Book Club

Style and Savings Reads: This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

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This may not be the typical type of book you think of for a book discussion, as it’s been marketed as a humorous celebrity memoir, but keep in mind – there’s something to learn from everyone’s story!

The following is not a book review or synopsis, just a list of book discussion questions inspired by what I read:

1. Growing up, Gabby used to be teased, but look how successful and accomplished she is now! What is something that you’ve achieved that would surprise your teenage self?

2. Should Alice (Gabby’s mom) have known that her green card marriage would fail?

3. Tola (Gabby’s dad’s new wife) is a psychic, do you believe in psychics and their ability to know things about others and predict their future?

4. Gabby went to therapy sessions when she was suffering from depression. How do you handle life’s obstacles?

5. Gabby describes her love/hate relationship with Twitter: she often checks it in the morning and posts funny updates on her account but says “it’s vain to think people want to know everything you’re thinking all the time, Twitter is for saying dumb stuff as soon as it pops in your head”. What do you love or hate about social media?

6.  Gabourey Sidibe is a Senegalese name, many have struggled to say correctly. “Americans are lazy, kind and condescending….they only want to say names they can pronounce.”  If you could change your name would you? If so, what would your name be?

7. Gabby was prescribed an appetite suppressant, but it didn’t work because she ate in response to her feelings, not only when she was hungry.  What’s your favorite comfort food or celebratory dinner & drink?

8. For a celebrity, Gabby seems surprisingly introverted. She doesn’t like talking to strangers and she says she’d prefer not to be famous, just rich. Which would you choose – either, both, or neither & why?

9.  On the day of her audition for Precious, Gabby was literally at a crossroads as she walked out of her front door – she could cross the street one direction to school or cross the street the other way towards the audition. A film crew had blocked off some of the sidewalk outside of her building and directed her where to cross the street, which happened to be in the direction of the audition. Do you believe this was coincidence or fate?

10. Gabby had the opportunity to visit the White House and was recognized and greeted warmly by the Obamas. What public figure or celebrity do you dream of meeting?

I enjoyed reading this memoir. It was funny, but also had sad and serious moments — such is life! I’m glad Gabourey was brave enough to share her ups and downs. In a world where many women feel pressure to appear perfect, it’s refreshing to see someone share darker times in her past and how she currently faces her challenges.

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Style and Savings Reads: The Frugalista Files

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Photo credit: Goodreads

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

This book was on my Summer Reading List , which I am proud to have completed in mid-August.

In general, I enjoyed this book, but to adjust the expectations of future readers, I want to give it a new title:

The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Transitioned from News Reporter to Freelance Blogger

The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Braved the Great Recession by Becoming a Blogger

The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Left a Desk Job and Built Her Brand

The original title is misleading –  if you had expectations of learning money saving tips and details about Ms. McNeal’s adoption of a drastically cost-cutting lifestyle, you would be disappointed. For those tips, you should visit her blog. My feelings reading this were similar to those I had reading Shonda Rimes’ Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person. I was expecting more of a self-help or advice book and felt that I was reading an autobiography or memoir.

This book is a collection of journal entries broken into a chapter for each month. Ms. McNeal did a great job of capturing the highs and lows of 2008 – the doom and gloom of the Great Recession’s massive layoffs and the excitement and hope surrounding the 2008 Presidential election. Each chapter starts with a summary of Ms. McNeal’s current debts. * Spoiler alert*: she does not have her debts paid to zero at the end of the year (which she addresses in the epilogue). She does recognize her debt is a problem and that her spending habits need to change. She makes an effort, but none of her lifestyle changes are something Style and Savings readers wouldn’t have thought of already! For example:

  • Cooking at home instead of getting take-out

  • Not heading to the mall every Saturday

  • Cutting back on hair and nail salon appointments

  • Attending free, local activities 

Once I realized that this book is about a transitional period in her career and her journey from an unfulfilling job covering local news at The Miami Herald to finding her passion in blogging, I appreciated this book for what it is.

 

 

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 : )

#Goodreads drawing winner! Happy to have an autographed book for my collection! This should be a fun summer read 😎☀️📖

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Between wedding planning

Wedding day nails after a relaxing salon trip with @wandiitastic & wandiitastic'smommy #becomingmrsu👰🏽 #bridetobe #weddingday

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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.

#Goodreads drawing winner! Happy to have an autographed book for my collection! This should be a fun summer read 😎☀️📖

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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!