Friday, June 30, 2017

Have You Heard? // Destiny's Child - "Jumpin', Jumpin' // Throwback

Happy Friday Friends! I'm so excited because after several hectic weeks at work, I have a super long (BIRTHDAY!) weekend, followed by a short work week, and another long weekend (ROAD TRIP!). YAY! I hope you have fun plans coming up too! :)



I was trying to think of a good birthday jam... and nothing seemed quite as good as throwback 00's music. And it's hard to come up with something I like more than Destiny's Child.



So friends, I hope that your weekend is Jumpin', Jumpin'! :P



What are you up to this weekend?!

Other Posts This Week: 24 Hours in St. Louis and How to Start a Project Life Photo Album.

XO,

Alexandra


PS - I FINALLY got Always and Forever, Lara Jean from the library! :) YAY!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How to Start A Project Life Photo Album // Yes, You Can!!



I know you guys have seen a ton of my PL album posts and photos on Instagram, and a lot have you have been like, "I wish I did scrapbooks!" "I'm really behind on my scrapbooks!" "I need to get back into it!" "I don't have time to scrapbook anymore!" "I'm not creative enough to make these books!" etc. ...

Well, after a year of getting back to documenting... here's what I know:

1) Yes you are creative enough! Once you get going, you'll get into a flow and LOVE it!

2) You can find time to do it! Maybe replace your evening facebook scroll with 30 minutes of paper craft! Maybe watch your netflix and work on your album at the same time. Multi tasking for the win!

3) It's not hard at all once you start! All you need is a binder, some page protectors, photos and a kit or some paper and you are ready to go. Start small and work your way up (if you want to!).

The best thing about documenting in this way is that you can make it what YOU want it to be! :)

A few things that helped me get started:

1) Watching youtube videos. I really love Kelly Purkey's spreads & Mary Beth Hancher's. Of course there are tons of great sites out there to watch! Instagram is also a good place to see people's albums. I've started keeping screen shots on my phone and a pinboard on Pinterest for inspriation.

2) Ordering an ABM Messy Box (or another scrapbook kit). They did a sale where you got a discounted old messy box. I ordered two, and that gave me a small stock of cards, stickers, papers, etc. It also helped me get an idea of what kinds of things I wanted to buy/use.

3) Just printing my photos! I decided that I would be more successful if I printed my photos at home! So I got a Canon Selphy (not top of the line, but prints from my phone!) this way, I can print as I am thinking of it!

Watch this video where I can explain some of the things you'll need to get started, I hope that this gets your creativity flowing. :) All supplies mentioned in the video are linked into the video description on YouTube.



All that being said, what are your questions? What types of posts or tutorials do you want to see?

I'd love to help you get back on the documenting journey. (Or start one!) I think that it can be fun and easy for EVERYONE!

I shared my first five PL videos recently: Houston & Galveston, San Francisco, Georgia, Nashville, and Las Vegas. Check those out! To learn about the process, supplies, etc. for my other sections, you can watch my videos. :)

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, June 26, 2017

24 Hours in St. Louis // June 2017

If I know one thing to be true... it's buy your concert tickets folks. You've probably heard this from me a lot, but it remains true. You don't want to miss out on tickets, unless you have to. Which is why, when Broods announced a short North American tour, we knew that driving to St. Louis (4.5 hours) would be worth it. Especially at $24 a piece for the tickets. :)

So, in mid-June we drove to St. Louis for the show, and right back the next morning. While it's never our preference to do so Juliet's mom was getting married, and we didn't want to miss it!

While we didn't do much on this trip, we do think there is a lot to do in St. Louis! So check out my past trip posts (at the bottom of this post) for ideas! :)


















Eat: We only ate one meal in St. Louis, we tried Seoul Taco, a fun fusion restaurant. We tried one of each of the meat tacos, the fried rice, and the dumplings. The tacos were good, mine was very spicy. I didn't care for the fried rice, but the dumplings were amazing, They were pricer than the rest, but it was very worth it. The atmosphere in Seoul Taco was awesome. The walls reminded me of street art, and they had a deconstructed taco truck, and boomboxes spray pained in bright colors. It was a really fun dining experience. Thanks for the recommendation Will & Cara!

Do: See a concert at Delmar Hall or The Pageant. Delmar Hall is very very small which is great for seeing a band up close! I also loved that they have a little bar lounge you can wait in for the show rather than lining up outside!

Shop: The Loop (Delmar). It's full of fun specialty stores and restaurants. We loved stopping into Subterranean Books. It's relatively small, but it had a nice collection of books and atmosphere. I managed to buy a book, of course. They also had a small collection of local t-shirts and other gift items. Plus a bookstore dog, you don't see those a lot.

Broods: Broods was amazing, it was so fun to see them a second time! It was so fun to see Georgia dance around to the more up beat second album. She has amazing energy! They played pretty much all of my favorites. A girl right next to me in the crowd was there (after driving for 6 hours) for her birthday. And they sang to her! How cool is that?! They also did a cool cover of "Mad World", which was awesome. As always I highly recommend their music for your playlists and their concerts too! :)

Favorites: Broods! The bookstore and tacos were good too though. :) 

New Experiences: The Loop, Delmar Hall, Seoul Taco.

