BOOK VERSUS MOVIE: The Darkest Minds

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Spoilers ahead people… I’ll warn you one more time but SPOILERS. ARE. AHEAD.

If you haven’t read (or seen) The Darkest Minds, it’s a great little young adult fantasy trilogy. Set in a world where very few children remain alive, most of the kids in the United States have fallen victim to a strange disease the government calls I.A.A.N. The survivors have developed “powers,” and are divided into colors based on their special abilities – reds control fire, yellows electricity, greens are super smart, and so forth. Since the government doesn’t know what to do with these kids, they throw them in work camps and gruesomely try to find a cure (kind of.. but anyway..). Ruby Daley is one of the few mind-controlling oranges (spoiler alert) who has been hiding in plain sight in the Thurmond camp for years, when a revolutionary group breaks her free and sets her out into the world – cue the young adult, dystopian future adventure.

Here is where you should turn for spoilers. I have quite a few thoughts about how the movie lived up to the book (which I very much enjoyed).

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First of all, there were a few changes I liked, and a few I was annoyed about. Let’s start with the annoyances:

  • Liam’s accent. In the books, Liam Stewart is a sassy southern charmer who catches Ruby’s eye almost instantly. And sure, in the movie he caught her eye too, but part of his charm was his adorable southern drawl which they conveniently eliminated in the movie. I mean, I know I’m not a director, but how hard would that have been to throw in an accent?! Any actor worth his salt should be able to pull that off. #disappointed.
  • Zu’s pink gloves. To be fair, Zu doesn’t ALWAYS have pink gloves in the books, but the sweet moment when Ruby finds her an adorable set of pink rubber gloves was a scene I sorely missed. Zu is a little girl stuck travelling the country side with two boys, with a backstory that will break your heart. Even without the storyline we eventually get, you can tell she’s hurting, and a little bit of hope in those gloves would’ve brightened up the movie – it’s why it’s in the books!darkest minds
  • MAJOR PLOT CHANGE. In the book, our ragtag group of runaways make it out of the East River together and in one piece. Zu leaves a bit earlier to go to California with another group, and Liam, Chubs, and Ruby stay behind to just barely make it back out onto the road when Clancy’s army hits. IN THE MOVIE they throw everything together. They make the attack on East River the penultimate scene – Chubs is injured, Zu gets carted off to “safety,” and Ruby calls the League for help. It was just too much shoved together for my taste.
    • Side note – they eliminate the ENTIRE story of Jack’s letter to his father. That was kind of a crucial plot line showing some of the nastier reactions parents had to their children’s disease. Plus, I’m sorry, a neck burn is very different than a gunshot.
    • Second side note – during this scene we see the reds in action, and IT. WAS. WEIRD. They BREATHE fire, kind of, and it was really disturbing. I would rank it up there with the representation of the mutts in the Hunger Games movie. *shivers*

So being a book-lover, obviously I easily picked out the flaws in the movie adaption. However, I DID actually like it. Here are a few things I either settled on, or genuinely enjoyed.

  • The cast. I thought this movie was so well cast. Anytime you see Mandy Moore hittin’ the big screen you know you’re in for a treat – and she was just a fabulous Kate. Liam, Zu and Ruby all hit the marks for me too, and the actor who played Chubs captured him perfectly. Chubs is low-key my favorite character, so I was a little worried about that. PLUS… throwing in Gwendoline Christie from Game of Thrones was an extra treat. Totally unnecessary to cast someone so high profile (is she high profile actually though? Or is it just because I’m a fan?) in that role, but hey, I appreciated the effort.
  • The overall effect. While I was [understandably] irritated with some of the changes, at the end of the day the movie still made sense. It was rushed, as all book adaptions are, but the premise matched the book and we got to the same place in the end. I’ll tune in for movie #2, and hope it gets the green light.

