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The Mile Markers of Life

21 November 2018
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash
I recently made myself read another Kristin Hannah novel. As per usual it destroyed me and will likely haunt me for years to come. My poor book has some serious water damage.

I like to keep notes whenever I'm reading.  I always have, but these days I'm finding it much more convenient to keep those notes via Litsy. Are you on there yet? I've found I'm much more likely to scroll through that timeline and look back on my notes than I am with any of the many notebooks scattered around my home.

While reading The Great Alone I stumbled across a quote that made me stop and think. I touched briefly on this via Instagram, but I quickly realized that I wasn't quite finished with my reflection. Don't you just love when something in a book makes you spend some serious time reflecting?



Books are the mile markers of my life. It's a simple little line that packs punch and for me, at least, I think there is some truth to it. What follows will be a little bit of a timeline of some of those books that stand out as the mile markers of my own life.

I found one of these books on Mrs. Herr's shelf in the third grade. I initially read the series all out of order, not understanding that there even was an order to such things. The first one I read was the one that has the storyline where the girls find Arabian Nights on Elizabeth's parent's shelf. I remember being so surprised by it, because Mrs. Herr had been raised Amish and seemed super stuffy. Maybe she didn't know what was in the book, but I'll be forever grateful that it just happened to be on her shelf. It was the one that really ignited my love of reading.

I bought this at the book-fair in 5th grade all because Kim bought it too. It was such a magical tale and it helped me to realize that there are all sorts of stories out there where anything you could possibly think of could and would happen. My copy barely has a cover at this point and I cannot wait to share it with my kids.

Harry Potter was forbidden in my home, so I bought it anyway on the recommendation of Jamie who said it was his favorite book. I hid that book and stayed up late every night until I finished it, then I hid it in the laundry basket. Why I thought that was a good place I'll never know. Maybe I wanted to be caught? My mom found it and asked me about it. I told her that she was wrong and that she should try reading it before she decided it was bad. She did and then my dad did and I received the next two in the series for Christmas.

This was the very first grownup book I ever read. To be honest, I was probably a little young for it, but I loved it. From that moment on I hardly ever returned to the kid's section of the library.
I became incredibly depressed during my first semester of college. I had done that stupid thing where I followed other people to a place that I didn't even really like because my first plan didn't quite pan out. I learned about the importance of a backup plan real quick. These books helped me through that semester and for that I will always be grateful.
This is one of the books I read when I made the biggest leap of my life. I moved across the country to Utah where I knew only a handful of people. Books definitely kept me company and this is the one that sticks out the most.

I got into audiobooks during the time I was driving around interviewing for a post college job. This was the book I was listening to when I went on the interview that resulted in said post college job. 

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell -

I started grad school right after my undergrad program ended and I remember feeling so intimidated. You see, despite doing well in school I've never really thought that I was very smart. This was the first book we read and we had to post a discussion essay about it for everyone to see. I was incredibly stressed and then I read some of the other essays and realized that maybe, just maybe, I was more intelligent than I gave myself credit for.
This is the book I was reading when I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter. The author happened to make a stop at a local bookstore around the time that I finished, so I went and met her. She remains the only author I have ever met, but it was just a cool reading experience all around.

This is one of those books I read in the witching hours while up with my first. Knowing that I would be reading this book made it so much easier to get up. I got through it pretty quickly, because my daughter NEVER slept.

My husband and I went on a little anniversary trip when my daughter was a little over 2(?). I brought this book with me, so that I could really relax by the pool and maybe worry a little less about how little e was faring with Grandma.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah -

I read this while pregnant with my second. I was highly emotional and borderline narcoleptic. This was the right book to keep me awake and resulted in a good cry. 

Loving What Is by Byron Katie -

This book helped me to changed my thinking about so much. It also has helped me better manage some anxiety and depression that keeps popping up. I would recommend that everyone takes a look at it.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett -

I still don't completely know what I want to be when I grow up, but the essay, The Getaway Car, helped me realize that I would like to try to write. I would really like to see my name on the spine of a book in my local library. Now I just need to do it and keep doing it!

Are there books from your life that you would consider mile markers?
What are they?

Might as Well Face It. . . .

16 November 2018

The other night we had the rare opportunity to leave the house for a date night. The world was our oyster and we were positively giddy about it.

I leaned over to T to excitedly conspire, "What should we do? Should we go somewhere where you have to actually sit down and leave a tip?"

"Only if you promise not to throw food!"

T and I are different in many ways, but are able agree on many of the more important things in life, such as the fact that pizza is really the perfect meal. We shared a pizza, topped with all the things our children hate, and then decided to give in our craving for dessert. But where to go?

