Sunday, April 8, 2018

March 2018 Book Wrap Up

Hi friends!

I was a book fiend this month.  I ended up finishing six books; more than January & February combined! I will say that February ended up being a slow month book wise, but it's still crazy to think I read over a book a week.

Usually I do a whole Month in Review, but I had so many books this month that I wanted to share as its own post.  This may be something I continue in the future, as I'm doing so much reading it might be worth it.

The Picture of Dorian Grey is about a young man who accidentally sells his soul to stay looking youthful his whole life.  It details the span of his life from that point on.

I had a roller coaster of emotions throughout the story, but it ended with me being happy to be done.  Some of it was really interesting, but there was a lot of time spent on conversations, and lists.  There were sentences that went on for pages at a time with lists.  However, when there was action I felt much more inclined to read; it was an interesting and thoughtful story that would be fun to analyze.

I gave this 3.5/5 stars.

Alright, so let me tell you all a story. I had this book from my Prime Reading, and finally decided to read it because it was so hyped; everyone was constantly talking about it.  It started off very strange and by the end I was enthralled.  It's a collection of poems about the author's experiences with childhood and her parents, friends, and relationships. It is split into four parts: hurting, loving, breaking, & healing. 

I understand that is it probably overhyped, but I loved these poems.  Especially in the third and fourth sections, I was highlighting every other page.  I plan to purchase a copy so I can have it on my bookshelf and mark in it because I enjoyed it so much.

I gave this 5/5 stars.

The next book I read from Prime was Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  This is a story about a boy in middle school who is given a journal to write about his life in.  You read about all sorts of experiences he has in school, with his family, and his friend.

I thought I would enjoy it, but it turns out the main character is just kind of a jerk.  It was frustrating to me to read some of the ways that he acts, but maybe I'm just too old to understand the appeal. I just know that if my child acted like that I would not be happy.

I gave this 3/5 stars.

I finished The Phoenix Project this month!  I knew it was just a matter of time before I did, partially because it was an assignment and partially because I was just enjoying reading it in general.  It's a novel about a man who is promoted to VP of IT and must navigate both the political atmosphere and managing his subordinates.  They must work to get the Phoenix Project underway, which was meant to help the company become a success once again.

It definitely reads like a book that's meant to teach, but if you're in management this might be a great option to read without feeling like you're reading a textbook. I thought it was so easy to read and didn't feel like a knowledge dump.

I gave it 4/5 stars.

Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take 5 Minutes or Less is exactly as it sounds.  It's a book with a list of various habits that are easy to do but can make a big improvement to your life.

I wasn't very impressed with this book.  It read like a really long blog post, which wasn't ideal.  The habits given were so basic, I couldn't believe it.  They were things that most people should just do, without any sort of prompting.  Some of the ideas were strange to even consider a habit.  Like making a to-do list; don't people just do that?  I wasn't happy with what this book had to offer.

I gave this 3/5 stars.
I also decided to read Attack on Titan, which is a manga. Attack on Titan is a dystopian manga about humanity living within three protective walls.  This is because creatures, called Titans, exist seemingly only to eat humans.  In this volume, we see Erin (the main character) go through training to prepare himself for attacking the titans.  We see his backstory, as well as the first attack on the walls.

I actually watched the anime first, and saw that Amazon Prime offered this as something to read for free.  I decided to pick it up, and I wasn't necessarily disappointed, but I wasn't impressed either.  If I hadn't watched the anime first, I might have been more likely to enjoy it.  Still, it was a great story, and very dark.  Not for the faint of heart!

I gave this 4/5 stars.

One of the books I am currently reading is Fairest of All: A Tale of the Evil Queen. It's the first in a series highlighting certain villains' backstories and how they became the way that they are.  This story begins with the Queen (which is what she is referred to) getting married to the King and living with him and Snow.  I'll give a full review of this in my April book wrap up!