Have you been to St. Louis?

Have you ever traveled for a concert?

What is your favorite fusion restaurant?

If you are heading to St. Louis, you can check out my other trip recaps, here & here.

Happy Travels!

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, June 23, 2017

Have You Heard? - Nick Murphy - "Stop Me"

Happy Friday Friends! We made it through another week. For me it was another big event week at work. This time it went better than it did last week. Praise Bless! So glad that it is almost the weekend!




This song has such a cool sound, it reminds me a lot of songs from the New Moon soundtrack, which is awesome, BTW....



What are you guys up to this weekend? 

We have a friend who is going to be in town, so it will be nice to catch up with him. Otherwise it should be a laid back weekend of reading, movies, and project life!

Other Posts This Week: Erin's 7.0 Book Challenge & My Summer Bucket List!

XO,

Alexandra


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Bucket List // 2017

I'm a little late on this one... but here's my summer bucket list! I think it has been a few years since I've made one, so I am excited to give it another go! :)

Summer Bucket List 2017

make pound cake for strawberries
have a picnic
watch BBC (Colin Firth) P&P - I've never seen it!!
start 2017 PL album
try Korean BBQ
see new Pirates of the Caribbean movie
see new gallery at The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
sort through some boxes in the basement (at least 5)
go to Shakespeare in the park
see wonder woman
go to KC's grandparent's farm
visit the Spencer Museum of Art - after the renovation! 
do something fun on my birthday
try 3 new restaurants
apply for Kelly Purkey's Creative Team
try making mochas at home again
visit as many Free Little Libraries as I can in LFK
get "painkillers" at Bon, Bon!
go to a concert
have a game night!
complete the library summer reading challenge - done!
start Erin's 7.0 Reading Challenge
make videos for 2016 PL album
try 5 new recipes
have a sno cone at Tad's Tropical Sno
find a dress for my SIL's wedding
take a road trip
get outside at night
try a new coffee place

What are you hoping to accomplish this summer?

What are your favorite summer traditions?

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, June 19, 2017

Erin's 7.0 Reading Challenge // Bookworm

Hello Friends, this time I am starting Erin's book challenge when it actually starts! Hopefully that means I will finish this time! Here are my initial picks ... I always change them... haha I'm trying to do all books that I own, so I can keep up with my book ban. :)

Erin's Reading Challenge 7.0 (Initial Post and Rules)

July 1st - October 31st - each book must be 200+ pages



5 points:  Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages

Shotgun Love Songs by Nikolas Butler

10 points:  Read a book that starts with the letter “B”

Between Sky and Sea by Jaclyn Dolamore

10 points:  Read a book that has a (mostly) yellow cover

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

15 points:  Read a book that has a picture of an animal on the cover

Tides by Betsy Cornwell

20 points:  Read a book that was published in 2017

Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant

20 points:  Read a book with a compass or cardinal direction in the title (submitted by Mary)

East by Edith Pattou

25 points:  The ALA’s “Banned Books Week” occurs while our challenge is happening.  Read a book from the list of the most commonly banned books in America

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

30 points:  Read a fictional book about mental illness

Looking for Alaska by John Green

30 points:  Read a book with a non-human main character; i.e. animals, elves, gods, robots, merpeople, etc.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

35 points:  Read a book a Disney movie was based on OR a book based on a Disney movie

Either Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie OR Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Are you participating? I'd love to know your picks!

What are you reading this summer?

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, June 16, 2017

Have You Heard? // The Troggs - "Wild Thing" // Throwback

Happy Friday Friends! I hope that you had a good week! This week was my least favorite week of the year at work. It was extra stressful, with more mistakes than usual this year... so there's that. Moving right along... because it's the weekend!


This weekend we are headed to KC's grandparent's (Mimi & Papa) farm in rural Missouri. The whole family is going (minus Kelsey's fiance) and I think it will be really nice to spend time as a family and with his grandparents. We have not been since 2013, so we are WAY overdue!! This week I'm sharing "Wild Thing" - which I know you all have heard MANY times, but it's his grandparent's "song". How cute is that?!



One Valentine's Day Papa got Mimi a lion or some type of wild stuffed animal that sang it when you pushed a button, and she was SO tickled by it. Made me smile.

Fun Fact: KC proposed to me at the farm back in March of 2011. :)

What are you guys up to this weekend? 

Does your family or friend group have a "place" whether it's nearby or a vacation spot? I always think that's so fun!

Other Posts This Week: May Reads & Here In My City.

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Here in My City



Here in my city we keep it "weird". We're a blue dot in a red state.

