty of programs for teens that are a ton of fun and cover lots of topics. Art camps, film camps, nature camps, sleepaway camps, you name it. If you don't want to actually participate in a camp, then volunteer to help out at a camp for younger kids. Some camps will hire teenagers, so you might even get paid.

3. Get A Job. There are plenty of jobs for teenagers in the summer. If you're interested in working for a summer camp, go online to your local Parks and Recreation site. Parks and Rec runs lots of camps and usually hires teenagers. If you're not interested in a camp, go to the website for your local mall and look for job openings at the shops there. Maybe you have a favorite store that you're interested in working for (and as a bonus, you'll get a discount when you buy their products!)

Fun, Easy Activities

1. Go to the beach/pool.
2. Go to the fair/amusement park.
3. Go to brunch with your friends.
4. Have ice cream.
5. Go shopping.

Outdoor Activities

1. Sailing/surfing.
2. Swimming at a pool/beach.
3. Bike ride/run/walk.
4. Camping. 
5. Rollerblading. 

For the Crafter/Artist

1. Learn to knit/crochet/finger knit/weave
2. Take an art or crafting class. Look up classes online or check in with your local art studio.
3. Learn to make pottery. There are lots of classes for this and it's a ton of fun.
4. Have a craft fair! You can set it up like a lemonade stand, or you can try to snag a spot at a local farmer's market or craft festival.
5. Submit artwork to your local fair/expo. I know the fair in my area lets kids, teens, and people of all ages submit their artwork to be displayed at the exposition. As long as your art meets the guidelines, everyone gets in! Look it up.
6. Submit your artwork to magazines. Some literary magazines like Cicada and Cricket have art contests you can enter, and sometimes they just ask for open submissions. Visit the magazine's website for more information.

For the Writer

1. Work on that novel!
2. Edit that novel!
3. Submit that novel for publication!
4. Take the summer as an opportunity to write, write, write. Submit as many stories as you can to as many contests and magazines as you can. If you don't know where to start, read my post on places for teens to get published.  You can also submit to writing contests put out by Cicada, Cricket, and other magazines, which often have poetry and story contests for their readers.
5. Attend a writing course, class, workshop, or camp.
6. Start a mini newspaper, either in print or online. Or start a newsletter for your street or neighborhood.

Earn Money

1. Arrange a streetwide yard sale! Get everyone on your street to clear out their old junk, and then set a date and advertise, advertise, advertise!
2. Volunteer to walk a neighbor's dog, or look after their pet while they're on vacation.
3. Mow lawns, either yours or your neighbors.
4. Get a babysitting gig.
5. Start a business! If you have a passion, chances are that can be shaped to help you turn a profit. Pair up with a friend if this seems like a daunting task.

There you have it! Some ways to make your summer a good one. Anything I missed? Let me know!

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Music

Hey there. As most of you might know, I'm in a band with my friend Marika. We play the baritone and soprano ukuleles, and she plays piano. We write all our own songs, and some of you have been requesting to listen, so I present to you--two songs from our new YouTube channel!

Hope you enjoyed our music! Share and subscribe!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Music and Mother's Day

Yesterday, my bandmate Marika and I played a couple of our songs at a showcase downtown, for a yearly fair-type thing, for kids in the community. It happens the day before Mother's Day--you know how everyone is always like, "Why isn't there a day for kids?" Well, that's what this is.

Anyway, it was really fun, and I think we did a good job. I wasn't too nervous for once.

Today, of course, is Mother's Day! I had a nice breakfast with my mom, gave her a little card, you know.

I apologize if I haven't been posting as much. My teachers are throwing projects and papers at me left and right, and final exams are next week, so blogging isn't my top priority right now. As soon as summer comes along and I have actual news, I'll update you.

For now, this rabbit in a rain hat will guide you.
Peace out. See you after finals.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Although nothing major happened over April vacation, I did go to Boston for a couple days with my mom. Here are some pics and highlights.
The Freedom Trail seal
The first day we walked the Freedom Trail, this trail that winds all around the city and stops by tons of historic landmarks. Boston is chock full of history--the revolutionary war practically started there!

A vendor selling jewelry. There were lots of these kinds of carts around the city.
The Statehouse--one of the Freedom Trail stops.
A famous-ish graveyard where Ben Franklin's parents are buried, along with other notable people.

Quincy Market. Inside, it's full of food stands and little restaurants. Like a giant, delicious food court.
The warf. It was a slightly windy day, but not too cold.
Legal Sea Food, where we had lunch the first day.
My delicious lunch: a lobster roll with seaweed salad and onion strings!
An archway with vines wrapped around it.
Mike's Pastry--a really delicious pastry place. It was chock full--the place was packed with people!
Cannoli's from Mike's Pastry--delicious!
Park, fountain, and accordion player.
A historic printing press. A very painstaking process.
The Bunker Hill Monument.
The U.S.S. Constitution. We got to go aboard and below decks. Pretty cool.
We traveled into the city via the T (subway).
The Haymarket.
The last day, we went to the New England Aquarium. I haven't been to an aquarium since I was six, so I was pretty excited. It did not disappoint.

