The grad school life has been extremely crazy lately. I am very behind on my blogging schedule right now and am hoping to get on track soon. However, the work right now is not going to really let up for a while. I do want to share what I read in the month of January. It was a pretty great month for ready, especially with being so busy!
Turtles All the Way Down (3.5/5 stars): So I am not really sure why I didn’t love this one. I am a huge John Green fan but had a really hard time getting through this one and I found it to be a little confusing and unexpected, in not the best way. I really don’t like to hate on books and I still overall liked it but just didn’t love. In short it is about a girl who really struggles a lot with some mental things. She also becomes involved in a mystery of a missing billionaire. I feel like this is kind of a terrible summary but it is basically about this girl’s inner struggles with some side stories about relationships with people and this crazy mystery.
Howl’s Moving Castle (4.5/5 stars): I had no idea this was a book until I was sent it for a Life’s Library book club read. I was so excited and it did not let me down. If you haven’t seen the movie, it is about a girl who works in her family’s hat shop. One day a witch walks in and puts a spell on her that causes her to appear as an old lady. She leaves town and comes across Howl’s moving castle. The story revolves around her time in the castle and her relationships with the inhabitants. It sounds kind of strange and crazy but it is such a beautiful story!
The Silent Patient (5/5 stars): Definitely my favorite read from the month of January. I just loved it. It is kind of a thriller/mystery about a psychotherapist who moves to an institution in hopes of getting one specific patient to talk. This patient, Alicia, has not spoken a word since she killed her husband years before. There was a lot of hype about this book and I wasn’t totally drawn in at first. Someone recommend I read it so I gave it a try and absolutely loved it. I didn’t expect it and thought it was very well-written.
The Only Plane in the Sky (5/5 stars): I guess this was just a great month for reading because this was also a five star read. It is an oral history of 9/11. I highly recommend listening to it via audiobook because it is read by a whole cast and I think it just adds to it since a lot of the book is people talking about their experiences. I cried a ton and just was overwhelmed with feelings. It is very well written and will resonate with anyone who had an experience with the event. I don’t even really have words for how this made me feel. Truly heartbreaking and moving! I will say that it is very heavy so be prepared mentally and emotionally.
Happy February! The time is really flying by, although I could do with more warm weather. The past two weeks have been relatively uneventful for me. I has mostly been focusing on school/work with a few other things thrown in. Every Tuesday night we go over to our friend’s house to watch the Bachelor. Hazel gets some play time with her German Shepherd friend, Zoe. I also have been reading a lot and doing yoga almost every day. I did finally start going to some yoga classes again so I am hoping to keep that up in the coming weeks. We also have had a couple of game nights with our friends, one of which was last night Saturday. It was a blast and I am really glad I pushed myself to get out of the house.
In other news I was not as productive at work/school as I was hoping to be. I ended up getting distracted with other things and then I got super sick on Thursday. I am not sure what happened but I barely left my bed and got pretty behind on a few things. Tomorrow (Monday) is kind of my make up day since I ended up having to deal with some other things on Friday. I have a pretty crazy to-do list for this week. We have also been pretty good about taking Hazel on walks. I have heard very mixed things about puppies and walks but she loves them so much so we have been doing shorter walks about every day.
I did relatively well with my cooking goal this week. I made a delicious vegan soup that lasted us several days. It was a veggie stew but we added spinach, sauerkraut and avocado as garnish and it was amazing. I also baked something new yesterday which was fun! Today we hung out with some friends and made food for the Super Bowl. The half-time show was pretty amazing and there were a few great commercials.
Reading: I am actually right in between books right now and will probably start Things in Jars later tonight. It is going to be released on the 4th of February but I got mine as a January book of the month so I am a little behind.
Wearing: I don’t really have anything new this week but I am still loving my Adidas sneakers and am debating whether or not I should invest in some Veja sneakers. I love that they are sustainable brand and I know I would wear them a ton. If you have them I would love to hear your thoughts!
Watching: In all honesty I have gone down a couple of Youtube rabbit holes and don’t feel super great about them. I sometimes find great things but I often feel like I just wasted a ton of time. On the other hand I am really looking forward to watching Taylor Swift’s new documentary!
Okay this is a kind of late post looking back at my favorite/most used purchases of 2019. This is also just generally my most worn/used items of last year. I am not including book purchases in this list since I did a favorite reads of 2019 post a few weeks ago (I had to mention this since my actual favorite purchases of the year were probably some of the books I read). Enjoy!