Our favorite little spot had closed down for good a week before. I couldn't help but feel guilty as I recalled that the last time we had been there had been a solid two years before. The feeling passed and a quick Google search pointed me in the direction of a "dessert studio" nearby.

Now, I've never been to a place described in such a manner, so I was a little apprehensive. I quickly scanned the menu to ensure that chocolate of any variety graced the menu, but didn't look at it too closely.

I knew upon walking in that this was not my scene at all. A cluster of high school (?) or college aged  (?) kids were at the standing tables, all taking photos of their food. I looked around and imagined that they had likely also taken numerous selfies in front of the whitewashed, exposed brick wall. If only I knew their handles for Snapchat, Instagram or whatever kids are using these days.

I ventured over to read the menu more closely. There were a bunch of strange concoctions and I felt the panic rising in my chest. Turkey and cranberry ice cream? Bleu cheese and raspberry ice cream? Spumoni is as crazy as I go. Where were the normal flavors?

I turned to the dessert menu, desperately hoping there was something familiar. I spied the word brownie, ignored all the other ingredients that accompanied, and placed my order. Then I saw the tip jar.

The tip jar is a relatively new phenomenon for me. I first saw them in drive-thrus at places similar to McDonalds. Then I saw them at pizza places. Now I'm seeing it here.

I'm confused by these tip jars. Are employers no longer responsible for paying their employees? What exactly am I tipping for? You pressed a button, filled up a cup, and handed that cup to me. Good job, little buddy?

I understand the need for a tip when I go to a place with actual table service or tipping an attentive bartender or barista. I have no problem tipping in those scenarios and will happily tip more than the "recommended" amount, but these jars. . . .

After dessert I wander into Forever 21 in search of a basic striped tee. I walk in and have to walk back out to make sure that I'm in the right store.

It's hard to describe what has happened to this store, but basically it's as if the seventies, eighties and nineties exploded and left the strangest mashup of articles behind.

I wander in a daze and see my face reflected on the face of a woman who is likely in her late sixties.

It startles me and I do a double take, making sure that I'm moving a part of my body that she is not. I sigh, in relief. She is not my reflection, but she might as well be. My grand night out has resulted in a shocking revelation.

I might as well face it, I've become. . .old? Irrelevant? I don't know, but 29 sure feels like the new 60.

An Honest "About" Page

10 July 2018
We're all under construction

I've always enjoyed reading "About" pages on blogs. It seems that everyone attempts to put their best foot forward, while being creative enough to make them stand out from the crowd.

While I enjoy reading "About" pages, I really hate writing an "About" page. 

I don't have the type of story that would get me casted on any reality tv show. I haven't done a lot of exciting travelling. I'm very much a homebody who enjoys board games and reading. I'm not convinced that there is anything in particular that would set me apart from everyone and their grandma.

I recently stumbled across a blog's "about" page where I found the following words, "under construction" followed by the blogger's name. Now I know she is likely just in the process of rewriting, but if that isn't actually the most accurate about page for just about anyone then I don't know what is.

Aren't most of us continuously in the process of reinventing ourselves? Aren't we all just a little bit under construction?

I know it can be so hard to remember that no one is really as put together as their social media makes them appear, but for the sake of our sanity we need to. 

In those moments when we feel intimidated just remember we're all kind of faking it to some extent. 

In those moments when you elect to let someone else make the first move, reexamine. 

In those moments when you find yourself frustrated by someone else, remind yourself that they may be experiencing some serious internal construction that you know nothing about. 

May your internal construction help shape you into the most spectacular palace! 

It's Okay to Change Your Mind

09 July 2018

One of the many things I have always hated about politics is the inevitable moment found in just about any debate when one of the candidates will call out someone for being a flip-flopper. As if it's a bad thing to change as you continue to learn and grow. 

As if it is untrustworthy when one is able to see and potentially understand many different sides of an issue. If it were any other sort of situation, wouldn't we be inclined to think of such a person as empathetic?

Granted, there are times when it becomes apparent that something like money may have resulted in a change in opinion. That's a different ballgame that I do not support.

This month marks 10 years of Utah residency. As I've been reflecting on who I was when I arrived and who I am at this moment I've realized that the way I see the world has changed.

My opinions on some subjects have been strengthened. My beliefs in others have morphed and in some cases have dissolved entirely. I am not the same person, but all of those original beliefs have definitely played a role in shaping my journey and where I am in that.

All in all, I no longer fully believe that all leopards are incapable of changing their spots. Despite what others may say, you are allowed to change your mind and so is everybody else. 

I think that danger comes when we refuse to question and examine our thoughts and beliefs. When we refuse to evolve or refuse to allow that evolution for organizations and others around us. 

Maybe we spend less time name calling and feeling defensive and more time listening. Maybe we try spending more time meeting others where they are in an attempt to really understand where they are coming from. Maybe we try to be open to the possibility that we don't really know anything, so that we can remain open to learning. 

