Wednesday, September 20, 2017

3 Reasons You Should Read A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue



August was a very good month for reading around here. I picked out our August read because I had gotten it from the library and after reading one chapter, knew that Jen would love it. It did not disappoint. It was a bit longer than what I had been reading but it was so engaging I didn't even notice. I'm so happy we were able to squeeze in another read that was pretty diverse in it's representation. As a little refresher, here's what it was about: 

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.


Now that you are all caught up, here are 3 reasons this book needs to make its way to your TBR immediately. 

1. All the diversity 
Heather says: 
In what has become a surprising (and very welcome) trend for book club this year, there was so much diversity in this book! There's a bisexual narrator, a m/m romance, disability, ethnic diversity, and anxiety. There's also a very sassy sister who is more interested in science and reading than becoming someones wife and finishing school. It's really cool to have so much diversity in one read, and so many different forms of representation as well. 

Jen says: 
Not only has diversity been a trend in our book club, it's been a huge trend in the YA community at large.  This is something that has changed significantly in the last couple of years.  Books are starting to mirror real life way more and even when they are written in a more historical or classical sense. Like Heather, I am loving this trend and this book in particular had such a great mix of different forms.

2. Humor & Sass 
Heather says: 
Man, there is so much humor and sass in this book. I love a book that uses a lot of humor that feels real and not forced. Sometimes books will try very hard to be a Very Funny Book and you can tell it's not authentic. Not the case with AGGTVAV (you gotta love acronyms for long books!). I actually laughed out loud so many times. I also love me a good sassy lady and Monty's sister Felicity was such a good example of a sassy lady who will take no shit. She just wants to read and go to college and will probably stab you if you get in her way. 

Jen says: 
All 3 of the main characters had some wit about them. They were either getting into ridiculous situations and conniving together, trying rectify said situations. But I would have to agree with Heather, Felicity wins the Sassy Lady Award. You could literally feel her rolling her eyes before you got to actually reading it.  She had a pretty strong presence.

3. All the feels 
Heather says: 
For a book with a lot of humor and adventure, there were so many times it really hit me in the feels. Part of the point of Monty's tour of the Continent was to live it up before running his father's business. The familial expectations, not just for Monty, but also for Felicity, who would rather go to college than finishing school, and Percy, who is held back by the color of his skin, were such a big point of the story and one that really got to me. There was also so many feels with the romantic relationships and with the sibling relationships and with the friendships. Gah! It was such a great balance of adventure and humor and feels guys. 

Jen says 
Gah, it did have a lot of feels! I was forever rooting that Percy & Monty would get together. Rooting for Monty to tell his dad where to shove it.  Rooting for Percy to find a decent doctor to help him control his illness. Rooting for Felicity to shatter those glass ceilings. Just rooting for them all to live their own lives regardless of what is expected of them. It was a perfect, silly read for the summer.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pre-Engagement Family Photos

At the beginning of August, my wonderful friend Grace was in town for a few days. See, I call her my FFTW (Friend From the Womb) because our moms were friends when they were pregnant with us and our birthdays are only two weeks apart. She's my oldest friend, one I count as family, and I remember her being there with me through all of the ups and downs of growing up. Her mom is someone I count as an "extra' mom and I was so happy we got some time to catch up in person recently. The last time we were together in person was 3 years ago, right before I started dating Jarrett. 

I was so excited for my friend to meet my fiancĂ© and I kind of talked her into taking some "engagement" photos/family photos while she was here. We decided to take them in the State Park close to our house. It's a place we spend a lot of time in, hiking and hanging out. It's where my high school graduation party was and where we had the celebration of life for my mom. This little park holds a lot of memories for me and for us. 

I love Grace's dreamy, gritty style so I knew that whatever she was able to capture would be magic and I was so right. These are the first photos someone else has taken of me and the girls since they were 2 so I was really happy to get some photos that aren't selfies. We also have engagement photos coming up since it comes in the package we chose with our photographer, so these are perfect as photos to have before that. Especially since I needed to order Save the Dates and wouldn't get the photos from the other session in time. 

I'm so thankful for friends like Grace and for these photos. At first, I felt a little self conscious, since I wasn't feeling very cute, but I love the emotions she was able to capture. I've actually lost about 10 pounds since these photos were taken, and while I'm not one to say I *need* to be thinner, I think I will feel more like myself in the next session. That doesn't mean these photos won't always be special to me, or that they won't be hung up all over our house, because they totally will be! So here are all my favorites from this session. 
