In my city, middle aged pony-tailed men in v-neck vests (no shirts) ride through the city on lowrider bikes, a basket behind them tows records, or farmer's market goods. A Russian math professor brings his family to Rudy's for the Wednesday night special. The hippie with the "honk for hemp" sign gets honked at. Cowgirls and boys line up outside The Granada to see a country band, tipping hats as they wait. Old men meet up at coffee shops to discuss philosophy and physics. Millennials do cross fit next to Milton's. The Jewish Community Center holds a blintz brunch, and my friend will donate her hand crafts to the silent auction. The ice cream line at Sylas and Maddy's is filled with students and grandparents, and people with their dogs. A local dance teacher, a poet, a potter, and a scientist have lunch at Wheatfield's. Suburban homesteaders till their yards, plant their plants, and provide for their families. Little Free Libraries are filled to the brim. The women at the downtown Methodist church hold a breakfast cafe for the homeless. Students from Native American reservations, small towns, big cities, Asia, and the Caribbean discuss their classes at the university. Outdoor lovers pack up their bikes and kayaks and head to the lake. Mohammed serves up steaming falafel and gyro with his brothers, and then comes to ask you how everything is at Aladdin Cafe. The brewery is packed night after night. Black Lives Matters and Equality signs hang in the windows of local businesses. The same are posted in resident's lawns. Your barista has gauges so big you can see through them, but she doesn't make you feel uncool. Kids loiter at the library in the summer. Laughing, skate boarding, reading, being young. The Lied Center is packed when a ballet or scholar comes to town. A turquoise-locked twenty-something walks her cat down Mass. street. Dub step violin, saxophone jazz, haphazard theremin, and acoustic guitar music spreads out from street corners, benches, and alleyways. La Tropicana serves up delicious enchiladas, and the family who owns it chats with the regulars, holding babies, asking how life has been. Soccer moms with mini vans drop their kiddos off for gymnastics, tae kwon do, mandolin, and baseball.

In my city, my friend walks downtown with her two foster daughters. They see what I've described to you. One of the girls has just moved here, it's her third day. She's walking through this weird, accepting, foreign place. She's smiling, she's enjoying the weather, she's got a baby pink flower crown on, she's a bit reserved. Someone yells the n-word out of a car window at her as they drive by.

I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that this could happen here in LFK.

This is not my city.

My city is not filled with hate and anger.

But here's what I know:

In December, The Arts Center will put on "A Kansas Nutcracker" the children who attend dance classes there will be the mice, the grasshoppers, the other animals in the show. The children will all look different from one another, but they won't see it. They will just see their friends, they will see other mice and grasshoppers.

In August, the Headstart kiddos will start school. The classes will be filled with ESL kiddos, kids of foreign university students, white kids, black kids, Hispanic kids. They will all learn their letters, their numbers, and how to set the table for lunch. They will all laugh at funny books, make paintings and sculptures, they will all run on the playground. They will all sing, and nap (sometimes). Many of them will be going through hard things like divorce or an incarcerated parent. Many of them will be angry or sad sometimes. They will all learn and they will all grow. At graduation, they will look around, and they won't see color, they will see their friends. They will see other Headstart graduates.

This is my city.

This is the FUTURE of my city.

So, people of LFK, of the US, of the world: please keep spreading love. Please keep spreading tolerance. Please keep teaching your children those things too. Please foster environments of diversity, growth, and learning. Please keep making a difference where you live. Please keep being allies for groups who are discriminated against.

No matter how tolerant your city, state, etc. is, these things can happen anywhere. We have to be the ones to bring light to dark situations. The ones to leave things a little better than we found them. When I say "we" - I don't mean twenty-somethings. I mean EVERYONE. It's not enough for the twenty-somethings to do these things alone. We need the children, the elders, the middle-aged, the teens to do it too. We all live in this world, we can all do our part to make it better.

What are you doing in your city or town?

What ideas do you have to foster love and tolerance?

How do those who are involved gain the support of other generations who think it is not "up to them"? Or that it has to "start with twenty-somethings".

Just trying to share a bit of what's been on my heart these past few weeks (and longer).

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, June 12, 2017

May Reads // I READ SO MANY BOOKS!!!!!!!!!

April and May are usually the busiest months of my year. The rival December, which is bonkers. We've been celebrating weddings, graduations, birthdays, and tons of showers. Not to mention Mother's Day, and the food truck festival... sheesh. All of these things are good, but boy it doesn't leave much time for reading... : / SOMEHOW... I still managed to read quite a lot! Self care I guess?!



To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for a cute YA read. The characters in this are complex and well written. I enjoyed the family relationship between the sisters (so Little Women!) and their dad. I also really enjoyed the perspective of a bi-racial main character, I wish there was more diversity floating around in popular literature.

This book follows Lara Jean Song's experience as she balances becoming "the lady of the house" with being a teenager. Lara Jean's mom passed away when she was a kid, and her older sister took on the role of caretaker and organizer of the house. When her sister goes abroad for college, Lara Jean must take up those roles, all while trying to make it through high school. While Lara Jean has been in love (5 times), she's never had a real boyfriend. When she ends her infatuation with each one she writes a goodbye letter to him, that's never meant to be sent. One day, she finds out that someone has sent her letters after all. There are mortifying consequences of this, especially that one letter, the newest one, is sent to her older sister's (brand new) ex, Josh. Things get complicated quickly.

