Book Club

Style and Savings Reads: The Perfect Find by Tia Williams

I first read about this book in Essence magazine book reviews and added it to my Want to Read list on Goodreads.

When I got the email about the Goodreads giveaway, I entered the giveaway and won!! Now I always enter Goodreads giveaways – who knows, I could win again : )

Between wedding planning

and international travel

When in France, eat French Fries #france🇫🇷 #pommefrites #goldenarches

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I was having a busy summer and didn’t get around to reading this book.

This summer, my plans were pretty open and I wanted to make sure I made the most of the summer by creating a Style and Savings Summer Fun List and a Style and Savings Summer Reading List.

Of course this book was on the list –

The Perfect Find was the perfect summer read

It was fun and romantic, and better than the usual rom-com because its plot is not predictable.

The main character Jenna, is in a similar situation as Liza of TV Land’s Younger, being a 40-something woman working in a youth – obsessed industry (although Jenna is honest about her age and experience), trying to keep up with millennial culture and falling in love with a younger man, Eric.

I liked that the story began with Jenna’s current situation but later covers the backstory of her college days, rising up in her career, and her previous long-term relationship with her college sweetheart Brian.

Unlike Younger

The Perfect Find has diverse characters!

If the book is made into a movie or TV show (I wish!) it would have a Shonda Rimes-esque cast. I can see Vanessa Williams as Jenna’s “queen of mean’ boss. The handsome leading men  chosen to play Brian and Eric must have looks, charm and personality worthy of attracting a beautiful, unique, and accomplished yet down-to-earth woman like Jenna (and worthy of being my new celebrity crush!)

The New York backdrop and fashion culture are both integral to the book and would translate well to the silver screen or flat screen.

Without giving away any spoilers, I was satisfied with the book’s ending. It ends with a five year jump into the future. It was a nice stopping point, but still leaves room to for follow up stories in the form of a sequel or series.

Thank you Tia Williams for writing such great book and allowing us to peek into your glamorous life!

 

Style and Savings Reads: 7: an experimental mutiny of excess (Part 2)

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

Jen Hatmaker, the author of this book lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and 5 children (2 are adopted from Ethiopia). This book is categorized as Religion/Christian Life/Social Issues, so there are many references to church activities and Christian scripture. Jen defines 7 as “an exercise in simplicity” and for seven months, challenges herself to set limits in seven different categories.

For Part 1 of my Review (chapters 1 – 3) click here

4 Media

Jen’s Lessons: During the Media month, Jen and her family significantly cut down their screen time

TV • Gaming • iPhone • Apps • Radio • Limited texting • Limited internet

Just for practical purposes of safety and school they did not completely cease texting and internet usage, but it made them a lot more mindful as to how often and for what purpose they were using technology (eg. research for a homework assignment vs. a Facebook status update)

Of course this was challenging at first, but they filled their new found free time with more imaginative games, family time, cleaning, and cooking meals together

My Take: It would be challenging for me to not read blogs online, scroll through social media posts, or watch TV after work. If I did choose to accept this challenge, I would read more, spend more time outdoors, and meet up with friends in person

5 Waste

Jen’s Lesson’s: Jen’s family focused on reducing their reducing, reusing, and recycling during this month by taking the following actions:

Gardening • Composting • Conserving Energy & Water • Recycling • Sharing 1 car • Shopping Thrift & Second-hand • Buying local

There were several ways that reducing waste tied back to previous months’ challenges:

  • Just as Food month, made Jen appreciate the variety and abundance of food in the U.S., gardening gave her an appreciation of the skill and effort it takes to grow your own produce

  • Continuing the habits of Media month’s goal of cutting back TV and computer usage helped with energy conservation

  • Wearing a limited number of clothing items during Clothing month, and participating in the clothing swap prepared Jen for shopping thrift & second hand

This month coincided with back to school season, and Jen realized that buying lunch size packages of snacks is not as economical as purchasing full size or bulk. Basically you pay extra for the convenience.

What stood out to me most was that Jen called attention to a wide-spread issue: buying organic food is not cheap!