Another book that I'm in the early stages of reading is Valley of the Kings. I love everything to do with ancient Egypt, so I was excited to jump in and read this.

I can't tell how I feel about it right now!  I'm not sure why, but I didn't expect to read this and have it be so adult.  In the first 15% of this novel, I have read about sex, war, murder, and child abuse. There's probably more, but those are the biggest ones that have stood out to me.

I still feel drawn into this book as a topic, but the content is throwing me off. I might end up taking a little while to read this, depending on when I'm in the mood for it.

Well, that's my March book wrap up! I'm really excited and proud of the books that I finished, and I can't wait to share with everyone the books I've read in April; I've already got a few to tell ya'll about and it's only the first week!

Friday, March 30, 2018

18 in 2018 Spring Update

Hello everyone!

Today is my 18 by 2018 spring update! The original post is here, where you can check out my entire list of things I want to do/watch/read/whatever this year.  I'm bringing you a three month update, so my progress of finishing things off from the beginning of January to now!

I've done a pretty good job on finishing books off this year!  In January I read The Hangman's Daughter; it was a pretty average book, and I'm glad I got to move it out of my collection and replace it with another book I wanted to read.

This month, I read two books from my list!  I first finished Milk & Honey, which oh my gosh I didn't expect to love it nearly as much as I did. I gave it 5 stars, a rare thing for me to do, and I plan on purchasing a copy of it for myself. I got it for free through Prime Reading, but it was so good I need to have it on my shelf!

I also finished off Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes that Take 5 Minutes of Less this month.  While it wasn't a bad book, it certainly wasn't my favorite.  It felt too basic for me.

I'm currently reading two more books on my list; Valley of the Kings: The 18th Dynasty, and Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen.  Both are pretty good, but I'm only about 15% into each.  Valley of the Kings is a lot more adult than I had expected, and some parts are making me a little uncomfortable. Still, I hope to finish at least one, if not both of them in April!

I actually have no progress in this category!  The more I think about it, the more I realize I just don't like movies that much.  I'm still going to try to watch some of the really popular ones, but I still don't feel any pressing need to watch anything.

TV Shows
This category has definitely had the most changes this time!  
I actually ended up finishing Total Drama season 1 this month, so I get to cross that show off my list!  It was a lot of fun, a little inappropriate, and a great throwback to my younger years. I probably won't watch season 2 on, because I'd never seen it and don't care enough to, but I'm glad I watched this.  I ship Gwen and Trent so much!

I decided to make a change to my one of the shows on my list as well.  I didn't realize that The Office season 1 was only six episodes, and that I was already on episode 6.  That seemed like a gimme, and I didn't want to just call it good because the whole point of adding this to my list was to watch it, so I decided to switch season 1 to season 2.

I'm currently watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 3!  I ended up finishing off season two at the beginning of March, and wanted to keep going.  I'm on episode 6, so still a ways to go, but I can't wait to possibly get to season 4 soon! I might end up finishing this entire show this year.

Bucket List
My bucket list hasn't been worked on much!  A lot of what's on here actually requires me to be out of school and have a regular job, so I haven't finished much yet. I expect to see a lot more progress in the next two updates.  I was, however, able to finish two "extras", or items I added to the list after the fact as additional things I wanted to complete.

One of those was to update my GoodReads want-to-read shelf, which I'm so glad I did.  I removed over 1,100 books on my list that I'd never heard of or didn't actually want to read!  This makes it much easier to look at my list and feel as though I could pick any book and be happy with it.

I also made a vision board!  It's not quite finished yet, but I do have the basic layout of it done, and I can't wait to finish it up and share it.  I might write a blog post about it as well; we'll see where I decide to go with that.  Either way, it's beautiful and I love it! 

Beauty Products
I've used up two beauty products in the past three months: Bite Beauty's Glace and my strawberry Chapstick.  It's not much, but I hardly wear makeup, so I'm proud of finishing off two!

