Monday, February 29, 2016

Songs That Make Me Sing

We all have those songs that make us turn the volume up and belt along. These are the first songs that popped into my mind. I'm sure within a week from now, I'll hear 10 more that will make me say, "why didn't I think of that one"?! I focused on the "feel good" songs. I sing along to pretty much all Tom Petty, Steve Miller and CCR.

American Girl by Tom Petty

Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealers Wheel

Black Betty by Ram Jam

Piece of My Heart by Janis Joplin

Take the Money and Run by Steve Miller Band


Country Grammer by Nelly

Ain't No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

What I Got by Sublime

The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

Ironic by Alanis Morissette

What's one song that you always sing along to?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Fri-YAY 2.26.16

O N E//

Thanks to Sarah's Instagram post the other week, these babies are now on their way to their new home. I needed a new pair of everyday sneakers and these will be perfect for my upcoming work trip which is t-minus 17 days and counting.

T W O//

I went to my first Bingo night on Wednesday.  (Why yes, I am 29 going on 80. Thank you for noticing) A group of girls from work went and it was so fun. But let me tell you, those ladies take their Bingo seriously. I'm talking little trinkets all lined up, special Bingo bags to hold their dabbers and other supplies and there is "no talking while the shows on". Per one lady who repeatedly shushed our group for being too loud. They also get cranky at the announcer if he's not doing things the way they want him to. It was quite entertaining to see how serious this was for them.
I had some beginners luck and won a game of Bingo. I won $30 which paid for what I spent plus $10.

T H R E E//

As I was leaving for Bingo, this little guy was in our yard. Please excuse the grainy/blurriness but it is a wild animal. It's a pretty young moose so I wasn't sure if he had a mom around or not. He was pretty happy standing there eating the young tree. I made some noises and stuff because he was close to my car but it wasn't until I walked up to my car that he decided to walk away.  That's probably the closest I ever been to a moose.

F O U R//

F I V E//

What you loving this week?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Why You Should be Reading PostSecret

I've been reading PostSecret pretty much from the beginning.  I used my bff and found out it's been around since 2005. I swear it feels like longer because that's the year I graduated high school and I thought I was reading it before then but I digress. PostSecret is an project that Frank Warren created where people mail in anonymous secrets. Every Sunday, a selection of those secrets are featured.
Via PostSecret

I can't even remember where or how I found out about it. It started as this thing I would visit every Sunday and occasional save secrets that meant something to me. I've long since abandoned that archive but I still visit every Sunday. I've probably only missed a handful of posts. I think we can all agree that there's something about anonymous confessions. As humans, we all want to feel like we're not alone and that someone else out there shares our same feelings. Plus, whether you want to admit it or not, we are all curious about people's skeletons.
I remember when the first PostSecret book came out. I was working at the bookstore back then. I told my friend Kyle about it and we read the book together. We read every book together since then until he passed away four years ago. I still have the spot marked in Confessions of Life, Death and God where we stopped. It became this special thing that we shared and in turn, PostSecret has taken on a more special place in my heart. I'm a sentimental person. I collect memories and tokens. Even though it's been four years, Kyle's death still feels raw sometimes. His death has probably effected me the most in my adult life. Losing him was so sudden and unexpected. He had one of those spirits that just burned so bright. He was infectious to be around. 
Not only is PostSecret the largest ad free blog, it also supports the 1-800-suicide hotline. Anyone that is trying to good in the world is alright in my book. There was a PostSecret app for about 2.5 minutes until it was shut down because people were using it to post malicious and bullying things. It was also used as the backdrop of the All American Rejects' Dirty Little Secret video.

I'm making it my unofficial goal to make it to a PostSecret event this year. They will be in Philadelphia in March but I'll be out of town then for work. I've wanted to go for years and haven't quite made it. I'm making it a point to make it happen. I'm fully prepared that I might cry ( I tend to cry easily) but I'm sure I won't be the only one. It might also convince me to mail in a secret of my own.
Not all secrets are created equal. Some are funny, some you wonder if they are real and then some just stab you in the heart. Maybe you might recognize yourself in one of them. Or you might be disgusted, but I guarantee you they will make you feel something.

All secrets featured are from yesterday's post. The PostSecret archive can be found here.

