December 30, 2015

Growth


goodbye 2015 chalkboard with deer and snowflake

I don't know about you but I have absolutely no idea where this year went. I remember 2014 ending and feeling nothing but relief. School was finally out forever, and I was still newly 30. Life was good!

And here we are an entire year later. Everything and nothing has changed. School is still out forever except now I'm newly 31. I'm not sure how or when that happened because I certainly don't feel 31. Nor do I look it. {thanks Mom!}

On a day to day basis it feels like nothing ever changes, but if there's one thing I know for certain, it's that when you look back everything is different.

This year I spent a LOT of time working on myself. I read a lot of "self-help" books, I journaled, I burned, I released, and I called in, I had a lot of sessions with my life coach, and more than anything - I grew.

And isn't that the whole point of aging? To grow? I've always been pretty certain about what I like and dislike but I still managed to learn a lot about myself these past 12 months. I feel stronger, more confident, more in my power and I only intend to keep growing.

Next year has some pretty big shoes to fill but I know it will happen. Because it's what I want.








December 29, 2015

Best Reads of 2015

A double dose of Show Us Your Books? How do you pass that up!? Oh right, you don't!

Today it's all about that bass the favorites of 2015. Part of me feels like I hardly read anything but I know that's not true. Goodreads says so. 



With proof like that I knew there had to be some favorites in there somewhere. Here's what I loved in 2015. 

1) The Giver / Lois Lowy
I can't believe I only read his for the first time this year. Yet, I'm glad I did. I don't know if my younger (high school) self would have been able to draw such meaningful conclusions about this book. They made it into a movie in recent years and I have to say, even that was pretty decent. Everyone needs to read this book. 

2) Food: A Love Story / Jim Gaffigan
This book had me absolutely dying of laughter. There were so many passages where I felt like I was reading things that were from my own thoughts.

3) Living With Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy / Mallika Chopra
This book. When I read this over the summer I was just starting on my spiritual journey and it resonated with me so deeply. My copy is full of notes and highlights and it's become a treasure. Spirituality aside, it's an excellent book if you're looking to refocus or find your way.


4) Saint Anything / Sarah Dessen
This was the first book I read for the Literary ladies book club and I immediately fell in love with it. YA has always been a favorite genre of mine and Dessen did not disappoint. So much so that I actually picked up another of her books later on in the summer.

5) Joyland / Stephen King
This was my first Stephen King and for that reason I know I'll never forget it. I was always intimidated by the size of his books {and still am kind of} but this was a great way to ease into his collection.

6) Find the Good / Heather Lende
I stumbled upon this one at the library one day and knew I needed to read it. It's filled with short feel good stories and a few of them even had my eyes watering.


7) Doctor Sleep / Stephen King
Clearly I fell in love since he's making the list twice. This was on my TBR list before I even started reading King. It's basically a sequel to The Shining. A much later sequel. But you don't need to read The Shining to get what's going on. This book was a page turner for me and I couldn't put it down - all good signs!

8) The Two-Family House / Lynda Cohen Loigman
When I posted about this for Booked Vol. 2 I could not praise it enough. And then I had a mini fan girl moment because the author commented on my blog. Say whaaaaa?! This book is just plain good. Take my word, do yourself a favor, and read it.

9) What I Know for Sure / Oprah Winfrey
This was another random library pick-up. I've never been an Oprah follower but I like her enough from the few episodes I had seen of her show. Plus she does the 21-Day meditation challenges with Deepak, so I was interested in reading this. I'm glad I did because it gave me some background on her while giving me some insight into her life lessons. Some of which resonated deeply as they're things I also know for sure.


10) Carrie / Stephen King
I think it's safe to say that my King love affair started this year. There is absolutely no going back. I had seen the movie years ago, and only the prom scene, but I knew the gist of the story. The book? So much better! {obviously} It gave me the whole story, and some "inside looks" at Carrie and I highly recommend the book, even if you have seen the movie.