During this challenge she felt conflicted between wanting to buy organic food and locally grown produce and wanting to reduce spending. For many people, this isn’t even a choice – they must choose the lowest cost option.

My Take: I have been good about recycling lately, but I know I could do better as far as conserving electricity. Thrift shopping was the inspiration this blog and I still believe that buying pre-owned is a great way to save money and support sustainability by reusing products that already exist rather than using resources to create new items

6 Spending

Jen’s Lessons: During the Spending month of Seven, Jen’s family limited their spending to only 7 Vendors/categories

Farmers Market• Target • Gas • Limited travel • Emergency medical • Bills • School

The most memorable part of this chapter was the realization that her son was in need of a haircut. With Great Clips not being one of the Seven vendors he was subjected to the embarrassment of an at-home haircut gone wrong. Jen also struggled with once again limited food options as fast food and restaurants were also off limits.

This chapter also had some eye opening statistics about the amount of U.S. spending on things like cosmetics and perfume vs. the cost of global clean water and education.

My take: Target was on Jen’s list because it’s a one-stop shop that would cover all of her family’s necessities – but I could really do some damage shopping at Target. I don’t think leaving Target as one of the seven vendors would help me cut spending. Restaurants and fast food do make up a significant chunk of our monthly budget so there would be material cost savings there, but it would be a challenge to prepare dinner and lunch every day.

7 Stress

Jen’s lessons: During the final month of Seven, Jen planned to pause for prayer 7 times daily and for her family to observe Sunday as a day of rest and a Sabbath dinner. Two of the seven prayer times were midnight and dawn and it was challenging for her to be awake at those times. She also set an alarm to as a reminder to observe the scheduled prayers.

My take: It was during our last vacation that I  realized the need to build pauses into a busy schedule. I like to have action packed sight-seeing trips, but this time I was feeling tired and jet-lagged. Next time, I make a travel itinerary, I will be sure to leave time for napping.

 

Overall, I enjoyed reading 7: an experimental mutiny of excess. In each month of Jen’s journey, I was able to see habits that I could also adopt in order to simplify my life.

Style and Savings Reads: 7: an experimental mutiny against excess

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

 

Jen Hatmaker, the author of this book lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and 5 children (2 are adopted from Ethiopia). This book is categorized as Religion/Christian Life/Social Issues, so there are many references to church activities and Christian scripture. Jen defines 7 as “an exercise in simplicity” and for seven months, challenges herself to set limits in seven different categories.

1Food

Jen’s Lessons: During the first month of 7, Jen focused on food, limiting her diet to only 7 items

Chicken • eggs • whole wheat bread • sweet potatoes • spinach • avocados • apples

She really ate only these seven items – that means no sauces, condiments, seasonings aside from salt and pepper, and what she seemed to miss most – no coffee! (There wasn’t much detail about other drinks – maybe she only drank water?)

This led to occasional awkward meals when she socialized with various friends at restaurants. Also, it was hard for her to watch others enjoy tasty meals. By the end of the month, she had more appreciation for the abundance and variety of food we have in America.

My Take: I’m not willing to change my eating habits that dramatically, but I see the value in cutting back on snacks & junk food. Instead of a diet limited to 7 foods, it would be better for me to add 7 new healthy foods to my routine.

2Clothes

Jen’s Lessons: During month 2 of 7, Jen limited her wardrobe to only 7 items

Jeans • Capri pants • Dress shirt • 2 T-shirts • Long sleeve T-shirt • Shoes

Being a public speaker, eyes would be on her and at certain church events, the members wore their Sunday best. As most of us can relate, in her self-consciousness, Jen thought people would notice or comment more than they actually did. Part of the challenge was making sure those 7 clothing items were clean. Without a closet full of clothes to choose from, laundry had to be done much more often.

Being in Texas, Jen didn’t add a coat or jacket as one of her 7 items and suffered the consequences on an unusually cold day. This experience was a reminder that members of the homeless community often do not have the clothes, outerwear or shoes to properly protect them for the weather.

