Tuesday, July 25, 2017

add it to my list: july 2017

Huge thanks to everyone who links up with Bre and me every month! I take recs super seriously (to whoever recommended the Dr. Bronner's lip balm last month, I can't find it and I'm very sad!) so it's fun for me to literally add things to my list and actively think of things you can add to yours.

As always, the rules are easy. Write about things you are recommending to people in real life so that we can add them to our lists of things to try or buy. Link back to me and Bre, show the button if you want, leave us a comment, and then click around to add things to your own list. Done.

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Add it to your Watch List

I'm Sorry - this show is on TruTV, the channel that plays COPS reruns and shows about dumb criminals, BUT it's a scripted comedy about a mom who's a TV writer and her husband and kid. I have only watched two episodes so far but it made me laugh out loud and was out-there funny and dark and also has a precocious but not annoying kid. Check it out.

(Also, can I take Glow off my list from last month? I recommended it too soon. It was just... fine. You no longer need to add it.)

Add it to your Shopping List

Skimmies - I learned about these last summer and they make me want to wear dresses. They're considered "slip shorts" so they keep your dress from clinging to you, smooth you out without being tight, and they're moisture-wicking which is great in summer, especially for someone who thought that no one had a thigh gap until Instagram taught me otherwise. Costco has a good deal on them now (2 for $15!) but you can also get them at Walmart or Target for around $15 a pair.

Bergamot Orange Margaritas - I'm not a standard bar-drink person and I was tired of wine but I wanted something at the liquor store the other day. I saw this pre-packaged Bergamot orange margarita and I was skeptical since normally pre-mixed drinks are a sugary mess, but for $12, it was worth a gamble. It's delicious - tart but not orangey and you can taste the tequila without it being bitter. I've been thinking about it since I finished the bottle the other night. The brand is Austin cocktails, so it's probably easier to find in Texas, but it is available nationwide!

Mrs. Meyers Basil Soap - I'm cheap. I buy store brand soap and it's fine. But after staying at an Air BnB in Austin where they used this soap throughout and wanting to smell my hands constantly, I bit the bullet and bought $6 soap. I mean if you can't buy all-natural cleaning products in your 30s then when can you?

Add it to your Habit List

The 15 Second Rule - Something I read somewhere, probably on the internet, talked about a rule where if something takes x amount of time, you shouldn't put it off; you should just do it. I decided that 15 seconds was a reasonable amount of time and tried to put it into effect a few weeks ago and so far, so good. My kitchen is cleaner and my clutter disappears a little bit faster.

That's it for me. Next month will likely include bullet journaling and its associated supplies, but I'll see if I stick with it before recommending it. Just know that any recs I get from you all will be added to my indexed journal. Oh, and if you don't do so already, you should follow me on instagram. Not only do I post my layouts in my stories, but there are food and cats, too. OH and what do people like to read about in blogs lately? If there's something you like in general (or for some reason care what I think?), let me know. I need a little push to get me writing more regularly.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

show us your books: june 2017

It's either feast or famine at the library. After my last reading slump ended, I added tons of things to my hold list at the library and had literally six books available within the same two days. Challenge accepted - basically, I read like a fiend. It helps when it's summer and my husband is occupied watching baseball every night and that I've taken two plane rides since the last link-up. There's quite the assortment ahead.

Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives - Guns kill a whole lot of kids in our country. We know that stat and watch the news and move on with our lives. A journalist decided to take a look at ten children (the oldest was 19, I think) who all died from a gun in the span of 24 hours. The book is part sociology, part history of each city, part critical look at the circumstances that led to each death (spoiler alert: they were all male and nearly all men of color). One death took place in Houston, near the area where my husband works, and I found the description eerily accurate, so I assume the rest of the book was the same. Some of the victims were wholly innocent, some made poor decisions, but none deserved to die. If you ever needed a human face behind who all those bullets are killing, here it is.