Things I Am Bad At

06 July 2018
I'm Bad at Riding a Bike. . . Now You Know

I haven't been on a ton of job interviews, but I have been on enough to be asked the classic "What are your weaknesses" question at least a handful of times.

The answer is obviously chocolate and free food. Did you really have to ask?

I always strive to channel a politician, aiming to skirt my way around the issue. Spinning the weakness into an asset. Attempting to turn it back to the interviewer. Maybe I'll try an insightful question to wrap it up. 

By the end I find myself almost convinced that maybe this weakness isn't such a bad thing after all. Maybe I'm actually kind of awesome, which never really lasts very long. The self-talk over here can be truly brutal at times, but that's not unique. Aren't we all our own worst critics? Besides the truly narcissistic among us. You likely don't know who you are, but we do. 

With that said, I'm not trying to spew negative self-talk all over this post, but I do want to take some time to acknowledge some of the things that I'm just not awesome at. 

Some of these things I want to improve upon and I hope that my public acknowledgment will prompt me to make some changes. Some of these things just do not matter to me and I hope that my acknowledgement of that will help me move on to things that I actually want to spend some time on.

Things I Am Bad At That I Do Not Care to Improve


Running


I hate running. It's so boring. It hurts my knees and I wish that Doctor would have taken me seriously and written me a doctor's note saying that I am only to run in the event that mine or my children's lives are in danger. 

Painting Rooms


Again, boring. Also messy. I almost always end up with paint on the ceiling, even when I take forever with the taping step. Whenever I paint a room I always find myself wishing that life could be just a little bit more like Sims.

Networking


When I am consciously attempting to network or watch others really network it just makes me cringe. It almost always feels insincere and slightly sleazy. How can we use one another to further ourselves? I will say though that I would like to improve upon my ability to have worthwhile, memorable conversations with others with no strings attached.


Things I am Bad at That I Would Like to Improve

Follow Through


I have all of these ideas of things that I want to do. I'll be super gung-ho about them and then I just kind of fizzle out. I think it's a combination of laziness and not being realistic enough about time and my current capacity of what I can handle. I think the key to this is to start being more realistic. Start scheduling my time better. Stop wasting time scrolling through the lives of others via social media.

Being Thoughtful


Growing up I moved a pretty decent amount and back then when you moved it was a lot harder to stay in touch with others. I just elected to not do that, but now I truly suck at keeping in touch even with people who are fairly close by. 

I find myself thinking about people and then let it slide on out without doing anything about it. I really want to work harder to stay in touch with others and make time for them. Maybe I need a spreadsheet or something. 

Riding a Bike


I am really bad at riding a bike. Something about the two wheels and my lack of coordination just don't mesh all that well. I also flipped over my handlebars quite a lot as a child, so even a little dip in the road can be frightening. I would really like to get better at this though, because it's going to wound my precious ego when my kids can ride better than me. I mean, unless they are like BMX kids. In which case I never really stood a chance anyway, right?

Tell me about your most thoughtful friend.
Also, be honest, what are you really bad at?

My Top 6 Favorite Reads of the First Half of 2018

05 July 2018
My Favorite Reads of the First Half of 2018

I like to think of my reading in terms of March Madness brackets. I'm always trying to keep track of which books I enjoyed and stacking them up against each other until one emerges victorious.

If you're hoping to improve your reading life during the second half of 2018 then I highly recommend you check out one of the books below!

1st Quarter


11/22/63 by Stephen King - 

When you see the name Stephen King you probably conjure up images of terrifying tales. Some of us run to such books and others run as fast as possible in the opposite direction. For the record, I'm in that second group. This book is not a typical King book.

If you like historical fiction or have ever wanted to time travel then I promise you that you will devour this book. It's a long book, but one that I flew through in about a week. It's that good. I would even go so far as to say that this might actually be one of my favorite books of all time.

Still Me by Jojo Moyes  (Via NetGalley) -

Me Before You gave me a serious book hangover. I fell in love with Louisa and her bumblebee-striped tights. I was felt so invested in both her and Will's lives and I wanted more. I was so disappointed with After You, because it didn't feel like the right ending.

When I discovered that there was going to be a third book I was thrilled. I couldn't wait to see where Louisa would go. Still Me is a great addition to the series and now that I'm finished I suddenly understand why After You have had to happen.

If you two enjoyed Me Before You then you really need to finish the journey. It's so worth it.

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar -

My four-year-old and I have begun to venture into the world of chapter books and this was one of our first. It's a memoir of sorts about a girl who gets in a terrible car accident and has to have her lower body in a cast for many months. Despite her situation she manages to blossom and grow. It's an inspiring tale that will leave you feeling all the more grateful for the ordinary in your life.

