March Reads

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To be honest, I thought I would have a lot more time to read last month than I did, so I’m surprised that I still made it through five books! Most days, between working out after work, submitting my daily freelance assignment, and then showering and catching up with social media, I’m exhausted by the time I get into bed with a book and only end up reading 40 or so pages. I’ve also had a lot of events and travel with my day job (some of which I haven’t even posted about because it was so quick!) and lots of other personal stuff (generally positive!) going on behind the scenes and have had to dedicate a lot of my free time to that, too, which has made for a crazy past few weeks! April is shaping up to be pretty busy yet again, but I have a long list of books in the notes section of my phone that I’m hoping to tackle, so fingers crossed. 🙂

Now for the reads!

Maybe in Another Life: I’d picked this one up ages ago and I think I’d even started it before putting it down before whatever reason, but I’m glad I tried it again because it was a fun one. Basically, it’s one of those “what would happen if” books (like those “choose your own adventure” ones back in the day!) where the main character is confronted with two possibilities–she either goes home with a particular guy or she doesn’t, but that one decision impacts her life in more ways than one would think. The book explores both scenarios–what happens if she leaves the bar with him or goes home alone, and how the subsequent weeks, months, and even years play out–and honestly, both cases end up working out well in the end, which kind of makes you think! Both paths had major bumps in the road but played out as if they were “meant to be” nonetheless.

Forever Interrupted: This is another Taylor Jenkins Reid book (actually her first) that I had in my pile for ages. I was a little hesitant to pick it up because the plot line just seemed so depressing–a newlywed unexpectedly loses her husband just days after they’re married–but like Taylor Jenkins Reid’s other books, it’s both thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time. I don’t think it was my favorite of the ones of hers that I read, but I liked the storyline about the main character’s relationship with her mother-in-law and how grief is explored through both of their lenses.

The Year of Less: I love reading about books where people streamline their possessions and spending because this probably isn’t something I would be able to pull off for more than a month (just being honest!), let alone a year. Cait Flanders’ book is a reflection on the time she spent living with less (which seems to be an especially common theme these days) and the lessons she learned while undertaking a yearlong challenge of buying only the essentials. While I appreciated the memoir and reflection, I would’ve loved to see more numbers and actual data about her spending versus a general narrative, because the way she sets this book up makes it a little difficult to know exactly how one could replicate this challenge.

My Oxford Year: Yes, this book is a little more surprising in terms of plot than one might imagine, but I knew what was coming going into it and really liked this one. It tells the story of a young American, Ella, who has received a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford and chronicles her adventures–mainly pertaining to an unexpected romance–and the challenges this new relationship poses, especially as she considers all that she has waiting for when she returns home. I’m not going to lie, this book made me majorly miss the time I spent study abroad in Edinburgh in college, and now I really want to see Oxford’s campus, too.

So Here’s the Thing…: I loved Alyssa Mastromonaco’s first book and was excited for this one to come out–I had planned on seeing her speak at Sixth & I earlier in March but couldn’t make it at the last minute, though getting to read the book was the next best thing! I love Alyssa’s writing because she’s funny and self-depricating (two of my favorite qualities in people, TBH) and keeps things entertaining as she describes her work in the White House (building on her first book) as well as her personal relationships, health challenges, and things that many people would consider TMI. Definitely pick this one up if you need a good laugh/story!

I also started Next Year in Havana one weekend when I was at home, but I left the book there and didn’t get it back until recently, oops, so I’m adding it back on April’s to-read list!

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3 Ways to Have a Better Morning

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I’ll admit that I’m totally not one of those people who rolls out of bed every morning as soon as the first alarm sounds. There are more than enough times where I can barely get up and do the bare minimum to get ready for the day (these are the times when bed making = optional). That said, there are other days where I either know I have a busy schedule ahead and want to carve out some me time when I can, or just know that mornings are and always have been my most productive time of day and want to try to use this to my advantage. My mom always reminds me how even when I was a little kid, waking up in the morning and tackling a difficult homework assignment that was bothering me the night before made a huge difference.