11) Mad About the Hatter / Dakota Chase
I had received this book as an ARC from Net Galley and I was immediately {and still am} pulled in by the cover art. In typical Wonderland fashion this book had me tumbling down the rabbit hole. This book wasn't anything like Alice in Wonderland, but instead a completely new spin on an already dizzying tale.

12) The Lovely Bones / Alice Sebold
I had put off reading this for a long time... like I do most books on my TBR list. I finally read it for the summer challenge and I'm glad I did. This book was really sad but in a closure kind of way.


I absolutely recommend all 12 of these books if you've never read them. Now I'm off to find out what you loved in 2015!


December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I hope you're all sleeping in, stuffing your faces, and spending time with friends and/or family today because that's exactly what I'll be doing. Still, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you that show up to this space and read my words. It means a great deal to me and I'm glad to have connected with so many of you!








December 23, 2015

2015 Faves

Two freaking days you guys! I can hardly stand it. My Christmas cheer showed up very late this year but it's here and better late than never, amiright?  As the year winds down I can't help but mentally scan through the last 12 months recalling all the good times I've had and things I've experienced. 


+ Spotify. I'm soooo late boarding this train but I appreciate y'all making room for me! When I tried Spotfiy a few years ago I hated it. It wouldn't work right and lessbehonest, I just wasn't going to take the time to figure it out. This year I trialed my music-loving heart out and then subscribed without hesitation. ALL THE MUSIC!!!! 

+ GRADUATION! Although I completed my final semester in December 2014, I walked in, and am an official member of, the graduating Class of 2015. All the damn feels.


+ Oracle Cards. I started using these during the summer and I absolutely adore them. I couldn't decide between 2 decks, so obviously I bought them both. I find them to be really helpful at gaining clarity on certain matters. 

+ I fed a giraffe. While the parents went back to Jamaica in September, Little Miss and I had our own vacation and we had a blast. If there's anything that could rival a Caribbean vacay, it's spending time with this cherub. We packed a lot of fun into just one week.



+ The Beets Blu Digital Scale. I may have received this in exchange for a review but I would have mentioned it anyway. This scale is amazeballs. So much so that I said See ya... Bye! {anyone get the reference? Just me... ok.} to my FitBit scale and now only use this. First of all, the app on my phone talks to me. Secondly, it tells me my weight, BMI, body fat percentage, lean muscle mass percentage, and my bone density percentage. This little square knows all my late night taco secrets. 

+ Apple everything. I know I turned my back on Apple for a little while, but now I'm back to rocking my rose-colored glasses. It started when my Mom bought me an iPad last year. Then I switched to the 6s Plus. And then...  I discovered Apple Music. If I'm being honest, I also want a leather case... and the Beats headphones... and if I'm being greedy, a MacBook Air. Just because.

+ Jamaica. How could this not make the list?! This was by far the best vacation of my life. I ate my weight, hung out with my mom, earned a hardcore sunburn, and cried when I had to put shoes on for the first time in a week.


+ Penis for everyone. My BWB got married in March and for her Bachelorette party, I made a penis cake. She gave the reaction I was aiming for and I realized I'm pretty badass in the kitchen.


+ Rowdy bitches unite! I absolutely freaking adore these girls! Like, heart-eye emojis all over the place. Dani, Jen, Alyssa, and I went down the shore for a day this summer. It was all fun and games until we got kicked out of the beach bar. And then it became a hilarious misadventure that I will never forget.


+ All the fall things. Then there was that time the four of us showed fall who's the boss and had the bloggiest fall day that could ever be had. Hay rides, pumpkin picking, apple cider donuts... all topped off with A+ conversation at Cream Ridge Winery. 

+ Confessions. This year I admitted some things I didn't want to come clean about. It was cool though because lots of you shared the sentiments.

+ Yoga. This year I participated in some pretty badass yoga events. Alyssa and I went and found stillness amidst madness for Summer Solstice and at the start of fall we united with just under 10,000 yogis in Central Park for the Lole event where we practiced with Elena Brower, Colleen Saidman-Yee, and Rodney Yee. Following we got a mini concert from Ingrid Michaelson. #humbled

Believe it or not, we're in there, 2nd block from the bottom left. 