Sloppy Firsts - I think I saw someone on twitter say this was their favorite YA book, so I decided to give it a shot. I appreciated that it took place in high school and was published in 2001 (when I was still in high school), so I could relate to the feel of it - checking caller ID, instant messages, and emails, all things missing in today's YA books. I found the story pretty slow but the narrator likable for the most part, though still annoying in that teenager way. I felt like the book ended just as things started to happen, so I'll read the sequel at least, even if I don't make it through the series of five.

The Roanoke Girls - This book was so messed up. A woman returns to her family's home, where she spent one summer, because her cousin is missing. The book alternates between that summer and the present day with bits of the other Roanoke Girls' stories sprinkled in. It's a messed up book but you will probably keep reading just to see how it all turns out. I did. It was so weird but well-paced and I flew through it.

Small Victories - Nora McInerny (who you know by now that I love) screen shot some of this and posted it to her instagram stories and if Nora liked it, then I had to check it out. You know how you read articles or posts by people who can sometimes see the big lessons in little things? That's this book. It's about grace and forgiveness, trying to be a better human, realizing your own failings, and working on humility. So many things in it resonated with me so much, but by the end I was ready for it to be over. It was too many lessons and too much reflection all in one place.

The Problem With Forever - This was like a Lifetime movie for teenagers. Two kids grew up in an abusive foster home, they manage to get out but separately, and then reconnect their senior year of high school. There's romance and defying parents and love triangles and illness. It wasn't bad, and the main character was likable enough, but I got halfway through this on a plane, which is probably why I finished it. You could probably skip it, especially because there is a character named Rider Stark and I just can't take that seriously.

As Close to Us As Breathing - First of all, this is a great title. This is one of those books where there's a big event that you find out about in the first few pages and the rest of the story is all of the threads of getting to that point and what happened after. It isn't until around 3/4 of the way through the story that you find out what exactly happened on that day. The story follows an extended Jewish family through the summer of the big event, but you learn a lot about what made them who they are and what happened later. It's definitely a character-driven novel. The way the story was told kept me interested, but if you're looking for action, this isn't it.

TL; DR: Another Day in the Death of America is sad but interesting and The Roanoke Girls is screwed up but will likely keep your attention. None of the others were bad, but I'll likely forget them in a week.

I'm excited as always to link up with Steph and Jana and hopefully respond to comments a lot faster this time around (it was bad when I went to write this post over the weekend and realized I didn't respond to June's comments... oops.) And (shameless plug ahead) - if you like talking about things you like in list form, make sure to join me for the Add It To My List link-up the last Tuesday of every month to talk about the things you're loving and recommending to people in real life. Except for books. We save our book talk for second Tuesdays! But I'd love for you to join us on July 25th to talk about TV, podcasts, and everything else!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

someone could have told me

I feel like Nora McInerny is one of the many women I want to be when I grow up. She's not an optimist, but not a total pessimist, either. She's a little offbeat and she speaks in tangents. I feel like she is fiercely loyal to her people and could be the voice in my head that narrates my life, only she is drier and funnier and has dealt with a lot of really hard stuff. I saw this tweet a few weeks ago and listened to the ensuing episode of Terrible, Thanks for Asking and have been thinking about it ever since.

So I started thinking about things I wish I had known sooner. Things I wish I had learned before 30ish.

- Like that a job can be more than just a paycheck. You can work in a field you feel passionately about, or do a job that makes a difference. You can be picky in what you do (sometimes, not always) and you don't have to take the first offer.

- A commitment to clean sheets is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

- The greatest gift we can give to anyone is our time. The time to call or text, or hang out, or to run an errand. To sit and listen. I feel like time gets more valuable the older we get; it's a finite resource with more and more stuff competing for it. Isn't it lovely when someone gives you some of theirs, though?

- And on that note, adult friendships. They're hard to come by and take time and effort to maintain. They show their strength easily when life gets inconvenient.  But the people who get you well enough to share a WTF moment or offer advice when you need it are more of a luxury as you get older, whereas they were just a thing that happened when you're young.

