Reading and Reviewing: January

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I got off to a good starting reading at the start of January, but it kind of fell to the wayside by the end of the month as my work piled up! Here’s to a less busy second half of February! In the meantime, these are a few of my faves:

Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld: This book is a “modern telling” of Pride and Prejudice that follows a family of four adult sisters and their respective love lives. Each sister ends up making drastically different choices and aspects of the book definitely surprised me a bit! The story was pretty long, but I thought the ending, which focused on the middle sister Mary, was hilarious. Anyone else think so?

Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance: I’ve mentioned this book on here a few times already, but it’s because it was THAT good. I tore through it in about a day and found it so fascinating. As a former sociology major, I was enthralled by the author’s tale of his childhood in Appalachia and how his upbringing shaped his family and the person he became. This is truly a must-read and a book that makes you feel smarter and more informed just by reading it. I was recently in the process of verbally recommending it to someone only to be stopped and told that they’d read it already! Don’t miss out– go add it to your cart on Amazon stat!

The One That Got Away, by Leigh Himes: I LOVED this book! I picked it up at my favorite used bookstore in NYC because the title sounded somewhat familiar (I mean, it’s a common title, but I was pretty sure I had heard of this specific book!). I loved the way the author explored the “what ifs” of a woman’s life and illustrated how completely different things would have turned out had she married a rich, famous man from her past. I also loved that it took place in Philly and talked a lot about Center City, Penn, and the Philly suburbs. #throwback Plus, the ending definitely threw me for a loop!

The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware: As I mentioned earlier, this one definitely reminded me of The Girl on the Train. After seeing it on Instagram this summer and fall, I couldn’t wait to read it. I finished it in like a day and was creeped out–but fascinated–by the storyline.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story, by Liane Moriarty: I love Liane Morarity, and her stories never seem to disappoint (although I like some of her books better than others). I thought this story about a woman dealing with her new love’s stalker (yeah, a bit confusing sounding but I promise it’s super easy to follow, haha) was hilarious and a fun “chick flick” type of read.

Now to tackle the many books on my to-read list…I don’t know where to start! I can’t wait to dive into Small Admissions first, though!

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An App for Home Goods?

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It’s no secret I love decorating my apartment. I always stop in the home section of any department store before going remotely near the clothes and shoes. I love flea markets, Craigslist, and yard sales. I’ve even searched for home items on Poshmark before!

Yes, I like home items and I love deals. So can you imagine my surprise when I found out about an app that is just like Poshmark, but for the home?

The app is called Upflair, and I actually found out about it while browsing Poshmark. The only downside is the selection is pretty limited–there’s only a teeny tiny percentage of items available compared to what you’ll find on Poshmark. However, my hope is that the app will continue to grow, because let’s face it–it’s a genius idea! Why resort to selling random picture frames and throw pillows on Craigslist when you can just pop them in the mail and still make some money in return?

Have any of you heard of or tried out this app? I haven’t spotted anything that I need at the moment, but I’m keeping it on my phone to scroll through just in case!

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A Revamped Campaign Dresser

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I am SO excited to finally share this project with you all. I alluded to it in this post, but I wanted to wait until I had some nice pictures of the dresser on hand, and now I do!

Where do I begin…I’ve loved campaign furniture for a long time, and it was my most-commonly searched item on Craigslist. I was so bummed when I missed out on a gorgeous white dresser earlier this fall (it had actually belong to Shannon!). The post had only been up for 12 hours or so, but someone already claimed the piece! And I don’t blame them–it was only $50 and beautiful!

I kept searching throughout the fall, but nothing met my style or price point. Finally, while browsing Craigslist in December, I found a set that included a large white dresser with six drawers and a smaller, two drawer piece. They definitely needed some touching up, but the little piece looked like it was in better condition and would be more manageable to move anyway.

The seller said I could have the little chest for $50, so after lots of deliberation (like, I kept going back and forth with her via email…usually a major no-no) and deciding on a price of $45, I said I would pick it up that Saturday. But after corresponding a bit more, she then told me that she just really wanted to get rid of both pieces and asked if I knew of anyone who would want the dresser. Best of all, she would do both for $45?!?