Monday, September 11, 2017

August Reading List


Welcome to a new monthly post! We are big readers (what gave it away?) and while we do mention some books in our monthly rewind posts and book club discussions, there are so many books that don't get mentioned. Hopefully this new series changes that! Each month we will round up what we read that month with links and info on what we liked/disliked about each one. It will be a fun way to talk more about what we are reading and to recommend more things if you are looking for your next read. So here's what we read in August! 


Heather's August Reading List 
Giant Days Vol. 5 
So Giant Days is probably my favorite comic and every time Jen tells me she has the next installment I get insanely pumped. It's about 3 friends and their ups and downs in university. They are now in their second year and I'm really enjoying following along!

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee 
Our book club choice for August! It was a little longer than what I've been reading recently but I really enjoyed this. There was so much representation in this and it was handled so well. Plus it was funny and romantic and had a dash of adventure thrown in for good measure. We will talk about it more soon in the official book club post on it.

New American Best Friend by Olivia Gatwood 
This slim book of poetry was pretty fantastic. I love the video of Olivia reading her poem "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" so I picked up her book to see what else she had. It was quick and enjoyable. I don't read a ton of poetry but this was a good one to dive into when you have 30 minutes.

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
One of my favorite thillers I've read was The Kind Worth Killing by this author so when I saw this new book on Instagram I ordered it immediately then put it on my shelf for months. I needed something quick and mysterious so I grabbed this and read it in one night. It follows Kate who switches apartments with a cousin she's never met (she's in London, he's in Boston) while recovering from a personal trauma. When she arrives at her cousin's apartment, there's an investigation into the murder of the next door neighbor, who her cousin may or may not have been involved with. I think The Kind Worth Killing is better, but I do enjoy the way this author reveals information in his books. It was still fantastic and exactly what I was looking for at the time.

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy 
I've seen a lot of buzz around this book of essays and it was exactly as heartbreaking as promised. I cried a few times in it and also finished it in one day. It was hard to read at times but it was so well written and fascinating. You really feel for Ariel. At times it felt more fiction than reality, which I think just adds to the heartbreaking nature of it. It details the loss of her child and marriage in pretty much succession. Tough stuff for sure.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg 
My favorite read this month. I didn't read Lean In and I don't think I realized this book focused so heavily on grief, but it was the exact read I needed. I needed this book a year ago when my mom died and I was struggling personally and at work. Having someone else echo the struggles I had with work and confidence after my moms death was so reassuring. I also loved the focus on resiliency that comes after you experience the death of someone close. Even if it isn't as personal to you as it was to me, I still highly recommend this book!

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena 
A thriller I picked up from the library. I liked it ok. It focuses on a couple whose baby disappears when they are at dinner next door. It has a few different points of view, like the cop investigating the disappearance, the mother and father of the baby, and the couple next door whose house they were at when the baby disappeared. While it was a quick read, I didn't stay as engaged as I hoped and the reveal at the end was kind of blah.

Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney 
Another library book. This was so cute! It focuses on two sisters who attend the same boarding school with the prince of England. They are new money so it has a lot of class  issues, as well as a sisterly romantic rivalry.  It was another quick, cute read. While there were some small problems, mostly with the way friendship was depicted (personal preference really) it was a really fun read. Why are reading about royals so fun?


Want to keep up on what I'm reading in real time? Let's be friends on Goodreads!


Jen's August Reading List 
Georgia Peaches & Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
This one was pretty interesting. It's about a lesbian girl whose father is a preacher who recently got remarried into a very stuffy family and move to an even more conservative area.  The father asks the daughter to hide her true orientation from the world and pretend to be a straight person for her senior. That of course is a major fail since she immediately falls in love with a chick at her new school.  Relationships are made and hurt but there is a lot of growth and understanding and it had a happy ending which almost always sits well with me. I thoroughly enjoyed this especially with the heavy religious ties and how that can affect relationships. 

Step Aside Pops by Kate Beaton
This was a graphic novel I had picked up from the library. It was very pop culture heavy and full of puns which I really enjoy.  I now realize it is part of the Hank, the Vagrant series so I'm on the lookout for the other volumes.  I would recommend this one to anyone who loves pup culture references.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee 
This one was so cute and quirky. It reminds me of a royal romcom. Adventures were had, mistakes were made but love and friendship wins out in the end. Like Heather said, we'll discuss this more in our monthly book discussion, but it was definitely a solid 4 stars for me.

