What I Read // February

by Stephany on March 4, 2015

february reads

Book club selection: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (5 stars)
This book was so, so lovely. I went into it with high expectations, knowing that most everyone who had read the book had loved it. And all my expectations were met! I loved A.J., even at his grumpiest. He was ornery yet adorable. I loved the natural twisting and turning of the book; nothing felt too dramatic or too crazy. The story flowed so well, and when I finished the book, I felt content and satisfied. It’s such a good novel, and I highly recommend it.

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (a book of short stories): Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (2.5 stars)
This was another book I dove into with high expectations because I had seen a lot of really, really good reviews. It’s a book of short stories, centered around this small town of Crosby, Maine and the retired schoolteacher, Olive Kitteridge, who lives there. It takes you on a journey of the people in this town and their stories. And… I just didn’t like the novel. I found the stories overwhelmingly depressing and sad and a bit hopeless. I felt a little depressed and sad and hopeless when I finished it. It just didn’t give me that good feeling you want from reading. I just felt… yucky… when I finished it.

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (a book written by someone who identifies as LGBT): Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (3 stars)
This was my first David Sedaris book and I liked it well enough. Sedaris’ writing style is very easy to read and humorous. I don’t think I’m one for short stories, though, so the book dragged a bit for me because I wasn’t really following a specific plot… just reading essays that had little to do with one another. A good novel, but I’m not sure I’m jumping out of my chair to read another one of his books.

TLC Book Tours read: The Swimmer by Joakim Zander (3 stars)
I reviewed this book earlier in the month. An intriguing thriller about politics and corruption. I wish the book had been a little more fast-paced and I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending… but still a good read!

Others (read for fun!)

The Things We Do for Love by Kristin Hannah (4 stars)
I enjoyed this novel. It was a pretty long book, but I read through it in a matter of days because I was so intrigued by the plot and wanted to know what was going to happen next. The story follows a woman named Angie who, in the space of a year, has a miscarriage, loses her father, and goes through a divorce. The beginning is incredibly sad and heartbreaking, as Angie moves back to her old hometown to deal with her heartbreak, and it is there she is wrapped up in the love of her family. I love, love, love the way Hannah wrote this family. They were so enveloping in warmth and love, but also felt very real with their own insecurities and vulnerabilities and sadness. Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite writers because I just adore the way she writes her characters. You really pull for them, whether or not you find them completely loveable.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (4 stars)
Oh, my god. This book was so creepy. I don’t remember Gone Girl being creepy. Gone Girl was disturbing and twisted… but this book was just downright creepy. I love Gillian Flynn, though, because she creates SUCH unlikeable characters. There’s something… interesting… about that. They are so real and raw and vulnerable and horrible and creepy… and she just really gets into these characters’ psyches. Dives right into the twistedness of human behavior.  This book was a wild ride and I honestly did not guess the ending (but I’m not very good at guessing endings, unless they are super predictable). It was dark and twisty and creepy and a little too graphic at certain times… and I am really interested to see how this book will be made into a movie.

book stats // february

# of books read: 6
# of pages read: 2,002
quickest read: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (4 days)
longest read: The Swimmer (13 days)
multicultural: 1 out of 6
formats: ebooks (3), physical books (3)

What was the best book you read in February? Mine was The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry!


Monthly Goals // March

by Stephany on March 2, 2015

march goals

And suddenly it’s March! February was a wonderfully exciting month. I went through a breakup that only made me feel happiness and relief, and this steadfast assuredness that singleness is right where I want to be. I became an aunt for the second time, and my brand-new nephew is squishy and adorable. And I celebrated Valentine’s Day with one of my favorite gal pals, complete with DIY pizza, Clueless, and manicures. All in all, I can look back on February with lots of fondness.

Here’s a look back on the goals I set for last month and the progress I made with them:

> finances: start using a cash budget system for groceries and extra expenses

I attempted this, but did not follow through like I should have. Early on in the month, I came to the conclusion that using a cash budget for my groceries just doesn’t work for me. But I really do want to get better at using cash for any extra purchases – toiletries, meals out, shopping, etc. I need to be stricter with myself and learn that when my cash is gone, I can’t just supplement with my debit or credit card. (Duh, Steph!)

