Travel Bucket List

I figured it would be a fun way to pass the time, dream of the days when life is back to normal, to talk about our Travel Bucket Lists. I have a lot of places that I would like to go in my lifetime, as I’m sure a lot of people do, and I figured it would be fun to compile a master list of places. I am going to mark this down as a page on the site as well so that when I cross a destination off, I can link the blog post to that specific page and maybe give someone else an easier way to find by destination. Honestly, I am starting to get that wanderlust, that ache for travel, and I figured this would be a good way to feed that a bit.

I am going to break this down by “continent”, then by places I would like to go back to and re visit other areas, and then by the places we’ve already been (for linking purposes). I WILL NOT be going into super specifics on cities within countries or such on every location as I am still researching specifics. For now, this will be countries/states/and some cities if there is something specific.

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So, here we go, starting with Places I would Like to Go

Europe

Greece

Romania

Hungary

Croatia

Slovenia

Slovakia

Poland

France (I know we’ve technically been to France, but it’s only one city for one night, doesn’t count)

Ireland

Spain

Switzerland

Lichtenstein

Portugal

Denmark

Sweden

Norway

Finland

Latvia

Lithuania

Russia

Iceland

Greenland

Africa

Morocco

Egypt

Israel

Cyprus

South Africa

Asia

India

Thailand

Vietnam

Myanmar

Malaysia

Philippines

Japan

South Korea

Indonesia

Australia

New Zealand

North America

Canada

United States (again- I’ll have to break this one down as I’m from the USA and have already traveled several states)

Mexico

Belize

Cuba

Dominican Republic

Costa Rica

British Virgin Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands

South America

Colombia

Brazil

Argentina

Chile

Those are all the “new” places. Now I am going to touch on the places we’ve already been that I would like to go back to (and link the original posts about those places). Most of the places that you may have noted as missing above are actually places that we’ve been, and I would like to go back to.

Here are those places:

Britain (our first trip was to London and Dover, I’d like to go back and go to Bristol, Cotswold’s, and a couple other spots)

Scotland (our first trip was to Edinburgh and Inverness, I’d like to go back and go to Skye, Galloway, Aberdeen, and many many more spots.)

Italy (our first trip was to Rome (Parts: 1, 2, 3 ) and Vatican City, but I’d like to go back and go through the Tuscan region, as well as down the southern coast)

Czech Republic (Our first trip was Karlovy Vary, Prague, and Lidice, I’d like to go back to Prague, and to Pilsen).

Austria (we’ve been to Salzburg, but I would love to go over to Vienna, Linz, and Innsbruck)

Germany (gosh, where to begin? We are currently living here and have done Berlin, Dresden, Neuschwanstein, and a bunch more castles, but there is so much more I want to do in this country)

And now, last but not least, the places that we’ve been (most of these are linked as places above that I would like to go back to):

The Netherlands (we’ve done Amsterdam and Keukenhof– which I would actually be very up for a return trip to as I LOVE it in the Tulip Fields)

Calais, France

Belgium (I would be a for a return trip here too to see more of the country)

England (Dover, London)

Scotland (Edinburgh, Inverness)

Italy (Rome 1,2,3 and Vatican City)

Czech Republic (Prague, Karlovy Vary, Lidice)

Germany (Berlin, Dresden, Neuschwanstein/Fussen, Nuremberg, Hohenzollern, Lichtenstein Castle, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Berchtesgaden 1,2)

Austria (Salzburg)

My Favorite Small Business

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to create an actual post of this, but better late than never! In this time, we are finding even more reasons that supporting small businesses and creators is vitally important. I know a lot of businesses are suffering with having to close their doors and many are resorting to purely online ordering (which means anyone can support them!). This is also a trying time for many bloggers as well as they are finding the uncertainty, the lack of travel, and broken contracts to then lead to a lack of income. This whole situation has had quite the trickle-down affect and I am trying to do my little part to help others as much as I can.

So, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite shops in the hopes that something you see sparks your interest or purchasing option (if you are in a situation to be able to), or at least to find some new accounts (bloggers, instagrammers, etc.) to follow and support with engagement (comments, likes, sharing). I will also be sharing some of my favorite bloggers/instagrammers so you can send some love their way as well by following or liking/commenting/sharing. Bloggers are in a unique situation (in both positive and negative ways) and I think they need support just as well as small businesses.

And now, I’m done babbling, let’s get shopping and following…

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Rachel Allene (website): I think if I could say one thing about Rachel’s shop, products, and social media it would be wholesome and feel good. She offers up mugs, gratitude journals, shirts, prints and hats all with a cohesive “find the good” message. Her items make the perfect gift for friends  & family (or a cheeky little gift to yourself) and I’ve definitely been eyeing some of her newer products.

Taylor Wolfe Shop (website): Taylor Wolfe does the best snarky clothing you’ll ever find. I’ve loved most all of her designs, and her unique sense of snarky humor has been a daily joy to follow on Instagram. Too many times she has had me rolling, laughing so hard. I’ve ordered her Social Distancing Club sweatshirt and am looking forward to lounging in it!

