December Reads

Book 36:
"You" by Caroline Kepnes
When Joe meets Beck at the bookstore – him at the register and her buying a book – he is immediately taken. And she must feel the same way, because she paid with a credit card instead of cash because she wanted him to know her name, right? He Googles her and learns everything he can about her, devouring all of the information from her social media, right down to her address. He molds himself into Beck's perfect guy, while she's clueless about it all.

Reflecting On 2018

At the end of last year when I turned 25, my older sister told me that 25 to 30 is the time where you learn what you want, what you'll do for what you want, and what you won't do for what you want. While I'm only one year in to that range, it's been true so far. I actually learned that exact lesson in "Unfu*k Yourself" too, in which Bishop tells us to stop setting goals based on what we think we want and to do it based on what we are willing and unwilling to do.

For me, 2018 was all about releasing. Letting go of obligations, worries, and doubts. Inviting calmness and peace.

I focused more on finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems. I was no longer willing to run myself into the ground for people who wouldn't appreciate it anyway. I took care of myself, even if that meant accomplishing less in a day. (And I reminded myself that my worth is not measured by my productivity.) We moved into a condo that gave us more space and shorter commutes, and almost immediately I felt a lot of my anxieties melt away.

2018 was one big exhale. I'm happy with where it took me.

I'm A Sucker For Instagram Trends | Sunday Shares

Oh, hello. My first Sunday Shares post in five weeks. It certainly has been a while since one of these, now that I'm only posting once a week.

I'm realizing that I'm not great at fully relaxing. I do the actions just fine – watching a movie, painting my nails, reading, chilling out – but I end up feeling lazy for it because mentally I'm still thinking about all of the things I should be doing instead. It's a very Hurry up and relax kind of feeling. This weekend I am doing my best to let myself enjoy the holiday weekend without any stressful expectations.

This year we had our own Christmas tree for the first time and it makes our living room feel so cozy, especially now with all of the presents underneath. I'm going to be sad when it comes time to take it all down.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer

For the past few years, I've sent out Christmas cards to a handful of friends, because, as Jim Halpert said, Christmas is the time to tell people how you feel.

The first year that I sent out Christmas cards was the year that I moved into my first apartment, living solo, which is something I thought I would never do. I always get super sappy around the holidays. It's such a cozy time, and it's at the end of the year when we're all caught up in reflecting on our lives.

That year, I was proud of myself and grateful for all of the people I had in my life while I transitioned into The Real World, so that Christmas and every year since, I used the holiday as an excuse to send what were practically love letters, gushing to my friends about how much I loved them, in case I didn't tell them enough throughout the rest of the year (I never do).

November Reads

Book 34:
"Small Sacrifices: A True Story of Passion and Murder"
by Ann Rule
"Small Sacrifices" is the true story of Diane Downs, mother of three. One night, Diane arrives at a hospital with her three kids in the car – one dead and two in critical condition – claiming she was stopped on the road by a man who then shot all four of them. However, as investigators delve into the case, they begin to get suspicious, wondering if it was Diane herself who shot her kids.

Who I Am And Who I Want To Be

Birthdays are always a time of reflection. When I turned 23, I posted 23 things I'd learned. I shared some general words for 24. For my 25th, I listed 20 things I don't care about anymore plus five that I do.

And now, 26.

Another year older, another year wiser.

In Need Of A Change | Sunday Shares

Good morning, friends. I'm writing this from bed Sunday morning before I head off to brunch with my family. I'm wishing I had gotten up earlier to work up more of an appetite because the menu for this place looks insane, but I'll probably still eat enough for two people anyway.

I missed a Wednesday posting day again two weeks back and found my mind wandering again to, What if I stopped blogging? I thought about this last year too, around this same time of year. Must be something in the air.

It's That Time Of Year Again

I'm writing this on Saturday at 10 p.m. and I have no idea how it's already so late. I feel like I haven't done anything today. And it wasn't one of those days where I was intentional about it either.

There are days I'll purposely make no plans except for sitting on the couch watching Netflix or reading a book. Days where my only plan is to have no plan, the only thing on my to-do list is to do nothing.

