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spring favorites 2018

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SPRING IS HERE!!! Along with it, I have some new favorite things. Let’s jump right in, because I have a lot ot say this time!

Netgalley: I love to read – surprise! Reading on my Kindle has really ramped up my reading rate lately, and Netgalley is part of why. It’s a platform for publishers to issue galleys and advanced reading copies to readers and reviewers, then collects feedback to send back to the authors and publishers. You don’t even have to be a blogger to sign up – if you regularly post reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, you’re just as likely to land books for review. It’s a really great way to save money on your reading habit and discover new authors and books. If you’re interested in some of the titles they have, I denote Netgalley books in my book club posts. I’ve requested more than one based on the cover or title and had them turn out to be among the best of the year!

Gregory Workman backpack: It’s been a long time since I was a backpack wearer – even in college, I didn’t use them often. Now that I’m using public transit more (which is a good thing!) but the tote-style bag I had been using doesn’t cut it. It’s so much weight on one arm, so I started looking around for a better backpack. I found this Gregory Workman on sale at Sierra Trading Post, and I’ve really been liking it! The quality is good, there’s a built-in laptop case, and there’s not an overwhelming number of pockets in the name of hyper-organization. This purchase may also mark my cross over into official adulthood – there was a “cuter” bag on the website I considered, but this one seemed better quality and more functional. Huh.

Quip: I’ve never had an electric toothbrush – it just hasn’t seemed worth the hassle, especially when I’m still living off stockpiled toothbrushes (thanks coupons!) Boyfriend splurged on a Quip membership a few months ago, and I get the hype now. The toothbrushes have built-in timers so you know exactly how long to brush each quadrant of your mouth, and the toothpaste is really good. The toothbrushes look really nice on the sink top too (I have the gold metal one, of course.) It also comes with a travel case for easy transport and each refill includes a mini travel tube of toothpaste, too.

No. 7 Stay Perfect Foundation: I fell in love with Lancome’s Teint Idole Ultra-Long Wear foundation a few years ago, but man, it is pricey. Nothing else compares to it, though (not even the Fenty foundation that everyone loves. I find it to be really drying and that it doesn’t look very smooth on my face.) Last weekend I decided to do a half-hearted Google search for some dupes, and there were one or two reviews of this, so I picked it up at Target. (I forgot how frustrating it is to try to get a good skin color match from the drugstore.) This is probably the best drugstore foundation I’ve ever used. The texture is great (not drying even without moisturizer,) great coverage, and a little goes a long way. It also has SPF which is a big win for me. The shade I got is a touch too light, but I’ve been mixing it with Lancome’s Skin Feels Good foundation (super creamy and light, also with SPF) and it’s a good match until my summer skin kicks in 😉

Jervis Cottonbelly’s Twitter: I’ve talked intermittently about liking wrestling before, but it’s largely something I’m “in the closet” about. (I even wrote an essay about that for a zine full of smart and funny girl wrestling fans!) One of my favorite wrestlers, Jervis Cottonbelly, is an excellent Twitter follow if you’re into wrestling or not. He’s very motivational, optimistic – and, even better, talks openly about his mental health struggles. Every morning, he posts some affirmations for the day – something I need, for sure.

What are your favorite things this month?

May 8, 2018
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monthly roundup no. 8, april 2018

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The end of April has to mean that this long slog of winter and cold weather has to be on it’s way out. Right? RIGHT?!?! As we ease into yet another weekend that’s too cold to leave the house, here’s some reading from the past month.

Confession: I like wrestling. It’s goofy, it’s funny, it’s storytelling – and wrestlers are real, complex people. Jervis Cottonbelly, my favorite indie wrestler, is often vocal and open about his history with depression and anxiety. Earlier this month, his suicidal ideation led to a hospitalization. His blog post, On Sweetness and Suicide, is a great read for insight into not only what the hospitalization process is like, but also how it feels to have these thoughts you don’t want.

I’ve used Evernote for quite a few years, and I really like this post on how their CEO uses it and stays organized. The idea of assigning a theme for each workday is something I started doing recently, and it’s really helped my productivity to be able to think (and tell co-workers) when something isn’t on the docket for that day.

