Shows I can’t stop watching

So as a grad student, you’d think I’d have zero free time to keep up with any shows. However, thanks to duel monitor setups, I’m able to have some shows on while I work. I know some people find this super distracting — but for me it’s a controlled distraction. I typically pick shows I’ve either seen before or are ones I’d be ok if I didn’t give it my full attention. But there are a few that I try to make time for during breaks, because they’re just that good.

The Good Place

If you haven’t heard of The Good Place by now… Well, that’s frankly pretty impressive. In it’s third season now, it feels like everyone is talking about this show. And for very good reason. Everything in this show just clicks. Good writing, interesting premise, and a cast that truly gels. Seasons 1-2 are on Netflix, and the most recent 5 episodes of Season 3 are on Hulu. It is a forking amazing show you should definitely check out.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Moved to NBC for it’s 6th season after FOX decided to dump it, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a gem of a show. Honestly, I wrote it off for a long time because of how FOX advertised it. It seemed just… stupid. I had absolutely no interest in a just stupid humor for the sake of stupid humor. But this show is done so well. Is some of the humor dumb? Yeah, but it does’t feel forced or inauthentic to the spirit of the show and characters. Both Nine-Nine and The Good Place were created by Michael Schur — who also co-created The Office and Parks and Recreation.

New Amsterdam & The Resident

So I’m pairing these two new medical dramas together, because frankly, after the holiday break I had a hard time keeping not only their plot lines straight, but who was on which cast. They’re both shows about “rebel” doctors who fight against a corrupt medical system. But one definitely focuses more on the young “sexy” cast and the other has (still attractive but) almost more human feeling characters.

The Rookie

Man do I love Nathan Fillion. Yes, when they were announcing this show I was skeptical. “Really, Nathan, another cop show right after Castle ended?” But The Rookie has been great. For anyone who has felt too old to go after their dreams or make big life changes, Officer John Nolan is right there with us pushing through.

What are your current “must watch” shows? Any other shows you’d suggest for me?

Witchy Stuff: my favorite books, decks, and crystals

I don’t really consider myself a witchy person. But for the last year, I’ve found myself in a lot of witchy communities. Drawn to various aspects of those practices. Maybe because a lot of them are inclusive — people are the margins banning together to care for each other. Including some of these practices in my own life has led to personal growth and introspection I had not anticipated.

With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the items I’ve incorporated into my life and why I love them. (And yes, these are affiliate links where possible.)


I use tarot infrequently — whenever it sort of feels like I need a little extra reflection. I don’t see tarot as a tool for divination, for predicting the future. However, I believe it can be a very interesting, fun, and sometimes powerful tool for introspection. Think of it like journal prompts.

I don’t use the ‘past/present/future’ three card spread, but mostly a ‘context/focus/outcome’ one. I have a few others I use from time to time, but this is my main one. Also, if you’re not sure about buying a deck, there are many cheap and free decks available on mobile! I also highly recommend the Labyrinthos Academy for anyone wanting to learn tarot.

Linestrider Tarot: This was my very first tarot deck. There is this old belief that your decks should be gifted to you, however, it’s not really a followed thing. Honestly, the best advice is to find a deck that “speaks” to you. For me, it was the artwork. Siolo Thompson’s watercolors are beautiful. She has an oracle deck, and another tarot deck on the way next year.

Ostara Tarot: It took me a little longer to really decide I wanted this deck. I had seen various readings with this deck posted on Tumblr, and found some of the cards absolutely stunning. However, I really wasn’t impressed with some others. This deck has four artists. After purchasing it, though… I’ve really come to love this deck.

Inner Star Clarity Oracle: Another one I went back and forth on for a while. However, it was sold out, so I didn’t think too much of it. Then I saw on instagram they were running a small batch of reprints! So I went and pre-ordered as soon as I could afford to. Oracle decks are different. I really only use one card at a time, sometimes more. But these really are useful for self-reflection.

Sacred Self-Care Oracle: I thought this deck was really clever. It’s full of all sorts of activities that most of us are familiar with, however might not be great at making time for. Listening to music, getting a massage, creating art, cooking, connection with friends or family… There’s only one card I removed from the deck and won’t use: “connecting to your womb.” This is definitely a very Western feminine deck… and “sacred womb” ideals just don’t speak to me at all. I got this deck as part of my Sacred Self-Care course with Goddess Provisions.


I remember growing up, my mom had a rule about not buying crystals. Not getting involved with crystals. I never thought of her as superstitious, but for some reason that rule always stuck in my head. But then last year I started buying crystals. Which really, I just call them stones. Because that’s what they are.

The idea of using specific crystals to heal certain areas or to cause various things to happen… I mean, it’s a stone. They’re minerals. But if having a specific stone helps remind you of things? Yes. I don’t believe at all that wearing a Smoky Quartz necklace will get rid of my depression. But if it helps me remember that I’m stronger than my depression? Hell yes. I find power in that.

Amethyst: Useful for protection during sleep, bringing on restful sleep, and guarding from nightmares. I have a lot of Amethyst. On my nightstand is a large piece that was my grandmother’s. I don’t know what she thought about it, or if she even knew of it’s correspondence… But I like having this watch over me as I sleep.

