Friday, May 25, 2018

Book Club Discussion Catch Up {January-March}

Hey book lovers! You are probably thinking, "for a book themed blog, these people do not really post what they thought of the books they picked." That is a totally fair observation this year. Last year we tried a few different ways to review the books we picked for the blog, but none of them felt super great (in my opinion) and then it just kind of fell to this side this year so far.

But what is the point of reading these books if we can't share what we thought? So to catch up, we will do two posts talking about our thought on our book club picks so far. Right now we have January, February, and March so let's jump in!

January

Heather Says
I went in with some mixed feelings with this one. I was hopeful because it was Leigh Bardugo and she rarely disappoints, plus the Wonder Woman movie blew me away so I wasn't sure what I could expect from this YA interpretation. This book follows a younger Diana, eager to prove herself as worthy to her mother and the other Amazons. While running a race, she sees a shipwreck outside the barrier and risks everything to save a drowning girl. What happens next is a story of friendship, power, and finding your own path. I was so pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book and was itching for more young Diana tales. I don't think it's super in line with the movie and I'm not familiar enough with the comics to tell you if it fits in there, but it was such a great story of figuring out who you are outside of expectations that get put on you. 

Jen Says: 
I know Wonder Woman was the feminist movie of the year last year, but per usual I found out pretty late in the game about it and didn't embrace it as well as my feminist heart should have.  I was so pumped to hear about this novel and the upcoming novels (focusing on different super heroes) that I was so excited this worked out for our first book of the year. I went in having zero expectations and fell into a book that makes you want to shuck all preconceived notions and embrace doing things for the greater good.  I also really loved learning about the Amazonian way of life. I could use a Diana in my life.

February

Heather Says
Comic book month! This was one I was looking forward to, since we could read as many comics as I wanted. Unfortunately, I only read two comics this month, and then read like 10 in March. The ones I got to in February were Archie Vol. 1: The New Riverdale and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe. The Archie reimagining was really fun, though I did have a hard time separating this story from the show Riverdale, which I'm very in to right now. It was great though and I can't wait to borrow the second issue from Jen eventually (HA!). The Squirrel Girl comic was SO. MUCH. FUN. It's a stand alone part of the series and it pulled in a lot of different characters (like Ant-Man!) and for a little bit I wasn't sure Squirrel Girl would remain unbeatable. I'm so in love with these comics and I'm so glad Jen buys so many so I can always borrow from her. 

Jen Says: 
I literally squealed when Heather suggested a comic book month. Comic books are my jam and I find it so easy to get lost in the illustrations and witty commentary. In hopes to keep my budget in check, I read comics and graphic novels I was able to score at the library.  The exception was Lumberjanes 8, which never disappoints. I read the Tea Dragon Society which was adorable and made me want a tea sized dragon so bad until I realized by cats would probably eat it because they are the worst. The girls lent me "Swing It, Sunny" which was cute as hell. I also read In Real Life and Seconds which I remember both liking but weren't super memorable unfortunately. I haven't bought any comics lately (being a grown up is lame) but I think I need to reinstitute 1 new comic every payday because I miss the happiness they bring my life.

March


Heather Says
Jen suggested Hidden Figures for March book club and I was so excited for this pick! I cried and cheered during the movie, so I was pumped to read the novel it was based on. Plus I was trying to get into audiobooks again so when I saw I could get it from the library (via Hoopla) I was ready. I spent a week learning about these amazing women who worked for NASA but got zero acknowledgement for their accomplishments until recently. Women are still under represented in STEM fields, and to know these women of color changed the world, it's inspiring as hell. 

Jen Says 
It's so weird, because when I read I almost always will grab a fiction book but if I'm in the mood to listen to my stories I'll also download something non-fiction or a biography type book. I really think this helps round out my reading so I'm not just reading summer vacation type books. I hadn't seen the movie, but this story instantly reminded me of Good Girls Revolt (that got canceled on amazon after 1 season which was a damn travesty).  I was so unaware so many women of color shaped NASA and I was so humbled to learn about their triumphs even though at the time they didn't get any recognition for it.  This post reminds me that I need to make watching the movie as my next tv priority. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

April Rewind


Read
Man, April was a really slow reading month for me.  I read our book club pick, Daughter of a Pirate King, which I really didn't enjoy and the latest Paper Girls which was very entertaining.  May is already proving to be better in the book department.

