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Friday Favorites: Fall is Here

Friday Favorites Fall

Happy Friday everyone!

This week has been so much better. I’m finally over being sick, the weather cooled off, and the leaves seemed to change overnight. Fall is officially here, and I’m excited to get out and enjoy it!

Since I haven’t done a Friday Favorites in a few weeks, I thought I’d share some things I’ve been loving online since then:

I’m looking forward to spending the weekend hiking, enjoying the cool weather and changing colors. It’s also football season, so I will hopefully get some time to read more too. There is nothing like getting cozy with a book, am I right?

What are your plans this weekend? How have you been ringing in fall where you live?

Loving Lately: The Year of The Work

the year of the work

When I was a kid, I longed for a pen pal. I remember thinking how great it would be to have a friend on the other side of the world or country to talk to. We could bond over our favorite television shows, growing up, and silly things kids talk about. I tried a few times to keep up with old friends after we moved, but it never lasted long. Then the internet happened, and writing letters all but disappeared.

When Kayley Vandenberg, a Michigan-born blogger I’ve followed for years, wanted to start mailing out a monthly letter to her followers, I was hooked. She started “The Year of the Work” as a way to share her journey to find peace within herself, and to work out some things that were too intimate for an online forum. I look forward to getting her letter in the mail every month like I did when I was a kid waiting on a pen pal.

To honor the amount of work she puts into these letters, I make a point of taking each letter to a special place to read them. I also treat myself to a donut (a totally non-intentional thing). When I sit down to read, I take my time to pour through everything – often reading it a couple times. It’s a great time for me to relax and catch up with a woman who feels like an old friend. One month, I even ran into an old friend while reading my letter. He’s someone I know from college, and it was bittersweet to catch up with him. It was a nice reminder of a time when I used to have friends. (I’m only sort of joking about that…)

Kayley has also inspired me to start journaling more for myself, which has been a lifesaver lately. I don’t have people in my life I feel comfortable venting to. Most people I know have a tough time keeping things to themselves. Having a journal is a great alternative. I didn’t know I needed the journal this much. Now that I’m getting the hang of it, I actually miss it on the days I don’t write.

Now all I need to do is muster up the guts to write her back someday! I’m working on it, girl!

If you have been a long-time follower of Kayley, and want to join The Year of The Work:

Click here to sign up for the mailing list, or to read more about Kayley’s project.

Click here to donate to cover the cost of your letters or sponsor someone else’s.

Reading Lately

Reading Lately

This has been a slow summer for reading. I’ve torn through several magazines, cookbooks, and home decor books, but I haven’t read a lot of books. I’m still trying to get through The Omnivore’s Dilemma too. It’s not the kind of book I can just chew through – it’s graduate-school level academic, which even today still feels like homework.

I have managed to read a few things I found noteworthy, though:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I just got done reading this one last night. I originally bought it to take with me to Portland in May, but didn’t get around to reading it until last week. It’s the first fictional book I’ve read in a long time, but it came strongly recommended, so I gave it a shot. It was a great, quick read, and had a strong message about finding your path in life and deciding what’s important to you. While I’m not usually into those kinds of stories, this one was so well done I really did take a lot of lessons from it.

Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire by Mireille Guiliano

I’ve been a fan of Guiliano’s work since French Girls Don’t Get Fat, and I don’t know how I managed to miss reading this until now! I loved reading about her path to a successful career, balancing life and work, and how to be a great leader in the workplace. She’s a great inspiration to those of us who want great careers, but also want to help others have great careers too.

The Year of the Work by Kayley Vandenberg

Now, I know this isn’t a typical “book.” A few months ago, I subscribed to Kayley’s monthly letters. Each month has a different theme, and delve into a more personal side than we’ve seen from her online writing. I make a point of taking her letters somewhere special to me each month – last month, I ended up at my favorite beach. I haven’t felt confident enough to write her back yet (still kind of fan-girling out a little), but I will whenever I muster up the balls. It’s a great throwback to the old days of having pen pals, and I’m looking forward to my next letter very soon!

*****

I have a few books waiting on my shelf next…but for now, I’ve gotta get myself through that Pollan book before I forget what it’s all about!

Authenticity and Audience

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Authenticity and Audience

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the connection between authenticity and audience in the blogging world. It’s a complicated topic for both bloggers and readers, and there is no singular answer for staying true to ourselves while keeping readers satisfied. Many others have tackled this recently, whether it means being more open with readers, reducing sponsored posts, or quitting entirely.

From my own experiences as a blogger, authenticity and audience are undeniably linked. The ability for me to be honest and open with my readers is entirely dependent on audience.