Carnelian: Typically related to speaking well and productivity. I keep these stones at my desks. Now, I had one of these on my nightstand, and for a while wasn’t sleeping well. Read more about the stone and then moved it out of my room completely. Slept fine since. Any actual woowoo with that? No idea. But yeah.

Smoky Quartz: Known for dispelling and protecting from negativity. As I mentioned, this one has a lot of meaning for me as it reminds me to not let my depression

Rose Quartz: This is the stone of love and self-love. Honestly, it’s also just a pretty pink stone. My first stones I bought was a rose quartz bracelet that I purchased to remind myself to take care of myself and not let my anxiety overwhelm me. And if you were wondering how that went?Well, I purchase this before my breakdown, so… yeah, take the stones with a grain of salt.

Tips on buying… Ok, so part of me doesn’t want to share this because I like keeping it to myself. But, what’s the point in that? Yes, you can (and should!) support your local metaphysical shops. But if you’re on a budget, check your geological institutions! Museums, caves, mines.. A lot of them will have amazing specimen at a lot lower of a cost. Some even 50¢ per stone, where you’d be paying $3-7 for the same thing at a witchy store. Also, if you have a crystal and gem show in your area, you can get pretty good deals there. That’s where I get a lot of my stones for my jewelry.

Also: Be sure to do your research on your stones. Some should not be placed in water, others can’t be in direct sunlight. Rose Quartz, for instance will fade with too much sunlight. Others can be toxic to you if you put it in water that you consume. Whenever you are buying anything: do your research, especially if you plan on using something topically or internally. This is especially true with essential oils — never put them on your sick neat (or without diluting in another oil, water won’t work).


I’ve purchased a number of books, some are definitely more useful in my opinion or other. Reviews aren’t always helpful when purchasing, so I’ve been checking tumblr and also trying to read previews where available.

Hearth Witch’s Compendium: This is just an amazing, big book of recipes! There is everything from food to cleaners to soaps to lip balms… I love it. They even have booze recipes! Make your own wines! I haven’t really tried many of these, but I have a lot of pages flagged.

Light Magic for Dark Times: Speaking of flagged pages… I have so many of these pages bookmarked. Now, this book is a spell book. But for those who want to add some rituals or activities filled with intention geared towards self-care but isn’t all sunshine and rainbow, this is a very good book. I purchased it after a very strong recommendation on the Fat Feminist Podcast. I really appreciate how this book embraces what some consider as negative emotions, like anger.

Jailbreaking the Goddess: If you want any sort of book to challenge you, then you need this book. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really big into “goddess” stuff. However, this book is equally about intersectional feminism. It uses a fivefold goddess model, rather than the threefold maiden-mother-crone. The fivefold one isn’t focused on Eurocentric biological ideals of who is a woman or what makes a woman. It doesn’t commodify our bodies and turn us, essentially into public property. I’m two chapters in, and really enjoying it. It’s also a really thick workbook with journal prompts and activities after every section.

Boundaries & Protection: I wasn’t sure about this one, but decided to get the eBook. This book is going to push me. In setting boundaries, I’m hoping to not only protect my self mentally and emotionally, but also allow myself to be more open, but, well, in a healthier way.


Fat Feminist Witch podcast: I love this podcast. Paige covers a lot of issues and all of it feels very true and authentic to her journey. She researches her topics very well and has really interesting interviews. And of course, a lot of book reviews as well! Episodes are about 45 minutes long, but I break them into a few sittings, which I appreciate that there are good pauses for me to do so.

Witchy Instagram: I don’t have *one* link for this. But with a little searching, you can find a lot. I’ve been finding a lot more through my self-care course, and really excited to get involved with this community. There’s some interesting discussion and debate on witchy instagram — and yes, a lot of it is gatekeeping. But you’ll find a lot in and around the aesthetics, and honestly, you can follow just for the pretty pictures or for the communities.

These fragrances from Twisted Twigs you can buy online! I love this Air Elemental room spray so much. And the Oracle perfume oil is amazing. I’m excited about getting some bath scrubs from them soon!

What sort of “witchy”, magical, or other spiritual items have you used or would recommend?

