Thursday, October 20, 2016

Checking In: 2016 Goals

Hi there! Just popping in for my weekly blog post, since I can't seem to get myself together this month to post more than once a week.  The strange thing is I totally have posts lined up, I just cannot seem to sit down and write.  

Fingers crossed November is a better blogging month for me! :)

NOW...being that it is almost 2017!  Yep, you read that right.  We are just two months away from the new year and I just cannot believe it.  I realized that I have yet to check in with how I've been doing on my goals for 2016.  So what better time to do so then two months before it's time to make new goals for the new year.

So here we go.....

[one] Go to church more regularly. Sadly I have failed miserably with this goal.  There's no way around it, I've failed.  It's probably gonna have to carry over into 2017.  

[two] Read at least 50 books.  I am currently at 39 out of 50 books!  I'm super confident that I'll reach this goal!  I'm hoping to surpass it but thank goodness I've at least accomplished one of them!

[three] Drink more water.  I would definitely say I've drank a ton more water this year than I have in the past.  I've made sure to have a cup that is specifically designated for water.  At the beginning of the school year I bought one of those Ozark cups (aka the Yeti knock offs) and it has been the best thing ever to drink water out of.  It stays cold all day long and I even refill it while I'm at school!  WOO HOO!

[four] Be healthier.  This one has been so so.  I've tried to be healthier and I can safely say I haven't gained a ton of weight this year.  To be honest I've pretty much stayed the same weight all year round.  I wish I had done better on this front this year, but I have a feeling this will be another goal that I carry over into 2017.  

[five] Keep blogging and go to a blog conference.  Well, I for sure accomplished the goal of attending a blog conference.  I attended Thrive here in Houston last February and had the best time EVER!! I cannot say enough about blog conferences.  I learned so much and met so many amazing bloggers.  I really hope to be able to attend another one soon.  I would love to attend Thrive again this year but we shall see if I'll be able to in 2017!   

(Click here or the photo to read all about experience at Thrive last February!)

As far as blogging goes, I blogged way more in 2015 but I'm still super happy with the progress my blog has made this year.  I've learned a lot about the blogging world, what blogging means to me, and why I blog!  

I love blogging and I definitely plan to stick with it into 2017!

[six] Improve my photography skills.  I completely forgot I had made this a goal!  WHOOPS!  I really have no idea whether or not I've improved my photography skills.  I'd like to think I have.  Before the end of the year I'll have to look at all my photos and see if they've improved.  

[seven] Wear more lipstick.  This goal has 100% been accomplished.  I've worn (and bought) more lipstick this year than I have in years passed.  I'm finally comfortable wearing darker and brighter shades out in public.  Now I don't always wear it but I can safely say I wear it at least 5 days out the week.  (Even if I forget to reapply it during the day).

[eight] SAVE MONEY.  Failed.  EPIC fail on this one. alone has made me much more aware of my spending.  I don't eat out as much now, plus it helps that I don't live in a place where I drive directly past Chick-Fil-A and Whataburger every night!  But I'm hoping 2017 will see more success in this area and I think it will.  (hopefully.)  I might be able to save a little more by the end of the year but it will be no where near what I thought I'd be saving.  


Well there ya have it.  Four out of four isn't bad if you ask me.  I wish i could say that I accomplished  all eights goals but hey, I'm human.  I'm looking forward to 2017 and writing brand new ones.  

How have you been doing on your yearly goals?! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Your Next Favorite Book: September Reads

It's almost becoming a tradition for me to start every month with the books I read the previous month.  And you know what?  I don't hate it.  (After I typed that, I realized I really have only done this the last two months, so question.  Is it a "tradition" if it's only happened twice?  Probably not but oh well.  

