Monday, October 5, 2020

What I've read in 2020 - Quarter 3

I read 16 books during quarter 3 of 2020. If you would have told me back in January that I'd read 16 books in just 3 months I'd have thought you were crazy. But honestly I wouldn't have believed anything you'd told me about the last 6 months. I'm 84% to my new 2020 reading goal of 45 books and according to goodreads currently 4 books ahead of schedule! 

The Golden Hour 3/5 - I was expecting more of story about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (Edward and Wallis Simpson) serving as governor of the Bahamas during WW2. While they were more of background characters than the main story this one was overall enjoyable. 

The Accidental Beauty Queen 4/5 - I really enjoyed this one! Fun and easy read that made me thankful for my sisters. 

Tweet Cute 3/5 - This was overall a cute story that I could see being made into a successful Netflix movie. I think I would have found it more believable/relatable if they hadn't been high schoolers 

All the Light We Cannot See 3/5 - Really beautiful story that I didn't fully enjoy until it was over. I enjoy stories with a narrator, but switching between the two main characters stories did make it a quick read. 

The Boyfriend Project 4/5 - I really enjoyed this one! I was expecting something similar to that movie The Other Women with Carmen Diaz, but what I got was much better. All the characters that are supposed to be likable were likable; something that I find is really rare lately 

The Gatecrasher 3/5 - Cute enough story, but I wanted certain characters to be developed more. 

Code Name Helene 5/5 - I loved that this was based on a real woman and not just inspired by a group. I cannot recommend this enough for anyone looking for a good WW2 book 

The Grace Kelly Dress 4/5 - I wish this had been 3 times as long because I wanted to know so much more about each of the three main characters

Before We Were Yours 5/5 - This 100% lives up to the hype and may be the best book I've read this year. I think part of what made it so good is the believable  happy ending 

The Nightingale 3/5 - Enjoyable but didn't live up the hype. There are so many other books out there about females during WW2, this one isn't especially memorable 

The Hamilton Affair  3/5 - I read this one for my book club and full disclosure probably only finished it because of that. If you've watched the musical you really don't need to read this one. The best part were the parts told from Eliza's point of view

The Worst Best Man 2/5 - Fun story and likable characters. If you like romance novels you'll probably really like this one, but I could have done without the sex scenes 

The Wedding Date 4/5 - It was so nice/refreshing to read a love story that didn't begin with the couple hating each other. 

The Vanishing Half 4/5 - This was an easy read about a not easy subject. I think I'd enjoy it more if I had a book club to discuss it with because most of the topics are things I have no experience with. I'd recommend this to everyone to read about something outside of your normal world experience 

28 Summers 4/5 - The only thing keeping this from a 5 star review is how crummy I felt after reading this and realizing the "bad guy" that I was cheering against was the married woman who's husband is cheating on her

Beach Read 3/5 - This started so promising but in the end kinda fell flat. I did really enjoy the insight into what authors do for inspiration when writing books 

Looking for more book recommendations? Be sure to check out my Q1 and Q2 reads! Want these reviews in more real time? I post 15 second book reviews on my TikTok  @salsatheblog 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

fall 2020 bucket list

To say I've been anxiously awaiting fall is an extreme understatement. This summer has honestly kinda sucked and the promise of crisp fall days sounds so much better. With fall officially starting this week I wanted to share my fall 2020 bucket list. 

  • Re-read one Harry Potter book - these just scream fall to me 
  • Make an at home "tailgate" for an Ole Miss or Dallas Cowboys football game - the best part of at home football means you can drink without having to worry about a DD 
  • Vote in the 2020 elections! - Seriously this should be on everyone's list 
  • Make homemade chili from scratch - the perfect fall meal 
  • Celebrate my 1 year wedding anniversary - if you have gift ideas let me know! 
  • Bake a pumpkin pie - my favorite fall treat! 
  • Decorate for Christmas - because Christmas starts as soon as you finish Thanksgiving turkey 

What's on your fall 2020 bucket list? 

