What I Read: February

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So after a really good month of reading in January, February was kind of a let down. I read one really good book, one that was pretty good, and two that were just eh. So far March has been much better to me, but I want to share my Feb reads anyway, because it wasn’t all bad (hang in until the end for the good stuff!).

Home by Eleni McKnight: So I was asked by the author to read and review this book, which is something I try to do as often as possible for no charge other than a free copy of the book. According to every blogger and social media expert out there this is not something I should be doing as I am basically giving away my time and influence for free, but as someone who is hoping to become a published author at some point in the foreseeable future, I have a soft spot for new authors and I want to do what I can to help bring attention to books I love. Unfortunately, Home has a lot of problems and it screams new and inexperienced author. Honestly, if I weren’t reviewing it, I wouldn’t have finished. The story itself is awesome, it’s very dystopian, but also has a lot of religious cult themes that were interesting and not something I had read before. However, the book is riddled with spelling and grammar errors that render the book almost unreadable. We’re not talking typos, we’re talking straight up errors that any editor or proofreader (or author for that matter) should have caught and fixed before publishing. I had high hopes for this novel since I loved the idea behind it, but it was just not good.

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell: I sooooo wanted to love this book. You all know how much I love my Disney (duh) but Aladdin in particular has a soft spot in my heart. It was always one of my favorites growing up, and it was the best production I ever directed, with some of my best kids ever, plus I am a huge fan of the Broadway musical. So it’s safe to say I love me some Aladdin. I really loved the idea behind this retelling (a lot of comparable political situations happening in this version of Agrabah and America right now) but it just didn’t live up to my expectations. I was thrown off in the beginning at how similar the book was to the movie–like exact scenes and lines of dialogue. And I just never really got into it. Very disappointing because this is a series and I so wanted to read all of them, but now I don’t think I will read anymore. Sad.

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman: After two disappointing reads, I really needed something to get me back in the swing of good reads and Legacy of Kings mostly did that. This is book one in a series mainly focusing on a teenage Alexander the Great. There are lots of mythology references in the book, which I enjoyed, and it is clear the author did a lot of historical research while prepping to write it (the author is actually known for her non-fiction books and you can see that in her fiction). In general, I really enjoyed this book. It has a good mix of action and adventure, with a bit of romance and magic thrown in for good measure. My main complaint about the book is that there are a lot of characters and it was hard in the beginning to keep everyone and their storyline straight in my head. But it got easier as the book went on, and I have already read the second book (recap coming next month) and will definitely pick up the third when it comes out.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: Okay, I know most people have already read this book, but I just picked it up and it was sooooo good! I blew threw this one in about two days and I loved all of it (though some of it was scary since my kid is almost ready for school). The basic premise follows a small group of kindergarten moms and a murder mystery and it is fascinating to watch the relationships between the moms, and to see how it affects the kids (again, scary). HBO is currently airing a mini series based on the book and I have only watched one episode so far, but it was just as good as the book. I already went out to buy more of Moriarty’s books and I can’t wait to read more by her.

Already, March has been a better reading month than February, but I am glad that I found a new series and an awesome new author. You’ll see more from both of them in next month’s recap. What are you reading right now?

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Pink and Gold - Rekita Nicole

February Check In Plus March Goals

Well, friends, another month has flown by, and here we are, already six days into March! This past week I’ve been battling a nasty cough and cold which means I have basically accomplished nothing for the past few days and I am way behind. Bleh. Not a great way to start the month. I’m feeling a little bit better, and I know I gotta get back on the horse so that March is not totally lost for me! Before getting to my March goals, here’s a recap of how my February went (and I’m blaming my total lack of goal completion on the fact that it was a short month…):

February Mini Goals and Priorities:

–Put together my media kit. Nope. Still didn’t happen. Maybe this month?

–Contact hotel’s for Sister’s bachelorette party I actually did finish this task, only to have plans change.

–Organize tax info I made some tax progress, but I am not done yet, so still gotta work on this.

–Read four books. Check!

–Write 10k words in my novel Nope. Only knocked out about 4k. All in all, it was an uninspiring month for me, writing wise.

February’s Social Media Goals:

Instagram: 14k        Facebook: 450        Twitter: 2k        Pinterest: 10k

Ugh, so after killing it in January on social media, I took a big hit this month and only met my Instagram goal. Here are my numbers as of today (which is technically already into March, but it still counts!):

Instagram: 14.2k       Facebook: 401       Twitter: 1845       Pinterest: 8485

Not such a great month, but time to move on and focus on March!