On the other hand, I have been a decluttering fiend - I've already completed my goal for makeup products with it.  I've decluttered __ products!  I'm just gong to make a quick list of them and a short explanation, since that would take forever!

1. Estee Double Wear Foundation - Rattan (too dark)
2. Fenty Beauty Foundation - 220 (too dark)
3. Smashbox BB Cream - Light (too dark)
4. Bare Minerals Serum Foundation - Light (too dark)
5. Maybelline Baby Lips - Mirrored Mauve (didn't like the color)
6. Mark Jacobs Lip Liner - Primrose (broke)
7. Revlon Lip Butter - Sorbet (didn't need)
8-9. Softlips Lip Balm - Vanilla (formula is bad)
10. Sephora Lipstick - R49 (didn't need)
11. Clinique Almost Lipstick - Black Honey (didn't like the formula)
12. Sephora Lipstick - Truly, Truly Outrageous (didn't need)
13. Lorac Lipstick - Hipster (didn't like the color)
14. Tarte Lip Paint - Fetch (didn't like the color)
15. Colourpop Ultra Satin Lip - So Wavy (didn't need)
16. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick - Big Bang (didn't like the formula)
17. BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick - Speak Your Mind (didn't like the color)
18. Laura Mercier Velour Lip Colour - Sensual (didn't like the color)
19. Touch in Sol Metallist Lipstick - Jasmine (didn't like the color)
20. Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick - Muse (didn't need)
21. Manna Kadar Liplocked Stain - Shae (didn't like the color)
22. Too Faced Melted Latex - Hot Mess (didn't like the color)
23. Manna Kadar Bronzer Highlighter Duo (didn't need)

I'm super proud of my decluttering! I'm working hard to move things out of my collection that I don't or won't use, so this is a great step in the right direction. I don't believe I'll ever be minimalist in my collection, but knowing I'm getting rid of things that won't work for me makes me feel really good.

Skincare Products 
So I've made a decision that I'm really not decluttering any skincare products, so everything on this list is products that I've used up.

1. Youth to the People Moisturizer
2. Derma E Hydrating Night Creme
3. Yes to Blueberry Face Wipes
4. Tucker Ashley Eye Cream
5. Lierac Serum
6. NoTS 28 Remedy Acne Poor Deep Cleanser

I've been bad about doing my skincare routine, so there's fewer products here than I'd like. Still, I'm moving them out slowly and am proud!

Well, that's it everyone!  The progress isn't phenomenal, but I can't be mad, either.  I plan on continuing to work on my list this year, and hopefully I'll have even more progress to share with you all at the beginning of summer!

Friday, March 23, 2018

2018 Goals Spring Update

Hello everyone!

It's that time of the year where I give you the quarterly update on how I'm doing for my 2018 goals!  Here's my original post, if you're interesting in seeing my rationale behind picking them all!

Something I noticed is that I'm really hitting that slump in following through with my goals.  I fully intend to re energize myself, and I already feel so excited to jump back onto keeping up with what I decided I wanted to do!

These are all broken up into different categories based on what they're meant to help improve, just as a way to not have a big list with little direction for myself.  Now let's get into this!

Mental Health
Develop a self-care routine. I'll be honest with you all, I've been really bad about this! I forgot this was even a goal of mine, and I haven't actually done any sort of planning for my self-care, so it's just sort of whatever happens that day. Well, I've decided to change that!  I have a Happy Planner that I bought and don't use for a lot of things (mostly random stuff), so I might as well write down my self-care plan for the day!  I'm using my self-care ideas as a basis for what to jot down!

Read 24 books. This is one goal I can say I'm doing a great job at!  I have currently read 8 books this year, and the end of March is when I should be at 6, if I'm keeping to my 2 books a month goal.  My reading hasn't been super consistent, but that's okay!  I'm really proud of being ahead and hopefully staying ahead.

