The Wanderlust Tag | Blog Tag

This week I was tagged by Sara @ The Bibliophagist for The Wanderlust Tag! Since I’ve been working on new kinds of blog content this month, I was delighted to be tagged and have another reason for a more relaxed and casual blog post that allows new followers to learn a little more about me and my interest. While this blog tag is specific to books, but I think that book recommendations reveal a lot about a person who put the list together. So hopefully it’s a fun read for anyone who has decided to follow this blog!

I’m also using this post as an opportunity for an informal catch-up. I’ve been so busy this week with helping to get the house ready for the flyer pictures. Now I won’t know with much warning when I’ll be expected to pick up and leave for house viewings. I also met with my Red Cross supervisor this week to find out what is expected of me. I’m going to start preparing social media content for our region at the start of April, so I’ll be figuring out just how long it takes me to do that next week!

Thank you so much for your support this month with all my posts and blog changes! I’m so happy with everything and can’t wait to see what April brings. I plan to publish Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week, so I’ll be working on these posts this weekend. Hopefully they don’t take too long, because this week I need to set up my April bujo spread!

What Is The Wanderlust Tag?

❝ If you have been following my little blog, you’ll also know that I’m all about the world building. I love how a good setting works to elevate the overall mood and tension. Nothing beats the draw of an eerie moorland, murky rivers, a wind-swept coastal town or even a ruthless, Tolkien-like fantasy world. [This blog tag is] a celebration of immersive settings that transport us to alternative realities  – Alexandra @ Reading by Starlight

The Rules

  • Mention the creator of the tag and link back to original post
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Answer the 10 questions below using any genre
  • Tag 5+ friends

If you find any of the books listed below fascinating I’ve included links to them on both Goodreads and Amazon. Just so you know, I am now an Amazon affiliate. If you do end up making a qualifying purchase through my one of my links I may make a small commission at no extra expense to you. ^_^

SECRETS AND LIES | A BOOK SET IN A SLEEPY SMALL TOWN

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Pages: Paperback, 288 pages
Published: August 31, 2010 by Vintage Books
Genres: New Adult / Speculative
Goodreads | Amazon

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.

Never Let Me Go was one of my first forays into literary fiction as a high schooler. The movie came out around my junior year of high school, which is why this book was on my radar. It’s a beautifully sad tale about what it means to be human. I still remember by frustration and confusion about why they don’t make a run for it and why they aren’t more frustrated with their fates. They were so resigned to it.

SALT AND SAND | A BOOK WITH A BEACHSIDE COMMUNITY

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Pages: Paperback, 227 pages
Published: May 13, 2014 by Hot Key Books
Genres: Young Adult / Family Drama
Goodreads | Amazon

We are the Liars.

We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.

We are cracked and broken.

A story of love and romance.

A tale of tragedy.

Which are lies?

Which is truth?

You decide.

This young adult novel is one of my inexplicable favorites. It gets me every time. I feel like it’s best to go into this book somewhat blind, so all I’ll say is it’s a great summertime read. The characters have summer vacations a dreamy private island and occasionally visit the nearby beachside town. In my head I picture where the cast of Gossip Girl go at the start of…Season 2 or 3?

HERE THERE BE DRAGONS | A BOOK WITH A VOYAGE ON THE HIGH SEAS

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Pages: Hardcover, 462 pages
Published: September 29, 2015 by Henry Holt and Company
Genres: New Adult / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

This book is just…everything. I don’t have time to get into it! I’ll just say that a lot of important moments happen at sea and around docks. The gang travels by sea to get to their heist and then need to return the same way.

TREAD LIGHTLY | A BOOK SET DOWN A MURKY RIVER OR A JUNGLE

City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende
Pages: Paperback, 408 pages
Published: April 27, 2004 by Rayo
Genres: Young Adult / Contemporary
Goodreads | Amazon

Fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold is about to join his fearless grandmother on the trip of a lifetime. An International Geographic expedition is headed to the dangerous, remote wilds of South America, on a mission to document the legendary Yeti of the Amazon known as the Beast.

But there are many secrets hidden in the unexplored wilderness, as Alex and his new friend Nadia soon discover. Drawing on the strength of their spirit guides, both young people are led on a thrilling and unforgettable journey to the ultimate discovery. . .

I reread this book for the first time since I was a teen last year (and reviewed it) and I did not remember how violent and dark this story was, considering its targeted towards young people. It’s very descriptive of the Amazon and the dangers it holds, so it’s a great read for anyone who enjoys high-stakes adventures.

FROZEN WASTES | A BOOK WITH A FROSTBITTEN ATMOSPHERE

Troubling a Star by Madeleine L’Engle
Pages: Paperback, 336 pages
Published: September 2, 2008 by Square Fish
Genres: Young Adult / Contemporary
Goodreads | Amazon

The Austins have settled back into their beloved home in the country after more than a year away. Though they had all missed the predictability and security of life in Thornhill, Vicky Austin is discovering that slipping back into her old life isn’t easy. She’s been changed by life in New York City and her travels around the country while her old friends seem to have stayed the same. So Vicky finds herself spending time with a new friend, Serena Eddington—the great-aunt of a boy Vicky met over the summer.

Aunt Serena gives Vicky an incredible birthday gift—a month-long trip to Antarctica. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. But Vicky is nervous. She’s never been away from her family before. Once she sets off though, she finds that’s the least of her worries. She receives threatening letters. She’s surrounded by suspicious characters. Vicky no longer knows who to trust. And she may not make it home alive.

This prompt was a little hard for me. I almost went with The Golden Compass, but then I remembered this childhood classic. It’s another that I reread last summer and it’s a highly underrated book from the author of A Wrinkle in Time and A Ring of Endless. It’s got a very strong message about environmental conservation woven into this tale of a girl who gets to go visit Antarctica on an educational trip and inadvertently gets mixed up in political intrigue and dangerous plots.

THE BOONIES | A BOOK WITH ROUGH OR ISOLATED TERRAIN

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Pages: Paperback, 380 pages
Published: May 2004 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult / Speculative 
Goodreads | Amazon

With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons’ hoards, and killing fields, Matt’s story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for teenage fantasy fans.

At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón’s bodyguard, “How old am I?…I know I don’t have a birthday like humans, but I was born.”

“You were harvested,” Tam Lin reminds him. “You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her.”

To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico—Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.

Another really dark read for children, The House of the Scorpion becomes an thrilling adventure story about halfway through the book. The protagonist is treated horribly and unlike the characters of Never Let Me Go, does eventually make a run for it. There are dangerous characters to fend off and the terrain he must trek is not much friendlier.