It’s little secret that Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid is my favorite book, and it tripped me out thinking about the hundreds of different lives we could have depending on the choices we make. Turns out this is an actual physics concept, and I’ve been reading a lot about the multiverse and many-worlds theories of quantum physics. Just some casual reading for your Friday. 

6 Apps That Will Streamline Your Investments Starting Now: I’m really focusing on getting my finances in order this year, and that includes setting up an investment or 401k account. I’m relying on breakdowns and reviews like this from blogs I trust to help cut out some services to help put me on the right track while I research the best option for me. 

My Boston BFF and I are OB-SESSED with these money diaries. They really hearken back to when I first started getting into blogging and almost exclusively read personal finance blogs. Man Repeller has them too – the comments on theirs are often much less toxic or judgey – they definitely make me feel behind on my savings for where I am in my life now, but tracking my spending as though it’s a diary is making it a lot easier to to consistently track. (Today is day 23 – consistency!)

For the last several years, I’ve been feeling the crush of what it’s like to be an only child. This post from The Everygirl puts many of my concerns together – specifically the first and last points. My built-in support system is very limited, and I think a lot about what will happen if my parents die (and now that my mom is sick, I feel a lot of the responsibility on that,) but that kind of freedom can also be a real blessing.

I don’t know why this is sponsored content from Taco Bell, but we’ll go with it. The Muse posted an article with scientifically-backed tips on creativity, and I will admit that I wish it was a little more informational – I don’t need any more encouragement to grab a beer – but it’s a nice reminder sometimes that you could be too “into” your ideas and need to take a step back into your daily tasks, or even reset with a nap or shower.

I’ve really been enjoying the Girlboss blog lately (and the new layout took some getting used to, but now I’m really into it. I hope it was built by women.) They recently featured an article about guitar badass Sister Rosetta Tharpe – she was a killer on electric guitar and probably the first rock ‘n roll woman. She gets overlooked far too often, so do yourself a favor and read their great primer on her.

April 27, 2018
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monthly roundup no. 1

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link roundup

IT’S ALMOST SUMMER! We’ve had a few summery days here in Chicago, and the early sunrises are helping with my mood and my energy levels. Thank goodness. I really needed this drive to come back and get me motivated to get things back on track – I’m always squirreling away resources to help get organized, work on personal development, or whatever else. I’m a big fan of Pocket to do that, an app that lets you tuck away articles to read for later. Even though I’m a super fan, I don’t always excel at going back and revisiting things I’ve packed away. At the end of the month I’m going through my Pocket to empty it out, and I’m sharing the highlights with you in this new series (along with other useful things I find around the web!)

27 Ways To Stress Less: This is another roundup post, so it’s a bit of a cheat. But it pulls out the best quotes from different posts about managing stress and anxiety, which makes it perfect for those times you really need to chiiiiilllllll.

I’m Not Good With Money Anymore and I’m OK With That: I’ve long loved The Billfold – I used to spend hours in my Virginia office poring over each post. The relatable and cool tone of the website resonated with me a lot more than any personal finance blog ever did, and I’ve continued to read it over the years. When this post popped up a few days ago, it was almost like a relief. For a long time, I was Very Careful with my money. I was smart about how I spent it, how I saved it, and even helped friends make smart budgets and debt payoff plans. Over the last year, I’ve been much less smart about my own finances. It has really worn me down, but this post makes me feel like that will be okay.

How to Realistically Cut Back on Technology: Since I not only blog but also have a fully online job, I constantly feel like I’m staring at a screen. I’m trying a couple different techniques to combat that, like deleting time-sucking apps and making weekly trips to the library.

What to Tell Yourself When You Feel Behind in Life: There seems to be a trend in my favorite articles this month – most of them revolve around reducing stress or relaxing! I think I’m hitting that sort of midlife crisis. Being surrounded by people getting married, buying houses and having babies (even if those aren’t things I thought I’d want) is getting to me a bit – or maybe it’s the incessant HGTV I’ve been watching. Either way, I’ve been feeling “behind,” so sometimes I need the reminder that I’m really doing alright.

27 Stylish Bathing Suits You Can Get on Amazon: Good ol’ Buzzfeed. This post got me. I’m a sucker for bathing suits (I really hate clothes, I guess) and I’ve been working to reduce the number of suits I have around… but I ended up buying this bad boy. All banana leaf everything. (I’m tempted by the one-pieces too. JUST PUT ME ON A BEACH!)

