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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Books I Read in September (And Whether or Not You Should Read Them).


The Rumor By Elin Hilderbrand 

Plot: Madeline King and Grace Pancik are best friends and the envy of Nantucket for their perfect marriages, their beautiful kids, their Sunday night double dates with their devoted husbands. But this summer, something's changed, and if there's anything Nantucket likes better than cocktails on the beach at sunset, it's a good rumor.

And rumor has it...

...that Madeline, a novelist, is battling writer's block, with a deadline looming, bills piling up, and blank pages driving her to desperation--and a desperately bad decision;

...that Grace, hard at work to transform her backyard into a garden paradise, has been collaborating a bit more closely than necessary with her ruggedly handsome landscape architect;

...that Grace's husband, successful island real estate developer "Fast Eddie" Pancik, has embarked on quite an unusual side project;

...that the storybook romance between Madeline's son, Brick, and Grace's daughter Allegra is on the rocks, heading for disaster.

As the gossip escalates, and they face the possible loss of the happy lives they've worked so hard to create, Grace and Madeline try mightily to set the record straight--but the truth might be even worse than rumor has it. 


My Thoughts: This book dealt with some big, deep issues while still feeling like a light summer read that you can just tear through. I love when a book can do this. 

I loved this book. I loved that one of the main characters was an author, I loved that the main characters were established adults who had worked hard to get where they were (because I realize I'm in my young twenties, but I hate it when every "adult" book features a main character who is 22 years old who is somehow already 20 years into her career), I loved how the author perfectly captured the way people gossip, the reason why people gossip, and just what gossip can do. Reading this book made me feel like I was sitting on the beach, having a drink and listening to all the town's rumors firsthand.

It felt like a breezy beach read, but it surprised me with how deep it got! 

Should You Read it? Yes!

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney advanced reader copy c/o Netgalley

Plot: Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

EMMA
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

JANE
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before. -via Goodreads


My Thoughts: TWISTY. TWISTY. TWISTED. I have so much to say and I can't say any of it without spoiling this for you. 

So I'll say: I devoured this book in a day. This is a unique thriller. I love the way the story is told (we read about the girl then and the girl now in alternating chapters) and it had way more than one goosebump-inducing moment for me. 

I will say that there was an element to the book that made me feel gross, like, "ew why would you just throw this in here?" (See disclaimer below) But it does come back to play a really big part later.  

There were several times where I had the though BOOM I've solved it! And I was wrong every. single. time. 

It's a hard book to review without spoiling the plot, but it's one of the best thrillers I've ever read. It will leave you asking: Who exactly is the psychopath in this story?

Should You Read it? Yes. This book is coming out in January, and it's going to be 2017's Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. Trust me. You want to get your hands on it. 

A quick disclaimer: Just like everyone has different taste in books, I understand that everyone lands somewhere different with what they are comfortable reading. It's too much to keep track of what each book has in terms of language, violence, etc. And sometimes, it's impossible to talk about without giving the plot away. Please understand that just because I think a book is worth reading does not mean it's a book with no controversial content. I'll tell you if it's a good story or not, but you should look it up (or just ask me!) to see if it's something you are comfortable reading (instead of sending me an angry email). xoxo! 

What did you read this month?

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

When Your Village is Virtual.


I originally wrote this post in response to the prompt "Finding Your Village" on The Today Parenting Team, but given the subject matter, I had to share it here, too! 

In May of last year, I received a huge surprise in the form of a positive pregnancy test. It was shocking and I was terrified. So terrified, in fact, that I found myself googling things like “unplanned pregnancy where everything worked out fine.” This led me down a rabbit-hole of mommy blogs.

Before I got pregnant, my knowledge of mom blogs was limited to the stereotypical, eye-roll inducing rants on whether or not you should vaccinate your kids and women wearing yoga pants while arguing over which multi-vitamin is the best. What I found, however, went way beyond that. There were rants, of course, but there was also a lot of dialogue. There were discussions over formula brands and breastfeeding struggles, debates on sleep training and co-sleeping, funny kid stories, and real-life mom moments.

There was something about these blogs that brought me such encouragement in those first few scary weeks. Here were all these women, all in different locations and phases of life, connected by nothing other than the internet. And yet, they were connected. They were sharing vulnerable moments in an effort to help others. They were telling their stories and trading advice.