It's both funny and not surprising at all that this year was everything I imagined it would be. I had been looking forward to 30 for soo long, and although I turned 31 a little less than a month ago, I spent the majority of the year as a 30-year-old. It was everything I expected it to be... and so much more.



December 18, 2015

Dear Santa...

With Christmas being exactly one week away I figure now's the time to get my letter to the Big Guy. Way back in September when K asked me to start thinking about my list I thought it was way too soon to even consider thinking about Christmas, and yet here we are.

I'm sure I haven't exactly been an ideal candidate this year, but let's face it, I never have been. I will always get into my fair share of trouble. I don't seek it out, it just finds me - swearsies! Either way I think I've been good enough to warrant some presents this year.












Let's hope he listens this year! 






December 17, 2015

12 Days of Romance

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #KYTrySomethingNew #CollectiveBias

It's no surprise that Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. I absolutely love everything that goes into the season: decorating, shopping, wrapping... it's all fun! Forget Valentine's Day, Christmas is the most romantic time of the year. To help make your holiday a little more romantic I'm showing you a fun way to keep the intimacy alive this season.


Counting down the final days to Christmas is always fun. This year, spice it up with your own passion filled advent cards.


Of course you can use the cards I've created or you can personalize them and create your own. The cards are designed so that each of you pick one card 12 days prior to Christmas. Obviously these will be pulled at random but here's a look at my 12 days.

Day 1| Love notes - Leave your partner a little note letting them know why they're special to you.

Day 2| Movie night with popcorn and snuggles - Pick a fun holiday movie, grab some snacks, and snuggle up on the couch.

Day 3| Pick a fun winter activity and go do it

Day 4| Cook a meal together at home or attend a cooking class

Day 5| Date night - Head out for a night on the town

Day 6| Pick up a surprise gift



Day 7| Do your own thing

Day 8| Massage with K-Y® TOUCH® - break out the candles, put some music on and spend some time with one another

Day 9| Get out of dodge

Day 10| Sweet treats - whip up a batch of holiday cookies together

Day 11| Breakfast in bed

Day 12| Read a romance novel together

Taking the time during the hectic holiday season to create romance in your relationship is important to having a better relationship. I think, one of the best ways to create a closeness is to give each other a massage. I prefer to use K-Y® TOUCH®. It's a creme based gel so it doesn't leave you or your partner feeling oily and can double as a massage creme and lubricant.

You can find K-Y® Touch® in the family planning aisle at Walmart. Try it for yourself with this $2 coupon. Still want to know more? Check out their Facebook and YouTube pages for more information.

How do you keep the romance alive during the holiday season?

December 11, 2015

Friday Thoughts

This week went... where? I swear we enter some type of time warp between Thanksgiving and Christmas because although it's the same amount of days every year, I'm convinced it's getting shorter and shorter. 2 weeks people. Welcome to crunch time.

+ K's birthday was Wednesday. He's officially old which means it's time for me to upgrade to a newer model. He also received nothing but clothes because that's what you get when you're old and don't go shopping all year long. #howdoyoulivebro
+ While walking to work on Wednesday I heard "Good morning darlin'! Imma take you home". My first thought was, wow, that was direct. Quickly followed by, umm, no thank you sir. 


+ I have this friend at work who keeps me fed. Clearly someone read The Manual. Do you have any idea how wonderful and fattening it is? My office constantly has meetings going on and most of the time they're either catered or food services sets up snacks. If you have an in with someone, you're good. Word then circulates like wild fire and everyone scurries like rats to get free food because FREE FOOD. So I get brought cookies and plates of noms and I'm pretty sure my pants are getting snug. #notsorry

+ I don't even know how to dress anymore. Thursday I left my parka at home because it didn't feel that cold. When it came time for lunch I went out to meet a friend for Thai and I was almost sure we had skipped winter altogether and were at the early stages of spring.