Finish one coloring page a month. I had great intentions with this, until I forgot all of my coloring books at home.  Turns out, you can't color when you don't have the coloring books!  So, as of now I haven't been keeping up.  I'm going to turn that around starting now, however.  I actually finished my march page already; yay!  It's a super fun dot-to-dot book I found at Wal-Mart.  I'll show you all the finished pages some other time.

Journal every day. This is another goal that I had great intentions with, but then completely fell off the wagon with.  I'm going to have to fix this.  I also downloaded some apps I'm going to try, and see if that helps me with doing some journaling and reflection!

Physical Well-Being
Eat breakfast every morning. I think something that will be a recurring theme is that March is a month that I really didn't focus much on my goals.  Again, I plan on changing that and getting back into eating something every morning to jump-start my metabolism!

Stop eating candy. This is one goal I've done a pretty great job at!  I do have the occasional chocolate, but I've essentially stopped eating candy altogether.

Work out 3x a week. If we're being honest, I haven't worked out more than twice this whole year. I have been feeling some motivation lately, so I might start scheduling it in like I should be. As it stands, I'm kind of failing!  This week that I've been writing my post, I've decided that I'm going to go to the gym so the past two days I've gone and done some running. This is a sign of turning tides, I hope!

Get to 150 pounds. My weight hasn't done any significant change since the beginning of the year! I've been trying to eat better, but not really trying that hard.  Hopefully after I'm out of school and can have a consistent schedule I'll be better.

Graduate with honors. Not much to report on this - I haven't graduated yet, and my grades are what will determine whether I accomplish this or not, so it's a waiting game!

Get A's in every class. So far, I'm not doing too bad!  I can think of at least 3 classes I'll definitely get A's in, and the other two I'm certainly working hard to try and get them.

Get a job in human resources. I am so excited, because I've started applying for jobs now!  I've currently applied for two, but we'll see how things keep going in the next few months.  Now that I know where I'm settling, I can apply to even more.

Pay off credit card balance every month. After getting my tax return and getting my balance to zero, I think I'm doing pretty well!  I'm spending a lot more this month than I like, so I definitely need to slow down, but I should still be able to pay it off no problem!

Pay every bill on time. I am happy to say that I have been great about paying all my bills, and I've actually been paying them all ahead of schedule!

Begin budgeting and watching finances. Again, March is a month that I fell off the wagon for. I didn't end up following my spending very well this month, but I plan on fixing that asap!  No reason to wait when I can do it now.

Makeup Low Buy. As of this post, I have yet to purchase a single makeup item!  There hasn't been anything that's drawn my attention as a product I need, so I've been enjoying saving my money. 

18 in 2018 project. I can't say too much on this, as I actually have a post next week that will be going into detail about how I'm doing with this project.  Check back if you're interested in hearing about it!

Keep a clean and organized living area. I'll admit, I haven't been doing a good job at this!  I have fluctuating moments of being clean and organized, and then just letting it fall on the wayside.  I swear I will get back into this, especially when I can move out of my single room and into an apartment!

Develop and follow a cleaning routine. This is another thing that I just completely forgot about and will need to refocus on!  That same planner I'm putting my self-care plan into I can put my cleaning schedule on.  I will also pick one thing each day to do as my daily task for the week, so that I have a good setup to work from. I can't wait to make this happen!

Read all stories in FF folder. I haven't been super productive in this category, but I'm slowly chugging along!  I'll be sure to keep working on it when I have more time to focus on reading these stories.

Organize Pinterest. This is huge project I've given myself, but I feel like I'm really doing a pretty steady job at working on finishing it!  I've determined what needs to be done for each board, and am making my way through each. As long as I keep it up, I think I'll be done by the end of the year!

Become more aware of the time I have & use. Having my daily planner is nice to see my day in general, but it hasn't done much to help me improve my usage of my time. I'm going to spend more time focusing on what I'm up to, and I have this awesome app called Atracker that will help! I can't wait to see what I'm doing with my unmarked time and see how I can be more productive.