Clueless by Amber Benson
Clueless has always been one of my most favorite movies. It's so 90s centric, the fashion, the vocabulary the silly teens! Ahh! I love it all so much. I was about 10 when this movie came out but I was so envious of Cher and her closet and her credit card. She was always the cool teen I've aspired to be my whole life. Anyway-hello Clueless comic. I preordered it (obviously) and it didn't disappoint. It was silly and cute and still super fashionable and topical. I recommend it to all 90's babes out there.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
I'll be the first to admit, I didn't really know a lot about Anna Kedrick before reading this. I remember her small role in Twilight and that she starred in Pitch Perfect (still haven't seen it-I know get out form under the rock I'm living) but other than that I didn't have a lot of reference. Amazon was running an ebook sale so I grabbed it because I love me a celebrity biography. She was super down to earth and almost reminded me of a character from the show Girls, but in like the best of ways.  I really enjoyed her realness and I feel like she could be a cool person to hang out with.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Sweet Summer Time













Oh man, summer is really winding down! We are already experiences some chilly nights and mornings, like almost light jacket weather.Compared to last year it feels a little early but I always welcome fall so bring it on! Don't kid yourself though, we are still getting some 90 degree days thrown in there too. Anyway, we thought we would try to squeeze in a couple of last summer outfits before the switch.


This outfit has been my summer uniform this year. Last year I think it was shorteralls (they are still very frequently worn) but this summer I've been all about vintage mom shorts. I just love how curvy they make my body look and I love the rolled up shorts look. It takes me back to being 10-in the 90s-and this is what all the cool older girls were wearing. (These seriously go down to my knees unrolled.)





I feel like highwaisted bottoms are so much more popular now then they were in the past few years but I had issues finding highwaisted and not super short shorts in stores.  I can't comfortably get things done if my shorts are too short and I'm constantly having to adjust things. I just want to be able to get my shit done comfortably while still looking cute as hell, obviously.  Anyway, I was able to thrift it up and find some great shorts on used clothing apps and in the wild.





Outfit Details
Tank {Passive Juice Motel} / Shorts {Ebay-vintage-Steel Brand} / Sandals (American Eagle) / Sunglasses {Glassesshop}


Also, this is a very personal PSA from a four eyed lady.  Spend the extra money to get prescription sunglasses, even if it is just one pair. You don't have to be crazy like me and order different styles, or you can if you want it's your life.  It will change your life and you will thank yourself every time you are outside.




I feel like I talk about the same things in every outfit post, but guys. I'm having a body image crisis. I don't want to feel this way. I want to love my body no matter what but it's just not jiving with me right now. I've struggled with this for a long time, but especially the past few months. I gained weight this Spring and I feel like it's all I see. I don't feel comfortable in most of my clothes any more, my jeans no longer fit, and I'm going wedding dress shopping soon. I'm kind of a basket case. I've added running in lately and am planning to try Crossfit or something soon and I track my calories on MyFitnessPal. I feel like I'm doing what I can so I need to just trust the process and focus on the good things I'm doing for my body instead of how I wish it was different. 




Anyway, I have been all about comfort this summer. I love rompers but have a hard time finding ones that are long enough and flattering on my body. This one from Nordstrom is perfect. It's longer than normal and fits perfectly. It's such and easy outfit to put on and make look chic while fighting the humidity in Missouri. I was feeling kind of blah about my body this day but I love these photos and I want to always try to dress it in flattering ways no matter what I weigh. 


Outfit Details 
Romper {Nordstrom} / Shoes {Target} / Sunglasses {Ban.do

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September Small Goals


Hello September! August was kind of a weird month for me. Mercury Retrograde really threw me for a loop this time around. It felt like I was drowning or dealing with hard conversations more times that I wanted to count. I am so ready for these fall temps and a fresh start this month. It finally feels like fall outside and I got my first Pumpkin Spice Latte so I am getting in the fall mood. I kind of struggled to find many goals this month but I think I hit a good balance of wedding stuff/life stuff. As always, we are linking up with Nicole at Writes Like a Girl so make sure you hop over and see the rest of the goals for the month! 


