Too Much Snow

Hi! It’s been snowing a lot. Too much. But it’s not just snow. It’s cold. And Icy. And Penn State got cold feet (haha) and went and cancelled class. Again. And Again. And Again. I’m not a fan because it keeps happening on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That’s when studio happens and it’s been stressful to pull a presentation together for our project concepts when we don’t get any time to review with the professors. Our presentation is tomorrow and it’s going to be a lot of improv.

Anyway, here’s what’s been happening in my life despite the snow.

My Last Home Meet

Sad but true. Two weeks ago was my last home meet ever. It went pretty well! Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take pictures so I must rely on my parents.

Getting Better at Pottery

Since my first 5-hour cylinder, I am happy to say my production time has decreased dramatically. I can now throw a small cup in 15 minutes to half an hour, depending on the day. It’s not amazing, but its better than a pile of wet clay and broken dreams.


Career Day

Graduate school is a huge turn-off for potential employers. I didn’t really tell anyone but some of them asked and even if you tell them you aren’t sure, they don’t feel the need to talk with you much more. So that’s fun. But really it doesn’t matter because I’m probably going to grad school. That’s what feels right in my tummy anyway and that’s usually a good sign for someone who is constantly stressed over indecision.

Community Meeting

Last week was our first community meeting about the Musser Gap property. Did I tell you about that class? It’s a seminar where we are learning about community engagement through this parcel of land that is owned by Penn State and the university wants us to figure out what the public wants to do with the land so we can come up with a very preliminary plan. It’s been a great experience. Our community meeting last week was all about listening to the people and their concerns and ideas for the property. We had six tables set up with different themes and two of us stood at each table and led a sort of facilitated discussion. It was really cool to see how much of an impact just listening and writing down ideas made on people. I was at the Biodiversity/Habitat table with my buddy Ben (he went to Iceland with Logan and I). It was also interesting to hear what kinds of stuff people had to say.

Other than that, not much has happened. Although I guess that’s a lot of stuff that has happened. I’ve been working hard on my thesis which is about making it easier for homeowners to replace their lawns with native plants. I’ve been slowly working on it for the past year and a half but now that deadline are closer in sight, I have to speed things up a bit. When I’m done, I’ll share it with all you lovely people because lawns are the worst and plants are the best. I miss scootering. It’s been so snowy and icy that I can’t really scoot so I have to walk everywhere. This is unfortunate because I walk very slowly so I have to leave earlier than I would if I had to scooter. This mostly applies to my 8 AM pottery class. I love the class but the 8 AM is just a little hard to get out of bed for. I know, I should go to bed later. But I don’t want to.

Not Dead!

Hi everyone! My summer has been pretty busy with work and furniture painting and getting ready for study abroad (please follow my blog on study abroad, Zoe’s Abroad Adventure, for irregular updates on my abroad happenings).

Some exciting news about the rain gardens I designed and planted at the Governor’s Residence last summer… THEY ARE NOT DEAD!!!! They also aren’t quite what I had planned but live and learn. I got to visit them last weekend during the PA Governor’s Residence Block Party. It’s really cool to be able to visit them from time to time and see the Residence staff who are all superb people! Here is how things are leafing out at year one:

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Here is me standing beside one of the boards I made. Brown-eyed susans and cone flowers are in bloom behind me 🙂

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Another view of the Sun Garden

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The Shade Garden from behind

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The Shade garden from the front. It’s a bit slower-growing than the sun garden but most everything is still alive which is good enough for me at this point!

Also, they actually installed my rain barrel!!

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Art things have been coming all summer!

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Fractal Table (still for sale)

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Starry Night/travel/nature themed table!

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I finished my internship with Navarro and Wright on Wednesday so I have plenty of time to panic before I leave for Iceland 🙂


Starry, Starry Fence

Fence update! Remember when I told you I was painting a fence (for money)? Well it’s done now! This was done for Jennifer Storm, a victim rights advocate who lives in my neighborhood. She wanted a tribute for her father who fought in the Vietnam War. It started out with an American flag and the she said that Starry Night was her father’s favorite painting and I was like, OH YEAH. So for the mural, I incorporated some of the symbolism from his medals into a Starry Night scene. Here are some process photos:

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…And here is the final!

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A New Kind of Adventure

My first blog post about my study abroad adventure!

Zoe's Study Abroad Adventure

Hi! It’s my first post about my study abroad trip coming Fall of 2018. This blog serves to document my impending trip to Bonn, Germany (and other places) mostly for my own memory but you get to read it too! I have some exciting news! I recently bought my plane ticket! Folks, its starting to feel pretty real. Before landing in Germany however, two of my friends and I will be spending a week in Iceland! I am so very excited! Hence all the exclamation points! It was not until after we decided to spend five days in Iceland that we discovered just how expensive a visit there can be. To cut costs, we’ll be hopping from campground to campground and, according to thrifty Iceland travelers before us, we’ll also be eating lots of hotdogs. I cannot WAIT to start this experience!