2nd Quarter


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman -

I've decided that if people want to get to know me, then they should read this book. I came into this world an Ove, essentially a grumpy old man, and if someone can't see the humor among these pages then they likely won't enjoy my company.

This book is not action packed, but is more a character and a community study, namely what happens when a community is thrust upon a man who has had none. 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng -

It's official. Celeste Ng has solidified her spot on my "I Would Read Even a Cereal Box if it was Authored by this Person" list. This book is just so, so good and explores so many things that I think many of us deal with and can relate to. It's such a complex novel that will make you think about your own life, as all the best books do. If you are among the few who have read this book, then please change that this year!

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James (Via Netgalley) -

This book was not at all what I had imagine it would be. It was SO. MUCH. BETTER! If you are looking for a book that will creep you out, keep you guessing, and flipping pages then look no further. I now plan on reading all of Simone St. James' backlist and everything she publishes in the future. It was that good.

Linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books.

6 Books You Need on Your TBR

Accepting the Reader Within & A Six-Letter Word

06 April 2018
Meeting my inner reader and kicking one word to the curb.

I'm finished with the second category of the KonMari Method, books.

I've been experiencing a quarter-life crisis for a few years and I feel like I'm finally coming out the other side. All of this organizing is actually really helping with that. It's funny, I never thought that going through my stuff would tell me so much about myself.

My Book Cleansing Method 


The technical KonMari rule is to get rid of all the books you haven't read yet and only keep those books that are actually useful that you will refer to again. I'm a book lover, so that filled me with some serious rage and I knew that wouldn't work for me, so I tweaked it.

I made myself read the synopsis of and the first couple of pages of those books I haven't yet read. If I felt like I wanted to keep reading, then I kept it. If not, then away it went. As for the books I have already read, I've only kept those books that I loved enough to want to be able to lend them out to others who may also love them.

Meeting My Inner Reader


When I started my decluttering of all the books, I found myself feeling some guilt when I realized a trend among those books that didn't spark much joy for me. My undergraduate degree is in English. I really only picked the major because I love reading and discussing books and found myself gravitating towards those classes anyway. 

Because I spent so much time and money on literature courses, I have found myself being guilty of gravitating towards those books that I thought I should read. The thing is, I very rarely like those books. I don't want to read and re-read the classics, but I always thought that I should be that person. That it was expected of me. 

The Six-Letter Word I'm Trying to Kick


Last summer I had a handful of therapy sessions where I realized that a lot of the things I have done in life and a lot of the decisions I have made are a result of one word, should. I should do x,y, and z. I should be or like x,y, and z. All of the shoulds were clouding my vision of who I actually was and what I actually want to be, so we worked to eliminate the shoulds to get to what it is that I want.

Discovering What I WANT To Read

After going through all of my books, I have a better idea of what books I want to read. I want to read books that are fairly well-written. I prefer realistic fiction, but do enjoy some magical or science-fiction elements. I enjoy some chic-lit, but cringe and giggle like a schoolgirl at adult content. I really love when a writer can surprise me and throw me off course.

With that said, I do also want to occasionally step outside of my comfort-zone, because I think that sort of challenge helps keep me on my toes and provides me with the opportunity to grow. I want to be more mindful though when making selections like that and make sure that I don't feel like I have to finish it if I don't like it.

Do you struggle with the shoulds in your life too?

The Words That Mean The Most

04 April 2018

I developed a bad taste for poetry sometime during high school. I think the exact moment was a poetry presentation in 10th(?) grade. We were all assigned a poem from the textbook and it was our job to give a presentation on the poem, the technique, the meaning, all the fun stuff.

I've never really cared to understand the technicalities of poetry.  I know Shakespeare was a huge fan of iambic pentameter but if you asked me to define what that is, I'd probably find a way to change the subject. I don't spend my days pondering the poet's word choice. All in all I'm probably a failure as an English major. 

Anyway, back to that presentation. I know I spent a lot of time on that presentation, but the only thing I remember about it was that the meaning I took from the poem was "incorrect." Hearing that changed my feelings about the poem that I had read over and over again and grown to love. 

I subconsciously boycotted all talk of poetry throughout the rest of my education. I read it, when required, but I refused to connect with another poem again. Why bother when the meaning I took away from it could be incorrect? Then, one day, shortly after graduating from college, a poem found me. 

'The Journey' by Mary Oliver has been hanging somewhere I can see it for about six-and-a-half years now. It's a poem that has reminded me of my purpose and has helped me carry on when times get hard. At the time it found me I had no idea what curve-balls would come my way. This poem reminds me daily of what I can and cannot control. It reminds me to be true to myself and to listen to my intuition. 

