2019 Goals - Personal

My 2019 Goals

Last year, I only shared my blogging-specific goals with all of you (and again this year!).  For 2019, I figured adding my personal (or at least non-blogging) 2019 goals might be a nice addition–at the very least, I’ll gain some much-needed accountability!

A lot of these are writing-related, as that’s becoming an increasingly important part of my life. But, that’s not all that’s ahead for the year!

Send 500 pieces in lit mag submissions

Despite starting on my first ever poetry submissions quite a few months into 2018, I surpassed 200 submissions (counting individual poems, not each magazine).  So, 500 for 2019 shouldn’t be an issue at all!  In fact, I’ve got nearly 150 submitted already, thanks to being on bedrest with the flu for nearly a week!

While I’d love to set a goal for acceptances, I can’t really control the editors’ decisions.  So, I’ll just hope for the best on that front!  However, I’m also half-heartedly trying the 100 rejections challenge, too.  While I’m in no way going to be disappointed if I don’t reach 100 rejection letters, it’s already helping me to see them as less of a negative force!

Launch Nightingale and Sparrow‘s first issues

I recently launched an online literary magazine, Nightingale & Sparrow.  I’m hoping to release four issues a year! We’re currently accepting submissions for Issue No. I, flight, due in mid-February. I’d love to feature some of my wonderful blog friends who happen to be literary or photographically inclined, so please feel free to submit!

Read 100 books

Near the end of 2018, I decided to up my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge from 40 books to 50.  I’d been reading in excess, so it seemed like an easy win!  Fast forward to December and a handful of recurring migraines left me absurdly behind.  But I powered through and read some fantastic books, exceeding my goal of 50!

So, I’m hoping to read 100 books this year.  Without schoolwork (and required readings) bogging me down, I think it might be doable!  Migraines have already gotten in the way of my first few days of reading, I’m hopeful that they’ll let up going forward! I’ve already gotten some book reviews lined up for Pencils & Pages, my new book blog, so I’ve got to get going one way or another!

Complete 35 items on my 101 in 1,001 list

While I’ve been periodically updating my 101 in 1,001 list, I haven’t made anywhere near the progress I need to if I’d like to complete even a majority of the items by its end date.  So, I’m hoping 2019 is a big year for progress!

Finish my next two poetry manuscripts

While I’m not sure I’ll actually publish my next poetry books this year (I’m considering going for a more traditional publishing route with these), I’d like to at least get a final draft of the manuscript put together.  I’ve got a majority of the actual material ready to go, so it’s just a matter of arranging and putting the finishing touches on the real documents.

These will be Centre Stage and “How My Cat Saved My Life” and Other Poems, if you’re interested in learning more!

Draft The Affair

While NaNoWriMo 2018 didn’t go in my favour (thank you, migraines), I’m still pretty excited about the novel I started last November.  So, I’m hoping to continue and hopefully finish that first draft in 2019! It’s bound to be messy and far from ready to go, but I’m determined to get this first draft done.

Pay off at least three credit cards

Between being a poor college student and having a multitude of health issues, I have more debt than I’d like. Despite my absurdly low income, I’m determined to work hard to get at least three cards paid off! This is hardly a total solution and it doesn’t even touch the chaos that is student loans, but every little bit counts!

Earn income from the blog

Of course, this dives into some of my blogging goals for the year, but I’m planning on 2019 being the year that I start earning a semi-regular income from For the Sake of Good Taste. Between our planned product launches, (hopefully) some sponsored posts, and affiliate income, my hopes are high! As my blogging skills improve over time (I’m constantly amazed at how far the site has come since its launch!), I’m confident that things can only move forward.

Organise my life

The KonMari method may be having a resurgence of popularity thanks to Marie Kondo’s new Netflix series, but I’ve been utilising her concepts for years now. I’ve worked through her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in little bits since I first picked it up, but I’m planning to make it through the entire process as intended this year. I’m working on clothes currently!

Build my emergency fund

In paying down debt and increasing my income, I’m hoping that I can get better at saving! I’m using a lot of Dave Ramsey methodology, so I’m starting with a goal of $1,000.  From there, I’d like to get a minimum of six months’ expenses saved, eventually!

What are your 2019 goals?

2019 Goals - Personal

Book Review - The Traitor

Book Review: The Traitor by T.J. London

I’m thrilled to (finally!) share today’s book review of T.J. London’s The Traitor!