Levi’s wedgie icon jeans: I am not a big jeans person but I picked this up last spring and they have been my go to all year. They button up (I know some people don’t love that) and are relatively high waisted. I have just found them very versatile and easy to dress up or down.
Black ponte pants: These have quickly become my go-to pants for a dressier work look. They are as comfortable as leggings but look classy and flattering. I would wear them almost every day while teaching last semester. I was on the fence about purchasing them since they were pricier but they were marked down in the Nordstrom sale so I went for it. I would 100% buy them at full price just knowing how much I wear them!
Madewell crossbody tote: This might be my most used purchase of the year. I got it at the end of summer and it is just the perfect size (it can hold a book!) and it looks great with everything. I have the crossbody tote in Maple Syrup (it seems like that exact one is sold out).
Reformation cropped wrap top: This is going to be my kind of random pick from the year. I did wear it a ton but I know it is not quite as versatile as the others. It is super comfortable and very flattering! I will also say that I just love Reformation in general since they prioritize sustainability and have great quality clothing. It can be on the pricier side but if I really love something it is worth supporting a sustainable company.
White Everlane sweater: Everlane is another sustainable brand that I have been loving for the past several years. My favorite purchase from them so far has been this crew neck sweater. A good white sweater is a closet essential and this one is perfect for any occasion! It looks great and is very comfortable. I wore it a lot tuck into jeans or a skirt.
Align leggings and joggers: I actually got my first pair of align leggings in December of 2018 but I got two more pairs this year (one for Christmas 2019) and have worn them several times a week for pretty much all of 2019. I also bought the align jogger in December and have worn them every week since. Both the leggings and joggers are so flattering and by far the most comfortable pants I have ever owned.
Girlfriend Collective sports bra: This is one that I would recommend to everyone. I wear mine all the time… to yoga or just out and about. It is very comfortable, flattering and can pass as a crop top if you are into that for workouts. It is hands down my favorite sports bra I own!
Now for some non-clothing items:
Drunk Elephant: I, surprisingly, prioritized finding some skin care products that I really like and that work for me. One of my best friends from home recommended the Drunk Elephant littles so I decided to give it a try. They are amazing and have worked wonders for my skin! I used just about every product and my skin care routine still feels simple and doable every day. They are also clean and make all products in the US.
Karen Walker sunglasses: This is by far my splurge item of the year. It was probably not smart but I love them so much and do not regret it at all! For me this was a big purchase because I have been wanting these for years and they are expensive so I always just felt like I couldn’t swing that money on sunglasses. I went for it during a Shopbop sale to lessen the blow a little and am glad I did. They really are amazing quality and I think they will last way longer than any other pair of sunglasses I have owned.
Cuisinart knives: Our roommate moved out so we ended up needing to get a couple of things for the house and one of those things was a set of knives. I did a little research but am not a chief so went for something with good reviews and that I thought would look good in our kitchen. So far these have been amazing, especially for the price!
Kindle paperwhite: I am always been a print book person. I just like having the book in my hands and I think it is way easier on my eyes. In 2019 I really got into audiobooks and I got a kindle! I still prefer print books but the kindle has been a game changer for a variety of reasons. First, I love having lots of reading options and the kindle allows that no matter where you are. It is also super light and easy to fit into a smaller purse. This one is also waterproof which has made reading at the beach so easy!
Thanks for reading. I’d love also to here what some of your favorite purchases of the year were!
We are finally back in Utah and I am back into the full swing of the semester! Coming home was very bittersweet since I so loved the warmth in Captiva and am not really psyched to be back in the cold for another couple of months. On the flipside I am ready to get rolling this semester and am excited to get going on my goals for the year. I am also just so so happy to be back with Hazel. I missed her like crazy during our trip.
We had a couple of days left of vacation after Captiva that we spend exploring Universal Studios. I have never been to Disney or Universal and the closest thing I have done to that is maybe six flags. Aiden’s family likes to go and I was all about going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Harry Potter parts of both parks were amazing. I was very impressed. I also wasn’t sure how I felt about rollercoasters (I had not been on one in over ten years) but there were some fun ones. Hagrid’s Motorbike was by far the best although the wait is kind of crazy. Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are both very well designed and include some incredible details. Wednesday, January 8th we had a relaxing morning before flying back to Denver. We spent one day in Boulder catching up with my family and packing the car. Our drive home was pretty uneventful and Hazel did a little better then the last long car ride.