Do you read PostSecret?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Stitch Fix #5

 Huge fail....I forgot to take a photo of all the pieces together and forgot to document the style note from this fix. I think one of the biggest negatives of Stitch Fix is that your account doesn't let you access your last fixes to see items you've received and requests. I've personally gone back because I wanted to request a pant I received before but in a different color and if I didn't have this blog with the reference, I wouldn't have known.

I've pretty much been asking for the same things; work clothes, nice blouses in jewel colors and graphic prints. I love pops of color. Basic work pants that can be paired with a variety of things. I need another pair of black pants like I need books but you can't have enough styles of black bottoms. I asked for an army/fatigue cargo vest and a couple specific tops that I had seen on some other recent reviews. (See, if I could access my note, I would be able to tell you what ones.) Oh, and tunics. I love tunics because #teamleggingsaspants. 

Also apologies in advance for the horrible lighting and background. It's winter in NH and there is a very small window of sunlight, not to be confused with just daylight. Even though we have lots of windows, I've never realized how dark it tends to be until I take pictures.  Must be all the wood? We rent and the paint colors are not exactly my style. My kitchen area is a pink-ish color and does nothing good in photos and the main living room/dining room area is pale blue with a green-y sponge texture. Like who sponge paints their walls anymore!?? So I'm just not going to feature that.  Errol's office/catch all room had the best lighting so I cleaned out a corner.

How It Works:

+Fill out the style profile and schedule your first fix.
+Pay $20 for the styling fee
+Receive your box with pieces hand selected by your stylist. You have 3 business days to decide what to keep and what to return. 
+The $20 styling fee is applied as a credit and will be deducted from the total of items kept. If you don't keep anything, you are out the $20. If you keep everything, you also get a 25% discount.
If you're interested, feel free to use my referral link. I'll receive a $25 discount when you schedule your first fix.
Try it here.

 Papermoon Edicott Woven Dobby Back Knit Top $58

Margaret M Emer Bootcut Pant $98

 This is the third pair of Margaret M pants I've received and every time I've reviewed and said they were too expensive but ya know what? They were the one and only item I kept from this fix. The last two pairs I received were a straight leg and had a monochromatic print. I actually don't have many bootcut work pants but what I loved about these was that they were the perfect length to wear with a slight heel or flats. They were super comfortable, had elastic waist and I didn't feel like I had to pull them up or adjust them.  My one negative is that the material is kind of weird. It's almost like a crepe/ponte mix.  Not cheap feeling or anything but just a weird texture. They have a noise to them too, like a corduroy. I also kept them with my upcoming work trip in mind. I knew I would be able to wear them all day and they would look good with sneakers. If these were in a store, I wouldn't have looked twice at them because of the price but somehow I was able to convince myself to keep them.

I had mixed feelings on this sweater when I initially pulled it out of the box. I love mixed material and pattern tops so part of me loved it but it had a weird feel because of the knit. It was nubby and was alittle rough. I tried it on and I really kind of liked it. The above outfit is totally something I would normally wear to work and I knew this sweater is something I would wear on the regular but here's the thing, if I kept this sweater and the pants, I would have been at $160 which is less than $100 away from buying the whole box. However, not everything in the box fit well or was something I could justify adding to my wardrobe just because it made sense, price-wise. So back it went. It wasn't an absolute love for me but I did think hard before sending it back.

Abratta Lebray Button Down Top $64

All the photos I have of this outfit are blurry but I also really love that above picture because it's totally in the moment.  I'm trying to grab my phone and Errol's snapping away. He does this during every outfit so I end up having like 50 photos on my phone after all is said and done. So while I did ask for plaid flannel, I actually realized that I don't love pink. I maybe have 2 or 3 pink colored tops and I don't tend to wear them. See, this is something I know, I avoid this color in the store but it's not something I really think about. I've since changed my style profile to say no pink and also no button down tops. I just have too broad of shoulders and pair that with a bust, it's just hard to find a good fit in button tops. I thought this top was insanely priced.  While it was nice quality and had a nice gauze, linen lining, it's a pretty casual top for $64. I did think if the fit had worked, it would have been flattering.  It was darted and nipped in at the waist so it created a nice silhouette. I like the outfit above and again, it's something I would wear normally but I don't need casual tops for $64. And it didn't fit.

