Friday, January 31, 2020

Friday Favorites

I'm really looking forward to February... because I'm looking forward to January being over! Not because it's been awful, but because it has felt SO long. I'm excited for a new month, for a metaphorical turning of the page. Winter is definitely not my favorite, and the end of January feels like one step closer to it being over.
I'm currently writing this while finishing the last episode (ever!) of The Good Place. Before I dive in to the rest of the favorites, I have to say, if you haven't started watching this show yet, you should absolutely start! Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest - on to the "real" weekly favorites.

ONE - Isabel Allende Interview
Isabel Allende is my absolute favorite author - she writes magical realism (different than Harry Potter type magic), and she is just such a gifted storyteller. She just released a new book, which I'm currently in the middle of, but if you're not familiar with her, this interview is a great intro.

TWO - Crip Camp at Sundance
I already talked about how I'm excited to watch the Taylor Swift documentary that premiered at Sundance, but I'm also very excited about this documentary. It's about a camp for people with disabilities that existed years ago - a place where, at a time when disability was still very stigmatized, people felt like they were truly accepted. It's actually executively produced by the Obamas, and I love that they're putting their "power" behind highlighting stories of people with disabilities.

THREE - Tara and Johnny
I love this video of Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir re-watching her Olympic-winning routine! It's such a fun, nostalgic look back, and it's fascinating to hear Tara talk about the behind-the-scenes of what it's like to win the Olympics at fifteen (!!) years old.

FOUR - More Inclusive Barbies
I'm just so happy that Barbie is coming out with so many new inclusive versions of the iconic doll. I was such a Barbie fan growing up, and was so obsessed with the dolls and the shoes and the clothes and everything. Even more, the inclusive Barbies are part of the "Fashionista" line - so they're not "different" or "other." It's just so cool and so important for kids - both for the people who are now represented, and for the people who have always been represented but now will be introduced to more diversity.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Wheelchair Life Hacks

I posted a picture on Instagram last week, and someone commented asking me where I got my cupholder... which is actually a stroller cupholder that I've repurposed for my chair. So many of the things that I use daily are things like this... things that are repurposed from their actual intended use, or things that I buy specifically to make my life easier.

Since at least one person was curious about my cupholder, I thought that a few more of you might be interested! Even if you're not in the market for wheelchair products, I think it'll still be interesting to learn a little more about the wheelchair life hacks that I've developed over the years.

My Cupholder
Starting with the most obvious, the cupholder. They actually do make wheelchair-specific ones, but I've never liked them - they're plastic, and bulky, and tend to get in the way or everything. This stroller one is perfect. I can slip it right under my seat cushion, and the velcro keeps it in place. Because it's soft-sided, it doesn't get in the way, and it's easy for me to reach my drinks from where I put it on my chair.

USB Heated Wrap
A non-wheelchair using friend suggested that I try this out, so this is a universal suggestion. This wrap is powered by USB and has a heating element inside of it that warms up when turned on - but it's still nice and thin, so I don't feel weighed down by it. The bonus is that my wheelchair has a USB port, so I can take this wrap with me wherever I want!

I actually saw this a while ago on one of GMA's "Deals and Steals" segments and knew it would be perfect. I can't use an umbrella while I'm also driving my wheelchair, so rain is not fun for me. This is the perfect solution - it's nicer than a poncho, but keeps me dry. Until someone invents an umbrella that is operable from my chair, this is what I'll be using.

Heated Neck Warmer
This one might not seem like a wheelchair hack... until I tell you that I use this heated warmer on my feet, rather than my neck. I am always cold, and my feet are the coldest of all. I have really bad circulation, so it takes forever for my feet to warm up. I was using this heated neck warmer on my back a few weeks ago, and realized that it would also work really well to keep my feet nice and toasty. And it does!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Subtly Pink

I definitely have favorite colors, and they translate to what I wear. I wear a lot of blues and greens - really rich colors - but I don't tend to wear a lot of pink. Maybe it's because growing up, I had a pink and purple Barbie wheelchair, and since I was always surrounded by pink, maybe now I've gone in the opposite direction. Whatever the reason, it's not one of my go-to colors, and I actually only have one or two pink things in my closet.
I got this pink scarf as a Christmas gift, and I wasn't sure what I thought of it at first. But I tried it out and decided that it's just the right about of pink for me. I like that it adds just a splash without being over-the-top. Of course, since I didn't want to stray too far out of my fashion comfort zone, I kept it simple and paired it with an otherwise all black look. I think it keeps it from looking too young and overly girly, which is not my style.

