2017 Reading Challenge Recap

In 2017 I signed up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I set myself up with a lofty goal of 125 books anticipating reading a handful of decent books that would take me a week to get through and a whole lot of quick book series that I’d find myself sleep deprived getting through two or three in one weekend. The reality of that however…

Yes, I did spend several weekends burning through quick book series, and I’ve read a handful of good books that took days to get through (some so good I read them more than once in the year). However, I did spend more time than I’d like bulking up my reading numbers with children’s books. Some were good, and will likely grace our shelves when kids come into the picture, others were wastes of perfectly good trees.

I finished 2017 reading 78 books (that I remembered to record) and completing 62% of my reading goal. Not bad considering the average books pledges was 45. There were 45,748,668 books read by Goodreads’ users in 2017, now I may not even be a whole percent of that, considering there were 3,165,157 users who signed up for the challenge that brings the average amount read to 14 – unfortunately Goodreads doesn’t provide enough data to account for everyone who signed up and didn’t track any of their reading.

Part of the success of reading in 2017 was my subscription to Book of the Month. Now, I haven’t read every book that I received, but it did make me read stories and authors I likely would not have stumbled upon on my own such as: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng or Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert. Book of the month will also get my 2018 Goodreads Challenge off to a good start.

For 2018 I pledged a much more modest 40 books, hoping to focus my attention on good ones and not whatever free series I can burn through on my Kindle. I’ve got several good options at home such as my last Book of the Month pick City of Brass by S.A. Chokrabarty or Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham, a birthday gift from my mom.Granted I’d have to find them in the mess that is our current state of living (at least until the painting’s done and the furniture is delivered), or i’ll just wait for one of my January Books of the Month: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce or Red Rocks by Leni Zumas

Here’s to reaching my reading goal, and even reviewing them along the way.


Closing Day

Twenty-one days ago, at 9am US Central time, the hubby and I closed on our first house. Twenty-one days ago, by about 9pm US Central time, I wanted to give the house back.

December 8th, after weeks of showing little to no outward signs of anxiety, sentimentality, fear, nervousness or any number of other emotions one might display for such a huge change, I paced. The culmination of nerves, rearing its head to explode, buzzed through my veins as my eyes flicked to the clock every few minutes, waiting to finally walk out the door and make it all official. I felt all those emotions at some point or another during the month and a half long process as we watched favorite listings sell before we could see them, as we walked house after house that just didn’t cut it up close, or through each cycle of paperwork, wait, repeat. The 8th however, they all vied for my attention at once.

We were buying a house. We were going to be home owners. We would be leaving our fifth-floor, one-bedroom, apartment, the place we called home for eight years, and trading it in for a two-story, three-bedroom, house that, if all goes well, we’ll call home for the next 40 plus. We were trading in our rent for a mortgage, paid public-parking for a two car garage. We were walking away from property managers that took care of broken exhaust fans and leaking ceilings to either figure it ourselves or pay to have someone figure it out for us.

All of that excited me. Our mortgage is less than our rent. I’d no longer have to make a trip to the parking office to pay for parking each month. I wouldn’t have to wait for maintenance to fix things when I could probably do it myself. Nor would I have to wait for maintenance to come back and clean up the mess they started.

I felt so prepared for closing day. Heck, I had the whole weekend planned out. I had the list of cleaning supplies I wanted to bring so we could clean all the surfaces before we moved in. I had a list of small projects I wanted to tackle right out the gate, like the ridiculously low handrail to the basement stairs. We had paint samples picked out for the four rooms we wanted painted before furniture was moved. I even had spreadsheets made up so we could measure each room and all the windows, and map the outlets to their switches/lights/breakers.

Closing day, we were in and out of the bank by 10am. Hardly thirty minutes later we were walking through our house for the first time without a realtor as chaperon. We moved the supplies we brought with us into the house, cleaned up a bit, and took a picture of ourselves playing the inaugural game of Othello. It was the only pic we took that first weekend.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning (but not enough), shopping (but again, not enough), and eating (probably too much). We kept getting distracted with details, things that needed to get done but probably could have waited. By the time we called it quits for the day and went back to our apartment, I never wanted to leave our fifth-floor, one-bedroom home again. It was too much. There was too much to do and not enough time, or money, our available hands when we needed/wanted them. I officially felt like I was in way over my head, and I wanted nothing more than my mommy to give me hug and make it all go away.