In no particular order, here are three things that I try to do in the morning when I can.

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1) Work out. I’ll never be able to be one of those people who works out every morning, as I just generally feel much better when I’ve had food in my stomach and have energy from the day that I want to burn off. However, on days where I know I’ll have after work commitments (my office has a lot of evening events, for example), I’ll make an extra effort to squeeze in a workout early. I usually sign up for a class on ClassPass rather than going to my gym in order to give myself an extra dose of motivation–cancellation fees are a major no-no! My favorite spin studio, which happens to be in my neighborhood, also offers morning classes at a discounted rate (it’s still somewhat pricey when shoe rentals are factored in, but it’s cheaper than paying for SoulCycle or Flywheel), so I like to go to those when I can. I’ve come to really appreciate this little studio even though I rarely talk to anyone else as I come and go (#sleepy). It’s just nice to have a place that I like in the neighborhood, and the eight minute walk to and from my apartment helps me get amped up for the class and then for the day. If I have time (I usually don’t or convince myself not to spend the money), I’ll grab an iced coffee or a yogurt on my way back home from whichever studio I go to, which is an added perk.

2) Read! This past January, I read in bed for half an hour or so before work for what seemed like almost every day! I would go downstairs, make a cup of coffee and maybe grab some breakfast, and then climb back into bed and enjoy some uninterrupted reading time. Unfortunately, as work and life has picked up a bit since then I haven’t been able to do this as much (I’m never one to turn down extra weekday morning sleep), but I’ve still made an effort to try every now and then and have really enjoyed it.

3) Check something off my list. As I said, there are some days where I barely do the minimum in the morning, but other days, I somehow become extra productive. Earlier this week, I carved out time to see the cherry blossoms before work since I know how crowded the Tidal Basin gets later on. It was so nice being down there with a small crowd and getting some walking and pictures in before starting the day. Other days, I’ll tackle a quick organization project or do something like assemble a gift bag I need to bring to an event later in the week or even just stay in bed for a bit and write a blog post. I love being able to check something small off my list before the day starts.

What’s on your daily morning agenda, and does your daily schedule change all the time like mine?

Photos by Kimberly Graydon

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Mixing Antique & Modern

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I know that I’ve showed this nook tons of times before, but I haven’t gotten great pictures of it since I (well, a TaskRabbit) hung this black Urban Outfitters sconce back in January. I love how the area looks with this addition–and the extra light was certainly much needed–but I also appreciate the modern touch that this light fixture adds to the space.

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While I 100 percent have an appreciation for antique and vintage pieces, I never want my home to look too stuffy or “old lady,” especially because I’m still in my 20s and kind of have the freedom to decorate however I want right now (without having to compromise on styles with a significant other or pick up after kids!). The stuffiness can happen when I actually am in my 70s or 80s…though, honestly, that may just be a stereotype, because my 87-year-old Grandma has the chicest style. 🙂

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In order to add some “youth” to my collection of cane furniture and vintage-looking wall decor, I’ve picked up a few key pieces (in addition to the sconce, of course) that I think work well with this small space–1) this small Serena & Lily stool (also, whoa, the prices on these have gone up a ton since I purchased my set last year), which is airy-looking and doubles as an excellent plant stand, 2) a classic jute rug that keeps the space looking light, and 3) a crocheted hanging plant pot. The lucite CB2 nesting tables, which I purchased off of Facebook Marketplace, are also a vintage/modern hybrid, given that these pieces become popular in the ’70s but their clear, clean look translates well to today.

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I’ve loved working in this little space in the mornings or on days that I’m tackling assignments at home, and I even recently had my landlord install a pendant light on the other side of the room (yay, even more light!), so I’ll have to get a few photos of that sometime soon!

SarahLyon_3-10-19-46Photos by Kimberly Graydon

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