This fall, I was fortunate enough to attend YALLfest in Charleston, South Caroline. This two-day book bonanza featured over 60 Young Adult authors, a day of panels, book signings, freebies, and an overwhelming amount of personal excitement.

I’ve been an avid YA fan since the age of ten when I’d beeline to the Teen shelf at Borders for the newest Meg Cabot or Sarah Dessen book. I’m no longer ten, but I still head directly to the YA section of every bookstore and can spend hours browsing the multiple aisles. Being a grown woman who reads over 50 teen novels in a calendar year is normally weird, but at YALLfest, I fit right in. My favorite moments are definitely worth sharing.

Moment 1: Meeting Kiera Cass, author of the Selection series. She was so incredibly sweet and down-to-Earth that I love her books more now than I already did.


Kiera Cass: Not only is she sweet and talented, she’s also adorable. 


Moment 2: Attending a Q&A with Meg Cabot, the author of The Princess Diaries series and so many other books I adore, and Melissa De La Cruz.

Moment 3: Meeting Meg Cabot. This was basically a lifelong dream realized; when I was in middle school, I used to fake sick on days her new books were released so I could stay home to read (sorry Mom and Dad!). She’s so much more amazing than I imagined.



Meg Cabot: My Favorite


Moment 4: Attending a panel that featured Nicola Yoon (the author of Everything, Everything, a book I devoured in one sitting), Kami Garcia, Katie McGarry, Kiera Cass, and Julie Kagawa talking about romance. The ladies discussed everything from writing first kisses to whether or not it is essential for a book to have a happy ending.

Moment 5: Meeting E. Lockhart, author of several books including We Were Liars, The Boyfriend List, and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. She was nice enough to take time during the signing to tell me about the MFAC writing program at Hamline she teaches for, in addition to signing two books for me.



Ms. E. Lockhart. 


While these were my favorite moments I also enjoyed the experience as a whole. I bought six books, attended five panels, and met three authors! I’d recommend this event to any lover of Young Adult Literature.

Any other YALLfest attendees out there? I’d love to know your favorite moments too!



Math: Equations of a Line with FREE Download!

One of the topics I review with almost all of the students I tutor at this time of year is the formats an equation of a line can be in. There are three formats commonly used, and they are NOT all created equal.

Today, I’m going to overview the three formats quickly, then give you the link to the much prettier handout I’ve made.

Equations of a Line 

Slope-Intercept Format:     y=mx+b

  • m is the slope (think m for mountain)
  • b is the y-intercept
  • (0,b) is a good point to start graphing the line
  • This is the MOST useful format

Standard Form:      ax+by=c

  • a and b must be integers (not fractions or decimals) 
  • a must be positive
  • turn it into slope-intercept by subtracting ax from both sides, then dividing everything by b

Point-Slope Form: (y-y1)=m(x-x1)

  • m is the slope
  • x1 and y1 are coordinates for a given point
  • Use point-slope for problems like this:
    • Given the line 2x – 3y = 9 and the point (4, –1), find lines through    the point that are:
    • (a) parallel to the given line a
    • (b) perpendicular to it.

You can get the PDF of the short, sweet, informative handout I made by clicking on the link below.

Equations of a line

Happy mathing!


Hobbies: Model United Nations

Greetings, MB&H readers! I’m back from my summer blogging hiatus that was spent working the most excellent job in America, being a summer camp counselor. This summer has given me a lot of time to reflect on why we like to do the things that we do. I’ve always thought of my hobbies as time-killers as opposed to a road leading to success. Math was always a hobby of mine;  now it’s my primary source of income.

Marie: MUN Extraordinaire

Marie: MUN Extraordinaire

I started considering the people in my life that began participating in something for fun that eventually lead to a whole lifestyle. That’s where today’s post comes in.

Today’s post is exceptional because 1) it’s a guest post and 2) that guest happens to be my super talented cousin, Marie Hanewinckel.  Marie recently moved to TAIWAN for a Fullbright program where she will be teaching English. She discovered her passion through her hobby.

Model United Nations 

by Marie Hanewinckel

Hobbies. Everyone thinks they need them. People are always searching for a hobby – a hobby to make themselves feel as if they have a purpose, or if nothing else, life outside of work, school, and family.