When I couldn’t sleep, I would “research” (the term I gave reading funny stories about having kids), and I was drawn to these posts. It made me feel like everything was going to be okay, like maybe I was actually going to be a good mom after all. There was community in the comments section.

Fast forward to today and that little surprise is now eight-months-old. We’ve recently relocated to a new town, one where I don’t yet have a village. I don’t have anyone to call up and ask if they’ll babysit while I go on a date. I can’t call in backup so I can go swimsuit shopping. I hope to have a village here one day, but for now, a lot of my village is virtual.

My village is made up of bloggers, of moms and non-moms. It’s made up of women who have planned their child for years, women who have had surprise pregnancies, women who have lost their babes before they’ve gotten the chance to meet them. It’s made up of women who have decided against having babies, women who work from home, women with thriving careers, and stay at home moms. It’s made up of women who share their stories through blog posts, who share their struggles through tweets, who try to capture the magic and craziness of motherhood in snapshots on Instagram.

My village is made up of a few ladies who will never know I exist, but who have helped me more than they know by opening up about their experiences in motherhood. It’s made up of some girls I might never meet, but exchange emails about having a tiny anti-sleeper with anyway. It’s made up of women who have chosen to share, and in doing that, have enriched my early motherhood experience greatly.

There’s a lot of negative things to be said about social media. Over-sharing, bullying, spending too much time staring at a screen. But there’s a lot of good to be said, too. There’s a lot to be said for a space that lets women share their stories and ask questions and find answers. There’s a lot to be said about someone opening up through a keyboard, providing an area for others to say, “Me too, me too, me too.”

So today, as I sit here in my yoga pants frantically googling which multivitamin is best, I’ll text my mom and ask if she has any suggestions. And then I’ll email a blogging friend and ask her. And you know what? They’ll both respond. And because neither one of them will know, I’ll turn to Instagram and blog posts and be provided with a wealth of information.

Sometimes life works out where you have a beautiful village around you, women who are available for coffee dates and babysitting. And sometimes you have a beautiful village you catch up with via email and blog posts while drinking your reheated coffee in your pajamas. Trust me, both are so valuable.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tried It: Hair, Food, Life.


I had so much fun trying out all the pumpkin spice creamers from Pinterest that I thought I'd turn it into a series! I'll look up popular pins, follow the instructions exactly, and then write about whether or not they're worth a try!

For today: Hair, food, and life!

Hair

Pin: Crown Braid Tutorial by Twist Me Pretty, pinned over 1,000 times. 



Mine: 



Meh. Mine was obviously messier, which I didn't mind, but it took so many bobby pins, then I went to take a picture and saw that all you could see were bobby pins, and then when I took them out/tried to hide them better, it kind of just fell apart. I really like it and will definitely try it again!

Worth the try? Yes, but try it out when you don't have anywhere to be so you can gauge just how many bobby pins you need.


Food

Pin: Baked Mozzarella Chicken Rolls from Pinch of Yum, repinned over 46,000 times. 

Photo via Pinch of Yum

Mine: Oh my goodness, I loved this. It was so delicious. We had some friends over for dinner so I didn't make them wait while I took pictures (blogger fail, I KNOW), but it was so delicious. I messed up on the first piece of chicken by hammering too thin and making it kind of fall apart, but other than that, it was super easy! I'll definitely be making this one again!

Worth the try? Absolutely yes. Go to the store on your way home and make this for dinner tonight! It was so delicious, and definitely looks like you slaved for hours over dinner when we both know...you didn't. 

Life: 


The page linked to the original source for this idea doesn't work anymore, BUT it seems pretty simple: Put a command hook on the back of a high chair and hang bibs there. 

Mine: 

This was one of those, why the heck haven't I done this already? things. I have to walk to Jack's room and get in his dresser before every one of his meals, which are always in the kitchen. So it obviously makes sense to keep his bibs in there since he pretty much only wears them when he's eating food now. 

His high chair has a weird back and there was nowhere for the hook to go, so I put it in the cabinet where I keep his food. It's a genius hack!

Worth the try? YES. If you have a baby, save yourself a little time by doing this!

