Add It To My List: August 2017

 Link-up creators are Lauren from Eat, Drink, & Be Lauren and Bre from Bre Writes. Basically, they are always recommending things to each other- podcasts, television shows, music, blah blah blah. And they figured- why not share even further?
  • Call The Midwife
    • This show. Guys. Seriously, watch it right now. At first I thought it was only okay.  I'm now in Season 4 and it keeps hitting it out of the damn park. Poverty, religion, PTSD, race,'s hitting so many topics and handling them beautifully! Especially given the time period it's set in (post WW2). Also, kind of a love letter to the NHS and feminism in general. Ahhh I'm loving it.
  • e.l.f. Complexion Brush
    • I bought my first ever make-up brush. I can't even say this one is that good, because I can't compare...but it's doing the job for this newbie.
  • This YouTube video Yoga for Runners
    • I ran two miles the other day, and hadn't ran for months. I expected to be miserable the next day, so I did this video right after. I barely felt a thing and wasn't sore at all. I'm not a yogi in any way, but this seriously makes a world of difference.
  • This post from Jen. I have stopped being as vocal or active about politics because...there are people saying what I want to say, and saying it better than I can. And it still somehow seems like those in a position of power aren't listening. But I can not stop saying it. 
  • This article about the view of Charlottesville from Berlin, Germany. 
  • This video from Hank Green about staying in your lane & racism.
And I realize I'm posting a lot from white people, but I am a white person and it seems really really important that we step the fuck up and realize we are a big part of the problem so I'm glad to see people address it. But that's problematic in it's own way...
What have you been enjoying this month?

Self Care: Part Two

I've thought a lot about self-care in the past few months. It's important. And the thing I've come to realize is, not only does self-care differ between different people- it's different for me personally depending on what is going on in my life.

Sometimes self-care is taking time to stop and paint my toes. This past weekend, it was taking time to clean my disgusting shower so I don't feel like a gross slacker every time I get in it. Was it the most enjoyable 20-30 minutes of my life? No. Do I think "Good job on fixing the problem, you rock?" every time I get in the shower now? Yes, yes I do.

So here are some more self-care habits I've enjoyed lately:

  • Pinterest only or reading before bed. 
    • For many reasons, but basically the internet does not always contain peaceful, calming topics.
  • Unfollowing FB groups.
    • I love them, but they can suck me in and take my attention away from other more important things. They're there if I want them, but they don't clutter up my feed anymore.
  • Washing the shower
    • see above.
  • Journaling.
    • I love planners and the act of physically writing. Most planners don't work because they allot each day the same amount, so I have been using the Bullet Journal method. I tried once before, but people have taken the original method and expanded it to a glorified art journal...I can't do that. But I can stick with the minimalist method and actually organize my life better. Plus I like writing down little snippets of my day. Not necessarily important, but somehow calms me.
  • Buying new shorts. 
    • I had one pair, and typically this isn't a big deal because I don't wear them during the week or to church. But it's about a million degrees and I needed another pair to make me feel better about not constantly wearing the same thing every Saturday. It's worth the 10$.
  • Napping with Babycakes. 
    • Poor thing is teething- she likes to get 2-4 teeth at a time. Just over a year old and she has almost 80% of her teeth already. Pretty sure she's also hitting a growth spurt. So it's not always a party at my house. She is a great sleeper 95% of the time but lately she's been having a few rough days/nights. Last weekend I just gave up and let her nap in the bed with me since she did NOT want to be alone. She sleeps in her crib almost all of the time, but everyone deserves a treat sometimes, especially when they're not feeling well. And it was better for me too since I got to rest comfortably instead of trying to force it.

What does self-care mean for you right now?

Getting Back into My Reading Groove

 For a while I tried to focus on reading books I felt like I was supposed to read. 

Whatever that meant. Some of it was good- I enjoyed the works of Jane Austen, once I got used to the language. I read books for my diversity reading challenge that were fantastic works of art and stories of people that are too often ignored.

But I did not enjoy A Farewell to Arms or Wuthering Heights, and Journey to the Center of the Earth along with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy have officially confirmed that sci-fi is just not my thing.

All this was my choice, but it lead to reading not necessarily being the great pleasure of my life that it once was. 

For a while I wondered if it was that chapter of my life, or if I had fundamentally changed. I just wasn't gobbling up books the way I used to.

In a way, it was good that I was trying to stretch my horizons. But...I'm not a scholar. It's not going to make a difference in my life if I read Proust or not.

Lately I have read a few books that I enjoyed immensely, and quickly. It made me feel...youthful.

In high school I would devour books.

I enjoyed everything- even things that probably weren't the most literary or diverse. But they were pleasurable. They passed my time well.

I think part of it has to do with having a baby, but it started way before that.