My take: My favorite part of this chapter was the Austin Women’s Clothing Swap. Ladies brought in gently used clothing they no longer wanted and all of the items were sorted and displayed on racks like a boutique. For a $5 entrance fee, the women could choose “new” clothes to take home. All unclaimed items + the money collected from the entrance fee were then donated to charity.

Swapping clothing with friends is a fun way to “shop” without spending money and cuts back on the use of natural resources used in the production of new clothing.

I regularly clean out my closets and donate clothes that are no longer my size or style. Donating clothes leaves you with a good feeling when you know that they are going to a good cause.

Prom Dresses donated to a local event called “Gown Town” which offered free dresses to girls who were unable to buy a gown for prom.

Closet Clean-Out for the #NewYear #style #styleandsavings #bgtt

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3 Possessions

Jen’s lessons: During month 3 of 7, Jen gave away 7 items each day for 30 days – a total of 210 items. Instead of dropping things off at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army, she tried to  give to directly to people in need including a family of refugees who just moved to the U.S. and children whose school counselor noticed their need of clothes. Meeting refugees who were starting over with nothing (they needed bedding, dishes, and furniture) made Jen & her friends realize their own abundance of possessions.

My take: Listening to the podcast The Minimalists (mentioned in a previous Friday Faves post) has made me more aware of excess clutter. One of the tips I learned from the podcast is called the Minimalists Game in which you challenge someone with a similar de-cluttering goal to each give away a number of items every day ( 1 item the first day, 2 items second day, 3 items on the third day –  until 30 items on the 30th day for a total of 465 items in a month)The winner is whoever completes the challenge, but of course both people have succeeded to some extent in simplifying their home. Jen’s whole family of 5 was included in the purge of 210 items  – so this may or may not be more challenging for a smaller family or single person depending on how many items they own.

Stay tuned for the rest of my review in Style and Savings Reads:  7: an experimental mutiny against excess (Part 2)

Style and Savings’ Summer Reading List 2017

Summer is quickly approaching and now is the time to plan how I will make the most of these beautiful days!

As a kid, we would always participate in the summer reading program at the local library. Now I’m older and won’t get a free Dairy Queen Dilly bar , a beach ball, or a slinky, my incentive is the pure enjoyment of reading.

Here is a list of books (all of which are by female authors) that have been on my To Read list for a while that I plan to finally read this summer:

The Perfect Find by Tia Williams

I first saw a review of this book in Essence magazine, then added it to my Goodreads “Want to Read” list. I entered the sweepstakes to win a copy of the book and was lucky enough to win an autographed paperback. I now follow the author Tia Williams on Instagram @shakeyourbeauty, where she posts adorable photos of her daughter, her book signings, her fashion and life in New York.

 

Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

I have been a fan of Mindy since The Office and have been catching up on The Mindy Project on Hulu lately. I took a break from it for a while – but now that I am giving it another chance, I’m glad to see Mindy as a working mother with a successful practice who is launching her own business.

I read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? a couple years ago and I hope this book is also as funny.

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Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps  by Kelly Williams Brown

I added this book to my Goodreads “Want to Read” list back in 2014, when I may have still been experiencing a quarter-life crisis. During that time, I also liked to read the very relatable blogs Twenty Something Living and When Life Gives You Rubi. This book seems like it will fall in the info-tainment genre and I think it will be comforting to see how far I’ve come since then.

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps

The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous Life by Natalie McNeal

No one really wants to be in debt, but through budgeting and reducing spending there is a way out. Some examples of this are too extreme for my taste (see: tiny houses, junk cars, ramen dinners). Style and Savings was created on the principle to “live stylishly without spending your savings”. I want to maintain a level of comfort, while still living within or below my means.

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That wraps up my book list for the summer (in addition to the magazines I subscribe to).

What’s on your Summer Reading List?

Glossies Made Me Do It – May 2017

Glossies made me do it...!Welcome to the May edition of “Glossies Made Me Do It” link-up. Here’s what I’ve been reading.

I always enjoy looking at Oprah magazine’s  “Reading Room” In the May issue, page  109 had a review describing “No One is Coming to Save Us” by Stephanie Powell Watts as an updated, African-American version of The Great Gatsby. Goodreads users gave both positive and negative reviews, so I’m not sure if I’ll read this book, but it made me want to watch The Great Gatsby. I loved the glamour, recklessness and extravagance along with the music and bright colors of the 2013 remake.