Grins & Grace (website): This is a mostly t-shirt store, with a couple little bonuses that does parenthood/motherhood designs. I really love their designs and am going to be purchasing some in the next bit of time.

Sarah Pike Pottery (website): This is a hand thrown clay maker who focuses on mugs and teapots. She doesn’t always have stock on hand and when she does it sells out very quickly…BUT I have LOVED everything I have seen from her work. It’s incredible and she makes every bit of it from the mugs and pots, to the stamps she uses. It’s incredible to follow along on with the process on social media and then purchase when she updates her stock.

The Bookshelf (website): I highly recommend sourcing books through your local, independent bookstores rather than Amazon. If you don’t have any local small bookstores that are taking orders (whether online or curbside), then look outside your town for online ordering, but focus on the independent stores. The Bookshelf is in Thomasville and they have a great selection and are operating online (with curbside pickup if you are local). You can also give their podcast, From the Front Porch, a listen.

Powell’s Bookstore (website): Another, much larger, independent bookstore with used book options. Powell’s was actually forced to let go of a lot of employees and close when the lockdown occurred, but with the surge in online orders they have been able to rehire and stay afloat. Consider ordering from them as well as they are a huge resource for the upper Northwest Region. They are a bit delayed on the shipping front, due to the surge of orders, but you should still get your books in great time and you are giving back to a great store.

And now for some content creators to add to your follow lists (aside from the businesses above, which I would highly recommend following)!

Beth Sandland (website): Beth is probably one of my favorite people to follow. A lifestyle blogger who is one of those genuine souls on the internet, she talks about life, travel, and some fashion/beauty. She also runs a book club and shares some book content as well.

Helene In Between (website): Helene lived in Europe as a blogger for 3 years, so not only is she a wealth of information on the traveling side of things, BUT she is a wealth of information on all things social media as well. She chats daily life, books, products, and is a fun follow.

KelsConverse (website): Kels is one of the most genuine, positive, yet realistic people that I follow. She talks everything from finance to travel to her gorgeous photography. She also sells those prints, so if you are in need of some new artwork for your home pick some up from her.

Peruse Project (IG/YouTube): Regan is a booktuber and fashion/lifestyle Instagrammer that I love watching. On YouTube she talks books and movies/tv shows and on Social Media she is sharing fashion snaps along with the world around her.

BooksandLaLa (IG/YouTube): Kayla is just one of those people that I love to follow. She talks mostly on books, but occasionally shows her personal life and I just enjoy her content. If you are looking for someone who has excellent insight and book commentary, but isn’t… “stuffy” then check her out.

And that is pretty much it! There are so many different creators out there, both in business and just blogging to support. I hope that you have found some new people to follow and places to shop. Leave a comment down below of some of your favorite businesses down below and I’ll check some out!

 

Binge-able Books/ Book Recommendations | Spring 2020

Going along with the bingeable theme of the week (catch my Bingeable TV HERE), today I am going to share some book recommendations. All of these books are books that I think are perfect to just dive into and get lost in the story. These aren’t all necessarily read in one sitting books, but they are all books that are easy to read and enjoyable. I’ve divided my list up into different categories which I’ll explain as I go along. I tried to keep it to three in a category, but in some cases I went over and had a couple Honorable Mentions.

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First up, it’s “Light/Fluffy” books. These are the books that are just what they are at face value. There isn’t a deeper story to fall into (although you can make one) but rather books that you can just binge read in one setting.

The Secret Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams (Amazon): This is one of those cozy town mystery books that revolves around a bookstore in a small town as its main location. This particular book is the first in a series that is just a nice little mystery, easy to read in one setting, and some fun characters.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan (Amazon): This is a fun romantic contemporary about a woman who seems to lose it all, only to find her true life calling. Set in the backdrop of the highlands of Scotland this is the PERFECT read in one day romance there is. Like the above, it is just a nice little story to read.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (Amazon): I mentioned this in my bingeable tv, but I think the books are absolutely incredible. This is probably the one book out of these three that is a bit “heavier” and can be read a bit deeper. This book (and series) mixes romance, with drama, science, and history in a way that I just really love. It also features a character that I see myself in so much as an adult and has a much more realistic relationship form (once you get past one bit) in the storyline.

Next, I’ll be touching on some “Young Adult” books to read. I kind of go back and forth about how I feel about the whole concept of “young adult”, but these are books that aren’t quite adult in nature and may be a bit easier to read.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (Amazon): A Beauty and the Beast retelling that has a parallel universe to our modern-day D.C., I really enjoyed this take on the classic tale. We have a great main female character who doesn’t take any sh*t and stands her ground from start to finish. This is an easy book to read, and the second book is even better than the first.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (Amazon): A Sherlock Holmes re-imagining following his descendent as she goes through an elite, private boarding school. Don’t worry, Watson’s descendent is there too and together they solve some eerily familiar cases throughout the four books of this series. This would be perfect if you wanted that cozy mystery feel, but at a boarding school.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Greene (Amazon): Again, my third rec is a bit darker than the previous two, but I absolutely love the way John Greene explains mental illness in this book. It is plain and clear exactly what the character feels, how it can affect her life, and different (or the lack thereof) coping mechanisms that people can use.