Watched
When life seems uncertain and overwhelming, I highly suggest a rewatch of The Office.  I also recommend the new stand up by Natasha Leggero and her husband (haha) Moshe Kasher.  It was very funny and I love watching them combine their comedic styles.

Listened 
I've been on an audiobook kick, thank you library.  I listened to Thankful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, Are You There Alone? The Andrea Yates story by Suzanne O'Malley and The Actor's Life by Jenna Fischer.  I enjoyed each and every one of these books but I think Andrea Yates story was my favorite. It is so perverse with such horrible religious undertones, yet so many people failed her and the children. I highly recommend it.


Also this month
Unemployed Husband
Just a couple of days before Heather's wedding, my husband quit his job.  The company was suddenly restructured and things were just going downhill fast.  I completely support him in his decision but all the uncertainty, plus the jarring change to my everyday routine has my anxiety completely our of sorts.  Luckily he has a new job lined up so

My Bestie Got Hitched
Ahhhhhhh! It happened and it was such a happy day. Really, the entire weekend was so much fun with all the different wedding events. Lots of socializing is very much out of my comfort zone but I was so happy to be there with Heather and I had so much fun bonding with both of her sisters. 

Family Photos
My sister has the cutest little dog family ever and she asked me to help her get some family photos taken.  They are equal parts ridiculous and adorable.  Heather was great and let me borrow her camera and then edited the photos afterwards.  I think I might even print a few up to display.



Read
This was a pretty bad month for books. My anxiety was through the roof with wedding stuff so I found it really hard to focus on reading. I did read the fantastic series on Jenny Trout's blog on 50 Shades of Grey and how terrible it is. It was such a good way to keep reading something while at the same time destressing. 

Watched
My media consumption really picked up after my wedding. Jarrett and I spent a few days binging The Sopranos. We are on the last season and I am very into it. We also started catching up on Marvel movies in preparation for the new Avengers movie. We only have 3 more left and I'm so glad we did this since I would not have remembered all the plot points leading up to this. 

Listened 
I've gotten really into Oh No! Ross and Carrie again after taking a break. Their Scientology series was amazing and I got back into it with their flat earther series. They do an amazing job of balancing their skepticism with their openness for other's points of view. Especially in their in person interviews. They never come across and mean or rude, just people who don't really agree with you but respect you. I highly recommend it! 


Also this month
 Ada turns 1
My favorite baby turned one this month and we got to celebrate with donuts, cupcakes, and mimosas (not for babies). It was so fun to party with our friends and to see Ada open all her gifts (mostly books). Plus the girls always love seeing Ada and there were other kids there so they were in heaven. 

Married AF
The biggest thing to happen this month was definitely our wedding. It feels almost like giving birth. You cry a lot and have all these plans and then the day gets here (or baby) and you forget all about how hard it was because the day was so perfect. It was seriously a perfect day. I felt so beautiful and could not stop smiling the whole day. It was fantastic. I can't wait to share more with you! 

Bachelorette vibes 
One of my favorite parts of my wedding weekend was my bachelorette party. My friends planned a delicious dinner with wine & pasta. I laughed so hard and got to catch up with friends I don't see too often. I'm so happy to be surrounded by so many badass ladies (and that I got to wear matching mustard lace with Jen!) 


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

May Small Goals



Hey-o blog friends! April ended up being the month we took a blogging break It was unintentional but with the wedding, I just had to put some things to the side and blogging was one of them. Now we are back and ready to tackle some small goals. We didn't have any in April, so let's review what we got done in March & see what we have on deck for May. As always, we are linking up with Nicole at Feel Good, Dress Better. Be sure to go check out everyone's goals on her post! 


Jen's March Goals
1. List clothing on Poshmark Done. I listed a few things and sold a few things. Not a great stream of extra money, but it is a nice to recoup a little money out of my past clothing love.
2. Spending Freeze This freeze has turned into an indefinite thing. 
3. Try Cantu Curling Products I've been trying to embrace my natural curls lately but I'm not loving any progress that I've made. I tried a couple of Cantu products and I really wasn't that impressed.
4.  Catch up on Backstagers Probably the easiest and most enjoyable of the goals.
5. TV Goals I can happily report that I am all caught up on Keeping up with the Kardashians and have restarted the office because its my go to when the world seems mixed up.