That's not what today was. Today, time just got away from me.

October Reads

Book 31:
"This Is Where It Ends" by Marieke Nijkamp
"This Is Where It Ends" is a story about a school shooting, told from the perspectives of four different students. That's pretty much all there is to say in regards to the summary.

The Key To Drinking More Water And A Huge Thank You | Sunday Shares

Happy Sunday, friends. Last night I was up too late (3:30! Who am I?) and my body insisted on a full eight hours of sleep despite all of my alarms, hence the late start here.

Boy, has there been a lot going on. I had some sort of commitment every day for two weeks straight, which really isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things but felt absolutely draining in the moment. To make up for it, I made zero plans this past week to let myself decompress and, man, it was my best decision. The cleanliness of my apartment is suffering a bit because of it but ya gotta do whatcha gotta do, ya know? (It also allowed me no time to watch any more episodes of "The Haunting of Hill House," which is what I'm most upset about, to be honest.)

On Living In My Hometown

As you may or may not already know, depending on whether you follow me on Instagram or read my Sunday Shares a few weeks back, I recently moved into a new apartment. What I haven't mentioned specifically is that it's back in my hometown.

I've never been far from my parents' place. Everywhere I've lived has been in the same general area. Now I'm in the actual town I grew up in, though, and I've gotten mixed reactions to this. Sometimes it's along the lines of, "That must be so nice to be near your family" (which it is), and others it's a slight change to their expression where I can tell they think it's kind of weird.

Finding Your Spark: Don't Let The Darkness Consume You

I decided to start the "Finding Your Spark" series to shine a light on different types of people who are following various paths – their OWN paths, whatever those may be. The whole idea is that there's no single way to live life and a person doesn't have to be "famous" to inspire others. These individuals have found what inspires them, motivates them, makes them happy. And they've run with it.

Read all posts in this series here.

Flowers Don't Bloom Year-Round

Believe it or not, I don't always take my own advice. I learn what works for me and then I don't always follow it.

One night, at 9 p.m. on a Sunday, I posted to my Instagram story about how I know that addressing my to-do list first is what's best for me. I know I'll feel better if I get my tasks done and then relax. Still, time and time again, I don't do it. I put it off and then end up staying up too late, being too tired, trying to get things done, like cooking at 9 p.m. on a Sunday.

A friend of mine responded to my post saying she's the same way. I was surprised, because she's one of those people who seems to really have her shit together. What does she mean she also has trouble prioritizing and gets crabby about her own procrastination?

Your Keyboard Is A Karma Machine | Sunday Shares

Weekend mornings are my favorite. I'm not sure if I'd officially call myself a Morning Person, but I'm certainly not the night owl that I used to be and I do cherish my mornings. It's my alone time. No matter how much is on my to-do list for the day, I always spend the first 30-60 minutes of my day with me. Coffee, a book, and a nice view.

I want to write more here but the ironic truth is that I got home late last night and am feeling very sleepy this morning. So I'm going to publish this and then sit and read long enough to finish my book.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

Things To Be Happy About // 08

I had a nice week last week and was in the mood to post one of these again. It felt fitting since it was the first full week of October. Maybe I'll do one of these every month after the first week. 

Read more here.

6 Reminders To Take With You To The Gym

I have a lot of opinions when it comes to fitness, and looking through my archives, it seems like they tend to pop up around this time of year. Not sure why. Maybe it's the transition into a colder season. I start getting the urge to burrow inside instead of going to the gym so I end up giving myself a lot of pep talks.

I wasn't sure how to structure this post other than it being a general collection of thoughts about fitness. So that's exactly what it is. Not advice, just thoughts. Things I've learned, things I'm still learning, things I want to discuss with other people. Gentle reminders for all of us about what's truly important when it comes to working out.

Do All Things With Love | Sunday Shares

Let me jump on the bandwagon here and say it's really starting to feel like fall around here. I'm conflicted about it. As much as I thrive wearing big cozy sweaters with a pumpkin coffee in hand, it's getting a little too chilly too quickly. I had a really good summer, and I'm not totally ready to say goodbye yet. (Though, let's be honest, I'm sure in two weeks I'll be fully invested in fall.)