Side note: I bought this cool backpack for…

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Home Now, But Not for Long

Home Now!

Yay! I am home! I actually have been home for a week. I was pretty productive. I got an internship, painted a coffee table, finished an essay and cleaned my room (sorta). My internship is with an engineering firm but they have a few landscape architects on staff. It’s also close to home which is good. I plan on biking at least a few times per week because I am out of shape yo.

Graduation is Boring

I’m sorry. But it is. Last weekend, I went back up to State College for my BFF Haleigh’s graduation. It was held in the BJC because she’s in (or was in) the Eberly College of Science which is pretty big. Anyway, the whole ceremony could be run so much more effiencently. But I guess tradition trumps speed. About half the time was taken up by people introducing other people and the other half was taken up by people who cheered for way too long when their graduate’s name got called.

Coffee Table

Here is a picture of the coffee table I painted for my friend. He wanted a radioactive waste barrel, an eel with three eyes, and a fish with a cowboy hat hidden somewhere. The resolution of this photo is definitely not good enough for  you to be able to tell which fish has the hat on.

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Not for Long (Because I am going to Germany!)


NAIGC Nationals 2018: Texas, Y’all

This year, Club Gymnastics Nationals was held in Fort Worth, Texas. We left at 9:15 Wednesday (the 11th) and drove to the Pittsburgh airport where we (thankfully) had a direct flight to the DFW airport. TSA security was slow, per usual and the airport food was expensive and as good you’d expect. We got to our hotel by six or seven and checked in. While unpacking, I noticed an interesting fountain across the street from our hotel. Me and my friend Ashley decided to investigate…

What it turnened out to be was this insane and kinda dangerous looking water installation that was part of the Fort Worth Gardens.


There were other pools and water features, including on that had cypress trees planted around the edge. Their knobby knees stuck up around the planting holes and had migrated to the edge of the pool.

After our exploration, we went over to the convention center for the open gym. That’s always hectic because its a free-for-all and getting an open spot on the equipment is difficult. I basically did like three skills on each event and was done. We walked around downtown looking for something to eat after our workout but it was like 10 o’clock and everything was closed so we settled on splitting a sixteen dollar pizza from the hotel.


Here’s how nationals works (if you already know just skip this paragraph): There are three days of competition. Days one and two (Thursday and Friday) are preliminaries aka ‘prelims’ where everyone in every level gets to compete their events. The two days is because there were over a thousand and something gymnasts competing and fitting everyone in to one day would be impossible. There are three different levels of competition for the womens competition: Level 9 (my level, also know as the “A team”), Level 8 (we have two level 8 teams. They are our “B” and “C” teams), and level 6 (we don’t have any competing at this level and the don’t have finals). Each level of competition has different requirements and is judged differently. Level 9 is the harder and level 6 is easier. After prelims are over, the top scoring competitors on each event, all-around, and top 6 teams qualify for finals which are always held on Saturday.

Anyway, the A team session was the first to go at 8 AM. Our hotel didn’t serve continental breakfast becuase its guests aren’t important enough to have free food. Luckily, I came prepared. I brought a bag of oats and a little container of butter and brown sugar to make oatmeal. There were no bowls or microwaves in the room but I had brought my collapsible bowl and heated it up in the microwave in the lobby.

The competition went pretty well. Beam was a struggle (but honestly, when ISN’T it a struggle). I got a PR 9.675 on bars which was super exciting! In the afternoon, the guys team competed and B and C teams competed in the evening. It was a long day. Luckily, I got to sneak away with my family+logan+visiting aunts and uncle to have lunch at The Red Wasp. I had a catfish poboy which was delicious (but not quite as delicious as the one I had in New Orleans).

Day Off

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My day off started by sneaking in to breakfast at the Hampton Inn where my family was staying. They had waffles in the shape of Texas.

After breakfast, we went to the Fort Worth Botanical Garden. (Logan was off in Dallas talking to a landscape architecture firm).

The gardens were nice. I took some pictures. There were some cute turtles sitting on a log that made me happy.


We picked up Logan and drove to Lake Dallas to hang out with my mom’s aunt and uncles. That was pretty cool. Intermittent thunder continually interrupted our conversations about gardening. On the way home it started to downpour and hail.

