2017 Reading Challenge Recap

Two years ago I was introduced to Goodreads, a neat site that lets you discover books, track what you’re currently reading, what you want to read in the future, and even create yearly reading challenges. 2016 was the first year I create a reading challenge for myself, and ever since I’ve been reading constantly.

For 2017, I decided I would increase my reading challenge book number slightly, to 20 books. I’m happy to report I reached my goal!

Here’s a peek at the books I took on this past year. You’ll see they are pictured in ranking order. After each book, I was able to give it a certain amount of stars based on how good I thought it was.

Screenshot courtesy of Goodreads

If you haven’t read The Queen of the Tearling series, you need to. It’s one of my favorite series, and it’s great for empowering young girls or women since the main character is a strong but fun and interesting female character.

For 2018, I’ve signed up for another reading challenge, but have kept my number of books to read to 20 again. I’m expecting this year to be pretty busy with work and travel, so I may not have as much time as I’d like to curl up with a good book, but I do plan to share my travel stories with you here, so stay tuned!

First book of 2018: Uprooted by Naomi Novik
What’s it about? A girl from a small village chosen to go and live with a wizard called The Dragon, where she soon discovers she may have some secret powers of her own.

Happy reading!

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My first Reddit Secret Santa

My boyfriend convinced me to participate in Reddit Secret Santa this holiday season. It was a first time experience for both of us. Going into it, we didn’t have high expectations, but were mostly excited about making someone else excited.

I spent a lot of time, effort, and a decent amount of money into the gift package I created for my recipient. I won’t spoil the fun here as to who I got, but some of her interests were in cats, puns, and horror. I looked around for some neat gifts, threw in some surprises too (Google Home Mini) and really hoped she would enjoy them. Looking at her review, looks like things went over well.

Now for my Secret Santa…

There was a deadline given that we needed to send our gifts out by, and mark on the Reddit Gifts site that our gifts had shipped. I did this for my person, but noticed my Secret Santa never did. The deadline came and went, and I was under the impression I had been forgotten. I gave up hope, moved on, and went on with my holiday plans.

Eventually, a random Amazon box came in the mail that we are assuming is from my Secret Santa, but they didn’t mention anything about Reddit, who they were, etc. Here’s what I received:

I was feeling a bit optimistic when I saw the outside of the box said “Harry Potter,” something I mentioned as one of my interests. I should note I gave my Secret Santa a lot of information and things I liked to choose from.

The box says it’s a “fantastic” gift box of Harry Potter goodies.

A lot of the items are off branded, and some things are down right random like the finger puppets in the picture above and the pencil with a creature on it.

It wasn’t the most exciting box, and I’d say the Amazon seller shouldn’t really call this Fantastic or claim it’s very Harry Potter-y, but it might be an ok gift for a young child who really likes Jelly Beans, as that’s most of the box.

Ultimately, the gift was a little bit of a letdown since it feels like it wasn’t super thought out and a bit rushed (order placed at the shipping deadline), but I’m grateful that I was remembered in the end with a surprise in the mail. Getting mail is always fun.

I’m not sure if I’ll do Reddit Secret Santa again next year, because it can be a hit or miss, but it was kind of fun finding gifts for a random person and hoping to make their day. Let’s see what this new year brings.

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A Stitch Fix box fit for a Princess

Photo Courtesy of Stitch Fix

Disclosure: This post contains Stitch Fix Affiliate links, and I may receive compensation.

I’m obsessed with the British Royal family. Kate Middleton is someone I admire, and I love her style. So, I decided to ask my stylist for a Kate Middleton inspired Fix! I’m so excited about this Fix and it’s perfect for the winter season!

#1 – 41Hawthorn Gilda Polka Dot Pullover
The first item is a super cute polka dot sweater. I’m a fan of comfy, slightly baggy, sweaters for some of those chillier days or casual weekends. This pullover fits the bill. I love how the polka dots give it a feminine touch. Pair this sweater with black jeans and flats and you’ll be ready for those cold winter days in style!

41Hawthorn Gilda Polka Dot Pullover
41Hawthorn Gilda Polka Dot Pullover

#2 – Liverpool Kennedy Skinny Pants
When I pulled these bad boys out it was love at first sight. I’ve been dying to receive a pair of purple pants ever since I saw an outfit on Pinterest, and these pants do not disappoint! They are fabulous. You can dress them up or down effortlessly. Not only are they an amazing color, but they fit and feel like butter. One thing to note, the pockets on these pants aren’t real, which is the only let down. Kate Middleton would definitely rock a pair of these pants. Kudos to my stylist, Jan! Jan recommends pairing these pants with the above polka dot pullover, and I couldn’t agree more. It might just become my go to outfit for the season. See the pants on me in the next item review below.

