2019 Favorites!

Howdy everyone! I hope 2019 treated you well. This past year has been interesting, to say the least. I experienced a few changes that helped me find some bliss and focus. Did anyone else go through something similar?

In a few days, it will be a new decade. Queue Jonathan Van Ness saying “can you believe?” With that said, it’s that time of year to talk about things that brought me joy.

  1. Ireland. Let’s be real, Ireland always brings me joy. It’s where my lineage comes from. My soul and heart belong there. Last May, after my mother retired, my parents headed over there to live. My mother’s parents’ house was passed on to my parents, so they are happily shacked up, living a lovely life of rest and relaxation. Over the summer, I went to stay with them for a couple weeks. During my time there, I applied for citizenship. Hopefully, it will be finalized sometime in the middle to end of 2020. I am looking forward to finally having an Irish passport and remaining part of the EU (currently, I am a UK citizen and US permanent resident). Also, I got the ball rolling on getting set up to be a student and a legal part of the Irish workforce. With all the upward movement, I plan on moving to Ireland in the next few months! It will be nice to not have an entire country and ocean between my parents and me. I am looking forward to this new adventure. Whilst I am there, I plan on doing a part-time online “coding bootcamp” to give my resume more oomph. This adventure will be awesome.
  2. Yoga. Part of me finding some bliss this year was taking a job at a yoga studio. For the past 11 or so years, I’ve done yoga off and on. After leaving an emotionally exhausting job doing retail management, I felt a bit lost. I picked up hours doing Instacart, which was even more emotionally taxing than working retail. While scouring job hunting sites, I decided to type in “yoga studio” just for giggles. I didn’t expect anything to come of the search. Lo and behold, a studio close enough to public transit was hiring front desk people. I applied, and a week or so later, I was hired. The experience has been amazing so far. I am constantly learning, meeting amazing people from all walks of life, and getting to practice yoga for free. Because of this experience, it has become clear that yoga and I go together. Once I get to Ireland and find a studio (or studios) to practice at, I will eventually do my RYT-200, adding another skill to my resume. I will be able to have a “day job” and teach on the side. I’ve always loved yoga and it is a physical activity that came naturally from the first class I attended. Not only does it help my physical health, it works wonders for my mental health. I can’t wait to share the benefits of yoga with people.
  3. Aromatherapy. My sense of smell has always been strong, and it has played a huge part in my decision to eat vegetarian at a young age. I’ve used essential oils for years, primarily as one part of my whole treatment of depression (medication, nutrition, exercise, and therapy are the other parts). Because I am such a fan of the therapeutic benefit essential oils, I jumped on the doTERRA bandwagon. Let me put a little disclaimer here: essential oils should never replace tried and true medicine and science. EOs can’t cure serious health issues, and I stand firm with that fact. EOs can do certain minor things, like boost mood, neutralize funky smells, freshen breath, act as mild antibacterial agents, add flavor to dishes, and calm mild anxiety, for example. If you have a serious medical issue, please consult with an educated, licensed medical professional. With that out of the way, I do urge anyone interested to check out the benefits of essential oils. Swing by my doTERRA site. It’s loaded with information, like how EOs are created and what they can be used for. My personal favorite EOs are Lime, Rosemary, Grapefruit, Lavender, Bergamot, and Peppermint. I often add a couple drops of any of these to my laundry, have made bathroom refreshing sprays, and always have a diffuser going while at home. I’ve also added Tea Tree to my hand wash and shampoo to help fight off bacteria.
  4. Loom Knitting. A couple years ago, I finally tried knitting a hat with a circular loom. I found LoomaHat on YouTube, and her tutorials are easy to follow and very informative. I’ve been hooked since then. I’ve knitted myself a few hats and headband, as well as a really cute hat for my mum. This year, I started many projects, mostly scarves. Loom knitting is extremely easy, and a wonderful form of meditation. Seriously, if you are looking for something to do to help take breaks from technology, I highly suggest knitting or crocheting of any kind! Not only are you helping calm and reset your mind, you are able to make functional art! I love that the lady who runs LoomaHat loom knits a lot of beanies and donates them to homeless shelters. We should all aspire to giving like her. I’m almost done with most of my scarves, and plan on finishing the hat I’m making within the next week. A week ago, I got most of my hair chopped off and need more than two beanies to add to the bad hair day mix.
  5. Reading. I’ve always loved reading. That’s not news. This year, I fell back in love. I finally dove headfirst into Armistead Maupain’s Tales of the City series, after attempting to start it years ago. Currently, I am on the third installment, Further Tales of the City, and am deeply absorbed in the hilarity and history of the Bay Area (my home for most of my life). If any of you didn’t know what TotC is prior to Netflix creating a series, I highly suggest reading the series. Also, watch the original series. This year, I’ve also discovered new authors, as well as finally reading books on my years old TBR list. And, because I plan on completing yoga teacher training next year, I have a stack of books that are essentials in the yoga sphere. I’m excited to power through those in the new year. I have a subscription to Book of the Month, and love that I can get my hands on beautiful hardbacks for $14.99/month. Do you love reading? Do you enjoy a hardback book that’s $14.99? Check out BOTM and sign up! If you sign up through my link, your first month is only $5! Five dollars for a hardback book? Yes, please.
  6. My loved ones. I miss my parents. A lot. I can’t wait to join them in Ireland next year. They are genuinely amazing people, and they have been an amazing support duo for me. Also, I am a huge fan of my friends who’ve I shared my life with for 31 years. Childhood friends who you are still friends in your adult life are gems. My childhood friend, Kristi, got married to her love, Ben, this summer. They had an awesome wedding party, and were kind enough to include me. There were 14 of us, and we were all super happy to support them! The wedding was amazing, and I was so honored to be part of it. My parents were in attendance as well, and it was fun for all of us. I got to see one of my other good childhood friends (who I had the honor of being a bridesmaid for, as well). It was a great summer, and I love celebrating the people in my life!