5/5 - this has to be a first probably due to some of the easiest goals yet

April Small Goals
1. Write at least once a week.  I used to love writing. I haven't done anything original in a while but I have a novel (haha) idea and its time to put pen to paper.
2. Explore Self Calming Techniques.  My life has been in a tailspin the last couple of weeks. When I'm pushed out of my normal routine I experience random panic attacks. I'm going to try to work on some self calming techniques to help during these situations.
3. Exercise and Meditation. I've once again fallen off the exercising bandwagon. Not only am I feeling bad about myself, I also think it helps my anxiety a bit. I'm going to try to take a little time every day to exercise or mediate.
4. Work on Decision Making Skills. I have zero decision making skills. Sometimes the smallest of decisions can be the hardest for me to determine. I feel constantly wishy washy and like I'm losing control. I'm going to try to be more mindful about making decisions this month instead of just going with the flow of things.
5. Continue Closet Clean Out.  I've been slowly combing through my closet and eliminating things that are just taking up space. I've eliminated all extra spending in my life and I think it'll be easier to clean out my closet and determine what I wear on the reg without constantly adding new pieces to my life.


Heather's March Small Goals 
1. All the wedding things I can't remember all of them but I got married and it was beautiful so March was successfully filled with all the last minute wedding projects that came together beautifully. 
2. Book a massage Ok so technically I did book a massage, but I ended up having to cancel it because of time/money concerns. Those last minute wedding costs sneak up on you but I'm hoping to make this happen in the next few weeks 
3. Exercise 3-4 times a week I wasn't consistent with it, but I did get some workouts in. Definitely not 3-4 a week. More like 1-2 (or sometimes zero). 
4. Organize my shoes I did this and then the next weekend my kids messed it all up again after playing Drag Race with my clothes. Oh well. It got done so I'm still counting it. 
5. Have a seester day I did not get to have a seester day with Ciara, but I did get lots of time with her during my wedding so I'm still happy. Maybe soon we can schedule something just the two of us. 

Ok so 2/5 is not great, but I'm giving myself a pass because wedding 

May Small Goals 
1. Start Couch to 5K Last year I got really into running at the end of summer/beginning of fall. Then winter hit and I did basically zero exercise. So I want to get back into running again and I really enjoyed the Couch to 5K app last year. 
2. Read 5 books I read maybe 2 books in April and it feels really weird. I had a hard time focusing on books with wedding stuff, so I'm hoping to get back into the groove of reading 1-2 books a week. 
3. Wear lipstick twice a week I own so much lipstick y'all and I wear it maybe twice a month? I can get self conscious of it, especially at work which has a really casual vibe. I want to start wearing it twice a week at least, to figure out favorite shades or get rid of ones that don't work. 
4. Restart the Feel Good, Dress Better workbook I never finished the FGDB workbook and when I opened it recently, I realized a lot of the outfits/most worn items in my closet and completely different now. I have been really into refining my personal style so I'd love to set aside some time to go through it again. 
5. Outfit plan for two trips I'm going to Nashville with work the first weekend in May then Chicago with Jarrett & friends Memorial weekend. I'm so excited for both trips and I want to pack some cute outfits for all those 'grams I'm gonna be taking. Hopefully getting through FGBD will help with this goal too. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May Book Club


Welcome to another month of the coolest book club with about 2 members. IDK maybe more people read these books but if not, that's ok too. Jen and I did book club before the blog and we will keep doing it as long as we both shall live (book club vows I guess). 

This month I looked over all the poor unread books on my shelves and remembered this on that I had on my fall reading list that I never got to. Out jumped Geekerella by Ashley Poston. Jen was on board so here we are with a possibly fall themed book in May. Honestly I just wanted some cute YA book to kick off my summer reading so here we are. Hopefully you join us and we can talk about it soon! 

What's it about? 

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic science-fiction series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck and her dad's old costume, Elle's determined to win - unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons - before he was famous. Now they're nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he has ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake - until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part-romance, part-love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom



Monday, April 23, 2018

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian Review


Photo by @doubledaybooks


The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian takes the unreliable narrator trope and does something completely new and surprising. Cassandra Bowden is a flight attendant and an alcoholic. Blackouts & hook ups with strangers are a normal occurrence in her life, The book starts with Cassie waking up in a hotel room that is not hers, with a man she recognizes from first class on her flight to Dubai the night before. Just one thing...he's dead and she doesn't remember the night before. 