If you haven’t already (or need a refresher), be sure to check out my spotlight post for this book.  Though the tour has officially ended, I’ll link to the bloggers who participated below so you can check out their posts, too!

I received a copy of T.J. London’s  The Traitor through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review purposes. As always, this review reflects only my honest opinions on the book.

Be sure to visit our HFVBT tag for more fantastic historical fiction reads!

About The Traitor

Publication Date:  October 26, 2018

eBook: 574 pages

Series:  The Rebels and Redcoats Saga, Book #2

Spy. Liar. Scoundrel. Redcoat.

Provocateur and spy for His Majesty, Captain John Carlisle returns to Fort Niagara with the secrets he stole in the arms of the beautiful Oneida innkeeper, Dellis McKesson. Determined to complete his mission and clear his name, he’ll see justice done—and damn the consequences. Now, he finds himself drawn into political intrigue as the British prepare to launch a three-pronged attack that will bring the Rebels and the Mohawk River Valley to its knees.

A dangerous revelation finds Dellis as whispers of intrigue insinuate her beloved is not all that he seems. Unwilling to wait for her lover’s return, she sets out in search of the truth as the Onieda begin negotiations with the Rebels, breaking the neutrality agreement with the crown. A bold move that will stoke a fire between the brother tribes and lead to a bloody inter-confederacy war—one Dellis predicted, and one John incited.

While war between the colonies and the King smolders, the punishing winter of 1777 allows the perfect opportunity for old enemies to settle scores, lying in wait, ready to exploit John’s one weakness—his heart. John is not an innocent man. The truth he’s long tried to hide from can no longer be ignored, the ghosts of the past seeking justice, and karma wanting payment for sins so dark they cannot be forgiven.

My Review:

I was excited to continue along John and Dellis’ journey in this sequel to The Tory.  Once again, I was especially drawn to the characters and, even more specifically, to their flaws.  Dellis was a favourite to learn about again, but what I found most interesting in learning more of the characters in The Traitor was the further development of Agnes’ character, especially beyond her work for Celeste.  While she still has some progress to make, she’s grown so much since the first novel (at least, from the reader’s perspective) and it was an awesome transformation to follow.

Like The Tory, this book was more violent than I anticipated–for me, this one was more triggering than the previous novel.  Still, this is very much the reality within the world of the books;  you can’t have a war without violence, even of the particularly atrocious sort.  Still, be warned that it does exist, albeit necessarily.

As the novel went on, more pieces of mysteries from the first novel fell into place.  Yet, even more questions arose, which is ideal–we need to have something to look forward to in book three,  coming in 2019!  I’m anxious to see how Dellis and John reconcile their differences as the war continues, and how they come to terms with the secrets that still lie between them.

Like its previous instalment, The Traitor was an enjoyable read and a great addition to The Rebels and Redcoats saga.

Where Can I Get a Copy?

The Traitor is available on Amazon.

About the Author:

T.J. London is a rebel, liberal, lover, fighter, diehard punk, and pharmacist-turned-author who loves history. As an author her goal is to fill in the gaps, writing stories about missing history, those little places that are so interesting yet sadly forgotten. Her favorite time periods to write in are first and foremost the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, the French and Indian War, the Russian Revolution and the Victorian Era. Her passions are traveling, writing, reading, barre, and sharing a glass of wine with her friends, while she collects experiences in this drama called life. She is a native of Metropolitan Detroit (but secretly dreams of being a Londoner) and resides there with her husband Fred and her beloved cat and writing partner Mickey.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 5
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 6
Review at For the Sake of Good Taste (The Tory)

Wednesday, November 7
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, November 8
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Friday, November 9
Review at Pursuing Stacie (The Tory)
Excerpt at Donna’s Book Blog (The Tory)

Tuesday, November 13
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (The Tory)
Review at For the Sake of Good Taste (The Traitor)

Wednesday, November 14
Excerpt at Spellbound By History

Thursday, November 15
Feature at Donna’s Book Blog (The Traitor)

Friday, November 16
Review at LadyJ’s Bookish Nook (Both)
Review at Pursuing Stacie (The Traitor)
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (The Traitor)

Book Review - The Traitor

Book Review - The Tory

Book Review: The Tory by T.J. London

I’m thrilled to (finally!) share today’s book review of T.J. London’s The Tory!

