Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Recent Reads

 This felt like a pretty great month for reading. I did get a little distracted in the middle of the month with too much TV, but I still read some really good books that have stuck with me. I also have some great books on my next up list that I'm excited to read. One of the things that I am looking forward to in the fall is being wrapped up in a cozy blanket, sitting by the electric fireplace, and reading!

Here's what I've read over the past month.


The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
This book was beautiful, and I breezed through it in a day because I kept wanting to read more. It's a collection of nine short stories, each told by a different Black "church lady," though who exactly is a church lady is a bit broad in some of the cases. Each of the different stories is so real and heartfelt, and there are definitely some secrets in their lives, just like the title implies. I would have happily read a whole novel about the characters from each and every one of the stories. The author is also currently living here in Pittsburgh, and I love reading books by local authors!

Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar
I couldn't put down this book - I snuck in some early morning reading before work a few days because I just wanted to read a little bit more. It focuses on the story of a Pakistani playwright, and the story is all about fitting in and identity, largely in a post-9/11 world. It's a bit of a mind-twist to read at times because it mixes fact with fiction - references to things that happened, but then combining those storylines with things that are pure fiction. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't reading a memoir! But I really, really enjoyed it.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This is going to sound kind of strange, but this book is SO deliciously creepy. It's definitely magical realism (which I love), and I was so drawn into the world and trying to figure out what, exactly, was going on. The main character gets called to her newly-married cousin's estate after the cousin has mysteriously gotten sick. I had lots of theories about what was happening while I was reading... and they were all wrong.

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Joujoun Kim
This is a really touching story about mothers and daughters, and about we may have more in common with our parents than we think we do. After a young woman finds out that her mother died, she realizes how much she didn't know about her mother, and tries to follow some clues to figure out what happened and find out more about her mother's life. The book is split in two viewpoints - it goes between the daughter in present day to her mother, when she was the daughter's age. This was another pick from Reese Witherspoon's book club that I really enjoyed.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This book is so beautifully written, and tells such an incredible story, but it's not always the easiest read. It crosses many generations of Black families, starting back with the slave trade and ending years and years later. It's clearly an important story, but it's tough to read, because of the really horrific things that happen. I definitely recommend it, but it's still tough to accept.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
Okay this one was so fun to imagine - it's the story of what Hillary Clinton's life could have been like if she had never married Bill Clinton. It's a little bittersweet at times, to imagine what could have been instead of what's going on in real life right now, but it's such a fun read overall. It made me wonder how much of it is based on real life, and how much was pure fiction.

Majesty by Katharine McGee
Another super fun read - this is the sequel to American Royals, which looks at what the US would look like if George Washington had become King rather than President (apparently I like fictional takes on real events, based on these last two, ha). The first book left off on a cliffhanger, and everything that happened in the sequel is basically the opposite of what I expected! I'm not sure if there are plans to write more of this story, but I'd definitely read more!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Love a Puff (Sleeve)

 I have been loving the recent puff-sleeve trend that seems to be everywhere. Growing up, the Anne of Green Gables books were my absolute favorite, and Anne talked a lot about her love of puffed sleeves. I guess it stuck with me more than I realized, and here I am today, wanting them all.

Puff sleeves seem to be the perfect mix of dressed up and casual - it looks cute, but I'm still incredibly comfortable. Because while there are definitely days where I throw on a t-shirt and call it a day, there are also days where I want to get just a little bit more dressed up. It helps things feel a little bit more normal, and I'll take that any way I can get it.

This puff-sleeve top from J.Crew is one of my current favorites. It's called "super cozy," and it totally lives up to it's name. It feels like I'm wearing a t-shirt, but is just a little bit more dressed up. I like that the puff sleeve is there, but really subtle. It's a small detail that gives the top the little something extra that it needs! I love this blue color, but there are also more typically fall color options.

I love this top so much that my sister actually also bought the same one... and we don't always share the same style. It's that good! J.Crew has been having lots of sales and promotions lately, too. It's on final sale right now, for a great price - get it while you still can!


For a sweater version of the puff-sleeve, I bought and love this one from Banana Republic. It is so fuzzy and soft it's unbelievable - I am such a big texture person in sweaters (hence my obsession with cashmere), and this one passes the test. It's soft rather than itchy, but still cozy and warm. I don't have a lot of ivory/white sweaters, so this is a fun addition to my closet.