This kicks off a twisty plot, full of suspense and enough empathy for you to feel for Cassie while also completely loathing her choices. She lies to the police, the FBI, her sister, her coworkers. And trying to figure out the big question of if she didn't kill this guy, then who did and are they coming for her? 

The unreliable narrator has become the new big thing since Gone Girl exploded a few years ago. Inevitably, any book with a reliable narrator is compared to Gone Girl, just like any dystopian with a female main character is compared to The Hunger Games. The Flight Attendant takes this person who is self destructive to the extreme, who has a good heart and good intentions, but inevitably turns back to alcohol and one night stands. It's so easy to take a novel in the genre and just follow the same old touch points, but this book completely surprised me. I was hooked from the beginning and could not wait to see how the plot was resolved. I'm still thinking about it months later. 

I read a lot of thrillers (sue me, I'm a true crime nerd so this is right up my alley fiction-wise) and this is one that really stands out in the genre. It goes places I didn't expect and kept me hooked for an entire day (I literally could not put it down). Definitely snag a copy ASAP and thank me later. 




*A copy of this book was provided to me for free by the publisher. It did not influence my review. Thank you Doubleday!*

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April Book Club


Ok real talk. Blog stuff took a huge back seat of me the past few months. I was so focused on my impending wedding and all those last minute details, I let the blog suffer. Jen has me do the planning and she never once complained when we weren't putting out any content, and honestly I think this short break was for the best. I feel inspired again and can't wait to bring you some new content on a more regularly scheduled basis. Sometimes life makes you take a step back and things kind of just work themselves out. Now back to your (late) blog post! 

Even though April is halfway through, there's still time to read the book club pick this month! Jen was about to start this in March and I begged her to wait for April so I could read it for book club with her. Our pick is Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller. Hopefully you join in and meet us back here to discuss soon! 

What's it about? 
Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wedding Dress Shopping at BHLDN


Hey peeps! Do people still call other people "peeps"? IDK but let's dive in to this super fun wedding post! 

I knew basically immediately that I wanted to get my wedding dress from BHLDN (said as "beholden". Only telling you because I said it wrong for months!). BHLDN is Anthropologie's wedding offshoot so it's got all the style of Anthro at a great price point. It's exactly my style and I would spend tons of time looking at all the gorgeous dresses on the website after getting engaged. I was very wary about ordering something online when I wasn't sure how it would fit me, and the closest store to me is in Chicago. I had resigned myself to ordering something online and having to return it a few times before finding the right dress or fit. Imagine my surprise when Jarrett was on board for a wedding dress shopping weekend! We managed to schedule it for the weekend of my 31st birthday and two of my best friends even flew in to go with me. I was totally prepared to go alone so I was insanely excited to have my bests there with me. I knew they would be supportive and honest and that is exactly what I needed. My appointment was scheduled for my birthday and I could not wait! 

And then the body anxiety set in. See, BHLDN does offer some plus sizes but not all dresses go up to size 16/18 (the highest size in most styles). I'm usually a size 10/12 but I knew special occasion dresses can run small so I was nervous that I would get there and nothing would fit me. I tried doing some research for blog reviews, but the only ones I could find were from women who fit into the size 0-4 range. It did help to read their experience but as someone who fits into larger sizes, I still had no idea what to expect. The BHLDN website said most dresses had a sample size in both a 4 and a 12, but the "most" thing worried me. I didn't want to only be able to try on 2 or 3 dresses and feel like I wasted this trip. I wanted a dress from BHLDN and would have been crushed if I couldn't fit into anything in store. I decided to document my experience as best I could and write the post I wish I had found before going. 



First up, the rooms are straight up gorgeous that they put you in! Huge rugs, a little changing room, cute couches, and they give you tiny cans of wine. When booking my appointment online, I was asked to list any dresses I was interested in trying on. I booked my appointment in September for December. Weekend appointments fill up quickly, so if you are making a trip out of it like I did, be sure to book way in advance. The only downside to this was that when I got there, most of the dresses on my list were either no longer available or not yet in stock in the store since they were just released (you could still find them online though). So while you do have the chance to add to your list when you confirm your appointment the week before, they still might not have some styles available in store yet. 