The biggest thing to blame? Probably my smart phone.

It's easier to carry around and can function in so many different ways. But lately I've been trying to put the friggin' phone down (for many reasons). And I've started reading again instead.

It's somehow much better to read at night before bed- regardless of what I'm reading. Books about heavy topics are still preferable to the internet when it comes to keeping myself mentally stable. 

Not only that, I'm reading things I enjoy. Now, I've been reading things I wanted to read in theory...but I forced myself to keep going even if I didn't enjoy it once I actually started reading it.

There's something to be said for reading for pure, mindless joy. 

I want to read books that are out of my comfort zone and make me think critically. And other times I want to read fluff. All these things are okay.

Balance. I'm learning over and over and over how important balance and variety are to my sanity. 

Maybe some of you are more mature or self-aware and know this already. But I've let myself think too many parts of life have to be all or nothing, or that seasons are sometimes permanent.

I'm grateful that I'm learning to accept the seasons for what they are and go with the flow.

True Story: I Used to Have a Confederate Flag in My Bedroom

There's a lot of stuff going on in America right now about racism and "alt right" and apparently the new hill to die on is Confederate flags & statues of Confederate generals.

I'm not sure I truly have anything to add to this conversation.

Racism is not new. White supremacy is not new. We've had these wars before. Look in a history book.

 I think over the past year especially I've at least hinted at the fact that I'm pretty liberal.

But I want to talk about my journey to this place, and why I feel the way I feel even though in a lot of ways I probably look like easy prey to the "alt right" (apparently the PC term for Neo-Nazis).

When I was a teenager, I had a Confederate flag in my bedroom. 

To me, it represented my Southern heritage. People made fun of Southerners all the time. We were dumb, dirty, bad people. It was a form of "reclaiming" a symbol of where I was from and trying to find the positives about my heritage. It meant that I came from determined people willing to stand up for what was right- or at least, what they thought was right. It was a joke to tell the people who thought less of me that they couldn't hurt me. I would take what they scorned and use it to make me stronger.

I could justify this in a few ways. 

First, it was HISTORY Y'ALL. You can't fight the truth. It's just a fact, that's what happened.

Secondly, there were black kids at my school who said it was okay! They didn't care. If a black person said it wasn't offensive, surely no one else could be upset. And if there was another black person who got upset, well they needed to go talk to that first guy. As long as I was nice to people who cared?

But something happened- I grew up. 

I realized several things that changed my attitude towards the flag and the Confederacy in general.

I realized there are much less controversial ways to represent my Southern heritage. Monogramming stuff might cost a little more but it's cuter and not tied to racism in any way. Same for flip-flops and fried okra and sweet tea and Duke's mayonnaise.

I realized that people could feel differently about something even if they have something in common. So, yeah...some black people may have told me they didn't care- but others (of all races) were hurt deeply by this symbol. One person's pain does not diminish just because it isn't shared by all.

I realized that I was only strengthening the negative Southern stereotype by clinging to a symbol of the (failed) past. I could take those qualities I originally saw and shift them to something that valued the qualities of everyone.

I realized that in no other situation would I agree with this type of situation- America separated from England- successfully- and England doesn't fly American flags to celebrate that. If they did, I'd think they were idiots. 

Most importantly, I realized that I don't live in the Confederacy. I live in America. 

Those people who laugh at me and make fun of me and make assumptions due to where I grew up? They are doing exactly what they assume I do.

They are not better people because of where they grew up. I am not a worse person because of where I grew up. We all live in one country- the United States of America.

And I want our country to be united. I want us to look to the future, not the past.

I realized that patriotism to my country meant agreeing that its ideals of freedom and equality as a basic human right should be extended to every human.

Yes, the Confederate flag is part of our history. That doesn't make it good. That doesn't make it honorable. 

We can all be better than that, y'all.  

It's fine to be proud of being white- I like knowing that I have a Scottish background and where I come from.

The difference is- I don't believe that it makes me better than anyone else. And I am not so ignorant as to think that it makes me perfect.

I don't believe that skin color or ancestry should make me like one person more than the other, or make me more scared of one person than the other.

I hope that people don't judge me by the fact that I used to be proud of the Confederate flag. 

I hope that people who feel that way now realize that you can acknowledge the past and learn from it, without clinging to it. 

I hope we learn to live up to our name and truly be a united nation.

Mid-Month Update: August 2017

Trying something new- this will be a little mid-month update on my life and a way to ensure I actually post something here on this blog, since I enjoy blogging but do better with directions and plans at this point in my life. Categories may change depending on my moods.

So. Much. Rain. So damn muggy. I am not one to complain about humidity usually, but dang y'all.  My hair is continually limp and gross looking, my makeup (already minimal) is melting...blah. We're averaging one partly sunny day a week at the moment.