In the past, I wrote for a mostly anonymous audience. I kept my identity a secret, but the rest of my life was fair game. Those blogs were a place where I could openly share my passions, fears, dreams, and frustrations with readers who were mostly bloggers themselves. I loved being able to write when the mood hit me about any topic that was important to me at the time. It was an amazing time to be a blogger.

Now, I write for a combination of anonymous readers and people I know. The problem with knowing your reader in person is that content can easily suffer. Even posts where I feel I’m being more authentic sound like a watered-down version of my real life. My life is far from perfect, but if you read this blog you may not know that. I wish that I could share more about the things in my life that worry, frustrate, or motivate me – but fear often wins out, and I hit delete.

So from here on out, I’m making the decision to try. No one is perfect, least of all me, so I’m going to make an effort to include more posts about things that aren’t always perfectly edited to death. I need to learn how to write like I used to, and not worry so much about how people will take it. I also want to make this more of a community again – so here’s where you guys come in:

Comment!

Comment about what you read, about your own lives, questions you have, links you want to share, stories to tell, how terrible you think I am…whatever you want! I’ll even take some good-natured trolling if it means I get to read something other than the obligatory comments from my mom. She’s great and all, but I’m craving a community – not just one cheerleader who only says I’m great because she has to (she likes my sister more). 

Print Magazines: A Love Story

print magazines

One thing I haven’t done much of over the past year is read print magazines. This is partly because I don’t have the budget for it – over time, even cheap subscriptions add up. I also don’t have to buy many of my favorites in print anymore, thanks to the free digital service my local library provides. Going digital also helped me save precious space in our apartment – though I do sometimes miss thumbing through a stack of old Vogue or Real Simple issues for inspiration.

Every once in a while, though, I’ll make a special trip to my local bookstore or newsstand to bring home a few ‘zines I can enjoy on a quiet afternoon or evening, usually with a coffee or tea in hand. I don’t know what it is about print magazines, but they make for a more relaxed experience than swiping through magazines on my iPad. I read more carefully, more slowly, and more mindfully. It’s a ritual I didn’t realize I missed until I went back to it recently.

My occasional splurge often introduces me to publications I wouldn’t otherwise read. I picked up a copy of More recently, and found that I enjoyed it more than I did many years ago. Maybe I’m at an age where I relate to the content, or perhaps they were the ones who shifted – who knows. All I know is that I will definitely go back for More (pun totally intended) again.

So while I can’t go back to making this a regular habit, I do think I’ll take the extra few dollars (and few minutes) to pick one or two print magazines each month to savor over some tea and my new favorite chocolate from Trader Joe’s. While it is a frivolous expense, and one I know now I can certainly live without, it’s one that I do miss more than I remembered.

2015 Year in Review: Life

2015 Year in Review: Life

Life in 2015 was…a mixed bag.

On the career end, things were frustrating. I’ve learned a lot over the past year about myself, my career wants and needs, and where I want to go in the next year. 2016 is going to be another life-changing year on the career front, and I’m looking forward to seeing where I end up.

As for the rest of it, I’d have to say 2015 was the year of working on myself. I spent a lot of time outside, enjoying the fresh air and amazing views. My pink sneakers show the wear and tear of a hundred hikes, runs, and walks through some of the nation’s most beautiful parks. While they won’t make it long into 2016, I am going to miss my bright neon pink shoes – they’ve come a long way!

2015 Year in Review: Life

Fall Reading List

I also had the chance to read…for fun…a lot this year. I’m pretty sure I read more books for pleasure in 2015 than I have in the past ten years. It wasn’t easy, but I’ve rediscovered my love of reading – and I am definitely going to keep that going next year. In fact, I have that Carrie Brownstein book waiting on a shelf for me (thanks to a very nice and thoughtful brother-in-law). 

2015 Year in Review: Life

PNW Parks: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park / PNW Parks: Lake Sammamish State Park / PNW Parks: Seward Park / PNW Parks: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

One of my favorite features I did this year was my “PNW Parks” series. It was a great opportunity to explore the amazing parks in my area, and I can’t wait to share more with you next year! There are so many parks I want to check out, and I can’t wait for the weather to warm up a bit so I can get back out there!

So here’s to another amazing year of reading, hiking, and getting on with my career!

Friday Favorites: Thanksgiving Prep

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Happy Friday!

So I dropped the ball pretty hard this week on posting. Two entries never got posted, but honestly it was for good reasons! One reason is I chose to take advantage of the sun being out to do some hiking and thrifting. The other is our apartment complex doing some kind of “mandatory inspection” today, so I spent Wednesday and Thursday tidying up the place (since they said they need access to every nook and cranny of our apartment…for some unknown reason).