I've rounded up some other puff sleeve favorites, below. Are you as into this look as I am?

Monday, September 28, 2020

My Experience with Equilibria

CBD is something that I've been hearing about for a few years now. I've always been curious, but I tend to be a bit of a skeptic when it comes to things like this that become hugely popular, especially when it comes to health. I want to be able to read the research, and look at the scientific data, and make sure it's safe - and I wanted to make sure I wasn't just trying something because it was "trendy."

My sister actually started using CBD drops over a year ago, but it took me until the beginning of the pandemic to decide that it was finally time for me to try it. Honestly, there really couldn't have been a better time. I usually am pretty good an handling anxiety, but the beginning of the pandemic really had it at an all time high - I was feeling that tightness in the chest (which, of course, just made me more anxious since it was a COVID symptom). Then I read Carly's post about her experience with CBD, and it was the nudge that I needed to go for it.

Before I bought anything, though, of course I did my research. I liked that they are a women-owned company, and that they take the science behind CBD seriously. All of their CBD comes from one single farm in Colorado, and they include the lab reports for each of their products on their website. It really helped me to feel more confident about the products that I was using.

I've been using two CBD products from Equilibria - their Extra Strength Drops, and their Relief Cream. CBD is typically used for anxiety, but I was also hoping to get some chronic back pain relief from it. I would say it has delivered on both accounts. My anxiety was not out of control before CBD, but it was higher than usual because of the pandemic. I've been taking about 1/2 a dropper right when I wake up, and a half a dropper right before bed. Honestly, the CBD drops plus a Headspace wind down have been incredible for my sleep habits - I've had no issue falling asleep at all. And overall, I just feel a little bit more even. The results have been subtle, but still there.

The chronic pain relief is a bit more difficult - I think managing expectations here is key. I don't expect it to completely fix chronic pain, and I especially don't expect it to happen overnight. While my pain isn't gone (and I did have one really bad episode since I've been using CBD), it seems to be less noticeable in my day-to-day life.

Equilibria has both regular strength drops and extra strength drops (which I use). There's no right or wrong answer for which you should use, really. I've found the SMA tends to mess with my metabolism, and because of that, I went for the extra strength right away. The regular strength are offered both in unflavored and mint flavored, while the extra strength are just unflavored. The taste doesn't bother me, but it is definitely a "natural" taste. If it does bother you, putting them in the fridge for a bit before taking them brings the flavor down. When you're taking them, the key is to really make sure you hold them under your tongue for the full 60 seconds so that they can properly be absorbed by your body!

The nice thing about Equilibria is that they have a Dosage Specialist you can talk to about any questions you have (regular vs. extra strength, timing throughout the day, etc.). I learned so much from talking to mine, and she even sent me links to more resources that I could look into on my own. I was really impressed! Plus, you can subscribe, and they send you your drops monthly, so you never run out (and it's discounted when you subscribe, too!). It's easy to pause or cancel, or add something extra to your next shipment - you can do it all online.

The other Equilibria product that I've been loving is the Relief Cream. It's been great for my back when it does get a bit sore, especially right before bed, when I'm laying in one position for a lot of hours in a row. It's also incredible for period cramps - I put it directly on my stomach and it works wonders. It has menthol in it too, so it feels cooling and soothing all at the same time. A little bit of the cream goes a very long way, so you can use it sparingly. Also - if it gets too melty, you can just pop it in the fridge for a few minutes and it solidifies again. I'm honestly shocked at how much I love the Relief Cream - it really exceeded my expectations.

If CBD is something that you've been considering, I absolutely recommend Equilibria. I've had nothing but good experiences, and honestly - right now, I will use anything I can to help me feel less anxious and more calm! 

 You can use the code hello20 for 20% off your first order! Also, the referral code REFHEATHER.TOMKO will get you $20 off your first order!

Friday, September 25, 2020

Friday Favorites

Somehow, this is the last Friday in September, which is absolutely wild to me. I've been feeling pretty scattered lately, and so I'm trying to get things back on track and feel a little bit more in control. I'm trying to be better about sleeping, about staying on top of my inbox and my calendar... I feel so much better in my life when I have a handle on things. Fingers crossed that I keep this up!

ONE - Marty and Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Love Story
This is such a touching tribute to Marty Ginsburg and Ruth Bader Ginsburg's relationship. Reading about his complete support for her and her career (especially during a time when this was less common) is so touching.