If you are wanting a “Reality TV Style Guilty Pleasure” read, I think the following will definitely meet that…

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Amazon): I absolutely adore this trilogy of books. These characters are just obscene enough to allow you to escape to their elaborate lifestyle, and there is just enough drama to let you forget about your own. If you are a fan of any iteration of Real Housewives you will absolutely love this whole trilogy. Highly bingeable, I read each of the three books in two days (a book).

A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter (Amazon): This is honestly just pure paranormal romance and I’m not ashamed to put it on here (…ok maybe a little ashamed). This was probably the most guilty pleasure read I’ve had in a long time and I loved every minute of this high paced, vampire, book mystery romance. Be prepared for some steamy scenes.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Amazon): Alright, here’s the deal…these books are not the best written, they are not the best at really anything other than delivering the best drama and trashy that you just know you want. It’s a love to hate situation as I know they are really not the best out there, but man did I eat all three books up so quickly.

Moving on to some of the more “serious” books now with some “Darker/Thriller” esque titles to read…

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (Amazon): If you want something dark, with questionable themes and characters, then I would highly suggest this book. Karin goes dark (with maybe not an entire reason), but she did a great job at keeping my attention and making this longer book paced perfectly to keep me reading late into the night.

You by Caroline Kepnes (Amazon): Ok, another I mentioned in my bingeable tv post, but I LOVED this book. The creep factor is 100% there and the entire book had a spooky element that I hadn’t read before (at the time I read this a few years back). Neither of your main characters is likeable (really none in the entire “cast” is) and it is the definition of picking the better of two bad people to root for.  I highly recommend this one, even if you’ve watched the TV show.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (Amazon): This wasn’t my favorite thriller, but I still really loved it and I flew through it in a day or two. There are some major twists that the reader doesn’t see coming and it is paced in a way that, again, you won’t want to put it down until the end.

I’ve got to give an honorable mention to Stephen King and his Mr. Mercedes series (Amazon). Three compulsive reads that are scary because they could be real and really good reads overall.

Now, for a few “heavier” book topics. These aren’t longer, heavier, anything, but rather the topics are a bit heavier than what I’ve listed so far.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Amazon): This is one of the most incredible books that looks at some very serious family dynamics and topics. Celeste Ng is one of the most beautiful writers that I have read that writes contemporary and I’ve loved both this and Little Fires Everywhere.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (Amazon): Did you really think I was going to put a couple of heavier titles out and not include this gem of a book. This will definitely be a tissue grabber of a story, but it is so incredible and so worth it. It gives an insight to some of the powerful people in World War 2 that we don’t often recognize.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thompson (Amazon): Honestly, this was THE book on gun violence that I wanted because it contains the best conversation on gun violence (the conversation that I’ve always wanted to have). This is classified as a young adult novel, but it is so beyond worth the read. This is still a hot button conversation that needs to take place.

I’m going to insert some Memoir recommendations here, before my last fiction section…

Educated by Tara Westover (Amazon): The story of Tara’s life dealing with survivalist parents who didn’t believe in a mainstream life, and an abusive childhood, this story was incredible. She talks about what her childhood was like, how she educated herself, attended some of the prestigious universities, and came out of her trauma a better person.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (Amazon): This was easily one of the most incredible memoirs I’ve read. Written by a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with lung cancer, Paul tackles the question of “What makes life worth living”. Paul passed away while working on this book and I think that makes it all the more poignant of a read.

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou (Amazon): In this memoir Maya Angelou talks about both her own relationship with her mother, with her grandmother, and then her own relationship with her son and her life as a mother. This was incredible to read as she has such insight in dealing with a mother who may not have always been considered the best.

A Couple of honorable mentions would be The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Amazon), which was great and talked about a strong women conquering a childhood that was not the norm. I also enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (Amazon) which gave insight to a childhood and life in the belly of America.

Finally, let’s talk about some “Long” Books. Books that are bigger, longer, more in depth stories, but still worth the read and time to read.

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (Amazon): I never thought I would love a book that was about building a cathedral as much as I loved Pillars of the Earth. Ken has a way of spinning a story, creating characters, locations, and plots that you absolutely love, and have you spellbound within the story. These are long books, but amazing ones.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Amazon): This book is incredible. I hadn’t read a High Fantasy novel in ages until I just dived into The Name of the Wind. There is something that feels very “everyday” to this story, not as if you’re in an entirely different world.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Amazon): My very last recommendation is not as long as the other two, but it is a denser read and so incredibly worth it. It’s a beautifully written story, a story for readers and authors alike. I honestly think everyone needs to read Zafon at some point and now is a better time than any other. Dive right in and escape into his vivid story.

I am going to give an honorable mention to Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (Amazon) (the only of his books that I’ve read- and based on it I would probably recommend his others). I loved the politics of this story and the overall premise. He does a great job at creating this world and I really enjoyed the book. I am also going to give an honorable mention to a book that I am currently reading which is Priory of the Orange Tree (Amazon). This behemoth of a book has a story that has Asian inspiration, is high fantasy court/political intrigue, and has dragons. I am still reading it so I can’t be fully sure of the recommendation, but so far so good!