my holiday wish list…

  1. Logitech C920 webcam: So, apparently the built-in webcam on my laptop isn’t wanting to work right now… But I’ve been looking to get a C920 anyway for my cooking streams.
  2. Bear paws oven mitts: I’ve had these on my list for a while. And I actually just got them from my youngest sister. Turns out putting priority notes on your Amazon wish list works out sometimes. Also, these are the funnest and best things ever.
  3. Big Blue whale strainer: While I have some various colanders, I like that this keeps everything in the pot that needs to be in the pot. Also, if it’s a silly, but functional and practical kitchen tool? I probably want it.
  4. Tea kettle: I lost mine in one of the moves and just never replaced it. I have an electric one in my office on campus, but it’d be nice to have something at home. Otherwise I’m just microwaving water. (Which, actually, I should have included in my list because I need a new one… but I have enough adult stuff on there.)
  5. Anth books: The more I get into my research, the more books I find I want to read. Not all are actually classified as anthropology books, but they still fit, though. I try to get what I can from the library, but a lot of them just aren’t there.
  6. Air fryer: Is this a weird fad thing? Maybe. But I own an actual deep fryer, and that thing is a mess. But wings and fries? Without all the oil? I’m down. I am so down.
  7. Toaster: Adulty adult stuff. My toaster is 13 years old. It’s been an amazing $6 purchase, but it’s been temperamental (like the microwave). Sometimes it toasts. Sometimes you have to try three times. Sometimes you try three times and then it’s a little burnt.
  8. Mandolin: As much as I also need to keep working on my knife skills, it would actually just be really nice to have a mandolin to help. Plus, if I get that air fryer, this would just make all the prep so much easier. (I would also take a mini food processor.)
  9. Ogio Hamptons tote: I’ve been eyeing this all year. I just can’t justify $80 for a bag. Even a bag with lots of compartments and padding. I’ve found it sub-$50 on ebay, but I just haven’t been able to pull the trigger. I think I’ll likely use my Christmas money for this. It just feels like the perfect grad school bag — since apparently I am anti-traditional backpack.
  10. Blind box mystery minis: If you haven’t guessed, from that last post about the mystery minis, I kind of like these. The youngest sister who also got me the bear paws also got me a Moana mini. Series that I’m looking for: Finding Dory, Moana, Moofia, Toki Doki, DC Bombshells, Skelanimals, Shawnimals Pocket Dumplings, Disney, Pusheen, Moofia, Marshall…. ok maybe I should stop. I’ve started adding them to lists because they’re small and easy to find (typically) and thus make simply gifts for me. Plus, I should maybe slow my roll when it comes to spending my own money on them.
  11. B&BW’s wine scented candles: One day my mom and I went through and smelled every. single. scent. at bath and bodyworks. I think for personal scents, the honey lavender is my favorite… but my all time favorite smells are the boozy ones. In particular the champagne and merlot candles? I definitely need those. (Also, I should have saved the links to the products because I found them 2 hours ago, but now that I’m finishing the post I can’t find them — and the links in my browser history just go to the home page. Booo.)
  12. Mini-NES: Yep. If it’s possible to even find one.

It definitely gets harder to make wish lists each year. A lot of the stuff I want are generally either adulting stuffs or small things that I’d probably just buy myself.

My small obsession: introducing my blind box figure collection

I like things. Trinkets. Knick knacks. Chachkies. Collectables. I think it’s something I inherited from my grandparents. Their home was always filled with so much stuff. Fascinating little things. Some had stories — were little mementos from trips and travel. A lot were just things that made them smile. Some people might call them worthless. Heck, I had a roommate call mine “clutter.” Untidy. A mess. Their presence upset her. But the things she would have happily thrown away without a second thought — those are what make my home feel like my home.

Of all my little things, my most numerous are my blind box figures. Most of them are vinyl figures — about three or four are various plastic figures. I don’t necessarily count them in my total count, but they were mystery figures. I actually haven’t been collecting all that long. I think I got my first figures at my first C2E2 back in 2013. Now? My collection is somewhere around 50 figures. I have them sort of scattered throughout my home — and a few in my office at school.

I like the mystery aspect the most. Not knowing which one you’ll get, hoping it’s one of the few you’re really wanting. I’m trying to be more selective when I’m buying now — but sometimes slip and that’s recently resulted in some regretful purchases… But overall, I love my collection. They’re fun and silly and represent various things I like or find unique.

Blind Box Figures - GoT Blind Box Figures - GoT Blind Box Figures - GoT Blind Box Figures - GoT

My biggest collection is probably my Game of Thrones group. I actually have duplicates of Viserion and Jamie. Also, five or so were gifts from a friend — some of his duplicates.

Blind Box Figures - Doctor Who

My Doctor Who collection is actually a lot smaller than I would like. Mainly this is due to self-control and the number of figures that were on my meh-ok list versus my YES WANT list. Plus, Titan figures are a little more expensive than Funko.*

Blind Box Figures - DC women Blind Box Figure - DC Bombshell Canary Blind Box Figures - DC Aquaman

My DC figures also sort of suffer from the meh-ok syndrome. Also, I was super bummed this is just a normal Aquaman and not AquaMoa. (Duplicate Wonder Woman was given to my niece.) However, the DC Bombshells are in my top 3 favorite series ever. They’re definitely a bit more expensive, but worth it. You get a quality tin with an amazing figure.

Blind Box Figures - Marvel Blind Box Figures - Marvel Blind Box Figures - Marvel

I’m actually pretty fond of my Marvel figures… However, they are pretty terrible at standing up on their own. I’ve actually got scuffs on my Hawkeye and Thor because of the number of times they’ve fallen over. Oh, and that Hulkbuster? Yeah, one of the reasons you weigh boxes against each other is because sometimes you know you’ll end up with ones like this.