Have any Pinterest tutorials you've been wanting to try but haven't had the time? Send them my way!

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Monday, September 26, 2016

From The Cutting Room Floor: September 2016


Let's kick today off with a little story...not for the faint of heart. 

Yesterday, Chris had to work, so I took Jack to church by myself. Sometimes this goes great, and sometimes I barely make it fifteen minutes, but I at least like to try.

He drinks an entire bottle at once (very unusual) as soon as we get there, so I'm thinking, this is great! He's going to fall asleep and I'm actually going to get to stay for the whole service. Oh, sweet, naive Chelsea of yesterday. 

About ten minutes into the sermon, Jack turns towards me and pukes all over me. That alone would have been fine, but then, he turned and released a gyser of vomit all over the floor in front of us. And then, he turns to the poor girl who happened to be unlucky enough to be sitting next to me, and thew up all over her too. 

As if that is not enough, he also yelled/laughed/cried so loud that everyone turned around to look at me and saw the little show he was putting on. I was mortified, and would have loved to just jump up and leave, but I couldn't just leave baby puke everywhere. So instead, I have to try my best to clean it up while Jack is still yelling in the otherwise silent church. I was so embarassed that there were tears in my eyes, but I also couldn't stop laughing at the ridiculousness of it. 

This is how we left church yesterday:


Sunday Funday, am I right?

On to what September looked like through my iPhone.


He may wreak havoc during church, but he sure is sweet.


Can't get over how funny I think this shirt is. I am far too easily amused. 


That's a pumpkin spice latte in that cup. If you were wondering what me living my best life looks like, please refer to the above picture.


This made me cry. I thought it was so perfectly worded.


I found a new favorite coffee shop in town! You can leave a mug with your name on it there, and they'll wash it and use it for your coffee when you come. They have a bulletin board where you can leave a friend a note letting her know you've paid for her next cup of coffee. And, as if those things aren't enough, they sell artwork from local artists and 100% of the proceeds go to rescue children from slavery in South Asia. 


Best buds.

I loved Parenthood. Adored. I miss that show right up there with how much I miss Friday Night Lights and One Tree Hill and Gilmore Girls. So after reading this, obviously I watched This is Us. IT'S SO GOOD. Please tell me if you've watched this so we can discuss. 


My little Florida babe.


Christopher was carrying Jack on his shoulders for the first time outside, and Jack was so proud. He kept turning back to see if I was watching!


I MEAN. All of the heart eyes for this one, ever. 

Enjoy the last few days of September, friends!

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Friday, September 23, 2016

I Forgot Who I Was: How Pregnancy Changed Me.

I'm sure you read that and think, Ah, yes. She got pregnant and lost her identity. She became a mom and motherhood swallowed her. She forgot who she was because she was just a mom. Because we've all heard one version or another of that story before.

But that's not true for me. See, I forgot who I was before I got pregnant.

Not in a huge way. Not in a life-crisis kind of way. I didn't go flying off the deep end, I didn't have an affair, I didn't hate my life. In fact, I was actually pretty happy. We were getting closer and closer to the end of med-school. I had a good job. My weekends were filled with drinks and dancing with friends, rooftop pool days, and lazy brunches.

The forgetting who I was wasn't accompanied by a huge bout of depression or a drastic circumstance. It happened little by little, so far under the surface of everyday life that I really didn't even notice it.

I stopped writing as much, (outside of blogging) because it wasn't turning out to be hugely successful for me. I stopped doing things I liked, like browsing thrift stores for fun, because I didn't have anyone to go with, and it felt lame to go by myself. I'm a huge dreamer and planner, but our future was so up in the air with Match Day coming up, that I kind of just stopped planning and even dreaming about the future.

And then. Jack. 

Getting pregnant reminded me of who I was. 

I've said before that baby Jack was a surprise, but once the shock wore off (so..like six months later? haha), I started thinking about the kind of life I wanted him to have and the kind of person I wanted to teach him to be. Kind, thankful, adventurous, unique, passionate. I wanted him to follow his dreams, no matter what they were. I wanted him to find something he loved and set the world on fire.

And then I thought...remember when I wanted those things for me, too? What happened?

I wasn't a bad person. I wasn't wasting my life. I wasn't even really unhappy. I just wasn't me. 