What did you all think? Has anyone seen the movie? Give me your thoughts, book friends!

xo, gal-pal, Meg

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BOOK REVIEW: A Discovery of Witches

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Hello blog friends! I know our hostess-with-the-mostest and I have been a little MIA – let me tell ya friends, life is busy – but I’ve decided to come back with my book reviews, in smaller dosages. When I can manage, I’ll still give you the big ‘ol books and booze full review, but I’ve been reading a lot this summer and you all just NEED. TO. KNOW about it. So… let us get going with my current obsession, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

Have you ever read a book that just completely occupies your mind?  You can’t think about anything but that book for days. You dream about it, you think about it at work, and even when you finish you just can’t seem to do anything but look up fan art and theories just to keep the hangover at bay. Well, that is what A Discovery of Witches has done to me. Now, thank GOD it’s a trilogy so I was able to jump right into another book, but Harkness has caught my attention and rocked my world.ADOW2

A Discovery of Witches follows Diana Bishop, a witch descended from a long line of witches, who has renounced her heritage and dedicated her life to academia. But when the ancient vampire Matthew Clairmont enters her life, everything she’s known and everything she’s kept at bay turns her world upside down and even threatens to destroy it.

I. Loved. This. Book. It’s got history, it’s got science, it’s got witches, vampires, daemons.. IT HAS IT ALL. I never thought I would find a fantasy book that was so rooted in both the intellectual and fantastical. By making the main character a historian who specializes in alchemy, which is essentially the medieval study of chemistry, Harkness is able to tie in a time period that was struggling with science and the inherent belief in creatures beyond the scope of humanity, while still keeping the plot in the current century. PLUS, she’s added a love story that has me wishing vampires were real (not the sparkly kind…), and thrown in some family dynamics even us humans can relate to. And I will also say, without trying to spoil anything, that the love story is refreshing. This book isn’t a “she loves him but can’t tell him” “he loves her but won’t commit” kind of tale, and I don’t think I’ll spend the next 1400 pages ripping my hair out and screaming at fictional characters. This story is not about love. It’s about history and fate, and two people working together to save their kind. Oh boy, I’m getting excited all over again. Go read this book, and I’ll be back with my book 2 review soon!

xo, gal-pal, Meg

TEN TIPS FOR THROWING A BABY SHOWER

Since we were on the recent subject of BABIES, I thought that would be a great segue for sharing with ya’ll my recent woke’ness from hosting a few baby showers this past year. Here are a few things I learned:

ONE: Plan ahead.

    • Ask the mom-to-be what their nursery theme is. From this you can easily determine what colors to use. Added bonus – you can gift them any leftover decorations they might want to use for their baby’s new room or future photo shoots.
    • Ask the mom-to-be what they do NOT want. Trust me this is #majorkey to success in giving them a shower they will actually love. The last thing you want to do is assume what you like, they will like too. You didn’t agree on Juicy tracksuits in ’05, you’re not going to agree on them now. Have honest conversations early about what they like and dislike. You don’t want them showing up to their own party like “why the F is there a human baby shaped birthday cake on that table.”
    • Ask the mom-to-be what to eat. No non-preggo compliant foods please, but please be compliant to preggo food tastes. Pickles hors d’oeuvre, anyone?
Werline Baby Shower

Creative credit here, this shower theme was fully inspired by Love, Jordan’s  “A BABY IS BREWING” – BABY SPRINKLE

TWO: Ask for help.

    • Now, this is not the easiest for me, and I know a lot of you OCD freak-a-leaks like me feel the same. But guess what?! It is OK to ask for help. Contact the mom-to-be’s family and other closest friends. And if you must, enlist your own fam to help too. We are all busy in this day and age, so some people might not be able to put forth physical effort, and that’s OK too. They might feel more comfortable just bringing a bag of pita chips or pitching in funds. Which brings me to my next point…

Asked a girlfriend to help and she brought these delicious bourbon sliders for us! 

THREE: Don’t be afraid to ask for money.