Blind Box Figures - Stitch Blind Box Figures - Beauty & the Beast Blind Box Figures - Cinderella Gus Blind Box Figures - Frozen Blind Box Figures - Nemo/Dory Blind Box Figure - TsumTsum

My Disney group is pretty fun. Those have a lot more memories because of the connections with the movies and such. Like Gus-gus? Yeah, my favorite Christmas ornament for a long time was this stuffed Gus-gus that we got in like a Happy Meal or something. Right now, I think the Finding Dory collection might be my favorite. I like all the figures — something that is pretty rare. I also really love my Figaro tsumtsum figure, but I’ve stopped keeping him on the fish tank because he fell so much!

Blind Box Figures - Harry Potter Blind Box Figure - Harry Potter

My Harry Potter group is actually… well, frustrating. You see, Hermione is a 1/6 character — very common. So out of the 4 boxes I’ve purchased, I have 3 Hermiones. (If anyone wants a Hermione, hit me up.) Fluffy, however, was a pleasant find!

Blind Box Figures - MLP

Yes. I have MLP. The main one I like isn’t even pictured, because she’s at my school office — Daring Do, aka “Archaeology Pony” as she’s known on my shelves.

Blind Box Figures - Ugly Dolls

These guys seem to weird people out the most (which is weird given on of my Dunny’s).. But I’ve always liked Ugly Dolls ever since I worked at a toy store.

Blind Box Figure - Dumpling

My Nerd Dumpling is probably my favorite individual figure. All of the dumplings are cute, but this is the exact one I wanted so it was awesome to get it in my first go. I’ve actually met the person who this figure is based on, and was pretty awkward about it.

Blind Box Figure - Lunartik

The Lunartik tea cups are also in my top. Some of the more artistic ones, versus just fandom ones, can get a little weird, but some of them are actually super cool. I’d count the Lunartiks in that group. (And also the Moofia figures, which I’ve yet to own.)

Blind Box Figures - Dunny

This Dunny is probably one of my weirder ones. It was a gift from the same friend who gifted me the GoT figures. But he’s super cool. I normally don’t go for Dunny’s because they can get expensive — especially the limited edition ones. I’d like to try to find the Andy Warhol ones. Dunny is also part of a line with different figures… like Munny and Tricky and this giraffe one I can’t remember. But I have three Tricky blanks — ones specifically made for you to design them. I’ve only decorated one of them so far.

NOT SHOWN: I’ve got 2 Unicorno figures, but they’ve gotten lost in some box in one of the moves. I thought they were with my Lunartik figure, but if that’s the case, I don’t know why I didn’t pull them out, too. And I also recently got my first Supernatural figure… however, it’s Thinman and… I’m more than meh about Thinman.

I do have a long wishlist of other figures, but I think I’m going to include those in my holiday wishlist post. (So, yeah, if you’re ever stumped on a gift for me, likely a blind box figure would work. I don’t like all the series out there, but if you know me well enough, you’ll likely find ones that’d work.)

What do you collect? Do you have posts or pictures? Anyone want to trade for a Hermione figure?

*None of that really matters much now, because outside of Target or Walmart, it seems places are terrible with prices. $8 for standard boxes? Nah man. That’s too much.

Introducing: My Grad School Office

Grad School - getting my office keyOne of the things I was eagerly awaiting, in regards to grad school, was the ability to have my own office within the department. Ok, ok. So not my own private office — but one shared with other grad students. Basically, my own desk within a graduate student office.

We’ve got three grad student offices in our department. Two are down by the archaeology lab (and also the kitchen), and the other is on the opposite side of the floor. I was hoping for one of the ones by the lab, since I did my internships with them and may have other work with them in the future… And also because my closest friend in the program is a historical archaeologist… But I was placed with most of the other cultural students down on the far end of the floor. (To be fair, the ethnographic lab is on our side, but it has yet to be finished and is still otherwise unusable.)

With enrollment down a little, there’s only 11 of us — so the offices are split 4-4-3. We’ve got four in ours. It’s actually one of the larger offices, but based on how the desks are arranged it really doesn’t feel much bigger at all. But it’ll work. Only two of us, thus far, have claimed desks. One is a second year who claimed her desk from last year — the only person to return to this office for the second year. She got the only desk with drawers; the rest are computer tables. I, of course, went to claim my desk as fast as possible as soon as I could get my key… because that’s just who I am. While the desk itself is meh, I am very happy with my setup. Especially not having my back to the door (I spook easily).

grad school office

It still feels very bare-bones to me, but it very much is not compared to most people. And I’m still sort of grumbly about no drawers — mostly due to purse safety, but the office doors lock, at least. I’ll likely get another storage tub like my green one for foods and snacks. I also plan on getting a single-serve (cheap) coffee maker, since I’ll likely be the only decaf drinker on the floor. Still checking in on whether we can have a mini fridge (which would go on the extra desk, whichever one that is). Pretty sure they will veto a microwave. (Also: though I hate how much extra it cost, getting a power strip with USB ports was a good decision.)