That's everything!  There are definitely some areas that I've been doing great with, and some that need a little work. That's okay!  It's still early in the year, and my goals are still important to me, so I intend to regroup and focus again.

How have you been keeping up on your 2018 goals?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Podcasts I've Been Loving (Spring 2018)

Hello everyone!

Today I wanted to share with you all some podcasts I have been loving to listen to lately!  I noticed as I was compiling this list that they're all kind of dark; having to do with ghosts and murders, plus a supernatural TV show.  This was not intentional!  I didn't even realize that most of what i listen to is dark and scary until making this list.

I definitely understand that this might not be your jam, so I'm sorry if this post isn't very beneficial to you! I promise next week's post will way more lighthearted.

Every podcast listed in this article is available through iTunes; if you use any other app to listen to podcasts, you'll have to check their respective pages to see if they're available.

If you've been keeping up with my recent posts, you'll know that I've been watching a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer recently!  One of my favorite things to do is watch an episode, and then listen to Lani and Alastair talk about what happened in the episodes, analyzing every little detail, and rate it versus other Buffy episodes.  If you love Buffy just as much as I do, I highly recommend checking this podcast out!  If you've never seen it but are interested in a detailed breakdown, I'd suggest watching an episode and then listening to them.  They also cover the show Angel as it fits in based on publication date.

Unfortunately, this podcast has been abandoned and will not be continued, however, Lani is doing her own analysis on the podcast "Still Pretty", that picks up where Dusted left off.  I have yet to listen to it, as it starts in season 6 of Buffy and I'm not that far yet, but if you are, you can continue the listening there!

One thing I'm shamelessly interested in is serial killers.  I was looking for a good podcast to listen to that talked about them, and this is what I found!  Every Monday, a new episode is released.  Each serial killer has two episodes; one that discusses their childhood up until their first kill; sometimes they talk about more.  The second episode is more on their crimes and how they were caught.  It's super interesting, and they find a ton of information that is honestly really scary to think about!  It is very detailed, so if you're squeamish when it comes to hearing gory things, I would suggest passing or heeding their warnings, as they always tell you when it's about to get especially gross.

This is actually a podcast I started listening to because I enjoyed the hosts of Serial Killers so much.  It's hosted by Greg, who is the male host of Serial Killers.  Every Thursday there is an episode released featuring the ghost stories of famous places around the world.  There is a lot of fact and fiction mixed into this podcast, as you'll usually jump in with a story, learn the history of the location, and again hear more stories.  I really love the way this is set up, and it's kind of creepy without being too scary!

My Favorite Murder is a must-listen-to podcast for any true crime fans, especially women!  Karen and Georgia are hilarious, they swear a lot, and provide incredible advice.  Every week, a full-length episode comes out, that has both woman researching and sharing a true crime story they've chosen each.  They also have "minisodes", which are hometown stories sent in from fans that are chosen and read; usually 4-6 an episode.  These topics range from hometown murders, to crazy survivor stories,first responder stories, and anything else deemed interesting.  I'd recommend this if you're looking for a more personal podcast that feels like listening to two friends chat versus a fact dump.

If these podcasts aren't your thing, I completely understand!  I've been pinning a lot of new podcasts I want to check out, so hopefully next time I share my favorites they'll be more your tastes!

Do you listen to any podcasts? What's your favorite?

Friday, March 9, 2018

Self-Care Ideas for When You Need a Quick Pick-Me-Up

Hi everyone!

Today I wanted to share with you some quick pick-me-up ideas for when you need to take a little time to be you!  Self-care is something that I am so passionate about, and everyone should take part in it!  There's not a limit of who can do it, and there's not a certain type of person who should or shouldn't.

This list is meant to be self-care ideas for when you're really feeling down, or overwhelmed, or just in need for a little you time. A lot of the lists I saw had things like "book a vacation" or "go to a new city".  Those sound amazing, but they don't really help in the immediate time for me personally, plus I can't afford to take time off of work or booking a vacation, so these were more realistic to me!