TWO - GBBO is Back!
The Great British Bake-Off is one of the rare competition shows that never actually becomes competitive - the cooks and so friendly and so supportive of each other. It'll be interesting to see how they adapted to filming during the pandemic, but a dose of happy TV is exactly what I think we all need right now.

THREE - New Coffee Mug
I needed something that would keep my coffee warm while I was working outside, and this has worked perfectly. It's super insulated but not too heavy for me to lift, and it keeps my coffee nice and toasty, so I stay warm too. It's also great for cocktails and keeping things chilled.

FOUR - Schitt's Creek Emmy Wins
I love Schitt's Creek so, so much. Just like GBBO, it's a show that's fundamentally about happiness and joy. I definitely watch my share of dark shows, and snarky ones, but something about Schitt's Creek is just so special.

FIVE - This is Paris Documentary
I read about this on Carly's blog and was convinced to watch it. I didn't really follow Paris Hilton growing up (I've never seen an episode of The Simple Life), but it was really interesting to watch, and to see how (like so many other people!) the difference between Paris Hilton the person and Paris Hilton the brand.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Ebbs and Flows

 I don't know about you, but I've been feeling a bit uninspired lately. I think partially, it's always something that happens for me this time of year... I'm such a summer person that I get sad when I can feel it coming to an end. But this year, things feel like they're on a whole different scale. 


While it felt strange to not take any trips or vacations this year, on the whole, the summer felt like a bit of a reprieve from the pandemic. Even though I still am staying at home, the ability to just spend a lot of time outside and feel that fresh air kept me from feeling like I am "trapped" in my house. Being able to work outside, eat outside, read outside... it all made things feel much less claustrophobic. Plus, I had a few (very) socially distanced yard visits, and it was unbelievably nice to see people that I don't live with.

But all I can think about - and all that I try to stop thinking about - is what the winter is going to be like, and how I'm going to find a way to cope. We had a fairly mild winter last year, and by March when the pandemic hit here, there were already more days than not that I could spend at least some time outside. But I know that won't be the case for this whole winter, and I'm trying to figure out how to get ready for that, mentally.

It feels like the last 6 months have been filled with ebbs and flows - days where things don't seem so awful, and days where it seems like things can't possibly continue the way that they have been. On the whole, I feel like I've been dealing with everything pretty well... but then a tiny part of me wonders if this means that the other shoe is going to drop at some point, so to speak.

I just keep reminding myself that the pandemic (or any huge life disruption, really) is bound to have highs and lows... and to focus on enjoying the highs while they're happening, rather than worrying about when the lows are going to come. Since I'm thinking about all of this right now, I thought maybe some of you might be, too. It seemed like the right time to check in with all of you.

How are you all doing? Anyone else feeling like I am?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Show You Vote

I've loved all of the different things I've come across emblazoned with the reminder to "vote." Obviously, voting is incredibly important - you can click here for a state-by-state list of voter registration deadlines and more information about how to register. I think it's also more stylish than every to show that you plan to vote in November! So I pulled together my favorite things I've found to show how politically engaged you are.


ONE - Mustard Vote Tee
The reaction that I got to this t-shirt when I posted it a few weeks ago is actually what inspired me to do this post! I love how much you all loved the representation in the message.


TWO - Vote Mask
Of course - it wouldn't be 2020 if there wasn't a mask on the list! I love the simplicity of the design coupled with the power of the message - and I love that they're doing it in suffragette white, too! 

THREE - Vote Necklace
I know that I've shared this before, but I had to include it again here. I love jewelry that sends a message, and this is the perfect message to send.

FOUR - Vote Tote
I have such a thing for tote bags - I can't resist picking up a cute one when I see it. And this one is definitely a cute, fun one! It's another collaboration with When We All Vote (like the necklace is, too), and I love how many companies are teaming up to spread the word to vote!

FIVE - Vote Crop
There's nothing comfier than a crop top when you're hanging out around the house - more fitting right now than ever!


SIX - Vote Earrings
This shop donates 75% of their profits back to their foundation which works to create better quality of life for people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers, which I think is really amazing. They're handmade in Virginia Beach, and such a fun accessory!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Cozy in (more) Cashmere

 It was only a few years ago that I understood why everyone loved cashmere so much, and now I am basically fully obsessed. It's so hard for me to resist when I see a cute cashmere sweater! They're so soft and lightweight and warm and cozy all at the same time.