Monday, September 21, 2020

current favorite content creators

Today I wanted to give little shoutouts to some of my favorite content creators. These are people that bring me joy and I hope they'll do the same for you! Kindness and encouragement costs nothing; I want to get better about promoting those I enjoy. There is room for everyone at the top! 

the_pastaqueen on TikTok- All her dishes look delicious! She makes fancy pasta seem really easy to make on TikTok - When I'm having a bad day nothing cheers me up faster than these videos. Tatum is a talking dog who loves watermelon and chicken nuggets 

coachcurtis88 on TikTok- He's a high school US history teacher and makes fun and informative TikToks with historical facts 

stephgrassodietitian on TikTok - healthy living tips from someone actually qualified to give that information, crazy! She's a clinical dietitian nutritionist so I feel confident in her advice, plus she doesn't push crazy fad diets  

scheckeats on Instagram - Jeremy writes a food blog aimed at college students, so while all the recipes seem fancy they're actually pretty easy. 

ali_gracemorsell on Instagram - I originally found Ali Grace from TikTok but love her Instagram more because she posts more content, including her precious little boy. She posts lots of fun recipes and what she packs her husband for lunch each day 

dcgirlinpearls on Instagram- Lauren is a long time follow; honestly I think she was one of the original blogs I started reading. She's also one of the few bloggers I've consistently followed because she posts relatable content without being annoying 

elizaenneagram on Instagram- I'm currently obsessed with enneagrams and I love how she colorfully and creatively illustrates them. For anyone wondering I'm a type two. 

signetsealed on Instagram - Sarah is an artist that I've included in some past gift roundup posts. She started by drawing city themed prints, but has expanded into television series coloring pages, Bachelor/Bachelorette weekly recaps, and fun themed bingos. She also has an adorable rescue greyhound named Moose who is reason enough to give her a follow 

She's Probably Busy on apple podcasts - This is a fairly new podcast that I learned about because one of the hosts is actually my sorority sister! Two 20 something girls living in LA (working for Disney!) talking about life. They're so enjoyable and relatable to listen to 

The Sunday Scaries on apple podcasts - I've been a long time listener of this podcasts and think it's the perfect way to start my Monday. New episodes drop each Sunday morning and they're the literal definition of "chill" 

Who are your current favorite content creators? 

Monday, July 27, 2020

What I'm Watching

We've entered the part of summer where it's too hot for me to even pretend like I want to leave the house. The heat index has been over 100 every day for the last week here in DFW. That means in addition to all the reading I've been doing also I'm watching a lot more tv. Here's what I've currently been streaming

Hamilton on Disney+ - Do I even need to include this, because duh obviously I've watched this! We were really lucky to see the musical in person when it came to Dallas last year, but getting to rewatch it (especially with the facial close ups) is still really cool.

Tangled the series on Disney+ - We put this one on randomly one night as we were folding laundry before bed and got hooked. It picks up after the end of the movie

My Spy on Prime - We watched this one for at home date night and thought it was really cute. It reminded me of something that the Rock would be in; kinda cheesy and endearing

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on HBOMax - This is the story behind the book of the same name. Henrietta Lacks was a black woman who died of cancer in the 1950s, without her or her family's permission doctors took her cells and those cells (HeLa) have led to all kinds of medical break throughs.

QueerEye on Netflix -  Oh how I LOVE this show! In my opinion this is the perfect feel good show and this new season did not disappoint

Eurovision Song Contest : The Story of Fire Saga on Netflix - Maybe I just had really low expectations, but this was one of the best things I've seen this year. Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams as small town Icelandic sings with dreams of winning Eurovision is exactly what we need at this time.

Sweet Magnolias on Netflix - At first I wasn't a big fan of this one; I literally fell asleep the first time I watched it. But it grew on me around episode 3 and turned out to be pretty entertaining

Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix - I randomly found this one night when I was looking for something new to watch and it is so great! Phil was a tv producer so he knows how to make an interesting program. My favorite part is at the end of every episode he video chats with his parents from whatever location he's in while they're back home.

Below Deck on Bravo on Demand - My husband and I are obsessed with this one! Having worked in luxury hospitality it's fun to watch and very relatable

What are you currently watching?

Friday, July 24, 2020

4 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in July

Tomorrow is July 25, Christmas in July day! Christmas is my favorite holiday so I'll gladly take any excuse to celebrate it, even 5 months early. I can't think of anything we need more in 2020 than a little extra holly jolly feelings. Today I'm sharing 4 ways to celebrate Christmas in July.

1. Watch a Christmas movie - I think this is my favorite part of Christmas and in my opinion the key to celebrating Christmas in July! I shared this list of holiday movies to stream back in December and a few of them are still available to stream now. My personal choice would be to watch Elf (currently on Netflix) because I think it's the perfect movie.

2. Listen to a Christmas playlist - Don't want to go full out for Christmas in July? Put on a Christmas playlist to help lift your spirits while you're doing house chores or cooking. I put together this playlist a few years ago of my favorite holiday songs.

3. Eat a favorite Christmas treat - My very favorite holiday treat is peppermint bark so I think it'd be the perfect Christmas in July treat! Other good treats are hot chocolate or Christmas cookies or whatever dessert screams Christmas to you!