Can you tell that I’m a fan of Pantene products? I recently bought 3 of my favorite (now discontinued) Pantene Truly Relaxed Oil Crème Moisturizer on Amazon. Essence magazine’s May issue contained a Pantene hair moisturizer sample that made me want to give the new formula a try.

 

For more of The Glossies Made Me Do It, click here. Until next month’s mags!

Book Discussion: The Mothers a Novel

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The Mothers a Novel by Brit Bennett is one of the best written books I have read in a long time – maybe ever. I would place it among the ranks of The Secret Life of Bees. If you enjoy this book as much as I did – it will stay in your mind after the last chapter closes.

Thought provoking topics provide the foundation of the story which also has unexpected twists and secrets that unravel slowly. Brit Bennett didn’t take the easy way out by writing in detail about the milestones a reader would expect, which makes this novel so interesting.

The following questions are intended for book discussion and may contain spoilers:

1 – Why is this book titled The Mothers?

2 – Why didn’t Mr. Turner keep Nadia closer after her mother’s death?

3- Why wasn’t Mrs. Sheppard more compassionate towards Nadia?

4- Both Pastor Sheppard and Mr. Turner dedicated lots of time to the church. Is it good to serve the community as an example for  children or bad to take time away from raising them?

5- How were Luke and Nadia affected by their decision ?

6- When Aubrey first started visiting Luke, why didn’t Nadia tell Aubrey about their past? Would you have told your friend if she started dating your ex?

7- Why didn’t Luke tell Aubrey that he used to date Nadia?

8- Why does Luke treat Aubrey better (in the beginning of their relationship) than he treated Nadia ?

9-What made Nadia & Aubrey’s friendship last after the day at the beach when Nadia admits to hooking up with Luke in high school?

10 – Nadia imagines what her mother’s life would have been without her. Do you think Nadia gets married and/or raises a child one day?

11- Why did Aubrey desperately want to be a mother?

12 – Should Luke and Nadia have ended up together?

After reading this novel, I wanted to learn more about Brit Bennett. Through various magazine articles, I found that she grew up in Oceanside, California where the novel takes place and like Nadia,  also went to college at the University of Michigan.The Mothers is her very first novel and she was 27 years old when the book was published in 2016.  It is inspiring to see a young black woman author with so much talent and I look forward to reading more of her work.

 

 

February Friday Faves 2.17.17

Welcome to the third Friday in February! Here’s a recap of my favorite parts of the week.

Cooking

This chicken recipe falls into the Semi-Homemade category because it uses the pre-cooked Tyson chicken strips. The sauce is pretty easy to make with a few simple ingredients. I pinned this on my Restaurant At Home board, because they are a close copy-cat to Chili’s Honey Chipotle Chicken Crispers.

For Valentine’s weekend I cooked brunch  using a cast-iron skillet (a wedding present) for the first time. These breakfast potatoes were pretty easy – I like making recipes that don’t require lots of ingredients and use what I already have in the kitchen. I think the key to these potatoes is adding enough olive oil in the beginning and watching carefully so that the bacon doesn’t burn. I also made this recipe again too – it may be becoming a favorite.

Reading

This week I started reading The Mothers by Brit Bennett. I had seen it on a couple of other blogs (it’s a very colorful and photogenic book cover) and it was in the Quarterly Literary Subscription box recently. So far I can see why this book is so popular – there’s no boring lead-in or build up – the action starts immediately. I read 4 chapters in one night!

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Photo Credit: Quarterly

Wearing

One of the besties gave me this Coach Love perfume sample in my Christmas gift. Coach is one of my favorite brands. The scent is floral without being too young and girly and it fits the romantic spirit of February.

Drinking

Although we didn’t get to spend the actual holiday together – I’ll be making  Strawberry Lime Margaritas with my sister as a toast to  Galentine’s Day.  I would love to have a party like this to celebrate one year….

 

Cheers to the Weekend!