The biggest news from the past two weeks is that Rahul and I are officially moved in to a new apartment. We're loving it, which you probably already know if you follow me on Instagram because I won't shut up about it. We moved because we wanted more space and ended up upgrading even more than we expected.

We're gradually unpacking and getting settled. I can't wait to buy a bunch of fake plants to decorate the place. (I cannot be bothered to get anymore real plants other than the succulent and cactus I already have. Too much effort.)

Here's what I've been loving lately:

September Reads

Book 28:
"Leaving Time" by Jodi Picoult
Alice Metcalf and her husband have spent years studying elephants, learning and understanding their behavior, and eventually owning their own elephant sanctuary. One night, there's an incident in the sanctuary that leaves one woman dead and Alice in the hospital. Strangely, Alice checks herself out and is never seen again. At the time of the incident, Alice's daughter Jenna was only 3 years old. Now 13, Jenna is more determined than ever to find out what happened to her mom.

Wedding Season, Being Open-Minded And Prioritizing My Life | Sunday Shares

Happy Sunday, friends. My last real Sunday in this apartment. Our first apartment. Next weekend, we move, and by the time my next Sunday Shares goes up in two weeks, we'll hopefully be settled in, for the most part.

The blog has been pushed to the back-burner again lately whilst we sort everything out for the move. I've had so many ideas piling up that I have all of the posts for October mapped out already. Here's hoping I can get myself to sit down and focus long enough to actually get them written. Our new place is a two-bedroom so I'll have an office of sorts, which I'm sure will help. I'm definitely looking forward to that.

Upping My Skincare Game | My Current Nighttime Routine

I've always been pretty good about taking care of my skin, removing my makeup before bed and washing my face twice a day. I give myself credit for that.

Overall, my typical routine is... typical. I use Vaseline to remove my eye makeup and Garnier micellar cleansing water for my face makeup. I wash my face morning and night with Olay's foaming cleanser for sensitive skin and moisturize with a standard bottle from Olay as well.

I'm only now adding other products into the mix and being more cognizant of what order to apply them. After taking off my makeup and washing my face at night, here's what I do:

8 Things I Learned From Amy Schumer's Memoir

Can we talk about a book that came out two years ago? Please? I know I'm late to the game, but it was so good!

Last month I finally read Amy Schumer's memoir, "The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo," which is an amazing title, let's be honest. I kept putting off reading it because I thought I knew what to expect. I've seen some of her stand-up. I saw "Trainwreck." Her book is gonna be like that.

Only, it isn't like that at all.

In her memoir, Amy gives you a glimpse of who she is and what she's like when she isn't performing on stage. The real her. And maybe it makes me ignorant, but it wasn't what I expected.

So many of the chapters had me internally cheering at the end. I took enough notes while reading to fill a blog post separate from my monthly reads, so I figured, why not do that?

Here are eight things I learned from reading the book:

The Start Of My Favorite Month | Sunday Shares

Happy second day of September, friends.

I think September is my favorite month, which doesn't make total sense since Spring is my favorite season, but whatever. September is nice. It's a good balance, half summer, half fall. Half it's-so-sunny-and-nice-outside, half I-can-finally-wear-a-cozy-sweater. A transition month. I love it.

I'm finishing up this post bright and early Sunday morning while making my way through a bowl of fresh cut cantaloupe. I randomly woke up at 7 today and forced myself out of bed before I fell back asleep for another three hours. Now I'm getting the peaceful solo morning time I love.

Later today I'm going to my sister's for a pool and/or game day with my family. After that, I'm headed into the city for a Hannibal Buress show. Today is the only day of this three-day weekend that I have solid plans and I secretly love it. Part of me wishes I was doing more, but I do appreciate the time to relax and recharge.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

August Reads

 Book 26:
"The Hating Game" by Sally Thorne
"The Hating Game" is about two coworkers who loathe each other and then realize, well, maybe they actually don't.

What I Don't Post On Social Media

Call me a millennial, but I like social media. I like sharing my life online (hence the blog, obviously). There's a lot of talk around the negative impacts of social media but not enough about the positives. The sense of community, for one. A few of my friends tease me by saying they never have to ask me what I did over the weekend because it's all on my Instagram stories anyway. And, I mean, they're not wrong...

