Reading and Reviewing: July

I love reading and often spend time pouring over the latest releases on Amazon—I am looking forward to reading thisthis, and this at some point over the summer. I think it’s fun to own books in hard copy, but the cost can add up, so scouring used book stores or my local library’s dollar sale rack is for sure the way to go (I also love discount websites such as Thriftbooks—seriously, check it out, it has some great deals!). I really need to go to the library more in general and stop buying books, though! ANYWAY. I love Jackie’s book review posts and wanted to share a few favorite, recent reads of my own (and I guarantee more of these posts will be coming your way throughout the summer!):

Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler: When I ordered this book from Amazon (oops…) I was so excited. I spent the month of June working as a hostess at a tavern-like restaurant in Philadelphia, so I couldn’t wait to read a book about the restaurant industry. I was proud of myself for understanding the on-the-job lingo and raced through the first half of the book, but after some point I got kind of bored and wasn’t as enthused as I had been when I picked it up earlier in the week. However, considering that this book has been topping every blogger’s summer reading list, I’m still glad I picked it up.

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Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed: While I still have yet to read Wild (I know, I know…it’s in my pile, I promise!), I had read rave reviews of this book by Cheryl Strayed (from when she was an anonymous advice columnist) and finally ordered it at a deep discount. As a former sociology major, I am often drawn to nonfiction books, and this one—which does touch on some heavy subjects—did not disappoint. In answering her readers’ questions, Cheryl draws on her own life experiences to a great extent, and it will be interesting to read Wild equipped with this knowledge about her background.

The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney: I saw this book on display in Barnes and Noble for weeks before I discovered it in a used bookstore for only $8…score! I tore through this book in about a day and a half and absolutely loved it. It’s an easy read about an extended family going through some tough stuff (the aftermath of an accident, money woes). There’s a reason that this one is also up there on everyone’s summer book list (oh, and it’s even better when paired with a Cookie Butter Donut, but maybe that’s just my opinion).

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The Assistants, by Camille Perri: Having served as an assistant in the NYC media world myself, I was eager to pick up this book, which I finished a couple of weeks ago. While I enjoyed it, I was disappointed that the plot centered solely around one incident in the office that created tons of drama for the main character and her group of friends. I guess I had been hoping for more day-to-day banter instead of focusing on one major indiscretion. I also wasn’t super into the author’s writing style, which likely colored my opinion of the book a bit as well.

MWF Seeking BFF and Jennifer, Gwenyth, and Me, both nonfiction by Rachel Bertsche: I read MWF Seeking BFF this past spring and immediately told all of my friends to go out and read it (I promise this is not a jab at any of my BFFs- I love you all, but most of you live in other cities, so I needed to follow Rachel’s lead!). I thought Rachel’s technique of trying to make a new friend each week was ambitious but also fascinating to hear about—too bad Bumble BFF didn’t exist while she was writing the book, it likely would’ve eased the process a ton, haha. I found myself nodding and laughing along while reading this and may have considered emailing Rachel and asking her to be one of my BFFs…it was that good. I read Jennifer, Gwenyth, and Me a few weeks later, which while also intriguing (again, I’m a former soc major over here!) was shorter and didn’t give me the same “YES I GET YOU LET’S BE BFFS K THANKS” vibe as the first book. In this book, Rachel emulates the lifestyles of some of her fave celebrities, chronicling her findings and challenges. Overall, it’s a unique idea and a fun, quick read.

Stay tuned for another book post in the coming weeks…I’ll be over here trying to make another dent in my huge to-read list!

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On my wishlist…

Thank goodness for Pinterest! While the majority of my pins are dedicated to home decor (my biggest guilty pleasure), I love using it to keep items organized as well. As much as I love the instant gratification of online shopping, it isn’t so great for my wallet (especially as I’m gearing up–and saving up–for a move!). Lately I have started to file away my wants onto a secret Pinterest board, and if they’re still calling my name, I’ll consider taking the plunge when I have the funds. Here are a few things on my board–what do you think, yays or nays?