Since I included this on my bingeable tv shows, I figured I would share some of the books that are on my radar. I am currently participating in a readathon, so I won’t be getting into any of these until May at the earliest, but these are what have been popping up in my mind…

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, and The Mirror & the Light, all by Hilary Mantel

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

American Royals by Katherine McGee

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

And that about wraps it up! What are you currently reading? Do you have any book recommendations?

Binge-able Television Shows | Spring 2020

This week we are talking all things Bingeworthy, from television to books, everything that you will quickly be sucked into and want to keep watching or reading until the very end. Today we are talking about some of the popular shows that are not only binge-able, but very enjoyable and a great method of escapism. To be honest, most of these are already either watched, being watched, or on everybody’s radar. I’m listing them in the random chance that maybe you are the one person who hasn’t seen them, or are on the fence of watching them. I’m going to break this up into categories and try to keep it to three shows per category with an honorable mention section if I have any others.

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Let’s start with “Reality TV”

So, I’m a bit of a reality TV junkie. I consider it my one true guilty pleasure and it’s something I’ve been majorly missing since moving to Germany. (Let’s face it, the Real Housewives hits everyone’s radar at some point). Thankfully, Netflix has really upped its television game going from only doing docu series (which I LOVE), but also television, movies, and, most importantly, reality TV.

Love is Blind

If you haven’t seen this show then I don’t really know where you’ve been. I kid. Honestly though, this show has it all- romance, not romance, surprise, drama, and a will they or won’t they premise that will surprise you till the end. It is also one of those shows that you can talk about for a long time afterwards (so when you’re finished message me ha-ha) and is compulsively watchable (I watched this in one day…).

Tiger King

Another show that, if you’ve never heard of it then you must not be living in the online world (although I think that they’ve even talked about this in the print papers too). This one is a bit more serious than Love is Blind and is a bit more…unbelievable. It’s basically every single outrageous thing that you could think of in one show, plus big cats. Another show that you will binge (I watched it in one day…it was a very unproductive week the week I watched all of these…) and then want to obsessively talk about with everyone you know.

100 Humans

This is one that my husband and I have been watching during dinner the past week or so and it’s just so…feel good. It takes a premise of statistically analyzing our social society. It covers everything from gender questions (are women better multitaskers, who talks more, etc.), to age questions (what age you are the prime at, brain function across ages), to dance battles (that literally had me crying I was laughing so hard). It’s just a fun, interesting show that will lead to all sorts of fun post show conversations.

Honorable Mentions

I have a couple of “extra shows” that I think would be fun to throw in the mix for this category. The Circle is an interesting look at social media and how being popular and having the influence control plays out in a smaller setting. Not only is this fun to watch (think Big Brother fun), but it’s quite an interesting look at how life plays out online. 3 Wives 1 Husband is a mini-series (4 episodes) about a community that lives a polygamous lifestyle. I feel like this is a better, more realistic, representation of what polygamy actually looks like (instead of Sister Wives) and they do a better job of explaining the concept. It’s definitely an easy watch, although you may find yourself asking the “what” question quite a bit throughout.

Now, when the Reality TV has gotten to be too much, let’s look at “Sitcom” shows…

Sex Education

This is a Netflix show that has just the right amounts of drama and comedy. It’s a premise that I haven’t seen before (at least in such an open manner) and one that I think could only be done in the UK. The nice thing about Sex Education is that while it is bingeable, it doesn’t have to be. It is just as nice to savor it as an episode or two at a time. No matter how you watch it, this show is definitely worth the watch.

Brooklyn 9-9

Ok, this is probably the best of sitcom right now (probably not, but this is just classic Sitcom, so I have to mention it). The perfect comedic relief right now, this show will have you doubled over in stitches, while also really caring about what happens to the characters.

Big Bang Theory

An “oldie” but a goodie, Big Bang is a show that just doesn’t get old. We turn this one whenever we want something that is just light humor and feel good television. And honestly, we just looked and were surprised by just how far we are into the show. We only have a couple of seasons left in our re watch.

Honorable Mention

Only one honorable mention, The Ranch. This is another funny, feel good, current commentary show to watch. The best bet is that it’s over so you can binge start to finish without waiting for any new episodes. It’s equal parts comedy, romance, and current day commentary. Would highly recommend giving it a watch. One other show that everyone knows about, but is worth all the hype, is, of course, Friends. However, Netflix pulled it and now I’m stuck without it for a bit.

Finally, in my recommendations, let’s talk “Drama”

Outlander

I am incredibly biased here, but I LOVE Outlander. Yes, it’s cheesy at times. Yes, it can be heavy on the romance and sex at times. Yes, it’s not always the most accurate in terms of language/mannerisms (history wise it’s pretty spot on). But it’s still SOOO good. It’s definitely a bingeable option and quite a few of the seasons are available on Netflix, so easy access. I’m thinking of going back through and doing a re watch of the available episodes.