There are parts of my life that don't end up on social media, though. You know that already. It's impossible for every part of a person's life to be on the Internet. But I still want to say it, because not saying it makes me feel like a fraud.

90s Throwbacks And Finding Fulfillment | Sunday Shares

Happy Sunday, friends. I'm still behind on my writing, so instead of scheduling this a day in advance like I usually [try to] do, it's 10:15 on Sunday morning and I'm writing this while sipping my coffee and getting distracted by other blogs or tabs I have open.

I can't believe it's already been two weeks since my last Sunday Shares. It feels like I just put that up. Time flies when you're in a writing rut, I guess!

Here's what I've been loving lately:

Welcome Back To The Day-To-Day

Despite my running list of blog post ideas, I didn't feel like writing about any of them this week. Instead, I figured I'd take a page out of Francesca's book and give you an ol' stream of consciousness kind of post. It feels like a good time to just think out loud.

I Went On An Alaskan Cruise | Recap + Q&A

Putting up this post has been a battle. My original intention was to share my vacation through a vlog. I had brought my camera with me on my trip and filmed all of the highlights. I spent hours going through the footage and editing it together, only to find out that the files didn't input correctly and I couldn't save the footage out as a file. Despite trying out a few workarounds, it's looking like my only option is to completely redo it all from scratch. I don't know if I have the time or energy for that. We'll see.

I still want to talk about my trip, though, so I guess I'm doing that through a regular post now. That makes me nervous because while I usually prefer expressing myself through writing (obviously), I'm not great at reviews or recaps. Everything is "cool" and "awesome" and "pretty." I don't do it justice. But – I'm happy to give it a try.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving

Hi, friends! Welcome back! I was on vacation for what felt like the entire second half of July. We took a week-long Alaskan cruise, then spent a weekend in Seattle before heading home. More on that later, as I'm in the middle of editing together a vlog of the highlights that I'm aiming to post on Wednesday. (Spoiler: Husky puppies make an appearance.)

Now that I'm back, I'm gradually getting myself back into the swing of things. The work days took some adjusting, and I'm not fully back at the gym quite yet, but eventually. Last night I had some friends over, and it was really nice to get a group together for my first weekend back at home. I love the feeling of community. This morning I woke up too late but have nothing on the agenda for the day so who cares. It feels great. I am currently sitting at my new dining table, drinking coffee out of a mug I bought in Alaska, typing away. And it feels good, to be typing away again.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

July Reads

Book 22:
"Unfu*k Yourself" by Gary John Bishop
I knew from the subhead alone – "Get out of your head and into your life" – that this was a book I'd benefit from. A friend lent me her copy and, lo and behold, ten pages in I bought one for myself to keep on my shelf.

I Hope You Fail And Here’s Why

Last November, I was gifted an Apple Watch, and the main thing I use on it is the Activity app. It tracks how active you are each day with three rings.

Move: Your personal goal of how many calories to burn.
Exercise: 30 minutes of "brisk activity."
Stand: Moving for at least one minute per hour for 12 hours of the day, to ensure you aren't sitting for more than 60 consecutive minutes.

The objective is to close each ring (AKA meet each goal) every day. This has been ingrained into my daily routine. I am always aware of it, always striving to move more to complete them (and, you know, to improve my health). Sometimes that has meant going for an evening walk or squeezing in a quick yoga session at 10 p.m. Most days, I close all three. Over the past eight-ish months, there've only been about 20 days when I haven't.

Needless to say, I hold myself to it.

My New Go-To Summer Products | FabFitFun Summer Box

It's time for my favorite part of the season: We're talkin' FabFitFun box.

I am really late to the game with this one, considering the box was delivered to me a month ago. Maybe no one's interested in these anymore. Maybe, at this point, it's overdone. Well, too bad. I honestly love this subscription so much that I'd happily talk about the products every season, so here I am to tell you all about the latest summer products. I've tried every item and regularly use all but one.

