September 09, 2016

Books 'n Bloggers Swap

Books 'n Bloggers is a twice-a-year swap hosted by Beth and Angie at Chaotic Goddess Swaps. I participated in one last year and had a lot of fun with it, so I signed up for the August swap. I was matched up with Kait, who blogs at Scintillating Reads! I received her box this week and eagerly tore into it. 

Swappers are asked to send a book they love, a book from their partner's wishlist, and a book of their choice. Kait sent me Conversion by Katherine Howe, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. All three of these YA novels were on my wishlist and I'm excited to add them to my collection!

Kait was also super generous and sent me a bunch of other goodies! I may have gasped when I pulled the Funko Pop of the Tenth Doctor from the box. Ten is my favorite Doctor from Doctor Who. :) I also received some fun note pads, stickers (perfect for my bullet journal), and pencils. I mentioned that I loved sour candy and she went all out with that lead, too. I've got candy for days now - yum!

The box I sent Kait should be showing up soon. I had the biggest fiasco with my book order. The shipment was supposed to arrive last Saturday, but didn't turn up until Tuesday thanks to Tropical Storm Hermine and Labor Day. I immediately packed Kait's box that night and sent it out Wednesday morning, days after it was supposed to go out. Ugh. I guess there's not much you can do about Mother Nature and National Holidays though.

If you've not participated in a CG Swap yet, get to it! Swapoween is the next scheduled swap and it's open to US and Canadian bloggers. Keep and eye out and sign up when the sign ups post goes live. I've already marked my calendar. A huge thank you to Beth and Angie for hosting and an even bigger thank you to Kait for totally making my day with this awesome box!

September 08, 2016

Small Goals // September

August was pretty much a crapshoot in terms of doing anything productive. It was a rough month for me. I talked about that and what it meant for me briefly in my What I'm Into post for August. My small goals fell to the wayside, needless to say. Here's what my goals for August were:

1. Put together a small home office. Nope. All my stuff is still sitting in boxes on the office floor.

2. Go for a bike ride with S. Nope. S got a bike, but I felt like being active zero percent of the month.

3. Participate in a blog swap/exchange. I actually did this! I participated in a swap with the International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club (IGGPPC) based around the theme 'summer camp.' I'm also in the middle of the books 'n' bloggers swap with Chaotic Goddess swaps.

4. Hang up some framed art and mirrors. Yet another nope. This ended up not being a priority for me this month.

5. Unfortunately, my biggest goal is not something I feel comfortable posting publicly just yet. I actually made headway on this and will talk about it more below.

2/5 is a big womp womp, but I'm not beating myself up about it. I'm centering September's goals around my wellness:

1. Work on my depression recovery benchmarks. My first few include becoming aware of my inner critic and catching myself when I have negative/bad thoughts about myself, letting myself feel my emotions instead of pushing them aside, and being honest with how I'm feeling.

2. Practice self care. I'm pretty awful at this lately. I need to stop thinking about this as a waste of time and stop feeling guilty about doing something for myself. I want to take more baths, wear more makeup, buy some new clothes...maybe even get a massage, mani/pedi, or visit a spa. These things always make me feel good about myself and confidence is something I need right now.

3. Visit some doctors. I need to go to the dentist, optometrist, and the endocrinologist. I've been putting the visits off and need to get myself some check-ups.

4. Continue rediscovering things that make me happy. I've started doing this, but I want to keep going. I want to keep reading, blogging, thrifting, and using my bullet journal. Maybe I'll even find a few more new things I'm into.

5. Look for a new job. This was my secret goal last month, but it doesn't need to be a secret anymore. I won't disclose where I work now, but unfortunately I'm not happy there. Luckily it's a good company and I was able to have a discussion with my manager about it. They want their employees to be happy, so I'm allowed to stay while I look for a new job. Last month I applied to two jobs and this month I want to apply for more.

These might seem like super basic goals, but that's where I'm at right now: back to basics. I know I can do these things and am determined to have a 5/5 report for October. :)

I'm linking up with Nicole at Writes Like a Girl.

September 02, 2016

Daily Gratitude // August

One of my monthly bullet journal pages is a space for writing something I'm thankful for each day. It's become a source of comfort for me. When I'm having a bad day I can look back at my monthly gratitude page and smile at all the things I have to be thankful for. Some are big, some are small, some are people, and some are things, but they all meant something to me on these days. (Also, apparently I was thankful for foods a lot this month!)