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I’ve been wanting to purchase a S’Well bottle for awhile, and THIS ONE HAS DONUTS. Seriously, my friends who have S’Well bottles guard them with their lives…but $24+ seems a bit hefty for a water bottle at the moment…

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How cute are these headphones? I love basic earbuds for my workouts, but I’m constantly misplacing them and watching them break after only a few weeks of use. These seem like the perfect touch as I listen to my Podcasts on my commute!

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I’ll be the first to tell you that I have way, way, way too many coffee mugs. But IF I were to add one more to my collection, this would be it.

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Society6 has the best prints, and they frequently offer discount codes–I just haven’t pulled the trigger on this adorable pillow cover yet!

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You got that…where?!

I’ve found recently that the best home decor often comes from unexpected places. For example, I’ve found some Craigslist gems in the past couple of months (a few pieces of bamboo furniture, gold nightstands with glass pieces, and more- I’ll do a full post soon!). I’ve also found some awesome pieces at Goodwill and other thrift stores, you’ve just gotta be patient and something great will come your way! However, that’s not to say that you can’t stumble across unexpected finds on the web…for example, did you know that:

TJ Maxx sells Moroccan poufs?! For a discount store, these pieces are still on the pricy side, but how cute are they? Just act quickly, as stores like this often change out their inventory frequently (as if you need another reason to make an impulse buy…#sorry). Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 8.46.21 PM

Oh, and TJ Maxx also sells Foo Dogs for CHEAP. These babies can go for hundreds of dollars on sites like One Kings Lane, but two for $12.99? Score! I should also mention that you get free shipping on your first TJ Maxx online order with an email signup.Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 8.49.14 PM.png

The Paper Source sells banana leaf storage boxes?! A sturdy box in a fashionable print? Sold. I picked up the “extra large” one of these the other day (it’s not really that large, it’s like the size of a big shoebox) and absolutely love it! I personally think it’s a great size for storing stationery and other items and adds a pop of color to any room, plus it’s so #ontrend.

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Ok, last one for now…if you read and loved Paris versus New York, you’ll recognize these illustrations …how fun is it that they’re for sale? I like this one the most, so clever!

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Housewarming Gifts + How to Stay in Touch with Long Distance Friends

I am very fortunate that I’m still in touch with my close friends from college (10 of us have a Facebook message thread in which we post about our latest job accomplishments, exercise class recs, group vacation ideas, and more!). Unfortunately, though, all of these ladies live in different cities (though some are nearby each other), residing in places such as San Francisco, New York, Madison, WI, and Juneau, AK, to name a few! Hence, the importance of staying in touch! Here are a few of my favorite ways:

Instagram tags: I used to think tagging a friend in a blogger’s or website’s Instagram post was a silly concept, but seriously, everyone and their mother does this. If you see a funny post that reminds you of a friend, tag her in the comments, and I guarantee it will brighten her day next time she logs on. Here’s one that a friend recently tagged me in, so true:

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Snail mail: I don’t trust my friend’s mailperson in NYC, so I send any cards (fun, congratulatory, etc) to her office! It may be good to check with your friend first before doing this to get a sense of what her office mail system is like and to determine whether people frequently receive personal mail. When my friend got a promotion, I had fun writing her new job title on the envelope…it’s the little things, people! Plus, all of my cards are currently jazzing up her desk memo board, making me feel extra popular.

Snapchat: If something exciting happens throughout the day, I’ll frequently send a mass Snapchat to a bunch of friends, which is a quick, non-invasive (see below…) way to inform a group about something fun without having to send a billion different messages.

Group texts: I’m a member of a very active group text with a few girls from my graduate program, and it’s been a blast updating one another on jobs, dating adventures, awkward moments throughout the day, and even discussing our favorite blogs to read, duh! Of course, some people absolutely despise group chats and all of the constant messaging (all of the guys in our friend group have chosen to exit the chat at some point between when we started it in May and now, so maybe we text each other just a little too much).