    • This is hard, but for those who can, will. Do not feel bad for asking, and do not make those who cannot feel bad either. Preface with asking how they can help. And if time is a constraint, ask them if they mind pitching in $5, $10, $20+ to help with food costs. At the end of the day, any little titty-bit helps!

Girlfriend also hooked us up with some downright dangerous Guinness cupcakes with Bailey’s cream frosting. Beer mug cupcakes toppers came from Amazon, 18 for $9.99.

FOUR: Shop Amazon.

    • While one of my personal passions is design, sometimes it is easier to let someone else design the invites. I ended up ordering a custom pdf design off Etsy, then ordered my prints from Amazon Prime photo. I kid you not when I say I saved major $$$ doing this. And if you have the time, Canva.com has a great library of templated invites you can customize to your own liking.

Pub mix bags from Amazon, 50 for $9.99 stuffed with most addicting popcorn mix from Costco (and just sharpie for the text). 

FIVE: Borrow, borrow, borrow for extra décor.

    • Call your mother, your sister, your auntie… and if necessary, even your busy body neighbor (trust, she already knows you’re planning a party without her). If you are short on serving platters or butter knifes, do not go buy out your local Homegoods store. Instead, ask around and see what you can borrow. Then clean it nicely and return promptly post shin-dig. You and your mother-in-law will thank me later.

SIX: Bring the outside, inside.

    • You don’t need to go spend buccos of money at some local florist for custom made arrangements. If you have access to pretty magnolias, begonias, hydranias, peonies, etc. outside – go clip you a bundle and create your own arrangement. And if you don’t have access to an outdoor secret garden, hit up your local wholesale florist. Their prices are a fraction of the cost and you can hand any leftovers out to the lovely ladies who help you throw the party.

We used jute, magnolia leaves from my yard, and a gold pen for beverage markers. 

SEVEN: Shop Costco for food.

    • Preach. Costco. Preach. All I can say, is if you want people to think you catered your party… go buy bulk in Costco and make magic happen. They have pre-prepped platters ready to go and a cheese selection to keep you satisfied for days. And if you haven’t ever seen Costco’s beer and wine prices… oh honey. Prosecco first class for $7.99. Need I say more?

I classed up our Kirkland brand wine with these wine bottle labels from Amazon, set of 4 for $8.89.

 

Wings from Costco’s ready prepped meal section. ~$15 for a tray of pre-cooked wings. All you have to do is throw them in the oven before the party. So simple. And yes, they are fresh, not frozen.

EIGHT: Hit up the dollar store.

  • I thought my mom was smoking crack when she showed up at my house with bags and bags from the Dollar Tree. But much to my surprise, that stuff was on point. Clear cutlery, wine cups, table clothes, tissue paper, and white balloons for days! It was like hitting a baby shower jackpot. They have an entire party section in that store and let me tell ya, sista, it ain’t bad. I learned my lesson turning my nose up, because that store saved me goddess knows how much money!

These individual salad cups and mini spoons came from the dollar store! Salad fixings all from Costco: Strawberry fields salad topped with goat cheese, candied walnuts, and Stonewall Kitchen Balsamic Fig Dressing.

Backdrop created using a white table cloth and tissue flowers from the Dollar Tree + ivy vines from Amazon, 78ft 12 pack for $14.75 + “oh baby” letters from Amazon, $6.90

NINE: Create something memorable.

  • Take notes from weddings here — Whether it’s a photo shoot guestbook, books for baby, or souvenir baby shower plastic cup. Incorporate something that the soon to be parents and guests can cherish and appreciate for years to come (or until the dishwasher crushes your plastic cup). After all, how many babies do your besties have? Unless your bestie is a Duggar. No offense and goddess bless to you and your babies.
  • For this party, we had an instant film Polaroid camera set up for guests to take a pic and leave a note for baby is the photo album next to their shot.

TEN: Play it cool.