We got back to Fort Worth and decided to go to the Stockyards for a Texas barbecue dinner. Ashley tagged along. The place we ate as was called Coopers Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que. As you entered there were options for various types and amounts of meats. Half chicken. Brisket. Chopped beef. I got a pulled pork sandwich. This was definitely the best barbecue I’ve had in a very long time. It was messy, and flavorful, and juicy and delicious. Great now I’m hungry. Afterwards, we wandered around the stockyards and looked at the long horn cattle with their long horns.

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A team had a meeting at 10 PM to decide on our line-ups for finals because, oh yeah by the way, A TEAM MADE FINALS WHAAAAT. (Line-ups just means picking who we want to compete for each event. These are strategically chosen to maximize our overall team score. In finals, we had five girls up on each event and three scores counted). But before the meeting, Ashley and I decided to jam out on our ukuleles over by the Water Gardens. Eventually, the wind picked up and the pollen prevented us from keeping our eyes open so we decided to head back in.

As is always the case, choosing lineups is stressful. You don’t want to kick anyone off an event but you also want to win. Thankfully, everyone was at least outwardly approving of the lineups we chose. No surprise, I was in the lineup for all four events. (Side note, I was willing to cede my spots for all events because I, myself, qualified for all-around finals, bars, and floor! woo! But they shut me down).


Before finals, we have a march-in for all the teams competing at nationals (whether or not they made finals) This year, there were over a hundred schools competing and a total of 243 teams (a school can have multiple teams that compete at different skill levels). It’s always impressive to see everyone lined up. (I don’t have a picture though)

When the National Anthem started, it was quickly realized that they forgot a flag. Luckily, one of the gymnasts had one we could use: (Photo courtesy of NAIGC Instagram)


Before competition began, we got to break two world records! One for the most simultaneous forward rolls and one for the most simultaneous handstands. I forget how many people did it but it was pretty neat!

Finally, the competition began! We started on beam which you may know as my least favorite event. Despite that, beam went pretty well. I didn’t fall at least! And neither much of the rest of A team! This is marked improvement over the six falls from prelims.

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The rest of the meet went well so there isn’t much to say about it. I didn’t do as well on bars as I did in prelims (I got a 9.375) but at least I didn’t fall. Floor went better than expected with a 9.475. Vault is always the same. If I make it, I do NOT do another one.

We didn’t help with tear down this year for two reasons:

  1. because we are terrible people
  2. We forgot to sign up to help

So I actually had some time between then until banquet. I used that time to show Logan the cool water gardens. Also fun fact, it was colder in Texas on Saturday than it was in Pennsylvania.

Banquet rolls around and we all line up. Many of my friends may or may not have been slightly inebriated. We got food and sat down and talked about how we think we did. It was already established that we hadn’t made the cut for placing as a team. My family and Logan came even though I didn’t think we’d win anything, Awards started and not many of us were paying attention. We has some great wins for the guys team! Very exciting! I got 5th on floor which was also exciting. When they reached the team awards, we were all packing up to leave when they announced, “In 3rd place for level 9 team awards with a 108.925, The Pennsylvania State University!!!”. We screamed and ran up to accept our banner. I don’t think any team has ever been this excited to win third place.

we win

After all the excitement, I said goodbye to my family and headed back to the hotel.

At 3:30 AM, it was time to get up and fly home.

LABASH 2018 at Penn State

I finally have the time to write some new blog posts! Woo! The end of the semester is quickly approaching! Tomorrow is my final presentation for my studio in Baltimore which is very exciting! Not so exciting? We have to leave at 6 AM (That is early for college students). I guess that’s not as bad as waking up at 3:30 AM to board the plane back to Pittsburgh (But you’ll hear about that in a later post). There are going to be many posts coming your way, but let’s start where I think I left off.


Wow! What an insane weekend. And tiring. very tiring. It was basically two full days of presentations and workshops by professionals in our field. And boy did we score some professional professionals. In terms of notoriety, we had a lot. Gina Ford, Susannah Drake, Ken Smith, David Rubin, Claudia West. Lots of important people. And its so strange that they are all here in not-that-exciting-compared-to-the-fancy-cities-they-work-in State College, Pennsylvania. I’m not going lie, part of me wondered what kind of incentives they had to come here. But regardless, it was exciting. The opening ceremony was at the State Theatre and I got to see my logo displayed on the big screen which was supremely cool.

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I also got to design the pin! (remember that?) it looks like this:


So Logan decided to make a giant wooden seal of my design to display all weekend:

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He is quite a character!

He also helped make this awesome palette wall:

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I couldn’t resist a handstand

The weekend consisted of listening to lectures and running around looking busy and getting shooed away by people more important than I haha.

also notice how all the volunteers had bright green shirts. We were referred to as the green shirts all weekend which then got truncated to ‘the shirts’.

After that was over I finally had time to relax right?

WRONG. (See next blog post)