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I mean, how could I pass up a deal like that when campaign dressers like this one and this one were selling for $800-1,000? I knew I had to take it, although it would need some cleaning up. Then, I remembered Julia and her amazing business, MODERNEST Home. Julia and I had been texting and emailing throughout the fall. She does the most amazing furniture refurbishing and is local in DC. Plus, she has a HUGE truck that she uses to transport her items to various shows and flea markets.

I asked Julia if she would be willing to help me pick up the dressers in Arlington and then refurbish the big one, and she not only gave me an amazing quote but was super helpful. We met that Saturday and she so kindly helped transport the dressers out of the seller’s house and into her van, and by the time I was back from holiday break, the dresser was all done and ready to move in to my apartment! I truly felt like Joanna Gaines minus any of the grunt work. Julia and her boyfriend honestly treated me like a queen and barely asked me to lift a finger– they drove the dresser over to me and did an amazing job bringing it inside and setting it up exactly where I wanted!

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I’m in love with my new, refurbished dresser as well as the cute little chest that I now use as a nightstand. Julia didn’t do a makeover on that one, but she painted the large one so that the colors would match, in case I do keep them in the same room. She also spray painted the hardware on the large dresser bright gold, fixed a few drawers, and filled a small crack that had been on the top.

I can’t recommend Julia and her business enough!

Photos by Hado Photo

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If You Liked…You’ll Love

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I keep coming across things that I want to share, so I thought I’d start a “If You Liked…You’ll Love” series so that I can recommend some of my favorite things as of late!

If You Liked…”Younger”…You’ll Love…”Manhattan Love Story.” My friend and I used to love watching “Manhattan Love Story” when we lived in NYC, and we were so bummed when the show didn’t get renewed. However, it’s currently available on the ABC website, so watch away! I always found it funny that the main character is played by the same actress who played the babysitter in “Crazy Stupid Love.” It took me and my friend forever to pinpoint who it was, because she looks so different here! The show is super cute and kind of what you’d expect in terms of a show about 20-somethings living in NYC. Just like “Younger,” it’s a fun show with lots of realistic elements (although some not-so-much. Seriously, how are these apartments so amazing?!).

If You Liked…The Girl on the Train…You’ll Love…The Woman in Cabin 10. I just finished The Woman in Cabin 10 and it really reminded me of The Girl on the Train. Has anyone else read both and noticed similarities? Either way, they’re both great books if you’re into mysteries.

If You Liked…Beauty Subscription Services…You’ll Love…Target’s Beauty Boxes. I may have mentioned this on here before, but Target releases new beauty boxes each month and they’re super affordable ($10 or less for a large sampling of products). The boxes do sell out pretty quickly each month and the samples are just that, samples, but who doesn’t love receiving something fun in the mail and trying out new products? This is a great alternative if you loved other beauty subscription services but don’t want high prices or a long-term commitment. With the Target box, have to order the box yourself each month; you aren’t automatically billed. This makes it easy to try out new products when you feel like it and save money during months where cash is a bit tighter.

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How to Read More

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Lately, I’ve been an avid reader, finishing book after book while also creating a gigantic to-read pile. However, while I loved reading growing up, college obviously meant that I had to prioritize “real” books, and there was little room to read for pleasure. After I graduated and lived in New York City, I enjoyed reading the free books I’d pick up at work (advantages of working in publishing!) but I didn’t really go out of my way to read, unless a favorite author of mine had released a new novel.

It’s kind of ironic that graduate school was when I started reading a ton again, but I think I was craving some extra relaxation in my life. Luckily, my pattern of reading to relax has continued into this year (although it slowed down a bit when I first moved).