So of course, when I got an e-mail from Everlane about their new short-sleeved cashmere sweater, I knew that I had to get one. I'm already a big fan of their long-sleeved cashmere, so it was kind of a no-brainer for me. I love that Everlane's sweaters typically fit me really well, their prices are reasonable, and the quality is really nice. Plus, I'm really trying hard to buy less clothes, but better quality ones - and I really appreciate Everlane's commitment to transparency and ethical production. The clothes that I've bought from them in the past have held up really well over the years.

The cashmere tee is no exception! The fit is perfect (I'm wearing the XXS), and I love the bright, bold color. It's not quite as soft as the J. Crew one (in this post), but it's a bit more substantial, so I know it'll be great as the temperatures continue to dip. It's absolutely still comfortable, and doesn't look slouchy but isn't too fitted, either. It's just as perfect for working (whether at home or in the office) as it is lounging on the weekend. 

Especially since I'm spending so much (well... all) of my time at home right now, it's so important to me that I buy clothes that don't just work in one specific setting, but rather things that I'll get lots of wear out of. This cashmere tee totally fits the bill for me, and I think it would for you, too!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Friday Favorites

It has been unbelievably nice here this week, and I'm squeezing in lots of time with my deck serving as my office (the sky behind me creates a really pretty Zoom background)! Other than that, not much going on here - it was a relatively quiet and peaceful week in my life. It's been really nice to not have classes to worry about right now, too. It still feels strange (but great!) to know that there are no more papers or problem sets or exams in my life right now.


On to the favorites!

ONE - Hold Still Exhibit
This was a "community project" - an exhibition, headed by the Duchess of Cambridge and housed at the National Portrait Gallery, about what life was like in the UK during the lockdown phase of the pandemic. It's an incredibly poignant exhibition, and a glimpse into the lives of a diverse group of people.


TWO - Ingrid Michaelson and Lauren Ridloff Duet
This is an absolutely beautiful performance - a duet between Ingrid Michaelson and Lauren Ridloff (a deaf actress) where they perform a song from Dear Evan Hansen. Not only is the song itself stunning, but the story behind choosing the sign to accompany the titular lyrics ("You Will Be Found") is interesting, too.


THREE - Cute but Comfy Dress
The minute I saw this dress, I knew I had to order it. I love that the material looks "fancy" and luxe but the cut of the dress definitely errs on the side on comfort. I feel like that's my 2020 vibe in a nutshell!
Bonus: Use code BRCARDFF for 50% off everything!

FOUR - Voting as a "High-Risk" Person
Alice Wong is one of my favorite activists. I think she writes really powerfully here about an incredibly important issue - voting this year as a disabled person, where it feels like vote-by-mail is constantly under threat. It's also a great explanation about voting inaccessibility in general.


FIVE - Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Gloria Steinem
One more about voting! I loved reading this conversation between Meghan Markle and Gloria Steinem. There are some really interesting insights, and I especially loved Gloria's statement that "If you don’t vote you don’t exist. It’s the only place where we are all equal: in the voting booth."



Tuesday, September 15, 2020

An Easier Time, Period

Before we get into today's post, I want to say off the bat - I'm going to be talking about periods today. They're a normal part of life, and I don't think it should be awkward, but if it's something that makes you uncomfortable reading about, you can stop now and come back on Friday for the usual Friday Favorites post.

For as long as I can remember, my periods have been irregular. It's actually something that's gotten slightly better as I've gotten older, but they're often between a few days to a week off in either direction. I track them with the Clue app and built-in Health app on my iPhone so that I have a general idea when it's coming, but the window is fairly big. This isn't a huge deal for me in my life right now, but it does mean that it makes it difficult for me to really prepare for my period.


When I say prepare, I mean logistically, because having a period as a disabled woman can be a bit tricky. I can't use the bathroom by myself, and because of how tricky it can be for me to balance on a toilet out in public, trying to replace a pad in the middle of the day is not easy. And if my period ends up being a little earlier than I expected, it can be (literally) messy trying to put a pad on. Tampons are a whole other story, because again - I can't insert it by myself!

Even at home it can be challenging. Wearing a pad and sitting on it all the time can feel a bit like wearing a diaper - it's not ideal. And since it takes some maneuvering to get me comfortably positioned in my chair, there's always the chance that the pad will end up shifting a little bit and not covering everywhere that it needs to. The same thing happens overnight, too - it takes a bit of work for me to find a comfortable way to sleep, and things get shifted just enough that I wake up to a stain on my sheets.