Sherlock & Elementary

Again, biased as I’m a huge Holmes fan, and I’m going to be a bit extra and include two adaptations in this recommendation. The first is Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch playing our leading man. This version only drops a few episodes at a time, but they are so spot on to what I would imagine from Sherlock and Watson is the perfect amount of annoyed and subdued. The second recommendation is Elementary which has a female Watson and I am OBSESSED with it. It’s not quite Sherlock as I pictured and yet it is perfect.

A Discovery of Witches

This might be one of the shows that isn’t on Netflix, but you can find it on other online platforms (Sundance & Shutter both have it available to stream or it’s up for purchase). I absolutely loved this show, and the books that it was based off of. It’s a bit of a slow start, but highly worth it till the end. If you like the show, but wanted more, then check out the books!

Honorable Mention

A couple more that I want to mention in this category that I am going to be doing a re watch of and will just put on when I am not sure what else to watch. Suits, which I’m sure you’ve heard of by now, is a good bingeable watch that is full of courtroom/legal office drama. The entire series is out so you can watch from start to finish and fall right into the drama of everything that is corporate law office (not really, but we can pretend). Gilmore Girls is a top-notch family drama (almost Sitcom though) show that just gives you the feel goods with just enough everyday drama that makes it all come together. It’s not high drama like the rest of the shows, but it’s one of my top shows.

One Final thought…

I figured I would give a little list of the shows that are on my radar to watch in case you were wondering what was up next.

Unorthodox

You (still haven’t watched this <facepalm>)

Peaky Blinders

Manhunt: Una Bomber

The Americans.

And that is it for my Bingeable TV Shows! What is a show that you’ve been loving lately? Watched any of my recommendations? Leave your thoughts down below 🙂

1st Quarter Favorites – 2020

3 months into the year and it already feels like 2020 has had so much. As we are all trying to cling to a bit of normalcy, I figured I would start to move away from talking about the things we are all feeling anxious about and move back into some more “normal” content. Since it is the end of March, therefore the end of the 1stquarter, I figured I would share some things that I have been loving lately.

Skin/Hair/Body

Treseme Clarifying Shampoo

Let me tell you, I have been struggling with my hair. My hair overproduces oils and can be tough to manage at time with buildup. Add in the hard water of Germany and it’s been a struggle to find something that truly works. I was originally using the Redken Cleansing Crème and that worked so incredibly well, but they’ve changed their formula and the new Miceller version is just not as good. I can make it work, but I wanted something that I didn’t have to…try so hard with. I did a little look through of various clarifying shampoo’s and this one was actually raved about and, being a drugstore product, it is much easier to get here than some of the other options I was finding. Let me tell you, it works. I’ve been using it for almost a month when this post goes up and I’m really liking it. It helps remove the buildup, without stripping everything out of your hair and leaves my hair feeling really good. I can go back to going almost 3 days without washing my hair.

Simple Cleanser

I’ve been using this product for over a year now and still absolutely love it. If you are in need of a gentle cleanser that will let your skin breathe while still removing toxins, all without breaking the bank, this is an excellent option. It’s one of those products that I will always love because it does everything I want it to at a reasonable price point. Skincare can add up and get expensive fast, but it’s nice to know that there are good options on the lower end as well.

Food/Drink

Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

Ok, so I’m trying not to eat chips as much, but I’ve developed a little soft spot for these blue corn tortilla chips. They are absolutely delicious! I almost like them more than regular tortilla chips (almost, but not quite) and I try to opt for them if I can as they can be slightly healthier (or rather you can find a slightly healthier option).

Ninja Specialty Coffee Bar

This product has been life changing. I kid, I kid…kind of. I’ve been wondering about getting a cappuccino machine, or some sort of coffee machine that has the option of making specialty drinks, for a little bit now. I like to have the option to make these coffee’s on weekends when we are home, but I hadn’t decided what to get or bit the bullet to buy one. Then, I received this coffee bar for my birthday, and it’s been a game changer. Not only can you make fancy coffee (I’ve done latte’s and cappuccinos), but you can also just make a standard cup of coffee. You have a variety of sizes and an iced option as well. It’s completely idiot proof (coming from a coffee idiot) and the only thing it CAN’T do is actually heat your milk. This is a simple fix, but I will probably invest in a steamer at some point for my milk.

Multi-Media

Let’s talk TV first…

We’ve sure been busy on the TV front and I’ve got a lot to share about. First up, we have watched the second season of Sex Education and are still just as obsessed as we were with the first season. It’s just the perfect balance of humour, inappropriate-ness, and drama. We’ve also recently started watching 100 Humans and are really enjoying it as well. Next up is two reality shows that I’ve been all over, Love is Blind and Tiger King. These are so beyond different, but both were completely binge worthy to me. I watched both in a matter of a couple days. Love is Blind is the dating show that we all need in our lives, full of annoying personalities, drama, and will they or wont they questions throughout. Tiger King is on another level of crazy. It’s not quite as addicting as Love is Blind (you could easily walk away from it), but it is still something to watch. It is a mystery, unraveling story that involves exotic private zoos and a murder for hire situation. The back and forth, twists and turns, and just wild personalities make it an entertaining moment. I’ve also watched 3 Wives 1 Husband and that was a wild ride as well detailing out a community of polygamists. It’s not very long (a few episodes), but is quite the head scratcher.