Some time ago, I read the fabulous book Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center. It's up there as one of my favorite reads, so if you haven't read it, then you really should. In the novel there is a character who carries around a portion of a poem and that poem gives him strength. It doesn't say how he found this poem, but I'm willing to bet it found him just like 'The Journey' found me. That's the thing about poems, you will find your poem when you least expect it and when you do you may find that you like poetry more than you initially thought you did. 

I'm not running out to read poetry anthologies, but when this poem no longer fits I hope that a different one will find me to take its place. 

What poem has special meaning to you? Do you have a favorite poet?

Reading FOMO: Spring 2018 - Books I'm Afraid to Read

30 March 2018
My first round of Reading FOMO is complete. I managed to read two out of the three books that I committed to read. (Beartown and This is How it Always Is) I do solemnly swear to read Hum if You Don't Know the Words by the end of 2018.

As I look forward to the next 3 months I have decided to pick out 3 books I have been afraid to read. Yes, you read that right. Despite numerous recommendations, I have been avoiding these three books because I am afraid of them. 


Why do these books scare me?

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - 

I read Hannah's Winter Garden a few years ago and it still haunts me. I don't think I have ever cried so much or have ever been so annoyed with an ending. I did, however, love that it presented a perspective I hadn't really seen before. I'm terrified that this book will destroy me like that book did.

Luckily, the sun is coming out more these days so my seasonal depression seems just about over. Will there be enough sun though? I'm really starting to doubt my life choices right now. Should I wait until summer for this book?

The Martian by Andy Weir -

I should probably let you know that I did see the movie version of this. I should also let you know that I didn't particularly enjoy it. I don't really enjoy space exploration movies, but they say the book is better than the movie. Hopefully that will be the same for this. 

I'm afraid of this book because I'm worried that I won't get through it. I'm worried that it's going to be too technical for me and go over my head. With that said I've seen lots of different people read and love this book, so I think I should at least give it a try because it really seems that I'm concerned most about my own pride.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini -

Both this and A Thousand Splendid Suns have been recommended to me by so many different people and they are both rated highly. The fear I have for both books is similar, but only one is currently taking up some valuable shelf space.

In regards to that fear, I think what I'm most afraid of is that this is another emotionally taxing read. I like emotionally taxing reads because that usually indicates that the writing was good and I connected with the story. I also hate reads like that because it also usually ends with me feeling depressed and in a weird funk that takes a bit to shake.

Have you read any of these? 
Are my fears valid? 
What books are you afraid of?

5 Tips to Help You Better Curate Your Dream Closet

28 March 2018
Build your dream closet

During my last pregnancy I found myself suddenly obsessed with curating my closet. Something about being in my late twenties with two children made me realize that I'm not in college anymore and I don't want to dress like I am.

I spent hours on all of the sites, saving outfits that I thought were "my style," which is honestly still very much in progress. A few months after he was born I started purchasing items to make my fashion Pinterest dreams come true and a weird thing happened.

These outfits that I had envisioned for myself that I now owned? I didn't wear them and found myself not wanting to wear them.

I have spent some time reflecting on the mistakes I made by trying to follow fashion bloggers and have a few tips for you to avoid those same errors and really make your Pinterest dreams come true.


1 | Pay attention to the body that is wearing the outfit, you think that you want. 

This seems so obvious to me now, but when I was in the thick of it and saw an outfit I liked I just pinned it without much examination. Then when I actually owned the outfit, it didn't look right.

Turns out that some of the women who were inspiring my outfits are significantly smaller in weight and stature than myself. If I had taken the time to do some digging then I would have realized that.

The moral of the story is that what looks good on this blogger or instagramer may not look good on me because we may be two very different body types. Spend some time to find someone who is built more like you and you will be more likely to find shapes of clothing that will fit similarly.


2 | Figure out which colors you look good in!

Some people can really pull off neons and pastels. I like those colors, but I am not one of those people who looks great in any of the above.

One of the best things that I did was to sit down and figure out what colors I am attracted to and what "season" I think I might be. If you're interested in playing around with seasons then I really like this chart

I'm fairly certain that I'm a Soft Autumn and a Soft Summer, (neutral skin tone ya'll!) but I still love me some black. I'm a firm believer that you should ultimately wear the colors that you feel the best in. Black makes me feel like a grown up so I'm not leaving it behind, however, knowing what colors flatter me influences the rest of my outfit. I try to work in those colors in my completer pieces (cardigans, jackets), accessories and shoes. 


3 | Try out different sizes.

If you find something you like then try it out in your size and one size larger and smaller. I originally started doing this because I saw a picture a blogger somewhere posted showing the differences in each size. I wish I could find it! She was normally one size in shirts, but the fit of the smaller size looked so much more polished on her.

Sizing between brands and even within brands is not super consistent. You may just find that you prefer the look of the larger or smaller size. In the past I would have just written off the item as not for me, but maybe it could have worked!