Anyway, here are the close-ups:

grad school office

My Chicago art. Plus a wall calendar given to me as a belated birthday gift from one of my roommates.

grad school office

Mucca pictures. An old photo of my grandpa. And probably one of my favorite prints ever from one of my top number-something movies.

grad school office

Since I lack drawers, I opted for this cute bronze and clear file organizer. With cute file folders of course. Might end up getting hanging ones later, but hoping these will work for now. Also, yes, that is Hermione. And my pop-up holder is a polaroid style camera.

grad school office

These two shelves weren’t even up when I first got to the office. The other side has a full wall of them. Ours had three — one of which was holding the shelving boards someone had taken off. I had to scrounge for braces to hold them up, but I’m glad I added these. Perfect place for Archaeology Pony*, Viserion, and Chococat. Oh, and of course all my books. Which I may only have 3 for all my courses, and I haven’t even picked them up yet.

I’m beyond happy with how it’s turning out. I plan on spending many hours here, so it needs to be my little home away from home.

*Yes, I know that’s not the name of the pony. I just like calling her that instead.

That time I was a Public Archaeologist

I’ve mentioned it a handful of time, but now I’m ready to sit down and talk about it: my summer internship. It still makes me chuckle a little bit, being in my 30s and talking about these (unpaid) internships I’ve been doing. It’s all part of going back to school as an adult.

This was my second internship with our Applied Anthropology Labs. The first one was during the spring semester, and I was doing collections management. That’s where you, well, manage a group of artifacts. You clean them, you label them, you catalog them, you box them. Maybe it sounds boring, but it’s a very good way to get your foot in the door at various institutions. It was also a good stepping stone into my summer internship — public archaeology.

Public Archaeology is a subfield which is sort of exactly as it sounds: you’re making archaeology public. It’s more a focus on teaching and sharing than you actually doing the digging, etc. It’s part archaeology, part history, and part teaching. What made this a perfect match for my previous internship was that the site I’d be working at was where all the artifacts I’d been handling for the last 3 months had been found. So while I’d never actually been to the site previously, I did have a fair bit of information about it.

Prior to all of this, though, I knew nothing of this site. Which is sort of crazy given it’s historical significance. Fort Recovery wasn’t anything of a massive structure. In fact, it was more of a supply depot — and we don’t even know how long the fort was there, but definitely was gone after 25-30 years. It is the site of two major battles between the US army and the Native American Confederacy. In fact, it was both the greatest victory (St. Clair’s Defeat) and the greatest loss (Battle of Fort Recovery) for Native Americans. Without the Battle of Fort Recovery, and the subsequent Battle of Fallen Timbers, the Northwest Territory may not have happened. Also, St. Clair’s Defeat was a major embarrassment for the still very, very new US Army. This battle took place in 1791. In 1793 they built the fort, and in 1794 was the second battle. So, yeah. Significant.

All that’s there now is this sort of Mayberry town, the Village of Fort Recovery. …and a replica of the fort facade. It’s the third replica built near the battle site. It’s the front palisade wall with two full block houses.

Fort Recovery, replica

For my internship, I wasn’t just standing in front of the fort replica or in the museum talking to people. Though my first day there, my boss had me observe just one of her tours and then handed the entire prehistoric room of the museum to me to continue tours. This was all within the first 20 minutes of my first day. And, well, archaeology is not my strong suit — it’s not even my suit, I’m a cultural anthropologist. But I reached back to my ANTH 103 course (intro to archaeology) and did my best to explain prehistoric life and culture in regards to the artifacts that were on display. It actually went pretty well. And thankfully that was my only time giving museum tours. The rest of my internship pertained to the Field School that was taking place outside, just across the street from the replica.

Archaeological Field School is where you give students a chance to actually go out on a dig. They’re excavating. It’s a requirement for all archaeology students, especially if you want a job. So while my peers (including one of my roommates) were out there for 6 hours digging perfectly square one-meter holes (aka “units”), I was there explaining to the public what was going on. I was the liaison, or docent, between the public and the archaeology that’s happening in front of them. For a tiny, somewhat unknown town in rural Ohio, there were actually a lot of people. We had about 500 school children out on field trips, and then the town’s 225th celebration was during the last week, so we had a decent amount of foot traffic for that.

Fort Recovery, Archaeology

The first thing, and the biggest thing, is explaining what archaeology is. And also what it isn’t. They’re not really out there looking for human bones or fossils. While it’s ok to find those, there’s a lot of legal stuff when you find human remains (NAGPRA for one, which I won’t get into, but feel free to google or ask me later). Archaeologists are looking for artifacts and features. Features are the little known, but highly sought part of an archaeologist’s job. It’s essentially disturbances in the soil that show human activity. So a fire pit would be one, or, what they were looking for, post holes. They’re hard to really notice with an untrained eye. Which makes it sound all puffed up and smug. But no, seriously, noticing the differences in soil color and texture is a skill. (My friends, thankfully, sketched out the differences in their unit below.)

