I’m Engaged!

Last week, the day I have been waiting for, for a very long time, finally arrived. My partner and I got engaged!

Our story starts almost 2 decades ago, in high school, where we officially met, became fast friends, and soon started dating. High school sweethearts are far and few between, and it’s something I’ve always held closely in my heart. I’m lucky to have some friends who went on the same journey as us too.

How did it go down?

I always knew he wanted to surprise me with a mystery trip, to keep me on my toes and guessing. On a Thursday night, I was presented with instructions to pack a bag, given some rough ideas on temperatures at our final destination, and nothing else. Friday we headed to the airport, and almost didn’t make our flight due to weird system errors with our check-in, but thankfully we made our flight. Our first flight was just a transfer, but it was a long layover in Denver, so it gave me plenty of time to wonder what kind of adventure I was about to embark on.

Our final flight took us to Ontario, California. Who knew there was an Ontario in California, not me! It’s also quite confusing with California and Canada each abbreviated to CA. But I digress. Our final destination was not Ontario, but about an hour and a half drive away in Rancho Mirage, just outside of Palm Springs. We’ve never been to either location, so it was a new adventure and place to explore.

On day one of my surprise trip, we visited a beautiful place called Indian Canyons. If you’re ever in the area, I 100% recommend you go. There’s a number of hikes you can take, but my favorite is at the end of the road, where you hike down the canyon into a Palm tree oasis. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It was a magical spot, but very windy when we were there. When we got back to the hotel for the day, our faces and necks were coated in dust. Our face cloth was no longer white when we were done with it.

The next day was the big day. As fans of the National Park Service, we like to visit parks with our official Parks Passport, a little blue book you can stamp at each location, commemorating the date and location of your visit. Our plan was to drive out to Joshua Tree National Park during the day for hiking and checking out the visitor center for our stamp.

After hiking for miles through various sections of the park, which is beautiful and seemingly out of this world with some of the landscapes, we decided to end our adventure for the day in the Jumbo Rocks section. This section of the park has massive light brown boulders that I can picture being scattered on Mars. It’s gorgeous and fun to see the different shapes and sizes created over time by the wind in the valley. We decided to do some off trail exploring and climbing of the Jumbo Rocks, which is when I spotted a cool rock that had a little cave like cutout, so we decided to get a closer look. It was at this special spot that Brian got down on one knee and asked me a question I’ve been anxiously awaiting. It was a special moment, just the two of us, and it was one we’ll never forget.

I can’t wait to get started with planning! Life is a bit busy right now so I probably won’t get into the weeds until mid April due to work travel and a personal vacation, but I’m sure it’s going to be quite the ride. I feel guilty not using the next few weeks left of this month to get a good grasp of things, but planning an international work trip and vacation across the world is probably more than enough stress for me at the moment.

I’m not sure where to start, so if you have any tips, good templates, planners, etc, let me know! I can’t wait to bing you on this next journey with me!

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How I used Google’s AI, Bard, to put together a gift

Every year, I have to attend a Pollyanna (like White Elephant) gift exchange at my significant other’s family’s house for Christmas Eve. It’s always a stressful time, and it’s almost impossible to put together a gift bag that will please everyone in attendance.

Since I was running out of ideas, and only had one item in mind so far, I decided to see if an AI Chat Bot from Google, Bard, could help me with the task.

My initial idea was to purchase a box of foreign potato chips, and then try and build my gift around that.

Here’s some example prompts I used with Bard

  1. “What would be a good Secret Santa gift basket that includes different potato chips”
  2. “I need to make a gift basket that features potato chips. What should I include?”
  3. “I need to make a Secret Santa gift basket. What would go well with different potato chips?”

I took bits and pieces from each suggestion, and created my unique Potato Lovers themed gift for our gift exchange.

Summarized Suggestions from Bard

  • Other goodies: Candy bars or chocolate to balance the salty flavors
    • A fun potato chip-shaped mug
    • A potato chip-themed cookbook
  • Gourmet dips and spreads: Pair chips with different dips and spreads (roasted garlic hummus, fig and olive tapenade)
  • Personalize the basket: Add a handwritten note, a small gift relevant to the recipient’s interests, or a potato chip-themed item (mug, keychain).
  • Remember: Choose chips with diverse flavors and textures, and personalize the basket for a truly impressive gift.
  • Extras: Mini globe, map with pins marking chip origins, travel guide
  • Bonus: Include a small potato masher or potato chip clip to enhance the potato chip theme

Some of those items really sparked my creativity, especially the “potato chip clip.” So, I did some Google-ing and found some fun “accessories” that were potato themed.

My Gift Creation

Box of Mystery Potato Chips – Amazon Link

Potato Chip Clips – Amazon Link

Baked Potato Bag – Amazon Link

Snactiv Finger Chopsticks – Amazon Link

I even decided to create a little mascot of my gift, who I affectionately named Po.