If you haven’t already (or need a refresher), be sure to check out my spotlight post for this book.  Though the tour has officially ended, I’ll link to the bloggers who participated below so you can check out their posts, too!

I received a copy of T.J. London’s  The Tory through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review purposes. As always, this review reflects only my honest opinions on the book.

Be sure to visit our HFVBT tag for more fantastic historical fiction reads!

About The Tory

Publication Date:  April 11, 2018

Paperback & eBook: 517 Pages

Series: The Rebels and Redcoats Saga, Book #1

It is the winter of 1776, and Captain John Carlisle, one of His Majesty’s not-so-finest, has gone back to the scene of the crime to right a wrong so dark it left a permanent stain on what was once an illustrious career and left a man broken, defeated, in search of justice…

In an effort to win back his commission, he must discover the true nature of the relationship between the Six Nations of the Iroquois and the Colonial Army. Undercover as a war profiteer, John travels to the treacherous Mohawk River Valley and infiltrates local society, making friends with those he’s come to betray.

But a chance meeting with a beautiful half Oneida innkeeper, whose tragic history is integrally linked to his own, will provide him with the intelligence he needs to complete his mission—and devastate her people.

Now, as the flames of war threaten to consume the Mohawk Valley, John has the chance to not only serve King and country but to clear his name. When the truth he uncovers ties his own secrets to those in the highest positions of the British military and threatens the very life of the woman he’s come to love, he will be forced to make a choice…

My Review:

Not only was a T.J. London an entirely new-to-me author when I received copies of The Tory and The Traitor, but the period was also relatively novel.  Despite my trio of history minors, my knowledge of the American Revolution is essentially the half a dozen songs I know from Hamilton.

That being said, I have been trying to branch out a bit in my reading and this was a great start, to be soon followed by its sequel.  Reading this book, it was clear that London has done her research and I had no doubt that I was reading something that, albeit fiction, was accurate where it needed to be.    The succinct foreword further proved my point–this author clearly loves the era in question and knows what she is talking about, fictionalised or not.

On a similar note, the author herself has a unique voice that is clear in both the novel and her writings about it.  The acknowledgements, in particular, come to mind;  her mention of her chronic migraines and gratitude towards her doctor in the process of dealing with them while writing was both relatable and memorable.  Personally, I find little details like this to be a huge factor when choosing authors to read.

Back to the topic of The Tory, I struggled at first to sympathise with the protagonist, John.  After all, he is tremendously flawed–he is, as he calls himself time again, a scoundrel.  I met his character with the same trepidation as Dellis, the book’s female lead.  Yet, by the book’s end, I found myself rooting for him and for his chances to further explore his feelings for Dellis.

One of my favourite aspects of this novel was, in fact, Dellis McKesson.  She, too, is flawed, but she tries to do what is right for herself and for her people, as well as for her parents’ memories.  What most strikes me, though, is her strength.  Though John does help her to work past her fears, this is not a story of the brave soldier swooping in to save the damsel in distress.  His efforts are simply additions to her own.

The Oneida and their importance to the novel did take some getting used to at first, especially as its been many years since I read much featuring indigenous people.  However, once I caught on to the basics, and to the McKesson family’s connections, this became one of my favourite elements.

It’s important to note that there are some rather graphic scenes in this book, which did come as a surprise.  In addition to sexual content, there is some terrifying violence, specifically on the part of a particularly sadistic antagonist.

Overall, though, I did enjoy reading The Tory.  It’s rather lengthy, but this allows for plenty of plot and character development, which adds so much to the novel as a whole.  I’m looking forward to exploring what happens next in The Traitor!

Where Can I Get a Copy?

The Tory is available on Amazon.

About the Author:

T.J. London is a rebel, liberal, lover, fighter, diehard punk, and pharmacist-turned-author who loves history. As an author her goal is to fill in the gaps, writing stories about missing history, those little places that are so interesting yet sadly forgotten. Her favorite time periods to write in are first and foremost the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, the French and Indian War, the Russian Revolution and the Victorian Era. Her passions are traveling, writing, reading, barre, and sharing a glass of wine with her friends, while she collects experiences in this drama called life. She is a native of Metropolitan Detroit (but secretly dreams of being a Londoner) and resides there with her husband Fred and her beloved cat and writing partner Mickey.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Monday, November 5
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 6
Review at For the Sake of Good Taste (The Tory)