So full disclosure, I wish I dedicated more of my time to reading.  But I love TV almost as much as I loving reading so I split my time with both.  However I think the next few months TV might be taking a bit of a back seat because I am currently 12 books away from my goal of a messy 50 books for the year.  I was really hoping to surpass that goal but if I do surpass it, I'm pretty sure it will be by just two or three books.  Which is fine but I was hoping to surpass it by 15 or more.  Ce la via!  

Alright lets get to the books I read the month of October.  I've been pretty steady at reading 4-5 books per month the last was no different.  But unlike last month, I really really liked all four of the books that I read!

So lets get to them shall we?!  

Goodreads Synopsis: The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

My thoughts:  I have been waiting for this book for over a year and it did NOT disappoint!  It's the 5th book in the Throne of Glass series.  I started the series last year and fell completely in love with it and thankfully the 5th book was no different.  I love the way the story is going, I love the characters,  and I love the setting.  I also love that Sarah J. Maas does a great job connecting all of her books.  This one was no different.  I can't say too much because I don't want to spoil the book and the series, but trust me, this is as series you want to read.  I think I've said this before but I'm gonna say it again, if you decide to read the series, start with Assassin's Blade.  It's actually a book of novellas that she wrote after she finished the 3rd book i believe.  But starting with Assassin's Blade will help you understand the main character SO MUCH BETTER!  And will help you enjoy the later books much more too!  I won't say why, but just know it does!  :)  

BAH...I love these books! :)

Goodreads Synopsis:  Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

My thoughts:  This is the second series by Sarah J. Maas and y'all, it's just as good as the Throne of Glass series.  I may even be a little but better.  I personally like the sequel as even better than the first book, A Court of Thrones and Roses.  Which is weird for me because very rarely do I like a sequel more than the originial.  But it is 100% true of this one.  The characters are so much more developed in this novel, the world of High Fae is explained in more detail and you get completely submerged in Feyre's world.  AND THE ENDING!!!!!  OH MY GOSH THE ENDING!! SO GOOD!  Sorry I'm yelling but it really was that good.  It has me desperate for May!  That's when the third book comes out. 

Sarah J. Maas is on a roll y'all.  She's got two very successful series and they are both so good! I can honestly say she's become one of my favorite authors.  I know I'll read just about anything she writes from here on out. 

Goodreads Synopsis:  Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.
New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

My thoughts:  Of course I couldn't get through the month without another World War II historical fiction novel.  And boy was this one heavy.  I loved reading the different perspective of the three different women.  I will say that I found that I probably could have done without Caroline's portions but I know why she was included.  She as the author's original inspiration for the novel.  But I would have been perfectly happy just reading from Herta and Kasia's point of view.  This was definitely one of the heavier World War II books I've read.  It felt a little more person because the focus was on women in concentration camps and I just cannot imagine having gone through what the ladies sent to the Ravensbrück  concentration camp went through.  I will say I was a tad disappointed with the end of book.  I felt that it ended very abruptly and I wanted more.  

This book is definitely worth the read but be prepared for lots of emotions when you're done.  Plus the cover is gorgeous!  I may or may not have bought the hardback version just to add it to my bookshelf of pretty things.

Goodreads Synopsis:  One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One NightsThe Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

My thoughts:  I added this book to my tbr after seeing it on Kristen's photo of the 500 library books she checked out.  Ok it wasn't 500 but close! ; )  Anyway, I saw the title and it caught my eye so I added to my TBR list, and then spoke with some of my reading teacher friends who had already read it and they said it was good.  So I trekked to my own library (I'm trying to save money) and wah-la!  Loved the fact that it's based in the Middle East.  I rarely read books based in that part of the country and so it was a very refreshing read.  I loved the detail she gives about the food, clothing, and daily life in that part of the world!

 I was very impatient while reading the book though because I was dying to know why these brides were being killed.  And of course you don't find out until the very end of the book. I will say I would have liked a little more of an introduction at the beginning.  I felt like the book jumped right in and didn't really set up the beginning very well.  That was one of the things that prevented me from giving it five stars on Goodreads.  I'm excited to read the sequel though because I'm hoping we get a little more development in the relationship between Khalid and Shahrzad.  I didn't quite buy their love story in this book, which is another reason I didn't give it five stars.  But I have a feeling it develops much more in book two!  