4 | Don't be afraid to think outside the box.

You do not have to buy the exact same pieces that someone else is wearing. When trying to recreate an outfit try to figure out what it is that you like about the outfit. That is what you should be trying to recreate.

For example this pin, this pin, and then this pin made me examine my closet and put together this outfit:

What I liked about the first pin was that is felt kind of edgy and cool to me. What I liked about the second pin was the monochromatic color scheme with a random burst of color in the accessories. What I like about the last pin was the mixing of patterns. I took all of those things I liked in those three outfits and created an outfit I feel pretty awesome in. By the way, my shoes were green. 


5 | Take pictures.

When you are wearing an outfit you love have someone take a picture of you. When you are wearing something that you don't quite feel right in, have someone take a picture. 

When you do this you can start to actually see what it is that makes the outfit work and what can be done to improve it. You start to realize what colors and silhouettes make you look awesome.

 On the flip-side when you are wearing something that doesn't feel quite right and you aren't quite sure why you can compare it with those outfits that make you feel like a boss. Many times you can quickly figure out what the issue is. For example:

There are so many issues with this outfit. The shoes are just the beginning! There is no structure to the top, cardigan combo. I should have at least done some sort of tucking with that top. I needed a longer necklace to make it interesting. 

Some things you can't see that I have since realized about myself? I hate sweaters with buttons. This sweater is also super itchy, so I feel uncomfortable. That shirt was tight in the shoulders. Also, it turns out I prefer infinity scarves. 

I still have this sweater, because I like the color, but as soon as I find a similarly hued cardigan it's out of here. All of this to say that you may feel silly taking pictures of yourself in clothes, but with time you will feel more sure of yourself and your style.

I like to think that in the long run doing all of these things will save me some serious time and money, but that's still just a theory that is yet to be officially proven at this point.

Sharing my top 5 tips for curating your dream wardrobe so that you will have clothing that makes you feel confident and classy.


What I Learned From Broken Arch

26 March 2018
On our way to Broken Arch




Last weekend I took my pregnant self, my two-year-old, my husband and his buddy to Arches National Park. It was a truly magnificent place with some of the most beautiful sunsets and scenery I have ever seen. I don't know how many of you have been hiking with a super pregnant person and a two-year-old, but between potty breaks and sudden interest in a random dirt patch, we definitely slowed things down. 

I enjoyed many of our hikes, but, to be honest, I was so focused on making myself go just one more step that I didn't really take the time to truly appreciate the journey, until we reached Broken Arch. 

The walk to the arch itself seemed like it would never end.You walk across this huge meadow that has zero shade and my constant thought was, "Are we there yet?" It's the moment that we reached the arch that became exciting. 

If you look into the arch you can see some rocks and behind those rocks is a rock face you can walk up to see what is on the other side and continue on the trail. There is some distance between the rock face and the ground, but there is a log at the base you can use to boost you up. The rock face also looks quite steep from the ground. I can't even begin to tell you how much I wanted to see what was waiting on the other side. 

Base of Broken Arch


I'll  admit that when I got to the rock face, my  initial reaction was that I couldn't do it. I physically would not be able to make it up. For one, I can't bring my knees up to my chest due to my enormous belly. Secondly, surely I would tumble down this rock face and I didn't even know where the nearest hospital was. I told Tom to go up ahead and take a picture of the view while I waited with little e. This way I would at least get some idea of, what I was certain was a magnificent view. 

He climbed up ahead and yelled down to me that I needed to see this view for myself. He claimed the climb looked much worse than it actually was, but my husband is practically part mountain goat so this claim meant very little to me. All of a sudden I thought about a book I had listened to just a few weeks before. The book had to do with women in the workplace, but it turns out it also has thoughts that can apply to Broken Arch. 

As I stood there debating with myself, Sheryl Sandberg's question popped into my head, “What would you do if you weren't afraid?” My inner debate ceased and I realized I would stop placing limitations on myself.  I would see what was on the other side for myself. Why not at least try? 

My whole little family made it up that rock face and the view did not disappoint.

View from the arch

After this climb, little e and I found some shade at the base of Broken Arch so that Tom and his buddy could explore further. While sitting there I was able to observe no less that forty different people as they approached the arch. As I observed I noticed a trend. Everyone seemed to want to know what was beyond the arch, but not all thought it was something they could do. 

Almost every man I saw went straight to the rock face and climbed up. There were a few women who did the same, but for the most part they gave up before they even tried. For those women I spoke up, and told them that it looked much harder than it actually was. I let them know about the reward waiting at the top of that brief climb, the magnificent view. As a result, many of them ended up going up the the face to see it for themselves. After all, as Sandberg says, “We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.” 