    • Your house may not be perfect the day of the party. Fact. Face it. It’s cool. You can spend all night cleaning and prepping and still not be happy. But at the end of the day, guess what… your guests probably are not going to notice that your one flower arrangement had last week’s wholesale florist pickings (that eucalyptus is not dying, it’s vintage).

Hosting is never easy. But make the best of it and enjoy. And if you’re like me.. treat yo’self with a personal bottle of bubbly after the crowd is gone. You can always clean tomorrow 😉

Call me nuts, but I like it frantic.

Oh hello, lady loves. And hi-hi to my gents out there too.

Some of you may be thinking, “where the F have you been?!” I know, I know. I have been in hiding. But don’t worry your sexy little heart, not from you. I have been just a little bit side tracked from the blog lately. Why you may ask? Well… I am totally preggo…

NOT! Totally kidding. OMG, I almost even gave myself a heart attack with that one. Full disclosure, I am not pregnant with a human baby. However, I have been giving birth to a few other types of babies these past five months. So what’s all been going on then? I will give you the Cliff Notes version, because lesbi-honest who really wants to hear someone drown on and on about their own life. I refuse to be that person at a cocktail party you fake a phone call to get away from. We’ve all been there, don’t feel bad. Just politely say “I’m sorry, I have to take this…” and run as far away as you can before you get ear raped any further.

OK, back on topic here… WHAT. IS. A. HAPPENING.

BABY #1: THE NEXT FIXER UPPER Photo Shape Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/shape-tool

We have moved into our little cottage on the mountain! Yes, we love it. Yes, it’s a dream. And yes, we ARE still renovating. It’s an old house, so that part is never ending. Kind of like Fast and the Furious sequels. I’ve been considering doing a few posts about the demo, kitchen overhaul, etc… Would ya’ll be interested in a share of the Joanna Gaine’s-wanna-be progress? 😉

BABY #2: WE’RE OPENING A BAR, A JUICE BAR. Photo Shape Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/shape-tool

Say whaaat… yes, it’s true. My love for all things organic is coming to fruition in one big ol’ avocado dream ❤ This has been underway for quite some time now, and while I wanted to share all the excitement here and with every stranger I saw walking down the street.. I had to keep my my MAC lined lips sealed until it was all official. And OH BABY IT IS OFFISH! (Do people still say offish? IDK. Oh well.) So after the much awaited wait, I am happy to say we have joined the joined the Clean Juice fam! We will be opening Alabama’s first Clean Juice in downtown Huntsville. We will have all the juicy organic goodness — from juices and smoothies, to açaí bowls, and avocado toast for days. Oh, and did I mention we will have coffee?! For more info on Clean Juice, check us out here.

 

BABY #3: CABANA OOH-NA-NA Photo Shape Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/shape-tool

I have teamed up with our business partners for Clean Juice Huntsville and have been helping them build their new start-up’s branding and marketing from the ground up. *Queue the Gloria Estefan music*…

Welcome, Cabana Wax studio! As if my brain was made to market in this type of industry… I have had a fabulous time branding and designing this new concept. Oh, the one liner wax puns I can come up with after a few glass of a sultry red blend… You can imagine they have to rein right brain in a little here. Hehe. But real talk, Cabana Wax will be a full-service wax studio, offering a range of fab services at a real-girl price. For more deets on Cabana Wax, check out our new website (that your’s truly built from the boiler plate up to the domain) at cabanawaxstudio.com.

Photo Shape Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/shape-tool

This summer, we will be opening BOTH businesses’ doors in downtown Huntsville at the shops at Twickenham Square!

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Even with all the things happening, I am still working my 9 to 5 job. Hey girl, someone’s gotta pay for that online shopping addiction… so all that being said, please bear with me while I gear back up one of my first true babies, this blog. I’m still figuring out how to balance it all but I think writing some of it out here might be just the outlet I need again ❤

And talk about a throwback, this is my current life theme song (hence the title of this post):

Frantic by Jamie O’neal.