I’ve often felt as if my life is lacking a hobby. I’m terrible at crafts, can’t play any instruments, and have no special talents beyond intellectual pursuits. But what if an intellectual activity could become a hobby? That’s how I found my greatest pastime of Model United Nations.

I know you’re thinking one of two things right now: “Wow, what a nerd!” or “Wasn’t that one Mary-Kate and Ashley movie/Parks and Rec episode about Model UN?” However, MUN is so much more than simply a nerdy debate activity. It became, for me, a hobby to which I was more than happy to devote hours of my time each week.

Although I initially joined MUN in high school simply as a way to become involved in something that wasn’t basketball, there are many irreplaceable things I gained from MUN:

1. The ability to engage an audience through public speaking, as well as manage and lead large groups of people in a more informal setting (better known as “caucusing”).

2. Confidence in myself. Confidence in my intellect. Confidence in my ability to speak in front of an audience. Confidence in my ability to command respect. And, most of all, confidence in my ability to improvise.1978591_10152353492336410_142506202_o

3. Amazing friends. I’m not kidding – the typical “MUNer” isn’t a socially-awkward nerd. You have to be pretty social and have the ability to make friends to excel at MUN. So MUNers are pretty social creatures.

4. A support system. College is hard. You learn a lot about yourself and finally have the chance to become your own person. Being part of a team helped facilitate this and gave me a community at my university.

5. Professional skills. I have no fear of interviews or talking with others at formal events.

This hobby has taken me places I never dreamed it would – I’ve traveled all around the country and even held a job teaching MUN. It’s a hobby that more and more people are joining every day – and begins as early as middle school! I’ve seen so many people, myself included, find their passions and grow into themselves through this engaging activity. To conclude – even the nerds with no tangible talents can find hobbies at which they can excel.

To keep up with Marie’s life in Taiwan teaching English as a second language, follow her blog.

Keep hobbyin’!


99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Book Review: 99 Days by Katie Contugno

Last Weekend, I impulsively visited Books-A-Million under the pretense of “I’m not going to buy anything.”

I bought two books. One was Matilda, a book I’ve never actually read but need to. It was only a few dollars so hey, why not?

The other was a glossy hardcover; the brand-new release of 99 Days by Katie Cotugno.

99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Let me backtrack and tell you that I usually read ebooks or library books. Only rarely do I buy a hardcover book. On the occasion I do buy a hardcover new release, it’s a book I’ve been highly anticipating (for example, I will be buying Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot the moment it is released. I’ve lived too many years now without Mia Thermopolis in my life).  I’ve learned the costs of books can add up quickly.

I have never read Cotugno’s first novel, How to Love, although I have been meaning too for awhile. When I saw 99 Days on the shelf, I was drawn to it. First of all, it’s a beautiful looking book. I skimmed the inside cover and knew it was my kind of book.

What is my kind of book? A book that makes me feel feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of genres and I become engulfed by most books I read, but my favorite kind of books are ones like 99 Days. Books that capture the emotions of love or heartbreak perfectly.

Seriously, look how pretty this book is.

Seriously, look how pretty this book is.

I started reading 99 Days last night and about 25% of the way in, I sighed because I knew I wasn’t falling asleep until I finished it.  The narrator, Molly, makes terrible decisions in the most relatable ways. She’s recovering from a breakup with her first love,  Patrick, the same summer she is falling in love with another guy, Gabe. Here’s the thing: Gabe is Patrick’s older brother.

99 days is a story with very real emotions and is written in a way where I definitely felt feelings.  This may not be everyone’s favorite kind of book, but it’s mine. I’m anxious to read Cotugno’s How to Love and literally anything else she puts on paper (I read half her blog posts after I finished the book at 2 AM).

Worth the Read!

Worth the Read!

If stories of love and heartbreak are your thing too, then read this book. I could not recommend it more highly.

Hobbies: Why You Should Consider Running For Fun

This post was written by a very talented friend of mine, Blaire Banfield. In addition to being a Harvard student and acclaimed co-writer of the parody song “If Frog Dies Young”, Blaire has put a significant amount of mileage on her running shoes. 


