Where I’ve Been

Hello my lovely readers,

I have been pretty absent on the blog for a while now. While I was keeping up with some posts and reviews in September/October, they were getting shorter, less heartfelt, and less consistent as the days went on. I finally decided to take a break until I wanted to write again, because producing bad content was worse than producing no content, in my mind.

I’ve spent the last six weeks or so working on myself, and I wanted to share a bit of that with you by way of a catch up. I have a ton of bookish posts in my mind for you, so keep an eye out for that as I work back towards a more regular posting schedule.

So here’s what I’ve been up to:

I doubled down on my job.

20181101_164456-01I’ve had a rocky year with work. For the first three months, I was absolutely miserable at my job, and luckily was able to find a new one. As this was only my second job out of school, no surprise here, that transition was hard. To make things worse, less than two months in to my new job, I found out I had to take two licensing exams within, effectively, two months. I studied for them, but honestly, I didn’t give my all to the test or my job during that time. I ended up failing the first test, and decided not to take the second because I wasn’t prepared for it. By the time all of that was over, I realized I hadn’t given my work my full attention in a very long time.

I want to succeed in my professional life, so I decided to commit to that. One of the best things I did was buy an Erin Condren Life Planner JUST for work. It makes so much sense to me now that I would need this, but so often we use planners for school work or personal life things and not for work. Buying a planner for work, setting daily goals, and achieving them has been huge for me. I’m working hard, feeling successful, and if I do say so myself, impressing myself for the first time in a long time.

I started Meal Prepping.

If you’re like me, you want to eat healthy. I’ve always struggled with eating healthy — I find it so weird that feeding ourselves is one of our biggest struggles as humans, but I’ve decided it’s relatively universal because think about how many services there are out there to help people feed themselves. I’ve been super anti formal “meal plans” for a long time, but somehow fate brought the Workweek Lunch Meal Prep Program and I together. (To be clear WWL is not a diet program and is sooo customizable/flexible so that’s a huge reason I decided to go for it!)

By fate, I mean the instagram algorithm. I was following WWL hoping it would inspire me to start eating the way she did, and a couple weeks in to following Talia, she started her Meal Prep Program. It’s only $8 per month so I put it on my personal card (aka I didn’t ask my boyfriend to pay for it) and got started. It’s an investment at first (I spent about $60 on meal prep containers from costco) and a learning curve (my first prep took me over 3 hours and most things tasted bad), but four (?) months later, I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve become more comfortable in the kitchen, I look forward to cooking every week, I save so much time and so much money, and I finally am able to eat the way I’ve always wanted to eat – healthy meals that make me feel full without feeling bloated. If you’re at all interested, feel free to ask me any questions, or just try Workweek Lunch for yourself

I participated in the Transformation Challenge at my Orangetheory Fitness Studio.

The basic rules are work out 3x per week for six weeks (I  did this!), weigh in at the beginning, middle, and end (I  missed the middle weigh-in), and then do some other challenges (I didn’t do any of these). As you can tell I’m not going to win. I violated 2 of the 3 rules, but the one that I did stick to is, in my opinion, the one that matters.

Three times a week may not seem like that much, but trust me it was surprisingly challenging. There was a time when I was going away for the weekend and went to a 6:50 – 7:50 pm class on Thursday night and was back at the studio for my third class of the week at 6:10 am the following morning. To that end, I attended my first (ever?) 6:10 am gym class. And not only that I attended MANY of them throughout the challenge. I got back in a routine and it felt really good. It may not sound like much but I’m extremely proud of myself for doing 3 classes per week for 6 weeks, and as an added bonus and I can totally feel the difference in my strength levels and the way my clothes fit. Horray!

I got braces.

This is the big one in terms of my mental health over the past month or so. Braces are something I’ve been thinking about for a long time — probably since I moved back from New Zealand, so 3 years ago! I never felt secure enough in my life to take the plunge until recently. I now know that I will be staying in San Diego for long enough to have the treatment, I’m at a new job where people know me, have friendships that I feel secure enough in, and am in a relationship I feel comfortable in (I should hope so haha It’s been 4 years!).

These things may sound vain, but getting braces has really rocked my confidence and I don’t think I’d be able to do it if I knew I had to make new friends or interview for a new job in the near future. I felt like I was at a comfortable place in my life to take the plunge and change my appearance for a year and a half for the greater good of the rest of my life. (I’ll be 30 1/2 when I get them off!) All that being said, it’s been incredibly difficult – physically and mentally – over the past week, but I think I’m starting to come around on the other side of it now.