Podcasts…

I’ve been bouncing between YouTube, Podcasts, and Music while I am doing chores, but I’ll start with a podcast that I’ve been loving, From the Front Porch. This podcast is brought to you buy the owners and employees of The Bookshelf in Thomasville and is just a pure spot of happiness to listen. Get a book recommendation, listen to them dissect a book, or just chat about day to day happenings in the store. In terms of books, I also enjoy Books Unbound which has a little bit of everything. I’ve also had a friend recently start a podcast, The Legacy Entrepreneur, which is a great option if you are looking into a semi business related, religious podcast (she incorporates religion into her business in a way that I enjoy).

Music…

I’ve been all over Spotify lately, but the two playlists I’ve been listening to the most (that aren’t mine) have been Beth Sandlands’ Social Distancing Kitchen Party, which is full of feel good hits that are the perfect pick me up. Put it on, crank it up, and dance it out. The other list is a playlist called mors vincit omnia- Ninth House which is by a local friend and features a darker theme. If I just need to feel like a badass for a minute or two then I put it on and get down to the issue.

Books

I’ve got my March Reading Wrap Up here (here is January and February), but I figured I would take this chance to talk about some of my particular favorites from the first quarter as well as a book or two to maybe avoid. In the first quarter of the year I’ve read a total of 27 books. I’m feeling pretty good about my reading at this point and have overall enjoyed most of what I’ve picked up. The top 3 have been World Without End by Ken Follett, A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer, and The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff. The disappointing reads have been The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, The Wives by Tarryn Fisher, and Misery by Stephen King.

And that about does it for my first quarter favorites! What is something you’ve been loving over the past few months?

 

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – March 2020

Happy April! Feels like the past couple weeks have lasted a while, haven’t they? In an effort to start getting back a semblance of “normalcy” I am getting back to some normal posts. That means today I am going to talk about all the books that I finished, and didn’t finish, in the month of March.

In the month of March, I read a total of 9 books (I’m counting the two that I will be finishing when I am writing this as I know they will be finished before the end of the month- more on that later) and gave an average of 3.8 rating. On the whole I enjoyed most of what I read, with a very obvious divide between what I liked and what I didn’t like. So, what did I read?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads - February 2020
Photo by Angie at A Cup of Grace Photography

Full Metal Alchemist Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa (Goodreads/Amazon): NR. This is a manga about alchemy. I don’t read many manga’s (I’ve only actually read 2 before this one) and I don’t really know how to talk about them or rate them. This one was ok, although not a favorite and I won’t be continuing on.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (Goodreads/Amazon): 4/5 Stars. I am finally started to delve into the world of Brandon Sanderson. This particular book is a standalone following 3 main characters navigating court politics, religious politics, and new lives in new worlds. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the world that Sanderson crafted in this one book. He is masterful at creating a world and deep diving into every aspect of that world, characters, and story. HOWEVER, this means that at times the story slowed down and became a bit tedious in parts and for that I knocked a star off my rating. I still enjoyed it overall and am looking forward to reading more of his books.

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (Goodreads/Amazon): 4/5 Stars. This was a book lent to me by a friend who thought I would enjoy it. We are following a magician who has just graduated school and is learning her craft. She is given a magic that she didn’t want, with a teacher she didn’t understand, but all is not what it seems, and she quickly realizes that there is more than meets the eye. This is the perfect fluff book that gives you a little bit of everything. A little bit of light romance, a little bit of the steam punk era, a little bit of magic and fantasy, without diving too deep into any of them. This is the first book of, what I think is, a trilogy and it can honestly be read as either a standalone or part of a trilogy.

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (Goodreads/Amazon): NR This was a book club book pick for March and is a diary entry collection from a bookshop owner. We follow along as he experiences life in his shop over the course of a little under a year. I will start with that I listened to this book as an audio book. It is nonfiction, the bookstore exists, and his witty comebacks and commentary on his various experiences made the book a joy to listen to. He included tidbits on his daily register totals, customer totals, and online orders which made a nice addition.

Misery by Stephen King (Goodreads/Amazon): 2/5. I have never been more disappointed with a Stephen King book, nor have I ever rated a Stephen King book this low. In Misery we follow a mildly famous writer who has been kidnapped by his “#1 Fan” and is drugged and forced to write a new book just for her. Sound familiar? Predictable? Boring? This book was all three. I felt like it was just a formulaic, mindless, story that followed a standard horror kidnapping storyline. There was not heart stopping action, no thrilling aspect, until the last 5 pages (AFTER everything else has been exhausted). It was not what I was wanting nor was expecting and I don’t know if I would recommend this one.