Blaire: Marathon Extraordinaire

Why You Should Consider Running For Fun 

by Blaire Banfield

Hello, Blog World! For those who don’t know me, which is more than likely everyone considering I’m not famous in any circles, my name is Blaire Banfield. Ann and I have been friends for long time, so when she asked me to guest blog for her new site, I was ecstatic! Honestly, she’s indulging me in this, as my childhood dream was to write for Saturday Night Live. However, considering that my most prestigious authorship to date is this guest blog (and maybe that Steve Buscemi love letter I sent), that dream hasn’t quite come to fruition.

Between Math, Books, or Hobbies, I have chosen to write about hobbies. In all honesty, I never completely learned my times tables and I haven’t read a book that wasn’t required for admission to medical school in at least 4 years, so I didn’t feel qualified for the other topics. I have a few hobbies I enjoy, but today I’d like to talk about my love for Marathoning.

Based on appearances alone, I’m not sure you would know I enjoyed running as much as I do. You’d probably think, “That girl? The one on her 5th helping of unlimited bread sticks at Olive Garden? She runs for extended periods of time?”. The answer, you judgmental jerk, is yes.

I find running exhilarating. It may seem like a difficult activity to find enjoyable to someone who has never done it; trust me, I used to think the same way. Why would running until you feel like you can’t anymore for a little piece of metal around your neck be fun?

When I was in my last year of undergrad, I took a look at my life and thought, “I can’t remember the last time I felt truly challenged!”. College is hard of course, but always doable. I couldn’t remember the last time I encountered a challenge that really made me work just to finish it. It was then I signed up for my first half-marathon.

I cannot describe the feeling you get when you see the finish line in front of you after running 13 miles; They should bottle this feeling (In fact, that may be my next endeavor since this writing for SNL thing is clearly not working out). Once you open that bottle you would feel the warm glow of completing something you never thought you’d be capable of. You would feel the thumping in your eardrums as you hear people clapping who all came to see you. You wouldn’t feel a single muscle aching because none of it matters when you see that end and feel your accomplishment. I give one warning: this feeling is INCREDIBLY addicting.

After the first half-marathon, I immediately signed up for a full marathon, another half-marathon, and a “Challenge” where I ran a half on a Saturday and a full on Sunday. Like I said, this feeling makes you do crazy things. But regardless of my obsession, I do 100% suggest to everyone I meet to do something like run a marathon, something that you never thought you could do. The older we get, the more set in our ways we become. We stick to what we know, rarely stray, yet we’re surprised when we’re bored with life.

So if this brief foray into the insanity of my mind has made you consider an attempt at marathoning, and you have any questions, feel free to use the “Contact Me” tab with any questions.  I’d be glad to taint your mind with training ideas, good marathons to run, and other such frivolity.

And if this didn’t tickle your hobby fancy, maybe I’ll re-guest blog another time and give an insight on my other favorite pastime, Rhythmic Thimble Stacking. (Yes, that is some next level stuff).

How to Tell if a Number is Divisible by 2 or 3!

Knowing These Rules Makes Math So Much Easier!

After writing about the importance of memorizing your math facts, I kept changing my mind about what to bring up next. At first, I thought I’d go over some fraction tricks, but I realized it would be better to go over least common multiples first. Then it hit me, the two things I mentioned before, along with a lot of other concepts in math are drastically easier if you know your divisibility rules!

I’ll slow down. Today I’m going to talk about how to tell if a number is divisible by 2 or 3.

I’ll anticipate some questions and answer them ahead of time.

Question: I’m already lost. What does divisible mean?

So glad you asked! A number is divisible by any number that it can divide into equal groups of, with no remainder.

Here’s an example: 8 is divisible by 2 because when I do 8 divided by 2 I get 4 with no remainder. 8 is not divisible by 3 because if I do 8 divided by 3 I get 2 with a remainder of 2.

Question: What is a divisibility rule?

A divisibility rule is a quick way to tell if a large number is going to be divisible by a single-digit number without having to divide it out.

Question: Will this ever come in handy?

YES. Very frequently. It is also a really great time saver for standardized tests.

A number is divisible by 2 if it is even. That means it ends in a 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8.