Even though I only gave it 4 stars I still really enjoyed the book.  

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed every since book I read the month of September.  I recommend them all to everyone.  In my humble opinion they're all worth reading! ESPECIALLY the books by Sarah J. Maas.  She's talented y'all!  Real talented! :)

Happy reading!

Linking up for:

Life According to Steph

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Common Guide to A Few Uncommon Goods

Last week, I mentioned that I've been struggling with decorating the bookshelf in my living room.  Then the first day of fall hit and I was able to add a bunch of my fall decor to it and I feel much better about the feel of the overall shelf.

But my brain keeps going to after the holidays are over and all that decor is gone.  I still need a few items to fill in the missing spaces.  I'm still planning to scour my favorite home decor stores but I've also realized that I need to start taping into the online market way more than I do.  I hardly ever buy things online.  I have no idea why, but I just like the feel of buying stuff in the store and bring it home more than having to wait for it to come in the mail.  Plus if I buy online and I don't like the item, I have to go to the post office to send it back and that's a pain.  

However, I do realize that there are some amazing websites with some great decor items that are out there and waiting for me to find.  And wouldn't you know it, one of those sites has actually found me!  So today I bring you a short little guide to one of my new favorite websites!

Before hearing from the team at Uncommon Goods, I had never heard of their website.  But I am so glad they are now on my radar because they have some really cool stuff.  A lot of which I think would work perfectly in my apartment.  

What I love is how unique their merchandise is.  Most of the items on their website are provided by artists and smaller manufacturers so you're not likely to find them in the stores you visit on a weekly basis.  In addition they work with those artists and manufacturers to make sure the products they create are made in a socially and environmentally conscious way.  You can read all about their mission here.

I'm excited to share a few of my favorite products from their website.  These are all things that I think would add a little something extra and personal to my little space.  A lot of them incorporate my love of travel too.  I've been trying to find a way to incorporate that into my apartment and Uncommon Goods has a ton of great stuff!

Here are few of my favorites!  

Here are a few more of my favorites that aren't necessarily travel themed. 

                                                8. Hand Embroidered State Pillows

The other thing I LOVE about Uncommon Goods is the fact that they really cater to the gift market.  I'm in the phase of life where all of my friends are either getting married, celebrating anniversaries, or having babies and Uncommon Goods is chalk full of fabulous unique gift ideas for two of those types of friends.

I seriously spent about 2 hours browsing the website trying to decide which of their wedding gifts would be perfect for two sets of friends who are getting married this fall.  Then I found out that they also do personalized wedding gifts and the decision was even more difficult.   I was able to settle on two items that I think both of my friends are going to absolutely love and I am super excited for them to get them.  

I want to share a few of my favorites because I think these would be good for just about anyone that's getting married!

9. New York Times Anniversary Book   10. Date Night Bucket List  11. Personalized Lazy Susan                
                                                           12. Personalized Cutting Board

One of the best parts about Uncommon Goods is that their website has something that will fit everyone's budget.  The items above range from $18 to $150.  The personalized items are going to be pricier but are so fun and cute that I think they're worth it.  

Now to browse through more of the wedding gifts check out their collection here.  If you're interested in the personalized wedding gifts click here.  You can also browse their anniversary and bridal shower collections here and here.  

I am so glad I was introduce to the Uncommon Goods website.  I know it's going to be a site I come back to when I need to uniquely uncommon gift for a friend or family.  And even when I need a little something uncommon for myself!

This was a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Uncommon Goods.  However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Currently- September

Happy Wednesday friends!

