2021: Third Quarter Goals

I’m a little late with my third quarter goals but I still wanted to get them posted. I tried to be really intentional with these ones because life has been a bit of a struggle lately and sometimes the smallest things feel unbelievably hard.

I think blogging has been so hard lately because this has always been a space where I feel comfortable to share and be vulnerable but right now I don’t feel ready to share everything going on in my life so writing posts feels a bit fake. Blogging has never been about the views for me and I’ve been brutally honest about where I’m at in life. I want to get back to being comfortable sharing but that might take me a bit of time. Thanks for sticking with me!

Here are a few goals for Q3:

  1. Be kind to myself. Sometimes I feel like I’m at war with myself to do better and be better when I really just need to take a break. I want to practice self-care and be kind to myself as I walk through this stage of my life.
  2. Setup health appointments. I go to the Neurologist this week for a checkup but I need to find a new primary care doctor since mine moved away. My SIL recommended one so I want to make an appointment. This doctor was the one who helped advocate for her during her infertility journey so I think it would be a good place to start.
  3. Spend time with friends and family. Now that we’ve pretty much gone back to almost normal after the pandemic I want to make sure I’m catching up with friends and family. I haven’t spent enough time with my grandparents lately and I know I’ve been slacking in the friendship department. I want to prioritize my relationships this quarter.
  4. Celebrate 10 years with Brett. The past few months have been hard because Brett and I haven’t been able to spend much time together. I want to make sure we set aside time to celebrate our 10 year anniversary!
  5. Read 3 books. I used to also say that I wanted to read 3 books and write reviews but that probably won’t happen. I’ve really been enjoying reading lately though and finally read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I’ve already passed the book onto a friend because it was so good and I wanted to make sure she read it too.

I hope you are all doing really well! I’m going to try to catch up on some of the blog posts I’ve missed.

Do you have any goals this quarter?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Book Review: The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance

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One of my goals for Q1 of 2020 was to focus on learning more about the financial industry. I do work in finance but my degree is in marketing so sometimes I feel a bit behind in learning everything there is to know about finance. I saw The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance by Michele Cagan, CPA and Elisabeth Lariviere on Instagram and thought it would be a fun read to help explain some of the basics.

Even if you aren’t interested in learning about finance I would recommend this book. It has so many helpful tips on debt, budgeting, investing, buying a home, etc. These topics relate to pretty much anyone and it’s not a boring read. In fact, I read the whole thing in under an hour and it really did help me understand some of the basics better.

Summary:

Balance your budget, plan for your future, and breeze through confusing details with this easy-to-follow illustrated personal finance guide.

Get your finances in shape! In The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance, you will learn all the skills you need to make good financial decisions and grow your personal wealth. Full of colorful descriptions organized in an easy-to-read format, this book contains infographics such as:

-Choosing your bank
-Building an emergency fund
-Choosing a financial planner
-Where your money is going
-What not to buy
-Health insurance
-Property insurance
-What federal taxes pay for

With the help of this guide, you’ll learn how to make good investments, save for big things like a house or college tuition, budget, and more!

Review:

Personal finance can be such a confusing topic and isn’t always taught to you while in school. It’s easy to get a credit card when you’re young and later find yourself digging your way out of a pile of debt. This is such a great resource if you have questions about how the financial industry works and how to get involved in your finances.

I’ve always been interested in money but even if you aren’t this is a great read! I promise it’s not a boring finance book! I found helpful information for my everyday life as well as tips for saving for retirement, paying off debt, and finding the best insurance.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

For a quick read, this book had so much great information for people of all ages! I think this would be a fantastic graduation or wedding gift to help those just starting out on their financial journeys. I’ll be hanging onto my copy to use as a reference.

This isn’t your average book because it contains hundreds of graphics that explain the ins and outs of personal finance in a way that will really help you to understand the topic. There are colorful charts, graphs, and images on every single page!

Have you read any good books lately?

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Five on Friday #13

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Welcome to Friday, friends! 🙂

This week was okay. I had Monday off to go to South Haven with Brett so I only had to work four days. A four day work week seems so much more enjoyable than five days. How was your week?

  1. Our local balloon festival is this weekend so Brett will be busy with that. I will be joining him for most of it but I’m also hoping to squeeze in some time to get chores done and spend time with family.
  2. Brett and I went to dinner on Tuesday night with my grandparents and parents. My parents are celebrating 27 years of marriage this month! I cherish all the time I can get with my grandma and grandpa.
  3. I’ve been in a reading rut lately. I’ve started a couple of books but nothing has stuck which is super disappointing. Have you read any good books lately?
  4. I’m starting to get sad that summer is almost over. I’m happiest when the sun is shining and I can spend all the time I want outside. I love fall but it’s too close to winter. I am pretty excited to switch up my home decor and drink some hot apple cider though! Are you ready for fall?
  5. I was doing really good with my health and wellness journey but I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit these last couple of weeks. I’m determined to re-group this upcoming week and get back on track! I’m planning on doing some serious meal prep on Sunday to get me ready for the week.