Overall this book was really sweet and fun to read. It's the first one that I have read by Jenny Han, and I liked the ways she wrote. While this book is definitely fluffy, romantic, and girly, I appreciated that there was a lot of plot related to the family dynamics, etc. in addition to the letters. I thought it was cool that Lara Jean and her sisters are bi-racial. It's not a perspective that I (or many) get to read a lot, but I found it eye opening. For example, her struggle with choosing a Halloween costume ("are you an anime character?" I liked that this family and these characters were interesting. They did fun things as a family, took care of each other, had their own traditions, and each of the siblings had their own interests and defined personalities. I feel like you sometimes get pretty generic characters in these types of books. I liked Lara Jean's romantic interests/struggles too. Her situation with Peter reminded me so much of Veronica Mars and Logan or Rory Gilmore and Logan, for that matter. Last random tidbit, I loved that they mention Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory. It seems kind of obscure, but it was one of my FAVORITE things I read in 2015! I'm excited to read the next two books and more of Han's work!

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for cute YA to read, and if you've read To All The Boys I've Loved Before.

This book follows Lara Jean Song and her sisters as they continue to navigate the changing landscape of their lives. When another one of Lara Jean's letters is answered by a former love, things as they are will be shaken up once again. 

I won't talk too much about this one since I'm also reviewing the first one here, but oh my gosh these books are so fun and cute! I still love Lara Jean, Margot, Kitty and their dad. I love their family dynamic. I loved how the story unfolded, and it was complicated but vivid. I loved loved loved Lara Jean. I mean, I guess it's probably because we like a lot of the same things... she scrapbooks, bakes, entertains, etc. She's ultra romantic. I couldn't even handle the parts where she is working at the nursing home. It's too cute to handle for me. I think I'm happy with how it ended up... but now there's another book in the series, so we'll see how it goes! :) 

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for a raw and emotional contemporary YA read. This book explores loneliness, grief, sexuality, mental illness, and hope.

This book follows Marin who's grandfather, her sole guardian, passed away just before she's to move across the country for college. She deserts her friends and heads straight to school. She can't face San Francisco or her memories anymore. When she convinces her college to let her stay on campus over winter break, her best friend Mabel pays her a visit. Mabel has an agenda, but Marin isn't ready to dig up the recent past.

I got a sneak peek of this via Netgalley, and I LOVED it. I finally got the full copy from the library, and while I didn't love it quite as much, I did really enjoy the story. I particularly enjoyed the refreshing take on contemporary YA. The characters are very real and filled with a lot of issues that they don't know how to deal with. It's such an interesting book in that you get to watch the characters unfold their pain and hurt and emerge from it in the end. This one definitely deals with some complex topics like grief, mental illness, money issues, etc. But I appreciated that it wasn't all neatly tied in a bow. I also appreciated that this book included LGBTQ themes, which is not something I see a lot of in YA fiction. Overall a good read, it will make you have all the feelings. I definitely cried a lot.

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse*

4 Stars - I recommend if you like contemporary YA romance. This one is a bit dramatic and fluffy, and was very fun to read. I also recommend if you are looking for a different or interesting setting. I really enjoyed that it took place in Tokyo.

Sophie has one more week as an expat in Japan. She's made Tokyo her home over the last 4 years, and feels that leaving will mean the end of her life as she knows it. Her only friends live there, her favorite foods and places exist there, and she doesn't want to leave. As if leaving wasn't bad enough, she has to share her final week with Jamie, who's returning to Japan after years away at boarding school. Jamie and Sophie were friends in middle school, but the day he left, he sent her a mean text by accident. She doesn't want to see him again, but soon remembers that she had more feelings for him than she thought.

This book was on and off a little bit dramatic for me, but overall I really liked it. I liked that it was set in Tokyo, it's a very neat picture that's painted as their backdrop. I liked that Sophie and her friends are pretty vivid characters. I don't know if their lifestyle is realistic, it's very much like a TV show that their parents aren't too concerned with where they are or what they are doing. But I suppose the justification in the book (Tokyo is safe, and most expat parents get used to trusting their kids/are too busy to worry about it) could be totally on point. I found myself pretty caught up in Sophie and Jamie's story. I kind of want to read more, so I guess if Cecilia Vinesse ends up writing a semi related sequel ala Lola and the Boy Next Door, I would be cool with that.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 

3 - 3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA that deals with difficult issues facing teenagers. I also recommend if you enjoy a bit of a mystery as far as how things are connected go.

This book follows Clay who receives a package containing 13 audio tapes from a friend who recently committed suicide. The tapes instruct him to listen to all of the tapes and then pass them on to the next person. If he doesn't the contents of the tapes will be exposed publicly. Each tape is associated with a person and a "reason" that Hannah killed herself. As the story unfolds, Clay will learn the mystery behind why Hannah ended her life.