- Everyone needs a hobby.

-It's okay if said hobby costs money. I mean, maybe compulsive gambling shouldn't be your hobby but there is more to life than saving money and watching TV every weekend. Having something that gets you excited makes you an interesting person.

- Flossing is important and you will feel so much better in the morning after you do it.

- You will not wake up one day and enjoy cooking or be a morning person or keep a clean home with minimal effort. Lots of things come with aging, but that kind of magic doesn't.

- Ask questions. Be curious. It makes you informed, and interesting, a good friend, a great job candidate, a listener, a critical thinker. So many things become better when you get beyond the surface.

- Sometimes people just need to vent; don't give them your advice unless they ask. Not every problem is meant to be fixed, and not necessarily by you.

- You need goals, even if they are far off or unattainable. They give you direction.

- Cheap wine is not your friend and never will be again.

- Try the food you think you don't like. I didn't like avocado until I was like 24 since I started hating it when I was 5. I wasted so many years and so much guacamole being stubborn.

And that's just a start. Frame of reference is a funny thing, and my perception is colored by my experiences. What seemed like a revelation to me just days ago may be something you were taught your whole life. And vice versa. Tell me, what is something you wish you had known sooner?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

add it to my list: june 2017

Maybe one day I will get my act together and write one of the many posts in my head and do more than join three link-ups a month. But today is not that day since it's already the last Tuesday of the month and time for Add It To My List with me and Bre.

In the rare circumstance that you're new here, here's what you do: write about things you're recommending to people in real life, leave a comment for your hosts if you're so inclined, and click around and see what other people are recommending. So easy!

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Anyway - onto my list!

Add it to your Netflix Queue:

Glow on Netflix: Andrew and I went to the ATX Television Festival earlier this month (recap possibly to come?) and got to screen this show. I loved it. It's set in the 80s, so the costumes and music are great. It's going to have a female, ensemble cast so I don't think there will be many if any lame romance storylines to get in the way. And, it seems different - I mean I've never seen a show set in the world of women's wrestling before. Andrew seemed to like it too, so we are going to watch it together and haven't had time since it came out on Friday but I am really excited to get into it!

Also on a TV note: Master of None is fantastic. I didn't like it much when it first came out, but I picked it up again and wondered what was wrong with me. It's funny but not laugh out loud, realistic yet still unique, and just a TV world I like spending time in. If you want something lighter and fluffier, Younger starts season four this week (on TV Land if you are old school like me and still pay for cable) and I got to see the premiere at the aforementioned festival and it promises to be a fun season.

Add it to your "things to look forward to" list:

Prime Wardrobe: Have you guys seen this yet? Amazon is starting a Stitchfix-esque service for Prime members. Basically you pick out three or more clothing items (it can be womens, mens, or kids), they put it in a box, send it to you, you try it on at home, and are only charged for what you keep. The more you keep, the more of a discount you get. Free shipping both ways. It is missing a Stitchfix stylist, but I'll try my luck with what I pick out and save myself a styling fee. You can sign up to be notified when it's available in your area. Since I'm already in the market of buying clothes on Amazon, I'm excited to check this out.

Add it to your phone:

Ibotta app: This app is legit and I am kicking myself for not using it for so long. You grocery shop every week, so you can get money back every week. You check the app before or after shopping, select what you bought, scan it if needed, take a photo of your receipt, and you get paid. I love that there is often cash back for produce I bought anyway or .25 back from any grocery receipt. You can even access Uber through the app for money back. It also seems to be the first place to feature new snack food, so sometimes I scroll through the offerings and add things to my shopping list because I know it's on Ibotta. I love things that make money off of what I'm spending anyway. (Disclosure, that is a referral link. You get $10 in your account if you sign up using it, which is halfway to redeeming for a reward, so we both win.)