 

xo, your gal-pal, Al

 

BOOKS AND BOOZE | WEEK 8

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I want to talk about books and life today. I’ll get to the review, because this one’s a little bit different, but to understand why I loved this book so much, I think we need to have a little chat.

If you ever talk to people about music, most will say there are certain songs that remind them of a particular time in their life. Put those songs (or artists) together, and you have the soundtrack to a person’s life – you with me? Well, avid readers can say the same thing about books. There are certain books that affect us to our very core; books that hit us the nuts for whatever reason; books that correlate with our lives or feelings at the time; books that become literally, the stories of our lives.

Deep breath now, because god damn that was deep (I was up til 2 am reading this book… I’m in a mood).

So, months and months ago I wrote a blog about my favorite fantasy trilogy, A Court of Thorns and Roses. This was one of my first true fantasy reads (other than Harry Potter as a child, of course), and it hit. me. hard. The writing, the story building, the characters, the plot – all of it just sucked me in and spit me back out a new person (it’s like I was remade by the Cauldron itself! … where are my fans, come on guys😉). Anyway, the series ended, and I was wrecked. I spent months scrolling through fan art on Pinterest, following bookstagram fandom accounts, and purchasing merchandise to fill my library (AND MY SOUL) with. THEN, Sarah J. Maas announced she was writing a novelette (note quite a novel, but longer than a novella) to bridge the gap between A Court of Wings and Ruins and the spinoff novels she promised to give us. So yesterday, A Court of Frost and Starlight released, and SJM shook my world yet again.

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Book: A Court of Frost and Starlight, Sarah J. Maas

Summary: The war is over, and the Court of Dreams is moving on and picking up the pieces. Told from the perspectives of Feyre, Rhysand, Cassian, Nesta, and Mor, A Court of Frost and Starlight follows our favorite characters as they navigate the new world they’ve created and prepare for the Winter Solstice.

Why I read: Read above please. Life changer.

Why I recommend: This book is so unique. I’ve read countless trilogies, watched endless movies and TV shows, and never once have I had the chance to revisit a story and get the kind of closure I did with ACOFAS. This book had no overarching plot. It had no villain, no hero. This book just was.

Each chapter was told from the perspective of a different character, which was a little Photo Shape Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/shape-tooldifficult to adjust to, but in the end was worth it. Each chapter gave us a glimpse into the characters new lives, and the aftermath of the war – and you know what, it truly did give me closure. It was almost like coping with a mutual breakup. When ACOWAR ended, that’s what I felt. I felt as though the story had ended and I was OK with it, but I still had to deal… to somehow cope with knowing I wasn’t going to get more. So, when ACOFAS came out, it was like my open wounds were finally getting the chance to heal.

The best part – the story will continue. We’ve known for a while now that Maas wasn’t going to cut us off completely from the world of Prythian, but now we know exactly where she’s going next. The end of ACOFAS includes an excerpt from the new book (untitled, no release date), and it was amazing. The book alluded to it throughout – of course the entire time I’m trying to figure out which character will get their own book – and now we finally know who it’s going to be.

Just one more time I have to say – it’s all so satisfying. The Sarah J. Maas fandom lovingly calls this series A Court of Pain and Feels, and it’s so true. Every book, every chapter, every character will just make you feel, and A Court of Frost and Starlight is no different.

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Pairing: Apothic BrewPhoto Shape Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/shape-tool

This recommendation isn’t necessarily specific to A Court of Frost and Starlight, but its fucking good and you have to try it! It’s cold brew coffee blended with red wine – need I say more?! I think our good friends in the Inner Circle would certainly approve 😉.

 

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Head to Amazon and get the whole series – I’m telling you, do it.

A Court of Thorns and Roses | A Court of Mist and Fury | A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Frost and Starlight

xo, gal-pal, Meg

5 Ways to Save Money Like an Adult

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1. PAY YOURSELF FIRST.