Let’s practice:

Is 674,522 divisible by 2?

Yes! It ends in a 2, which means its an even number.

Is 700,000,001 divisible by 2?

No! It’s an odd number.

A number is divisible by 3 if the sum of its digits are divisible by 3.

Is 108 divisible by 3?

We have to add the digits together first. 1 +0+8= 9. Since 9 is divisible by 3, then 108 is divisible by 3.

Is 1,987 divisible by 3?

1+9+8+7= 25. Since 25 is NOT divisible by 3, 1,987 is not either.

Stay tuned for rest of the rules, along with worksheets and handouts!

Book Review of Young Adult Novel, Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Book Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Vanishing Girls, by Lauren Oliver (an author I adore), has haunted me ever since I finished it. Told from multiple points of view, Vanishing Girls is the story of two teenage sisters, Dara and Nick, who are struggling to heal themselves and their relationship after a car accident critically injures Dara.

While the two sisters were previously inseparable, when Nick returns home a year after the accident, she discovers Dara is no longer speaking to her. In addition, her mother is an emotional, over-protective mess, and both sisters are still struggling with the divorce of their parents. Meanwhile, a young girl goes missing nearby and the family becomes enthralled with the case.

To avoid giving away any major plot details, I’ll end the summary and instead tell you why I think you should read Vanishing Girls. 

Reasons To Read:

  1.  Unreliable narrator. Nick suffers from memory loss as a result of the car accident and struggles to remember the day of the crash. I don’t know about you, but I love a story-teller I can’t quite trust.
  2. It’s chilling, thrilling, and dark. There are portions of the story so suspenseful I actually found myself speed-reading to finish.
  3. Pictures! Not enough to be a graphic novel by any means, just a few black-and-white’s sprinkled throughout the book depicting the sister’s flashbacks. It’s a nice touch.
  4. Summertime setting. Relive your teen summer jobs, like Nick’s at the local amusement park, as well as your teenage summer romances.
  5. Superbly written. Oliver can sure craft a mean phrase.
  6. There’s a boy.
  7. It’s a heartfelt sister-story. Vanishing Girls captures the dynamics of a sister relationship. I don’t have any sisters, just an older brother, so a peak into the relationship of sisters is incredibly interesting to me.

It reminded me of another piece that gave me a peek into another sibling experience I’ll never have: being a twin. Made by Emma Hanewinckel (twin to Sara Hanewinckel), this clip will give you glimpse of twin life just as Vanishing Girls gives a glimpse of sister life.

Let me know if you end up reading the novel and you agree or disagree with my thoughts! Also, feel free to shower Emma with phrase about the video she made in the comments.

Hobbies: Beadwork

My senior year in high school, I broke my foot. It was my right foot, so I couldn’t drive anywhere, and I couldn’t exactly exercise anymore for fun.

As a way of fighting off the boredom, I decided to develop a new skill set: beadwork. That’s fancy lingo for “making cool jewelry/ accessories with very tiny beads” (seed beads).

Seed Bead bracelet, peyote stitch, size  14 beads

A bracelet I made for my mom

I LOVE making bracelets, especially intricate ones with seed beads. It’s a hobby I’d highly encourage. I’ll lay out the pros and cons of beginning beadwork, then share a few tips for getting starting.


  • You can make some seriously beautiful pieces. In general, whenever I wear something I made out of seed beads, I get a ton of compliments. People can not fathom that I made the piece.


  • It can be a little difficult to teach yourself, although definitely possible (I taught myself).


  •  Unlike friendship bracelets made out of embroidery thread, (a hobby I’ll talk about in a future post), the beadwork jewelry you make can be used as an actual, heartfelt,  expensive-looking birthday present. This is great, because making the present is entertaining to you, so you’re killing two birds with one stone. In addition, you can sell your work!


  • The hobby can get a little supply heavy. To learn peyote stitch, you’ll need a beading needle, beading thread, thread conditioner, and of course, seed beads! If your town has a bead store, great! You can get everything there and usually the staff will already know what you need. I won’t lie, it can get pricey, however there is some good news…


  • Seed beads are A LOT cheaper than most of the other types of beads you’ll find at a bead store.


  • You will find seed beads everywhere. The carpet, the couch, in your car, etc.