March Mini Goals and Priorities:

–Book at least two weddings

–Read five books

–Write 10k words in my novel

–Finish organizing tax info

–Make some time for relaxing as April is the beginning of wedding season

March’s Social Media Goals:

Instagram: 14.4k      Facebook: 450      Twitter: 2000      Pinterest: 10k

Here’s hoping this past week’s setback is the only for this month! Time to move forward and kick some March butt!

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Newsies_(musical)_poster

Hey Millenials, Newsies Should Be Our New Anthem

All right, so full disclosure here, folks. I am, technically speaking, a millenial. I’m sure not many would identify me as one, and given the yucky (and somewhat misplaced) stereotypes about the generation, I rarely identify myself as one. But the fact of the matter is that I am, in fact, a millenial. No, I don’t live on my mom’s couch. I didn’t get a whole bunch of participation trophies. And I certainly would never define myself as entitled. And as with many stereotypes, those traits don’t apply to the majority of millenials out there.

But enough of my millenial soapbox rant. And on to my other soapbox rant. If you follow me on social media, or are an avid reader of this blog (hey, thanks!) then you already know my standing on our current political situation. I did not vote for Trump, I think his policies are disgusting, and I have had a really hard time dealing with the people in my life who are Trump supporters. I have been in a serious funk when it comes to the state of the world since November, and it seems like every day there is something new to be depressed about.

However, with any crappy situation there comes a silver lining. This election and the resulting policies we have seen coming out of the White House so far seem to have sparked a fire in the young people of America. I know that I, along with many of my friends and peers, have become much more vocal politically in the past few months than I ever even imagined myself to be. From what I am seeing in my community, young people–many much younger than I am–are finding (and more importantly) using their voices and it has been inspiring to see.

 

Enter Newsies, because there are few situations in my life that I can’t directly relate to a Broadway musical. I saw the Broadway tour of Newsies when it came to LA and basically loved it. I also loved the movie it was based on (which many mills are too young to remember/appreciate). Earlier this month, Fathom Events released a filmed version of the musical in theaters, starring several members of the original cast. I saw it twice, and was even more blown away by this presentation than I was seeing the show in person. First, the OG cast members are outstanding. Jeremy Jordan is a gift from the heavens and his voice is so ridiculous it gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. “Santa Fe” was always my least favorite song in the movie, but his version of it will knock your socks off. Add to that the fact that the Tony Award winning choreography is performed absolutely brilliantly by some of the best dancers I have ever seen, and it’s no surprise I fell in love with the show.

In addition to the draw of crazy talented boys dancing and singing beautifully, Newsies has a message that is so relevant for our generation today. The movie and musical are both based on a true story of a group of kids in 1899 who went on strike to protest the price increase of newspapers–lowering their already meager profits to non-livable wages. Here was a group of kids–most of them poor, many of them orphans and/or homeless–and they made a difference by standing up for their rights and taking on a fight with some of the wealthiest men in the country. And they won. The story is an amazing example of what can happen when a group of people–even (especially) young people–come together and stand as one.

I walked out of the theater both times that I saw the film version of the musical totally inspired and hopeful. It might seem like we are in a place where a lot of us don’t have a voice and aren’t being protected by our government, but we do have the power to make changes. Allowing our voices and our concerns to be heard is not going to go unnoticed, because whether the politicians want to acknowledge it or not, young people (millenials on down) have a large percentage of the votes, and I don’t doubt that 2020 is going to be the largest turnout of young voters in history. And we can make a difference and we can make a change. Over the next four years, we can make our voices heard at protests and town hall meetings, by calling and writing our reps and by showing up to vote in local and state elections. All of these are important actions for our generation to take.

There is one more showing in theaters of Newsies, and it is happening this Saturday, March 4. I encourage everyone, young and old, to make the trip to see it. Not only is it an entertaining production, but it will hopefully leave you feeling inspired to seize the day.

Here is just one of the totally fitting for today/inspirational quotes from the show: “Now is the time to seize the day/Stare down the odds and seize the day/Once we’ve begun, if we stand as one/Some day becomes somehow”.

Keep in mind, fellow mills, our voice is important, and what we have to say matters. And what we can do can make a difference. So turn up and turn out!