A very happy seal!
A cool tank where you could touch manta rays! They actually liked a little backscratch--they're like dogs!
Cool jellyfish.
One of the four species of penguins at the aquarium.
Clownfish hiding in anemones.
Another cool fishtank.
A very shy sea turtle.
Happy little seals.
Starfish, starfish.
Cranky turtle.
Well, that was my trip! Have you had your vacation yet (if you have one)? What's been going on?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Summer Happenings

Summer is almost here. Well, really it's two months away. But the moment April rolls around, I start eagerly anticipating the end of the school year. April break just began, and according to all my teachers, the moment we get back school kicks into full throttle. The end of the year is a blur of projects, finals, and all-around hecktickness. My teachers seem to have just realized they have five more units to cram in, and I've been assigned a ton of projects all due in the next month and a half.

Anyway, summer couldn't get here faster. Usually I build up the greatness of summer in my head, filling it with a whirlwind of fun activities and bonding with my friends, but it turns out to be boring and lonely. This year, I really want to work to change that.

First of all, I got accepted into an intensive two-week overnight camp for the arts! Since I'm only a freshman, and they give priority to older kids, I wasn't sure I would get in. But I guess my application was good enough to get me a slot. And, as it so happens, my best friend got accepted as well! We are both really lucky we made it in, and I'm super excited. I've actually never been to an overnight camp before. I think this will be really fun; I'll be participating in all kinds of art programs, and hopefully bonding with other campers and learning new skills.

I am also hoping to volunteer for the summer reading program at my local library, where little kids log the hours they read and then come in and enter a raffle to win a bike and other prizes. Basically, as a volunteer I would just sit and wait for kids to come in and turn in their hour logs, but I need community service hours to graduate high school, and this seems like a good opportunity. 

I'm also hoping to volunteer at a music camp, which I've been attending since I was eight. Last year they didn't have it, but they're starting up again this year and I feel like I'm a little too old to be a camper, so volunteering is the next best thing. And like I said, gotta get those community service hours!

My neighborhood has a small farmer's market once a week, where vendors sell local produce and food. My band mate and I occasionally place music there, and I'm hoping to make it every week this summer (and maybe earn a little money busking for tips).

The real place where street musicians roll in the dough is downtown. My city is lucky enough to have four whole blocks devoted to a downtown area, where cars aren't allowed to drive, and street musicians can busk for money there. During the summer business is good, because there are plenty of people milling about and shopping. Hopefully my band mate and I will make it down there at least a couple times.

My debatably favorite part of the summer is my street's block party in June. It's more like a crazy fiesta. Every year there's a theme, and all the odd characters on my street come out and run booths and set up lounges and dance, and tons of people come or pass by to see the action. It's a ton of fun, but I also like to capitalize on it. I set up a booth and sell my jewelry and crafts and make a tidy little sum. This year, I've actually been learning jewelery making, so hopefully my jewelry will bring in the big bucks. I'm also hoping to play some music with my band mate while I'm at it.

The only other summer camp I'm signed up for thus far is a bookmaking camp with my friend. We have a kind of tradition of doing a craft camp together at one of the art studios in town, and this year we're signed up to learn how to bind books and do block printing. It should be fun.

Then, of course, the end of the summer goes out with a bang when I have my birthday party. I always have a slumber party. I don't really know what we're going to do this year, but I have plenty of time to figure it out.

Well, that's my summer in a (very long) nutshell! I'll keep you updated through the summer; summertime is when I actually have interesting things to write about here.

What are your summer plans?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter and Passover to You

It's Easter/Passover weekend! Last night I went to a seder at my parents' friend's house. There were a ton of people there, and we all ate and laughed and talked together, and it was quite fun. My favorite Passover food is charoses (ha-row-sit) on matzoh. Charoses is basically chopped up nuts and apples sprinkled with cinnamon and mixed with a tiny bit of wine, and matzoh is kind of like a very large cracker (it's actually supposed to be unleavened bread, but that's basically just a cracker, right?). Anyway, it's delicious. We also had matzoh ball soup, and for the main meal there was a bunch of greens and vegetables and chicken.

Then today, of course, is Easter! I came downstairs to find some lovely little Easter gifts on the table. Chocolate eggs and bunnies, jellybeans, two new little plants, and to satisfy my new jewelry making hobby, a gift card to the craft store Michaels and a book on jewelry making! Then it was out to the backyard to collect the dyed eggs, as is customary, and back inside to feast on bacon and muffins.

All in all, it was a good Easter morning.

Ps. I made an Easter stop-motion-animation ^^