We had the weekend to catch up and take Hazel for her vet appointment. This past week was very full for me. I had several urgent projects that I was pushing to finish. I ended up being in the lab eight to twelve hours every day. I worked at home on Friday though which was really nice! I really love that as a grad student I have a lot of flexibility with me schedule. I have a class this semester on Tuesday and Thursday but other than that I pretty much make my own weekly schedules.
Oh yes I do have to say that the new season of the Bachelor started and I am here for it. I have had mixed feelings about the show in the past but I have been totally on board for the past several seasons. It is so entertaining! We had a watching party with our friends on Tuesday.
I have spent most of my time this weekend with Hazel. She is just adorable and we have been playing quite a lot! We also took her on a couple of walks to parks nearby. She is still not great at walking on the leash but loves smelling all the new smells. I also started my 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene this weekend and am psyched to get back on my workout game.
Interesting articles and other things I’m loving:
The real women of Bombshell. This is just a moving discussion that highlights what was kept true in the movie and what they got wrong. I highly recommend it!
Tan France’s home tour. Of course it is beautiful. I liked how he talked about how it was before and what aspects of the original house were kept.
Watching: As I mentioned earlier I am back on the Bachelor train and excited for this season. I honestly have not had time in the past couple of weeks to watch anything else!
Wearing: My brother got me this scarf from Anthroplogie for Christmas and I have been wearing it almost every day since we got back to Utah. It is so warm and soft but I have had to teach Hazel not to bite at the fringe.
Reading: I just started The Only Plane in the Sky as an audiobook on libro.fm and it is very moving. It is going to be tough to listen to but it is already a really good book. Also I already can definitely recommend listening to it (there is a full cast that reads it and I think it is a little more powerful since it is an oral history)!
Before I really get into this years goals I do want to revisit last year. Many of my goals are based on how I did with my 2019 goals so context is important. Last year I put my goals into the following categories: fitness, personal, relationships, nutrition, blog and reading. You can read my post from 2019 for all the details. I pretty much nailed my nutrition and reading goals. I wanted to make lots of smoothies and start eating less meat. I ended up going completely vegetarian at the beginning of May and I had fun making lots of smoothies (although it has been a while now!). I feel good about that and I think it was successful in part because I had very specific aims. For reading I wanted to read 52 books. I did achieve that goal although I had wanted to be reading one book per week and I don’t feel like I really did that. Some weeks were really great and others I did not read at all. I also feel like I did pretty well with my goal for my blog which was to figure out what my goal really is and make sure it is an enjoyable thing for me to be doing. I also wanted to post three times a week which I did not do consistently but I feel pretty good because I took a couple months off, blogged everyday for a month and figured out what I really want to be writing about.
My personal goal was not super specific which is why I think I struggled. I do think I am in a better place and am really enjoying my home life. There were some big changes liking Aiden moving out and getting Hazel (our dog) that were all so positive! For my relationship goal I really think I could have done better. I still don’t feel like I prioritized relationships and I did not send letters like I wanted. And then there is my fitness goal… I also feel like I really could have done better with this. I did pretty well last spring but once I started traveling I pretty much stopped working out for a few months. I do think I walked almost everyday but I don’t feel like 2019 was very fulfilling for me on the fitness side of things. Overall I do feel good about what I have accomplished and am excited for a new year!
Just to preface a little I am trying to make my goals as specific as possible because I am better at achieving them when I know exactly what it is I need to do. I also am not necessarily doing the same categories but I do want to improve on the ones I struggled with last year.
Cooking: While I do think I eat pretty well I have not made cooking a priority. I want to learn how to make good meals and make more of an effort especially during the week. Specifically I want to make at least 30 different dishes and for breakfast, lunch and dinner have five solid meals that I could make with no recipe.
Writing: This is another new goal for me. I really love writing but do not prioritize it at all. This year I want to spend time every week writing both for fun and for work (separately). I would include my blog on the fun side of this but I also enjoy writing stories. My goal is to have written two short stories that I am proud of, and to have 150 pages of ‘fun’ writing done. I also want to spend at least an hour per week writing for grad school.