I know what you’re thinking… “YAS, Queen. Das right. TREAT. YO. SELF.”

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And while I totally agree with pampering yourself with a bi-weekly nail bar visit, that’s not quite what I mean here. When I say “pay yourself first” I mean before you go out and blow your paycheck on Rihanna’s holographic Fenty line at Sephora, put money back into your savings account first. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Start by putting 5% of your paycheck back into a savings account each month or maybe just sliding in $20 a week into a envelope for your rainy day fund.

A rainy day fund, you say? You mean like a stash of money I set aside, so when I have a bad day I can go have a shopping spree at Bloomies?

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Not quite.

2. START A RAINY FUND.

Now, I know saving is hard, but being a broke a$$ B without a job is even harder. And trust, the last thing you want is to (goddess forbid) lose your job and have no way to support yourself while you frantically search for a new one.

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Unless you want to enlist as a sugar baby for some Hugh Heff wanna-be (RIP), that means start planning now. Experts say you should have 3 months of living expenses set back in a rainy day fund for just this. Now, having 3 months of expenses in your bank account isn’t going to happen over night. It will take time to save up this money, hence numero uno listed above, pay yourself first.

3. CREATE A BUDGET.

Budget?!

want to

I hear ya, it’s everyone’s least favorite financial term. Unless you are Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO who as of Oct ’17 is now the richest man in the world), you need to plan and budget. Which I guarantee you, Mr. Jeffy-B didn’t get to where he is by oversleeping or overspending at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale…

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(Don’t worry, we’re not judging you here.)

The key to budgeting is finding what works for you. If designated cash envelopes and excel spreadsheets aren’t your cup of tea, apps like Mint and Wally might be more your pace.

At then end of the day, it’s about making sure you are not spending more money than you are making. A good starting point is to make a list of your expenses, pay your self first (aka put some money back), and budget the remaining money accordingly.

4. CUT YOUR SPENDING.

Now this doesn’t take rocket scientist to figure out. STOP SPENDING MONEY ON USELESS SH*T.

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I know and I am the first to admit – giving up my Starbucks latte habit… it’s not going to happen. Not entirely at least. So, fine. So be it, sista. But you have to find ways to cut back in other areas. I.e. Cancelling unnecessary beauty box subscriptions. Because lesbi-honest, do you really love everything they send you in that box? Probably not.

There’s other ways to cut back too, like maybe try bringing your lunch to work a couple of days a week. Or challenge yourself to have 1 day a week where you literally spend ZERO money. Trust me, it’s more of a challenge than one would think (or maybe that’s just me *shrugs*). And avoid those random impulse buys! When shopping, go in with a plan. You need new boots? Fine. Go buy your new thigh high boot-boots, but don’t leave that store with an new pair of heels too, just because they “spoke to you” too.

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Pull it together.

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And for the grocery store, make a list, and try to stick to it. I know, I know… Target buggies (I mean “shopping carts”) were not built for people with “lists.”

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And maybe, just maybe, avoid late night Amazon shopping after you’ve finished off that bottle of Cabernet… just sayin’.

5. INVEST.

If you work for a company that offers a 401k, great. If your company offers a 401k and offers to match your contribution, even better! That right there is free money, and if you are not currently taking advantage of that benefit… this is your reality check — What are you doing with your life?!

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Start with 3-5% contributions and slowly work your way up. Retirement may seem like a long way out now, but trust, if you start planning now, you will be way ahead of the game.

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Don’t have a 401k? Don’t panic. Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs are another excellent option for retirement investment. Now, my stint working in the financial industry was short lived, so I’m going to leave these explanations up to the experts. Compare and decide which suits you better here.

Not ready to jump right in Wolf of Wall Street style just yet? No worries, boo-boo. Baby steps right here. I was recently introduced to an investment app called STASH. STASH is essentially an investment app for beginners. It teaches you how to build your own portfolio with even the smallest of investments. I’m starting with investing just $5 a week. That’s just one iced skinny vanilla latte sacrificed a week, people. If I can do it, you can too.