What are your plans for this weekend?

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Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

What I Thought Was True By Huntley Fitzpatrick

what i thought was true by huntley fitzpatrick

I haven’t done a ton of reading lately. I’m trying to make my way through the piles of books I already own before adding more to my overflowing library. I bought What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick in February before going on vacation to Arizona. I finally got around to reading it and I devoured it in two days. Two working days!!

Summary:

17-year-old Gwen Castle’s Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners to her island’s summer population. Gwen dreams of getting off the island, and a summer job working for one of the elderly residents might just be her ticket to the good life. But what will it mean for Gwen’s now life? Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to come to terms with what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—and figure out what really is.

Review:

Like I said above, this was a super quick read for me and I really enjoyed it! I love fluffy YA reads that make me glad I’m no longer a teenager. Gwen was fierce and opinionated and I honestly loved that about her. She went through her phases of self-doubt that made her easy to relate to. Cass was sweet and charming, everything you could wish for in a boyfriend. There’s issues between Cass and Gwen that make for a cute and funny storyline.

Many times when reading YA books you tend to see the same kind of characters over and over again. What I Thought Was True had very unique characters and location. I enjoyed learning about Gwen’s lifestyle and her family dynamics. It made for an interesting read!

Favorite Quotes:

“I remember…watching that separation of sea and sky…and for the first time I realize that none of us are seeing the same thing. That all our horizons end in different places.”

“Dressed-up Cass is like a creature from another planet. One I want to colonize.”

“If there were an Olympics for kidding yourself, I’d take home the gold.”

“You need to come with a goddamn YouTube instructional video.”

“When she’s worried Vivien gives herself pedicures and facials. Nic lifts weights. I bake. So, Vivien ends up looking more glamorous. Nic gets fitter. And I just get fat.”

“That what you’ve always had doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll always get. That what you’ve always wanted isn’t what you’ll always want”

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Huntley Fitzpatrick is one of my favorite YA authors and I haven’t read anything so far that I don’t enjoy. What I Thought Was True is such a heartfelt book that made me want to hug my family a little tighter and enjoy the little things in life.

Sometimes YA books can be easily forgettable but I know I’ll be imaging the seaside that Gwen sees everyday for awhile.

Have you read any good books lately?

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Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

2019 has been a great year for reading so far! I discovered the world of YA literature last year and fell in love! I read All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven earlier this year and was it really impacted me (seriously, go read it if you haven’t already). Jennifer’s writing style is powerful and I knew I had to read more. I already have a third book lined up by her to read in the near future.

Summary:

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Review:

I needed to read this book. For the past year I have been beating myself up about gaining weight and Libby made me want to love myself again. Libby is the definition of a strong female lead who picks herself up off the ground and makes big things happen. She is brave, resilient, and unstoppable. I also love how she is so supportive of other girls in her class. I love when girls support girls instead of ripping each other apart.

And then we have sweet Jack Masselin who so badly wants to be a good guy but his undiagnosed neurological condition makes it hard for him. The common theme with Jack is peer pressure to do things he wouldn’t otherwise think to do. The “shitty” thing he does actually brings him closer to Libby which in the long run may save him from himself.

This was another quick read for me. I just couldn’t put it down! If I was reading it on a weekend I probably would have read it in under 24 hours. The characters, the plot, and the message were so good and made me want to keep reading. The ending was perfect too.

Favorite Quotes:

“I want you to know I’m rooting for you.’ Sometimes we need to hear that, even from a stranger.”

“We never know how long we have. We’re never guaranteed tomorrow. I could die right now, right here.”

“One of the worst things a pretty girl can say to a fat girl is You look really pretty.”

“Life is too short to judge others. It is not our job to tell someone what they feel or who they are. Why not spend some time on yourself instead? I don’t know you, but I can guarantee you have some issues you can work on. And maybe you’ve got a fit body and a perfect face, but I’ll wager you’ve got insecurities too, ones that would keep you from stripping down to a purple bikini and modeling it in front of everyone.

As for the rest of you, remember this. YOU ARE WANTED. Big, small, tall, short, pretty, plain, friendly, shy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise not even yourself.

Especially not yourself.”

“Everyone in my life is a stranger, and that includes me.”

“It’s my experience that the people who are most afraid are the ones who hide behind mean and threatening words.”

“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”

“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”

“People are shitty for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they’re just shitty people. Sometimes people have been shitty to them and, even though they don’t realize it, they take that shitty upbringing and go out into the world and treat others the same way. Sometimes they’re shitty because they’re afraid. Sometimes they choose to be shitty to others before others can be shitty to them. So it’s like self-defensive shittiness.”