I didn’t want to deal with the uneven basement floor, too narrow and too steep stairs, or the doors that suffered more abuse than I can describe but are all custom sizes so there’s no quick fix. I didn’t want to look at the trim work that is so old and caked with paint the details are blurring, or the trim work that is new but poorly cut and still had the finishing nails poking out. I didn’t want to redo the poorly caulked seams of the shower or windows. I didn’t want to walk into a room and notice another spot where the previous children doodled on the floor/wall/ceiling/appliance Mostly, I didn’t want to see another thing in that house that was done so poorly I’d have to add it to my to-do list, because that list was already longer than a lifetime of Christmas wish lists.

I didn’t want the house anymore. What had I been thinking wanting it in the first place?! Then, I felt bad for not wanting it. I was the one who pushed for buying a house instead of finding a larger apartment – it just makes more fiscal sense to buy versus rent. I wanted a yard. The husband wants a dog. We both want kids. All of those things couldn’t happen with an apartment where we wanted to live. I had wanted house, but not at the end of that first day. The end of that first day and I would have happily opted to live the apartment life until the end of my life.

Twenty-one days later, the ridiculously low handrail hasn’t been fixed, though we have all the parts. The furniture has all been moved in, but the walls still need to be painted. We have yet to take measurements or learn where all the outlets/switches/lights/breakers go. Twenty-one days later we are still stumbling across odd and awkward fixes, and children’s scribbles, but I love our house. I’ve woken up every morning after that first day in awe that we own a house and excited and optimistic about the changes we want and need to make, and I can hardly wait to share the experiences.

Le Tote: Box 6

It’s an absolutely fabulous feeling when you get a delivery that hits every nail on the head. It fits. It’s comfy. It’s trendy. It makes you reconsider your own style because, damn that looks good! All of that culminates into not feeling like you are wasting your time or money on a subscription service – even when they have the odd bad box.



Look at those beautiful colors and patterns. I may need to request all of these again asap!

The Max Studio Printed Jersey Dress is just the thing for a leisurely walk to the park, or curled up with a good book. I don’t think I can stress the wonders of a dress that is durable, and doesn’t leave me feeling constricted. Retail: $98 Le Tote: $68

I was a bit cautious with the Noir T Strap Poppy Tank. There wasn’t a whole lot of give to the material and that can easily make it something that doesn’t go on at all or come off easily. However, I was delightfully surprised, and had I not been recouping from other purchases I would have kept this for my physical closet and not just my virtual one. It also pared really well with the Smudge Me Not lip color I got in my Wantable Makeup Box. Retail: $58 Le Tote: $48

The Max Studio Inverted Pleat Front Tank wore perfectly under a cardigan with black crop pants. It would make a great addition to any office wardrobe, and it’s lightweight and airy material also make it perfect for an afternoon date at the zoo. It’s hard to go wrong with a multi-functional piece of clothing. Seriously, I’m sure we are all guilty of buying clothing that is for a very specific purpose and hardly sees the light of day because of it. Retail: $88 Le Tote: $68 $33*

Last, but not least, the Catherine Catherine Pleated Peplum Top. To be honest, the pastel pattern wasn’t really doing it for me when I pulled it out of the box. Of course the cut of the material made it worth trying it on. I know there’s is a fashion science behind why peplum style tops look fantastic on the pear shaped, I don’t even care what it is I just love it. It’s simultaneously fitted and loose in all the right spots! Though, the color scheme would have been more appreciated in April versus July. Retail: $48 Le Tote: $42

This was definitely an experience that I was happy to rent. Yes, I liked all the items, but not enough to part with the cash to keep them (except the Poppy Tank.) It was great having new-to-me items that looked fantastic, because a little something new does wonders for my attitude.

If you’re looking for some new looks to freshen the wardrobe or even makeover your style, I highly recommend Le Tote to get yourself started. Click here and get $25 off your first month.

*Sale price at time of writing review. 8.9.17

Stay Tuned

It’s been almost a month since my last post, wow, time sure does fly when you are having fun. Things got crazy in July. If you’ve been following along on Instagram the husband and I had a bit of an adventure visiting family on the East Coast and attending a wedding in Kentucky for some really awesome friends. Even before that there were holiday shenanigans and game night with local pals.

Since then I’ve had oodles of subscriptions delivered that I need to get reviews caught up on. I’ll even be putting together a mega post on all the ones I’ve done so far, including insights on customer service, skipping and/or canceling subscriptions, and which ones are worth the bucks.

After that I’ll be quiet on the subscription front for a while as I take up the reigns as Dungeon Master for a long distance Dungeons and Dragons campaign. This will be my first time leading as DM and I am beyond exciting for the chance to work on my narrative skills and flex the imagination a bit.