Fort Recovery, Archaeology - what is a feature

The goal of this year’s field school (our third in Fort Recovery, but second on this parcel of land), was to learn more about the exact location of the fort itself. Five years ago, they found what they believed was a 17-foot trench where the palisade wall was. So going off that information and ground penetrating radar, they gridded off the parcel and started working. Based off the understandings of their findings thus far, they think they know which way the fort was oriented. They maybe found one of the block houses. Mostly the found the foundation of the house that was built on the site in the 1830s, after the fort was gone. (How or why it was gone/destroyed is still unknown.)

Fort Recovery, Archaeologist

My internship was actually pretty short. Only 10 days on site — ok, 9 really because of them there was a terrible rain storm in the morning so we left basically after just getting there. But it was still 100 hours of work. I lead tours. I helped people (mostly kids) screen buckets of dirt looking for artifacts — which kids are so meticulous, they are perfect for the job; one girl on the second day I was there found a pig’s tooth. I explained a lot. I made posters for a research exhibit. I explained the posters. But mostly: I had so much fun. I absolutely loved all of it. Even the panicked terror of not knowing what exactly I was supposed to be saying. It made me realize, that if I had a choice, I want to be out in the public working, sharing, and teaching.

Crushworthy: Podcast edition


Thanks to my job at the library, which includes many hours of tedious work in databases, I’ve started listening to podcasts. I tried music at work, but my streaming apps kept playing the same damn songs all the time. Plus, my brain was going crazy because the music wasn’t really doing much for me. I always thought it was weird, but sometimes doing absolutely nothing can be way more tiring than when you actually keep your mind stimulated. Since I started listening to podcasts, I actually am coming home in better moods — and don’t always want to fall asleep at 7pm.

Here’s my top 6 podcasts: (aka where you see just how big of an NPR fangirl I am…)

Podcasts I love, July 2016

  1. Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! It all started here. I never remembered to listen on the radio on the weekends, so this was one of the very first podcasts I ever started listening to. Once I stopped taking public transit (due to lack of employment and then later moving), I’d stopped listening. I’m very glad to have this back in my life. I love playing along and testing myself on current events.
  2. This American Life. This is the other podcast I’d been listening to for a while. I love these peaks into other people’s stories, all based around a theme. And Ira. You’ve gotta love Ira.
  3. Invisibilia. I just really stumbled on this one, but man is NPR pushing it hard. And rightfully so. These ladies take a look at the “invisible forces” that guide our lives and make us who we are. I absolutely love it.
  4. Hidden Brain. Shankar Vidantam was always an NPR personality that I loved hearing when he showed up on Morning Edition. All of his stories were so amazing and captivating. Hidden Brain is his show. It’s full of these stories I only really got snippets of during Morning Edition. It’s sort of like Invisibilia in many ways.
  5. Revisionist History. This one always makes me think. (Ok, I’ve listened to two episodes, but still, my point stands.) I’ve actually gotten some really interesting theory ideas from this podcasts. Gladwell takes points in history that maybe weren’t explained well, or at all, and tries to shed new light on it. I want more and more and more of this podcast.
  6. Lore. I’d heard my roommate talk about this podcast all last semester before she moved in. But I never really paid attention to what it was or anything. Then I randomly stumbled upon it in my quest for content… Mahnke is a great story teller. I kind of want to read one of his books now. I’d always been fascinated in the supernatural and fantasy and myths. And lore is 100% that. My only complaint is that they are short. Around 15-20 minute each.

Honorable mentions:
Shepod – I love Rachael. I’ve been an acquaintance since our 20SB days. She is an amazing person. On Shepod, they ask the same questions each week (ish), but it’s never the same. I mean, it’s brunch in podcast form. If I had any complaint, it’s that there’s a lot of talk about being skinny or losing weight. It’s not a focus, but comes up almost every week. And, well, it’s just one of those things “I don’t diet, can I still be awesome, guys?” 100% though I know that’s not how they want to come off at all. Like, there is no fat shaming whatsoever. It’s just something I noticed.

Also, one interesting thing I noticed: podcasts which do not have any background music during the pieces are a lot harder for me to get through. I know some are budget issues, but man, having good sound really brings a piece together and just takes it to a new level.

What podcasts do you listen to?? What would you recommend to me?
(Also, yes, I know I need to add Fake Goth Girls. I think I’ve just been hesitant because I haven’t watched GoT and while I don’t think they would spoil it, I know they are both major fans… Lamest excuse ever? Lamest excuse.)

Gaming on a Budget

One of the biggest inhibitor to my gaming hobby has always been money. For a while, that didn’t matter. Being a brand ambassador for a gaming company had amazing perks. But unfortunately, since I’m not a big YouTuber, I’m not getting much but behind the scenes sort of newsletters from them any more. Factor in my student budget, and, well, new games are few and far between.

However, I have found a few tricks tips that have helped make it affordable and feel like I’m not missing out.