> nagging task: clean out and declutter the screened-in patio

Success! Cleaning out the screened-in patio has been the epitome of a nagging task. My mom and I have been talking for months about how we need to clean it out, but we just… don’t. We set aside some time last weekend and cleaned it out. We got rid of so much stuff: two bikes, a heavy tool box, three beach chairs, a painting that we never hung up, and tons of other odds and ends. I am so glad to cross this task off my list! Here is the before and after:

IMG_6883 IMG_6889

> health: start using a food journal to track what I’m eating and how I’m feeling

Yes! I originally started by using a paper journal and tracking down what I was eating and how it made me feel, but I quickly realized that method wasn’t working for me. I didn’t feel good about it. So I switched over to MyFitnessPal, which I know works better for me. Calorie counting isn’t ideal, but it does work and it helps me with portion control. I just gotta be consistent!

> exploration: visit the zoo

I didn’t get around to visiting the zoo this month. The day I had planned to go wound up being my nephew’s birthday! :)

> personal habit: turning off the computer and TV by 8:00 p.m.

I am not doing this all the time, but I am doing it more often than not. And I feel so good when I do shut everything down by 8pm, take a long and hot bubble bath, and settle into bed to read for 30-45 minutes. It’s the perfect way to end the day!

Three out of the five goals achieved! I am very happy about that because I crossed off some really big goals. Here are the goals I’ll be striving for in March:

> finances: utilize a cash budget system for toiletries, eating out, and other entertainment

> nagging task: launch a new blog theme

> health: eliminate soda completely from my diet 

> exploration: enjoy Savannah and eat at Olde Pink House

> personal habit: buy an alarm clock and stop using my phone right before bed and right as I wake up

What is one goal you’d like to accomplish in March?


Five for Friday (v. 39)

February 27, 2015

1) I received my tax return last weekend! Wahoo! I used it to pay off my balance for the cruise I’m taking in May with my mom, as well putting a huge chunk toward my credit card. It pains me to admit that after a trip to Savannah and St. Augustine, as well as the Christmas […]

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The Bond of Aunts & Siblings

February 25, 2015

My mom is the one who called it. “Jenny’s going to have the baby soon,” she told me on Thursday, after showing me a picture my sister-in-law had posted of her belly on Facebook. My sister-in-law, Jenny, wasn’t due for another two weeks (she was scheduled to have a C-section on March 2), but, in […]

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Book Review: The Swimmer by Joakim Zander

February 23, 2015

I love suspenseful novels that keep you on the edge of your seat. Novels that take you to a world you have no idea about, that make you root for characters you just were introduced to. And I especially love suspenseful novels that have a strong female lead. Call it being a feminist, call it […]

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TGIF (v. 14)

February 20, 2015

The high of my week was my Galentine’s date with my friend Bri. I wasn’t really upset on Valentine’s Day (I was secretly calling it “Independence Day!” Ha.) But it was still nice to get out of the house and do something fun. And I’m glad we opted for a girl’s night in because I […]

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The Guilt of Contentment

February 18, 2015

I’ve been going back and forth with myself lately, feeling this need to talk about something I’m going through, but knowing it involves another person and it’s always dicey to talk about things that involve multiple people. But I’ve had a few people ask me about this and I feel like I should talk about […]

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Top Moments of My (Valentine’s) Weekend

February 16, 2015

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day weekend. I had a pretty great one myself! It was low-key, allowing me to get some freelancing and reading done, but also filled with friend and family time. Let’s discuss some of my top moments! 1. Treating myself to a haircut! I didn’t do anything crazy […]

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TGIF (v. 13)

February 13, 2015

The high of my week was going out with a bunch of coworkers after work for trivia. There are so many bars in South Tampa that host fun trivia nights, and we finally corralled a group together to go. It was super fun, even though we didn’t win. We started off strong, but completely lost it […]

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Monthly Goals // February

February 6, 2015

Goal-setting is something that is always on my mind. I love to think about ways I can better myself and improve my life. That’s not to say I’m unhappy with who I am or where I am right now in my life. In fact, I am extremely happy with my life. I like who I […]

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