Enter Thinx period underwear. I'm not really sure why it took me this long to try out a pair of period underwear, but I'm so glad that I did. They're so much more comfortable than wearing a pad, and definitely easier than wearing a tampon. I was really impressed, too, that there was absolutely no leakage at all, even when I wore them all night long. And you don't have to do anything special to clean them - just throw them in the washing machine!

I got the organic cotton bikini style, but there are so many different options if that's not your preference. Since I'm so petite, finding underwear that are small enough can be challenging - espsecially for period underwear, when you want to make sure they fit well! Thinx has sizes from XXS to 3XL, which is a great range, and the XXS fit me perfectly. 

Obviously, I think these underwear are great for someone like me, with a disability, but I also think anyone would love them. They're convenient and comfortable, and you don't have to worry about running out of a tampon or pad and needing to borrow one from a stranger! And unlike a tampon, there's no harm to wearing them a day or two before your period when you think it's coming soon but you're not exactly sure what day. Everyone, disabled or not, has had at least one incident with an unfortunate period stain, whether it's on sheets or clothes, and these underwear make that one less thing that you need to worry about. They've made my pandemic periods at least a little more tolerable, and I think they'll do the same for yours, too.

Fall Wish List

 Right now, I'm in search of what I'm calling "Zoom shirts" for fall. Tops that are comfortable enough to wear all day while I'm working, that look nice on Zoom for any meetings that pop up.... and that can be paired with sweatpants or leggings on the bottom with no one else knowing! 


For me, this mostly takes the form of lightweight, cozy sweaters. I've been doing quite a bit of online browsing lately (and some purchasing, too!) and am sharing my favorites that I have my eye on.

Also - use code FALLFAVES at J. Crew to get 35% off your purchase!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Coffee Favorites

One thing that the pandemic has made me extra-grateful for is my at-home coffee routine. When I was working in the office, I was going to Starbucks multiple times a day during the work week, and because I'm being extra cautious, I only had my first drive-through Starbucks cappuccino last week! I've been relying on coffee I make at home to get me through the day.

It's taken me a while, but I feel like I'm almost at the point where I like the coffee I make at home as much as I like the coffee I buy at coffee shops. This doesn't mean that I don't miss going out for a cappuccino (believe me, I really do!), but I have been enjoying my daily coffees at home. I thought I'd share my favorites with you today.

While my favorite coffee drink is a cappuccino, I start the day with just a regular cup of coffee - it's much quicker, and I am basically the living embodiment of every cliche about not starting the day before I've had my first cup of coffee. During the pandemic, I switched from using big-brand coffee beans to getting ground coffee delivered from a local coffee shop, and now I don't think that I'll ever be able to go back. My current go-to is the Morning Blend from Commonplace Coffee, but I highly recommend finding a local shop near you that will deliver/you can (safely) pick up from. It makes a world of difference in taste, and you get to support a local business, too.

For the rest of my daily caffeine fix, I rely on my Nespresso. I'm interested in getting a more traditional espresso machine (so if you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!), but for now, I can't beat the convenience of the Nespresso. When the pandemic really began to take shape here in March, while people were hoarding toilet paper, I was worried about getting enough Nespresso pods. Clearly, I knew my priorities! 

My current machine is the Creatista Plus, and I love how easy it is to use. This isn't my first Nespresso machine - I had an older one, and upgraded a few years ago. It's part of the Original Line (not Virtuo line), so it only brews espresso-based drinks, not regular coffee. It also has a milk frother built in, which is also automatic - you just fill the milk jug and it foams it perfectly! I also love how cutomizeable it is - you can adjust the temperature of the espresso and the amount of foam that you want. 

Like all Nespresso machines, it uses pods that are incredibly easy to buy directly from them. My biggest pet peeve used to be that you had to pay for shipping, but now it's free if you spend $35, so I always just plan to order enough to stock up for a while. They do have seasonal ones, but I tend to stick to the more traditional flavors - even then, there are so many to choose from! Every few months I change it up and try a few different flavors to see what my favorites are.

If you're looking for an easy way to upgrade your at-home coffee routine without needing expert barista skills, I cannot recommend my Nespresso more! I joke that it's the only thing getting me through the pandemic, but it really has made my days more enjoyable.