I think this could also make a perfect Valentine's Day look, if you want to celebrate the day in style without wearing something overly pink. The scarf adds just a subtle nod to Valentine's Day, while still being wearable any other day of the year, too. You can click through my scarf and a few other pink options below.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Friday Favorites

I know that I say this every four day week, but it really did feel so long! I have a very low-key weekend planned, and I'm really looking forward to it. I always struggle with finding motivation in January - it's so cold and dreary and snowing and the idea of hibernating just is so appealing!

I don't have much more to share right now, so I'll cut right to the favorites.
ONE - Final Season of Schitt's Creek
Seriously, if you are not watching Schitt's Creek, you should start watching NOW. I'm so sad this is the final season, but glad they're going out on a high. This was a great read about the show and how it's taken until now to really get "popular."

TWO - Leopard Flats
I don't know how many different styles of the same pair of shoes is too many, but I think I might be approaching that limit with these flats! But, of course, I couldn't resist the leopard print of this version.

THREE - Simple Health Advice
I loved this article with advice on being healthy! With so many different diets and so much conflicting advice out there, I truly believe that sometimes, simple is best.

 FOUR - Miss Americana Trailer
I mean, obviously I'm excited for the new Taylor Swift documentary coming out at the end of the month. It looks really raw and honest, and I love behind-the-scenes views.

FIVE - Sinead Burke Interview
I really love the work that Sinead Burke is doing to point out the lack of diversity in fashion when it comes to disability inclusion. This is such a good look at her work, her life, and how she's gotten to where she is.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Weekend Reset

I will be honest - 2020 definitely did not start the way that I expected and hoped that it would! After the nice break from work I had at the end of December, I really came into January with a fresh mindset - I set some goals for the year, and I was feeling good about where I was headed. It felt like such a clean start.
But these past few weeks have been a whole lot of ups and downs. It wasn't all bad - there were some good surprises thrown in there - but it has been anything but smooth. I've had two visits to the ER (don't worry, I'm feeling much better now!), have not been getting enough sleep, and just have generally felt stressed. And then there's the fact that it's January, a month that always seems to drag on for so long, and it's cold and dreary out a lot.

So I decided that this weekend would be the right time for a reset. It seems like things are calming down a bit for me (fingers crossed!) - or if not calming down, exactly, they're a bit more stable, at least. So I wanted to make sure I felt more calmed down, too. Sometimes I feel a lot of pressure on the weekends to be productive - write blog posts, work on my master's essay, work on Accessible YOUniverse planning - that it doesn't feel like I get much of a break. This weekend is a long weekend for me (I'm off today), but instead of putting more pressure on myself to use that time to be productive, I did the opposite.

I celebrated a friend's birthday with a tea service... and then when we all decided to go to Starbucks afterwards and catch up for another four hours, I didn't worry about how long I was out. I watched a lot of TV. I slept in. I did some reading. And when I decided that I wanted to do a little bit of "work" (like writing this post!), it didn't feel forced - I was doing it because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to.

Taking the time to relax this weekend was so needed, and I'm so glad that I gave myself this chance. I'm hoping that this reset puts the rest of 2020 (or at least, the rest of January!) on stable footing.

Monday, January 13, 2020

A Little R&R

I came into the new year with high hopes for major productivity and lots of goals, and then nothing turned out as planned. In reality, January so far has thrown me lots of curveballs and unexpected detours, and even though my winter "break" wasn't all that long ago, I could really use some R and R.

I'm sure I'm not the only one... I think that after the holidays, everyone feels like they're in a bit of a slump, or a rut, and could use some time to themselves and to take some time to get back into the swing of things. So I'm sharing some of my favorite things to do when I want to relax.

Fuzzy Blanket
Seriously, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate a warm, fuzzy throw. I have way more throws than places to actually "throw" them. But there's no relaxing for me without being wrapped in soft, cozy warmth. This blanket seems like it would do just the trick.