1. It's finally the last month of summer
2. Meeting new people
3. A new hobby (bullet journaling)
4. Precooked dinner
5. Ella being back to normal (she was acting odd for a few days)
6. Finding a cool comic book store
7. Emergency cookies (haha - this refers to my stash I keep hidden for "emergencies")
8. Libraries with great YA sections
9. A boyfriend who always take care of me
10. Finally not having a headache (I had a 5-day migraine this month)
11. Peace and quiet at work (lots of people were out and I enjoyed the solitude)
12. BBQ for dinner
13. Criminal Minds
14. Chocolate peanut butter ice cream
15. "Stuff yo face" dinner (aka Taco Bell)
16. An indoor washer and dryer (my last place had the units outside)
17. Having two jobs to apply for
18. Feeling confident at work
19. Coming home to a happy pup
20. Facetime
21. A comfy bed for afternoon naps
22. A new plan for overcoming depression
23. Seeing a beautiful sunrise over the river
24. Texting with my best friend
25. Migraine medicine
26. Working from home
27. Air conditioning (and people who can fix it)
28. Finding great OPI shades at Marshalls
29. Books
30. The prospect of a little side hustle I've been researching
31. Coffee (and my job's little convenience store that has bottles of Starbucks drinks)

August 31, 2016

What I'm Into // August

Read and Reading

  • Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz (4/5)
  • Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw (4/5)
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (5/5)
  • Legend by Marie Lu (currently reading)
  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (currently listening to)
I have reviews of these books coming up soon! You can also see what I've read each month here.

What I Watched 
  • Criminal Minds, Season 8 - My heart crushed for Dr. Reed this season. :( I'm already a good way into season 9. 
  • Worst Cooks in America - There are two seasons of WCiA on Netflix with Ann Burrell and Bobby Fly as the mentors/judges. This was a really fun show to watch! 
  • Next Food Network Star - Just like Worst Cooks, there are two seasons of FN Star on Netflix. S and I enjoy watching these shows over dinner to unwind from our work days. 
  • Beat Bobby Flay - This is a fun show! S and I tried to watch Guy's Grocery Games, but it was pretty boring. BBF has the excitement of the other Food Network shows we like, as well as the same high profile chef judges.

Things I Added to My Life List
  • Visit New Zealand
  • Take a photo booth picture
  • Spend NYE somewhere fun
You can see all of the things on my life list here.

What I Did 
  • I met up with some ladies whose significant others are also residents for dinner one night. It was fun to converse and see where everyone else was at with the path through residency. It's a pretty unique thing to be going through and not many other people can understand what it's like to be a resident's SO.
  • The International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club hosted a swap with the theme "summer camp." I sent my partner a box with comic books, a coloring book, a HP mystery Funko, birthday cake popcorn, and some other goodies. She sent me lots of fun candy and snacks, a Dementor Funko (to represent camp ghost stories!), postcards, some handmade HP items, and other camp-related things.
  • S and I visited the Angel Oak tree. It's on the same island we live on, so it was a neat little detour on our way home one weekend. The branches are so long and huge!
  • I also got back into thrifting, one of my long-time hobbies. Before we moved I hadn't thrifted in months. There are a plethora of good stores around me and I've found some awesome stuff. I've toyed with the idea of posting my finds - would anyone be interested in reading posts about thrifting?

Getting Personal
  • August was an extremely hard month for me. I did something that took a lot of courage and a lot of soul searching: I admitted that I've been suffering from deep depression for many, many years and sought help for it. I'm what my therapist calls a "pusher-downer." I shove everything into the depths and it makes me appear to be a fully-functional human being. But that's very much an illusion I've become skilled at projecting so no one, not even those closest to me, knows what I'm dealing with inside. This month, something snapped in me and I realized I couldn't live like this any longer. I told my loved ones about my depression and began seeing a therapist. I'm ready to do the things I need to do to take care of myself and recover from years of emotional and mental damage. 

Favorite Instagrams 

  • Even on my hardest days Ella always cheers me up. I come home and sit with her on the floor and we hug and she gives me kisses until my face is raw. I'm lucky to have such a happy, loving pup to come home to every day.

What I Blogged (Favorite August Posts)
  • Empties // 01 - I shared my thoughts on some finished beauty products.
  • Smile Lines - My reaction to finding my first wrinkles

Click the button to visit Leigh's blog and see her What I'm Into post!

August 29, 2016

First Seven Jobs

I first saw the #firstsevenjobs meme on Facebook. It was interesting to see the beginnings of my friends' careers. Then it almost made me feel embarrassed about my own first jobs. I started working out of a desire to earn my own money when I was 16. But soon I saw tweets and articles about other peoples' paths and it made me realize we all have different beginnings.

It wasn't until my 8th job that I finally began working toward my actual career and not just random jobs. Here's how I got my start:

1. Panera Bread - My first job was across the street from my high school. I was 16 and had a burning desire to bring home my own money to spend how I wanted. I worked after school and on the weekends, doing everything from making sandwiches to setting up the bakery display.

2. Hair salon receptionist - When my mom's hair stylist told me their salon was looking for help at the front desk, I jumped at the opportunity. I greeted guests, took payments, scheduled the stylists appointments, cleaned the salon, and acted as a guinea pig for new hair colors and styles.

3. Waldenbooks/Borders - After I graduated from high school I needed a job that would allow me to work more and around my college classes. I'd always loved books and being a bookseller was a great job for me. Once, before the mall opened, Joey Fatone from NSYNC visited the store looking for a gift for his mom. I think it may have been for Christmas? I helped him pick one out and rang him up.