Overall this book was a lot of hype, and I think it's really more the show that's the hype at this point. It was compelling enough to get through quickly, but I was expecting a mystery or something very thrilling to happen. However, I found that since it went in order, I wasn't too shocked at any point. I'm guessing that the show is more interesting in the sense that things don't go in chronological order, and you see things from multiple points of view. Overall this was just ok for me. I haven't watched this yet, but expect to enjoy the show.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy mysteries or thrillers, or anything pertaining to the lifestyles of the upper class.

This book follows Jane Chapman, a young kindergarten mom who moves to a beachy upscale suburb of Sydney for a change of pace and a better future for her son Ziggy. On the first day of kindergarten orientation Ziggy is accused of choking one of his classmates, which sparks a war between other kindergarten parents. Along the way Jane makes friends with Madeline, unapologeticaly dramatic and straightforward, who is dealing with divorced parenting of a teen. Celeste also becomes her friend, she seems to have the perfect life, but no one knows her dirty secret. When a parent is murdered, an investigation follows to figure out who did it, and as the reader, who died.

I was worried that I wouldn't like this one (because I did not like/abandoned Hypnotist's Love Story), and I mostly read it because I wanted to watch the show... but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. I liked the writing style, the changing POVs, and the dark comedy. I found myself pretty wrapped up in each character, and I really didn't know what was going to happen in the end. I had no idea who the murder was, or who would be murdered. It was pretty suspenseful, especially toward the end. The show, by contrast is a lot easier to solve as far as the murder goes. KC (like many other bloggy SOs) got it in about 4 episodes. I liked that the show was well cast, and well acted... but I found it quite a bit more depressing and/or "real" ... I enjoyed that the book was a bit hyperbolic and more funny. I still enjoyed it... but I'm not sure I want to watch season 2.

Destination Thailand: A Lonely Hearts Travels Club Book by Katy Colins*

3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy a fluffy beach read, especially one that is comedic (think Bridget Jones), or related to travel.

Georgia Green has just been dumped, two weeks before her wedding. Not only that, she's lost her job. When her friend prompts her to make a list of all the things she's dreamed of doing, but put off, Georgia realizes it's time to start seeing the world. She books a tour of Thailand, and heads out on an adventure. The trips turns out to be a disaster. Catty roommates, gross accommodations, sketchy planning, etc. have her itching to return to England. Once she meets Dillon, however, she's having a much better time in paradise. But is Dillon who he says he is? Is he the reason she went traveling? and what does Georgia want long-term?

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was a bit fluffy, but really fun to read. The humor was great, the romance was fun, the travel aspect was pretty unique. I found myself wanting to make lists and accomplish big dreams while reading this one. I liked that it wasn't all about the men in her life either, it was about her getting back to herself and moving forward with her life. As a traveler (though not nearly as exotically...) I can really relate to her travel woes and triumphs! I like that it is set up to be a series. I can totally see reading more of these books in the future. This was super fun.

Technically finished this June 1... oh well!

Miranda and Caliban by Jaqueline Carey*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy coming of age stories with magical themes. This is a retelling of The Tempest.

Miranda knows her father, and her island... and that is it. They live alone in a peaceful world. Her father toils over his work, which he will not explain to her. One day her father seeks to capture the wild boy, the only other human inhabitant on the island, and tame him. The boy is named Caliban and fights his capture. Over time Miranda and the boy become friends, and she teaches him to speak and to be "civilized". They bond as young friends, and as they are both held captive by Miranda's father. One day Miranda's father releases a wild elemental spirit who wreaks havoc upon their lives. What is Miranda's father up to? When will Miranda find out? What makes them better than Caliban or the spirits they command to do their bidding?

Overall this book was really interesting. I am not familiar with The Tempest, so I didn't quite know what to expect and I cannot speak to how closely it re-tells.... but, I enjoyed that this book had fantasy elements to it, but I also enjoyed that it was a side-by-side coming of age story between the two characters. It's a very vivid portrayal of the confusion that occurs when you become an adult. Parts of it also reminded me of things like Tarzan, for obvious reasons. There were some uncomfortable parts related to animal sacrifice, and others related to puberty/sexuality. But overall I found it really holistic and vivid. I liked the mystery of what Miranda's father was up to. Ultimately, I felt like there was a lot going on, a little too much perhaps... but that I was very absorbed by the world. It was left a little open ended, so I wonder if there is a sequel set up happening? I almost would have preferred and epilogue if so. We shall see. Overall, I really enjoyed this one!

Currently Reading:



Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins A Fork in the Road edited by James Oseland
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Be Your Own Fairytale: Working with Storytelling for Positive Life Chaneg by Alison Davies*

Books on Deck:


21 Rituals to Change Your Life by Theresa Cheung*
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly*
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier - OMG THIS MOVIE LOOKS SO GOOD!
The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan - OMG THIS MOVIE LOOKS SO GOOD!
The Dry by Jane Harper
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books tomorrow. :) 


Life According to Steph

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 


Let's be friends on Goodreads!

XO,

Alexandra

* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Have You Heard? // Broods - "Conscious"

HAPPY FRIDAY FRIENDS! I hope that you had a great week!



I share Broods all of the time... but you guys... today we're driving to St. Louis to see them!!!!! I'm SO excited. We saw them in KC in 2015 and it was AMAZING. I've been stalking their tour dates waiting for a Conscious show nearby. Well 4-5 hours will do it. We pulled the trigger on those $20 tickets without flinching.

GAH!

Anyhow, this song is super epic. Like turn it up all the way in the car and get chills epic. I just love it.


I cannot wait to hear this album live!!! 

What are you listening to this summer? 

Are you heading to any concerts?!

What do you have planned this weekend?

For us we are headed to Broods tonight, and back early tomorrow. Juliet's mom is getting married tomorrow. So we'll be there and celebrating with them! Sunday is relaxed for right now. I'm hoping to fit in some reading and PL time! (shocked, I'm sure!)

Other Posts This Week: Eco Beauty Reviews // Vol. II and 5 Unexpected Books to Add to Your TBR // Vol. II.

XO,


Alexandra

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

5 Unexpected Books to Add to Your TBR // Vol. II // Bookworm

Recently, I've been thinking about how much fun reading is. If you love to read, then you probably get me on this one. :) More-so I have also been thinking about how a lot of my reading choices have been made based on goodreads, and bookworm friends, and what's popular recently. Sometimes... this is AMAZING! Sometimes though, I wonder what happens to all of those incredible books that fall through the cracks once their popularity window ends. There are so many good ones in the world after all. :)

So here, I am going to share 5 unexpected books for your TBR.



1) A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Plot: In 1906, Mattie Gokey takes a job at the Glenmore hotel. She's poor and has no means to achieve her dreams. When a hotel guest asks her to burn some letters for her and later a body is found in the lake, Mattie learns that there may be more behind the mystery than expected.

My Thoughts: This books is a quick and compelling read. It does a great job of mixing historical fiction and mystery. While it is technically YA, I think it's accessible to adult readers as well. I remember loving it in high school, and I'd really like to re-read it someday. It would work splendidly for Erin's 7.0 "cardinal direction" category. 

2) Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan

Plot: In India, Koly is another 13 year old bride embarking on a journey of an arranged marriage. She leaves home with the prospect of a new, albeit, scary life ahead of her. When she arrives to marry her husband, she realizes she's been terribly mislead.

My Thoughts: Thinking back, this is one of the first books that truly shocked and moved me. I had no concept of arranged/child marriage, Indian culture, or anything else this book deals with when I read it. This book is very short, and I think it speaks to the nature of human spirit and our will to go on. This is a short and moving read, award-winning to boot. I definitely recommend picking this one up.

3) The Queen's Lady by Barbara Kyle

Plot: Honor is abducted as a child for being an heiress, she escapes to be raised by lawyer and scholar Sir Thomas More. As Honor becomes a woman she drawn to court to be a lady in waiting for Queen Catherine of Aragon. As Queen Catherine's relations with her husband Henry VIII grow dangerous, Honor carries letters to the queen's allies in a dangerous game.

My Thoughts: Once upon a time, I told KC that I wanted a "Renaissance" type book. The next Christmas he presented me with this book, and it's sequel. Though they are not technically Renaissance, I read it pretty voraciously. I appreciated the rich historical context, it opened my eyes to how different parts of history occurred. I love how well researched it seems, and how well the author blends historical fiction, with suspense, romance, and intrigue. I need to go back and re-read it and get to the sequel. You know me... so many books. :P I found out upon starting to use goodreads that it is now a series spanning 7 books, all of which are rated at 3.76 and above on GR. That is pretty impressive to me!  

4) Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

About: Set in the 1930's and '40s this book follows Chiyo a young girl who is taken to the city for "a better life". She is sent to a brothel at just 9 years old to train to become a Geisha. With her startling blue eyes, she's likely to be successful. This book really takes you deeply into the world of Geisha. This book is startling, vivid, romantic, and suspenseful.

My Thoughts: This is likely a book that all of you have heard of, and perhaps many of you have read. However, it's been out for a while, and probably isn't on anyone's "radar". This is another book that opened my eyes to a different part of history, and a different culture. Another startling example of children treated as adults. This book is all at once horrifying, inspiring, beautiful, and tragic. I highly recommend if you enjoy historical fiction. I'd very much like to read Geisha, A Life, Mineko Iwasaki's autobiography, she is where Arthur Golden got his information for his novel. I think it would be interesting to read it from her point of view, and from a purely non-fiction stance.

5) The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

About: Lily Owen is growing up in the segregated South. Her mother is dead, and her care taker Rosaleen has been arrested for insulting racists in the town. Lily springs Rosaleen from jail, and they head to a town called Tiburon, South Carolina. Lily aims to discover her mother's past, and is taken in by a family of black beekeepers.

My Thoughts: I have a soft spot for books related to civil rights in the South. I don't know why, especially as they are often hard to read... but this book is one of those for me. The writing is incredibly vivid, and the characters are so interesting and whimsical. I loved every bit of this book. I highly recommend this if you are looking for a good narrative that will tug at your heart. You'll enjoy the fusion of historical fiction, mystery, and whimsy.