Reading is kind of a personal thing in that I know people who easily read 10 books a month, while others struggle to read that many in a year. But reading shouldn’t be a competition; it’s supposed to be fun, after all! (Now I sound like a librarian). However, for those of you who are looking to read more and aren’t quite sure how to fit it into your schedule, here are a few of my tips:

-Set a goal. Generally, I’m a pretty goal-oriented person, so if I set a goal to read a certain number of books per month, I do my best to meet it. Obviously, the number may change based on the length of a book. This month, I felt like I was spending a ton of time reading, but many of the books I picked up were a bit longer and took much more time to finish. Now that I have a blog, I like to read as many books as possible so that I can review them for you all! I get a lot of my book recommendations from blogs, so I love to share my recs with others in return.

-Share recommendations with friends. Honestly, all it takes is finding a good book to get you back into the reading groove…I love when friends text me recs! I also like watching Insta stories and reading other blog posts to see what people I follow are reading at the moment.

-Carry a book with you. This tip is kind of obvious, and I don’t really do this myself, but if I had a long commute that didn’t involve a ton of transfers, I would definitely be reading on the train/subway. I have friends who do this and it’s a great way to pass time. Pick up a real book or a Kindle, toss it in your work bag, and you’re good to go.

-Join a book club. Whether its through Meetup, your college alumni association, or even your office, signing up for a book club will hold you accountable to finish that novel! Plus, it’s a great way to socialize and enjoy snacks and wine. 😉

If you have more tips or book recs, send ’em my way…

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Genuine Liquorette at Home

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I keep seeing the cutest Instagram pictures of Genuine Liquorette, a new bar that opened up in Manhattan and is famous for serving canned drinks with mini bottles of alcohol on top. I’ve been wanting to go and didn’t get a chance to try it out this trip, but one of my friends pointed out that it’s really easy enough to recreate their funky cocktails at home. So, off I went to pick up some airplane-sized liquor bottles (I already had the fun variety of sodas, juices, and seltzers on hand)…

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And the drinks couldn’t look cuter! You’ll definitely want to pour some of the soda/seltzer/etc out of the can before pouring one of the mini alcohol bottles in, or else it’ll overflow…as I learned the hard way. I mean, duh. I don’t know why I thought executing this idea wouldn’t be as effortless as it looks on Instagram 😉

I also don’t know how all of the pictures I’ve seen show somewhat full bottles of alcohol…like, do they pour some into the drink and put the cap back on? Or just never take it off at all when they hand you the drink? Inquiring minds want to know. All in all, though, this is a fun way to try mixing a few new cocktails without shelling out tons of money for ingredients. Plus, it makes for super cute pictures.

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An Easy Gift Idea

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Need a gift for the funny girl in your life? I’m still super pleased with one of the Christmas presents I put together for my sister–she loved it! With Valentine’s Day coming up, this would be an adorable gift to give to your BFF (or anyone else who is the Amy Poehler to your Tina Fey!).

I had long seen this card during my (very frequent) trips to Paper Source, and I always thought it was hilarious. I love both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but my sister, an avid SNL watcher, is an even bigger fan of the duo. When it came time to think of Christmas gift ideas, I had the perfect idea–why not give her a copy of each comedian’s book and pair it with the card? Creative, personal, budget-friendly, and easy to transport = the perfect gift in my opinion!

My sister has already started reading through Tina’s book, and I’ve read both before–go check them out from the library ASAP if you haven’t read them yet!

If the funny girl in your life isn’t a huge reader, you could alternatively pair the card with a Sisters DVD (kind of kicking myself for not thinking of that idea earlier!). Or, honestly, the card itself would look adorable in a frame. I’m all about keeping cards on display, and this one would definitely be a conversation starter!

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Richmond Road Trip

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Even though Richmond is only 2 to 2.5 hours away from DC, I’ve actually never been there, so when my friend and I were talking about possible travel for 2017, I had to put the city on my list for a weekend trip! One of my friends grew up there, so I’m currently hounding her for recs (thanks, Ashley!), but I also decided to do a little research of my own. So far, #RVA is looking pretty good!

A few places I know I want to go:

Carytown Cupcakes: Because how can you experience a city without trying its cupcakes? Plus, the to-go boxes are too cute.