Steam Lunar New Year Sale

1. Steam Sales. While I was always a console gamer up until last fall, I now know the errors of my ways. Steam has a massive library of games in its store. Even Mac friendly games so non-PC people like me can keep up. Right now until February 12th, Steam is having it’s Lunar New Year sale. They tend to have a few big sales throughout the year, so if you miss this one, just wait a few months. My favorite game, Don’t Starve, is currently 75% off, only $3.75 .. and frankly, the bundles — which you should always buy the bundles, at least definitely for this game — are at perfect prices. It’s only $16.19 for the Mega Pack where you get Don’t Starve, both DLC (Reign of Giants and Shipwrecked) and also the multiplayer version, Don’t Starve Together. Very much worth it. I have 100 hours logged into this game (just the original, 14 hours in the multiplayer). Now, the downside to Steam Sales? It’s really hard not to buy everything on your wishlist all at once. I just went with the Portal Bundle. Two games for barely over $5 with tax.

1.5 Humble Bundles. I’ve never used them, but my gaming friends swear by them. One has over 700 titles in his library, mostly due to Humble Bundle sales.

Headset Turtle Beach Gaming Headset Selfie

2. Refurbished goods. I get that some people are very skeptical of refurbished goods. However, if the vendor is trusted, it’s an amazing way to save money on like-new products. I’d been considering a gaming headset for a while. But I wasn’t impressed by the budget-friendly options on Amazon. Given that I’m not currently streaming my games, and I only join friends once a week for some Don’t Starve Together, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on this. Thankfully, Turtle Beach has refurbished headsets offered on their website. And you can get Amazon Prime 2-Day shipping on them. So now I have quality audio without breaking the bank.

2.5 Used games & Warehouse deals. You can generally save anywhere from 20-50% going this route. I got Super Mario Maker for $20 off because the box was damaged. And by damaged, I mean the corner was just a tiny bit smushed. Nothing that really affected anything. The eShop and other online routes can generally get you good deals too. Trick is just being patient and doing a lot of searching to find the deals sometimes (especially if you want Amazon Warehouse deals).

Headset Display

3. DYI. Now, this is less about gaming itself but more about dealing with all of your peripherals. I keep all of my Wii U controllers in a cute basket. It also houses all my 3DS things, as well as just random small techie sort of things that I don’t want to lose. For my headset, well, I didn’t want to just tuck in on the shelf on my coffee table, or just having it sitting around. I may not have spent a fortune on that headset, but I didn’t want it to break right away either. I looked at headphone stands, and most were either cheaply made or too expensive for what they are. So I went to the hardware store, bought this tool hook in the garage storage section for under $2, and got a small pack of 3M hooks, and with less than 5 minutes of effort had a nice setup completed. It’s not fancy or anything, but I think it look nice and now I always know where my headset is when I need it.

If you’re a gamer, or have another potentially expensive hobby, how do you save money?

How I started my own cooking show, well, sort of.

Unless this is the first post of mine you’ve read — in which case, YAY! Hi! — you’ve probably seen me mention my cooking live stream on Twitch. Last November, I wrote about my very first gaming livestream. Sadly, I haven’t really done much more of those because my MacBook Air was having issues (and thankfully was still under warranty! barely!), and, well, it’s not the best computer for heavy gaming and streaming.

However, around Christmas time, I decided (with a lot of encouragement of my twitch friends) to start my own cooking livestreams. Now, before I get into that, I want to give a little primer on Twitch, since a few of you asked recently.

Twitch is a platform, not too unlike YouTube, which allows people to broadcast their gaming play via livestreaming. You can connect your gaming consoles to your computer through a capture card (like the elgato one I’ve been longing for*), or you can go straight from your computer using free software like OBS (which is what I use). Some people have really awesome setups: green screens, great lighting, good mics, awesome graphics… Others just show the gameplay and don’t even have their faces on camera. Both are completely acceptable. Most people on Twitch don’t actually livestream themselves. They’re there to watch and chat, and generally just be a part of the community. For the last 3½ years, that was me.

Up until very recently, Twitch has been only for gaming. Well, I take that back, in the last year or so, they opened it up to music so people could perform live music on stream. Even more recently, they added a “creative” category. Mostly people are using it to showcase their graphic design, programing, or illustration. However, you’ll also see crafters or people working on cosplay construction. The smallest sub-group, though, are the foodies and cooks. And I’m proud to be a part of that. There are a few cooking streams who have large followings. Mine is slowly, but steadily growing — and will do so more now that I have a consistent schedule: Sunday evenings, starting between 4:30-5pm EST.

AwkwardCooking Cat Banner

I meant to keep my food-blog branding, Savvy Spork, for my livestreams. And I sort of did, kind of. But it fits but doesn’t really fit. The title I’ve been using was just what I randomly used for one of my first streams and it stuck: Awkward Cooking with Rini. It was basically me poking fun at the fact that I feel absolutely super awkward on stream. I think it lightens the mood a bit.

Awkward Cooking w/ Rini: Fishsticks

I’ve been bouncing back and forth between one cam and two cams… I have a legitimate second webcam that is professional grade (on loan from my dad), but I’m missing the USB 3.0 cable (which should be arriving this week). So I either just stick with the top left cam, which is my built-in webcam… or I use this weird setup with my cell phone and periscope… and it’s amazingly laggy.

Awkward Cooking w/ Rini: Fishsticks

See, it’s completely out of sync. It also provides a massive echo if I leave the volume on my laptop. So when I do it like this, I can’t have the sound on to hear my alerts for new followers or donations (which the former happens a few times a stream, the latter has yet to happen).