There was one particular woman though who did not. I could see how much she wanted to see the other side. She walked over to the base no less than three times, but could never muster up the courage to just do it. She needed to, "shift from thinking, 'I'm not ready to do that' to thinking 'I want to do that- and I'll learn by doing it." Even though she will likely never find it, this post is mainly for her. You need to know that you are much stronger and more capable than you know. Stop doubting and holding yourself back, because you're missing the view. 

Lean In by Sheryl SandbergBook Mentioned in this Post:
Author: Sheryl Sandberg











*This post was originally posted in October 2016, but as March is Women's History Month it seems fitting to repost. 

The Skincare Routine that Makes Me Feel Luxurious on the Daily

05 March 2018
Sharing my experience with the 10 step Korean routine for skincare and my take on the routine.

*This post is going to be a long one, so brace yourselves. Also, affiliate links because I want to keep trying all the things!*

I am just so, so excited today, because I think I'm finally on the right path for my skin. You guys this is huge. Before we get into what path I'm currently on and the products that are changing my skin, let me give you a little background information.

My Battle Against Acne

When I was 18 I spent a lot of time complaining about the little hormonal acne I would get. My Oxy pads didn't seem to fight them hard enough and those damn Proactiv commericals were just so very convincing, so I switched over to Proactiv right before I left for college. 

I'm sure there were numerous factors that led to my sudden case of cystic acne. I was depressed. My diet was kind of all over the place. I do feel though that Proactiv didn't help my skin at all. Either way I had painful cystic acne all over my face. It was embarrassing and seriously messed with my self-esteem. 

Since that time I have tried so many over-the-counter and prescription products. I have been on Accutane, it was awful. I have been on Spironolactone, which, by the way, has a rare side-effect of causing vision loss. That was fun. I tried out Doxycycline, the same drug that you use for Malaria and Lyme disease. I tried Tea Tree Oil and Crude oil. I took dairy out of my diet. I mean, you name it and I've probably tried it at least once over the last decade.

Some of those things did make a positive difference, but none of those things made a difference that would last. None of those things really improved the overall quality of my skin. All of the things have felt like a chore. 

Korean Skincare

I started getting interested in Korean skincare and beauty quite a few years ago, but at the time the products I wanted to try weren't accessible and were very expensive. The thing that interested me the most is that it seemed to be doing that exact opposite of both my dermatologists (I've seen 5)  and beauty magazines had been advising and prescribing. 

Instead of stripping my oily, now sensitive, skin with harsh chemicals the steps in Korean skincare routines seemed to focus on adding more moisture. Going on 2 months ago I looked into at least trying to replicate the process with whatever similar products I could find, because literally nothing else had worked, so really what did I have to lose?

Much to my surprise the world has become even smaller and products have become more accessible thanks to Sokoglam.com and, my personal favorite, Amazon. I got to work slowly using up products I had and introducing new products to the mix, with the overall goal of my own 10-step routine day and night. 

I know it sounds like a lot, but it's actually not bad. I'm not going to get super into what the thought is behind all of the steps, but will instead just show you the products I am using and sharing my thoughts. If you want to learn more about the process there is some great information here or you can check out The Little Book of Skin Care by Charlotte Cho. Both have been such a help!

Here is a little before and after, after following a 10-step process for about a month. Granted, the lighting is a little different, as is my hair color, but I think you can see a reduction in fine lines, scarring and an increase in overall brightness.

My skin before I started and about a month after.

My Skincare Routine

This is a work in progress and I actually have some more products on their way.  I'll keep you posted on those. 

I'm currently using a mixture of western products and Korean. Some of these things I will probably be switching out. Unless otherwise stated, I use these products both in the morning when I wake up and in the evening before bed.

1 | Makeup Remover & Oil Cleanser

I didn't realize that I needed these to be two separate things until today. I had just been using Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for this step and it does a pretty decent job removing makeup, but it's obviously not oil based. I plan on modifying this step by using Banila CO Clean It Zero (Purifying) when it gets here on Tuesday.

2 | Water-Based Cleanser

I have been using Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam and I really like this product. There are a lot of different cleansers out there, but this one is very affordable and works well.

3 | Exfoliator

I use my chemical exfolitator twice a week. Right now I'm using AHA+, which is leftover from my journey using the Acne.org system. I may look into some other options, but have a decent amount of this to work through first. 

4 | Toner

I've been using Dickinson's Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner, but have since learned that it's actually pretty harsh on your skin. I'm still in the process of researching toners, but will let you know when I find one to replace this.

5 | Essence

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence for the win! I pump a little bit out and gently tap it into my skin. If you could only buy one thing to add to your skincare routine I think that this should be it. 

6 | Treatments

Right now I am only using Skinmiso Pore Minimizing Serum. I have definitely noticed a difference in my pore size, so it seems to work. It also smells really good. I simply tap it into the affected areas until it's soaked in.