Natalya on Making Their Way to the Ring with Lillian Garcia: So I’m kind of a closet WWE fan. I watched when I was little, then during a pretty severe depressive episode last year I would put it on for some background noise. That evolved into a Total Divas binge when I felt better and now here I am, a year later, with a few live events under my belt and more knowledge of wrestling than I ever intended to have. Podcasts as background noise is one of my favorite work soundtracks, and Nattie is one of my favorite wrestlers. This is a great interview, and she talks about her eating disorder and how working out helped her overcome it.

Ways to Avoid Blogger Burnout + Tips for Self-Care: Carmen has become one of my favorite bloggers, and this post was super timely. I love her focus on helping bloggers be successful, but after a few months of working really hard on two blogs – burnout hit me. During my scheduled blogging time, I was finding it really tough to hammer out even one sentence I was proud of.

Hope you have a great weekend planned! I’ll be soaking up the Chicago sun and working on some special mailing list opt-ins (think actionable worksheets and eBooks!), so be sure to sign up to get them as soon as they go live. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter too – I’d love to check out your weekends!

April 28, 2017
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2017 goals: welcome to the new year

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For the first time in quite awhile, I feel like there’s some stability in my life. I’m (hopefully) not travelling as much this year, I don’t have any massive moves planned in the near (or far) future, and I finally feel like I’m having more down time to focus on myself again. I’m setting some big goals this year and using my Passion Planner to help me achieve them. (This isn’t a sponsored post, I’m just delighted to have one!) It’s helping me make things into actionable items and keeping them more concrete instead of non-specific ideas like “be more positive.” I have eight goals that I want to really focus on achieving this year – here they are, in no particular order!

  • Meditate: I’ve had the Stop. Breathe. Think. app on my phone for a few months, but I rarely use it. The times I have found myself making a conscious decision to not give in to the anxiety and panic and instead focus on this and really give it a try, it has helped a ton. I really want to focus on making use of it to relieve some of those feelings I get throughout the day.
  • Grow blog: When I lived in Nashville, I found myself always saying I wanted to really focus on my blog again, but never actually following through with many actionable steps (or even updates.) The last few months I’ve focused on maintenance and regular updates, and I found a community I want to join. There’s some other great stuff on the way as well!
  • Run two halfs: I miss running desperately. My plan was always to do the Chicago Rock ‘n Roll half in July, and I’d love to do Grand Rapids in the fall since my schedule is accommodating more races now.
  • Make $5000 beyond my regular job: Honestly, compared to what I used to bring in across various side hustles, this number seems small. But there are a lot of other things I want to do (like focus on running again,) so I’m just shooting for a small, attainable number.
  • Pay off credit cards: I was always The Girl With No (Consumer) Debt. That changed over the last few months due to some impulse buys and really feeling too lenient in feeling entitled to treat myself, so this is a pretty big priority. (I also have to work on shifting the entitlement mindset I’ve developed but… baby steps.)
  • Volunteer: In college, I volunteered regularly, and even went on many service learning trips. It made me feel great to give back, and I’d like to focus on getting back into that practice this year.
  • Read 15 books: I love to read, but I haven’t been doing it as much lately – even my beloved audiobooks aren’t holding my attention. I only read 12 books last year (and came in right under the wire with that number, at that) so increasing slightly feels attainable.
  • Start lifting again: I miss lifting weights desperately. The high of picking up heavy things and putting them down, rinse, repeat: it was the best shape I’d ever been in. I felt unstoppable, like I could do anything or defend anyone, and that’s something I miss terribly. I’ve started doing some preliminary research on gyms in the area to join, but it’s going to be so hard to start over and not be able to pick up where I left off years ago.

What are your focuses for 2017?

January 1, 2017
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November Recap & December Goals

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November was a little busier than I anticipated – more time spent in the city than I expected, and a lot more family time than I thought with different family members coming in early and staying later than normal during Thanksgiving. I’m writing this from New York now (to continue on the 2016 travel tour) and starting to think about what I need to do this month to (first of all, survive the rest of this year, and also) start 2017 off on the right foot! Read more…

December 1, 2016
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