Personal: Since this has been a hard one I want to give myself three things that I am going to focus on for the year. I want to meditate six-seven days a week. It always helps me feel better and I want to make it a part of my routine. I also want to write in my five minute journal every day. I have been very sporadic about it but it also helps me remember who I am and what I want to be doing every day. The final goals is to see a therapist a couple of times. I think seeing a therapist can be so good for everyone! There is nothing wrong with it and I have not been while in grad school so I am feeling the need to go again.
Relationships: This was another goal from last year that I don’t feel like I achieved. Specifically I want to say yes to social events more. Specifically once per week. I sometimes get so caught up in work and other projects that the social aspect of life falls to the wayside. The other thing I want to do is be better about keeping up with friends and family who are not here. I want to call my parents and siblings once a week. I also want to call a friend at least once a week. The other goal I have is to visit at least one friend who lives outside of Utah/Colorado.
Exercise: I mentioned I had a fitness goal last year and felt like I did progressively worse throughout the year. I am going to make it a little more manageable. I want to get outside six days a week (for at least 30 mins!). I also want to go to three classes per week when I am in town. For another specific goal I want to complete a 30 days of Yoga with Adriene every season (so four total). I terms of keeping myself accountable I am going to try to plan out my workout schedule for the week on Sunday so I know exactly what I am going to be doing.
Grad School: So I do have separate goals for work/school that are very specific so I don’t usually include them here. I wanted to this year since I am going to take my comprehensive exams in August. I want to spend several hours per week, starting in March, preparing.
I would love to hear what you all do to stick to your goals every year! I am going to try to post updates on my progress every season in order to keep myself on track.
I hope you are having a good start to the new year!
December was a slow but good month for reading. I always think vacation is going to be a great time for reading but I end up handing out with family and friends and not reading as much.
Where the Crawdads Sing (5/5 Stars): One of my last reads of the year ended up being one of the best. I just can’t even explain how moving this novel is. It seemed really hyped up to me and for some reason I never was really excited to read it but I ended up getting it as an audiobook for our car ride to Savannah. I was totally hooked from the beginning. I am not sure why but the story of this girl who is abandoned by her family and her relationship is just so interesting and wonderfully written. She just has this relationship with the marsh she lives in that is beautiful. There is also a story that has to do with Kaya’s relationship with people after being abandoned by her family.
Red, White and Royal Blue (4/5 stars): I have so many thoughts about this one. It is the story of the first son of the United States and the royal prince of England. They have a very interesting relationship that weaves together politics, romance, acceptance and family. I thought it would be a fluffy romance, which it kind of is, but there are some aspect of it that made me think and that made me so sad and happy. It is basically an alternate reality post Obama and brings in the press and the public and how all perceive public figures (and what is expected of them).
The Nickel Boys (4.5/5 stars): This is a great read but also quite heartbreaking. The only reason I am not giving this one 5 stars is that because I listened to it on audiobook I feel like I did not pay 100% attention all the time and I think I missed some things. I know that is on me and not the book but I just can’t give it five starts when I feel like some things were missing. One of my goals is to reread it in 2020.
Today I am rounding up my outfits from our trip to Florida. As a part of the new year I am going to try sharing my outfits, especially for trips, in a more cohesive way. I used to do monthly favorite outfits but stopped that. I really enjoy sharing outfits though so I want to try this way! This is partly inspired my Grace Atwood’s style of sharing her outfits. I am going to be doing a Captiva travel diary so this is really just what I wore. I will say there were a couple of outfits that I did not get photos of so I did not include those.
Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your weekend!
2020 is here! It is a little crazy. The holidays have come and gone and another semester is about to begin. This break has been a fun one and much needed!
We drove out to Boulder the week before Christmas. Leaving was pretty stressful since we had a lot to do and I was still working. The holidays at my parent’s house were so fun. I just love our traditions and we always switch a few things up. We saw a show on the 23rd and did our usually Christmas Eve dinner. It was so fun to have Hazel around this year. She was just adorable. Charlie (my parent’s dog) warmed up to her a bit more so it was fun to watch them.
Little Hazel got to open her stocking and it was so so cute. She could smell the treats so she really tried! Christmas morning was spent at my parents house. Our Christmas brunch is one of my absolute favorite meals! In the afternoon we headed to the airport for our flight to Newark. It was direct so we got in around 9:00pm and had late night tacos and Christmas with Aiden’s family.