I’m stuck at home all day today waiting on this inspection thing, so hopefully I can get more work done to make up for last week!

Until then, enjoy some other things from the internet I’ve been enjoying over the past couple weeks!

      • Goop shared their annual gift guides with readers – which included an under-$50 list that’s perfect for the office Secret Santa (or your own office), and a list with some wacky ideas that are both affordable (like a $55 home vagina steamer, if you like your vagina…steamy) and not so much (who is going to pay $125,000 for a pair of gold dumbells?).
      • Jon Stewart’s retirement was (rather predictably) short-lived – he’s heading over to HBO! It’s still unclear exactly what he’ll be doing, I’m sure whatever it is we’ll all be glued to our televisions.
      • I was admittedly a little bummed when Alexa Chung’s documentary series with British Vogue ended. Apparently I wasn’t alone because Chung announced she’s going to continue the series. If you’ve ever wondered what working in fashion is really like, check these out!
      • Sourdough is something I’m still a bit intimidated by, but this recipe for Sourdough Everything Pretzels from Joy the Baker might get me to try it out!
      • I’ve been on a bit of a “preppy” kick lately, and I’m looking forward to tearing through True Prep: It’s a Whole New Old World this weekend! I couldn’t find a copy of The Official Preppy Handbook through our local library (and they’re pricey online), but the book I got is by the same author, and promises to be a great “update” to the original. I can’t wait to dive into it!

Well, now I’m off to wait on our apartment inspection, and getting ready for what I hope will be a nice, relaxing weekend!

Fall Reading List

Fall Reading List

Welcome to November!

I read a LOT of books in October.

I should be more specific – I attempted to read a lot of books in October.

It’s a rarity for me to pick up a book and not finish it. I’m not sure where that comes from, but I’ve tortured myself through many books I found boring or dumb. Since I’ve been trying to be kinder to myself lately, I actually sent two books back to the library before I finished them. This is major for me.

The first one was The Happiness Project – which I got about three chapters into before quitting. It was excruciatingly boring, and the more I read, the less I found it applied to my own life. I don’t have a clutter problem, my marriage is fine, and I don’t have children or a job. Based on what little of the book I read, I should already be an incredibly happy person, I guess?

The second book I quit reading was The Lost Art of Dress, which I do feel a twinge of guilt about. It read way too much like a graduate school textbook for me to stay awake. If I’m going to read before bed, I don’t want to feel like I should be taking notes for a later research paper.

Anyway, on to the things I did manage to read – and a few I’m hoping to read in the next month!

October Reads

it by Alexa Chung

After tearing through Chung’s YouTube series with British Vogue on the current state of the fashion industry (click the link to watch the entire series in one video), I was tempted to check out her book. I enjoy her writing style, related to a lot of her experiences growing up, and the photos were fun to look at. It was a nice, easy read for a relaxed evening. I remember dreaming of working in the fashion industry when I was a kid, but never thought I could because I sucked at sewing and drawing. Maybe I can weasel my way in there someday, and it’s nice to see someone is out there telling young students that you don’t have to be a designer or model to work there (which would have been nice to hear when I was in high school).

I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

I didn’t know anything about this book or the author when I picked it up. I’ve seen it in bookstores, and often recommended by people online, so I checked it out. The book is a series of essays by Crosley that share some triumphant, embarrassing, and funny stories of her everyday life. She starts off by asking readers what their family would think if they suddenly died, and their parents now had to go through their apartment – then offers up a cautionary tale of hidden secrets, lost loves, and a kitchen sink horse collection. I quite enjoyed this book, and any woman who has struggled with work, love, and growing into “real” adulthood will relate.

Martha Stewart’s Cakes by Martha Stewart

Of course, I couldn’t do a post about what I’ve been reading lately without a cookbook – especially one by Martha! I didn’t end up having this book for long (someone else had it on hold, so I couldn’t renew it), and it’s one I might go out and buy anyway. I wanted to make damn near everything in that book. I have a serious problem with cakes, in that I love eating them but I’m not great at baking them (unless it’s a boxed mix, which is just cheating).

November Reads (Hopefully)

There were a few books I didn’t get to last month, and some I have on my wish list for the near future, so I thought I’d share those too!

Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life by Erin Gates

I just picked this book up at the library, which was a pleasant surprise because I didn’t know my local library carried stuff like this. I’m excited to read it tonight or tomorrow with a comfy blanket and a hot apple cider. Then I’ll probably spend the rest of the evening bemoaning how lame and ugly our own home decor really is. Seriously, it’s not great.