HINTERLANDS AND COWBOYS | A BOOK WITH A WESTERN-ESQUE SETTING

 Holes by Louis Sachar
Pages: Paperback, 233 pages
Published: September 2, 2000 by Scholastic 
Genres: Young Adult / Folk Tales
Goodreads | Amazon

Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten- pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys “build character” by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

I’ve not read any westerns beyond one that was a little overrated (highly promoted) a few years ago now. I forget what it was called. Anyway, Holes eventually came to mind. The movie came out the year before I started middle school, so I remember that more clearly than I do the book, but this book involves history of the west where the story’s setting is located. There are a collection of interwoven tales that link the protagonist, antagonists, and Camp Green Lake to the past during the time of trains and robbers.

LOOK LIVELY | A BOOK ACROSS SWEEPING DESERT SANDS

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Pages: Paperback, 550 pages
Published: January 27, 2015 by Square Fish
Genres: Young Adult / Science Fiction / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles and probably my favorite. I love Cress best of all and her story is the saddest and loneliest. To travel with her on her adventures once she escapes her prison is so much fun. A lot of this book is set in the desert where she and Captain Thorne crash land on Earth.

WILD AND UNTAMED | A BOOK SET IN THE HEART OF THE WOODS

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Pages: Paperback, 438 pages
Published:  March 1, 2016 by Del Rey 
Genres: New Adult / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

This book feels like its a few different books all cut and pasted together to make one. It’s a really beautiful and pretty fun read that ends up in a place I really didn’t expect it to go. The corrupt Wood is one of the scariest settings/entities that I’ve ever read. I had some nightmares after reading this book, which I’ve never really had happen with a book before.

WILDEST DREAMS | A WHIMSICAL BOOK SHROUDED IN MAGIC

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Pages: Paperback, 349 pages
Published: July 11, 2017 by Speak
Genres: Young Adult / Fantasy 
Goodreads | Amazon

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do.

Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But just as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them against a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?

I’ve never read another book that makes me feel the way I did when I first read Harry Potter. That desire to enter the world and experience its magic personally. I know a lot of authors have attempted it, but it’s never really been the same. I love the worldbuilding in Akata Witch so much because it feels so much more real than Harry Potter. It’s set in Africa, which read a lot to me like places from my actual childhood in the more rural hispanic parts of the US. It feels less like of an ivory tower than Hogwarts, more attainable.

I Tag…

Eline | Czai | Charleigh | Olivia | Angelica | Sam

I’ve seen this tag making the rounds, so I don’t remember who all has already done it! I’m just tagging the people I’ve most recently tagged who I think might enjoy it if they haven’t already. Of course, if this sounds like something you’d like to and you haven’t been tagged yet then consider yourself personally tagged by me ^_^

Recent Posts

Well this post took the better part of my Saturday morning and afternoon, with breaks of course! I’m about to call it a day and go start Part 2 of The OA on Netflix! I’ve been anticipating it all month and then I go and forget about it this week as soon as it debuts. Typical.

The last week of March will be dedicated to bullet journal content as I move into my new bullet journal and set it up for April. On that note, some of you may have gotten a sneak preview this week of the post that will go up on Monday! Sorry about that! It was not quite finished, and I forgot to move it after failing to complete it last weekend. There’s a lot more I want to add to it, so that it is as amazing and helpful as possible for newbies to journaling.

Thank you for reading!
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Mystery Blogger Award | Blog Tag

This week I was nominated by Siobhan @ Novelties for the Mystery Blogger Award! Since I’ve been working on new kinds of blog content this month, I was delighted to be tagged and have a reason for a more relaxed blog post that would allow new followers to get to know more about me.

On an unrelated note, I decided to start going by my real name again on this blog and my other socials because I want to be able to share stuff I write on here with future employers and don’t want there to be any confusion. Sorry for any confusion I’ve caused for you guys!

What Is the Mystery Blogger Award?

It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion. – Okoto Enigma

The Rules

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

Three Facts about Me

  1. Purple used to be my favorite color and now I can’t stand the thought of wearing it. It brings back negative memories of 8th/9th grade.
  2. I used to be able to tan really dark, but now I just freckle permanently if I don’t wear sunscreen. It’s really annoying.
  3. I’m in the currently in process of moving, so life is a little all over the place at the moment! More info about this move to come…

Siobhan’s Questions

1. Which character would you name your child (human, furbrat, or other) after?

By saying these names, I feel like I’m giving them away! But so be it, there’s plenty of names out there. For a daughter, I really love the name Ruth after the character from the film Fried Green Tomatoes (1991). For a son, I like Remus after Remus Lupin from Harry Potter. For dogs I like Gordo (Lizzie Maguire), Randall (This is Us), and Bosley (Bill Murray in Charlie’s Angels).

2. If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?

I would become a business woman with enough capital and connections to make stuff happen.

3. What is your new favorite book or TV show?

New as in discovered within the last year? I’ve recently been thinking about Sharp Objects, which is a mini-series starring Amy Adams that came out last summer. It was amazing. The female characters were so compelling and the music so evocative. I feel like I might start it up again. I can’t think of a new favorite book beyond The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson, which was a satisfying follow-up to Truly Devious.

4. What is the latest accomplishment you’re proud of?

What a lovely question. I’m really pleased about my new position as a Red Cross digital volunteer! I had to interview for it, and it was a win I needed right now to be honest. It’ll be doing work that I’m proud of and that will give me great experience for the kind of thing I want to do professionally.

5. What book are you looking forward to reading?

Right now, I really want to get to King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo! I’ve been trying to finish up Disrupt You by Jay Samit first so I could mark it off my TBR.

Bonus: If you could be transported into any TV show, what would it be?

I would love to be transported into the 1950s New York City of which The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel paints such a rosy picture. (I think I’ve answered this question before and had the same exact answer!)

My Questions

  1. Do you share your blog with people you know in your real life?
  2. What are your ultimate blog goals?
  3. Do you see yourself blogging when you’re 50?
  4. Who is your role model, fictional or otherwise?
  5. What are some books do you think are underrated?
  6. Bonus: You find out the world ends tomorrow; what do you do?

I Nominate…

Sara| Dani | Eline | Larissa | Czai | CharleighSamanthaMarie | Olivia | Angelica

Recent Posts

I hope you enjoy this light post! I’ve been super busy this week between producing the posts I did, planning future content, and working on job-related stuff. I’ve come to the realization that I really need to scale back on the blog stuff at the moment, so I’m probably going to aim for something of a blog schedule (M/W/F) for the next few weeks so that I can get on top of other responsibilities. I’ll try to use Twitter and Instagram for more personal updates, so check those out if you’d like!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

Top 5 Tuesday: Beautiful Book Spines

Welcome back to another Top 5 Tuesday here on The Inky Saga! At the beginning of each month, Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm annouces the weekly themes for this bookish meme. For this week, she asked us to share our “top five book spines.” I decided to look at my bookshelves and select the five I think are the most beautiful. Some of these books I’ve read, some I haven’t.