What are some of the highlights of 2019? Do you have any hopes for 2020 and the next decade? I hope you all reveled in simple joys like me. And, may the new year treat you well! Sending you all lots of love.

2019 Reading Challenge

Howdy y’all!

It’s been a long time, and I’m kicking myself for putting the blog on the back burner. I have been writing, though!

One thing that I’m proud of myself for this year is recently imposing a reading challenge. Had I started at the beginning of the year, my goal would have been larger. However, I started at the beginning of July. My goal is to read 12 books between July 1st and December 31st. This is an extremely reasonable goal with two books a month. Who knows? I might read more than 12 books!

So far, I’ve finished two books and am in the middle of two books. The books I have finished are ‘Cut’ by Patricia McCormick and ‘Where Women Are Kings’ by Christie Watson. Both were interesting reads, however ‘Where Women Are Kings’ blew me away. I had never heard of the book or the author. One day, I was wandering the library, and this somewhat small blue book caught my eye. I read the description and was intrigued. I took a seat at a table and started to read. Twenty minutes later, I was hooked. Over the next week or so, I devoured the story. It is one about the foster care system, adoption, and family history. There is a book review post in the near future, I feel.

Currently, I am reading ‘How Not to Fall Apart’ by Maggy Van Eijk and ‘Sadie’ by Courtney Summers, both of which had been on my To Be Read list for a year. Updates will come once I am done with those.

After those? Who knows. I might restart the Harry Potter series, as I have only read through half of book five, and have only seen the first four movies. I desperately need to catch up and know that they will be easy reads. There are a lot of books I want and need to read, and I am glad I have found my love of reading that was lost for quite some time.

If you’d like, please follow me on GoodReads! I love connecting with people, as well as getting recommendations on what my next read should be.

Gift Ideas: Graduation 2015

Many of you have people in your life who have just graduated from high school and college in the past month or two. All of these mark important stages in their lives. Giving a gift is commonplace, and should be done with the best of intentions. These gifts should be useful in the graduates’ lives.

Both men and women should be well prepared as they start searching for jobs. Part of getting the job is looking well presented.

For those who like to wear suits (men & women), I love The Tie Bar. This is a wonderful site that has a plethora of styles to choose from: bow ties, skinny, regular, pocket squares, belts, etc. And, seeing that Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) has a bow tie collection featured, I have a feeling that this company has a somewhat openminded outlook on life. Now, remember, men aren’t the only people who wear suits (including ties). Many women do, too. And, if I worked in an environment that had a business dress code, I’d wear a tie every so often.