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson (Goodreads/Amazon): NR. This was…an interesting read. We are following Jon as he is trying to figure out how the mental health industry, specifically relating to psychopathy, handles diagnoses and how it relates to criminals and people in power. In a way this book was kind of similar to watching a Netflix or Vice docuseries where you follow a variety of different minor topics that circle round to each other and showcase information about a subject. I don’t really know that I liked it, but I didn’t like it. It was a strange one.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung (Goodreads/Amazon): 5/5 I feel so seen in this comic series by Debbie Tung. I don’t have much to say about it (as it’s pretty self-explanatory), but in an almost 200-page series of comics, Debbie Tung details what it feels like to be introverted, to be teased for it, to feel isolated, to feel exhausted, and much more. There was so much about this that I understood and related to and I think that everyone who either is friends with/in  a relationship with an introvert OR is an introvert should read it.

And now, a bit on the two books I am currently reading. I write these wrap up posts a day before they are scheduled to go up and so sometimes, I might not be finished with a book, but will be finished with it before the next day. This is the case with the below two books, so I want to include them as I know they will be finished in March and can therefore be included on this wrap up. I may come back on here and edit this post day of to include final ratings.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (Goodreads/Amazon): NR. This was my other nonfiction audio book for the month, and I found it interesting. Mary talks about dead bodies, in the simplest explanation. When/If we donate our bodies to science, what actually happens? She talks about this and the various medical discovers that have been made with science and it’s use of both human and animal cadavers. It’s interesting in its own way and I did enjoy the audio book.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (Goodreads/Amazon): 3/5 Hmmm, this was my “interesting” read. In The Hazel Wood we follow the descendent of an author famous for her dark fairy tales, but, as with fairytales, all is not what it seems. As things start rapidly changing, Alice finds herself facing a world, a life, a story that she never expected. Overall I enjoyed this book, the premise was great (I love dark fairytales), but I also expected…more out of the latter third of the book. I felt like the ending fell a bit…not in keeping with the rest of the story and a bit too tidy for my liking. There is another book out and I’m debating whether or not I want to pick it up or not.

And those are all the books I read in March! I have ambitious goals for April as I am taking part in the O.W.L.S Magical Readathon (because I am THAT kind of Harry Potter fan) and have picked out quite a few books for it. What books have you been reading lately? Any new favorites?

When Being Home is…Overwhelming.

Man, it’s been a strange time hasn’t it? As the entire world seems to slow to a halt and we are all thrust into this new normal, it’s easy to get…well overwhelmed. As an introvert this is even easier. I think it’s also so easy to forget about this when you are not an introvert. But this post isn’t really about that.

Let me be clear…this post is not about the quarantine, shelter in place, isolation, lockdown, whatever you are referring to it as in your own country. I am 100% in favor of this and believe that is absolutely necessary. To me, this is not up for debate. This virus is not something to mess around about (and honestly if you just follow the mandate of staying home, it won’t be a long process to have it work its way through and out) and I am not going to debate something that, at this point, is semantics. Many countries have issued a lockdown measure of some sort, so whatever your feelings are, you are locked down.

This post is about what this actually looks like in terms of mental health. Of what we can do about that, of what we can do with our kids, what we can do for ourselves, and how we work through all of the confusion, overwhelm, and upset. No matter what end you fall on, no matter how this affects you economically, we are all dealing with a lot of feelings.

I don’t have all the answers on this. In fact, as I am writing this, I am struggling myself. I’m struggling with the amount of noise in our home, the never ending feeling of chaos, the nonexistence of a true routine, trying to do some form of “school” with a toddler who desperately just wants to go TO school, and trying to navigate having all 4 of us home ALL THE TIME. As much as I love my family and I’m grateful to have this time together, it’s TOUGH, and I think that is something we can all agree with.

For me, I am struggling with feeling overwhelmed with…well everything. We’ve finally got things up and running for Colton’s school, but that is creating it’s own problem (you can read about this below), I’ve got a million things that I want to accomplish, my husband is still working and going to school, and our house is just…much louder than normal. As an introvert who absolutely needs quiet and alone time it’s just making this a lot harder than I thought it would be. Today is the first day that I just wanted to breakdown.

So, what can we do?

Untitled Design 39
photo credit Daisy from Daisy Zimmer Photography (full photo on my SM)

I talked about how to stay positive last week (you can read that HERE), but what else can we do? I think honestly, the first place to start is to communicate and talk or write it out. Tell your partner or spouse what you NEED in a way that is constructive. For me personally, I NEED to have quiet time. I need to have 10-20 minutes at different points throughout the day of just quiet. Now, this is almost impossible with two toddler boys, but I try to find little pockets where I can take it. I also listen when he tells me he needs something. We are trying to find a good give and take with all of us being home as he is still working and doing school during this time. He has things that he needs the time to do and needs to take care of, and sometimes that means locking himself away for a couple of hours to get those things done.

So, for example, doing a little yoga first thing in the morning. My husband stays quiet during this and does his own thing (homework, check news, check emails) so I can ease into my morning before chaos ensues and the boys wake up. Once I am done with yoga, I try to take another 15 minutes to journal. I write out EVERYTHING. What I am feeling, what I am seeing, what I am hearing. I write about how the previous day went, what I want to accomplish today, and just a general “get your mind right” moment.