A Good Book
Getting lost in a good book is the ultimate relaxation to me. It's perfect for when you don't have anywhere to be, and you can just fully immerse yourself into a story. This memoir by Julie Andrews is next up on my reading list.

Cup of Coffee
I know that people drink coffee to stay awake, and I am fully addicted to caffeine, but I also just love to sip at a cappuccino while I'm lounging around. These cute glass double-walled cups are perfect for that.

Face Mask
Maybe it's just me, but doing a face mask just seems so pampering - and as an added bonus, your skin looks and feels better after you've taken the time for yourself. I tried this mask by Drunk Elephant at the end of last year, and was really impressed by how well it worked!

Good Music
I'll often have the TV on "in the background," but I'm trying to get away from mindlessly watching. Listening to music is equally, if not more, relaxing, and you can either play the music in the background or go all out and have a personal karaoke show - whatever your prefer. I got an Echo Show 8 last year, and the speakers are pretty decent. I use it all the time as a speaker - I can even pair it with my phone to listen to my own music.

What's your go-to R and R method?

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Organizing Update: Using my iPad as a Digital Planner

I mentioned that one of my goals this year was to feel like I'm more on top of things. By the end of last year, I kept feeling like I was always two steps behind... like I was letting things slip through the cracks, and that I just didn't feel like I was making progress on anything because there were always more things to be done.
This isn't exactly a simple goal, and there's not one quick fix to it. It's going to take continued time and effort throughout the whole year. But one thing that I wanted to change was my planner system/to-do list. I changed from a paper planner to using my iPad as a digital to-do list plus Google Calendar a year or so ago, and I like the digital way of doing things, but it needed a little bit of fine-tuning. I missed seeing my week laid out in planner style, as great as Google Calendar was for more long term tracking. So I wanted to find an in-between solution.

I was updating my resume last year (I hadn't done a real overhaul since graduating college, and a lot has changed since then!), and I bought a template for my new resume from Etsy. I don't have the graphic design skills to make things look polished, and Etsy has so many options of things that look polished and professional. So after that success, I decided to look for a digital planner template on Etsy, too.

I'm kind of picky when it comes to planner formats, even if they are digital. I don't like monthly or daily views - I just want to see the whole week at a time. I want the week to start on a Monday, and I want the blocks for weekend days to be the same amount of space as weekdays. It's a bonus if there's space for a to-do list, too, on the same page as the week itself, so that I can dot things down as they come up.

After lots and lots of searching, I found this template, and it's perfect. It has everything on my "wish list," and it works with Good Notes, which is the app that I was already using for list making. It was super easy to download and start using - there wasn't really any set up involved at all. It's been great in keeping track of my weeks, and I love that I can "erase" things digitally when plans change - the perfectionist in me always hated having things crossed out when they were cancelled!

My fingers are crossed that this helps me feel a little more in control of my day-to-day, and helps keep me productive and on-task, too. I just feel so much calmer and more relaxed when I'm on top of my schedule!

Monday, January 6, 2020

What I've Been Reading

I got a LOT of reading done in December, and it's what encouraged me to make it a goal in 2020 to read more consistently. Especially with books that I really love - they just stick with me for a long time after I read them, and it's just like listening to a really great song. They get under my skin in a way that TV shows and movies usually don't!
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
This is an incredible book, and one that's so important to read. Chanel Miller was the victim in the sexual assault trial against Brock Turner, the Stanford student. She was Jane Doe through the years of the trial, but now she's ready to speak out and ready for people to "know her name." It's tough to read, but not because it's graphic - it's just a really good look at the frustrations that she went through during the long trial process.

Once Upon A River: A Novel by Diane Setterfield
I started this one and then had a long pause before I finished it, and it took me some time to get back into the story. I love books with intertwining stories, and this one definitely had that, but I think that it could have moved a tiny bit faster. It had a bit of magical realism, which is one of my favorite genres, so I loved that aspect of it.