Now for the next part of this post—housewarming presents! I recently sent a housewarming gift to two of my good friends who moved in together as roommates in New York, and I’ll admit it, I was at first a little stumped about what to send! I was this close to clicking purchase on these initial mugs from Anthropologie, but I wasn’t sure if one of the girls already owned one, plus kitchen space in NYC is so limited anyway that they may not want extra mugs lying around. I then decided to focus on finding something New York or city themed, and after doing some browsing on Etsy, I found an adorable brownstone print, which they love!

If I could shop for housewarming gifts again (and I’m sure I will), here’s what else I’d pick. Not only are these finds cute and likely things she wouldn’t buy herself, they’re also super affordable ($20 or less!):

From TJ Maxx: 

Play up the pineapple trend with this fun figurine, $14.99

A leopard-loving friend will appreciate this quirky throw pillow, $16.99

From World Market: 

Help her jazz up her bathroom area with this cute NYC-themed bar of soap, $5.99

These mugs are perfect for travel fanatics and the stacking system makes them easy to store, $16.99

From Nordstrom Rack: 

Roommates can leave notes to one another on this cute magnetic board, $14.97

throw blanket will help her jazz up that hand-me-down couch, and this one is such a steal at only $13.97

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What’s in my drawer: Desk snacks

I always get much hungrier when sitting at a desk than I ever did while working in more physical jobs. Thankfully, at a desk job I can keep a drawer stashed with treats! In my opinion, the ideal desk snack should be both nutritious and delicious. Here, I’m sharing a few of my faves, as well as their pros and cons (cause picking a snack is a serious business, ok?!).

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La Croix seltzer: I loved seltzer before La Croix became the “it” brand, but I definitely understand why these cans are so popular—the flavors are great! Cut out those afternoon diet coke runs and keep a few cans of these on hand instead!

  • Pro: With tons of yummy flavors, you can switch things up a bit and never get bored (I’m totally the type of person who gets tired of foods easily, so I appreciate this).
  • Con: The packs of seltzer are much more costly than that grocery store brand liter bottle.

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Biena Chickpeas: I had tried these before after a friend recommended them to me, but at the time I just thought they were so-so. Then I picked up the ranch flavor and got hooked (if you like the ranch flavor Wheat Thins, you’ll love these)

  • Pro: Great flavor, way better for you than chips, tons of fiber = a good choice all around!
  • Con: The aftertaste is a little powerful, so it may be worth popping a breath mint before that meeting with your coworker! The flavoring also gets stuck to your fingers which isn’t the best when it comes to typing.

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Nourish snacks: What blogger hasn’t talked about these? The snack-sized portions were on display all throughout my Target store, and I’ve even seen them at Starbucks!

  • Pro: Tons of variety in flavors, plus there’s something to be said for a pre-portioned snack.
  • Con: These snacks are a little pricy for the size ($1.99 per 1-pack), so to me they’re better as an on-the-go, keep in your purse option.

What do you like to crunch on at work? I’m always looking for new, healthy suggestions!

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I donut know what happened to froyo

I was walking through my new neighborhood the other day (more on that later!) when my mom pointed out a frozen yogurt shop down the block. I told her my guess was that it would be closed within the next few months, and by the time we got closer to the storefront, we could tell that there was already a “for rent” sign up outside the building! My mom was shocked, but I then explained my philosophy that donuts are the new cupcakes which was the new froyo. Anyone else think so?

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Anyway, when I heard about a new donut shop in Bethesda (because donuts are all the rage), we had to try it before a day full of errands. My mom ate the chocolate donut and mine was s’mores (so decadent OMG). The vanilla one was for my sister, but I’m not going to lie—we did consider splitting at one point later while stuck on the highway. Thankfully we displayed some willpower and it made it home in one piece!

Also, I came across this article the other day and I so agree with what they said about 2016 (and I think my picture above pretty much exemplifies this point).

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