**I am thinking of doing occasional posts featuring 3-5 books that I really loved (usually fiction!), but that are maybe not super popular anymore... following a similar format to this post. Maybe titled, "5 Unexpected Books to Add to Your TBR"...? Would anyone be interested in more of those types of posts...?!?! Let me know. :) **

If you could tell me 5 books to read that weren't "on my radar", what would they be?

See Volume I, my all time favorites,  here.


XO,


Alexandra

Monday, June 5, 2017

Eco Beauty Reviews Vol. II



You may have seen my first Eco Beauty Review, it's been a little while, so I figured I would go on to a new volume! 

Today I wanted to share a few more eco products that I have been trying, and how I like them so far. :) I hope to do a recurring feature on the products I try, and how I like them. Are you interested in reading more? Let me know in the comments! :)

1) Fruit Pigmented Lip & Cheek Tint by 100 Percent Pure



These little pigment sticks are one of my favorite makeup items, I use it every day! I have two colors: Shimmery Strawberry and Peach Glow. I tend to use the peach one in the summer months, and the strawberry one in the winter ones, but they are both great for any time of year. I use them as my blush in my "5 minute face" routine. I simply swipe a little over each cheek, and then blend with my fingers or a blending sponge. It gives me a little bit of color in my cheeks without being too bright. It also makes a nice sheer lip color. Though I don't tend to use it on my lips a lot. While these are a little pricey for blush ($25), I think they last me almost a year! So they are a really good value!

Purchase Here: Strawberry and Peach.

2) Natural Hand Lotion by 100 Percent Pure



When I went to college I had TONS of lotions. Mostly gifts from friends and family, tons of scents, tons of chemicals, etc. I used them all up, because I didn't want to be wasteful... but after that point, I didn't purchase a lot of lotions. One winter 100 Percent Pure did a Black Friday special where you could get three small sized lotions for a really good price. I got one and it included lavender, coconut, and honey almond scents. I really loved it, and since then I have continued purchasing them as I'm out. I don't love the coconut scent, which I usually do like coconut, but the honey almond and lavender are favorites. I even use the lavender ones on my face when I forget my moisturizer, and it works great! These hand creams are $12, and last for quite a while.

As a tip, these eco lotions don't absorb into your skin immediately. In turn they moisturize better, but you'll want to give it a few minutes before you go about doing other things.

One of the things I've hated the most about "going eco" is that there are so many less items with fun scents. Everything is pretty hippie or just comes in a few scents. I love that 100 Percent Pure has found natural ways to scent their products. It's so much more fun again!

Purchase Here.

3) Luminizing Face Powder by Honest Beauty



I have always loved makeup looks with just a little bit of shimmer. I don't want a ton of glitter on my face, but a subtle mineral eye shadow or powder with a bit of shimmer is a favorite. This luminizing powder is really really gorgeous and layers subtly over my other makeup. I just swipe a little bit over my cheek tint (above) and it gives me a highlight on my cheek bones. You can also use it near your brow! Or wherever you want to highlight. This powder is $25 on its own, or part of a three item $50 per shipment bundle. It comes in three colors: Midnight Reflection, Dawn Reflection, and Dusk Reflection. I use the Midnight Reflection color.

Purchase Here.

What beauty products have you guys been trying? Any that you love?

Are you interested in seeing more eco-beauty posts?

This post does not contain affiliate links. As always, I'm giving you guys my honest opinion!

Thank you for reading!

Alexandra

Friday, June 2, 2017

Have You Heard? // Fleetwood Mac - "The Chain" // Throwback

Happy Friday Friends! It was a super short work week for me, having Tuesdays off gave me a 5 day weekend. Much needed to recover post-wedding weekend. I did some straightening up, and some reading. So life is pretty good.:)


I'm not always huge on music from the '70's and '80's, not sure why..., but some of it is just right for me. I love this Fleetwood Mac album. It's so dreamy and I feel like it's perfect for summer!



Could this song be any more epic? I like to imagine what it must have been like to hear this live at a festival in the '70's or '80's. This is an odd sensation for me, because I'm often not that into things that strike me as hippy like. But I love this so much.

I like that they put this song on Guardians of the Galaxy's 2nd soundtrack... but they could have made it more epic in the movie... if I'm being honest. LOL

What are you listening to this summer? 

Do you love music specifically from certain decades, or is it hit or miss?

What do you have planned this weekend?

This weekend is my SIL Kels's birthday, and KC and his dad go to get fitted for tuxes for Kels's wedding. :) Other than that it's hopefully a lot of reading and binge watching time. :) 

Other Posts This Week: Juliet's Wedding Weekend & Five Months in // 2017 Goal Progress.

XO,


Alexandra

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Five Months In // 2017 Goal Progress

Hello everyone! I hope that you have been having a great week! 

In order to keep up with my goals for 2017 a little better, I have been trying to do monthly mini goals. :) See my 2017 goals here.

Goals for May:

1) Get grad gifts and plans ready! (Need ideas? Check here & here!)


Check! We managed to get everyone who invited us a small gift. Our sisters and Jacob got a bit bigger gifts. For Kels we got her this bar necklace in silver and it says, "she will not fall" - which is from a scripture that she really likes. We also got her Emily Ley's book Grace not Perfection which I would love to read as well. Jess got a massage gift card! Woot, and we got Jacob a Target gift card to go toward a Nintendo Switch. LOL.

2) Read 5 books! (all the fun/fluffy books now that Erin's 6.0 is over!)



Woohoo! I did this! I started out super strong with double Jenny Han in one week. I started the To All The Boys I've Loved Before series. It's so cute and fun! Then I read the full version of We Are Okay, and Seven Days of You. I may have finished those last two in the same day. Then I was trying to play catch up with TV adaptations, and read Thirteen Reasons Why and Big Little Lies. I finished the month with a Netgalley book, Destination Thailand, which was lots of fun. You'll have to come back next week for ratings and reviews. :) 

3) Work on some surprise gifts / snail mail! 



Check! Obviously there were the graduation gifts, but I wanted to put more effort into my snail mail game. I ordered a few old stationery kits from Studio Calico. They had a special going on, and I got some really cute cards and other accessories! I was able to start planning a few fun packages/cards for friends, and my blogger snail mail was definitely a little prettier this month! :) 

4) Get 2nd round of dental work done 

Check! Once again, my root canal was just a crown! :) He did the crown and worked nearby. I didn't have very much pain this time either. But he wrote me a prescription just in case. The unfortunate part is that my insurance contribution for the year is nearly up. So my next round will be mostly out of pocket. Goodbye Money! It's also hard to tell what all needs done next and what the priority should be. If I could, I'd love to do it all this year, but that's just not going to work all out of pocket. So I'm hoping he can give me some insight into what CAN'T wait, and what probably can until January. #stress I'm still proud of myself for going and doing it.... but it's a bit marred by the money and confusion right now.

5) Start planning a summer road trip


We finally have it narrowed down to one weekend. The only possible weekend this summer to go... and I think we have a route in mind.... So we need to start working on the details.

6) Finish up my SIL's wedding invites, etc.



Check! I finished these. I'm not sure if I will be doing any thank you notes or programs for any of the three weddings I'm doing, but I am happy to have a bit of a break either way. :)

7) Upcycle something

Nope!
No actual videos..., but I did take a lot of photos and quick flips for Instagram. :) 

9) Try a craft (non-paper) (even from a tiny kit) 




Check! I did this. I used a mini weaving kit that came with a Mollie Makes magazine that I purchased. It started out rocky, I had to pull out rows, start over, etc. But I exercised my patience, and it ended up looking really cute... until I cut it off the loom. I think there was either a) something wrong with the way I wrapped it... or b) something wrong with the instructions for cutting it. Now it looks really shabby. But at least I tried... : / I started looking at a macrame one, I got the first few steps done, but didn't work any further on it just yet.

10) Walk, Yoga, Weights, NO SODA, healthy meals as much as possible pre-wedding!




I did off an on okay at this! The first week of May was kind of "meh," the second week I was really on top of it all. The third week was also good. The worst part on the third week was healthy eating. My stomach was killing me, so I was mostly eating crackers, yogurt, and carbs. : / There were many days closer to the wedding that I managed to do multiple walks and arm weights! Woot. I also did well with not having soda up until right after the wedding. haha.

11) Try getting our groceries at Aldi, see the savings! :)

This didn't happen. Hoping to make it there in June.

12) Plan a game night


We sort of talked about a weekend that might work... but no real plans have been made.

Total: 8/12 - not too bad!

Other Accomplishments:


We saw Celtic Woman, I shared a song and a mini PSA about supporting the arts.
We celebrated my sister's birthday, graduation, and first Mother's Day!





We saw Guardians of the Galaxy vol. II. It was pretty good. I didn't much care for all the Ego stuff... but the rest was good. I'm excited to see the next chapter.

We went to the 4th Annual Kansas Food Truck Festival and ate #allthefood
We celebrated my SIL and her fiance's graduations. We celebrated Olivia's 4th grade recognition ceremony, and we celebrated two more friends' graduations as well, busy busy!

I completed the time limit on my 101 in 1,001 days, check out how it went, here.
Photo by Lauren Elaine Pearson
We enjoyed Juliet's Wedding Weekend. See the full post, here!

Goals for June:

1) Try another make ahead breakfast
2) Finish macrame craft I started
3) Try getting caffeine from tea ( : / )
4) Read 5 books (fluff, upcoming movie releases, and Erin's 7.0)
5) Try 2 new-to-us restaurants
6) Check off some Netgalley reads
7) Make a summer dessert
8) Film shorter scrapbook videos for Youtube!
9) Go on a picnic (if the weather is ever nice enough?)
10) Try out rough IG and Tuesday schedules
11) Do Yoga every Tuesday + arm weights
12) Get something accomplished in my Etsy store (starting should not be a hurdle!)

How was May for you?

What did you accomplish?

What are your goals for June? Holy Toledo this year is just flying!!

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch for, What's New With You tomorrow.

What's New With You

XO,

Alexandra