Three Things

I am completely stealing this from Stephanie at Life According to Steph. Gracias, amiga. 

Three things I frequently forget
My coffee on the way to work
Where I put my phone
To feed my dogs in the morning

Three errands I love to run
Going to the library
Shopping for crafty things/home goods
Ummmm....I don't know. I hate grocery shopping so much it's all I can think of when thinking of "errands"

Three errands I hate to run
Grocery shopping
Visiting/calling any service company (looking at you, Suddenlink)
Taking the dogs to the vet

Three famous people I'd like to meet
Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Yes, stealing this from Steph also)
Nora Roberts
Jennifer Lawrence

Three famous people I'd like to avoid
Any Kardashian/Jenner/their relations in any way (again, Steph inspired- smart lady)
Pretty much anyone on a reality show, actually

Three things I recommend
Painting your toenails bright red
Getting up earlier

Three books I loved in the elementary/junior high days
Baby-Sitters Club
Sweet Valley High (& onward)
Little Women

Three things I always look forward to
Quiet coffee time
Reading on the beach
Long hot baths

Three things I always dread
Scheduling Holidays
Doctor's appointments
Brushing my dogs

Putting Effort in Physical Appearance

Trying to title this was difficult. I'm not sure how to sum up what I want to talk about in one snazzy little line, so I'm just going to jump right in. 

For many years, I did not like make-up. 

It felt like a waste of time, and I never felt like I was doing it right.

I had a very minimal make-up routine...and still felt like it sucked. I even went without make-up for a little while as kind of an experiment to see if anyone noticed or how I felt.

I tried using just BB cream. I tried using just powder. I never really gave up on mascara though- I feel as though I look sleepy if my lashes are in their natural state.

My feelings have changed lately. 

Rather than feeling like make-up is something I have to do, I've actually wanted to put forth an effort.

I've been trying to pinpoint what prompted this change...and I can't really put my finger on it.

Maybe it's something to do with having a baby...but "because of the baby" feels like a cop-out. Lots of people use that "excuse" for everything (because you can...seriously, such a good excuse).

All I know is- I've wanted to put some effort into my appearance lately.

And I'm enjoying it. 

Game-changer: using BB cream and then foundation.

It actually lasts all day when I do this, y'all.

Also, making sure to wash my face morning and night. SOMETIMES I GET TIRED AND DON'T WANNA. But I'm doing it anyway. Before I always thought my face broke out due to make-up...turns out you just need to take care of your skin in general. Who knew?

I'm also using whitening mouthwash. And wearing earrings on a regular basis.*

For years, it hurt to wear earrings. They would get red and irritated starting around hour 4. Thanks to Pinterest, I now clean with rubbing alcohol and use Vaseline and I can wear them ALL DAY. 

I think it has something to do with the need to practice self-care.*

Ugh, what an annoying Millennial statement. 

There's been a lot of...not good stuff going on lately- both personally and as a nation.

Well that's not accurate- personally it's not so much that there's a lot of bad stuff, just more that we've been super busy. I don't have the time to fold my laundry or make a great taking a minute to do my mouthwash or 10 minutes to do my make-up gives me some semblance of control and being cared for.

However insignificant or shallow it may seem to be, I'm making myself and my appearance a priority for 15 minutes a day. 

That can make a world of difference in my personal mindset.

And maybe it's not important to really figure out why. 

Maybe all that matters is that I'm having fun and doing what I want and feeling good about myself.

What are your thoughts when it comes to make-up/jewelry/physical appearance? 
Have they changed over the years?

Daily Habits

Since the little one arrived a few months ago, there have been some changes in my household. I knew this was going to happen, because it's inevitable.

This isn't me complaining at all- I love being a mom, it's awesome, my kid is super cool (although talking about how much I love her just feels...icky- can we just assume I like her and I'm happy and not get into mushy weird emotional territory? Kthanksbye).

But being responsible for someone else has made me realize...I am barely keeping it together to take care of myself!

Organization and planning sound sooooo boring and uncool. But here's the thing- otherwise, nothing gets done ever.

All that stress and anxiety you feel? Probably because you don't know where the hell any of your clothes or dishes are.*

*Anxiety and depression are serious mental conditions and you should absolutely get help if you suffer from them- but I know many people who use these terms flippantly and what they really mean is "I can't be bothered to care ahead of time so my basic idleness creates mild chaos in my life." This is the type of "anxiety" I am referring to in this particular instance.

I think I can really bring my stress level down by doing a few specific things each day.

-Make my bed
-Brush my teeth (Yes I sometimes get busy and skip, I know but it happens)
-Drink a full glass of water 

-15 cleaning rush
-Go over my (sadly neglected) bullet journal
-Read a book before bed instead of looking at my phone
-Drink a full glass of water

If I can manage to get into these habits, there are a few more I'd like to work on also:
-Monthly meal planning
-Setting out my outfits for the week
-Setting out Pumpkin's outfits for the week

I've done these in spurts and I know they are helpful. But they require getting ahead of schedule and I spend so much time playing catch up- hoping my time off at the holidays will help get me where I want to be.

Monthly Recommendations: Family Focus

Finally! A Monthly Recommendations theme that I can actually provide good recommendations for ;) Over the past few months I've enjoyed the link-up but it just hasn't been my wheelhouse.

I almost forgot, Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group from Kayla  [Kayla Rayne] and Trina [Between Chapters]. They pick monthly topics and we all's fun and you should do it too!

Family Focus

I've only read the first 2 books of The Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Scarlet. These are sci-fi, steampunk-y stories but contains complex characters and family relationships. As a retelling of Cinderella, Cinder obviously deals with step-family relations. But there is also the relationship of Prince Kai and his father, which includes a royal legacy and responsibility. Scarlet is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood- there is a wonderful relationship with her grandmother, plus an interesting dynamic between the pack of "wolves" she ends up with.