Jen's August Small Goals 
1. Finish Jumper/Desk Quilt.  I finished the Desk Quilt but I really lost steam on the Jumper. I think it is because summer is almost over and I'm more into checking out new fall trends and fashions that I just not motivated.  Anyway, its probably over half way done but I think I'm just going to tuck it away and finish it next spring instead. I don't love forcing projects when I'm not super into them.
2. Organize Fall Clothing Sewing Projects.Yes! I wrote out a whole bunch of ideas I would like to try to work on this fall. It ranges from peplum shirts to gathered dresses to peter pan collared shirts to cardigans to velvet sheath dresses. Guys, I have so many ideas! I need to order fabric but I've been distracted by all the sales for fall clothes. Being addicted to fashion is no joke.
3.  Graphic tee freeze. Ugh, I did sooooo good with this until the very last week. My favorite tee store put out a limited edition Game of Thrones tee and I just couldn't not have it so yea, I bought it. But I'm still counting this one because it was LIMITED EDITION! lol
4. Drywall. So, I actually did pretty ok with this. Not goal crushing, but I only have the ceiling left to add drywall too and then I still need to sand it. But that is a lot of progress for a few hours here and there. I still feel pretty ok about it.
5.  Clean out Short-Sleeve Shirt Drawer. Done. It feels so to purge unnecessary things and I don't think I've thought about anything I've tossed since. I really need to continue on to do another section soon and I need to actually drop stuff off at the donation place. I think I have 2 trash bags worth.


3 1/2 seems pretty legit.


September Small Goals 
1.  Clean out Long Sleeve Shirt Drawer.  Might as well keep this momentum going.  I added a bodysuit to the drawer the other day (yay for fall shopping!) and it hardly fit so it needs to be tackled next.
2.  Decorate for Fall.  I love changing up the decorations around the house and I love my fall one the most, I think. I'm so excited to get everything out and arrange things. I even picked up a couple of new Halloween decoration and target. I don't even care if it is technically too early.
3. Stay Caught Up.  This is my biggest goal right now. It can be so easy to fall behind (especially with yearly projects) and I don't want to spend January and February catching up on last years projects. I've done that most years and I don't love it and I've managed to stay caught up this long already! This goal is especially prominent this month because of new club releases.
4. Buy Fall Clothing Fabric.  Even if I can't afford to buy my whole list of fabrics, I still need to buy a few so I can whip up a few fall projects. Maybe a couple of peplums, a velvet sheath and a cardigan. I'd even love to whip up a flannel shirt! Ahhhh! Must order fabric!
5.  Find a Chunky Black Belt.  So, I found a vintage green mom jeans that are just a little big, but in almost a cute baggy way? Yah know? But I need to find a black chunky belt to reallllly pull the look together. Keep your eyes out friends!


Heather's August Small Goals 
1.  Stick with Couch to 5K Against all odds, I did this! I repeated week 2 for like 3 weeks but I stuck with it and didn't give up and I'm finally on week 3 and feel so much stronger and faster 
2.  Do some car maintenance   I am counting this as completed, though I didn't get all my car maintenance done. I still have some stuff to do but I did a pretty good deep clean and got an oil change so we are making progress here.  
3.  Buckle down on my budget   I am so proud of myself for sticking to my budget this month. We had a lot of wedding deposits due this month so it was mostly out of necessity that I didn't spend extra money besides a few books I was able to pre-order 
4.  Go floating  I had plans for this but the morning of they fell through. I was pretty bummed since it doesn't look like I'm going to be able to get this done this summer. 
5.  Finish putting together bridesmaid gifts  Another fail. I just didn't have time or money to put together gifts like I wanted. I'm planning on doing thank you gifts instead, which feels more appropriate anyway!

3/5 for a month that flew by isn't too shabby 


September Small Goals 
1. Ramp up my exercise I'm on week 4 of Couch to 5K and while I am happy I've stuck with it, I want to add in something with weights. I have a friend who offered some personal training and I have been thinking about Crossfit twice a week, but I'm trying to figure out how to add it into my schedule at this point. 
2. Hit my work metrics I've got big plans to move departments at work, but since my leave or absence, I need to consistently hit my metrics for 8 weeks. So I'd like to keep that up and hit those goals daily/weekly 
3. Say "yes" to the dress I've got a trip to Chicago planned to go dress shopping at BHLDN at the end of the month. I have been looking at dresses there online for months so I'm excited to go try some on and hopefully order my dress! 
4. Finish up wedding DIY list I've got a lot of DIY ideas for my wedding and no concrete list. I need something solid in writing so I can start prioritizing and working with my DIY bestie to start some projects. We are 7 months away so this needs to be done ASAP! 
5. Read 5 books Honestly, I've had a hard time coming up with goals that weren't all wedding related so I threw this in. I'd like to read at least 5 books this month to keep on top of my TBR list (if that's even possible) 

August Rewind

Read
I read some pretty great comics this month. Clueless was definitely at the top of my list. I even preordered it.  I'd also suggest checking out Hark! A Vagrant series. I randomly read #3 in the series (thank you library) and it was full of great pop culture references.  I got my hands on This One Summer which I also really liked.  The only real book I read other than our book club book was Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick which I thoroughly enjoyed. I love when famous people feel relatable and Anna definitely does.

