reading

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!

 

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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)

Glossies Made Me Do It

Glossies made me do it...!

I read several magazines each month and often find myself pinning recipes and decorating ideas from their pages. When I discovered this fun, monthly link-up “Glossies Made Me Do It” (“Glossies” are what our British friends across the pond call magazines – especially those related to fashion & beauty) I knew I wanted to join in.

Glossies Made Me Do It is hosted by Cat Eyes and Skinny Jeans, Shooting Stars Mag, and Happy, Pretty, Sweet starting on the 1st Friday of the month through the 24th

Here’s what I thought of  March’s magazines:

Essence

This ad for Maybelline’s  The 24K Nudes made me think of  Urban Decay’s Naked 3 pallet.  Have any of you beauty bloggers tried it?


Oprah

“Gooey, Crispy, Melty and Glorious Grilled Cheese” on page 130 made me pull out the panini press to make my own sandwich creation. This mix of cheese, bacon, guacamole and tomato was so melty and messy it had to be eaten with a knife and fork.

 

 

Redbook

“The great plastic basket makeover” on page 20 made me want to decorate.  I love that this basket looks so simple and cheap to make (#styleandsavings). Craft Cord comes in a variety of colors – you can choose one to match your color scheme.  

 

Join the “Glossies Made Me Do It” link-up  through March 24th and come back on the first Friday of next month for April’s issues.

 

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 2.2.2017

Welcome to the first Friday of February 2017!

Here are a few of my favorites from this past week:

Soap & Glory Gift Set

I have been a fan of Soap & Glory for several years now. This gift set was a Christmas gift from my sister.  I love the pink packaging and the fresh, clean scent. The shower gel lathers into lots of bubbles and the body butter is a thick moisturizer – perfect for protection from the cold winter weather.

 Sample Size 12 months

Speaking of soap and glory, 12 months Soaps is continuing to grow. These sample soaps are an adorable size and are made with natural ingredients.

 Thrifted Cardigans

I recently purchased  a dress and needed a cardigan to go with it. I found the black cardigan with the flower embellishment at a local resale shop. The brand is The Limited (they were pricey, but still sad to see it go out of business) and only cost $8.00! The red cardigan is Ann Taylor Loft from Poshmark for $13 plus shipping.

The Minimalists

The Minimalists is a podcast that I just discovered – they started in January 2016, so there are already 52 episodes that I can listen to. I’m still deciding what I think about it. I just want to live in a healthy balance somewhere between TLC’s Hoarders and HG TV’s Tiny House Hunters . For now minimalism seems extreme, but I am interested enough to keep listening and add it to my podcast rotation which also includes Gilmore Guys & AMPsConnected

Happy Friday – Enjoy your Super Bowl Weekend!

 

Style and Savings Reads – April 2016

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This month’s Style & Savings book list includes The Precious One,  Gatsby’s Girl, and How to be Parisian Wherever You Are 

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Title: The Precious One

Author: Marisa de los Santos

Goodreads Synopsis: 

From the bestselling author of Belong to Me, Love Walked In, and Falling Together comes a captivating novel about friendship, family, second chances, and the redemptive power of love

In all her life, Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary has given her heart to only three men: her first love, Ben Ransom; her twin brother, Marcus; and Wilson Cleary — professor, inventor, philanderer, self-made millionaire, brilliant man, breathtaking jerk: her father.

Seventeen years ago, Wilson ditched his first family for Caroline, a beautiful young sculptor. In all that time, Taisy’s family has seen Wilson, Caroline, and their daughter Willow only once.

Why then, is Wilson calling Taisy now, inviting her for an extended visit, encouraging her to meet her pretty sister — a teenager who views her with jealousy, mistrust, and grudging admiration? Why, now, does Wilson want Taisy to help him write his memoir?

Why I Would Pick up this Book: Mostly because the way Wilson is described is intriguing! Also, I think the family dynamic between the half-sisters will be interesting. I also want to know the story of Taisy’s first love since the synopsis hints that there may still be a connection.

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Title: Gatsby’s Girl

Author: Caroline Preston

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Just as Jay Gatsby was haunted by Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fizgerald was haunted by his own great first love — a Chicago socialite named Ginevra. Alluring, capricious, and ultimately unavailable, she would become his first muse, the inspiration for such timeless characters as Gatsby’s Daisy and Isabelle Borge in This Side of Paradise.
Ginevra was sixteen, a rich man’s daughter who had been told she was pretty far too often for her own good. Scott was nineteen, a poor boy full of ambition. They met at a country club dance in St. Paul, Minnesota, in January 1916. For almost a year they wrote each other letters — so long, breathless, and yearning that they often required more than one envelope.

But despite their intense epistolary romance, the relationship wouldn’t last. After throwing him over with what he deemed “supreme boredom and indifference,” she impulsively married a handsome aviator from the right society background.

Ruminating over what might have been had she picked the writer instead of the flier, she furtively reads the now famous Fitzgerald’s work. When she sees herself — much to her surprise — in his characters, it’s not just as the spoiled debutante he’d known; he’s also uncannily predicted the woman she’s become, cracks and all.

Why I Would Pick up this Book: Since American Literature class sophomore year of high school, I have been a fan of The Great Gatsby. It paints a picture of the Roaring 20’s as extravagant, reckless and full of glamour & excitement. I loved seeing it come to life in the 2013 version of the movie with Leo DiCaprio as Gatsby. The synopsis sounds like The Great Gatsby was actually based on Gatsby’s Girl which is a true life story of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ginevra.

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Title: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are

Author: by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Bohemian free-thinkers and iconoclasts, Anne Berest, Caroline De Maigret, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas cut through the myths in this gorgeous, witty guide to Parisienne savoir faire.

These modern Parisiennes say what you don’t expect to hear, just the way you want to hear it. They are not against smoking in bed, and all for art, politics and culture, making everything look easy, and going against the grain. They will take you on a first date, to a party and through a hangover. They will tell you how to be mysterious and sensual, make your boyfriend jealous, the right way to approach weddings and the gym, and they will share their address book in Paris for where to go at the end of the night, for a birthday, for a smart date, for vintage finds and much more.

Full of wit and self-deprecating humour, How To Be Parisianexplains those confusing subjects of clothes, makeup, men, culture and lifestyle as only a true Parisienne can.

Why I Would Pick up this Book: Paris is such a beautiful place and I am interested in how French/Parisian culture differs from American culture. I have been fortunate to visit Paris for a short time, enough to see the sights but not long enough to get to know people.

 

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