Wednesday, November 7
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, November 8
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Friday, November 9
Review at Pursuing Stacie (The Tory)
Excerpt at Donna’s Book Blog (The Tory)

Tuesday, November 13
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (The Tory)
Review at For the Sake of Good Taste (The Traitor)

Wednesday, November 14
Excerpt at Spellbound By History

Thursday, November 15
Feature at Donna’s Book Blog (The Traitor)

Friday, November 16
Review at LadyJ’s Bookish Nook (Both)
Review at Pursuing Stacie (The Traitor)
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (The Traitor)

Book Review - The Tory

The Darkest Corners

Book Blast: The Darkest Corners

I’m excited to join with Book Junkie Promotions for this book blast featuring Sydney Jamesson’s The Darkest Corners.

Be sure to check out our books tag for more great reads!

The Darkest Corners by Sydney Jamesson

Publication Date: November 20, 2018
SJ Publishing
eBook; 332 Pages

Genre: Psychological Suspense

This standalone novel is not a romance. It is psychological suspense with a complex love story woven through it. Expect lots of angst, emotional scenes and edge of your seat suspense as a single father and a troubled young woman confront their deepest, darkest fears together.

After surviving a life changing event, celebrated artist Maxwell Grant has not touched a paintbrush or a woman in four years. During that time, he has tormented himself over an unspeakable act he dare not admit to, even to himself.

His one chance at redemption comes through a journal left behind by Harriet Harper, a mysterious woman in his night school class.

Shocked by what he reads about her tortured existence, he becomes obsessed by her and falls headfirst into a dangerous game of he said, she said, not knowing who to believeówho to trust.

When a dangerous character from Harrietís past appears, events take a turn for the worse and he must say and do whatever necessary to save his sanity and, more importantly, his four year old daughter, Poppy.

Some secrets never get to see the light of day; others are just waiting to be uncovered Ö with shocking consequences.

Nook | Kobo | Google Play | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JT_9G9JK4s]

Excerpt

Max
I PLACED THE JOURNAL on the pillow to my right, deep in thought, disbelieving that unassuming young woman I had met just over twenty-four hours ago could have lived such a life. It occurred to me that her life experiences had shaped her into an uncompromising, plain-spoken woman. No wonder she took it upon herself to speak up; to say what needed to be said to an arrogant, insensitive sod like me.

In my mind’s eye, I pictured her sitting nervously on that ten thirty-six train to Brighton, venturing into the unknown, starting over–alone–having experienced … who knows what?

At least I had a home to come back to; one Hope and I had designed together with an architect, shaping our ideas into something tangible and practical, reflecting both our personalities: my need for privacy and light, Hope’s need for satin cushions, storage and space for us to grow as a family. We had created our own piece of heaven, blissfully unaware that fate would see to it that she did not get to experience it for more than a couple of months.

And there was Harriet, courageously moving on, which is more than I had done.

As bad as it appeared–stealing a look into Harriet’s world, her private thoughts, her fears and aspirations–I could not help myself. Sure, her world was alien to me; the landscape was foreign, unrecognisable, but her emotions and sense of displacement were not. We had both loved passionately, and been forced to inhabit an unfamiliar world, forever altered.

I trotted back into the lounge, topped up my drink and threw in a couple of ice cubes, allowing them to chill the golden liquid before tasting it. Glass in hand I headed to bed, stopping to check in on Poppy first.

She was sleeping; gentle wisps of air escaped her lips as she dreamed of more precious trinkets, shopping trips, and colouring books awash with fluorescent shades that reflected a world filled with laughter and love–exactly where she belonged.

I could not sleep

Two brief encounters, and there I was allowing a young woman I barely knew to invade my psyche. Without even trying, Harriet had caused a chain reaction: what started out as annoyance and mild curiosity had morphed into something inexplicably provocative.

My skin was warm and prickly, as if it had been scrubbed clean. After my four-year hiatus, my entire body was throbbing. I turned on the bedside lamp, knocking my glasses to the floor, still trembling from what I assumed was a panic attack, or was it arousal? It had been so long since I’d felt something so visceral and unexpected, it was hard to tell. Whatever it was, there was no way I was going back to sleep.

I put Harriet’s journal to one side, deciding to ration out the entries. The last thing I needed was to become obsessed by it–by her. In hindsight, if I’d known how reading about her life was going to affect me and my life, I might have thought twice about opening what was turning into Pandora’s Box.