In the Chicago store, you walk in and are greeted by someone who asks if you have an appointment. There's a small amount of dresses downstairs, but they are bridesmaid dresses so we didn't spend too much time looking around down there. They take your name and alert your stylist you've arrived. You then go upstairs to the bridal showroom and have some time to look around at dresses they have in stock. I think we had about 10-15 minutes to browse before my stylist found me. She had a printed out list of the answer to the questionnaire you fill out when booking the appointment (wedding vibe/style, wedding date, wedding colors, the dresses you'd like to try on). She asked if there was anything I saw in the showroom that I wanted to add to my list of things to try on and I did end up adding two more things I think. Again, about half the things I found online weren't available, so in total I think I had 6-8 dresses total (from my list & that we added after looking in the showroom). She takes you into that beautiful room mentioned above and gives you tiny cans of wine to sip on while she gathers the dresses on your list.  


Guys, I was so pleasantly surprised by this shopping experience. The stylist made me feel super comfortable and my friends were ready to take all the photos and give me honest opinions. I did not have one issue trying on any of the dresses I picked out. Some of them were even looser than I expected, so all that anxiety about nothing fitting was for naut. The stylist also pulled some extra dresses that weren't on my list and she had such a good eye for things I would like. The only direction I gave her was that I didn't want to try on anything over $800 (since that was my budget) so everything I tried on was beautiful, flattering, and within my budget. No one wants to fall in love with a dress that falls outside of their agreed upon budget. 


Ok here we go! Let's look at some of these dresses that made me feel like BeyoncĂ©. 

The Brisa Gown 
I would have guessed this would have been a front runner from my online research, but it wasn't even in my top 3 after trying it on! I didn't realize how big of a difference trying things on would be. Usually I loved things that I wouldn't have expected once I put them on. 

I loved this one online SO MUCH, but it didn't feel like exactly what I was going for when it was on. 


Originally my top choice. It made me feel like Christina Ricci in Casper (which is always #goals) and would have fit in so well with the boho vibes I was hoping for, but it just didn't hold up to how I felt when I tried on the one I ultimately got. I did try it on once more before making the final decision and I still love these photos. Can I have like 3 weddings to wear all the dresses I love? 

All these dresses were honestly so beautiful and made me feel so beautiful. Again, it just didn't hold up to the one I ultimately got but still. All the heart eye emojis. 

Ok this was my second choice and it was a HARD choice. The stylist picked this one out and it was not one I would have EVER picked on my own just from looking at it on the hanger. But once it was on, I could not believe how "me" it felt. So fun and cool and just a little different. I tried it on 3 different times I think before making my final decision. I still think of it sometimes because I really did love it! 

My headpiece that the stylist put on me and then everyone cried. 

I'm not going to show the dress I went with yet. It's basically the one thing I've been pretty traditional about since Jarrett won't be seeing the dress until our wedding day. I can't wait to show it off and literally every time I try it on at the tailors I get all swoony. Plus my friends cried when I put it on (and the stylist added a headpiece) so I knew it was the one. But really, I feel like any of these could have been "the one". BHLDN is just that good. 


Then we went out for celebratory drinks (I got kind of fancy with this larger than expected frosĂ©)! 

My dress and headpiece arrived within a week of placing my order in the store, so the shipping was crazy fast. I did end up having to get it altered locally, but it was only another $150 so not too crazy. 

I had such an amazing experience at BHLDN. I spent so much time being anxious about not being able to fit in anything when my experience was the exact opposite. Not only did they have my size (or a sample size) in everything I wanted to try on, I felt beautiful in every single thing. My stylist was the sweetest person, who not only gave good advice (and up sold me on a headpiece), but had such a good eye for what I was looking for when she grabbed stuff on her own.

Not only was everything beautiful and flattering, but affordable as heck. Everything I tried on was $800 or less. That was the budget I agreed on with Jarrett, but the most expensive dress on their site is $2,950. I feel like that's a pretty good price range so no matter your budget, you are going to find something fantastic. When I was looking at dress shops locally, most of them said dresses started at $1,200 so it was great to find a place the fit my style and budget flawlessly. I highly recommend checking them out when wedding dress shopping.