If you want to participate in this meme, be sure to link to Shanah’s original blog post so she gets a ping back and can add you to her post’s list of participants. It’s a fun way to discover new blogs and see what other books people listed for each topic. It’s my goal to start going through each week’s list and start blog hopping again this month.

Without further ado, here’s my top five book spines along with my rationale and the artists/designers behind the book cover art!

⟡ Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo ⟡

My love for this book is no secret. I also am just so enamored by the original cover aesthetic for the Grishaverse books as a whole. A word that comes to mind is ornate. Six of Crows in particular is gorgeous because of the looping letters that are at once so fine and sweeping. I like how they are positioned so that the book title can be read without the need tilt the head or reorient your eyes. Also the feather details and the spiral towers at the bottom are a really nice little touch.

Jacket Art & Design: Jack Deas

⟡ Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter ⟡

A book spine with similar characteristics to the Six of Crows, Vassa in the Night has a refined architectural detail of the castle. There’s also pretty swan that takes priority over the book spine space by placing on top of the title. It makes the spine look much more like a work of art than a book spine concerned with legibility.

Illustrations Copyright: Sarah Porter

⟡ The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton ⟡

This is one of the first books that came to mind for this list. I love the readable cursive letters distilling the long title and ultimately emphasizing Ava, the ultimate protagonist of this detailed ancestral saga. Copper feathers in contrast with the blue background are delicate and beautifully fit with the story.

Cover Design & Book Jacket: Matt Roeser

⟡ The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson ⟡

When I received this book on release day, I just remember being awe-struck by the vibrant pinkish red of this book cover. The book spine of The Vanishing Stair is a continuation of the abstract pop-art-style book cover and replicates the hand-written-style of the title from the front cover. Johnson’s name in a bright sky blue which presents a fantastic contrast.

I feel like the recent trend toward bright colors and erratic lettering (thinking of John and Hank Green’s most recent books) has verged on being over-done. Having read both books of the Truly Devious series, I feel like there was a missed opportunity to create an intricately detailed book cover. But I do think that these books are great to go into blind, and the simple abstract design make the books visually appealing without giving anything of the story away.

Jacket Art: Leo Nickolls | Jacket Design: Katie Fitch

⟡ We, the Drowned by Cartsen Jensen ⟡

I feel no shame in admitting that I was entirely compelled to by this book because of it’s startlingly beautiful cover. The summary of the book seemed fascinating, but I am 100% certain that this book was purely an aesthetic purchase. The spine is a continuation of the sea illustrated in swift, powerful lines.

Cover Design: Suzanne Dean | Cover Illustration: Joe McLaren

I was a nice change of pace to think about why certain book spines are more appealing than others. I’m clearly a sucker for a delicate, intricate design. I’m interested in reading other people’s lists because I wonder what our choices might say about us. I also wonder how much research goes into book spine design, or if it’s less of a concern for publishers when it comes to marketing books. If you have any resources on this topic, feel free to drop links in the comments below?

Do you have any of these books on your shelves?

What are book spine elements you consider most appealing?

Thank you for reading!
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26 Goals

I didn’t expect to take a week off of blogging. In fact, I had planned to celebrate my blog upgrade with a full week of blog posts! But you all know me; I like to work on a bunch of different things at time. So I ended last Sunday with a bunch of half-finished posts. Then the week started and I had little time for blog productivity.

I had an interview this week for a new part-time job that would pay a lot better. I finally filed my tax return so I could receive my tax refund, and I definitely need it this year. I also began my Red Cross volunteer application! I have a phone interview this coming Monday for a communications position in my region. It would be the dream experience, and I’m so nervous that I’ll be rejected.

Also it was my birthday on Thursday, which inspired this post. I had planned to share 26 goals I wanted to accomplish while I’m 26 last weekend, as a way to focus myself for my “new year.” I had the list written out in advance, but I wanted to add some commentary before I sent it out into the world. I feel like this post is a legal contract; I’m taking it very seriously!

  1. Get a full-time job. Ideally this would’ve happen last year. It needs to happen ASAP to be honest.
  2. Run a 5k. I came close to running one last November, but then I had my nasal surgery and it just wasn’t a good idea anymore.
  3. Avoid future back injury. I am now officially prone to back injury, but I truly believe it is 100% preventable. I am better a-tuned to the warning signs and know what to do in order to stop it, so I want to prioritize my body’s self-care while I’m 26. Losing weight, exercising regularly, taking hot baths, all these things can help me prevent another back strain.
  4. Visit my writing buddy Sara. We made this a joint new year’s resolution! We haven’t seen each other in person since 2015. We’ll probably try to find something practical as well as fun to do to meet.
  5. Attend a conference or convention of some sort. This item goes with the one above. Ideally, Sara and I would go to some kind of useful writing conference.
  6. Start a small business. This has been an idea of mine for the past year or so, especially as I began to realize how dissatisfied I am with the current job market. I don’t feel like I’m the most obvious person to start their own business, but that is something that actually inspires me!
  7. Upgrade my blog. I actually took the plunge here a few days before my birthday, but I would say that this goal is not entirely complete. There are more things that fall under my idea of a “blog upgrade,” including building a blog identity (logo, imagery) and maybe even a newsletter for those who follow my blog by email as it is.
  8. Build an online community. I feel like I have a handful of bloggers who I semi-regularly interact with but I want to do more to make my blog a place where it feels like a community of peers. I feel like I, and a few others, are on the outskirts of the YA book blog community. I want to do more to help others my age who love writing and books to feel seen and be inspired.
  9. Collaborate with others online. I feel like blogging would be so much more fun if I was less of an island on my little blog and branched out/invited others into my corner for collaborative activities. I’d like to have guest bloggers write specific blog posts on here.
  10. Meet online friends in person. I know a lot of the bloggers I’m closest with live in far off lands I would love to visit. Australia, East Asia, the American East Coast. I think it would great fun to meet-up with others and feel the comfort of knowing people who already live where I want to travel regardless!
  11. Write a novel. Bleh, no comment.
  12. Start a YouTube channel. I’ve dabbled in vlogging a few times in the past, but never for long. With the expanse of new vlog content, I’m feeling really inspired and like I can figure out a way to vlog that works for me. Since my old channel is associated with my job-search and real name, I’ll be starting again from scratch, probably sometime soon, to talk whatever is on my mind.
  13. Move out on my own. I feel like this goal might happen sooner than I would’ve thought. It doesn’t need to happen so soon, but I feel like it’s something I really want and need.
  14. Use my passport. I got it last year and I want to use it! Even if it’s just countries bordering my own for a quick day-trip. Ideally I’d go overseas, but I need a really good reason to go since I don’t have a lot of money at the moment.
  15. Learn to make a good quiche. This one is kind of silly, but I just made a quiche that was go terrible. I love a good quiche. If I go out to eat breakfast somewhere that has quiche, I’ll almost certainly order it. I want to be able to make dough from scratch.
  16. Start saving for retirement/investing. I feel like I don’t have the money to start setting aside right now, but the bigger problem has been that I’ve never worked somewhere that offers the option of a 401k, whatever the hell that is. I feel like I’m just going to have to take the initiative on my own and start my own official savings, especially if the whole small business thing takes off.
  17. Get good with money. I think this one speaks for itself, but the main thing I want is to stop being so careless with expenses. I want to be more mindful about where I put my money and keep better track of where it goes. I want to start budgeting monthly expenses.
  18. Volunteer. I already have the ball rolling here with reaching out to the Red Cross this week. Not only would be it be great experience that I need, I think it will be good for the soul. In many ways I feel like an incredibly selfish person, but I love feeling like I’m contributing to a worth-while cause.
  19. Become fluent in German. I feel like this is another silly one, but I feel like it’d be good for the mind. I miss school, and learning German has helped give my student-oriented brain something to focus on. I continue to go weeks without studying, so hopefully this goal will help push me to be more consistent.
  20. Start an entirely new hobby. It’s time to learn something new, something that has nothing to do with my current life goals or interests. I feel like most of my hobbies that always fallen into the realm of usefulness. I want to start a hobby that is completely useless.
  21. Establish a makeup routine. I used to hate the idea of needing to wear makeup, but I feel like it’s never been more fun to use your face as a canvas. Plus, I need it to protect my skin from the sun and cover my natural redness. I now watch as many beauty channels as other kinds of channels on YouTube, and I feel like I’m at an age where I really should know what I’m doing and have a few really good go-to products.
  22. Create a capsule wardrobe. I’ve long hated how many clothes I have, especially since I only wear a few. The unfortunate truth is that I have multiple closets in one. I’d say all the clothes I own encapsulate different visions of myself: present, past, and future. For years, I’ve shopped for all these visions without quite realizing it, for by telling myself it’s too good a bargain to pass up, that my future self would thank me. I really want to stop doing this and only have clothes that I can wear at the present and feel confident.
  23. Get a tattoo. I was never someone who wanted to get a tattoo, but I feel like there’s a lot of different options for all kinds of people and that it might be a fun experience to share with someone. I think it would also help me figure out what matters to me and who I am. I feel like part of the reason I’ve always been so disinterested is because of the permanency. I think getting a tattoo would force me to really think about myself.
  24. Read 10 classics. I feel like there are a lot of classics I have at my fingertips and that I really ought to start reading some of them. I feel like it would be good inspiration for the writer in me.
  25. Go to a party. I have been invited to parties in the past and been very quick to say no. I’m cautious about hanging out with people from work that I don’t know very well, because I’m a square and maybe a little bit of a snob. I worry about people getting to know the real me! But I figure I need to get better at socializing and casual parties with people I don’t care about very much might be good low-risk practice.
  26. Get a new pet. We lost Apollo this month, and while I don’t believe in replacing pets, for I know first-hand that every dog different in temperament and personality. We still have little Ty-Ty, but he’s my parents’ dog. I want a dog I can call my own. That would be the benefit of having my own place. If I live on my own, I can adopt my companion. I’m not sure my first solo pet should be a dog. A cat might be a better choice…I’m not the biggest cat person, but I have enjoyed kittens in the past. Maybe I’ll just become a foster until my life is more stable.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! Let me know what goals most resonate with you. I’m not sure how I’ll track my progress on these goals. Maybe I’ll do a corresponding blog post before my 27th birthday and share everything that changed in my life while I was 26.

I’m not going to be miserable if I don’t get to everything on this list. My goal is simply to live more fully. I want to stop feeling like my life hasn’t truly started yet because x, y, and z haven’t happened yet. I want to be more pro-active. I’m coming to the realization that things are not just going to fall into my lap. I have to make things happen myself.

Thank you for reading!
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Waiting | Week in Review

The second week of February was far better than the first but no less busy. The first week without Apollo was definitely sad, but life has definitely become a lot simpler. Our little dog has definitely been spoiled this week. Apollo was the reason Ty has missed out on a lot over the years, because we couldn’t walk Ty or take him for a car ride without Apollo’s knowledge. We think he’s still a little confused about where his big brother is, but Ty’s always seemed to be a much more independent dog.

On the personal front, I was busy in between my regular work hours. It was the last week of our parade preparations, so we were trying to meet almost every day for an hour at 11:30 a.m. Truthfully, it was the worst possible time, smack dab in the middle of the day between my regular work hours. I kind of stopped showing up because it was too much to handle with other stuff going on in my life this week, namely the dental appointments.

I feel like this week can be defined through the word “waiting.” I’m waiting all the time for phone calls, to receive email feedback, for weeks to end, for work shifts to be over. It’s kind of scary that I’m wishing so much time away. It reminds me of the movie Click (2006) where Adam Sandler’s character loses big chunks of time because he wants to skip all the toiling for his job, but he doesn’t realize he’s missing out on all the special small moments in between that make life meaningful.

I do feel like there’s a lot I want to do that I can get started on right now. I feel like this year so far has been me preparing to do more, and a lot of that journey is being documented on this blog. So I’m thankful for this small space where I can talk about what I love, document my creative journey, and feel cheered on by all you lovely readers. Truly.

  • Job Applications. Monday I applied for six jobs. Two were local city positions (Part-Time Records Clerk & Visitors Services Manager) and four (Recreation Aide, Head Camp Counselor, Community Relations Specialist, Help Desk Supervisor) were the next city over. I don’t think many were full-time jobs. They just definitely would pay more than I currently get paid now. I’ve already been rejected for the two local positions, which really made me want to quit my current job this week because my immediate supervisor said the higher ups do not like to have current employees jumping to new departments, so basically I have no chances to even interview while I work this job that people without college degrees can do. If only I didn’t need the money…I may put in my two weeks’ notice soon, just because I think my chances will be get better for local jobs and I may get something better soon if I just keep applying.
  • Dental Appointments. This month I get kicked off my parents’ health insurance and my mom asked me if I wanted to visit the dentist for one more cleaning. I went Wednesday, and it was already annoying because I had to fill out paperwork for the company that bought the dentist office where we’ve been going for the last 10 years. Then I found out I had four cavities. They’re all in the early stages, so I just needed to get fillings. I always thoughts flossing was just to prevent gingivitis, but all my cavities are where the teeth touch in the back of my mouth, so flossing would have prevented them. Floss, kids!
  • Red Cross Volunteering. Wednesday night we had our monthly staff meeting at work. Our guest speakers were from the Red Cross and they talked about all the volunteer opportunities they offer. The main woman who spoke talked about being fresh out of college and not being able to find work immediately, and I just felt like she was talking directly to me! One of my goals for this weekend is to apply to volunteer and see what I can do.
  • Valentine’s Day. Honestly, I didn’t remember how much candy I used to get for Valentine’s Day at school. How schools can celebrate and promote Valentine’s Day but not Halloween is crazy. I got so much candy this day. Right after finding out I had cavities. Oh, the irony. One of my co-workers surprised us with goodie bags and then the kids added to our supply as they sorted through their loot during snack time. It was so unexpected, I wish I had gotten something for the kids and my co-workers too! I just didn’t think it would be a big deal at all.

I am so happy with my blog content this week. If there’s one regret, it’s that I didn’t finish up my review of The Vanishing Stair, which I read two weeks ago now. But the reason for that is I’m not sure how I want to review it. Sequels are hard to do! There are more questions about what to talk about and part of that I think can be answered by figuring out who is the audience. I’ve not figured that out yet!

But I still managed to publish three posts that I really liked. None of them were really planned ahead of time, which is why I think I’m so happy with them to be honest. I liked that I had time to work on them during the week and then publish them immediately in some cases. I liked that spontaneity! And I liked that I was happy with the end result.

I don’t like to publish posts that I’m unhappy with, which is why this week’s TTT was actually from a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t happy with it then, but after sitting on it for a little bit, I was able to redraft it this week and not let all the work that went into it at the beginning of the month (compiling images and book summaries) to go to waste. I feel like the theme is an important one, for me especially as I don’t use Goodreads anymore and will need to find a way to track the books on my TBR now.

B L O G  P O S T S

Once again, I didn’t do any reading this week, but I am ready to start King of Scars! I’ve decided I would first read Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2), because a) I want to refresh myself on the world and characters, and b) I only read that book once. I think it will also be good to read this weekend because I don’t want to neglect all my other responsibilities in order to read (as I did when reading The Vanishing Stair), so I’ll make it something to look forward to in between getting chores done, doing job applications, and writing/blogging.

Then next weekend I’ll be ready to read King of Scars!

Next week is my birthday, so it will likely be a week of deep introspection. I want to reflect on my past year, think about what I want to do different, and probably make a list of things I want to do while I’m 26. I don’t want to wait around any longer. There’s a lot that is out of my control, but that doesn’t mean I should just sit around and do nothing. I want to meet new people, have new experiences, and do new things. For one of the first times in my life, I’m approaching my birthday with excitement.

Thank you for reading!
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Goodbye, Apollo | Week in Review

This past week was incredibly exhausting. My parents have been consulting realtors so we had to do a deep-clean of the house on Monday. The kids at work have seemed more challenging than normal this week. Then my Pixel 2 smartphone decided to quit on me Wednesday afternoon. Because my phone wasn’t due an upgrade until December, I needed purchase a new one without the option of financing it (which means stretching the payments out interest-free).

Luckily I could afford it and not entirely break the bank, but it has affected my economic freedom to a certain degree. I likely won’t be picking up fast food anymore or buying any new clothes/books soon. Also I likely won’t be upgrading my blog, as I had originally been planning this month. At least not for a little while.

Rounding out the week, I had to say goodbye to Apollo, my 12-year-old German Shepherd, who was a very big part of our family. I’m very glad I started and wrote most of this post yesterday before I learned this morning would be his last. It’s been rough. My eyes have been red and puffy all day. Generally I like to put a positive spin on weeks that are challenging, but right now I just want to linger in my despair for a little bit.

  • The Assassination of Giani Versace. Instead of reading, I’ve been watching the second season of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story anthology series this week. It’s been one I’ve eagerly anticipated after discovering Cody Fern last fall, where he played Michael Langdon on AHS: Apocalypse. I also remember that this season had been critically acclaimed, so I was excited. I totally understand where the hype came from; Darren Criss was so good in this role as a psychopathic serial killer. But it was also a little underwhelming. Nothing surprised me story-wise after a certain point, so I felt like I was on a steadily rising rollercoaster to nothing.
  • The new (to me) iPhone 8. I touched on this above, but I didn’t really talk about how annoying this entire situation was. This smartphone is a major downgrade from the Pixel 2. The camera can’t compare. It also feels clunkier, less user-friendly, and slower than the Pixel 2. The only positive is that I was able to sync back up with my last iPhone 6, so I now have easy access to my old photos from 2+ years ago. I also think the sound might be slightly better…
  • My six-month evaluation. I’ve never had a job for longer than six months, so this was my first employee evaluation. I wasn’t aware it was coming up, and I’m glad I wasn’t so I wouldn’t be anxious leading up to it. It went fine; I received no bad marks. My main disappointment is I don’t get a raise until after my NEXT evaluation, which is unlikely to happen because I don’t see myself being here for another six months.
  • Job interview. On Friday I had a job interview with my local school district for a clerical assistant position. It was less than 20 minutes long and I feel like I answered all the questions fairly well. However, I’ve left other interviews feeling way more optimistic than I did this one and not gotten the job. So I have no idea how to feel about it. It’s out of my hands.
  • Apollo (2007–2019). My family got Apollo in May 2007 when I was just about to finish up 8th grade. He was my younger brother’s dog. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with our German Shepherd. I love dogs, but Apollo has always been so difficult. We weren’t allowed to treat him like we did our little dogs. He was very strong, so we had to be careful with him. He was always so serious and a nervous wreck. But he definitely grew on me in his later years and I grew to appreciate him so much. Anyway, his breed is prone to hip dysplasia and Apollo’s been suffering for more than a couple of years with it. It doesn’t help that he broke one of his front legs a few years ago (somehow unbeknownst to us). Friday morning, after a week of him having restless nights, my mom decided it was time we let him go. We always knew we wanted him to be able to walk out of our house for the last time with dignity.

I’m still a little bit in shock that I saw him for the last time this morning. In spite of everything, he was such a happy guy. I honestly thought we might have him at least a month or two more. I may do another post about him, just because there is so much I could say. He’s our last childhood dog. His death marks an end of an era. This house is never going to be the same again without him. In many ways, things will be a lot easier, but there’s going to reminders of his absence at every corner that we pass where he is not blocking our way.

On my monthly log section of my bullet journal, I was able to look at the month and think about the blog content I hoped to produce this month. A part of me wishes I could create an ambitious blog schedule and stick to it each week, but it’s not realistic for me. I can’t promise to read a book each week just so I have a review to share. I can’t promise to do enough Skillshare courses each week to warrant a blog post on them every Tuesday.

I like having the opportunity to be flexible with what I post, but I do want to become more consistent. So my plan going forward will be to spread my blog posts out a little more evenly so that too many days do not go by without a post.

B L O G  P O S T S

Last weekend I finished my reread Truly Devious and started The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson, which came out on January 22, 2019. It was one of those rare moments in time that I absolutely cherish, when I have set aside time to read a book I’ve been anticipating, a book that doesn’t disappoint and, when finished, leaves me sad that it’s over but happy that it happened.

If you haven’t read these books yet, what exactly are you waiting for?!

My next read is likely to be King of Scars, but I’m still in appreciate mode for The Vanishing Stair, so I’m not in a hurry to jump into a new book. I may actually read some non-fiction first…

Next week might prove a little busy. There are two parades this month back-to-back. The first was more casual and happened this weekend. The second is more important because it is a judged competition. If our float places highly, our community center benefits with a monetary donation. So next week we will likely meet a lot outside of our regularly work hours. For me, that means clocking in and out at work THREE times. It’s all been a bit much to be completely honest.

I can’t wait for spring break. Although, that might be busy too…

Thank you for reading!
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Epiphany | Week in Review

I’m happy to be back a second week in a row, reviewing life, blog, and books from the past week. It’s been another fairly busy week in the life. There’s not a whole lot to note on a personal level, but I still have thoughts that I am happy to share about my own blogging. I only managed to publish two blog posts this week, but I’ve made progress several projects that will be the topics of future blog posts.

I have some ideas on how to make these Week in Review posts more interesting! I didn’t feel equipped to integrate them today, but hopefully next week I will add a few more sections to that inspire greater dialogue and discussion.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend! I regret to say I did nothing in particular to celebrate or commemorate the reverend this year, but I did appreciate the extra day off of school (and therefore work) I received. The past weekend, Saturday was pretty much slept away, so I only really had Sunday to do anything significant. But I managed to put a lot of blog-work time in this weekend, and I am really happy with the posts that have been going up!
  • New workout routine. I’ve been needing to start working out regularly again after recovering from my back injury at the beginning of the month. I used to do the elliptical, but with my brother home it’s been hard to share. Pilates was also out of the question while my back was stiff because a lot of the specific moves required some back strength to begin with. So I was lucky when found a high intensity, low impact workout routine on YouTube that I could perform standing up! It made a massive improvement in how I felt just the first three days of doing it. I had some initial leg soreness, but by continuing to force myself to power through it quickly went away.
  • The Vanishing Stair was released! So this is not really a life update, but it was a highlight of my week to come home after work one evening and find I had received the book in the mail! The online images don’t do the cover justice. It’s a gorgeous deep pinkish-red. I can’t wait to read it!
  • I was selected for an extra work event. We had our monthly staff meeting at work last week, where we volunteer for special events outside of the regular schedule. I rarely got anything last so imagine my surprise when I found out I was selected for one that I signed up for! It means I’m going to have a hellishly long Friday next week, so I’m definitely going to need to rest up the night before. I also need to sort out a costume. I need to dress up as Edna Mode from The Incredibles. I should also probably watch The Incredibles
  • The end of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. One of my favorite Netflix shoes finally came to an end with this Friday’s release of Part 2 of Season 4. I binge-watched most of it last night and, I must say, it was kind of disappointing. The episodes were longer but they also dragged on. There were some highlights, but over all I can’t believe the show ended on such an underwhelming note. Especially because the first half of Season 4 was amazing!

I don’t know why I can be so hard on myself about the blog sometimes. A part of me wishes I could blog every day, updating you all on the finer details of each day. Just so that you will know what I’m working on. I think it’s a part of me that wants validation for all the work I do that is still unfinished. But then I remind myself that consistency should be the aim. If I’m doing two blog posts each week, that’s better than if I do five one week and then take a break for a month!

I have a lot of blog posts ideas and drafts half-started. I also have a lot of posts scheduled that I’ve needed to reschedule as each day passes that I’ve not been able to complete them. I think that’s why I can feel like I’m not doing anything, because I’m not seeing blog posts be published as quickly as I have new ideas for more!

I have to remind myself that I am working on multiple posts at the same time each week, not because I’m procrastinating on any one in particular, but because I don’t find it realistic to dedicate all my time to just one project (e.g. writing, Skillshare, job hunting, reading). I feel much happier with my work when I am able to work what I feel like working on. I never feel like I’m slacking on something anymore, by finding ways to work on most things even just a little at a time.

B L O G  P O S T S

U P C O M I N G  P O S T S

These are the blog posts I’m confident will be ready to go this week. There might be another few (of the monthly wrap up/goals variety), but it will all depend on my finishing them in time!

  • T  | The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List | Top Ten Tuesday
  • W | February BuJo Spread ⁂ ✧.: *: ・
  • R | Thoughts on Man in the High Castle

B L O G  G O A L S

I’ve decided to set myself some blog goals for the week, because I want to start disciplining myself a little better.

  1. Only schedule blog posts that are finished
  2. Create a inventory of posts that can go up on weeks I don’t have time to blog
  3. Blog hop

I’ve set myself all of these goals at one point in the past or another. They feel especially relevant now, so I’m going to make a greater effort to do these things this week. None of these goals are absolutely essential, but I think they will make me happier in the long run.

I finally finished The Man in the High Castle this week! It turned out to be a really fascinating read. It started off really slow while introducing the characters and their life predicaments, and by the end it had me thinking a lot about what everything means. I had hoped I might be able to publish my thoughts on the book last night after I finished it, but I realized I really needed more time to let it set. I also want to do some research on the book, which might help me speak more eloquently about it in my post.

I was still in the reading mood last night, so I decided to pick up Truly, Devious by Maureen Johnson! I’m hoping it will be a quick read. I’m already about 30 pages into the book and Stevie has just arrived at Ellingham. I’m paying better attention to the flashbacks and her research this time around so hopefully I can make some accurate predictions about the revelations of The Vanishing Stair!

It is hard to believe it is finally the last week of January. I feel like it was actually a really long month, which I’m happy about because I hate feeling like time is slipping away at a pace with which I cannot keep up. I will be busy this week trying to tie up a few loose ends on January so can start February off with a bang. I also want to do a lot more posting in February, so I want to do as much as possible now to be successful next month.

For me that means getting my February bujo spread done, deciding what to prioritize next month, and getting anything I can done in advance (i.e. blog post images, headers, etc.). I also need to finish up a couple of reads…

Thank you for reading!
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Change and the Unexpected | Week in Review

I, for one, am extremely happy last week is now behind me. It was a very busy and occasionally frantic one complete with family emergencies and job changes. I felt like I had no time to do anything I really wanted to, because I was always exhausted during my free-time or distracted with worry. I wasn’t able to do nearly as much as I hoped to. But, all things considered, I think I kicked this week’s butt.