Then again, I wonder what would have become of me if I had not opened it and turned the pages, devouring her words like a starving man.

At least I was lucid enough to notice that the glass of Scotch I had poured myself was still there by the lamp, its contents luminescent in the light cast from beneath the shade. If nothing else, my liver was grateful for her disclosures.

Mildly anesthetized by the alcohol in my veins, I longed for sleep but it came in waves, angry tidal waves that stirred my soul and stole my breath. Like so many nights before, I began to feel ensnared, sandwiched between those browbeating buddies, Loneliness and Guilt. They were at their most potent in the hours between dusk and dawn, terrorising me with images from my past that I was still in no shape to confront. From the bottom of a glass they stared back at me, insistent and unforgiving.

My nightmare was always the same; it involved a bloodied hand reaching out to me. No matter how I fought I could not escape it. I could not see whose hand it was, but I knew the name of the phantom who haunted all my dreams. I just could not bring myself to say it out loud.

I woke, disorientated, drowning in perspiration.

Biting back frustration, I swallowed what was left of the elixir, inviting it to numb my senses, needing the deadening effect that it alone could produce in my body, in my mind.

I did not want to think.

I did not want to feel.

I wanted to forget. Not only my past but Harriet’s too, for a couple of hours, at least.

All I had wanted to do was to step out of my shoes and into those of a free-spirited human being for a day or two, without dragging my heels or stumbling over obstacles only I could see.

In my desperation, I assumed Harriet was that person. I had her all mapped out.

She was at least six years younger than me. Her life was filled with parties, dates with twenty-something bartenders with a penchant for homemade wine and staying up all night watching boxed sets of The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones.

With every new entry I was being drawn in deeper. I bent down to pick up her journal, snatching my glasses from beneath the bed where they had landed. I decided I should do no more than flick through the pages to the very last entry, like a teenage boy about to fail a maths assignment; going straight to the answers without even trying to solve the problem.

But … that would be cheating.

Harriet was clearly a woman of many parts, an enigma with hidden depths and a past that I could either descend into, at my peril, or walk away from. She had fallen in love, experienced the joy of devotion, and yet, she’d ended up alone–like me.

So, taking a deep breath, I dived in…

About the Author

Sydney Jamesson is an English teacher by day and a USA Today bestselling author of romance, suspense by night. She is nocturnal by nature and loves nothing more than staying up late, listening to music and being inspired to write. She has always scribbled things down; in her home is one enormous waste paper basket full of discarded phrases, opening lines and pieces of dialogue that have hit her like lightning in the middle of the night or whilst parked up at a set of traffic lights. Her bestselling trilogy, The Story of Us is available worldwide, and she has been thrilled to continue Ayden Stone and Beth Parker’s epic love story in The Story of Us Series: Into the Blue, comprising: Blue Genes, Blue Hearts, Blue Moon. More recently, Sydney has focused on psychological suspense.

THE DARKEST CORNERS is a complex love story filled with lots of angst, emotional scenes and edge of your seat suspense as a single father and a troubled young woman confront their deepest, darkest fears together.

Connect With Sydney Jamesson

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Book Bub

Join The Darkest Corners Collective on Facebook

Lessons from My Grandfather

Lessons from My Grandfather

My Pop-Pop’s 71st birthday was just a few weeks ago! A veteran, historian, photographer, coach, and all-around nice guy, Pop’s been one of my closest friends for as long as I can remember.  In one of the first posts here on the blog, I shared lessons I’ve learned from my grandmother, his wife and my Nanny. It’s only fitting that I should also share some lessons from my grandfather!

Pop is the kind of person who walks down the street and is immediately met with a chorus of “Hello, George” and “Hey, Mr. Lord!” Despite a lifetime of health problems, he always has a smile for everyone.  He spent years working with local sports teams, so literal generations of students and their families have fond memories of their “Coach”  His photographs have appeared in a series of local history books, and he’s even donated a portion of his remarkable collection to the local historical society.

He served with the United States Air Force as a young man and is always happy to share stories of his time under Mount Fuji (though he refuses to eat rice to this day).  Pop knows more about the American Civil War (especially the Battle of Gettysburg, his favourite place in the world) and local history than some professors I know.

All of these things considered, Pop is most importantly just that: my Pop-Pop.