On basically the exact opposite end of the spectrum, Delirum involves a society where they have developed a "cure" for love. People are matched with a future spouse in their early teens, shortly after receiving the serum. The cure prevents them from loving not only their spouse, but their parents/siblings/and even children. Any sign of love or basically happiness at all is frowned upon, even criminal. It's not implicitly stated, but basically apathy is the goal. Apathetic people don't fight or fuss or rebel or care.

This book is one of my favorites that I've read this year. It follows different family members surrounding an adopted baby girl- the child, her birth mother, her adoptive mother, her adoptive examines culture and love and family and I just love love love love it.

This is almost similar to Secret Daughter...but with some big differences. It made me cry and think and my heart bled for two families, but mostly for a little girl caught in the middle. To be perfectly honest, I did not like the ending...but overall it did a great job of showing emotional gray areas.

 This was such a cute book. It involves a teenage girl and her unusual aunt...I like that it examined an important relationship with someone outside the immediate nuclear family. It's important to realize the importance of having someone to vent to.

Another one of my favorites for the year. Alice wakes up one day thinking she is 29, newly married, and pregnant with her first child. Turns out she hit her head and is actually 39, in the middle of a divorce, and has 3 kids. It's wonderful and heartbreaking and wonderful again.

Lola has two gay dads. They are great parents...but the real reason I like this book is because she has a very awkward and uncomfortable relationship with her birth mom. The birth mom is NOT made out to be a hero...which I like.

For the same reason, plus what it's like to love someone with mental illness, try Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.


This series is a little cheesy at times (Christian fiction) but involves a desperate mother's love and the duty of friendship.

I just love Pat Conroy. This is a dark story (trigger warnings for abuse, child & sexual) but so good.

I believe families are messy, because people are messy. And it's love and commitment and time and shared experience that make a family- these stories reflect that.

What are your favorite family-centered stories?

Nonfiction November Challenge 2016

This week on Show Us Your Books I was surprisingly drawn to several non-fiction books. Then Kristi at Melborne on My Mind posted a video about the Nonfiction November Challenge and it just seemed perfect.

There are four individual challenges within the overall challenge- some could overlap but I am choosing four books...not sure I will make it, especially since I am starting a week and a half late. But one is an audio book so it's possible!

Challenge 1: New
                    -Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (audio)

Challenge 2: Controversial
Challenge 3: Important
Challenge 4: Fascinating 

I had to rethink my choices, because the library was missing 2 out of my 3 top picks.

I'm not really worrying about the order, because anything controversial is important and vice versa. And they're all fascinating to me or I wouldn't have chosen them. So if I only finish one more in November, I'll consider it successful. But I hope to get at least 2 and the last one can piggyback into October.

  -Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein  
  -How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
  -Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Have you ready any of these, or do you have plans to participate in Nonfiction November? 

This is actually my first "challenge" so I'm pretty pumped!

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: November 2016

Woot woot! It's time for the Show Us Your Books link-up!

I really thought I had read more books this month...but I guess that's what happens when you start and stop 3 books.

Apparently I was in the mood for some dystopian YA this month...


(The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer) 

This book was a crazy departure for me, as I usually do not do sci-fi/steampunk-y stuff. But this is a great story! I love the characters and plot line. Plus, it delves into diversity topics like nothing I've ever read before. It's futuristic and deals with cybors/androids/etc (I had to google the difference) but there are clear parallels to racism/etc in our current time.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Y'all...this book grabbed me. It deals with a culture that has decided to blame love for almost all of society's problems. So at a certain age (17?) they are injected with a "cure" to make them...immune to love. Not just romantic love- all kinds of familial and platonic love also. It would also get some diversity points (mental health).

I paused on reading two separate books for these two series- and I don't regret it.

In Progress: The Light Between Oceans
Paused: On the Road
DNF: The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

What have you been reading?
Link-up & share!

Life According to Steph

Are Formulaic Books Bad?

I've heard a lot of complaints about books being "formulaic." This is typically brought up when discussing very popular authors such as Jodi Picoult, James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks, etc. And I completely understand this.

One great thing about reading is that it introduces you to new worlds and people. 

It can stretch your mind and present ideas that radically change your world. It can make you more open-minded and compassionate.

So if you read the same type of book over and over, you aren't getting the "dedicated reader" experience. And, sometimes you just get surprised and love things you wouldn't have thought you would love. It's a great thing to read widely, and it's needed.

But today I want to argue in favor of formulaic books.

For one, sometimes you just need a break.

Reading diversely and complexly is important. But it is hard. Stretching your mind and heart can hurt. And you can't do it all the time. Or at least I can't. Sometimes I need to return to something familiar and stand on steady ground for a minute. 

Secondly, it's a good starting point when recommending books.

I think of formulaic books as the foundation of reading, actually. Especially if you are talking to someone who isn't a big reader, it can be easier to grab their interest if you can confidently say "Well this is XYZ and it involves XYZ" and they can go in knowing what to expect. And then you can figure out what it is about those formulaic books and dig deeper into more diverse stories with those same enjoyable characteristics. Sometimes you gotta crawl before you walk, people.

As with most things, moderation is key. 

It's really easy to hate on authors who "sell out," or to laugh at books like Twilight or, God help me, even 50 Shades of Gray. And those books can definitely be problematic- but they can also be a great starting point. I know women who literally haven't read a book in 20+ years who read 50SOG. And as a reader, I have to believe that the act of reading itself is a valuable thing that should be celebrated. I have to believe that reading itself can grab people no matter the subject.