Another chance I get to get a little quiet (and build the endorphins) is a run (I mean it’s more of a run/walk, but you get the gist). This week I started doing the Couch to 5K program in an effort to get a little break/me time in my days. Since we are restricted to the house EXCEPT for groceries/meds and exercise outdoors, I am taking full advantage of the exercise outdoors option. This gives me a chance to just wander back into my brain, check out of real life, and run my feelings out.

Speaking of music, I find that just jamming it out to your favorite song or playlist is an excellent option. Blast the tunes, have a little breathing session or dance session and dust of the cobwebs in your mind. Music is such a big part of my attitude and I find even just two songs (right now Sunflower by Post Malone and SOS by Aviccii) is all I really need to get a mood booster. It also gives my kids a chance to wiggle about and I’m not hearing the nonstop chattering. We all seem to come together for those couple minutes, and it works.

Something else that I think is really important is to lean in toward whatever you are feeling. This is an overwhelming time and we are trying to figure out what life looks like and it’s ok to feel mad, to feel sad, to feel overwhelmed. It’s ok to take some time out to feel those feelings. THEY ARE TOTALLY VALID FEELINGS TO HAVE. No matter what your background is, no matter how this affects you, it is OK to feel this way. And right now, more than ever, I think that it is important for us to process those feelings. We will have a harder and faster burnout if we just continue to try and put a happy face on and hold it together.

This is especially true if you are a mom. Your kids are likely scared, nervous, freaking out, confused, mad, sad, everything that they can feel, they are feeling. While our first instinct is to hold it together, to be the strong one, it isn’t’ bad for them to see you struggle too. It helps them process their own emotions if we can be clear and concise about it. For me this is really key for when I am feeling frustrated or sad with not being able to do something or needing some space, my boys pick up on that and I explain to them exactly what is going on. This then stimulates a conversation (in as much a 4 and 2 yr. old can do) about how we are feeling. So, lean into those feelings, process them, and it might be easier for you to move forward and find joy in the little things again.

Going to quickly touch on school (as I don’t really know that I can truly talk about that). School is a hard one. I feel like we’ve really hit this hard as even though Colton was only in preschool for a month and a half he got really attached to it. If he could go every single day he could. It was his space to learn, to engage, to have a little “life of his own” for lack of a better phrase. He LOVED it and to have that yanked out from under him so soon has been a real struggle for him. Further, we are continuing with a digital learning plan with his school and that’s been…hard. He doesn’t have the same focus at home that he does in school and, of course, at home he also has little bro who wants to be involved. It’s been hard to try and explain to him what is going on and how we are handling everything right now, because the moment we explain it to him he just gets sad and says he wants to go to school. It breaks my heart.

I know that you moms of older kids are feeling that same pressure, but also adding in the academics to it as well. Luckily with Colton in preschool the hardest thing we are dealing with is focus issues, his academics and such are fairly straightforward for him. I’ve been reading posts from various teachers who all seem to agree- with this new normal, it means we need to adapt across the board. Forcing the kids to sit at a desk for 8 hours at home is just not feasible. So, lean into your kids. Listen to them when they say something. Interact with their needs. Some kids may work better at home when there is noise in the background, some kids may need to be at a desk every time they work, some kids may be focus on real world learning more than classroom. Each school is handling digital learning differently, but from what I’ve seen there is time that they meet with their teachers and do their work, and then there is free work time. Balance both of those with some real-world play and real-world lessons and a routine will start to emerge. This is a whole new level for all of us…give yourself and your kids grace. It’s not easy, but they will be OK.

Finally, if you are in a financial spot to do so, try and support some of your local or online businesses. I’m going to share a couple of my favorites that I have either ordered through already, or will be ordering through over the next couple months…

https://www.rachelallene.com/shop Rachel Allene is like the jolt of sunshine that we all need anyway. Her products are not only practical (hello mugs and shirts and coffee? We all need those), but they are absolutely adorable! They are the perfect amount of whimsy, beauty, and season. I highly recommend checking her shop out for your mugs and shirt needs.

https://www.bookshelfthomasville.com/ This is a small, local, independent bookstore in Georgia that carries most new releases, along with some merchandise. They are doing online orders, but also curbside pickup if you are in their area. I always love supporting independent bookstores, so this is the perfect chance for you to do so as well.

https://kelseyconversephotography.pixieset.com/guestlogin/travelprints/?return=%2Ftravelprints%2F If you are looking to spruce up your interior wall game, check out Kelsey’s travel photography. These are some incredible photos and would liven up any room that you want to. I would also just recommend following kelsconverse on Instagram because she is one of those genuine souls on the internet.

Also, as many have suggested, buy gift cards to some of your favorite spots. This is a great option if you want to support restaurants or other smaller in store places. OR if you want to support, but don’t need anything at the present moment. Buy a gift card and gift it or save it for a special occasion for yourself. This gives a small business some much needed cash flow in this trying time.

Finally, go show your blogger friends some love! Click on the links to their most recent posts, like them, leave them a comment, and spread the love around. Ultimately what this time is teaching us is to slow down, remember what community really is, and enjoy a little breather from the busy world we live in.