Awkward Cooking w/ Rini: Fishsticks

In this one, you can actually see my tripod and phone on the right hand side of the laptop Rini cam. You can also see the Buffy books (wrapped in plastic for protection) that I use as a stand during these streams. (Thanks again Natasha! I haven’t gotten to finish reading these, but they get so much use!) After a while, this setup was too much for my computer, so I just switched to having one cam.

Awkward Cooking w/ Rini: Fishsticks

The only thing I forgot about with the one cam setup was lighting. I actually have a spot light (aka a floor lamp that’s designed to look like a spot light), and normally I use it and it works really well. I just spaced it this time. You can also see a tiny bit of my spice basket. People are either impressed by it or amused by it. It’s sort of ridiculous. So I made it an emote for my channel. So when you type SpiceBasket this appears (only in my channel though, thanks to the chrome plugin, Better Twitch Tv, aka BTTV):


Overall, the streams are super fun. I tend to make this massive mess out of my kitchen, so it means having to clean my kitchen twice in one weekend. But it’s worth it. Right now the hard thing is that I don’t have all the kitchen tools I’d like (for real, I had to buy a whisk recently because I lost all of my old ones). I also really want to buy a cute apron, maybe one like this, but not for $65! I’m not crafty enough, sewing wise, to make my own. Maybe some day I’ll have a silly/cute one. Oh. The other thing that’s hard is making sure I don’t cook too much on stream because holy leftovers!

Awkward Cooking w/ Rini: Fishsticks

There are some logistical issues with cooking on stream. Since it’s live, doing things like using a slow cooker, or even baking, means that you need to have filler while it just sits in the oven or crockpot. And honestly, you can’t really do a crockpot dish on a stream other than just showing the prep for it or the very end. But you could use a program like OBS to record the process and you could edit it down for YouTube. It just doesn’t work live. Though, well, we joke about doing a 24 hour cooking livestream, so maybe it’ll happen then.

If you’re interested in gaming, or just creative things happening live, you should definitely check out Twitch. You can find me at (And again, if you want to catch my cooking stream it’s on Sunday evenings typically around 4:30 or 5pm EST lasting only an hour and half mostly.) I love my twitch community, and am very excited to see it grow. Plus, it’s been really fun to share my recipes. The whole point of my cooking streams is to show that making amazing food is pretty easy. I mostly want to show basic skills. Eventually I’ll get better at posting recipes, etc with them — or actually recording them and editing for YouTube. But for now, just having them live has been a joy enough.

*Affiliate link.

Savvy Spork Gift Guide: fun cooking basics

Whether you’re shopping for a seasoned cook (ha!) or a newb in the kitchen, these are some fun things that would make anyone’s cooking experience a little brighter.

Savvy Spork Holiday Gift Guide for the Kitchen

  1. Knife set. I’ve gone through a couple knife sets, definitely do your research. But good knives don’t need to be expensive. Or boring. I’ve got a 3-piece set, very colorful, and I love it. It’s got a chef’s knife, a utility knife, and a paring knife. And honestly, you don’t need 30+ knives unless you’re a pro and your job calls for it. These 3 knives are really all I need.
  2. Baking set. Ok. so not all of these need to be used for baking. But this adorable one from ModCloth (and yes, sorry, a lot of these can be purchased at ModCloth…) is pretty great. You will need a spatula, and a whisk, and most definitely measuring spoons. And like all things on this list, why not make them fun?
  3. Cookie cutters. Again, not always for baking. When I do a stream on eggs, I’ll show you how I use my fun cookie cutters for one of my favorite breakfast dishes. Again, yes, you can get these from ModCloth.
  4. Measuring cups. Again, another thing you’ll need. Now, cooking vs. baking doesn’t always need exact measurements. But these make things easier. Trust me. Especially if you’re a fan of boxed recipes. Here’s the cat ones from that same site.
  5. Oven mitts. Which can pair well with aprons. Who says you have to get “girly” ones or ones covered in roosters (which, yes, I do have rooster ones because they were a gift). I absolutely love these bear ones and will be getting them myself once they’re back in stock.
  6. Spice sets. You. Will. Need. Spices. And if you’ve seen my streams, you’ll know I’ve got a good spice collection. But, well, I lack a good way of storing it and displaying it. I love this one because cooking and baking is science. But of course the fact that these are fake science labels does sort of bug me. Guess where you can get these?
  7. Spork. Because everyone needs a titanium spork. (I have 3. And I want more.) REI has you covered on these.

Now, these are just super basic, but also super awesome. As I continue with the Savvy Spork stream, I plan on sharing some more wish lists (even outside of the holiday season!) of some of my favorite things in the kitchen.

I’ll have another recipe post from my latest stream (American Goulash) soon. And I’m planning out how we’ll continue the cooking streams in the future. I’m thinking maybe every other week? Or would you guys really be interested in watching me cook something (and then eat it, because that’s what we do on my streams), every week? Any days of the week or times that work better for watching these?