If you want to try out a box to see how you like it, you can get ten dollars off by clicking HERE, making your box only $40. You can also check out my posts on other FabFitFun boxes here.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving

Hi! Wow, these last few weeks. The best of times and the worst of times. Or rather, the worst of times followed by the best of times. The bad news is that I've been spending too many extra hours grumpy at work. And that's all I'll say about that because this is a space to focus on the good stuff. And there's been so much more good stuff, especially this past week.

This Sunday Shares is coming to you a week later than usual because last Sunday I put up my very first sponsored post, which was exciting. I was so happy to have the opportunity to work with a brand that I genuinely enjoy. Because of the holiday on Wednesday, this week was a shortened work week, which I desperately needed. Plus, I had a half day on Friday. I left after lunch and spent my afternoon by the pool. It's been a great week. I'm feeling energized and motivated.

This is actually my last Sunday Shares post for a bit because I leave next week for my vacation. An Alaskan cruise, can you believe it? I'm ecstatic.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

Love At First Invite

As one of those students who loved school supply shopping, I have grown into an adult who loves stationery. I frequently buy blank cards just to have them on hand, since they can be used for any occasion. You never know when someone will need a pick-me-up in the form of a card with doughnuts on the front, right?

You can imagine my excitement when I received an email from none other than a stationery site, Basic Invite, which honestly are anything but. I could have spent hours on that site.

June Reads

Book 18:
"Between a Rock and a Hard Place"
by Aron Ralston
No joke, I have been meaning to read this since it came out in 2004. If you're not familiar with it, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" is a true story about Aron Ralston, an experienced mountaineer and adventurer, who got trapped in a canyon when a boulder fell and pinned his arm. He was stuck for five days until he eventually amputated his arm to save his life.

In 2010, it was adapted into a movie, "127 Hours." Even though I'd put off reading the book for years, I did see the movie when it came out. I watched it again after reading this and still loved it.

4 Things I've Been Doing To Make Life Easier

Last week I talked about things I want to do during the second half of the year. Now I want to talk about things I'm already doing. Little efforts that make life easier.

12 Books On My Summer Reading List

I recently reorganized my entire bookshelf and have put everything that I haven't read together. It's my official To-Read shelf for the summer. Most of them are books that I have had for a while yet haven't gotten around to actually reading.

If you look closely, you'll see that I've very anally organized the books with fiction on the left, non-fiction on the right. TBD on whether I'll actually get through them all without getting distracted by newer books I hear about, but here's what I'm aiming for.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving

I have enough mugs that I probably don't need to buy another one for the rest of my life, but when you see one this cute on sale at T.J. Maxx while in the check-out line, you really can't pass it up.

So we had a week or two of full-on summer weather and then it was rainy and humid for a while, so I haven't been doing too much the past two weeks. Work has been hectic so I've mostly just been looking forward to relaxing on the couch whenever possible.

Last weekend I had the loveliest afternoon in the city with my friend Alyssa. We got lunch, wandered through an art fest, and went to this used bookstore that was as big as a small library. Also, after seeing how cute and well-decorated her apartment is, the first thing I did when I got back home was clean and reorganize my bookshelf with all of my new purchases.

Here's what I've been loving lately:

A Mid-Year Check-In

Not to be cliché, but how the frick is it already June? I feel like the first three months of the year went by slowly (AKA perfectly) but since March, time has flown. I'm not a fan. But it is an opportune time for me to put up a post I've been crafting in my head for a week or two now. It's part reflection and part bucket list.

Finding Your Spark: First As A Human, Then As A Dancer

I decided to start the "Finding Your Spark" series to shine a light on different types of people who are following various paths – their OWN paths, whatever those may be. The whole idea is that there's no single way to live life and a person doesn't have to be "famous" to inspire others. These individuals have found what inspires them, motivates them, makes them happy. And they've run with it.

Read all posts in this series here.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving

Wowie, there's been a lot going on. Get comfortable and let me walk you through the past two weeks.

May Reads

Book 14:
"You Do You" by Sarah Knight
This is the second book I've read by Sarah Knight and my favorite of the two. (The other was "The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck.") It's a book about learning to embrace who we are, which should be the easiest thing in the world, but we know it's not. To quote Knight herself, "The advice in this book boils down to one simple mantra: Stand up for who you are and what you want. How do you do that? Stop letting other people tell you what to do, how to do it, or why it can't be done."