Clementine: Who doesn’t love a good consignment store? This one looks too cute and carries some of my favorite brands.

But otherwise I’m fairly stumped and would love recs. I’ve also wanted to visit a vineyard in VA at some point, so maybe that could be combined with this trip, too!

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Loving Lately, Part 2

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I had fun sharing some of my favorite things in my last “Loving Lately” post, so I’m back with round two!

1. It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere Coloring Book//The title of this adult coloring book made me laugh, and at $7.99, it makes a clever gift, too!

2. White Frame//I ordered a few framed Instagram prints from Framebridge this fall and love them, but I recently realized that I could re-create the look for less buy purchasing a similar-looking frame on Amazon and popping in a photo by hand. I’m liking how this one looks, but just search “square frame” and you’ll find a ton of options.

3. Be My Guest Tray//I love the quirky look of this tray and it would look adorable on a coffee table or bar cart.

4. Essie Gel Polish//I’ve actually never had a gel manicure (!) but I’m intrigued by these new Essie bottles.

5. Small Admissions//I can’t wait to read this book (waiting for the Amazon price to go down a bit, though!) since I also work  at a private school and have worked in admissions in other settings in the past. It’s gotten great reviews, too!

 

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Wakey, Wakey

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Lately I’ve been the worst at getting up for work in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, I get plenty of sleep (I’ve always needed an unbelievable amount), but recently, getting myself out of bed has seemed like the most challenging task ever.

In high school, I woke up around the same time that I do now and basically bounced out of bed. I’m probably a lot happier to start my day now than I was then, so I don’t think my difficulty getting up in the morning has anything to do with my emotional being…I’m just TIRED.

Carpooling with someone else means that I have it easy when it comes to getting to work, and I literally have a monetary incentive to wake up on time. I carpool with someone who needs to be in a little earlier in the morning than I do, meaning that technically if I WANT to sleep in, I can get an extra 30-45 minutes. However, this then means that I would have to take an Uber to work (by then it would be too late to rely on public transportation), and that ranges anywhere from $3 to $10 (not bad overall, but the pricing is unpredictable and definitely adds up).

The other day, I woke up FIVE minutes before my coworker was coming to pick me up. Thankfully, she was also running about five minutes late, but man…thank goodness I know how to get ready quickly! If you’re also someone who finds herself rushing out the door more often than not, I have a few tips for you…

-Make sure you have something to eat. Most mornings, I set aside even five short minutes to make and eat an English muffin with peanut butter. Super quick, super cheap, and super healthy and filling compared to many other breakfast options. I like to have a few Luna bars on hand for mornings that I’m running late. Since I work in the suburbs and can’t run out to grab anything, it’s important I bring a small meal or snack from home to make it through the morning!

-Take your coffee to go. Just because I sometimes wake up late doesn’t mean I sacrifice my beloved caffeine. I have a million travel mugs on hand that I place directly under my Keurig and then take in the car. Waking up late = no time to run to Starbucks down the street = money saved…or something.

-Master a quick hairstyle. If my hair needs to be straightened but I don’t have much time, I like to run my straightener through my hair lightly and tame some of my curls so that they look a little wavier. Honestly, curling my hair with my straightener = my go-to move.

-Refresh email on my phone. I like to head into work knowing about anything new that will be on my plate, even if I don’t respond until I get to my desk. I also look at my personal email, although almost nothing I receive over the course of the night is worth reading (the other weekend I slept in super late and woke up with over 30 emails from stores…).

-Make bed. If I have time, this is definitely something I’ll do. I feel more productive starting the day if I’ve checked this off my list, and it’s definitely nicer to come home to a put together room.

I also always have an outfit set out the night before and my work bag packed and ready to go (there isn’t really much to bring since I eat lunch in the cafeteria every day). If I’m going directly from work to a workout class or other commitment, I’ll have packed up all of my belongings that night before.

I definitely wish that I could take more control over my routine and wake up earlier, enjoy a cup of coffee on my couch or at my table rather than on the road, take my trash out, etc…if you have any tips on getting out of bed earlier, let me know!

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