The Tie Bar: Jesse Tyler Ferguson Tony Awards Bow Tie

Being dressed well is important, and accessorizing is part of that. Having a great bag or briefcase polishes off a “Hire me please!!!” look. Buying a quality bag or case for someone can be tough if you don’t really know their style, or even if they want to avoid leather. I personally choose not to buy leather, and feel that it is safe to do the same when buying gifts for people. Matt & Nat is an amazing Montreal based company that produces beautiful and ethical products. They have gorgeous, simple, stylish bags, briefcases, wallets, laptop cases, etc. all of their products are animal byproduct free, opting to use high quality faux leather instead. I wish someone would buy me a messenger bag or briefcase from this line!

Matt & Nat Lesson Messenger Bag

Jewelry is always a nice gift to give. Having a few simple pieces of jewelry, like ties and shoes, help complete an outfit. As I’ve said, looking polished is one of the many parts of getting hired. Chloe+Isabel is a great online jewelry retailer. They offer classic pieces, as well as seasonal collections and fun, costume jewelry. I am a huge fan of many of their rings and studs. In fact, I am obsessed with their Brilliant Crystal Ring, and wear it almost every day! My style is very simple and understated, however I am tempted to purchase some fun statement pieces myself! [Let me just clarify that I am a merchandiser with Chloe+Isabel, and through this, this helps me with extra income. Any purchase you make through the link I have given you, I make commission. I would love it if you purchased some jewelry, but don’t expect you to. Please, only do so if you see something you or someone you you know will love!]

Chloe+Isabel Brilliant Crystal Ring

Here is a gift I wouldn’t mind getting: a book subscription box. I love reading, and I like getting recommendations that are unheard of. Book Riot looks like such a fun gift! Every three months, the recipient receives a package with a couple (or more) books and other book-type stuff (notebooks, pencils, pens, water bottles). This is a great gift for anyone, especially those with extensive bookshelves. And, I feel that reading is a lost art these days. I’d love to see a wave of people getting back into reading.

For those of you who know people who are movers & shakers, another great option for gift giving is monetary gifts in the form of donations. Find out what charities or social causes your giftee is interested in, and do some research. Many charities and organizations have great incentives for gift givers, including access to events, literature, etc. I know that I would be thrilled if someone made a donation to one of the many organizations I support. JustGive is a great database of many charities/organizations that you can search. This gives you an option to figure out which is the most suitable place to make a donation.

*As per FTC Guidelines, all opinions are my own and I will always clarify if I am paid for or gifted items for anything I write. I choose not to write about anything if it is not a product or service I believe in. If I have been given something to try and I don’t like it, I won’t write about it. If I have been paid to write about something, it is only because I am interested in & support what I am being paid to write about. Thank you! In this post, my Chloe + Isabel boutique is a possible way to make money, but I only ever make a commission if someone actually makes a purchase through my boutique. Everything else is purely my opinion and I received absolutely no incentives to write about any of them.

What’s In My Bag: College Edition

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a few months shy of an Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies. I spend a lot of my week reading cases, writing briefs, and carting my life between home, work, and school. I have a tendency to live out of a backpack or large bag. Ever since I’ve needed to have my computer with me most days, life is a lot easier with a bag that’ll haul it around safely.

I’m currently using a Western Pack backpack, one that I’ve used for year. It’s got enough sections to make storing things easy and efficient. And, the part that is against my back is padded, which allows a bit of safety for my computer.

So, what do I have stowed in my bag?

The simplest items are my keyring and my wallet. It has a fob with a Shakespeare quote, my front door key, my car key, and a key for the lock I use at the gym. I recently downsized my keyring and am so happy I have done so! I’ve been reprimanded for not using a wallet, so I’ve forced myself to use one. Sure, I can see why it’s safer, but it still drives me crazy. Being the tomboy that I am, I usually like just carrying one card, my license, and a few dollars.

My parents were amazing and got me an iPad air for Christmas. I didn’t think I’d love it, but I do. This awesome device goes with me most places. I love having it accessible in case of waiting moments. I have a few books stored on it, a couple magazine subscriptions, and some Mr. Selfridge episodes. This makes travel time seem less tedious. Also, it’s great when I’m at the gym and opt to workout on the elliptical or bike instead of run.