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How to Buy Wedding Gifts That Don’t Suck

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated in the form of a discount, free product or monetary payment in exchange for writing this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Well folks, by the end of this week, engagement season will officially be over, and that means wedding season is right around the corner. For those of you who are new to the blog, I am also a wedding coordinator (that’s my real job) and so every so often I like to share some of my wedding expertise with you. Today we are talking all about gift giving. Typically as the bride and groom, most of the gifting is going to be TO you, but there are some special gifts that do come FROM you as well. It is tradition for the bride and groom to buy small gifts for their bridesmaids and groomsmen as a way to say thank you for all of the time and effort (and money) they put in to being a part of your special day.

Etiquette wise, bridesmaid and groomsman gifts should be thoughtful and personal, and should NOT be something required for the wedding (like matching ties or jewelry). However, I think on the jewelry front there is some flexibility–if your gals will wear the pieces in real life, then go for the baubles all day. Sometimes it can be hard to find one gift that works for all of your bridal party, and that is why I love Uncommon Goods. I have been an Uncommon Goods shopper for years now (we have an awesome decanter and glass set that we got for our first anniversary from them) and I love so many things about their site. I love that they feature artists and crafters, I love that they care about the environment and focus on sustainability, and I love that they have some kickass products. These bridesmaids gifts are presents that any girl would love to receive! I for sure would wear a California necklace all the time, and that heart shaped umbrella is adorbs (and perfect if your wedding is going to be during the rainy season).

uncommon goods

While I love all the options featured on Uncommon Goods for bridesmaids (hello literary candles, yes please!), their groomsmen gifts are even more awesome. Those are Scotch infused toothpicks y’all. I mean, who came up with that amazing idea? And while cufflinks may seem like a pretty standard groomsmen gift, these ones are crafted from old NFL stadium seats. For a football fan, is there anything cooler than that?

uncommon goods

If you aren’t planning on tying the knot this wedding season, chances are you will be a guest at a wedding at some point, and Uncommon Goods has you covered there too. Any wedding gift that can be personalized is always a good idea, since it is unique and specific to the couple. My favorite is probably the personalized whiskey distiller (I wish I would have been able to get Matt that for our wedding!), but I am also OBSESSED with the neon California sign (and yes, they have other states too, though the Cali one is the best, obvs).

uncommon goods

If you haven’t visited Uncommon Goods site before, head over right now and check it out (though be prepared to spend some time sorting through all of the awesomeness). And if you aren’t a bride or groom and don’t have any weddings to go to this year, then buy something for yourself!

Are you an Uncommon Goods fan? What is your favorite piece from their site?

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diy shrinky dink pins

DIY: Shrinky Dink Pins

So I got the idea for this craft because I wanted to figure out how to make a name tag for myself for when I am coordinating weddings. I was looking for different DIY methods and came upon a blast from my past: Shrinky Dinks. I did not know Shrinky Dinks were still a thing, but they are, and they are even more awesome than I remembered! Of course, I have yet to make my name tag for my, you know job, but I did find time to make some fun Disney and Harry Potter pins! These were all super easy to make and they came out so cute!

Here’s what you need to make the pins: Shrinky Dink printable paper, pins and backs, E6000 glue, and nail polish.

First, print off your chosen designs on the Shrinky Dink paper. I did two different versions of pins. Some of the designs are full color, and the Rebel Alliance sign is just the outline. Remember that the designs are going to shrink to about half their size, so you want to print them out to be about twice as big as you want the final product to be.

Cut out the designs as close as possible to the lines. You may need to use an Xacto knife or a small pair of scissors to get in the tight places.

Lay the shapes out on a baking sheet that is covered in wax paper. Cover the shapes with an additional piece of wax paper and then bake in your oven according to the directions on the package.

Once the Shrinky Dinks are done baking and have cooled, use the E6000 glue to attach the pins to the back of the shapes. For the full color pieces, this is the final step.

For the outlined pieces (like the Rebel Alliance symbol), use the nail polish to paint the pieces, Make sure to do thin coats and use a top coat to seal the color when the polish is dry.

There are so many possibilities with these pins! In addition to my adorable Disney food pins, I made some super cute Star Wars themed pins, and made my own Hufflepuff badge.

diy shrinky dink pins

I can’t to wear all of my new pins out and about and I am excited to come up with more ideas for new designs! What other kinds of pins should I make?

Here are some supplies I used to make this project (affiliate links):


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What I Read: January

This post contains affiliate links.