 My office is crazy with people leaving and new people coming in and the temporary workers that have been on break, whom I work directly with/slightly above, will be back soon soo...yay? Yay for progress, boo for constant human interaction again (says the introvert who actually likes being alone in the corner doing mountains of paperwork).

Picked up my textbook yesterday! Paid more than I wanted- the edition my professor wanted was just published last year so no used copies. Oh well. Still getting 90% of all school needs covered by work so shouldn't complain too much.

Hubby & Family
Tank & I are almost halfway through the classes required to become foster parents in NC! It's a lot of information and we have tons of stuff to do/print...I totally get it. But it is weird to think we just had a baby before and no one cared at all about this stuff. Our families are being very supportive, which I'm happy about. I was worried, but as a friend pointed out, most rude or offensive questions really do stem from a place of ignorance and simple explanations can shift a lot of perspective. While it's been a little stressful to find a sitter since the class is ALL DAY every Saturday for over a month, it's also nice that we have had lots of time alone and we've been trying a few local restaurants that we probably wouldn't with the kid (although one was totally delicious and cute and had a kid's corner that I found brilliant, although Tank said it was only a good idea not an amazing one).

Babycakes is at such a fun age! We are officially into toddler stage...and y'all, so much easier for me than babyhood. She is getting a little more independent, which makes things easier for me. We're definitely seeing some tantrums, but she tends to just walk off when upset so I'm OK with that (much better than laying down and throwing a fit for me). The other day she got mad, ran away, and came back in a minute with only one shoe...the other one turned out to be under the kitchen cabinet. No clue. But I figure taking a minute to herself and coming back calm is not the worst calming strategy there is. She's also giving hugs & kisses now...totes adorbs. There's even been some comments that she's starting to look like me! Petty, but since she came out looking exactly like Tank it's nice to hear an acknowledgement that I had something to do with her too.

Have I posted about my meal planning lately? I think it was around December that I started doing monthly meal plans. We don't always follow it to the letter, but it helps ensure we have something to cook and cuts down on the times we eat out. I only do the weekdays, because our church group meets on Sundays so we don't have to cook then and also we have leftovers. We also try to keep frozen lasagna and pizzas on hand just in case. The healthiest? Probably not...but better financially. Some of these recipes are simple, some are written down in my, others go on a Monthly Menu Pinterest board to make sure Hubs always has access to the recipe without me having to email him every day :) 

The Little Things
Since Babycakes has been spending so much time at her grandparents due to the FC classes, I've had time to paint my nails three weeks in a row. For some reason, this has been a really nice pick-me-up. I've also been starting a very small workout plan, and ran two miles the other day! Simple enough I can do it quickly but gets me moving, because I can tell my body is suffering when I don't. 

What's new with you?

Trying My Hand at Bullet Journaling

I don't really want to go into the details of the Bullet Journal...because it's a LOT. Be careful googling though- I'd recommend going straight to the source at If you look at Pinterest or some of the Facebook groups dedicated to Bullet Journaling, you will see beautiful hand lettering and adorable doodles from people who use it half as a sketch book. Mine is more like the original idea, which is basically a DIY planner.

The fast idea behind BuJo is to make really short, fast notes that have tiny symbols to assign categories: tasks, events, notes. You can have "signifiers" to assign priority or indicate more research is needed.

This appealed to me because I really like traditional planners but I always want more "blank" space to write notes- grocery lists, blog post ideas, etc- which aren't tied to a specific day. 

In a traditional planner I would be keeping all those notes on separate days and flipping back and just doesn't work.

A bullet journal is something that you can customize incredibly easily. The reason I say not to Google at the beginning is because people have really run with this idea. There are hundreds if not thousands of ideas and "layouts" online. Y'all...I don't have the time or talent.

So far, everything in my bullet journal is either a list or a calendar. That's it. That's what I need right now.

There's also lots of discussion about the best notebook and pens and blah blah blah to use. You could use anything. Since it involves making lines- and is what the creator uses- a lot of people use dotted notebooks or graphed notebooks. But you can totally use a cheap lined one- my current one came from AC Moore & cost 5$.

Anatomy of my BuJo:

  • Index
    • There really isn't an order to the BuJo-  you just use a page for whatever you want to. Lists next to calendar next to picture. Whatever. In order to find things, you number pages and put them here in the index so you can find stuff easily (more notes about further down). The idea of indexing is super simple, but for some reason never occured to me before. You can use pre-numbered notebooks or do it yourself as you go along (that's what I do).

  •  Key
    • There are recommended icons/whatever you call the things to signify your categories on the BuJo site, but there are tons of ways to do this (notes v. appointment v. task). I'll be honest, I don't always use this...more often than not I just cross stuff off. But there's the idea.

    • Future Log
      • aka 6 month calendar (next time I will probably do a full year, but since I'm starting halfway through 2017 I decided to just do the rest of the year).

      • A monthly log
        • If you just want to see the details of this month (this is just the outline, before I had added the details).

        • A weekly log
          • Some people do "dailies." This is a huge aspect of it. The way I have mine laid out, I have a weekly spread but blank space underneath, so I can make notes for individual days without worrying about space- I may have nothing one day and 5 things the next. I want flexibility. 
          •  Short Notes Page
            • This is where I keep a general list of items to buy- if I need to pick up milk, or a birthday card, etc. It's easier to add these to a general list over a week or two versus listing one item every two or three days and flipping through. This way once I have a list big enough to warrant going to the store, I look at one page and get everything I need.
          • Memorable Dates
            • For random things like when I change my contacts & when we replaced the batteries in my car- they aren't constant events that would make it in my standing yearly calendar but are worth noting
          • Date Night Ideas
            • So we don't get stuck in a rut
          • Reading Challenge List
            • I like being able to cross off books as I read them & see my progress.

            Really the only things I use besides a pen and the notebook is a little ruler ($.50, to help with straight lines) and washi tape. I use the tape for headers, and as kind of a bookmark. I can use different colors to make "tabs" and flip straight to my monthly calendar or this week. Not required, but I like it.

            My bujo is not particularly pretty. But it works. 

            And I'm sharing it because I go so dang on intimidated when I tried this the first time.

            You don't have to do cute headers or tons of colors or artistic doodles (if you want to, go for it) but I wanted to show that it's possible to keep it simple and really helpful to get organized.

            Yes, you can use apps and phones for all this now. 

            And I do still use those (especially things that concern the husband, thanks shared calendars)...but there's something about the act of writing something down. It just helps it stick and makes me feel for more accomplished when I cross it out.

            I am slightly concerned about having time to write layouts once I start classes, especially since we will be starting classes for the foster/adoption process around the same time. It's going to be a busy fall, y'all. But it's oddly enjoyable for me, and I think if I create my monthly/weekly layouts once a month I can manage it. That's what I did for August, anyway. So we'll see how it goes...maybe I'll update in a month or so.

            Do you have a planner or system that you enjoy? 
            Anyone else like analog versus just digital?

            Show Us Your Books Link-Up: August 2017

            You guys, this month totally crept up on me. Didn't we JUST do July's SUYB?

            Anyway. Pretty good reading month here. Officially hit my yearly goal, which is great because between the FtA* classes/paperwork and school starting later this month, I have no clue how my reading will look for the rest of the year.


            This book was good. I've seen some  reviews that it was too easy to guess the plot. I actually didn't guess and had a different idea in mind (although, I really don't like to try to guess the plot, I want the story to just unfold). It was good but kind of solidified the idea that crime/thriller isn't really my genre anymore (it used to be my favorite).

             This book was so good! Noah just has such a good conversational style. I really appreciated the way he framed the story- he talked about apartheid and racism and poverty in a logical way that was insightful without being self-pitying. Even when talking about very difficult situations, it was all presented very matter-of-factly. It wasn't dry or impersonal- riveting, in fact- but subtle. He just has a great way with words. Probably my favorite read of the month.

            This book is Albertalli's long-awaited follow-up to Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It's not really a second of a series, although Simon and another character are slightly involved in this story. It's more like they exist in the same world versus following the same characters. Personally, I thought Simon was okay but it didn't live up to the hype. This story was more my style, and I enjoyed the main character a lot more. Plus, Reid is the cutest. YA is not my favorite genre, and this one did have a few moments where the teen...not even drama, but exaggeration of everything, was a little much but a lot of topics were handled well and felt authentic.

            This book is actually a combination of 5 stories. Rivers wrote fictional accounts of the 5 women in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matthew X). I had actually never realized that these women were all tied to Christ or each other, and that was really interesting to think about. The stories of Rahab & Ruth were my favorites. While this definitely has a Christian theme, it's five stories of historical women that I think anyone could enjoy. Also, while I know that the Bible is full of "messed up" people, it was really interesting to realize that nearly every woman listed in the lineage of Christ had a tie to prostitution or a questionable background...for some reason the idea of all that scandal leading to the one sinless person is wonderfully ironic to me and I can't help imagine how some super conservatives would try to explain that away...

            This book. So darn adorable. Made me yearn for rainy fall nights and blankets and a hot toddy. Also to live in a country that prioritizes health and a work/life balance. Since I can't move to Europe, must buy more tea. 

            Overall,  a pretty great reading month. I enjoyed everything and would recommend all!

            What have you been reading? Link-up & share!
            Life According to Steph