There are a few very popular ideas that you may notice are missing from this list, like reading and working out.  While those are certainly important, I didn't include them because I feel like they should be habits more than they should be things to do when you need some self-care. Of course, this is all personal preference! If reading is what really helps you feel better, by all means do it.  But I would recommend setting aside time every day for reading, journaling, and working out, as it will help you feel better in the long run!

I hope you enjoy these self-care ideas, and feel free to save this picture and use it whenever you need it!

What do you do when you need some self-care?  Are any of these habits of yours? Let me know!

Friday, March 2, 2018

February 2018 In Review

Hello everyone!

I'm here to bring you a recap of how February went for me! Honestly, I'm in shock that it's already over.  I know it's the shortest month of the year, but come on!  I had a lot going on for school this month, but that's not really something I think ya'll would be interested in hearing about, so I'm sticking with the slightly more interesting stuff.

I slacked a little bit on reading this month! It's not that I wasn't reading at all, it's just that I didn't read enough to finish anything.  I was also reading stories online, so I don't count them as actual books.

I started The Picture of Dorian Gray because one of my groups on GoodReads chose to read it as the classic of the month.  I didn't think it would take me the entire month and have me still not finish it!  I am pretty close to being done, but right now I'm really swaying between liking it and just wanting it to be over.

This is required reading for my Management Information Systems class, and I have to say, I am really enjoying it!  I don't read it unless I have my assignment open, as there is a question to be answered for every chapter, but I binge about 10 chapters when I do read.  It's super easy but so interesting, and something that I honestly really love. I'll give a full review once I'm finally done (hopefully in March!).

I only watched one movie this month, and that was Fifty Shades Freed!  My sorority sisters and I went to the movie together and watched it.  Between this one and the second, this had much more action and plot, and a little less naughty stuff.  Squeezing everything into two hours made the movie feel rushed, as there was so much that didn't get addressed in much detail that could have used it.  That being said, it was still cute and steamy and something I'm glad I went to!

TV Shows
The shows I watched this month were the same as last month!

I got over my fear of being heartbroken and watched the episode that was holding me back, so I ended up seeing episodes 17 - 21 this month!  Only one left until I finish season 2 of Buffy and can move on to season 3, which is on my 18 in 2018 list.

I'm so close to finishing this too!  I watched episodes 17 - 24, and so I only have 3 left.  I can't wait to also mark this off of my list!
I found some super amazing printables by Messy and Brilliant that I put all of the TV shows I want to finish on!  I'm so excited to have this, as it's super cute and fun for me to color in the squares as I go; like a habit tracker, but for TV!  If you like the look of this, please go to her original post and download it!

The events that I had this month were very social in nature!

First, I started going to something called "Tap Room Trivia", which is basically just a trivia night at a local brewery.  I was invited by two of my friends, and actually really enjoyed going!  Now, every time I'm free on Thursday nights I'm going to head there and hang out while trying to win some free drinks! It's a really popular event, so I probably won't have much luck, but at least it's fun.

My sorority also hosted a "Ladies Weekend" this month!  The big thing for me during this time was Canvas night, where some family and I went to a campus building and were lead through designing our wood boards.  We were given stencils, and got to paint the board any color we wanted, then paint over the stencils.  I did this last year too, but it was much more fun with people this time!

This month, I was introduced to a website called Positivity Space.  It's basically a website that has options for you to write your positives for the day, do breathing exercises to help relax, and a space where you can vent if you're having a bad day.  It also tracks your usage of the website, so you can see how often you're actually reflecting on your day!

I love the simple layout and how I can bookmark this to my homepage to fill it out every time I see it.  It also forces you to reflect on your day and think about the good, even when it's hard to.

Well, that's it from me!  February went so quickly for me, and I'm excited to see where March takes me!

How was February for you?  Have you done anything that I have? Let me know!