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
This was such a fun read for over the holidays. It follows the mom of a stylist who gets invited to go to England over the holidays to style the Duchess of Sussex. Of course, romance ensues, and we get a fun look at British royal holiday traditions, too.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
After I read Royal Holiday, I wanted another light, fun read by the same author. This book starts out with a massively botched public proposal (don't worry, this isn't a spoiler), and then the relationships that follow.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morganstern
This book is my other favorite of this bunch, along with Say My Name. It's magical realism, and at its core, it's a story about stories. It's so beautifully written, and I can't wait to read it again. It's by the same author of The Night Circus, and I was afraid this wouldn't live up to how much I loved that book, but I think it may have exceeded it! It's an incredibly intricate story and I highly recommend it.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This story follows the life of Evelyn Hugo, a fictional Hollywood star, as she grants an interview after decades of silence. It sounds like a light read, but the ending is kind of dark... I didn't see it coming! I still enjoyed it, though.

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger
I picked this up after I saw that Carly read it, and it was a good read. It follows a few different families in Colorado who are all vying to get their children in to a new school being built in the area. It has lots of characters and plot lines to keep track of, so make sure to pay attention as you read.

For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt
This is a thriller about a couple and their relationship - I don't want to say more about the plot so that I don't spoil it. It wasn't my favorite of the bunch - it dealt with some heavy topics (child abuse) and I thought that the thriller wasn't as thriller-y as I was hoping for.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
Another thriller! I read this one after a friend recommended it to me, and I think that I enjoyed it, but I'm still wrapping my head around it a bit. It was confusing in that you're constantly trying to figure out what's true and what's not... it's also a very ambiguous ending, which I did not love. But my friend is right in that it's a book you want to discuss with someone as soon as you're finished reading it!

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
This book was kind of slow at the start, but then it picked up. It follows two neighboring families throughout their lives, which are irrevocably intertwined. It wasn't a light or happy read, but it was good.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
This was another magical realism book, and while I liked it a lot, I thought that it was kind of thin and ended abruptly. I thought that we were just getting to the good part, but it was actually just done. I wanted more story, and also more explanation of the story that had already happened. 

Friday, January 3, 2020

Friday Favorites

Today's post is a short one, because I've only had a two day work week and I've been trying to not mindlessly surf the Internet while I was on break! It feels weird to go back for such a short week, but the break was so needed. I really think I was running on fumes by the end of the year (which is probably why I ended up sick).
I couldn't resist sharing this picture of Lily - she loved having people around all day over the holidays, and was so confused when we went back to work... it clearly shows on her face.

This week's favorites...

ONE - Taylor Swift's Diary of a Song
I love learning about the process behind writing music, I think partially because it's something that I just can't imagine doing. Coming up with the right words and notes to connect with people and make them feel the way that you're feeling just seems so powerful! Lover is just such an honest song, and it's really interesting to learn how it came to be.

TWO - Charlotte Tilbury's Pillow Talk
I think I picked this up at the end of the year, when Sephora had some holiday promotion going, because I'd heard/read that it's the perfect neutral, no lipstick-lipstick. I don't know if it looks like I'm not wearing lipstick, but it does look natural and doesn't look bad when it starts to wear off.

THREE - Bon Appetit Chef Makes Dog Food
I've shared some of the other Bon Appetit videos before (I've shared at least one of the Gourmet Makes videos if not more), but I don't think that I've shared this series before. This one stars an adorable dog, though, so of course I had to share!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 Goals

I've mentioned before that I'm not really one for New Years resolutions... but this is the beginning of a decade, and that just makes it seem like so much more of a big deal. It seems like a real opportunity to make some changes and improvements, and I want to take advantage of that feeling. So I'm going to set three goals (not resolutions!) for 2020.
ONE - Read More Consistently
I fall into the trap of feeling like I'm "too busy" to read, and putting on something mindless to watch instead. But I definitely read more overall this past year than I have in the last few, so now in 2020 I want to make it more of a consistent habit. 

TWO - Stay On Track
By the end of 2019, I felt a little bit like I was spinning out of control. It just felt like I couldn't keep up, like every time I accomplished something I just added five more things to my list to do. I don't want to feel like that in 2020! So I want to start the year by getting back on track, and then I want to maintain that.

THREE - Send More Snail Mail
There's just something about a handwritten letter/note/postcard that feels so personal! I know I'm so excited to get something in the mail that's from a person and not a business. So in 2020, I want to send more handwritten mail.