Until then, subscribe on my friends!

Le Tote: Box 5

It was bound to happen sooner or later, a Le Tote delivery that just did not float my boat. Now, here’s the thing: every one of the items I got came from my closet. They all looked super trendy and comfy, and the week it came we had a bit of cool streak so the longer sleeves weren’t even unbearable… well, they wouldn’t have been had more than one of the items fit right.

The KUT from the Kloth: Black Print Blouse was the only thing I opted to wear. It was the only one that turned out to be as comfy as it looked. I wore it layered over a simple gray camisole and black pants and felt like I was on point for the office. Retail: $68 Le Tote: $54

I was most excited to try on the BCBGeneration: Collarless High-Low Blazer. Such a great color, and as soft as it looks. What goes a bit unnoticed from the pic is the huge shoulder pads. The compulsion to cut them out was so high, I had to immediately put it in the return shipping bag so I didn’t have to commit to the item. Retail: $118 Le Tote: $43

I’m not sure if there was a construction defect or if the Noir: Zipper Front Shirt is best for a willowy frame but no matter how I styled the sleeves it just laid all wrong. Worse, was the lack of mobility. Great top if your arms are basically going to be at your side all day, but try to reach for something, a pencil that fell on the floor, a strand of hair dangling in your face, or your favorite mug from the cupboard and you are met with resistance and/or zippers digging into your flesh. No thanks! Retail: $66 Le Tote: $33

Last but not least, the London Times: Tie Sleeve Shift Dress. It’s summer and I practically live in dresses, this one however I couldn’t get out of fast enough. Le Tote swears they hand measure every garment so that the items you get are sure to fit, but I think this one got lost in translation. What should have been flowy ended up being uncomfortably tight. Which brings me to possibly my only real complaint about Le Tote, you can’t select a different size to try something in. I’m not sure if you are limited to the sizes specified in your profile, or those Le Tote stylists tag as being measured for you, but there have been several items I would have like to try in larger or smaller size but I couldn’t request the difference. Retail: $58 Le Tote: $46

Now, enough with all the griping. Yes, I had a bad Tote. But I’ve had more good ones before and since (I might be a wee bit behind in the reviews). I’m really looking forward to trying Le Tote: Select, their version of StitchFix, Wantable, Dia & Co. etc. I’ve got another box or two of the competitors coming, and then I switch it up to try something new.

If you want to give clothing rental a try, click here for $25 off your first month.


Busy Bee, Bummed Bonnet

Sometimes plans just don’t happen like you planned them.

For the last month I’ve been getting ready for an event that I’ve partaken in the last few years. I had signs designed. New items to show case. I was getting pumped sharing and counting down to the event on facebook, which was a small part in a grand plan to help generate a larger turnout than in years past.

However, when the ducks don’t show, you can’t really line them up.

After weeks of waiting to hear from anybody else working the event and getting nothing but crickets, I had to make some tough calls this morning. Do I forfeit an entire Saturday for an event that has been underwhelming due to lack of turnout, with no promise of better attendance this year, or do I take that Saturday and have a leisurely stroll through the the farmers market with my favorite person and come home and start focusing my efforts on something that could be more advantageous?

Yeah, I picked the latter.

I let the powers-that-be know this morning that they had a vacancy. I hope they have a fantastic year. Unfortunately, with the lack of publicizing the event, it wasn’t a gamble I could convince myself to make a third time.

I spent this morning bummed out. I had been waiting to help promote this event since last year, I even had the foundation set in place months ago. Every morning for the last three weeks, not seeing the correspondence I needed to move forward, chipped at my excitement. It felt like I would be in a foul mood all week, but who has time for that?

Spending the morning sulking was more energy than I care to waste on this, so it’s time to pick myself up from this bout of disappointment, dust myself off, and carry on. Now, there is a lot to do as I prepare to shut down my Jamberry business and start up the Etsy shop once more.

For Jamberry: I’ve got to find a good home for all my Jamberry promo materials and send out thank yous to my best customers. I’ve got loads of digital files to clean out and a Facebook page to delete. Plus, there’s the sponsor to reach out to and commissions to spend.

For Etsy: I’ve got new product that needs to be listed and old product that needs updated inventory and pictures. I’ve got to verify that all the social media platforms are being fully utilized, and that links aren’t outdated. Plus, I’ve got to find more cost effective shipping methods and schedule time to regularly create and offer new items.