And of course - these are my go-to cappuccino mugs. They're chic, they're double-walled so they keep my drink warm, and they're SO lightweight. The perfect way to enjoy my cappuccino!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Friday Favorites

I actually took this whole week off from work, and it was sorely needed. I had dreams of being really productive on non-work things and that... did not happen. Instead, I relaxed, enjoyed some time outside, and played some Animal Crossing on the Switch. It made me realize how much I needed the break, and I still have the weekend to relax a little more until it's back to "normal."

So, on to this week's favorites.

ONE - Women on their Career Milestones
I thought it was great to read each of these women - from all different fields and different ages - talk about when they felt like they had their "big break."


TWO - Puff Sleeved Top
J. Crew is having a great sale right now, and this is one of the things headed my way! I love anything described as "supercozy," and I love the blue color and the very slightly puff detailing on the sleeve. Use code ADDTOBAG to get 25% off one item, 30% off two, and 40% off three!)


THREE - Talking About Mental Health
I don't think it's any secret that many people are struggling with their mental health this year. This article, written by someone who has person experience with mental health issues, is a great explainer for what to say and what not to say to anyone struggling.


FOUR - Colorblock Sweater
I am currently all in on short sleeved sweaters for the coming fall season. The t-shirt dress I have from Summersalt is unbelievably comfortable, so I can't imagine the sweater wouldn't be, as well.

FIVE - When We All Vote Necklace
I shared the BYCHARI "Vote" necklace last week, but mentioned that it was a bit out of my price range. So I was so excited to see that they partnered with the organization When We All Vote to make a more affordable version that's still just as cute.


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Cute Desk Accessories

 My favorite part about back-to-school was always buying new school supplies. My sister and I would go up and down the aisles picking out our favorites notebooks and folders and binders.

I may not be going back to school anymore, but I think the adult version of school supplies is cute desk accessories. I can't resist a cute notebook or to-do list, and keep looking for new ways to organize my desk, whether it's a wireless charging tray or a hanging file folder. I pulled together some of my current favorite cute desk accessories below!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Feeling Like Fall

Summer is my favorite season. I love feeling the sun on my shoulders, and sitting outside for hours with a good book, and watching Lily roll around in the grass in the yard. There's just something about summer that reminds me of the freedom that you feel as a kid when school lets out for the year.

But since my birthday is in September, of course I also enjoy fall. Nothing tastes better to me than a warm coffee outside when you can smell the fall crispness in the air. And my other favorite part about fall is that I can start wearing cashmere again! There is nothing like a soft, cozy sweater when the temperatures start to drop.

I have lots of long sleeved sweaters, but I actually don't have many short sleeved options. Since I'm still trying to spend as much time as possible right now, I wanted something that would be warm, but not too heavy for these in-between temperatures. This short sleeved cashmere sweater from J. Crew is the perfect choice.

First of all, it is SO soft. Just so perfectly soft that it's so incredibly comfortable to wear (not itchy at all) - the quality of the cashmere is clear! It's very thin, so it doesn't feel like you're wearing something heavy or bulky. It's really one of those things that you just don't want to take off. I also love how perfectly fall-like the color is!

Sometime J.Crew sizing can confuse me, but I felt that this one was pretty true to size. I'm super petite, and the XXS fits me like a glove. It's really rare for me to find a top that fits without me having to alter it in some way (usually, I just safety pin the neckline in the back, because my shoulders are so narrow), but this one fit perfectly without having to change anything.

I wish that I could buy this in every color! I'll be keeping my eye on J. Crew's site to find out the next time they're having a sale on cashmere so I can pick up another one.

Monday, September 7, 2020

My 32nd Birthday!

I'm usually a big birthday person - not that the celebration has to be elaborate, but I like it to be recognized. I tend to extend the celebrations... birthday weekend, birthday week, and birthday month are all things that I've said!

Obviously, this year's celebrations are looking a little bit different than previous years, but I'm really feeling okay it about it. I think the pandemic has really taught me to be grateful for the small things in a way that I wasn't before. So instead of a trip to DC like I did for my 30th, or like a rooftop celebration with friends like I did last year, this year's was much more low-key but no less enjoyable. This year, I had a front porch visit with friends that I haven't seen in months, I had some of my favorite Milk Bar Pie, I relaxed outside, and I spent time with family.