I managed to post twice this week, posts which I have linked below. I’m also really happy with how work went this week. Continue reading for more about my crazy week and plans for the rest of the month.

  • I got my writing mojo back. Last weekend I had a great writing session that resulted in my getting my writing mojo back. I even wrote a post about it (link below and in the side bar)! I’ve not managed to keep entirely to my daily writing goal, but that is because life has thrown me some major surprises this week.
  • My grandma had a stroke. Tuesday morning I got home after my morning shift to find that my uncle had called us to let us know he had discovered my grandma that morning on the floor in her clothes from the day before with blood on her mouth. My parents and I live about eight hours away and they decided to drop everything and go to her immediately. We eventually found out she had had a major stroke that affected the left side of her body. Her road to recovery will be long, but we are happy she will still be around for a while longer. She’s small, but she’s tough.
  • I was transferred. After our monthly staff meeting this Wednesday, I was asked how I would feel about changing school sites. My boss was hoping I’d be willing to transfer to the main recreation center because they need more counselors who can drive the vans to pick up kids from their school and bring them back where we host our after school program. I decided that would be all right and might be a good professional move as I do hope to become a supervisor while I work there. But I needed to start at the new site immediately, so I didn’t get to say a proper good-bye to the kids I adore. I think I will still be able to visit them occasionally, so I’m not thinking of it as a good-bye rather as a see-you-later!
  • My back finally became less stiff. As you may know, I’ve been struggling with back pain since the start of the new year. This week I felt massive improvement that has freed up some time as I no longer need to do morning stretches. I was even able to use the elliptical this week! I have every intention of continuing to strengthen my back and losing some weight so that I never have to deal with a sprain, or whatever it was, again.

I have not spared much time for the blog at all, despite my initial excitement at the start of the new year, but not for lack of interest. I just have so much going on at the moment. I’ve been back at work for two weeks now and trying to get used to my new routine. Once I start going to bed early, I’m sure I’ll be able to get a lot more of the stuff I’d like to do during the day, including reading, writing, and blogging.

In the immediate future, I see myself working more steadily on job applications. I found out yesterday that the job fair I attended last week will not result in immediate news of job placement. In fact, it may take a full month for them to contact applicants either way. So I can’t really count on that, especially given the government shutdown.

Some of the things you can expect to see me blogging about over the rest of the month will include: the job search, Skillshare classes, The Vanishing Stair, and my February bullet journal spread.

B L O G  P O S T S

This week I decided to pick up a book I found last year at 2nd and Charles, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. It is a science fiction novel upon which the popular Amazon Prime original show is based. It takes place in an alternative universe U.S. in which Germany and Japan won WWII. The U.S. was divided in half and exists under fascist control.

In this universe there are these film reels circulating that show people glimpses of alternative universes, some of which show the U.S. winning the war and showing how different life can be. It gives rebels hope for a better world and the Nazis fear of losing their supremacy.

I’m only about 40 pages into the book at the moment and so far the author has only been introducing characters, so I’m excited to see where the story’s plot deviates from the show and vice versa. I’ve already noticed that the characters seem a tad older in the book than they are on the show. At the very least, I hope to get some answers I have after watching the show’s third season over the holidays!

I hope to do a bit more blogging this week. I think that one of my problems this week was that I was not entirely organized. I plan to try approaching each day differently this week in terms of setting my agenda and daily tasks. Maybe it will result in a blog post down the line! All I know is that I need to better prioritize certain tasks and make sure all my needs (rest, hydration, exercise, meals) are more efficiently met so I can make the best use of my free time.

Thank you for reading!
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Hello, 2019 | Week in Review

All things considered, the first week of 2019 has been wonderful for me. Yes, I entered January with severe back pain. But I think it was just as well. It helped jolt me out of my usual complacency and into action. It also made it so I could have the week off to enjoy the last week before school started again. I do wish I could’ve worked, but the silver lining is I had time to work on myself and start the year off on the right foot.

  • New Year’s Eve. I was still suffering from my back pain as I run in the new year, but it was a surprisingly pleasant evening. I stayed in with my parents and brother. We flipped between Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and the Fox’s New Year’s Eve with Steve Harvey. My dad made buñuelos and we snacked until it was time to clink our champagne glasses to the new year.
  • Keto diet. I started the keto diet again. My friend convinced me to try it last month and the couple of weeks I tried it were not difficult at all, and I was quickly able to see a difference. I don’t feel deprived in any way and am enjoying everything I eat, but the only problem is I do miss carbs. Especially breakfast biscuits, chips, and hashbrowns.
  • Started my bullet journal. I started January out skeptical of how much use I would make of my journal, considering how debilitating my back pain was. Somehow I’ve managed to keep up with it every day so far! It’s actually become something that helps keep my mind more present, if that makes sense. I feel more in control of my day now and less like life is slipping through my fingers. And I feel such satisfaction when I complete a task on my to-do lists! ICYMI: My 2019 Bullet Journal + January Spread
  • Skillshare. I was able to try out this website for another two free months. I tried it out last year but didn’t get too much use out of it. To be fair, what I learned from the classes I did take on SEO and cover letter-writing have stuck with me, so it’s a pretty good resource if you have the money. This year I want to learn about starting a small business and freelancing, so those are the main topics of the classes I have been bookmarking.

I don’t have any New Year’s related blog goals or resolutions, as I know how unpredictable life is and that blogging is not always a priority in my life. Even though it’s not a priority, I love my little corner of the internet that I’ve built and believe it will continue grow with me.

I think I mentioned this already, but I’m still seriously thinking about upgrading my blog so I can have my own domain name (probably something entirely new) and more control over the functionality/design of the blog. I’m making changes really slowly to make sure I don’t jump into anything prematurely just to ditch it!

I’m loving this new sense of freedom to post more outside of books and reading. Thank you to everyone who has stuck around and is still interested in my ramblings. ^_^

B L O G  P O S T S

B L O G  G O A L S

I don’t know if I will complete these tasks this week or why you would want to know about them, but I’m recording them more for my own benefit and records than anything else.

  • Update About page
  • Add Bookshelves page: Read in 2019

Because of my back pain, I was sleeping on our upstairs couch as it offers more support than my ancient mattress. As result I found myself more likely to reach for a book instead of my laptop, which I kept in my bedroom. With my little battery-powered reading light, I found myself waking up in the middle of the night and cracking open a book to read when I couldn’t fall back asleep.

The first book I picked up was The Democratic Surround, a textbook written by Fred Turner that I bought after being assigned a few excerpts in one of my last grad school classes. I remembered a lot of what it was about and have enjoyed picking it up whenever I have a spare moment to learn more about how the U.S. government collaborated with artists and intellectuals on art to combat fascism and, soon after, communism in the 20th century. It feels oddly relevant these days.

Eager to read some fiction, I picked up Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. It’s been on my TBR for many years now, and I’m so satisfied to have finally finished this novella. I am still debating reading the other stories in the short collection Capote’s works, but right now I feel content enough to return to the other books I started in December.

For my thoughts on these books, keep a look out for a post this Thursday. I’m not sure if I’ll be finished with The Democratic Sound, but I’ll post something regardless.

I can’t promise I’ll keep up with this weekly series on a weekly basis, but I will endeavor to produce them whenever I’ve had a really noteworthy week. I love the headings I’ve created and would like to put them to good use.

This will be a busy week. School will be back in session so I will be back to working regularly Monday–Friday, not just after school but also before school! I also need to finish preparing for a job fair I’m attending this Tuesday with my mom. We’re both looking for full-time jobs now, so it’s been oddly motivating to have someone in the same boat as me!

Thank you for reading!
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My 2019 Bullet Journal + January Spread

Over the past couple of years, I have begun dabbling in bullet journalling. I’ve always loved stationary and keeping a planner in school. I’ve also always been highly reflective, creativity-inclined, and goal-oriented, so bullet journalling felt like a natural fit for me. I’m also attracted to the fact that it is something I could make and hold in my hands since so much of my time is spent online.

In total, I had created three monthly spreads before this month, for June 2017, September 2018, and October 2018. Each time felt like an experiment. When I was first starting out, I didn’t know what page elements I would want or need during the month. I didn’t know what was practical and or what would work for me.

I’m not going to lie, I did not complete filling out any of these previous spreads, abandoning each project at some point during the month. But each time I started a new one, I got closer to the right layout and elements for me.

In this blog post, I will share my inspiration, my January spread, and my rationale for what I decided to include in my bullet journal this month.

My Method

I was recently watching AmandaRachLee‘s 2018 Journal Flip Through for ideas when I came to an important realization. While I love her artistic style and creativity in spreads, I do not feel motivated to make my bullet journal a planner. I don’t have many important dates to remember each month and prefer to keep an actual paper calendar on my desk for quick reference.

Rather my aim with my bullet journal to track progress on my projects over time, to brainstorm, to keep a log of the things I want to do and actually do. Some people also make their bullet journal their diary, but I personally am keeping that in a separate notebook. I treat my bullet journal more as a physical manifestation of a online blog, highly selective and curated towards what I want to share and remember.

If you’re interested in starting a bullet journal, I highly recommend:

  1. Immersing yourself in the bullet journal communities in the blogosphere, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on YouTube. There are a lot of fun ideas to parse through and only you know what spreads will work best for you.
  2. Practicing first in journals you already have. You don’t need to buy special notebooks or pens when you are just starting out! It will most likely just psyche you out anyway if you have perfectionist tendencies; you will be too anxious not to make mistakes.
  3. Using sticky notes to organize your layout. Some people like to create story board-like rough drafts before they start putting pen officially to paper, but I find sticky notes work just as well. After I list all the page elements I want, I go through my journal and figure out where things will fit most naturally.

I went back and forth with the idea of buying a new notebook for my bullet journal this year. The specific one on my wish list was the Scribbles That Matter A5 dotted notebook. It was only $20, but money was tight over the holidays and I wanted to buy gifts for my loved ones instead. *le sigh*

Also, the more I thought about it, I realized using a regular notebook would work just as well. It would be my gimmick if I started dedicating more of my blog-space and focus to journalling. So I looked through my small collection of notebooks I had collected over the years and decided to use a more recently acquired journal, my Target decomposition notebook. It’s a nice size and makes me happy every time I look at it.

One negative to this notebook is that my pen ink (Pilot G-2, fine, ball-point) bleeds through the pages quite easily. My current solution is to tape pages together so I do not need to worry about the visibility of the ink marks. It feels a little wasteful of page space, but I figure I might find better solution later on this year. I know there’s liquid paper I could paint over the back, and I could also start gluing in loose leaf.

My January 2019 Spread

I decided to make clouds my January theme because it’s been a very rainy winter in Texas this year and because I always feel like I always have my head in the clouds, especially around the new year. Clouds carry a lot of symbolic meaning.

I did not come up with this theme on my own. My spread is heavily inspired by my bujo idol AmandaRachLee‘s April 2018 set-up, from the distinct cloud design to specific page elements like the mood tracker. Where I deviated was primarily in the actual layout. I don’t love drawing out calendars, so my spreads have elements that lend themselves better to list formats and brain dumps.

Directly after the main page, I have a page for my mood and habit trackers. I find it enlightening to be able to see at a glance how happy or unhappy I was during a month, particularly since I generally end the month without remembering everything that went on. I’m still working out how I want to visually depict my mood (e.g. via size of rain drop, length dropped, or color shade of blue-grey).

I used to make my habit trackers a simple table that would take up half a page. I decided to try out this mini-calendar design to better be able to see how consistently I was sticking to the daily habits I wanted to nurture.

Next up is my two-column January event planner. I break it up into personal and blog categories for better spatial organization. Personal plans might be related to work, appointments, or social events. For the blog section, I like to keep track of the blog posts I plan to write. Once they are complete and published, I go over the final titles in ink so I can see at a glance what went up that month.

Next to my plans, I like to be able to see the specific goals I set for the month. The ones shown in the picture below (see page on the right) were ideas I had last week before I hurt my back. I plan to get to them once I’m 100% again!

I also like to keep space for brain dump. Here I record any special ideas I might have regarding writing, blogging, or any number of my projects. It’s not a lot of space, but I do find that it’s enough room key ideas that remind me what I was thinking at the time.

The newest addition to my monthly spread a place for weekly notes and to-do lists. Many people allot space for diary-like notes they want to remember. I personally see myself just writing to-do lists and short life highlights. I folded a page in half to reduce the number of times I would have to draw the side-bar calendar. 

I have still been thinking about how I want to use this space, so I’ve not applied much ink beyond the side-bar calendar. I do think it will be a place to keep track of what I end up doing each day or maybe job positions for which I apply.

 ☙ ❧ End Note ❧ ☙

I hope you liked this blog post! I have been wanting to start talking about bullet journalling on this blog for a long time. In case anyone’s interested, I think I will try to share a flip through this spread at the end of the month with some more commentary about how well my set-up worked. I’d also like to start doing more focused posts about the set-up of my bullet journals.

I will be back this weekend most likely with a writing update + 2019 writing plans. I have a post on my recent reads that is nearly complete, but I think that I will not be able to finish the last book I want to talk about until after this weekend.

Do you bullet journal? How do create your monthly spreads? Is your set-up organized entirely differently?