I figured I needed to add something a little less silly for my gift, so I picked up a $25 gift card to Panera and had Po the Tato hold on to it for maximum cuteness and fun!

And with that, and some creative wrapping, my Pollyanna/White Elephant gift came to life, thanks to a little help from AI!

It was a lot of fun using Bard to get some ideas, and I’ll definitely be using it again next year, and maybe later down the line in the year for other holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Let’s see what it can come up with next!

Happy gifting and happy GPT-ing!

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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2023 Reading Challenge Review

The year has somehow zoomed on by, and here we are, looking towards 2024 right on the horizon.

With the days of December coming to an end, it’s time to look back on this year’s Goodreads challenge.

At the start of the year I set a goal of reading 33 books, to celebrate my 33rd birthday in January. I’m happy to announce that not only did I hit that goal, but surpassed it more than I expected. So, let’s dig into it.

This year I found myself getting more into the fun colored cover romance novels. They say to not judge a book by its cover, but I was a sucker for a lot of these bright, fun, and cute cover designs. I also kept up with my love of magic and witch related content, and also looked for a few more books that dealt with topics of royalty (Dukes, Ladies, etc).

Here’s some of my most memorable reads from the year:

  1. House Witch (the series as a whole)
  2. Lunar Love
  3. Too Good to Be Real (perfect for Hallmark Movie Lovers)
  4. The Lost Witch
  5. Spells for Forgetting

What are you waiting for, grab a good book, a cup of hot cocoa and explore a new world!

Happy Reading!

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Cozy, Fall, and Witchy Vibes – BookTok Recommendations

Fall is here! It’s my favorite time of year. It’s also a great time to cuddle up under a blanket and grab a good book and a cup of hot cocoa.

My Tiktok For You Page has been filled with Fall and Spooky season book recommendations. So I figured I’d do a roundup of all the most popular book recommendations from Booktok I’ve seen and see which ones I can conquer this season.

Witcha Gonna Belladonna by Avery Flynn
A witch with no magical abilities? A spell gone awry that leads to cursing her own family. This book kicks off the Witchington series.

I just picked this book up from my library’s e-book system. I love a good rom com and who doesn’t love a story about a witch who finds magic where she least expects it.

Belladonna by Adalyn Grace
A romantic fantasy about a young woman confronting death and her own powers.

This book is considered YA, and is actually in stock at my library, so I’ll probably check it out one of these weeks. It is also the first of two books in a series.

A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating A Demon by Sarah Hawley
A witch who loves baking and gardening, who also is prophesied to be the most powerful witch in her family in years, meets a demon who is looking to get back his bad reputation.

I’ve seen this book recommended so many times, that it’s hard to get in stock if you’re a library girl. I found my library system has this available as an e-book, so I’ve placed a request!

Go Hex Yourself by Jessica Clare
A rom com with a witchy twist, featuring a witch who works in a bookshop in a small town. She clashes with the town’s mayor, and discovers hidden magic.

This book is the first in the Witchlore Series. It looks like there’s two books out already, with a third planned. I’ve placed an e-book request via my library system for this one too.

Go Hex Yourself by Jessica Clare
An eccentric witch who posts a job opening that turns out to be for his own familiar. And who gets hired? A young human woman who thought she was applying to work for one of her favorite games.

This is the first book of two, and just by the cover itself, looks cute. Who’s heard of a familiar that isn’t an animal? My library in town doesn’t carry this, nor is it available as an e-book from them, but it is in my library system, so I’ll have to place a request.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
An apothecary catering to women who are looking for a way to get at men who have wronged them.

I’ve seen this book around for a while, and just haven’t had the time to pick it up. It’s been on my To Read list in Goodreads for quite some time, so hopefully this Fall I’ll get to it.

Happy reading! What books are you loving this Fall Season?

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Springtime fashion with Wantable

After my last couple of Stitch Fixes, I wasn’t getting the same quality or experience I used to back in the day. I’ve see advertisements for Wantable for quite some time, and figured I’d give it a go for my second work trip of the year, to the hot climate of Mexico.

Wantable Box

I placed my order on a Tuesday, and my box was there by Friday, which was super fast. I wasn’t really sure when my box would arrive, since unlike Stitch Fix, I wasn’t able to choose a date for delivery. Fingers were crossed though that the box would arrive before my work trip to Mexico. The box comes with 7 items, and they were wrapped up in tissue paper with a personalized name sticker, which I thought was a really cute touch and a good start to my package.

On Wantable, you start off with some questions and choosing items you like. These items are then accessible to your stylist who can pick from items you like, or give you a surprise. Unlike Stitch Fix, the style quiz images you say you like or dislike actually exist and can be bought. The photos aren’t just a concept or an idea, but actual clothing available from the service.