Of course, my iPhone 5c is in there. Honestly, I miss the days of simple cell phones and wish I never made the smartphone leap. I do love the fact that smartphones are a lifestyle efficiency tool, and it’s great to have access to, what seems, the entire world at the tap of a finger. With that, I have a USB cord & USB wall adaptor. Usually, I have an external battery, but it is at home due to being charged earlier today.

Of course, I have my iPod with me. On lunch breaks, at the gym, walking places, doing chores; these are all times I love listening to music or podcasts. I feel engaged when I’m listening to good music or a funny podcast. I also love informative podcasts, too. Having my iPod accessible gives me the chance to feel engaged in the world, even when it is just me.

Depending on the quarter, I can be on campus anywhere from 7 hours to 11 hours per day. I’m not a huge fan of school cafeteria food, especially as I am a vegetarian. My options are limited and usually to dodgy looking salads and french fries. So, I like to keep some sort of small, nutritionally dense snack on hand. I’m addicted to salty cashews. Today, I’ve got a small bag of cashews waiting to be eaten when that 4.45pm slump hits.

Stemming from a few years of school in England, I’ve always been in the habit of using a pencil case. I still like to switch mine up every year or so and do have a couple going at all times. Right now, I have an illustrated one with cat faces on it. (Yes, I’m a proud cat lady.) In it, there are a plethora of ball point pens, mechanical pencils, a couple sharpies, and some paper clips. And, I have a mini leatherman in there, too. It’s come in handy quite a few times.

I keep forgetting that I have two fragrance rollerballs in my backpack, and am always happily surprised when I see them. The ones I have are Bobbi Brown’s Beach fragrance and LaVanila’s Vanilla Summer fragrance. As you might be able to gather, I like warmer fragrances. I always love any fragrance that has vanilla, coconut, pineapple, and even notes of Coppertone Water Babies SPF in it. Bobbi Brown’s Beach reminds me of being a child and being slathered in Water Babies.

Of course, I have two spiral bound notebooks. I always have something ready to take notes in while at school. I’m old school and learn better if I actually write lecture notes down. Typing has never proved an efficient way for me to truly retain information. At home, I do have a stack of partially used spiral notebooks and I definitely need to organize them. So, the notebooks I have in my bag are leftovers from last quarter, and I am determined to use them up. I have promised myself I won’t buy any more until I’ve used up the ones I have.

Speaking of spiral bound notebooks, I have my journal in my backpack. I’ve been working on this journal for five years and have a bad habit of going through phases of writing almost everyday to months of not writing, hence the fact I’ve been using the same one for five years. I like to keep it with me at all times, though. I’m not a fan of snooping eyes. I’m open with plenty of things, but my journal is for things I need to release without sharing with anyone else.

I do have a book in my backpack that has nothing to do with school. It is a book that I keep wanting to check out every time I go to the local library. Who knows if I’ll get around to reading it before it’s due, but I have it with me in case I am compelled to. It is Locas by Yxta Maya Murray. This book takes a look at Mexican women involved in gang life in East Los Angeles. First and foremost, I am actively trying to learn Spanish & am interested in working with immigrants from Latin America. So, this is one of many books that should be included in my learning process. I always love reading stories told from the female perspective, and as this is a life I am not familiar with, I hope this will be an enlightening read.

Lastly, I have five empty Lush Fresh Face Mask pots. They have been sitting on my desk for awhile, just waiting to be returned in exchange for a new mask. If we are let out of class early enough tonight, I am going to try and go get one. I want to try their Cupcake mask, but fear that I won’t use it very often, as I’ll only use it across my nose & cheeks. I might stick with Oatifix, as I know I like it and it’s easy to use.

What’s in your bag? Do you have three separate bags you constantly use? Soon, I’ll be doing a What’s in My Gym Bag post & What’s In My Purse post. Be on the lookout!

Love me!!

In an attempt to gain views and followers, I’ve devised a little plan. I am trying to get to 500 views by 11.59pm PST on December 31. So, if that happens, I will make my first YouTube video, share it here, and entice y’all even more to keep coming back.

What will I do in my YouTube video? I’m not sure yet. I might recite a poem. I might tell some jokes. I might do a goofy dance. Or I might just say hello, thank you, and a little snippet about myself. Whatever I decide, I do promise you a YouTube video.

So, get reading! Get sharing! And while you’re at it, please mosey on over to my two other blogs: DJ Toaster Biscuit & A Life In Paperback.

Thank you all so very much!