+ At this point I'm pretty sure that winter isn't coming. It's supposed to be in the low-60s today. I'm at a loss as to how people honestly think global warming ins't a real thing.


And with that I'm off to get my Friday bagel and yogurt because nothing says Friday like free carbs!

Happy weekend! 






December 08, 2015

Booked Vol. 5

I honestly thought I was falling behind on my reading {although this is true} but when I look at this post I realize I did get through more than just one or two books in the past month. Is it just me or do you ever get overwhelmed with all the books you want to read? Like, why can't I have multiple sets of eyes to read more than one book simultaneously?

I digress... here's what I read since the last time we got together!

The Scale:     A {love}     B {enjoyed it}   C {ehh}    D {let down}      DNF  
* Received free for review from NetGalley
** Received free for review from Blogging for Books


Sea Gypsy / Fern Michaels C
I listened  to this right after last week's link up went live. It was free and it was a relatively short audio file. The characters were incredibly annoying, and had no depth. The lead female was incredibly immature and frustrating. She acts like a child because a hot man is perusing her. She also has more conversations with her dog than she does with others in the book. Ordinarily that would be okay, but in a book, not so much.
Recommendation: Pass 


Ashley Bell / Dean Koontz DNF*
I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, this book wasn't worth finishing. I absolutely hate leaving books unfinished but this was just so boring. I used to be a big fan of Koontz. He was my first "adult book". This one. I just don't know. It didn't pull me in at all and fro the very beginning I was hoping the pages would fly by and something good would happen. The writing itself wasn't terrible but the story wasn't moving fast enough for my liking, nor was it all that interesting to me.
Recommendation: Pass


What I Know For Sure / Oprah Winfrey A
I stumbled upon this at the library and actually sat down and started reading it right then and there. I've become enthralled with feel good stories about gratitude, thankfulness, and spirituality. They're definite pick me ups and this didn't disappoint. It's a short book about the power of gratitude and the lessons Oprah has learned throughout her life. I found it to be insightful and informative as I learned a few things about her that I didn't know, and I'm sure most people don't know.
Recommendation: Read


I Regret Nothing: A Memoir / Jen Lancaster 
I've been a fan of Jen Lancaster ever since I read Bitter is the New Black. I found this book to be typical of the wit, sarcasm, and charm you'd find in her other memoirs.
Recommendation: Read if you like her or as an in-between


When I saw this I immediately wanted to read it. I don't know what it is about her but I have a crush on Lea Michele. When I first looked at the book online I assumed it was an actual book with chapters and stories. When I got it the first thing I noticed was the gorgeous cover. Once I realized it was in fact an actual journal I was a little disappointed. It's a guided journal to help get you centered and answer one of the hardest questions in life: what do I really want? Michele focuses on four sections: You, Ambition, Relationships, and Happiness offering interactive questions, quizzes, and free space for you to get to know yourself on a deeper level. I don't outright dislike the book, I was just disappointed as I was expecting an actual book. This would make a nice gift though. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Recommendation: Pass


Little Miss Basic / Dan Zevin + B
Little Miss Basic loves her Uggs, her pumpkin spice lattes, and texting her totes amaze Basic B*tches. But when she gets dumped by her BAE, Mr. Douchebag, she feels sad and ratchet inside. How can a Basic bounce back?

How could I not want to read this? It sounded hilarious! This is a parody book {obviously} and it didn't disappoint. Dani  once told me I'm not basic. At first I was a little sad but then I realized that she was right because I'm complex like a margarita cupcake wrapped in a tortilla covered with hot sauce flavored sprinkles. But this book? Basically amazing. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. Recommendation: It's totes only like, 32 pages, just read it.