I left a note for my stylist, asking for clothing that I could bring to Mexico for work, something breathable and comfortable but not too stuffy. You can also mention some other notes specific to your account, and not just the box you’re ordering. For that, I mentioned my coloring, but that I still like to play with color and patterns. I also highlighted I work a hybrid schedule so I want clothes than can transition to work, to being at home, to weekend, and that overall I like preppy and nautical inspired fashion.

My box came quickly, had a note from my stylist who was able to pull some items I had liked on the site, and even had a picture of her, which was a nice touch.

Item 1: Marley Capri in White – Vigoss
Price: $78

The capris are perfect for those in love with the nautical esthetic. They were comfortable, not too tight, and a good length for transitioning into warmer weather. They were a Keep for me.

Item 2: Leona Blouse in Pacific Ditsy – Gentle Fawn
Price: $99

The top has potential, and the blue colors are ones I enjoy, but the cut of the sleeve openings wasn’t my favorite. I felt the floppy fabric around the arms would want to do it’s own thing and not sit well. The fabric was also cut pretty high into the armpit, which I’m not a fan of since I tend to run hot. The blouse was a maybe for me, but I decided to Return it. I also found the price point of nearly $100 for this top to be a bit ridiculous.

Item 3: Farah Short in Warm Sands – Z Supply
Price: $78

Online, these shorts looked super cute, and like something I could see myself in. A breathable linen fabric in a neutral summer color seemed like it would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, in person, these shorts are far from flattering. The cut is odd, and the waist line couldn’t decide if it wanted to be high waisted or not. Ultimately, these shorts fit the best being high waisted, but they were high up there! The length, fit, and cut just didn’t work for me. The color is perfect for what I like, but I had to Return these.

Item 4: Loretta Floral Top in Vintage – Steve Madden
Price: $69

I wanted to like this top when I pulled it out of the box. It was super thin, lightweight, and the pattern and colors screamed Grandmillennial. The cut, just wasn’t cutting it. You can see my stomach is peeking out a bit, which is a look that I just can’t get behind for myself. I don’t know why this shirt is cut so short, and it’s a shame, but it is what it is. This was a Return.

Item 5: Ditsy Cluster Ruffle Dress in Green – Apricot
Price: $78

This is the second item in my box using the word “Ditsy,” which I just Googled, and it means a pattern consisting of micro motifs, usually being floral in design. Now we know! I liked this dress immediately, from the color, the design, to the fabric. It’s breathable, you can tie it as tight or as loose as you’d like, and it seemed like a perfect fit for my visit to Mexico to meet some of my new team members. This checked off all the boxes of what I was looking for, so it was definitely a Keep.

Item 6: North Hampton Short in Paradise – Dear John
Price: $69

I clearly remember seeing and liking these shorts on the site. In fact, I liked them in multiple pastel colors, and I hope to get the purple ones in a future box! From the name of the shorts, to the color, these are perfect for preppy or nautical fashion lovers. The cut is also not too long or too short, meaning I can get away wearing these wherever, from the office (yes I wear shorts to work) to hanging around on the weekend. These fit well, and will pack well for any vacations or work trips I might have coming up this Spring and Summer. I definitely had to Keep these.

Item 7: Eyelet Tie-Strap Dress in Lilac – Koko + Mason
Price: $45 (originally $89)

Smocked dresses have been having a moment lately, this year and last. I’ve tried a couple in the past from places like JCrew or Ann Taylor, and the cut near the armpit was too tight or off. The look gave me the dreaded armpit/chest bulge, which is natural and normal, but in these dresses frustrates me when it happens on my body because I feel this type of dress can accentuate it more. When I saw this dress on the site, I gave it a like, and lo and behold it was in my box. The best part is that this dress was on sale, so the price + color made it a contender in my book. The dress is fully lined, so it has a little weight to it, but it didn’t seem overly hot. This could make for a fun Summer vacation outfit. I decided to Keep the dress.

The Verdict:
Wantable had a lot of great choices, and a wider variety of styles. I felt some of the clothes were more elevated than Stitch Fix too, and the price point made that clear. My box, if I kept everything, would have cost me $516. You can get a discount if you keep 5+ items, but I didn’t keep enough for that. I kept a total of 4 items, which came in just under $300.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the site defaulting me to be in a subscription model, I just want to order a box randomly when I need/want. They also email you a lot if your box hasn’t been scanned by the Post Office yet. I had dropped my bag of returns a day before the due date, and I was barraged with emails to extend my due date because it seemed “I needed more time.” I emailed Support to let them know the situation. I definitely didn’t want a bill for over $500 just because the Post Office is slow.

My box was overall a fun experience, and I will most definitely be giving Wantable another try soon.

Use my code if you want to try it out and get !

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