4. Enjoy a favorite Christmas tradition - I bet you have a tradition that you do every Christmas; my Christmas tradition is eating Chinese food on Christmas Eve. I know a lot of people always play certain boardgames or maybe call all their family they're not with. Doing something as simple as that can really help Christmas in July feel holly and jolly!

How do you plan to celebrate Christmas in July?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

How I'm really feeling

I thought it was time to do a quick real life check-in with everybody. We're about 4 months into quarantine which is about 3 months more than I ever thought this would last. It's so crazy to think back to early March and how different everything was then. I spent the first week of March in Vegas for a work trip; at that point we were only sorta starting to think Covid could become a thing in the United States. People were jokingly bumping elbows instead of shaking hands and I went to the Strip like things were totally normal. My flight back home to Dallas was half empty, which looking back on should have been a wake-up call that things were about to get serious.

I spent the rest of March in denial that things were going to get so bad. I stayed home and listened to all the recommendations, but I mistakenly thought everyone else was doing the same thing and it'd be over soon. We only left the house to grocery shop and have take-out put in our back seat before taking it home for "date night." At that point I was honestly loving staying home and being excited about having time to do more cooking and the quality time I was spending with my husband and Rebel. The denial of March quickly turned to darkness in April. I shared before that my grandmother passed away from Covid in April; I carried this dark cloud all month. I only took 1 day of bereavement because I felt silly taking more when we weren't traveling for a funeral, but I cried almost every day that month. Every time my phone rang I had a sinking feeling in my stomach because I was sure it was either my boss calling to tell me I was being laid-off or my mom telling me another family member has tested positive. I was trying to put on a positive face, but I was not in a good place. I was living in crippling fear; I couldn't even leave the house to go grocery shopping.
I regressed back to denial in May and was convinced everything would be fine for me to go on a trip to Florida in June. I was looking at the rising numbers in Florida and around the country, but still kept telling myself everything would be fine. I finally canceled my flight June 1 (thanks for the full refund Southwest!) and I think that's when I finally hit the point of acceptance. I realized none of the trips we were planning for 2020 were going to happen. I started thinking about how I could realistically make 2020 special because it wasn't going to be with the Disneyland or Europe trips I was planning. 

Now as we're closing out July I'm doing better. I still have moments of extreme anxiety, but I'm learning to pause and just breathe. I can't predict the future so I have to accept to just take it a day at a time. Planning too far ahead will only set me up for disappointment. Before I do anything I think about how it is going to impact others, and while I wish everyone would think this way all I can control is myself.

How are you really doing?

Monday, July 6, 2020

What I've read in 2020 - Quarter 2

If I'm being honest I'm glad to see 2020 Q2 finished; these last 3 months have been rough. Texas started reopening in early May, but I'm still mostly staying inside and only going out when I need to. This means I've have lots of reading time! Here's what I read in 2020 quarter 2

The Orphan's Tale - 4/5  This was a rare book where I enjoyed both the narrators

The Engagements - 4/5  This one took a while to get into, but I really liked how everything tied together at the end

We Were the Lucky Ones - 5/5  Hands down one of the best books I've read, ever

Limelight - 4/5   This was a fun story that was easy to picture; it'd make a cute Netflix movie

Bringing Down the Duke - 3/5    Not bad, but not great either

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - 5/5  The story really grabs you and keeps you interested right from the start. I could easily see this being made into a movie or HBO mini series

My Oxford Year - 2/5    Spoiler Alert! This felt like two totally separate books. The first half is your typical chick lit, goes to the UK and falls for her professor who also happens to be terribly wealthy and have a reputation as a playboy. Then halfway through we're hit with the bombshell that he has terminal illness? No thank you. That is not the book I signed up to read.

My Not So Perfect Life - 4/5   Exactly what you expect in a Sophie Kinsella book; a few laughs and a happy ending

The Man of my Dreams - 2/5     I wanted to like this book so badly, but ultimately just couldn't. It all came down to the main character just not being likable

Match Making for Beginners - 3/5    This sounds like a spoiler, but it really isn't : everything gets better after Blix dies. This one starts so slow but picks up in the middle and held my interest to the end

American Princess - 3/5   Interesting read that got better as it went. I really liked that you could tell the author did extensive research and included so many real people and events.  

The Bromance Book Club - 3/5  Fun and different story line that's great for the beach or pool

Check out my 2020 Quarter 1 reads here. Have any books I need to read next? I'd love to hear your suggestions!