I didn't have to reinvent who I was, I just had to remember who I was. And being handed a brand new, fussy, tiny little baby did just that. From the moment I saw him, everything just felt so clear. It was like the proverbial fog cleared and I could instantly see what I wanted my life to be, who I wanted to be, and what was the most important.

I've read a lot of stories about how having a baby made moms lose their identity. That it made them forget who they were. I just wanted to offer another perspective.

Having a baby reminded me of who I was. Becoming a mom helped me find my way back to the version of myself that I loved the most. And I will always, always be so thankful for that.
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thirty-Six Weeks With Jack: Allllll of The Pictures.


Sometimes a week can go by and not seem spectacular in any way. I love looking back at these weeks with Jack through pictures because it really does show me that there's something special about every week, even if it doesn't seem like it. 

We took Jack to a small group with us last night, and someone asked if he was just in a good mood or if he was always so happy. And the answer is honestly that he's just a happy baby..we hit the jackpot with him, that's for sure. 

Week Thirty-Three:

these open mouth smiles kill me // the bouncer is still your favorite // you've been playing on your own more and more // snuggling with Clifford 

Making it through our first "hurricane" // the prettiest eyes! // so happy // chewing on your fingers is your new hobby

Week Thirty-Four:

You can fall asleep pretty much anywhere we go and it's the absolute best // your first time ever in a swing // you loved it // the cutest little fox bib 

So surprised about something // just sitting with Clifford // oh those cheeks! // you eat real food now!

My little deer  // you're the happiest in your swing // my three guys // just snuggling a scarecrow at hobby lobby

Week Thirty-Five:

puppy pjs // cutest little pool boy // sweet snuggles // you talk with your hands more and more 

our little baby gator // so happy on our morning walks // my little bestie // sometimes you just crack yourself up laughing 

bottle break // you love going on walks // just a little baby yoga // getting a workout in

Week Thirty-Six: 

all the heart eyes, ever for these guys // my favorite smile // you're so social! // you're getting bigger and bigger, but when you're sleepy, you snuggle just like you did when you were a newborn

You were asleep in your pjs and we had to run to the store, and you woke up when we got there. You weren't upset, but you were SUPER suspicious and it was hilarious // holding onto that swing for dear life // so happy to wake up //oh hello there

These are the best weeks of my life. Love you, little dude. 

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Making it Feel Like Fall When You Live on The Surface of The Sun || Celebrating Fall With JORD.

You know what makes me so happy? Seeing all sorts of fall posts pop up. Especially the fashion posts. Plaid and sweaters and boots..fall staples make me swoon. Fall fashion has my heart. 

But you know what makes me sad? Seeing all of these fall staples and then remembering that I live on the surface of the sun in Florida, and that, save for a possible few weeks in January, these fall staples would do less of making me look cute and fall-ready and more of making me look like I was suffering from a heat stroke (because I would be). 

So, if you're like me and you're obsessed with fall, but live somewhere that resembles the desert no matter what time of year it is, you have to get a little creative in getting dressed. Knee-high boots and oversized sweaters? Not so much. Fall-themed accessories? Yes, please. 

I've picked up a few fall-colored floppy hats, but still had my eye out for something extra. When JORD Wood Watches asked if I'd like to collaborate and sent a picture of this unique watch, I knew I had found that something extra. 


How gorgeous is this wooden watch?


It is so perfect for fall. First things first, it adds no layers. So you can dress for fall even if it is still over 90 degrees outside (Because it is. It definitely is). And it manages to be a fall staple without simply being black or brown, something that I love. If you know me, you know I'm all about color in every season.

JORD zebrawood and turquoise watch

It's going to be on repeat all fall long. I love that I can throw a floppy hat and this watch on with a dress and feel instantly more like fall, even though I'm not wearing tights or a jacket. Also, one of my favorite things about it is that your watch is made for how you want it to fit your wrists, something I love since I love wearing my watches loose, like a bracelet.

JORD zebrawood and turquoise watch

The people over at JORD were nice enough to offer a giveaway so head on over here to enter to win a gift certificate so you can buy your own gorgeous watch. Bonus: You get a $20 coupon code emailed to you just for entering!

This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches, however, my obsession with fall and wooden watches is 100% my own.
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