With authenticity and the right amount of attitude, "You Do You" is a reminder that there's nothing wrong with standing up for what you want or need or deserve. As always, I appreciate that it's about learning to be selfish and "difficult" while also being considerate of others.
At my biggest, smallest, and sickest—even though I was lucky to have people around me telling me they loved me and I was beautiful—I never actually felt that way until I finally accepted myself for who I am, flaws and all."
Rating: 4/5

Book 15:
"The Wife Between Us"
by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Quite honestly, the blurb gives away the first big twist, so I recommend not reading that, and I'll summarize it differently: This book alternates between two points of view. First, Vanessa, the ex-wife, who is struggling with a drinking problem and obsessive jealousy ever since Richard left her for another woman. Second, Nellie, the young, new fiancé who is trying to shake the feeling that she's being followed while in the midst of planning her wedding. Vanessa is determined to stop her replacement from marrying the man she loves, but how far will she go?

I ended up figuring out very early on what the first twist was, which for me personally, automatically makes the book less enjoyable. Maybe I'm too picky when it comes to this genre. From there, I was hoping for more surprises but didn't get too many. I kept reading more out of curiosity on how it'd end rather than being invested in the mystery.

I did enjoy the final twists at the end, though, despite the cheesiness to them.

Rating: 3/5

Book 16:
"Goodbye, Vitamin" by Rachel Khong
I was seeing in a lot of reviews that this book was funny. I picked it up because I was in the mood for something lighthearted and quirky. I think I read the summary too quickly but the synopsis on the flap did say it was told from a deep well of humor.

"Goodbye, Vitamin" is essentially about a woman, Ruth, who moves back to her parents' for a year to help care for her father, who's in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Ruth's fiancé recently left her, and her father has lost his teaching job. They're coping.

I don't think I let out more than a hard-exhale laugh once while reading this book. I did, however, cry multiple times. This book wrecked me. Having said that, you should read it. It's a beautifully written story that I devoured in its entirety in one day. I loved it. I will definitely have to check out more from Khong.
What imperfect carriers of love we are, and what imperfect givers. That the reasons we can care for one another can have nothing to do with the person cared for. That it has only to do with who we were around that person—what we felt about that person."
Rating: 5/5

Book 17:
"Places I Stopped on the Way Home"
by Meg Fee
I've adored Meg Fee's writing on her blog for the past couple of years. She's a striking writer, and because of that, I knew her book would be no different. It is just what the cover suggests: a memoir of chaos and grace. It's reflective and honest, painting a picture of New York with memories of love and growth tied together through various essays. (I think the font used in the book is also the same as what's on her blog, which was a nice touch.)

As someone who has been in a long-term relationship since the beginning of college and hasn't lived in a city, I couldn't relate too much to the specific events discussed in these stories, but the feelings and emotions are universal. I have plenty of pages dog-eared to refer back to.
But this is what I know to be true, that in the worst moments of our lives, good things happen. That, in fact, good and bad rush in together, one somersaulting over the other. And you must be alert enough to look for both."
Rating: 4/5

Is This What A Quarter-Life Crisis Feels Like?

I'm kidding. Kind of.

When I mentioned in a post in March that I've been going to my gym for six years, it kind of sent me down a rabbit hole.

Sunday Shares | What I've Been Loving

Today I went to get a mani/pedi with a friend and wished once again that I went to get my nails done more often. It's my favorite way to treat myself. After that, we went out to dinner then came back to my apartment to play video games and chill. It's been a lowkey day, as most of my weekends are. Now that spring is here, I should probably be making more of an effort to go out and do things but man I'm a sucker for staying in.

The past two weeks have been pretty hectic work-wise but in a good way because I got a promotion! I'm really happy about it. Work has been stressful lately where I'm feeling like I could be doing better, but I also know that I try my hardest and do a good job, even on my off days. I'm reminding myself that I earned this.

Oh and by the way, I'm Team Yanny.

Here's what I've been loving lately: