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may 2019 book club

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Like years past, Dani and I are doing our annual reading challenge with new categories this year! Despite a super strong start to the year with books – maybe it was the gross weather that was driving me inside – I fell off a bit in March and April. This month, I did make a bit of a comeback.

I still love my Kindle – especially the feature that lets you check out library books – and Amazon’s Kindle First Reads have been really great lately too. (They offer six free books to choose from every month, so you can read them before release.)

Amazon also has another ebook hack I’ve found – I purchased a “Great on Kindle” book, which gives you about 75% of that purchase back for a future Kindle book purchase. I’ve been turning those credits for a bit and I’m pretty well stocked on my summer reads now!

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler: One of the recent Kindle First Reads picks, I started reading this while we were in Minneapolis, killing time while Evan was in panels and I was the “conference girlfriend.” It’s an okay book. The main character is a likable heroine, and her relationship with her daughter was great, but I felt like there were some strange plot choices. It was fine for a free read.

No Hard Feelings: A book by best friends about feelings and communication in the workplace, this was a book I DESPERATELY needed to read. The animations are adorable, and since it was a library book, I did what I often do with books I don’t own – I took pictures of relevant pages and passages I wanted to remember. With this book, though, I nearly photographed the entire thing. Pick this up for sure, but if you need more convincing, I did a full review of this book over on dev.to!

The Girl He Used to Know: This book was being recommended everywhere, and with good reason. I was completely hooked from the beginning. Split in two different timelines, it’s the story of a woman who reconnects with her ex years later – an ex who was the only person to ever really understand her. If you’re looking for non-neurotypical heroines, put this on the top of your list.

The Stranger Beside Me: Finally, I gave in to the hype and listened to this audiobook on Hoopla. Ann Rule narrates it, and the production of the version I listened to wasn’t great, but it’s a really comprehensive story of all the missteps and near-misses on Bundy’s spree. As a true crime fan, this is one of the best books out there.

Wondering how I read so much? My libraries use Libby – see if your library has a partnership, and check out the mobile app!

Sadie: HOLY COWWWWW I LOVED THIS. I put a hold on it last summer, and I was so pumped to finally get it. It was SO worth the wait. Another split timeline book, one timeline is told in podcast transcripts by a man who is trying to figure out what happened to Sadie. The other timeline is Sadie’s experience. The multimedia put into it is great (the publisher released the podcast parts of the audiobook as an actual podcast) and I’m still thinking about the end of the book, weeks after reading it. Without giving too many spoilers away, I truly hope that Sadie got vengeance.

The Happiness Project: This book was one of the first “want to read” books I added on Goodreads all the way back in 2012! I like to listen to non-fiction books while working (they’re like the original podcasts), and this was a really nice one to listen to, especially in the mornings. Another Hoopla book that’s worth a read, if your library offers it!

The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks: Rob Sheffield is the king of music journalism, and his love of Stevie Nicks might even surpass mine. This Audible original, narrated by him, is a nice, fast listen – if for no other reason than Rob’s voice is so soothing and his love for Stevie and the Mac really comes through. (I feel like I also need to disclose that I’m lucky enough to call Rob my friend – just one more thing The Hold Steady has given me!)

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work: Written by the founders of Basecamp, I was hoping that this was going to be a book of tips on how to help implement “less craziness” in your current workplace. To a degree, that’s true, but parts of it just sounded like it was hyping Basecamp as the perfect company (which didn’t help my existing workplace envy!) It is a good, fast listen, though, and I’d recommend it.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: Another super-hyped book, this one took me a LONG time to get into. I wasn’t really hooked until probably 70% of the way through the book, but I’m very glad that I kept on going. Usually I can see twists a mile away, but that wasn’t the case in this one. Another really great neuro-divergent character that’s worth a read.

Do you read non-fiction and career books? What have been your favorites lately?

June 1, 2019
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19 (more) creative father’s day gift ideas

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Father’s day is coming, and I love to give really unique and creative gifts. Dating a dad has given me real insight I’d never had before – the stereotypes are true, people. (If anyone would like to disagree, I have the photos of him grilling in khaki shorts and an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt. I might have made him buy that Hawaiian shirt, but that’s neither here nor there.) Being with him has also broadened my horizons on what kind of gifts guys might like – so if you’re stuck with a dad, brother, partner, or someone else who is just hard to buy for, try some of these gift ideas for guys!

Slice off the Ol’ Pie Shirts: This is what I got for my man and his kiddo. (I couldn’t hold out until father’s day, though – they’re adorable in their matching shirts.) They’re super cute, and the seller offers additional kids shirts if there are jealous siblings to consider!

Bullet journal: There have been plenty of studies done that say writing down appointments and tasks helps you remember them better than filing them in a digital app or calendar, so set up a bullet journal (or find a ready-made planner) that can help him keep his head on straight. I still love the Passion Planner, but I’ve been using a bullet journal classic Leuchtturm1917 notebook lately.

Book: Books are really great gift options for anyone, basically anytime. If the dad in your life likes to read, here are a few options: Lost In Space studies pop culture and fatherhood, Don’t Make Me Stop This Car is a humor book by Al Roker (who I picture as an Ultimate Dad,) or Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces, a more heartfelt book by Michael Chabon, there’s a

Set of Nice Socks: Nice Laundry and Land’s End are just a few places you can order customized monogrammed socks, so there’s never a question of sock ownership, and replenishing holy or worn out socks is probably not something he’d ever really consider, even though it probably needs to be done.

father's day gift ideas

Grill Dad Set: One of the things my boyfriend finds lacking at my apartment is grill utensils. This set includes everything needed for a really great cookout, and identifies the owner so no one else tries to snag the tool set.

Wallet: I’ve been using card holder-style wallets for a few years, and I love how minimalist it forces me to be in the cards I carry around with me. This would be a great (and useful) gift for any minimalist man in your life – or maybe just the one who’s been sitting on a six-inch-thick wallet for a few too many years.

Custom Guitar Picks: If your guy is musical, custom picks would be a cool gift. Etsy has a host of different options, from photo picks, branded, or even heavier, engraved metal picks.

Insulated Growler: If your dad, husband, or other male figure loves beer (and honestly, who doesn’t,) this insulated, reusable growler is a great gift idea. Stop by a brewery to get it filled up and take it along on a picnic to enjoy some fresh, cool craft beer on the go! (Also useful for the aggressive coffee drinker. Not that I know any, or anything…)

Bose Build Speaker Cube: This could be a fun hands-on gift for a dad and his kid (or grab an adult version for a really cool DIY project for a guy who loves tech). It will walk them through the steps to create their own working bluetooth speaker to pair with an Apple device!

Still need even more ideas? Check out these past gift guides for guys:

Letters to Dad: If it’s hard to talk about feelings in your family (I was raised in a stereotypical midwestern home – no one ever has feelings ever) this “Letters to” series is a great prompt to start opening the lines of communication, reminisce on memories, or tell your dad or father figure things you’ve always wanted to share.

Dad Joke Glass: The best part of dating a dad is unlimited dad jokes – no matter how crummy they are (sorry honey,) they make me laugh every time. This glass will let everyone around him know that the joke factory is open. (Grab a book to go along with it so he’s never floundering for a joke to tell.)

Enamel Pins: These are a super fun way to customize commuter bags or hats, and there are plenty geared toward dads. Get a set of classic dad shoes, go a little more formal with a declaration of Good Dad-dom, or lean into the humor and Simpsons fandom.

Scotch-Infused Toothpicks: My grandpa has had a toothpick in his mouth as long as I can remember (not the same one, I imagine.) These scotch-infused toothpicks from Uncommon Goods are a unique gift for any whisky lover or chronic toothpick user!

Seaweed Bath Co. Detox Body Scrub: Especially in the summer, skin can get really rough. #TreatHisSkin with this gentle exfoliating scrub (I promise this isn’t sponsored, that was just where my brain took #TreatYoSelf in this case!) It helps wash away some of the dead, rough skin, and the charcoal infusion helps users get really clean.

Card Games: Playing analog games is still just as fun, and it’s more collaborative. Spend “real life” time together with card games like Exploding Kittens or the Oregon Trail card game (which I can confirm is super fun!!)

gift ideas for men

Quip toothbrushes: Bring tech into the bathroom with an electric toothbrush from Quip. Their metal brush handles are super heavy duty, and they’ll send brush head and toothpaste refills on time every three months. We’ve used these for awhile now and I really like it a lot – plus the toothpaste tastes really great.

Mugs: A classic gift, but there are some hilarious options. Baby Daddy, Best Dad Ever, Emergency Dad Jokes – they’re all super hilarious and great options for anyone.

Smart Lawn Sprinkler System: All smart home everything. This would be a super fun gift for anyone who likes technology and working in the lawn.

Sugru Mouldable Glue: Most of the guys I know are always tinkering and fixing things – this moldable glue looks really cool, and really useful for fixing pretty much anything. This would be a cool gift to keep in the toolbox, in the garage, in the car, at work – basically anywhere so he can fix it on the fly.

Do you have any go-to gift ideas for men?

June 4, 2018
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winter favorites 2017

Posted in Living by

winter 2017 favorites

Winter is categorically the worst, but as always, there are some good things to find in it. Here are a few things I’ve been enjoying the last few weeks!

I’ve wanted to take a development class for awhile, so I recently signed up for Skillcrush’s Front End Dev blueprint. Class hasn’t started yet, but I’ve poked around a little bit to check out what the dashboard and interface are like, and I really like how it seems to be structured and laid out.

It’s no secret at all that I love The Hold Steady – if you don’t know that, you’re probably new here. Last month they put out their first new tracks since 2014, and I was so happy hearing them that I cried in my car so hard that my eyes were all puffy and ugly when I walked into my grandparent’s house. When my mom asked me what was wrong, all I said was “new Hold Steady,” and she understood. “Entitlement Crew” is particularly great, and the album artwork is really fun.

Last year I got very into spoken word poetry, particularly Button Poetry videos. During a binge, Olivia Gatwood’s “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” came on, and I fell so in love with it and her that I ordered her book New American Best Friend right away. It includes some poems you can find easily online, but some new ones as well, and they’re all gems.

happy endings

I missed out on Happy Endings in its first run, but The Mindy Project made me an Adam Pally stan, so boyfriend popped this show on one night. It’s hilarious, and it takes place in Chicago – another big bonus. If you need something to fill the Mindy Project or Parks and Rec-sized hole in your heart, give this a try. 

My now-boyfriend told me about Sleep With Me a little over a year ago, pre-dating status, and I’ve tried it off and on since then. If you ever struggle with falling asleep, or have racing thoughts before bed, pop on one of these episodes and let Scooter soothe you to sleep.

Amazon’s new Amazon Prime Samples program is super cool. For $2-$4, you can order smaller quantities of things you’ve wanted to try – mostly food and beauty products. Then that money is applied to a future purchase in the same category – it’s a little like a buy one get one free deal, and I’ve totally stocked my protein cabinet from them!

 

2048

Yes, I 100% took a screenshot for proof.

Another discovery that I’m late on: 2048. Have you guys played this?! I missed out on it when it was first super popular a few years ago, but now I’m super obsessed. I’ve beaten the classic game once, and on my iPhone, I constantly have a round of City 2048 going.

I’ll finish out with a blog. A friend of a Twitter friend, Tina, runs a book blog called TBR Etc. that I’ve been super into. I’ve picked up some great recommendations from her already, and I look forward to finding even more. If you’re a book nerd, check her out for some serious book goalspiration!

What are you loving this chilly winter?

December 14, 2017
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19 gift ideas for high school and college graduates

Posted in Living by
This post contains affiliate links.

gift guide for graduates

It’s that time of year again – every May, high school seniors and college graduates prepare to head off on their next great adventure, and the people who love them try to navigate the best gift ideas for them. I’m a little further away from my graduations than I’d like to admit, but I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of what “the youth” need 😉 here are some ideas for both high school and college grads!

Both

Packing up was always my least favorite part of college, whether it was packing to go to or leave from the dorm. Lighten your grad’s load with a virtual gift – Amazon Prime Student offers their Prime features plus special offers for students (and you can sign up for a free 30-day trial, just like regular Prime services) or gift an Audible subscription – whether they’re walking to class or driving to a new job, audiobooks are a great way to find time to read more.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had their phone die at the most inconvenient time. Whether the battery is draining while sitting in the library late at night or while exploring her new city, a Mophie phone case or external battery can be an absolute lifesaver.

Grammarly premium is a great gift idea for anyone (and it’s no secret that I love it). The free version corrects your spelling and grammar, but the premium version makes suggestions on formatting, word choice, and even more – it will make his writing much stronger, whether it’s in Freshman English or the boardroom!

A first aid kit is probably not on your grad’s list – which makes it an even better gift idea. I love this one from Amazon – it’s packed full of stuff and the fabric storage bag means it’s going to be durable no matter where it’s stored. It’s also great to toss in a car trunk or weekend bag.

You can never have too many throw pillows – the more whimsical, the better. I’m a huge fan of this one from Look Human (much to my roommate’s chagrin.) Get something playful for their dorm or new living room, or opt for something a little more discreet.

No matter if they’re leaving their parents house or the dorms, they’re sure to have walls that need decorating. Head over to Etsy and find some artwork inspired by their college to keep their days on campus close to their heart, or show their burgeoning pride!

I never thought that I would lust for a backpack as an adult, but here I am. Quality backpacks are pricey, but totally worth the investment. High school grads might like something whimsical by Vera Bradley, or consider a Tortuga backpack for college grads (perfect for travel or the daily city commute.)

High School

Subscription boxes are super fun, and there’s one that’s curated just for college students. Campuscube lets you send themed care packages – maybe he’s stressed about exams coming up, or her first birthday away from home is coming. Or maybe you just want to send an unthemed box her way – there are options for both boys and girls. (I’m especially into the Sunshine box for her – that Flamingo cup holder though!)

If your grad is anything like me, I just guzzled down coffee in college (so really, nothing different than a normal day now.) I love these “long distance” mugs, and they can be customized so no matter how far from home she is, she’ll always have a reminder.

Sunscreen is super important. Your grad might be spending more time outside than ever, especially living on campus and walking to classes and anywhere else. Gift her some SPF – it’s something most people out on their own for the first time might not think to put on their list. My favorite is Sun Bum (and not just because of the fun name and great packaging!)

Another thing that newly independent grads might overlook is toothbrush and toothpaste – help them out with a subscription service like BOKA, which will send a dental care package every few months!

Dorm rooms can feel so stale and institutional. Using cute lighting can help tint the walls to make them feel less dull, and introduce some warmth to the room. I’ve had a sea salt lamp for a few years and love the added health benefits they tout, but no first year dorm room is complete without twinkle lights.

Bullet journaling can be a great way to organize your life, but it can also be pricey to get started. Set her up with a notebook and some pens – or if she’s not the crafty type herself, the Passion Planner will help map out her classes and stay on track with homework and social activities.

College

It’s really easy to get down on yourself after graduation during the seemingly never-ending job hunt. You Are Doing a Freaking Great Job from Workman Publishing is something she can turn to on those days when she’s not feeling so optimistic.

Get a four-piece coffee pourover set: it includes everything your grad needs to make a great cup of coffee, like a coffee maker, grinder, kettle and matching travel mug!

Whether she’s working in an office setting, living the remote life, or even navigating the part-time world, a crossbody bag like this from Free People will carry all her essentials, whether it’s her laptop, change of clothes, or padfolios.

I love candles – they’re so calming, and they give off a great ambiance. No matter what kind of scent your grad likes, it’s easy to find something that fits (even if it’s a candle that gets tucked away in a dude’s bathroom. In that case, PLEASE HEED THIS GIFT SUGGESTION!)

In theory, graduating from college should also mean moving on from red solo cups, so upgrade their cocktail game with some fancy rocks glasses. Sisters of Los Angeles has the cutest stuff, and you can mix and match cities to pay homage to a hometown, college town, and brand new city!

Graduation should mean a skincare upgrade as well, and Glossier is a line I’d love to try splurging on. Their packaging is even so cute you won’t want to hide it away in a medicine cabinet, and the reviews are consistently great.

May 12, 2017
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19 summer athleisure must haves

Posted in Style, Work Out by
This post contains affiliate links.

summer athleisure must have

Athleisure is still all the rage – thank goodness. And thanks to all the brands that are still catering to lazy girls like me (though I prefer to call it “practical” – if I wear my workout clothes all day, I’m cutting down on laundry!) If you’re looking to change up your wardrobe for summer, check out some of my favorite go-to pieces.

Mesh Panel Capris: I love mesh panels, especially for summer runs to prevent any swampiness. These plus size ones are cute too, with a fun print and pocket for a key.

Ripped Leggings: These don’t come in my size, but that isn’t stopping me from wanting to channel my inner Brie Mode. They don’t actually look like they’re all that practical, but they’d be cute for Sunday Funday!

C9 High Waisted Legging: These leggings are my everyday go-to must haves. I have four pairs, and it still doesn’t seem like enough. They’ve held up well over a year and a half, but they do tend to pick up any lint in their vicinity, so they’re not the best for someone with pets (or someone who forgets to check pant pockets before doing laundry.)

Lucy Capri Leggings: Lucy gear can be pricey, but I find it to be worth it. I had a pair of their perfect leggings for more than three years before they started to stretch and pill (and even then it was probably due to my weight gain.) They’re worth the investment, especially now that they’ve started a plus size line as well!

Criss Cross Racerback Bra: I love sports bras, and I especially love strappy, cute ones. This one would be super cute under an open back shirt, and the multiple straps can help with distributing any front heavy weight if you know what I mean.

Back Cut Out Bra: Another sports bra with fancy detailing, this one looks like it has less support but would be comfortable for lounging around the house or under a casual dress for brunch.

Criss Cross Strappy Bra: The bank on this one is still fun and creative, but it provides more support than the other two options. Perfect for HIIT workouts or long runs and still looking fab afterward.

Pizza Crop Top: Sometimes you just need a reminder of what all this working out is for. Times like that I would love to be rocking a pizza shirt – eyes on the prize. Beloved Shirts has a ton of other print tops if pizza isn’t your thing (but honestly, isn’t pizza everyone’s thing?)

Marika Dry-Knit Shirt: I’ve had a Marika shirt from TJ Maxx since 2012 or so, and it’s still in good shape. If you’re looking for something long-lasting, this is the brand for you. They dry really fast, and the ruching in the shirt isn’t uncomfortable or chafe-y at all.

adidas aeroknit Shirt: The color of this breathable shirt, plus the open armholes (to show off your cute bras) make this a winner for me. Tank tops are made for summer – sun’s out, guns out!

Goldsheep Tank: I think everyone has one of those “when I lose this much weight, I’ll let myself buy this” goal shirts. All my hours spent watching Total Divas have led me to Goldsheep Clothing, an overpriced line with lifestyle shirts and activewear leggings.

Short Stop Long Sleeve: I love to throw on a long-sleeved shirt when I leave the gym, even in the summer. This one from lululemon is cropped with a mesh panel in the back for maximum breathability while still keeping you covered up.

No Bull Women’s Trainers: I will always champion heading to your local running store to get properly fitted for shoes, but I got a pair of these No Bull shoes and I don’t regret it for a second. They’re definitely pricey, but with my documented love for buffalo plaid, I had to get them. They’re perfect for strength training workouts and very true to size.

Nike Flyknits: Really cute shoes… that I can’t wear. If these work on your feet, I’m super jealous. They’re stylish whether you’re at the gym or just hanging out.

Sun Bum sunscreen: I’m a SPF-holic, and won’t leave the house without a quick spray of sunscreen on. Sun Bum is my favorite – the spray goes on evenly and it’s pretty sweat-resistant. Don’t forget to spray the top of your head (you can thank me later when you aren’t battling the red part.) Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer is my go-to for my face.

YurBuds Wireless Headphones: When I upgraded to the iPhone 7, it meant my large collection of YurBuds could no longer easily plug in. Since my ears are a weird size, regular ear buds don’t usually fit well, so the hooks these headphones offer make them ideal. I had tried a lower cost option, but they were really uncomfortable and didn’t stick. Now that I’ve converted to wireless, it’s been so convenient – I don’t have to worry about accidentally yanking them out of my ears when moving my phone!

Quay Sunglasses: Oversized glasses are my jam, but it’s hard to find sporty-ish sunnies that fit the bill. These ones from Quay are great and I love that tortoiseshell print. I have two pairs from Quay already, so I can definitely say that they’re worth the $50!

Water Bottle: Gotta stay hydrated during the hot summer months, and I love these kinds of water bottles. The storage compartment holds your ID or credit card and a house key, so you don’t have to carry anything extra around!

Gym Bag: I will live out of a gym bag, so I need something as functional (and big) as it is fashionable. This one from Vera Bradley has a large zippered opening, plus outside compartments to easily tuck things into.

May 3, 2017
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