Sweet Gray Sable Tie Waist Tunic $74

I loved many things about this top; the color, the mixed material (silk front, knit jersey back), the stitching detail on the front and the vneck that wasn't so deep it required a cami. But man, the price. After reading the item name, I think I tied this shirt wrong. I had assumed that it tied in the back but it could have tied in the front? I'm not sure. I really came close to keeping this but I just could not justify the price.

Pixley Ivy Split Neck Print Blouse $58

I can't even talk about this top. I loved, loved, loved this top the second I saw it.  It is 100% my style from the colors and the pattern to the style. You can't really tell from these photos too well but it was waaay to tight in the chest, like making puckers because it was too tight, tight. I figured I'd throw it on for the photos and Chitty decided to join me. I so wish this shirt would have worked.  It would have been a no brainer.

Overall Thoughts

I thought this was a so-so fix. There were some really great items and I honestly think if the Pixley top would have fit, I would have ended keeping the whole fix and just sucked up the price of the plaid top. My next fix is coming the beginning of April.  I will say that I was disappointed that I request 3 or 4 specific items and didn't receive one of them. But the reason I keep coming back for more is that I love getting surprises, especially mail surprises and surprise clothes mail is even better. I know everyone says this but I also like getting items that I normally wouldn't think about in the store. So for the time being, I'm in.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What I Read in January

Rating System
5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it
3- Decent
2- Would not recommend.
1- Did not like.  Didn't finish. Gave book away.

 Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan 

Rating: 3
 Grieving for her werewolf lover, Jake, whose violent death has left her alone with her own sublime monstrousness, Talulla Demetriou is pregnant and on the run, fleeing to a remote Alaskan lodge to have her child in secret. There, with her infant son in her arms, it looks as if the worst is over. Until the door bursts open and she discovers that the nightmare is only just beginning. Tormented by guilt and fuelled by rage, Talulla is suddenly plunged into a race against time to save her son.  Pursued by deadly forces, including (rumor has it) the oldest living vampire on earth, the odds seem hopeless.

I listened to The Last Werewolf back in November.  This is the second book in the series. I just started reading the last one, By Blood, We Live. I liked the narrator from The Last Werewolf over the woman from this book.  Her voice was a little high pitched during certain parts. I will say this, Duncan knows how to leave you wanting more. He did it with Werewolf and here it is again. Plus he introduced a pretty interesting character, Remshi, a 20,000 year old vampire. I'm interested to see how the series concludes.

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Rating: 4
A forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro—the Father of Impressionism.Growing up on idyllic St. Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel dreams of life in faraway Paris. Rachel’s mother, a pillar of their small refugee community of Jews who escaped the Inquisition, has never forgiven her daughter for being a difficult girl who refuses to live by the rules. Growing up, Rachel’s salvation is their maid Adelle’s belief in her strengths, and her deep, life-long friendship with Jestine, Adelle’s daughter. But Rachel’s life is not her own. She is married off to a widower with three children to save her father’s business. When her husband dies suddenly and his handsome, much younger nephew, Frédérick, arrives from France to settle the estate, Rachel seizes her own life story, beginning a defiant, passionate love affair that sparks a scandal that affects all of her family, including her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists of France.
There's a reason why Alice is one of my favorite writers.  I've loved the evolution of her storytelling and that she's really writing historically based novels now. The Dovekeepers is imo, one of her best books. I was instantly transported to St Thomas with the smell of bougainvilleas and warm tropical breezes. I had no idea that St Thomas was a refuge for the Jewish community during the 1800's because their religion was recognized by the Danish. I had never heard of Pissarro's art and after I finished reading, I was intrigued enough to Google him.  I love when a book is based on a true story. I liked that Hoffman chose to focus on Rachel, Pissarro's mother instead of him. Marriage of Opposites is a story of love, heartbreak and loss. Love more, not less.

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Rating: 3.5
 Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation—helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a strange phone call one winter’s night, they leave the house and are later murdered in an old church in a horrifying act of violence.
A year later, Sylvie is living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened to their parents. Now, the inquisitive teenager pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night—and to the truth about her family’s past and the secrets that have haunted them for years.