  • Once you get the hang of a stitch, it’s a great hobby to multitask with; you can work on a bead project while watching TV.


  • It’s fun! There’s a ton of things you can learn to make, from the flower I made at the top of the page to jewelry. It’s challenging but rewarding.

Where should I start if I want to make beadwork my new hobby?

  • I started at the very comprehensive beadwork section on About.com Beadwork . On the site, you’ll find everything from supplies to beadwork tutorials. I still reference it frequently!
  • I suggest learning even-count peyote stitch first. Once you get that down, you can easily make striped or solid bracelets, and later patterned ones. Here’s an even-count peyote bracelet I made with a free pattern I got from About.com Beadwork.
    zig-zag peyote stitch bracelet, pattern from beadwork.about.com

    You could make this!

    Zig-zag Peyote stich bracelet,  pattern from beadwork.about.com

    Zig-Zag Bracelet

  • Gather Supplies from a local bead store or craft store. For starting materials, I’d suggest a few colors of size 6 or 8 seed beads (12 is the norm, but bigger beads can be best to learn with), a beading needle, beading thread or wire (I use Nymo size D), a plush beading mat, and thread conditioner (I use Thread Heaven). Eventually, you’ll need more supplies, but this is a good starting list.
  • Work on learning a stitch first, then when you feel like you’ve got it down, start a project.
  • Use Pinterest, YouTube, and the rest of the world-wide web to find awesome tutorials and projects. Books can be helpful too; I’d recommend checking your local library instead of purchasing.
  • Experiment by learning other stitches, like  African Helix Stitch:
Beadwork: African Helix Sitch Bracelet

African Helix Stitch

If you’ve decided to dive into the seed bead universe and have any questions, please comment or visit the Contact Me form! If you are already a beadwork pro and have a blog that includes tutorials, let me know and I’ll feature it here!

Want to help your child with math? Make sure they memorize their facts!

Want success for yourself or your child in math? Here’s a tip:


Understanding the concept behind addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division is essential to learning math as a whole, but memorization is the next step. Yes, we live in a world overflowing with calculators, but knowing the basic facts is crucial to later success in math.

For example, if I asked you to make a fraction equivalent to 5/6, the simplest way to do so would be to choose a small whole number, like 2, and multiply the numerator (top) and the denominator (bottom) by it, getting 10/12.

If you have to spend over a minute multiplying both numbers, fractions will seem really difficult. It will only get worse when you have to make a common denominator between two fractions, and by the time you have to divide the fractions the whole process will be so frustrating, you’ll want to give up on math all together. By the time you reach solving linear equations, you’ll want to burn your math book and all your assignments. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Make sure you, or your child, are fluent in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables from 0-12. It will prevent a lot of pain in the future.

Here’s some frequent Q and A’s I get on this topic:

  •  Which fact should be memorized? The times tables?

Multiplication tends to be the center of attention, but it is equally important to build fluency with addition . Once addition and multiplication (1-12) facts are burned into the brain, their partner’s, subtraction and division, are easily learned.

  •  Are you sure I have to memorize addition?

 Yes, you do not want to be applying to graduate schools one day, while still computing 5+3 on your fingers.

  • What do you mean by “fluency”?

Two seconds or less for each problem. Hopefully less.

  • Is it humanly possible to retain all of this data? How?

Yes. Not only do flashcards exist, but we live in the beautiful age of the app. There are countless free apps aimed at math fact memorization. There are also websites riddled with games. I’ll talk about some of my favorite math apps and websites in a future post.

I’ll leave you with this thought:

It’s as easy as 1,2,3,4, 12= 3 X 4!


“I need to find a hobby!”

I’ve heard this phrase, the expressed desire for a hobby, more than once from fellow twenty-something’s. Luckily, I’ve tried most of them. 

In this blog, I’ll be reviewing the various hobbies I like, such as:

  • Making bracelets
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Crossword Puzzles 
  • Drinking wine
  • Snacking

There are many more that I will comprehensively review in due time. From time to time I will also feature guest writers who will talk about their favorite hobbies like

  • Chess
  • Model UN
  • Running very long distances 

Stay subscribed and find a new pastime!