It's the last week of September (I'm sorry what?!) and I am in shock that it's already over.  We will officially be in October on Saturday, which means my Halloween decorations will be out and I will be a very happy camper.  I just can't bring myself to put up Halloween decor before October, just like I can't bring myself to put up Christmas decor until after Thanksgiving.  But I will say it was so hard to keep myself from buying more Christmas decorations at Hobby Lobby yesterday. 

Ok I'm babbling.  Let's get to the point of today's post shall we! 

I AM.......

Reading.....Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  It's another WWII historical fiction novel that follows 3 girls during the war.  I have a feeling this is going to be a super deep novel.  So I'm actually doing something I rarely do and that's read two books at once.  I'm reading one of my cheesy romance novels at the same time.  That way I can balance out the deep stuff with some light and fluffy nonsense.

Watching..... This is Us.  If you haven't seen the pilot, then you need to crawl out from under your rock and watch it.  Because it is amazing!  I'm so glad that good TV is finally back on.  My DVR is loaded and sadly I'm having to do most of watching on the weekends because my weekdays are so busy.  But that's ok!

Wishing....I was better at keeping a planner.  I SO want to be the type of person that uses their planners day in and out.  But if I'm 100% honest I completely forget to use it about 85% of the time.  I usually just end up using my phone but I love planners and so I keep buying them and partly using them.  I spelled barbecue sauce on my most recent one so I'm in the market for a new one.  That I won't use.  It's a problem.

Feeling....pretty darn good!  Y'all we are officially into the fall season and are 2 days away from officially being in the "holiday season."  I finally decorated for fall and lite my very first fall scented candle this week.  And it was glorious.  I am so ready for the holidays it's not even funny!

Thinking about....trying out two things.  First, Stitch Fix.  A few of my friends have tried and seem to really like it.  But I'm worried that the clothes I'm sent will be too expensive because I really don't spend that much money on the clothes I buy.  The clothes that I've seen are super cute though.  So I may try it for a month or two and see what I get and decide if it's worth it.  Second, one of those meal prep food things.  You know like, Blue Apron or Hello Fresh.  I love the idea of having everything I need for two or three meals sent to me with the recipes and all.  Seems so convenient.  So I think I'm gonna try that too!

Looking forward to....THE HOLIDAYS!  Lots of fun stuff is coming up in the "ember" months and I am so excited.  I have a trip to Kansas, a wedding, Thanksgiving, a Disney trip in December, home for the holidays, and obviously Christmas itself!

Wanting....cooler weather.  It may be officially fall but the state of Texas has yet to receive any fall like weather.  Not surprising at all since it is Texas but still.  If I'm smelling fall inside I want to be feeling fall outside.

Loving....The Preppy Printshop on Etsy.  I plan on buying 4 prints from her shop and now I'm just trying to decide which sizes to get.  These two are my favorites!

                      Watercolor Pink Peony                                                      Reading is Cool wrap my head around the fact that I am now licensed to drive a bus!  Yep, you read that right.  I can now drive a school bus.  I passed my Commercial Drivers License test yesterday.  I literally never thought I would ever be driving a school bus.  Like ever.  But I be driving said bus with 36 girls packed on it on Thursday! And earn a whopping 20 extra bucks doing it!


Alrighty, that's all I've got.  Hope you have a happy hump day!  Two days to the weekend! We can do it! :)

Linking up with Jenn and Jess for What's Ha-"Pinning"!

PS.  I have been slacking it big time on responding to comments the last couple posts!  Please know that I read each and every one of them and I appreciate them so so much!  I'll get my act together this week and get on top of replying! :)

Friday, September 23, 2016

I'm Guest Posting - 5 First Time Traveler Tips For Europe

Happy Friday Friends!

Popping in to say that I'm guesting posting over at The Wandering Weekenders!  Ashley and her hubby just got back from their very own European vacation and since I went on my trip 2 summers ago, she asked me to share some tips!

So I did just that!  Head over to her blog and you can read all about them!

Have a great weekend! Catch ya on Monday! :)