I breezed through Help for the Haunted. A page turner with family secrets, murder and some demonology thrown in. It kept me guessing right up to the end. If you've seen the movie The Conjuring, the parents remind me of Sylvie's parents in that they are demonologists who keep "haunted" artifacts in a room of their house.

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

Rating: 3
Audio-Book 2 of The Chief Inspector Gamache series
CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone in the hamlet of Three Pines, right up to the moment she died. When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache begins his investigation, it seems like an impossible murder: CC was electrocuted on a frozen lake, in front of the entire town, during the annual curling tournament. With compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find long buried secrets, while his own enemies threaten to bring something even more chilling than the bitter winter winds to Three Pines.

I listened to Still Life back in November and am currently listening to the third book in the series, The Cruelest Month. The murder mystery, for me at least, is really the backdrop to the novels while being the main plot, if that makes sense.  I just really love the characters in these books and their stories that are woven through each book. As the series progresses, you get to learn a little more about each character. There's some characters you hate (ahem, Yvette Nicole) and some you love (Claire and Ruth) but they all play their part.  I've been wondering if I would feel the same way about these books if I was actually reading them and I don't know.
CC was a horrible, ugly person on the inside so it was really hard to not feel like what happened to her was her was just. There were a couple moments at the end where I was unexpectedly moved.  I didn't see those moments coming and I just find myself more and more connecting with the characters.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Rating: 3-3.5
E-book via Netgalley 

Read my summary and review here.

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Rating: 3.5
 An irresistibly sweet romance between two college students told from 14 different viewpoints.
The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common―they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.

A Little Something Different was so stinkin cute.  I first saw this reviewed on Kristen's blog and was slightly interested.  It was on BookOutlet's Boxing Day sale so I snagged it for like $3. I pretty much read it in a day.  It was short and sweet and I loved the multiple viewpoints, from a squirrel to the baristas and even a park bench. I loved that this love story was told from everyone's POV except who the two people falling in love.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Rating: 4
 Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life. 

I will read any book that is set during WWII, particularly around the Holocaust. Sarah's Key did not disappoint. Sarah's story was so heartbreaking. I mean, how do you live with the fact that you left your brother to die when you thought you were saving him? And how when Julia was investigating the round up 60 years later, the French citizens still would not acknowledge their part in the story. I usually find myself loving the past part of books when they alternate between past and present but I liked how the two stories blended and really connected with each other. I loved the full circle of the story.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Rating: 3
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

The coming of age story of Junior, who takes the leap to follow his heart and leave the rez, which is unheard of.  You live on the rez and you die on the rez. Even though his community was upset that he left, like he was better than them, I think they were a little jealous of him and admired his determination.
Part Time Indian is on the banned book list and it a big part of why I wanted to read it. The reasons behind it are "anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying” I mean, really (?!) anti-family and gambling?? Obviously I do not support banning books. If you are offended by something, don't read it. But this is a post for another day.

Love It:The Marriage of Opposites, A Little Something Different and Sarah's Key
Leave It:There really isn't anything I wouldn't recommend to the right person.

Life According to Steph

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

On Wednesdays, We Confess

// I'm Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with work vs not work. I'm super organized and on top of things at work. At home...I'm the biggest procrastinator. I can't tell you how many things I put off...chores, making appointments, making phone calls in general. 

// I found my favorite pens on clearance at Staples for $2 a pack.  I bought three packs. 

// I'm really excited for the primary next Tuesday. And interested to see how things fall in my state. #feelthebern 

// I know talking politics is a faux pas but I do generally enjoy the discussion and debate around it.  I like to see other points of view and question my own thoughts. Who's getting your vote?
// I drop the f-bomb and other swear words on the reg. I tend to censor myself on here but sometimes you just need one to get your point across.

// I have less than 40 days left until Florida. Bring on the vitamin D and flip flops.

// Above mentioned trip is for work but it's a trade show and I'm going with my favorite work peeps so I'm excited. 

// I am very anal about my hair. I wear it up 85% of the time and because I have curly, frizz prone hair, I don't like it to be touched and I especially hate windy days.

// I got a juicer for my birthday two years ago and I haven't used it in roughly 1 year & 350 days.