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman

I’ve been wanting to read this one for a long time, and just never got around to it. Silverman is one of the funniest people alive, and I can’t wait to dig into this one! I’m planning to read this after Gates’ book makes me think I have made too many huge mistakes in my life (like not wearing enough stripes).

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein

Everyone and their mom wants to read this book. I’m currently number 150 or something on the waitlist at the library, so we’ll see how long I hold out before buying it instead. I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Brownstein outside of watching her on Portlandia, so I’m looking forward to this one big time!

Well, now I’m off to dig into some bread that just got done baking, and maybe a book too!

September on Instagram

September on Instagram

Left to right: Packing away summer clothes / Coloring with my nephew /  Lounging on the porch after a long day of cleaning / Spending way too much time in the cookbook section of the library

September was a busy month! I’m sure that it’s true for many of you, since the month signifies the end of summer and transition into fall. As the weather cooled slightly (it’s still 75 here today), I went from spending my free time at the beach to being more productive at home.

Blogging only 3 days each week really helped free up more time for me to job hunt, clean, organize, and cook. Unfortunately, you may have also noticed I really only posted maybe twice each week? That’s because not being on a daily schedule for posting made it way too hard to get lazy about it. I started this blog with an insane level of inspiration and passion…but a few months later, I’m settling into a routine that’s more realistic to follow and better for my sanity.

September on Instagram Clockwise from top-left: Chicken and Nectarine Salad / Macaroni ‘n’ Cheese on a sick day / Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Mustard / Banana Bread Muffins…because I don’t own a loaf pan anymore!

I cooked a LOT of new recipes this past month (and a few old standbys). Many of the recipes came from Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen’s cookbook, It’s All Good . I also read several Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, and tried a few of her recipes as well. Since I was cooking dinner for just me a couple night each week, it was cool to try out a few new things I didn’t need my husband to like (though he did end up liking most of it). I have a ton of soup recipes to try out next month when it’s a bit cooler outside!

September on Instagram

Clockwise from top-left: A great fashion-related read by Stacy London / Vogue’s September issue…which took me almost a week to get through /  Burned through Mindy Kaling’s new book in an evening, and it was amazing / Just started The Happiness Project, and so far it’s making me want to write more “to do” lists…not sure if that’s good or bad yet!

One thing I wanted to do more of in September was read – and I definitely did! Now that football season is well under way, I need to find something else to do with most of my evenings. I never liked watching football, but in recent years I’ve had a much harder time even tolerating it. I don’t know what blitzing is after 10 years of being forced to watch it, and I don’t care to learn!

Reading is also one of those activities I just do more often when it’s colder outside – sitting under a blanket with a good book, a cup of tea, and if I’m lucky a lit candle is the best way to spend the fall and winter, in my opinion!

September on Instagram

Clockwise from top-left: Seward Park in Seattle, WA / Sky Country Trailhead in Bellevue, WA / Another trip to Sky Country Trailhead / Lewis Creek Park in Bellevue, WA

Finally, this post wouldn’t be complete with some hiking photos! Instead of heading to the beach in the afternoons, I’ve been checking out new parks in the area. Seward Park has to be my favorite new park from this past month, and I can’t wait to get back there and spend more time by the water. Hiking this past month has helped me cope with stress, help with seasonal allergies, sleep better, and appreciate the little things more. I’m excited to explore more parks this month, and can’t wait to share them with all of you.

Well, I think that does it for September! I hope you all had a nice, productive month, and I look forward to hearing what you’ll be up to in October!

Life on Instagram: July 2015

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(Clockwise from top-left) July started with a crazy heat wave, so I spent a lot of time at the beach and pool! / I also managed to check out a few new parks in July – this one was by far the most challenging. I was sore for days after. / Of course, the first time I take my husband to the beach, it’s cold and cloudy! It was nice to chill out and read, though. / Just noticed my pink sneakers are looking a bit worn out. Time for a good washing! Image Since we’re wrapping up the first month of Afternoon Glow, I thought I’d share some of my favorite posts!

Summer Skincare: (Mostly) Drugstore Edition I’ve gotten so much use out of everything on this post so far this summer! Now that the temperatures are cooler (for now), I’m missing my beach time!

Road Trip Tips I’m still itching to get out on the road and travel somewhere, but it’s not looking like I will for a while. I still can’t believe I made that cross-country trip almost a year ago – where does the time go?

Easy Green The succulent is doing well – the other plant is already failing on me. We haven’t had a lot of sunshine lately, and I’m starting to see that’s going to be a problem for me trying to grow anything here. Maybe someday I’ll live in an apartment that isn’t a dark cave!

Homemade Granola Bars I just remembered that I need to make more of these today – we’re almost out again! I still need to try making these with ingredients I’d like more…maybe next time….