Lessons from My Grandfather

There is always something to learn from the past

Seeing as I graduated with three different kinds of history minors, this one definitely stuck with me! Since I was old enough to grasp it at its simplest, Pop has taught me about history, especially the American Civil War, the Titanic, and John F. Kennedy. Now, these are some of my favourite historical periods.

As I mentioned above, he’s also quite the local history buff. In addition to working with the Schuylkill County Historical Society, he’s got a story for nearly every street in and around his city.  I didn’t get much (if any) local history while in school, but he made sure to make up for it.

Always (always!) keep a camera at hand

This is certainly a lot easier with today’s cell phones, but Pop taught me to always have a camera on me long before I could slip an iPhone in my back pocket and call it a day. You never know what you might stumble across that’s photo-worthy!

I’ve gotten some of my best shots over the years just by happening to have a camera on hand.  In this smartphone era, this has translated to my having at least three different camera apps (not counting all the editing apps) on my phone at any given point.

Similarly, always take pictures

My friends and other family members think I’m a bit mad when I insist on taking pictures. But from Pop’s lessons and my own experience, photos are permanent in a way that so much of life isn’t. People pass away, buildings are torn down, and your life changes beyond recognition when you least expect it. Through photos, you can hold on to a piece of that regardless.

Pro tip:  Google Photos is an absolute lifesaver for the memory issues that inevitably come with taking so many photos!  I’ll be posting a full review soon, so stay tuned.  

Learn something new every day

I can honestly say I’ve become a “lifelong learner” thanks to Pop’s insistence on learning something each and every day. I’m constantly reading articles and taking classes to learn more. These lessons (how meta!) might not give me another degree to show off, but I’m constantly building a mental “library” of knowledge that can come in handy when I least expect it.

I take classes on sites like Coursera and FutureLearn, study with apps like Duolingo and Google Primer, and I’m even working on a course of my own to help others learn new things!

Make sure you’ve signed up for updates to learn more about our upcoming course!

Keep a journal

Even now, Pop reminds me to write about day-to-day life in a journal. I’m not quite as adept at this one as I’d like to be, but I try really hard to write when I can, even if it’s just a few lines about the past few days. Not only can you look back on your journal yourself and see how much you’ve grown, but it can give insight to future generations who might stumble across it!

When I’m not able to keep up with a standard journal (life gets busy!), I try to at least jot a few notes in my bullet journal.  I’ve started keeping a “Memories” page for each month where I write in some of the month’s events, both positive and negative.

Really read a book

I’ve always been a bit of a speed reader, but Pop takes extra time to read a book.  He takes notes in the margins, underlines important points, and adds his own commentary.  I don’t do this myself very often, but I love picking up his and getting these bonus commentaries.

While I don’t annotate much, this does remind me to keep my focus as much as possible while reading. This comes into play especially while reading nonfiction pieces, even now that I’m out of school. I don’t have the greatest memory, so this sometimes involves re-reading passages

It’s the little things

This was one of Pop’s go-to phrases for years and it still rings true. No matter how much life is getting you down, there are little things to remain grateful for and little things to make you happy.  It’s the little things that make you fall in love with someone. It’s the little moments you remember when you think of your favourite times and places.

Happy belated birthday, Pop!

Family photo

July 2018 Favourites

July 2018 Favourites

Catch up on June’s edition, then read on for my July 2018 favourites!

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

WEARING:

My mom found this robe on clearance for just $3 and thought it would be perfect for me! I’m always cold, especially when I venture into air conditioning.  It’s super comfortable, too!

Do you remember my Dobby shirt from last month’s favourites (refresh your memory here!)? I got the matching hat as a belated graduation present for myself – for only seven dollars!

Hogwarts Hat

You might have seen on Instagram that I bruised my heels earlier this month so I was living in slippers for a while, too. I got this pair and they helped so much with the pain!  I’m happy to report that they’re feeling much better.

USING:

If you follow us on social media, you’ve probably seen that I’ve been accepted into the BrüMate Ambassador Program! So far I’ve gotten this glass and I’m absolutely in love. Glitter and Tiffany blue? You can’t get any better in my eyes!

Brumate Uncork'd Patio

Not going to lie, I’ve mostly been drinking water from it, but I’ve managed to squeeze in a few actual drinks (of course, it was such an effort to do so!). It keeps drinks cold and it’s the perfect size, too. Not to mention its aesthetic addition to my Instagram feed!