Tomorrowland / Walt Disney Company  B
I figured I'd give this a listen since it was a short audio book based off the movie, which I still haven't seen. I found myself sucked into the story and enjoyed it. It moved along quickly and although brief I was able to keep up with the story and "get" the characters. Recommendation: Good for in-between


All is Calm / Colleen Coble B-
After I finished Tomorrowland I looked for another short audio book. I'm all for long books but I like these short ones because I can finish them in 2 days worth of commute time. This one sounded Christmasy so I went for it. It dove right in with the drama - a horse about to be put down, talk of death, and suspicions of who was to blame - but I could tell right away where the love story was going to unfold. Recommendation: Good for in-between


All is Bright / Colleen Coble  B-
Again, a short audio book to pass the time and get through a day or so of commuting. This book was pretty much identical to All is Calm, just with different characters. Recommendation: Good for in-between




Currently reading: Angels Burning 







December 06, 2015

Holiday Baking with SPLENDA®

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SplendaHoliday #CollectiveBias

holiday-cupcakes-with-holiday-sprinkles-on-snowman-tray


The holidays are officially here and that means it's time to get hot in the kitchen! If there's one thing I've learned, it's that I should have gone to culinary school. My love for all things food is strong. 

This weekend I decided to whip up some holiday treats to bring into work. Any excuse to bake, right? I took a trip to Walmart this weekend to pick up a new vacuum, a new shower head and also grabbed a bag of SPLENDA® Sugar Blend while I was there. I was originally going to make chocolate chip cookies but on the back of the bag was a Sweet Swaps™ Recipe for carrot cake. Instead, I decided to change it up and make holiday cupcakes.


I'm a huge SPLENDA® user already but when it came to baking I was always forced to use regular sugar. Now that there are baking blends I can continue to cut my sugar intake while still enjoying sweets. The best thing about these baking blends is that it uses half the amount of sugar. That means SPLENDA® SWEET SWAPS™ helps me curb my sugar intake while still allowing my to have my favorite treats. 



decorated-cupcakes-on-snowman-tray

 You can find SPLENDA® in the baking aisle at your local Walmart. 

SPLENDA-in-store-photo

Do you use SPLENDA®? How do you incorporate it into your baking? Get your baking in by entering the giveaway below!


J&J Holiday Baking with Splenda





December 02, 2015

Things From Thanksgiving

While I was home last weekend I spent all my time with Little Miss. She is probably my absolute favorite person ever. If you're not an Aunt, or an Uncle, be one. I don't care how you do it, just make it happen.

That being said, here are a few "confessions" that went down last weekend.


Little Miss was giving signs she had to use the potty so I asked if she needed to go and she says "yes because the pee won't stay still". Don't you just hate when that happens!?

When we sat down for dinner the night before Thanksgiving I asked if she was going to eat all her dinner and she says, "yeah, I'm gonna nom it!"  Hilarious! Nom is the best word ever. 



She was doing something and I said "she'll be fine". She mimics me and says, "yeah, I'll be fine. Unless I get hit by a car." What!?

Talking to my dad about K watching YouTube videos all the time and he says, "well, at least he's not watching porn". Annnnd this conversation has become sufficiently awkward....

We're in line at target and she's babbling so I'm mostly ignoring her. Then she says something that caught my ear so I asked her to repeat it. She says, "say no to fomo" Allllrighty then!


While sitting outside with my dad they see a cop that had pulled someone over (since the trees are bare you can see the highway). He tells her that the cop pulled somebody over because they were speeding and we're going to get a ticket. She says, "I better not run across the yard very fast because I don't want a ticket. And then he will put me in the back of the car and that would be bad".   

We're sitting at the table having lunch and she's being a pain and not eating so I tell her she's not being a nice girl. She tells me she's mad. She takes a bite and then says, around a mouthful of stuffed shell, "now I'm happy because you're my friend". Heart = melted.

When talking to the parents about paying sponsored posts my dad makes the comment that my mom should look into it {if only it were that easy} to which she responded that she's not a blogger. Immediately Little Miss responded with, "but I am!" She's definitely in training!

Little Miss was eating her ice cream but was acting up a little. My mom says "I don't think you're being funny" and Little Miss responds right away with "but I'm funny!" She sooo is!

Seriously, this kid makes me laugh so hard!