I just ordered Klairs Vitamin C Serum to use in addition to the above. This is supposed to help minimize pores, but it is also supposed to really help with acne, scarring and hyperpigmentation. It has good reviews, so I have high hopes.

7 | Sheet Masks

I only do this twice a week on the same nights that I exfoliate and this is probably my favorite part of the whole thing. I have been using the Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Masks. It's a variety pack and it's the least expensive option I have found. 

So far my least favorite mask has been Gold, smelled like a motel room to me. My favorite is probably the Snake Venom. It made my face feel all tingly, so you know it did something

It's recommended that you rub the excess all over your hands, neck and your face. Don't let it go to waste!

8 | Eye Cream

I received a sample of Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Power Eye Cream and that stuff is amazing. It definitely works, but I'm not entirely sure that I want to pay $47 to continue using it.

I plan on finishing up that sample, but have already purchased LilyAna Eye Cream Moisturizer. It's not a Korean product, but the reviews and the pictures are very promising. It's also significantly less in price.

When you are applying eye cream, you are supposed to use your pinky finger to tap it in all over the orbital bone. Don't get too close to the lash line though!

9 | Moisturizer 

I was originally using Neutrongena Hydro Boost Water Gel and LOVED it, however, I found myself going through the container fairly quickly which was adding up financially. No bueno.

I'm cheap and wanted to explore less expensive options. Costco had an Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculping Cream coupon and everyone and my Grandma seems to swear by this stuff, so I took the bait. 

While this Cream has some similar ingredients to the Gel I had used before and I appreciate that I seem able to use less, I am finding that it seems to be clogging up my pores a bit. It's manageable for now, but I'll be exploring my options further.

I've changed my approach to how I apply my moisturizer and that has also made a big difference. Bye bye puffy morning eyes! Here is a video showing you what to do. It feels amazing and I do it every single time I do my moisturizer.

It's also recommended that you do a sleeping mask on occasion. I have Birch Juice Hydro Sleeping Pack on its way and will report back. 

10 | Sunscreen

This step is only in the morning. It's suggested that you reapply your sunscreen throughout the day, so I am leaning towards purchasing the Missha All-Around Safe Block as it looks like it would be easy to add over any makeup.

Do you remember when everyone was crazy about BB Creams? I'm telling you right now that the BB creams in America are subpar. Missha M Perfect Cover is a freaking miracle. I've linked to the shade I have been using, but you can click around and check out SokoGlam.com if you think you may want a different shade.

TL;DR If you only have the money to add one thing to your skincare I would start with sheet masks! It feels luxurious, adds hydration, and plumps up your skin. I would also suggest putting on your moisturizer while also giving yourself a lymphatic massage. Again, it feels luxurious, is free, and eliminates so much puffiness!

Sharing my experience with the 10 step Korean routine for skincare and my take on the routine.

22 Blogging Prompts to Reignite Your Passion for Writing

28 February 2018
Writing Through March

As my little guy has become very mobile, my daily habit of trying to write everyday has become harder and harder to accomplish. Okay, maybe my time management skills have also gone downhill. I'm really hoping to figure out and schedule some set times in March to hone my craft not just here, but creatively as well.

Coming up with things to write about is really easy for me. The actual sitting down and writing part always feels much more difficult. Just in case you feel the itch to write, but aren't quite sure where to begin, here are 22 more prompts to ignite some creativity. You can find all of the prompts here.

Set a timer and write away! If you happen to share your response on your own online space, I hope that you will leave me a comment or send me a quick note to let me know. I'd love to see what you come up with.

Without further ado:

March Prompts

1. Write about your last great indulgence.
2. What is something you lost from childhood that you wish you could have back again?
3. Think about someone you feel has wronged you. What would it take for you to move past this?
4. What is one thing you would change about your life?
5. What is your favorite part of the life you are currently living?
6. Write about your experience with sports.
7. How do you feel about holidays for every little thing? Do you like them? Not so much? Why?
8. What are 5 things that you know for sure?
9. What do you feel is worth the splurge?
10. What just isn't worth splurging for?
11. What have you loved about this winter?
12. What are has been hard for you this winter?
13. What 3 books / shows / blogs (any form of entertainment) have inspired you in the last year?
14. Make some predictions for your life next March. What do you hope to have accomplished? What do you think will be the same?
15. What is your price when it comes to your morals or ethics? Does everyone have a price?
16. What have you learned about yourself recently?
17. Simplicity or abundance?
18. What is something you want to learn more about? Now what are you going to do about it?
19. What do you look for in your entertainment? What do you avoid?
20. In what ways are you limiting yourself? Why?
21. How do you get motivated to do something?
22. What is your least favorite household chore? How can you make it fun?

22 Writing Prompts