Liverpool Kennedy Skinny Pants

#3 – Kut from the Kloth Sinclaire Button Front Blouse
I’ve been big into floral lately, and it seems to be on trend too. The colors on this Kut from the Kloth blouse are beautiful. You’ll notice the top is very transparent, even though it has a busy floral print. If you’re not feeling the see through look, and want to hide your bra or stomach, throw on a camisole, otherwise rock it! I probably wouldn’t have purchased this top for myself from a traditional store, thinking the transparency of the top would be inappropriate or too fashion forward for me, but I kind of dig it. I definitely feel my fashion barriers being shifting a bit, and for the good! Just cut the tag off, something I should have done first 🙂

Kut from the Kloth Sinclaire Button Front Blouse

Kut from the Kloth Sinclaire Button Front Blouse

#4 -Honey Punch Henrie Striped Open Cardigan
This is my first Honey Punch item I’ve received, and I have to say, I like it! Besides my love for Kate Middleton’s fashion sense, I also love nautical/preppy fashion, could be because of my New England upbringing and spending the summers on Cape Cod. This cardigan screams nautical with it’s crisp and clean white and navy stripes. You can’t beat the simplicity of a great cardigan. On top of everything, this cardigan is oh so cozy.

Honey Punch Henrie Striped Open Cardigan
Honey Punch Henrie Striped Open Cardigan

#5 – Leota Aniyah Faux Wrap Knit Dress
I had to save the best for last. There’s nothing more flattering for women than the classic wrap dress. I’m a firm believer every woman should have at least one in her closet. Wrap dresses are effortless and never go out of style, and in my opinion flatter all body types. When my eyes laid upon this beauty I knew it was going to be a keeper right away. Not only is emerald green a beautiful color, but it’s absolutely perfect for the upcoming holiday season, and the perfect red head color! I should note, there’s a very high (sexy) slit on this dress on the side, but it seems to be staying in place fine. I could see Kate Middleton wearing this same dress, so of course I love it. She, like I, can’t stay away from wrap dresses, and you shouldn’t either!

Leota Aniyah Faux Wrap Knit Dress
Leota Aniyah Faux Wrap Knit Dress
Leota Aniyah Faux Wrap Knit Dress

Final Thoughts – Hands down, this is my favorite complete Fix. I absolutely loved every item, and truly felt like Jan was channeling Kate Middleton’s style with each and every piece. Another great thing about this particular fix is how many of the items I could pair with each other, making styling an outfit so easy! I can only hope I get so lucky with my next Fix.

Don’t forget to follow my Pinterest Boards for more Stitch Fix fun!

BREAKING NEWS: Haven’t tried Stitch Fix yet? Well, Stitch Fix is doing something amazing, from now until the end of January they are waiving the styling fee! That’s right, you can finally try Stitch Fix worry free because you won’t have to pay anything to give it a try. Traditionally, you have to pay $20 for each fix (a styling fee) but in spirit of the holidays, they are waiving the fee!

Get your first styling fee waived and try Stitch Fix risk free! Sign up today!

Finally, don’t forget with the holiday season here, that giving the gift of fashion and a personal stylist is a fun and unique gift that your recipient, male or female, is sure to love. Pick up your gift cards today! Stitch Fix Gift Card – All Types

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Gotta get Gekks

For the past year, I continued on my quest to find a solution for my flats that would make them not only comfortable to wear for long periods of time, but also keep them from getting smelly.

A few months ago I received a targeted ad on Facebook that suggested I try out a new sort of shoe insert that works wonderfully for flats, particularly Tieks. When I saw the mention of Tieks, and an image of the insert being used in them, I wondered to myself if this was the solution I’ve been looking for.

The product is called Gekks. On their website, they advertise Gekks as a “reinvented sock.” When you purchase Gekks, you receive two thin adhesive inserts that you line up to fit the sole of your shoe of choice. Once you’ve got the insert stuck on, you’ll take the “sock” that’s been provided and attach it to the adhesive. The sock attacks to about 80% of the adhesive insert, and to the small adhesive strip that’s provided for the heel, so everything is attached pretty firmly inside. The tip of the sock has a little toe section that I recommend holding to get your toes aligned fully inside, and then you’re good to get walking.