Add it to your shopping list:

Salted Caramel Craze "Trail Mix" at Kroger: This stuff is so bad for you. I shouldn't admit that I eat it. It's SO addictive, though, and satisfies my afternoon sweet craving. I try to just eat a little handful at a time (but sometimes I fail). It has almonds (healthy!), butterscotch chips, chocolate caramel candy, and I think cashews. I put trail mix in quotes because really, it's candy, but everything in moderation, right?

That's all I've got for now - tell me what you're loving this month!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

back in the reading game

Travel time means book time! I've had a few trips in the past two months and found a few books I couldn't put down, so Show Us Your Books is looking pretty good for me. Excited to link up with Steph and Jana when I have something to share.

Damage Done - This book kept my attention, but it was unfortunately compared to Gone Girl which means I was looking for a twist that was pretty apparent less than halfway through. There was a little more to said twist that wasn't revealed until the end, though, so even though it was a twist that I could barely see happening in real life, there's that. This book totally kept my attention but it had the typical YA puppy love mixed with tragedy. I wouldn't say I would recommend it, but I gave it four stars on Goodreads simply for keeping me entertained enough to want to read again after a long slump.

The Hearts of Men - I really liked the way this story was told. It started with a boy in the 60s at Boy Scout Camp and featured a character who had shown him a small kindness, then went to feature that character as an adult with a teenage son in the 90s, and ended with the son's wife a few years in the future. Much of the story revolves around the camp itself. It's one of those books where not a lot happens, but I liked the internal thoughts of each character enough to want to keep reading.

Her Every Fear - A British woman who has already experienced one traumatic event switches apartments with her cousin in Boston and a murder takes place the day she arrives. The story switched POVs, but it annoyed me here less than in other books; it seemed to do so for a reason. The way it was written made the main character's anxiety and paranoia come through on the page. The plot requires a huge suspension of disbelief, which I often have a hard time with, but for whatever reason, I stayed up late reading this book. I would recommend it as a quick plane or beach read - nothing life-changing, but it should keep you interested.

The Handmaid's Tale - When I was in college, I tutored high school kids in standardized test prep. One of my "regulars" had a huge project on this book, so I sped through it, thinking that it was awesome and I wished I had been taught it in high school. Then I never really thought about it again until it became a show on Hulu that people like. It was a free download with Amazon Prime, so I was excited to give it a reread. Some of the things in it are so freaky when compared with American life today. It's about a woman in a dystopian future America; not like a Hunger Games dystopia with crazy TV and fancy make-up, but one that looks a lot closer to real life. It makes you think while telling a great story. I think the fewer details you know, the better, but it's worth picking up.

Small Great Things - You guys. If the words white privilege and equity and social justice mean nothing to you, please read this book. You will learn something and you will read an interesting, thought-provoking story. I feel that any gateway is a good gateway to understanding systemic racial issues in the U.S. I have also witnessed so much "accidental racism" lately (ie, people who comment on how well-spoken a black person is... that is not a compliment) that I love this book for giving examples and explaining how what you think is a nice thing to say really shows that you are expecting something negative from a person of color. In addition to that, I thought it was an interesting story and I wanted to see what happened next. While the ending was a little ridiculous, everything it took to get there sold me.

Talking as Fast as I Can - This is Lauren Graham's memoir. I have to respect a celebrity who doesn't give a tell-all to sell books, but I also maintain the right to comment on the fact that a book doesn't have enough info in it to be terribly interesting. If this book wasn't written by a beloved actress, I don't think anyone would have read it. While her tidbits about filming the Gilmore revival were cute and sometimes interesting, her use of extended metaphors throughout the book to avoid giving more details got a little old for me. I did love her old lady character who doesn't understand our culture's social media obsession, though. Nonetheless, I tore through this really fast and found it entertaining; it just wasn't what I was hoping for.

I'm excited that the latest from Taylor Jenkins Reid is out today and I'm on a plane headed to Vegas for a work conference. Hopefully I can spend some time with a good book while I'm there.