It will be such a treat when I’ve worked through all this decluttering and refocusing. Can hardly wait to share what’s to come.

Light Up Room

With all this makeup-ing around I figured it’s high time I get myself some proper lighting. Being renters limits options and planning a ten day road trip at the end of the month narrows them down even more with a small budget. Sure, I could have gotten any of a handful of table-top, plug-in, mirror/lamp combos that run about twenty bucks, but there is a slew of cons.

The mirrors are typically too small. Some made even smaller because of the inclusion of a magnifying mirror; I understand the purpose of them but I will never be ready for that close up. Table top means set height, and I don’t have anything high enough to not have to crouch down, unless I sit at the dining table, and I’d prefer a stationary work space to a portable one. I find it a nuisance to move my craft project to work spaces and back to storage space, why would I want to do that with my makeup?

A sizable (bigger than 12×12 inches) pre lit mirror can run from $150 to $400 plus. The lower end could be reasonable if I didn’t have to sacrifice style, but most of the options are boring or ugly. The high end options, are beautiful but way too pricy for the current budget. All of this made it necessary to think outside of the box and put the creative side of the brain to good use.

After some googling I found an 18×18 inch mirror for six bucks that would only require a trip to Target. I found three-bulb bathroom vanity lights on Amazon and picked up three for $52. I got three plugs as well ($7) to make them plug in instead of hardwired.


The biggest challenge after all that was making sure I had the right bulbs. Ones that cumulatively gave off not only enough light but the right kind of light. The easy answer is find bulbs that say daylight. It took a bit longer than one sentence for me to get there though. A popular blog that popped up when I asked the google machine suggested warm white light. Except they failed to define warm. Warm light is usually associated with soft yellow lighting, but that is arguably the worst type to apply makeup.

In this instance warm refers to the kelvin temperature. Soft lighting ranges between 2500 and 3000 kelvin, bright lighting between 3500 and 4000 kelvin, and daylight between 5000 and 6500 kelvin. Though, to the eye the soft (yellowish) light looks warmer and the daylight (whitish/blueish) looks cooler. It’s easy to get confused unless the right terminology is used.

Eventually I got it all sorted out and found 60 watt equivalent LED bulbs on Amazon that had a brightness of 800 lumens and color temperature of 5000 kelvin. It was a 16 count box and I paid less than $2 a bulb ($16.47 for the bulbs used in the vanity.)

Once I had all the supplies for the lights I skipped on over to Target to get the mirror, and then a second when I didn’t find it at the first. Unfortunately, when I didn’t find it at the second I went to the internet to investigate and found that the simple inexpensive mirror I wanted was not available for delivery or anywhere in my area for pickup. Eventually, I accepted the fact that I would have to put more into a mirror than I initially intended. In the end I found a 22.5×28.5 inch mirror with a clean white frame for $30. Not the shape I had initially planned for or the price point, but sometimes you just have to roll with it.

Now that I had all the supplies, I pulled apart one of the fixtures and had some problem solving to do. Would the 600v wire from the fixture be compatible with the 300v wire of the plug I was attaching it too? Yes! Would I need a separate housing unit to store the spliced together cords? Nope, they fit just fine inside the original fixture. The fixture was only supposed to be hung horizontally lengthwise, could I safely hang two of them vertically? Sure thing! (I got this.) Would I need to compensate for the cord keeping the fixture less than flush against the wall? A 79 cent investment and hot glue was the plan in the event that it was too unstable, but I made it work without attaching “feet” to the fixture.


About an hour of measuring out and marking up a bedroom wall, and another hour wiring the fixtures and mounting them and I had myself a functional vanity light and space for applying makeup, doing hair, and maintaining the shape of my eyebrows. Though the plugs I attached the fixtures to all had their own switch, I plugged them all into a power strip we had on hand and turn them all on and off with one click at the source instead of needing to do all three every time.

The first time I applied foundation at my new vanity I applied my usual amount and realized quickly it was way too much. I popped into the bathroom to remove the excess and realized how poorly that room was lit for putting a face together, the foundation didn’t look bad at all. For the first few applications I checked everything in the bathroom just to see how different the lighting made it. It was crazy awesome to see how easily one could apply too much color and in all the wrong places.


All together this little project cost just under $120 and it was well spent. A few notes for you and myself. First, the ribbed wire is the same as white/neutral, the smooth wire is the black/live wire. Second, I should have bought the mirror first then I would have picked out a fixture that ran the whole length of the top. Last, I am not a licensed electrician. Any wiring tips you take away from this read you use at your own risk.