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Libby and Jack may not be real but they can teach you a thing or two about life. I am giving Holding up the Universe 5 stars because it made me think, feel, and opened my eyes to other’s thoughts and feelings.

I love reading books that make me want to take action when I’m done. This one motivated me to put myself out there again and try to be the healthiest version of myself. It motivated me lose weight because I love myself and not because I hate my body.

Once again, Jennifer Niven is a brilliant writer. I’m pretty positive I will love anything Jennifer writes and am already looking forward to reading the next one.

What’s your favorite book at the moment?

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 

Five on Friday #8

Five on Friday

Happy Friyay!

I hope that you had a great week and are looking forward to an even better weekend! Because it was the first full week of the month I was super busy preparing client statements and doing account maintenance. The weather is finally getting better in Michigan so I’ve been taking Oscar for walks and it’s motivating me to do more after work. All in all, things are starting to look up!

  1. I bought an Apple Watch last weekend for my work’s upcoming walking challenge. I really love the Apple Watch so far but I still need to figure out how to work a few things! I am hoping that having this watch and doing the walking challenge will help motivate me to continue pushing myself towards my healthy lifestyle goal.
  2. It might finally be nice enough out this weekend to start doing yard work! It also might rain and I will not be raking leaves in the rain haha.
  3. My sister in law is having twins in July or August! They have been trying for the last few years to have a baby and they announced at Christmas that they are expecting twins! I am preparing for the babies in the best way I know how – reading! I’ve read all the articles and blogs on twins that I can find. I’ve been shopping and planning the shower. I seriously can’t wait to hold those little miracles.
  4. I watched the movie Seven with Brett and our friend last week. It was the creepiest movie that I have ever seen and I can’t stop thinking about it. UGH! Have you seen it?
  5. I know I’m behind on the times but I finally started using the Kindle App on my iPhone! I’ve already read two books and know that this will help me increase my reading! I’m really going to miss paper books though so I know that I won’t be reading everything on Kindle. I’m always looking for book recommendations so please let me know if you have any!

How was your week? Do you have any plans for this weekend?

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Photo by Farsai Chaikulngamdee on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Meet Cute by Various YA Authors

Meet Cute YA Authors Book Review

I began reading Meet Cute before I published my New Year, New Reading list post. Brett got me this book for Christmas and I was so excited to start reading it! Some of my favorite YA authors are featured including Nicola Yoon, Huntley Fitzpatrick, and Katie Cotugno. I fell in love with the writing styles of many of the other authors and have already added some of their books to my TBR list. I can’t wait to read more!

Summary:

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. Meet Cute is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.
 
Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.
 
This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

Review:

First things first, the format of this book is incredible! I was skeptical of the short story format but really fell in love with being able to read a whole story in under 30 minutes. It was a perfect before bed read because I’m one of those people who have a hard time just reading one chapter. I tend to stay up way too late reading at night if I’m really into a book. The short stories allowed me to read one or two a night and then go to bed happy. 

I don’t want to give away too much about the book by reviewing each and every story. However, I can say that there wasn’t one story in this book that I disliked. Each one was unique and the endings left much to the imagination yet I was disappointed at all. I love when books have clear endings that leave everything tied up in a neat little bow. Even though many of these stores did not have clear endings I still loved them! 

I also love that these stories feature more than just your traditional boy-girl love story. Emery Lord’s story about two girls meeting in an airport was one of my absolute favorites! It was so cute and charming!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Let’s be honest, I’ll probably only ever write reviews for books I love because I can never seem to force myself to finish reading a book that I don’t enjoy. I’ll keep trying but in my opinion life’s too short to read a bad book.

Seeing each author’s writing style and unique take on first impressions was such a cool experience. It fueled my love for my favorite authors and helped me find new authors to add to my favorites list. 

Have you read any amazing books lately? How do you feel about short stories? 

Until next time! Thanks for reading!

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New Year, New Reading List

2019 Reading List

In 2018 I fell back in love with reading. I learned to read at an early age and always had a book with me when I was growing up. As I got older my love for reading always remained but the free-time I had to read dwindled. In 2018 I wanted to read more and find the joy of a good book again. Going into 2019 I want to continue this exploration of books and my love for reading.

What does this mean for the blog?

Hopefully it means more reading lists and book reviews. The amazing thing about reading is that it reminds me how much I love to write. Reading inspires writing which inspires blogging. Therefore, more reading equals more blogging!

To start off 2019 I will be sharing a list of books that I am hoping to read this year. If I don’t like a book I have a very hard time convincing myself to continue reading it. I’ve read reviews for all of the below books and I’m really hoping that I like them! By the way, this list is in no particular order.