So that’s it. That’s where I’ve been for the last six weeks – exercising, eating well, getting braces, and working hard at work. And all of that hasn’t allowed for a lot of time or energy to write passionately, consistently, and meaningfully about books on this page. But that’s something I want to change. And as I’m settling in to these new routines, I’d like to start again with this blog. So I hope you’ll keep reading! Thank you for being here!

August Reading Recap

HAPPY END OF AUGUST! I cannot believe it is here, and honestly am not sure that I’m ok with it being here!! August was full of milestones – one of my best friend’s weddings, my first building I designed being sent to the building department (!!), and, notably, the month before September (aka when all hell breaks loose in my life)! My goal for August was to read four titles with pub dates this month, without going too crazy with the pressure. I got through three of them and I feel pretty good about that!

I also listened to two of my #UnreadShelfProject2018 books on audio, read my Book of the Month pick from this month (which never happens), and (almost) completed another monthly challenge for The Unread Shelf Project 2018! So…. BOOM – I feel like I crushed it! Summaries below and links to reviews where available!!

 

The Distance Home by Paula Saunders
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tone: Dark, Somber
Structure: Generally told chronologically from one perspective, with flashes to the future
Read if you like: Little Fires Everywhere, Enchanted Islands

What Happened by Hillary Clinton
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Political Memoir
Tone: Campaign-y, Friendly
Structure: Told first person from Hillary Clinton per topic of campaign challenges
Read if you like: Hillary Clinton, Politics, Unbelievable by Katy Tur

Chariot on the Mountain by Jack Ford
Rating: 5/5
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone: Strong, Suspenseful
Structure:  Chronological, Third person from two perspectives
Read if you like: Civil War History, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Underground Railroad

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Mystery
Tone: Procedural, Scheme-y, Curious (idk these are hard)
Structure: Chronologically in present tense, with a few flashback diary entries
Read if you like: Tana French books particularly Faithful Place, Law and Order

Ohio by Stephen Markley
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tone: Dark, angry, complex
Structure: Four distinct points of view on one night, with flashbacks to high school years
Read if you like: Let The Great World Spin, Hillbilly Elegy, The Immortalists

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tone: Hope, longing, depair
Structure: Three intertwined story lines – two adult couples, and one teenage “couple”
Read if you like: Unique stories of growing up

What’s the best book you read this month?! And – are you ready for fall??

 

Moving in to 2018 with Intentions Set

One thing I regret about 2017 is that I can summarize the year in to the following: four months of studying and stressing for my Professional Engineering licensing exam, six weeks of being ready to get the hell out of New York City, and six months of “adjusting” to San Diego. I feel like I let this whole year slip by as a road block to get over. So my goal for 2018, bookish and non, is to be intentional. Be present, be relaxed, be myself, and DO NOT OVERBOOK.

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This will hopefully involve less travel – or less travel due solely to the feeling of obligation. The people and events that were a part of my life on the east coast are still very very important to me, but it’s time that I start living my life in California. There’s so much to discover here and I’m ready to start trying a little bit harder.

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Our first San Diego 4th of July! Here’s to staying put on holidays to come!

On a bookish note, I want to be more intentional with my book selections. I learned in the past year that I get so fired up about non-fiction, and am pretty apathetic about historical fiction and novels. I think it’s good to challenge your reading patterns, but I can only read 30-40 books in a year, so I want them to be good ones. Books that make me feel, learn, and wonder about the world. Specifically, I want to read more about science – biographies about scientists, microhistories of different fields, and just books about nature. One thing about being a structural engineer, is that I find myself solely focused on buildings, when I got in to the field of engineering because of a much broader interest in science.

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One of the great nonfictions I read in 2017!

In terms of #bookstagram, I want to be more intentional with my posts. I think it was Rachael at @booksforbrunch, who wrote that she wants her bookstagram account to reflect more of her opinions and reviews than just ‘look at this book I just got in the mail!’. I think it’s a challenge to curate your feed in that way (Let’s face it – the peak desire to post is usually when you first open the package), but I think it will make my content more worthwhile and allow me to contribute more to the community.

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This was a fun picture to take – and ended up being my #bookstagram profile picture! I’ve never again gotten anything to balance on that ledge.

In terms of book buying, Kate at @katereadsbooks_ is the QUEEN (of many things but especially) of claiming she’s going on a book buying ban, but I think I’m going to declare 2018 a year of buying ZERO books. I want to continue my Book of the Month subscription, but otherwise I want to stick to the library. I’m heading in to 2017 with seven unread books on my shelf (and many more on my kindle) that I’ve had sitting there for the last six months.  It’s time to read them, people! So in keeping with the theme, I want to be more intentional about buying books.

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Here’s a book I bought in July and haven’t read yet! I will read this in 2018!