Do I hope that by next year's birthday, I can celebrate with friends and family somewhere that isn't my house? Yes, definitely! But I'm still so grateful for the people in my life who have gone out of their way to celebrate this year. It's felt so nice to have something happy to look forward to and focus on, and it's really brightened my days.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Friday Favorites

Another week down - not too much to share, but this is the start of my birthday weekend, so that's definitely something to look forward to! I still can't believe that it's September and my birthday - so surreal, no matter how many times I say it.

 On to the favorites!

ONE - Vote T-shirt
I had to start with this one - how cute is it?! I'm not usually a t-shirt person, but I saw this one and knew I had to get it. Not only do I love the representation of all kinds on it, but I love the store behind the shirt, too. It was started by the family of a child with SMA, and the money raised from the shop goes towards creating accessible playgrounds. So incredible!

TWO - Essay on Grief
This is a heartbreakingly beautiful essay about grieving during the pandemic, while also witnessing the injustices being done to Black people and the Black Lives Matter protests. I think that everyone should read it.

THREE - Schitt's Creek Cast Interview
For something a bit more lighthearted - Jennifer Garner interviewing the cast of Schitt's Creek! She clearly loves the show as much as we all did, and it's so fun to watch her talk with the cast.

FOUR - Vote Necklace
Closing it out with more vote-related apparel! This is the one that Michelle Obama wore during her speech at the Convention, and while it's definitely out of my price range, I think it's the perfect way to show you're a voter!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Focusing on the Positive

 Sometimes I feel like when something goes wrong in my life (this time, major back pain that I could not get under control), there's a domino effect and other things just keep going wrong, one after the other. It can be frustrating - especially on top of everything else going on in the world right now. It can make you just want to curl up in a ball and hide for a few days, just hoping that things blow over.

And there's definitely something to be said for feeling your feelings and shedding a few tears - I do both of those things and more. But once I've allowed myself to acknowledge those emotions, I try really hard to consciously focus on the positives rather than wallow in the negatives.

This is on the front of my mind right now because of the health issues I've been dealing with, but I think it's something that's relevant for everyone this year. There are so many terrible things going on in the world, and we each have our own personal issues that we're all dealing with on top of that. What we're dealing with is relative and personal - what's gut-wrenching for one person might not even rate for another - but that doesn't make it any less difficult to handle. I've found that really, the only way to not get totally overwhelmed when things start going wrong is to think about what's still going right.

For example - the upside of dealing with health issues during a pandemic is that I'm not missing out on any plans because I'm not feeling well. I'm surrounded by my supportive family, and I have a great medical team willing to squeeze me in for a telehealth visit and really listens to me and trusts my intuition about how I'm feeling. Plus, there are so many episodes of shows on Netflix and Hulu to watch while I recover! These are all things that I'm incredibly grateful for.

Does it still suck that I had to deal with this right now? Of course. But I can acknowledge that while also acknowledging the good things going on, too. For me, it's the only way to get through.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Recent Reads

This was a slower reading month for me, but I'm happy that I'm keeping up the practice of reading a little bit even if I'm not zipping through books like I was earlier this summer. Plus, Majesty, the sequel to American Royals, comes out today, so I have a new book that I'm really excited to read!

Here's what I read over the last month.

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
I really love mythology, and this book is based around a fictional mythology, so I really enjoyed that. It's a bit of a mystery and a bit of a romance, set it a fictional country in a fictional past. I did wish that there was more to the story at the end, but while I was reading I was really drawn into the whole universe of the book.

Pew by Catherine Lacey
If you, like me, read The Lottery in high school, you'll understand what I mean when I say that the whole time I was reading this book, I could tell that there was just something off. It also reminded me a little bit of the Stepford Wives - everything seemed so perfect that I kept reading to figure out what was going on underneath. It's called Pew because the story starts with a person who is found sleeping on a church pew, and no one knows who they are or where they come from. This is another book where the story ended and I still had lots of questions unanswered.

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown
This was a fun read about a con artist who is trying to steal family money from a wealthy influencer. But of course, there's more to the story hidden beneath the surface, and you're constantly wondering who is really conning who. It's a nice reminder that the lives we show on Instagram are not necessarily exactly honest.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer
My friends and I were all OBSESSED with the Twilight books when we were younger, so of course I had to read Midnight Sun when it was released. It's basically the first book of the Twilight series but told through Edward's point of view. It's pretty long, and it tends to drag at some points... but it brought back so many nostalgic feelings about reading the series for the first time!