Watched 
I'm full into a Pretty Little liars rewatch. I still haven't gotten spoiled on who A is and I'm so thankful. I avoid all PLL articles. I can't wait to see how this ends. I'm in the middle of season 4 for reference and I"m still watching episodes I've previously seen before but I'm getting close to where I left off.  The husband and I also watched I'm Dying Up Here on Showtime. It's a show about comedians trying to make it big and I really dug it. It has some strong female leads who were real kick ass ladies (and sometimes funnier than the guys).

Listened 
I know this is going to be controversial, but I'm going to say it anyway. Look What You Made Me Do by the New Taylor Swift. I'm aware this is a blow to my street cred but I can't help it. I'm a basic ass white girl.


Also this month 
Eclipse, Eclipse, Eclipse
Man, that was something.  I live just a couple of miles away from the totality line so I got to watch nature's amazing show from my back yard.  It was beautiful and amazing and time literally stood still for almost 2 minutes.  I now weirdly want to become an eclipse chaser, which I image is similar to a storm chaser except less dangerous unless not wearing the proper eye protection.  There were also so many different and fun events for this celebration that were within walking distance which was pretty cool.


Desk Refashion
I feel like I've been planning and working on this project for forever now and it is finally finished!  I put the finishing touches on it and installed it and my office looks 100% better.  It was the biggest eyesore before and now its just so fun and quirky.  A coworker even suggested making different ones for different months and seasons and I can't believe I didn't think about that on my own. Like, of course that needs to happen.


Cross Stitch Clubs & New Fall Trends
I signed up for 2 new cross stitch clubs this month that start in August. One is a Halloween pattern (duh) and the other is National Park themed. It's a companion to the one I did last year by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.  I was also just going through all my Halloween decorations and I think I might actually have too many cross-stitched pieces? Can that happen? I'm also thinking maybe I need a Halloween tree? Like how cute would that be?!

I also started my fall shopping! I've already picked up some new black destroyed jeggings, 2 purses (!!), peplum tops, a velvet jacked and combat boots and black and brown pairs  of pumps. I think there was more but I'm getting embarrassed about my obvious problems.


Read 
I was able to read some really cool things this month. I think my favorite was Option B by Sheryl Sandberg. It was one of those books that feels like it was written just for me. It touched on grief and how it relates to your work, which is something I struggled with a lot this year. It even inspired me to suggest improvements to the bereavement policy we have at my own job, so I feel like it had such an impact on me. I have so many notes in my phone of things I wanted to remember. It was a library book but I'm planning to buy it so I can highlight all the things in my own copy when I read it over and over. 

Watched
I was able to watch Glow this month and super loved it. I really liked the diversity of the cast and the different reasons each woman gravitated towards wrestling. It was also the first time I actually enjoyed Marc Maron. I tried his podcast and his show on Netflix and didn't love him, but I really enjoyed his role in Glow. I also started Scandal last week because you can never have enough Shonda Rhimes in your life tbh. 

Listened 
I've been pretty into the new Paramore album After Laughter this month. I've also tried to check out the new Haim album and the new Brand New album. These are 3 of my favorite bands so to have so much new music from them lately has been pretty awesome. 


Also this month 
Second Grade Babes 
My beebs are second graders! How did this happen? It's been this huge transition to a new building and it just seems like they are so much older, even though that is crazy. I'm so excited to see how they grow this year.


Total Eclipse of the Sun
Living in small towns can be cool sometimes, which was the case with the solar eclipse this month. Our small town was in the path of totality which was maybe the coolest thing I've ever seen. I am so happy I got to share that experience with the girls and Jarrett. It was so crazy and I'm so grateful we were in a spot to see the total eclipse!


FFTW Reunion 
My friend Grace (my FFTW-Friend From The Womb) was in town for a few days and it's the first time I've seen her in 3 years! I was so happy that she was able to meet Jarrett and that we were able to spend a lot of time catching up in person. We text a lot but in person hangs are the best. She also took some engagement photos of Jarrett and I while she was here. I super love how they came out and have been trying to spread out sharing them on Instagram. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

September Book Club


Hey book lovers! September is the month where it finally feels like fall to me. Jen suggested adding something a little darker to our list this month since we've been doing some lighter summer reads the past few months. So we settled on The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes. I've had this on my shelf for quite awhile and Jen was able to snag the ebook on sale. We are both really excited to dive in and see what book club holds for us this month! 


What's it about? 
The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself