Recent Reads: Me Before You (Book #28 of 2013)


As I write this, my face is still sticky with tears. What a beautiful and unexpected read.

A few weeks ago, I was renting some movies at the library when I spotted this book on the New Books shelf at the front of the building. I knew I had seen it somewhere before, and it turns out it was on my Goodreads profile, on the To-Read list. Even though I still hadn’t finished my last book, I snatched it, knowing I would probably have to renew it if I couldn’t finish it within the two week limit.
(Funny enough, today is the due date, so I made it.)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes tells the story of Louisa Clark, a 26 year old who has just recently lost her job at a café. She lives with her family, and her full-time job was what mostly helped support them. Her older sister has a young son, her mother takes care of her grandfather, and her dad’s job is slowly becoming redundant (the book takes place in 2009, so you understand). Because her job was so important, she finds herself at the job center, desperately looking for work to help keep her family together. Despite having no previous education or experience other than serving coffee, she is offered a 6 month contract to be a caregiver to 35 year old William Traynor, a former businessman thrill seeker who’s life was altered forever when a car accident rendered him a quadriplegic.
Louisa is unsure of why she has qualified for the job, but as it turns out, Will’s family is looking for someone to keep him company and brighten up his life, because he is inconsolably depressed over the loss of his former life. When she learns just how dire his depression is, she takes it all upon herself to make his life the best it can be, within his limitations, to prove that life is still worth living.

I have never read a book quite like this before. It was funny and charming and sad and it covered some topics I never expected to read about.
At first, I had a hard time sinking in, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. I really loved it, and there’s so much more to the story than what I’ve explained above, but I think you should just read it and check it out for yourself.

I don’t remember why I put it on my list before (Was it in a magazine? Did someone else read it and rate it? Was it a recommendation for me and I just went with it?), and I borrowed it after simply reading the inside cover, but I’m so glad I did.
This is a definite recommendation from me.


Nail Art Lately

Here are some more of my adventures in nail art since the last post.


These nails were my first exercise with the nail sticker The Dainty Squid highly recommends. I’ve never found myself patient enough to work on chevrons with a brush, so I was excited with this zig zag sticker. I thought it would be fun to alternate neons. Both colors are from China Glaze. The base is one of my favorites, OPI’s My Boyfriend Scales Walls. For once I photographed my right hand, instead of the left. I did my left hand first (as usual, because my right is my dominant) and it wasn’t perfect. Not terrible, but I was quite proud of the work done here.


Inspiration comes from the weirdest places sometimes…this is a pair of underwear from Aerie! I love the pattern, though, and I had all of the colors available to me. China Glaze’s Into the Hue served as the perfect matching base. I used OPI’s Sparrow Me the Drama (pink),
Essie’s In the Cab-ana (blue), OPI’s My Vampire is Buff, and Julep’s Korin (green) for the triangles. All freehand with a brush.


So I had a couple of mess ups with these nails…they were my patriotic nails! I did these the morning of 7/4…I actually spent a lot of time during my vacation without polish on. Very strange, for me. I loved the dotted nails, but I think they got pulled when I applied the top coat.
These were gone within 24 hours…I spent the entire day in the pool and the chlorine killed them. I’m still proud of my thumb and middle finger though. The blues were Char and Bess from Julep, I used a basic red polish from F21’s Love and Beauty collection. The white was my go-to OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls and the glitter was a Julep add-on called Fireworks. I made the star with a dotting tool…I was pleased with how that turned out. I had high hopes for my nails, but I ended up slapping them together quickly. I hope to do the anchor again soon.


I was positively giddy over these watermelon nails. I fashioned them after these Scratch nail wraps, but I took more creative freedom haha.
I used Nicole by OPI Spring Break from the Selena Gomez collection as the base. Eventually I’m going to do a Favorite Nail Polish post and that’ll be on it. Other than that, I just had fun dotting the messy seeds and stripes. These are perfect summer nails and SO EASY.


To say I was in love with this design would be an understatement…it was so easy and I could stare all day at them. I used the beautiful My Vampire is Buff by OPI as my base. And then I covered it with the amazing fantastic ballin’ awesome fanfreakintastic Clearly Spotted by Maybelline Color Show for the black and white glitter…I can’t handle the awesomeness of that polish. Clearly.
I topped that with Seche Vite for shiny and quick dry, and then I taped off the little triangles with Scotch tape and painted in some Nails Inc. Leather Effect in Noho for that mixed texture effect. I just absolutely loved this look. Cookies and Cream and badass?


FUN NAIL TIME. I will be honest, this was a complete copy of The Dainty Squid, but how could you not? After a bunch of pretty quiet nail colors, it was fun not only to do color but to do ALL THE COLOR. I am getting more and more at ease with sponge gradients. The thumb and middle are my favorites. Yellow and pink make for an awesome gradient. 

I can’t wait to share more with you as I go. I really want to pick up my nice camera (instead of always always always using my iPhone) and make sure my cuticles are nice and purdy for y’all. Every time I paint my nails, it’s like a new adventure. Whether I’m testing my boundaries or simply trying out a new polish, it’s so much fun to explore the possibilities.


Recent Reads: The Woman Upstairs (Book 27 of 2013)


I’ve mentioned many times before that a lot of my book recommendations come from my beloved subscription to Entertainment Weekly
Several weeks ago, they released a Summer Must issue, which covered every pop culture outlet and their recommendations of each.
Their Top Ten list was pretty much added to my Goodreads To-Read list.

I reserved this book from the library and was excited when I got the call that it was available…it wasn’t supposed to be returned for a few weeks. At just over 250 pages, I thought it would keep me on track. I was wrong.

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud is the story of Nora Eldridge, a quiet schoolteacher who is coasting through life. Everything changes when she meets the Shahids, a family from Paris that is beautiful and educated and living life in a way Nora never could. Sirena and Skandar’s son, Reza, is in her class, and through an altercation after school, Nora is introduced to the family. She becomes friends with a Sirena, a working artist (Nora has always done art, but never as a job) and they rent out a studio space together. Over time, she gets closer to the family, falling in love with each member in a different way.
But we are hearing the story years after it’s happened…Nora is an angry woman, blazing with fury and forced to keep it inside as “the woman upstairs” always does. Quiet, unassuming, polite, barely visible…she won’t take that anymore, though.

The book was well-written, a slow burner. But because of it’s quiet and slow nature, it was hard for me to keep on reading. It was easy to put down and forget about. If I wasn’t distracted, I might have had an easier time reading it.


Hello again!!

It’s been a crazy little while. After my vacation, I had a rough time getting back into a sleep pattern and I’m still working on it. Work has been nuts. Friends are coming back into town or leaving town. People are getting engaged or married. Ya know…life!

I’m excited to get back to the bloggin’…I’ve missed it, but I’ve been putting it off. I have a new Recent Reads coming up for you guys tomorrow (I’m behind on the challenge again because life interfered with reading as well!) and some new nail art stuff to share…my love for nail polish just keeps on growin’. I have some other little things up my sleeves…I just want to get back to this creative release.
For now, I wanted to share some iPhone photos from the past couple of weeks.


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Grapefruit juice Mimosa.
“Just the essentials.” Can’t leave Target without a few frivolous purchases…in this case, the nail polish (Essie’s Naughty Nautical) and Spring Breakers on DVD (I’ve already watched it twice in one week).
I cannot say no to free doughnuts…especially with strawberry frosting!
Heat wave equals shorts! I am in love with these comfy yet classy shorts from Old Navy.
I’ve had Café Bustelo twice in my life…and both times were absolutely excellent. I want to buy my own container!
Schmutz is the cutest dog in the world…that sleepy face.
Happy coincidence…Naughty Nautical matches one of my favorite skirts. Perhaps some pattern-inspired nail art is in the works.
Maria and I ran after an ice cream truck(van) on Saturday at a graduation party. Pink icy treats!
Absolute new favorite creamer. Yum.



Halfway to 52: My Favorites So Far


I have officially finished 26 books in 2013. It’s hard to believe that I’m halfway done, mostly because that kind of means the year is halfway done. Obviously, I chose the number of books I would read so that it would equal to a book a week.
I have had some ups and downs, but I am always reading, and would be anyway.

My favorite part of this challenge has been looking for the books to read. I didn’t want every book to be the same, or to just read a whole series of books. I wanted to try new authors and genres, step outside of the box, and I think I’ve done that. I’ve also stayed safe, too, because hello! You have to read what you love. So what were my favorites so far?

1. Where’d Ya Go, Bernadette?This was the second book I read, and it set a high standard. This might have been the most original book I’ve read this year. I loved the story and the way it was told: A young girl tries to find her missing mother by piecing together e-mails, receipts, etc. It’s a mystery with a whole lot of heart and humor. It’s now on paperback, so pick it up if you haven’t yet!

2. The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween DanceI read a few memoir/humorous autobiographies this year, but this is my favorite of the bunch. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did, and that might be why. I’d heard of it from a friend’s blog and I’m so glad she recommended it. I think what I liked most about it was the exploration of the Mormon religion. I learned a lot about it, about the beliefs they hold, while also laughing and being extremely entertained. This was a sweet, quick read, and I’m so glad I own it.

3. The Book of Joe – So, I read a lot of Jonathan Tropper this year. 3 books, to be exact. And while I’ve enjoyed them all enough to know he is one of my favorite authors, this is probably the stand-out of the three I read this year. I laughed. I cried. This is Where I Leave You might still be one of my favorite books ever, but this quickly made it on the list, too.

4. Will Grayson, Will Grayson – Again, I read another John Green book (and I love love LOVE HIM, he can do no wrong), but this one stood out. Probably because it’s told from two distinct perspectives by two excellent authors (David Levithan is the co-writer). It was undeniable who was speaking when, and that’s important. Also, it was just a funny and heartbreaking tale of first love, sexuality, and finding your place in the world (especially in high school, it’s own little complicated world).

5. Sharp ObjectsIf you aren’t reading Gillian Flynn, I feel bad for you. I do. I would’ve never read crime or mystery novels if it weren’t for the raving of her most recent novel, Gone Girl. This book was sooooo good. I can’t wait to read Dark Places. This is Gillian Flynn’s debut and I can’t recommend it enough. It was haunting and fantastic and she is an excellent writer who can make even the most disturbing stories some of the best books you’ll read.

(I listed these by when they were read, not by preference…too hard to pick!)

Here’s to another 26!!!


Recent Reads: Joyland (Book #26 of 2013)


Did you know Stephen King has written and published over 50 books, not to mention the short stories he’s published or the collaboration work he’s done? If you saw the titles, you would recognize the majority. But since I had never read one of his books, I had no idea where to start. Clearly, the man is a force to be reckoned with…he’s soooo prolific!

I chose Joyland, which was on sale on Amazon, fairly short (less than 300 pages), and his latest release. Also, as I judge a book by it’s cover, I was dying over this old-school pulp noir crime cover. Hard Case Crime, the publisher, does this with all of the books they release.
They are so cool! But anyway…the story…

Devin Jones is our narrator. He is telling the story of the summer he was 21 (the 70s), working at an amusement park called (duh) Joyland, and mourning his first real heartbreak. Joyland is an old-school amusement park, even then. Disney World is gaining popularity and advancing technology but they want to stay the way they are. So Dev learns the ins and outs of working rides and game stands. That summer, he also becomes heavily intrigued by the supposed ghost of a young woman who was murdered in the haunted house and the killer was never found. Few have seen her, including one of his friends, but he hasn’t…and it makes him slightly jealous. So he wants to start investigating. In the meantime, he meets a young dying boy and his mother and they become very close.

The story is very quiet and simple. I can see why people enjoy Stephen King’s writing…it’s all-encompassing. I could picture every moment. At the climax of the story, I felt the anxiety and nerves that it was supposed to stir. I smiled. I got sad. I know there are so many other books of his I should read, and I want to, but I think this little book, about one young man’s definitive summer, was a nice way to start.


By the way, I’ve hit the 50% mark! I’m planning on making a little list of my favorites so far.


Photo an Hour: 7/2/13

I’ve been wanting to do one of these “photo an hour” posts for a long time now, but workdays are hard (it would be a lot of the same stuff) and I often forget on the weekends. But being on vacation meant I had some free time and free will to do whatever I wanted. I figured that would make for a better set of photos. I definitely want to do this again, but I think it was pretty good for a first shot.


Vacation week = late wakeup calls. We woke up around 10 am everyday, but spent so much time in bed checking our social media that by the time we got down for coffee and breakfast, it was closer to lunchtime. Of course, I see absolutely nothing wrong with this.