4. Walt Disney World - I only worked at Disney for a month. I worked as a seasonal employee and never knew when I'd have my next shift. It was beginning to ruin the magic of Disney for me, so I moved on to another theme park.

5. SeaWorld - This was probably one of my favorite jobs! I loved working at SeaWorld. I know there's a lot of controversy surrounding the park these days, but I worked in a variety of roles there and only saw passion for wildlife and rehabilitation.

6. Marshalls - After I moved to St. Augustine to finish college, I started working at Marshalls in the shoe department. I set merchandise displays and kept the shelves stocked. It was a fun job with an interesting group of people. Then a manager was caught stealing money from the registers and things changed. Lots of the management left and one of them asked me to come work for him at a Goodwill store where he was a new manager.

7. Goodwill - Finally, my last college job! This is probably the weirdest, most bizarre job I had. People donate very...erm, inappropriate things a lot. Also nasty stuff. It was also kinda fun in that it spurred my love of thrifting and I brought home lots of cool things.

And that's my list of super random high school and college jobs. I jumped around a lot to pay the bills and appreciate the stability of my career more than ever now. What were your first seven jobs?

August 25, 2016

Smile Lines

Last week I noticed my first real wrinkle. Well, wrinkles...with an 's' on the end. As in two.

I'd seen them before. But this time I saw them.

There they were. One on each side of my face. Lines that creased and stayed that way. Sighing, I pulled the skin taut with my fingers to make the line disappear.

It wasn't like I hadn't been expecting this. I turned 30 in June and I've already got plenty of white hairs. Wrinkles seemed like the natural thing to show up next.

My eyes are very almond shaped and the wrinkles are on the outside corners. They extend from the corner of my eye toward my hairline. I contorted my face in all manner of ways - how does one get wrinkles in this spot, I wondered.

None of the faces I was making where forming the deep lines I'd just noticed. I frowned at myself in the mirror until a little voice in my head said, "oh."

One of my reasons for smiling: my super awesome parents. :)

And then I smiled. It was my usual smile: big, with lots of teeth. Teeth that used to be a bit crookeder than they are, before the help of braces in middle school. (Thanks mom and dad!) It's a smile that I've personally always liked.

There they were - the wrinkles appeared. They were deep and had little crows feet in the corner. But they were made from smiling. I guess I've smile a lot over the years if it's given me wrinkles.

I thought about this, starring at my reflection in the mirror. Then, I smiled again. Because, in my opinion, smile wrinkles are wrinkles worth having.

August 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on Your TBR

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is 10 books that have been on your TBR (to be read) list for a long time.

I had two Ikea Billy bookcases full of books before we moved to Charleston. Like, stupidly packed to the brim full. I knew I couldn't take all of them with me, so I spent an afternoon culling my cases. A bunch got donated and even more were given to friends (mostly to my best friend, who also loves to read). Now everything fits in one case (for now!), which is nice because S gets to use the other shelves for his books and some mementos.

Two of the shelves in my bookcase. I organize my books alphabetically by the author's last name. Former bookstore employee habit!

Which books have been sitting unread on my shelves the longest?

1. Bossypants by Tina Fey
My mom gave me this a few Christmases ago and I've never gotten through it. I think I started it and then put it down. This is one of those books everyone has borrowed from me, but I've never finished myself.

2. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
I picked up The Maze Runner after reading The Hunger Games (the books that got me into YA) years ago and then never read it because I loved THG so much and TMR sounds kinda like it? That's some shoddy logic.

3. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
I'm not even sure this is a book I'd like, but I thrifted it and it's a Franzen so I've hung onto it for those reasons.

4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
I know for a fact I'm going to love this book and I've no idea why I've not read it yet.  I love fiction based around African American history. Shame on me.

5. Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire
This one is a constant surprise for me because I'm such a huge fan of Maguire's Wicked. Like, 'one of my favorite books ever' sort of fan. I read need to get on it and read this one.

6. The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
I'll read anything Oprah puts on on her book club list and this is one of those selections. Except I haven't read it yet. The plot seems so heartbreaking, but this is kind of a contemporary classic I know I need to read.

7. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
I've literally read all of Lisa See's other books, but not this one. I thrifted this, too. It's missing it's dust jacket, but I promise that's obviously not the reason I've not read it. Or maybe it is? I'm a very visual person, so maybe the more "boring" spine doesn't jump out at me when I'm picking books.

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This is another YA I've had for years and not read.

9. The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan
I'm running out of excuses. I don't even know at this point. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

10. A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
Another of Oprah's picks that I've not read and yet another I know I'll like. Historical fiction is my jam.

Well, now I feel like a book loser. Haha. I think my at-home TBR is no biggie to me because those books aren't going anywhere. I own them and they live on their shelves. I thrift lots of books and find it's a cheap way to hunt for titles that have been on my Goodreads TBR without breaking the bank.

I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday. Go take a look at the other participants' weekly lists!