Use my referral link to get 15% off your first order and I’ll get some bonus points, too – it’s a win-win!

LISTENING:

When a high school friend of my mom’s reached out with extra last-minute tickets to see Maroon 5 in Hershey, we naturally jumped at the chance! Of course, this meant listening to the Maroon 5 Greatest Hits playlist on repeat in the days leading up to the concert.

Maroon 5 Greatest Hits
Adam Levine

I’m happy to report that Adam Levine sounds stellar in person and he’s got the stage presence of a literal god.

I also introduced my mom and sister to The Greatest Showman and, by extension, the soundtrack.  Mom’s had “This Is Me” on repeat for the past two weeks!

EATING:

If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll have seen my enthusiasm over Halo Top’s Dairy-Free pints. So far, the Candy Bar and Chocolate Covered banana flavours are my favourites!

Halo Top

As for cooking, the most frequent meal of the month was my vegan caprese pasta salad (the recipe is scheduled here on the blog for Thursday!).

I’ve also replaced the pasta in that dish with this Barilla Veggie Penne*.  This is perfect when I don’t have any tomatoes on hand!

I also fell completely in love with It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken‘s Vegan Toast Dipping Sauce!  I’ve never really missed eggs, but there’s something so nostalgic about this nevertheless.

DRINKING:

I was absurdly excited to find this soy chai drink on clearance at our local produce market! It was amazing – I even added some to my coffee as a pseudo-creamer!

Vanilla Soy Chai

I also ordered some boba tea supplies. I hadn’t had it in over a year! It wasn’t quite as good as those I’ve had in real tea shops, but it satisfied the craving!

READING:

After a slow start, I’ve been reading so much this month!

I finished up A Constant Princess*, which definitely took me longer than I’d planned. From there, I finally picked up Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s Peluda*, after fangirling over her poetry from afar for far too long.

peluda

I also started Poems & Songs* by Robert Burns, which involves a whole lot of reading out loud in something that’s supposed to resemble a Scottish accent, and Keep it Real*, a book on writing creative nonfiction.  Then I added The Swans of Fifth Avenue*, too! I normally only read one book at a time, but these three are different enough that it’s not too bad so far.

As a bonus, I also received a Barnes & Noble gift card, got my ThriftBooks order, and went to a used book sale! I’ll have a book haul post coming next week, so stay tuned.

WATCHING:

I started watching Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back, which quickly turned to my mom recommending Kitchen Nightmares.  I’ve never been gladder to know I cook so much of my food myself!

I’ve also begun rewatching M*A*S*H since I realised it was on Hulu. I grew up watching the show (and swooning over Alan Alda), so it’s been quite the blast from the past!

MASH - Hulu

I watched The Godfather and The Purge for the first time and picked up A Quiet PlaceRed Sparrow, and Truth or Dare. I’ve quoted the Corleones more than can be considered normal, I’m sure.

DIFFUSING:

We’ve been diffusing Young Living’s Purification blend often this month! My parents’ air conditioner means closed windows and my room is small and gets very warm, especially amid the recent heat wave. Purification is the perfect solution!

Young Living Purification

LEARNING:

I redownloaded Elevate for the first time in months and quickly picked up brain training again.  I’ve had to offload the app a few times due to storage issues (it’s a big one!), so I’m not sure I’ll keep it up in August.

I’ve continued working on Duolingo, too! I haven’t kept up with either as much as I’d like throughout the month, but I’m still working, however slowly.

It’s taken me a bit longer than expected, but I’m working through a Modern Art class, too! It’s one of several online courses I’m taking on Coursera, so stay tuned for updates and more. Possibly even a future post featuring some of my favourite courses? Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested!

WORKING:

I put a lot of emphasis on looking to work with brands here on the blog and it paid off! I was super excited to share Self-Care Tips for Working at a Computer All Day, a post sponsored by Pure Journi. I’m still loving my footrest!

Foot Rest - Long Day

Since then, I’ve been applying to even more campaigns, so I’m hoping to share even more amazing brands and products with you all soon!

We also welcomed Kelsey of The Lux Authority to the blog for the guest post Vegan High Heels to Drool Over! Her gorgeous, vegan-friendly picks fit in perfectly with our content.

In terms of writing, I celebrated the one-year anniversary of Mistakes Were Made*!  Our merchandise went on sale for the week and I shared some exclusive graphics featuring excerpts from some of my favourite poems from the book.