And in terms of this blog, I want to be more intentional about writing. This doesn’t mean posting less because, let’s face it, I haven’t written since September, but it means planning posts and writing them; reviewing books that I read; revising posts before posting them.

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2018 will be the year that I read the books I have stored on my kindle! Hopefully with some of this delicious banana bread cold brew.

Basically I want to be better, and I think that by slowing down I can achieve my goals.

July Rundown

July was a great month – for reading and otherwise!

I started the month by reading In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. I read it in three days flat – finishing it right before our Fourth of July barbecue. I loved it as an easy summer read and would highly reccomend it! Review here. 5 Stars.

Right after that I picked up The Return by Hisham Matar. It took me a while to get in to this, so I assumed that I wouldn’t finish it on my plane rides to and from Denver. Well, I finished my book on my first flight and thought to myself, now what? So as I walked through the Denver airport I found a bookstore and dropped it for some impulse buys. I told myself I could get one book that had been on my list for a long time – and ended up walking out with Modern Lovers by Emma Straub and The Circle by Dave Eggers. Review for The Return here. 5 Stars.

As my travels continued, on a train from the airport to the city, I had such an awesome experience. I wrote about it on Instagram, but I was reading The Circle on the train and a construction worker on his way home from a 16 hour shift, started to ask me about my book. I told him what is was and that I just got it and we ended up chatting about books and bookstores for the rest of the ride. When we got to the station, I was a little lost trying to find my connecting train and he happened to be headed in the same direction as me, so before I knew it the two of us were running for the train and chatting about our favorite football players and other mutual interests. It was so amazing to get out of my comfort zone and talk to a stranger about books and life, all because he recognized the cover of my book.

I spent the following week reading The Circle by Dave Eggers and having some serious internal debates about the state of data collection in the world today.  I didn’t end up loving The Circle, but I’m excited to watch the movie and it definitely gave me a lot to think about! Review here.

And now as the month comes to a close, I’m (per usual) rushing to finish my August Book of the Month pick – American Fire by Monica Hesse.

Looking Ahead – My August TBR:

I went on a bit of a book buying binge in the last month, so I actually have a lot of books ready to be read!

  1. The Secret Hisotry by Donna Tartt
  2. Where the Water Goes by David Owen
  3. Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
  4. Per Usual – My August Book of the Month Club Pick

Happy end of July and here’s to ringing in the last month of Summer 😀 (although now that I live in San Diego that’s not stressing me out nearly as much!)

Your Turn: What did you read this month? Anything you’d reccomend?!

 

Dum Dee Dum

… Twiddling my thumbs.

I’m officially in a rut.

Why is this? Apparently I’m impatient and I just want things to happen NOW.

I’ve been studying for a test for three months which I’ll take NEXT FRIDAY. Next Saturday, I’m getting out of the city for six wholes day in sunny southern Florida. A day after I get home, my boyfriend is moving to the other side of the country (I’m following but not quite so soon). And four weeks after that I’ll leave my job of four years to pack up my apartment and embark on a three week road trip to San Diego, which will end at the apartment that we signed a lease on without seeing and that my boyfriend is moving in to in just 15 days.

I’m so ancy. I can’t sit still but I can’t do anything. I want to study but I’ve studied so much. I want to read a book but, again,  I can’t sit still. I want to start packing, but I’m still living here for six more weeks. I’m going crazy. I try to tell myself that this too shall pass but I feel like I’m going insane right now.

I have so many books to read this month, and I just thought I’d be so much more excited to read them.

  • I have a book club book that is SO interesting (Blitzed by Norman Ohler)  but it’s too serious for me to want to sit down and focus on right now.
  • I have three Book of the Month books – one that not serious enough, so I don’t want to waste time on (STARTUP by Doree Shafrir),  one that I’m saving to read on the beach in Florida (Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel),  and one that idk maybe I’ll read on the airplane but again, non-fiction, and feels to serious right now (Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann).
  • I tried a new subscription box this month, Muse Monthly, which is on its way here. But I know I won’t even read it when it gets here because of my current mood. Although, hell, maybe the tea will help me relax. (The book, by the way, is No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts)

In an effort to feel productive I look things up online to get excited about. What did this amount to? Well, I know what audiobooks I want to listen to on the roadtrip!

  • The Wanderers by Meg Howrey
  • Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
  • Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel if we like Sleeping Giants.

The only trouble is now I know I have to wait six weeks to listen to these too!

The other thing I looked up is creating a bullet journal for the road trip. This sounds like SO MUCH FUN, but I don’t have the discipline to start that before my test, so another goal for next week.

 

So, where does this leave us? Sorry for the rant, but it feels good to get it out. I probably won’t be posting much about books I’ve read for the next few weeks (because.. see above) but I hope to get back to it after!

Happy Easter Weekend!
Erin