Okay, so I guess I cheated by posting two photos here but I had to. The top photo is of a Bloody Mary that I made Brad. I personally don’t drink/like Bloody Marys (give me a mimosa any day), but it’s actually a lot of fun to make them. You can put in so much or so little and make so many different kinds. I made Brad two different ones that morning and it was fun watching him guess what I put in them.
The second picture is of our incredibly delicious breakfast/brunch/lunch. French toast made with challah bread (funny story, Brad had to get a new loaf that morning because we came home Monday night to find that Cali the poodle decided to make a nice meal of the entire loaf the night before. Bad girl, very bad. I wish I could’ve seen how that went down, though). And delicious baked bacon, of course!


Surfing the net and reading the blogs before we pack up for some swimming. I really just wanted to show off this fun manicure I did (I used this tutorial to help make the rectangle frames). And yes, I have a crappy Dell computer. Embarrassed.


Quick pit stop at Walgreens’ for sugary sweet drinks before heading the the pool.


We made it! Checking the temp before I change and head on it.


It might not have been a sunny, cloudless day, but it was still a great day for a swim (it is still summer after all, humid and hot!). I spent a good half hour floating and reading, and eventually had to get under the water to cool off.


These silly sunglasses (that I bought super cheap from the flea market a couple of years ago) are just about the only pair I have that haven’t broke on me. I love this picture, just fun colors all around. I was still floating and swimming in the pool. Brad and I had an awesome conversation about dreams and goals the whole time. It was very refreshing and exciting!


Time to get out of the pool. Since we were at Brad’s parents house, we planned to go for dinner that night with them. We sat in the kitchen playing with phones and reading while we waiting for his father to get home. The it was off to find a restaurant!


It took us about a half hour to find a place to eat and drink. The first place we tried was closed for the holiday week, the second was packed to the gills with a long wait, the third was closed for the holidays…4th time was the charm! We went to a place with great bar food and enjoyed a toast of various beers. This picture obviously isn’t perfect (the place was rather dark and I haven’t used my DSLR in some time), but I like it.


Even though we enjoyed some delicious wings and cheesesteak bites (insanely delicious), of course you can’t go without enjoying a main meal. I had The Hunsburger, which is just cheese, bacon, and blue cheese but oh so good.


What can I say? This girl has a big appetite. After all of that savory food digested, I needed something sweet.
Cue a Dairy Queen waffle bowl sundae…I love these suckers.


Needless to say, after all the swimming and food, I was completely wiped. I showered the chlorine out of my hair and put some fresh lounge clothes on. I could’ve fallen asleep right then and there, but I actually stayed up a while longer to read and watch Brad play video games.

And that’s the end of my Photo an Hour!
I hope to do more of these soon!!


Back to the Grind

Mondays are already a bummer, but after a week off? Forget about it.


The rest of my vacation (aka: the weekend) was pretty good. We spent all of Friday (which was super insanely hot, like the rest of the weekend) with Brad’s cousin Shawn and his wife Rebecca. I basically consider them my cousins at this point. We grilled food all evening and I was eaten by bugs, but it was a lovely night and delicious food. That picture up there is of grilled jalapenos stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon. I was skeptical, but HOLY MOLY. So good. We also had fresh guacamole and grilled chicken kabobs with orange peppers and mushrooms.
Happy Belly!
The rest of the weekend was rough for me. I found it hard to enjoy my time (even though I got to see my BFF Ed Rafter, which is always awesome!), because the end was so near. And that got me thinking…


I can’t keep wishing away my days, work or not, for the future free moments. Or dreading the future un-free moments. But that’s what I do. Seriously, last Monday I was already upset that our vacation had begun because that meant it would be ending and then I’d have nothing to look forward to anymore. Talk about pessimism. I find that I can’t enjoy anything without worrying about the past or fearing for the future.

Do you do that? How do you stop?

Regardless, I still had a lovely and much-needed breather.
I’m going to just have to keep working on making every single day a wonderful one.

Happy Monday, guys!
(And don’t worry, 5 will be here before ya know it!)


Friday, Already?!?!?!?!

Normally, I’d be pretty stoked about Friday arriving. But, of course, this time I’m not.
I can’t believe how much the week has flown by. And granted I have all of today and the weekend to still relax and stay out of the work mindset, I can’t believe the majority of vacation is over. It went by soooo fast.