If you don’t know by now, I really love to read. I am obsessed with books, particularly those in the young adult lit category, and I devour them whenever I can. I made a yearly goal to read 52 new books this year, and made a monthly goal for January to read four new books. If you caught my goals recap for January, you saw that I crushed it in the reading department last month and actually read seven new books! Woot woot! I loved pretty much everything I read last month so I figured I would share some of my reads with you!

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon: I’ve talked a little bit about this book already, but words do not do it justice. This book moved me. Like actually reached out through the pages and touched my heart. I cannot recommend this book enough. Seriously, so so so good.

Romeo and What’s Her Name by Shani Petroff: So I was drawn to this book because I am a longtime lover of Romeo and Juliet. This comedy novel was okay, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. It was a quick and easy read, but it was predictable and is one of those books I was just eh about. (Note: I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for my opinion.)

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher: This memoir was FASCINATING. This is Carrie Fisher’s last book, and I, like many others, picked it up after her passing. I haven’t read any of her other books, but I am going to now. Carrie’s writing is so beautiful and poetic, and this particular book contains her actual diary entries from the filming of Star Wars (and her diary entries sound better than anything I have ever written). The book focuses on her affair with Harrison Ford during the shooting of A New Hope and it is a must read for any Star Wars fan.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst: This was the December Owl Crate book and for the most part, I really enjoyed this fantasy tale of a young princess who moves to a new country to be with the boy she is betrothed to, only to find herself falling in love with his sister. I loved the twist and the LGBTQ elements, though some of the writing was a bit wordy and drawn out for me. But overall, a solid and entertaining read.

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard: This was the January Owl Crate book, and it might be the first time I finished the book in the same month I received the box! I was super excited to see this retelling of Phantom of the Opera in my Owl Crate and overall I really enjoyed the book. It did take me a while to get into it, but once I was in, I was hooked. However, printing a book with red type is dumb and no one should do it ever again.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: I LOVED THESE BOOKS! I mean, it should be a testament to their awesomeness that I read two books from the same series in the same month. I am so into Jenny Han’s writing style, and the characters she has created in these novels are magic. They are so real, you feel like you are friends with them by the time you are done reading the book. The final in the trilogy comes out in a couple of months and I can’t wait. Also, these are some of my favorite covers ever!

All in all, it was a really great month of reading! I am hoping to read four more books in February, and I will be sure to share them with you next month! I’m always looking for book recommendations, so let me know what you think I should read!

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monthly goals

January Check In Plus February Goals

Holy hell folks. Where did the month of January go?!?! Like seriously, it is February 1st and I am still thinking it’s December. January obviously flew by, and while it was a great month in a lot of respects, there is also a shit ton of stuff that I just did not get done. But, I did make some progress, and that should be celebrated, so let’s first take a look back at my goals for the first month of 2017 and how I did:

January’s Mini Goals and Priorities:

–Put together my media kit — Yeah, didn’t even start this one so it’s back on my list for February.

–Start planning my sister’s bachelorette party — Haven’t done much for this, but I did research some hotels, so it’s not a complete failure.

–Start getting my tax info organized — LOL

–Read four books — Crushed this one, I actually read seven!

–Organize stuff for @mynerdycloset (my Instagram pop-up shop) and post more items for sale, and on a more regular basis — I took a lot of product pictures, but I only posted one item, and that was technically in February.

January’s Social Media Goals: Not going to lie, I pretty much killed it on social media this month! These were my goals:

Instagram: 11.5k       Facebook: 300       Twitter: 1700        Pinterest: 7000

And here are my numbers as of writing this post:

Instagram: 12.7k      Facebook: 313        Twitter: 1732       Pinterest: 8102

Okay, so Facebook and Twitter weren’t all that impressive, but Pinterest and Instagram made up for it, and I technically hit all of my numbers. #blessed

Since February is a short month to begin with, I’m sure it’s going to be March before I know it. So here are my goals for February, that I better get started on right away!

February Mini Goals and Priorities:

–Put together my media kit.

–Contact hotel’s for Sister’s bachelorette party

–Organize tax info

–Read four books

–Write 10k words in my novel

February’s Social Media Goals:

Instagram: 14k        Facebook: 450        Twitter: 2k        Pinterest: 10k

Here’s hoping February is a productive month! Business is starting to pick up on the wedding coordinating front so I might not have as much time to devote to my blog/social media/novel goals, but I am going to do my best to kick some ass and take some names! Happy February y’all!

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