  1. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – Rachel Coon and David Levithan
  2. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do – Amy Morin
  3. People Like Us – Dana Mele
  4. Meet Cute – Various YA Authors
  5. Becoming – Michelle Obama
  6. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
  7. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
  8. Holding Up The Universe – Jennifer Niven
  9. One Day In December – Josie Silver
  10. The Yellow Envelope – Kim Dinan
  11. The Librarian of Auschwitz – Antonio Iturbe
  12. The 5 Love Languages – Gary Chapman

If I find other books I will be adding them to my list. I have a huge stack of books on my nightstand right now and I tend to just grab whatever sounds good and start reading it. Brett knows that if he needs to buy me a gift for any reason he should go straight to my Amazon wishlist and buy any of the books that I have on there.

Please let me know if you have any other book recommendations! I go through books pretty quickly especially in the summer and winter months so I always appreciate a good recommendation.

Have you read any amazing books lately? Or are there any books that you are dying to read this year?

Thanks for reading!

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Five On Friday

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Happy Friday!!

I am SO ready for the weekend even though it’s going to be crazy busy. I thought it would be fun to share five things that I’m loving or looking forward to this weekend!

  1. Tonight we are celebrating my dad’s retirement! He technically retired in May but my sister was in New York so we wanted to wait until she got home for the party.
  2. I went grocery shopping on Wednesday so now I have lots of healthy foods ready to go for the weekend. I’m trying really hard to eat healthy and lose weight.
  3. On Saturday we are going to a balloon fest and Sunday we are going to an airshow. I also have a Bridal Shower on Saturday. It’s another busy weekend!
  4. I made a huge order from The Limited that should be coming any day now. I am trying to completely refresh my professional wardrobe and I’m hoping a lot of the items I ordered online will work out! The Limited is having a great sale right now if you are on the hunt for affordable pieces to add to your wardrobe.
  5. I will be reading Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum this weekend. I have heard some pretty good reviews about this book so I have high hopes! It’s another YA novel so it should be a quick and fun weekend read.

What are you up to this weekend? I’m trying to soak in every last minute of summer!

Wishing you all a great Friday and weekend! 🙂

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Image via Unsplash

Book Review – I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives

I Will Always Write Back Book Review by Caitlin Alfirenka & Martin Ganda

 

Hey friends,

I am back with my first book review of 2018! One of my New Years resolutions is to read more so I figured I’d start out the year with a review of my favorite book of 2017, I will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives. I can honestly say that this book changed my way of thinking and made me reflect on the changes that I can make in order to give back to my community and make an impact.

This book was a recommendation on one of Jansen’s (Everyday Reading) blog posts. I was initially drawn to the book because one of my co-workers is from Zimbabwe and I have always enjoyed hearing his stories about growing up. He talked about the reason he went into Finance was because of the Financial crisis that occurred while he was growing up in Zimbabwe. He came to America to learn all he could with the goal of going home one day and using his experiences in finance to make a positive impact. This book goes into detail about the same Financial crisis that my co-worker experienced.

 

I will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alfirenka & Martin Ganda

 

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka with Liz Welch

 

The New York Times bestselling true story of an all-American girl and a boy from Zimbabwe and the letter that changed both of their lives forever.

It started as an assignment. Everyone in Caitlin’s class wrote to an unknown student somewhere in a distant place.

Martin was lucky to even receive a pen-pal letter. There were only ten letters, and fifty kids in his class. But he was the top student, so he got the first one.

That letter was the beginning of a correspondence that spanned six years and changed two lives.

In this compelling dual memoir, Caitlin and Martin recount how they became best friends –and better people–through their long-distance exchange. Their story will inspire you to look beyond your own life and wonder about the world at large and your place in it.

 

Martin was from a small village in Zimbabwe. He greatly valued his education but his family struggled to pay for his schooling. Caitlin was your normal 12 year old from Pennsylvania. Her troubles included boys, clothes, and friends. They started writing letters to each other because of a school assignment.

It took a while for Caitlin to realize just how hard Martin’s life was becoming. His worries were vastly different than his. She would send gifts, $20 here and there, that would feed Martin’s family and send him to school. The books spans years and details the daily struggles, and what Martin had to overcome in order to get his education and take care of his family.

I read this whole book in under 24 hours. I could not put it down and I could not go to sleep until I knew that everything was okay. “Wow” is the only word that comes to mind when I think about the experience I had while reading. It was thought provoking, emotional, and I was honestly cheering Caitlin and Martin on as I read. I felt invested in the outcome of the book.

As an American, I know I am lucky. I am lucky to have grown up with a roof over my head, food in the cupboards, two parents with jobs, and a free public education. It is very easy to take all of these things for granted. We see the news and hear about the troubling times in other countries but we may never have to directly deal with any of these issues. This book puts everything into prospective.

I could say so much more but I will just leave you with this:

One letter changed Caitlin and Martin’s life. One book changed mine.

As always, thanks so much for reading!

 

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