From 5 July - Mistakes Were Made

We didn’t sell any copies of Mistakes Were Made* or any individual poems, but there’s always next month!

POSTS THIS MONTH:

101 in 1,001

101 Ways to Save Money

Self-Care Tips for Working at a Computer All Day (featuring Pure Journi’s Foot Rest)

2018 Goals Check-In #1

Vegan High Heels to Drool Over: A Guest Post from Kelsey of The Lux Authority

12 Myths About Organising

July 2018 Favourites

WHAT WERE YOUR JULY 2018 FAVOURITES? STAY TUNED FOR AUGUST’S!

Lessons from My Grandmother

Lessons from My Grandmother

This past Saturday was my grandmother’s birthday!  In celebrating, I got to thinking of all the things I’ve learned from her over the years.  What better way to commemorate these than to share with you?  On that note, here are seven lessons from my grandmother.

I’ve since talked about lessons from my grandfather, too!

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Walks make every day a little bit better.

When I was little (well, littler…I’m still pretty tiny!), I lived with my grandparents, and I spent countless hours with them beyond that.  One of our favourite pastimes was simply taking a walk.  Even now, Nan doesn’t feel like she’s at her best when she hasn’t taken a walk that day.  As an adult, I prefer to walk rather than drive, take public transport, etc., largely because of these positive experiences as a child.  During the past school year, I walked a mile both ways to work each day. My classmates thought I was crazy, but I loved it!  Now I’ll be living at that distance from campus and can’t wait.

The best way to a heart is through the stomach.

My grandfather is one of the pickiest eaters I know, yet he still has at least a dozen meals that he’ll eat gleefully every time Nanny makes them.  There are countless recipes of hers that stick out in my mind, accompanied by some of my happiest memories.  From cookies and cakes to pasta and hearty mains, she has a recipe to please everyone.

She has folders full of magazine and newspaper clippings featuring recipes she’d love to try–her very own offline Pinterest board!  Sometimes she’ll find one that’s either accidentally vegan or that she’s confident I can make my own and make me a copy.  I’ve found some of my favourite recipes this way!

The reality of beauty.

Growing up, one of my favourite things to do was play with Nanny’s hair.  It was long and beautiful and one of the softest things I’ve touched, even now.  She’d smile and tell me and my sister about how her mom’s hair was the same.  Several years ago, she beat breast cancer, and in the process, she lost most of her hair.  She hates it, but it’s taught me a tremendous lesson:  even the most beautiful features aren’t as beautiful as those who have them.  She’s just as gorgeous without her long hair, and the strength she showed through it all makes her even more beautiful, in my opinion.

There is nothing better than a hand-written letter.

When I first went away to college, I was insistent that I’d write letters to those who were willing.  Plenty of friends rolled their eyes and sent me a Facebook message, but a few special people let me live out my hopelessly romantic dream.  One of these?  Nanny and Pop!  Even when they insist they have nothing to write about, they’ll drop me a line.  Without fail, it puts a smile on my face.

Some friends last a lifetime.

For as long as I can remember, Nan has kept in touch with her friend Marlene.  Whether it be a birthday card or a quick note to catch up, I’ve always been impressed by the longevity of their friendship.  When I fight with a friend at college or lose touch with someone from high school, I think of Nanny and Marlene—not every friendship will last forever, but those that do are worth it.

Books are bloody brilliant.

As an English major, it’s no surprise that I love books.  From a young age, I got a huge part of that love from Nanny.  She introduced me to This Rough Magic*, her all-time favourite, and James Patterson’s complete works.  Coupled with a favourite murder mystery (The Artful Detective is our most recent go-to), she and I must have spent thousands of hours discussing books over the years.  One of our favourite things to do is visit the local used book sales—I can’t recommend it highly enough!  You never know what new favourite may be waiting, and at as low as a quarter in some cases!

Now, stories are a factor here too, and no one said they have to be written down to count.  Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours listening to stories from Nanny’s life.  Whether we’re talking about the layout of a house she lived in as a child or a job she had long before I was born, it’s bound to be entertaining.  While I’m currently working with Pop on a biography, I’d love to sit down and write some of Nanny’s stories out with her, too.

Happy Birthday, Nanny!

 

We hope you enjoyed these lessons from my grandmother!

Lessons from My Grandmother