Here’s a bunch of photos from the past week. It’s been a blast. Swimming, lots of good food, a crazy night of excess, the Hometown Auction (that’s where I got the books and goodies), and a wonderfully hot 4th spent in the pool with Brad’s family. Excellent.

I’m so not ready to say goodbye to all of this, so I’m going to try my best not to look too far ahead.




For these posts, I like to try and find a picture of myself…but I realize I haven’t taken many “selfies” lately.
I didn’t get to talk about my new short ‘do on the blog, but there it is. It’s getting super shaggy, I’m hoping to get it shaped up soon!

Sandwiches! As a post-work vacation celebration, Brad surprised me by ordering one of my favorite sandwiches that is no longer on the menu at a local deli. I also enjoyed a small hoagie yesterday. I love the ability to go simple or complex with sandwiches…and no matter what, they are always tasty!
Gin and Tonic is my cocktail of choice at the moment. Gin has been my favorite liquor for a while now, but I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of Hendrick’s for my birthday and holy moly, is that some great gin! I love a nice pour of the good stuff on ice with some fresh, crisp tonic and a couple of lime wedges squeezed in for taste and décor. Easy and refreshing for hot summer days and nights!
The Dainty Squid is one of the blogs I’ve most recently added to my reading list. I have been following her on Instagram for a while, so it took me long enough. To be honest, though, I’ve mostly been checking the posts on her Nail tag. Her nail art inspires me so much!
A little while ago, Brad and I started watching Doctor Who and I got hooked. Never thought it would happen, but it’s such an engaging, funny, compelling and entertaining show. We haven’t had a chance to lose ourselves in some episodes in a bit, but I can’t wait to pick it back up.
Lana Del Rey is my go-to music anyway, but it’s especially fitting in the summer.
I’m just getting into indie polishes…I’ve been checking them out for a while, but I made my first purchase from Happy Hands a while back and I can’t wait to add more to my collection, and from a bunch of different makers as well.


Recent Reads: How to Talk to a Widower (Book #25 of 2013)


I almost feel like I’ve cheated by reading 3 Jonathan Tropper books during this challenge.
Obviously, part of a challenge is expanding my reading horizons and while I feel I’ve done this by adding sci-fi and crime novels into the mix (my list of books to-read on Goodreads is painfully long and it gets bigger everyday). But that Jonathan Tropper…I mean…come on.

I wasn’t originally going to read this book for a little while. But I finished A Stranger on the Planet a few days earlier than I had intended and it was the only book I had at Brad’s. If you don’t know, I can’t go a day without reading a book, especially at work (it’s my salvation on extremely boring days…so everyday.), so I grabbed it. I knew it would be a quick read, though, and it took me about 4 days to read (which is good when I pretty much only read at work and before bed). It actually brought me back up to speed and I’m hoping that I can read my next book within the week so that I stay on track! Once again, you can check my Goodreads profile to keep track!

Onto the book…

How to Talk to a Widower is my 5th Tropper book. I only have one more of his novels to go before I’ve read them all, and I sure hope he’s working on his 7th book. I don’t want to know a life without him for too long.
This is the story of Doug Parker, a 28 year old who’s wife Hailey (an older woman around 40 years old) dies in a tragic plane accident.
We meet him about a year later and his life is a disaster…if you can even call it that.
He drinks and cries his days away, in deep sadness over the loss of his wife and deep confusion over how he could ever move on.
Meanwhile, his twin sister Claire has big plans for Doug, hoping to help him get out of his stupor and back on the dating scene.
Doug is deeply afraid of moving on, the fear of pushing Hailey behind so far into the past that it’s a problem for him. He feels guilty at the prospect of moving on, finding love, and fears that it will be like Hailey never existed.
As all of this is happening, Hailey’s 15 year old son Russ is getting into trouble on a regular basis, and Russ hates his real father, so he longs to be adopted by Doug. So, obviously, Doug has a lot on his plate.
And I’m just scratching the surface.

I have officially read 6 of Tropper’s books, and while I’ve enjoyed them all, this one made the top 3 for sure.
I sincerely enjoyed the characters and the plot development, as well as the writing (which was bonkers good in this one). For example, Chapter 26 is one of the most interestingly written chapters I’ve ever experienced in a book.

If you’re going to start reading his books, this is one of the ones you should start with. Job well done.