We spent two more days in New Jersey hanging out and meeting up with some of Aiden’s friends and family. We took a long walk around their town the day after Christmas and had coffee with his mom’s uncle the next day (Aiden actually was really sick that day and stayed home). On the 28th we headed to Pennsylvania to visit the Morris Arboretum. The lights and trains were pretty cool! We ate dinner at Farm and Fisherman Tavern (so delicious) and then stayed in a nearby hotel for the night. We drove on to Maryland the next day to visit some friends of Aiden’s family. They were so so nice and we had a great day eating delicious food and playing fun games. The next day we drove to Arlington and stopped for lunch with some of my family before heading on to Savannah. It was a very long drive but I loved Savannah so it was totally worth it!
I might do a separate post on Savannah even though we were only there for a day. I just loved it so much! It is very walkable and there is so much interesting history. It kind of reminded me of Charleston, South Carolina.
On New Years Eve we drove from Savannah down to Fort Meyers, Florida. It took almost seven hours and we ended up getting in around 11:30pm. Just in time to check in and watch the ball drop and the fireworks throughout Sanibel and Captiva.
We took the first opportunity we could to look for shells along the beach. We had great weather and took a couple of much needed swims in the ocean. Aiden’s extended family was down there so we also spent a lot of time hanging out with them around the pool areas.
Captiva has very quickly become one of my favorite places for so many reasons. The beaches are beautiful and usually not very crowded. There is also always so much wildlife. Just one short walk on the beach ends up being a pelican watching session. There were also lots of manatees and several dolphins!
Our last day in the Captiva area was today (Saturday). We spent the morning bird watching at Ding Darling (a wildlife reserve) and then headed up to South Seas Island Resort for some lunch. A big thunderstorm rolled in so we took cover and watched the rain. Once it cleared Aiden went fishing with his uncle and I sat in the hot tube for a while. We ended the day with dinner in Sanibel and then a couple episodes of Dark (we finished a few months ago but started watching again with Aiden’s family). Tomorrow we are headed to Orlando for a couple of days at Universal.
Some 2019 favorite products. Thanks for including some great sustainable products in your favorites Taylor (I am also a Dudley Stephens superfan)!
Political story of the week: what is the deal with Iran? This is definitely complicated so I am going to link some other articles as well. The Evergirl has an overview of what happened. I would actually recommend listening to the Special Report episode from NPR’s Up First. Friday and Saturday’s episodes also talk a lot about what is going on in very understandable terms.
Wearing: I have to mention this Amazon dress since I have been wearing it in Florida a ton. It is so comfortable and perfect for warm weather.
Watching: So yes we are re-watching Dark and it is just as amazing the second time around. I highly recommend it! I will say to stick with it, some people think it is really scary but it kind of just has that feel in the beginning… its not actually scary (I don’t want to give anything away).
Merry Christmas! I can’t believe it is already that time of year. Where has December gone? I wanted to get this post up before Christmas since my life is going to get even crazier starting tomorrow (if that is possible). I really love dressing up so I wanted to do a holiday outfit inspiration post. These are the five outfits that I have been wearing for the past week and that I will continue to wear at least through New Year’s. I love plaid but did not feature it too much since I usually wear the most plaid leading up to Christmas. I did want to give you all some ideas for ringing in 2020.
I feel like dark green and blackwatch plaid carry through January since they are a little more muted! Blackwatch skirt old Pendleton (similar), blazer similar (another option that is on sale), headband Nordstrom Rack (I could not find the exact color online but they might still have it in store, I was there over the weekend and they still had lots of them), heels Nordstrom (on super sale!).
I did have to include at least one other plaid in here. I wasn’t very sure about this skirt in the beginning but I love it! Plaid skirt J. Crew Factory, t-shirt Everlane (I actually planned to wear a black turtleneck with this but somehow it did not make it into my bag), heels Nordstrom.
I think this is my favorite outfit of them all! It is also not very holiday specific so it could work through spring. Blouse is topshop, shoes are Sam Edelman, earrings are J. Crew Factory, bag is Kate Spade (similar color), sunglasses Karen Walker and I actually borrowed the pants from my sister but originally planned on wearing black leggings or a skirt with this.
Okay my last outfit just has to be this plaid KJP dress (their cable knit dresses would be great for the rest of winter). It is so comfortable and perfect for this time of year. I paired it with some KJP socks and Bean boots but I also wore it at Thanksgiving with tights and riding boots.