These worked beautifully for a newer pair of Tieks I had. The ones I test walked in were only worn a few times, so they were in great condition, with limited wear and odor. I really liked how they kept my heel comfortable, and didn’t make my feet sweaty.

After a few months of trying out the Gekks in my shoes, I felt it was time to step it up to the next level and see how good this product really was. Could it really survive in my oldest pair of Tieks that had seen better days? Would the Gekks keep the stink away from my feet? These particular Tieks are STINKY, and I mean bad. You can read more about my original review of them here to see what I’m talking about. So, it was time to test them out!

Before putting in the Gekks, we did some prep work, wiping out the inside of the flats with a wet paper towel and letting them sit to dry. Then, it was time to install the Gekks. Below I have the Gekks fully inserted, including the adhesive pieces and the sock.

The next day I took my stinky Tieks out on their first journey with their new Gekks buddies. This involved commuting to the city, wearing them all day in the office, and doing lots of walking. Once I got home it was time to see how my feet survived.

I slowly peeled my feet out of the flats and raised my foot to my nose, fearful of what the outcome would be. I was shocked. My feet didn’t stink! Now remember, these are my really stinky, seen better days pair of flats, so the fact that the Gekks were able to protect my feet and contain the previous odor from spreading was amazing. Now I’m sure with continued use they will get a bit stinky again, just because these Tieks were pretty bad in the first place, but the Gekss are machine washable! All you have to do is unstick them, which is very easy to do, and throw them in the wash. I haven’t washed any of my pairs yet, but I imagine they’ll wash fine. You could even throw them in a little washing bag if you were worried about them.

So far, I’m really pleased with the product. They’ve saved my Tieks, and I automatically place a pair in each pair of flats I get. The only downside is their site has super slow shipping. My last order was super late and took forever, but it looks like you can find them from a reseller on Amazon. Note, a lot of the reviews on Amazon aren’t great, but I haven’t experienced any issues with mine.

If you’re looking for something to keep your flats comfortable, in good condition and odor free, you need to try these out. From one girl to another, it’s worth it!

 

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My first fitness studio experience

Today I did something completely out of my comfort zone, I took a fitness class. This was my very first time taking a class at a studio.

I’ve been thinking about taking a group fitness class for a while now, but I was just never brave enough. For the most part, I’ve been content enough following along to Pop Pilates and beginner yoga videos on Youtube.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve casually been searching online for options near my town to take either a yoga, pilates, or barre class. While I do spend most of my waking hours in New York City, I didn’t feel like joining a class in the city would be very beginner friendly. Everyone I know who is a member of an NYC gym seems like a gym/class expert, something I’m not. I eventually found a cute studio in New Jersey, Studio 108, that seemed to offer everything I was looking for.

Earlier this week, I decided to sign up online for a class on a whim. My class of choice? BootyBarre. What’s that you ask? It’s a full body workout that takes elements from Pilates, Yoga, and Ballet. Last night I went out and bought a new pair of “yoga” pants and barre socks from Athleta to get myself excited and decked out for adventure.

Today was the big day! I was nervous and unsure of myself, but also a bit excited to finally take a leap and get myself out there and try something new. I’m not usually brave enough to try a brand new experience alone, and like to have a friend or my boyfriend tag along, but I decided to give it a go.

The studio was cute and welcoming. Everyone I met was super friendly, and seemed excited to have a new face come through the door. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would everyone be a barre wizard, and know how to do all the moves elegantly and effortlessly? Would I fail miserably and embarrass myself? Well, I’m happy to report I wasn’t the only new person and that everyone else found the workout to be challenging. While it was challenging and tiring, it was a lot of fun! I really appreciated how the class was judgement free, and that we were all able to learn something new together.

I’d definitely recommend buying no-slip socks. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy them for my first class, but I’m so glad I did. The socks definitely help keep your steady and from slipping around when doing leg lifts and a variety of moves that will get your legs shaking like crazy!

My only regret after taking the class today is that I won’t be able to make next week’s session due to traveling for the holidays. However, I’m definitely going to be hitting up Studio 108 again soon, and will hit the studio floor in 2 weeks. I might even sign up for a yoga class too!

Lesson learned today: Take risks, and try something new. You might just find something you love.

 

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