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Saving money is hard, but reaping the benefits like a grown ass adult… totally worth it. At the end of the day, just remember…

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**Full disclosure, I am not a financial expert. Words shared here are things that I have learned from my own education and pure self preservation as a working millennial in today’s world. It’s always best to ask a financial professional first before making any big decisions. K, thanks.**

xo, your gal-pal, Al

Recap: A Very Bookish Christmas

A very bookish christmas

Welcome to 2018 my fellow book lovers! I don’t know about you, but I am still feeling the full hangover of the holidays, even into the second week of the new year. Between Christmas, those weird weeks that don’t count for anything, and New Year’s Eve, it’s just been nonstop! OK to be fair, I spent a good amount of time lounging around and doing nothing, but still… I’m exhausted, BUT finally feeling like I can accept that it’s 2018 and move on with my life.

That being said… let’s reminisce about the holidays 😉. This year was a bit different for me. Since rediscovering my passion for books (yes, books. I’ve always loved reading, but the book collecting thing has kind of reached a new height), my Christmas turned into a very bookish one… and it was fantastic! I did a few new things I thought I would share with you lovely people.

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Bookstagram Secret Santa

Since joining bookstagram last year, I’ve gained a bunch of new friends and a discovered my love for bookish merchandise. Whether it’s candles, bookmarks, art prints or jewelry, I now find myself trolling Etsy more often than not looking for anything related to the book I’m into at the time. So, when I discovered one of my bookstagram friends was holding a book Secret Santa, I just HAD to participate. V booking Xmas.jpg

Here’s how it worked – once I signed up, I filled out a lengthy form outlining my favorite books, fandoms, and anything else about me my Secret Santa should know. There were over 200 participants, and most of us were strangers, so the form was a fabulous way to give details that would help in the gift giving process. Once everyone signed up, I was assigned a person to give a gift to, while someone else was given me. There was a price limit that I chose, and the hosts made sure that everyone was paired appropriately by price and location. Then the fun began! I was assigned a lovely woman from New York who loved fantasy and fiction, bumblebees, and tea. I bought a new book from her wish list, and found a few other small items to fill her gift box with. When my own gift arrived, just before Christmas, I was THRILLED. It was from the most adorable teen in Missouri, and she bought me book 1 of one of my favorite series – Throne of Glass – along with a whole host of Harry Potter items. She even wrote me a cute little note, and we are now connected on Instagram.

Overall, this was a wonderful experience. I was really touched by how thoughtful my Secret Santa was, and can’t wait to participate again next year.

Blind Date with a Book Swap

If you didn’t know, and you probably didn’t, #BlindDateWithABook is a cool little Blind date w a book.jpgmovement that started in a local bookshop in Australia. The basic premise behind it is to choose a book not based on cover art or author, but simply by a few bullet points about the plot. I’ve seen a lot of it on social media over the years, and decided you know what… this would be a good way to do a book swap! So, I orchestrated two Blind Date with a Book Swaps – one at work, and one with my family on Christmas.

At work, a group of readers (about 15 of us!) each brought our own lunches and set our books on a table – each one was wrapped in plain wrapping paper with 5 bullet points describing the book, including genre, written on top. Then we just gathered around the table and picked our books! It was really fun, and I’ve already had coworkers asking to do it next year.

For my family, we did it as a traditional Yankee Swap. Everyone put their books in a pile, we picked names out of a hat, and chose the books out of the pile.

Overall, I think it was a nice way to do something new during the holidays. It was a fun change to the standard home-made cookies from your coworker, or pair of socks from your cousin that you don’t REALLY need.

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Did YOU do anything unique or different this year for the holidays? Comment below! We’d love to get new ideas – gift giving can be so fun and doesn’t have to be the same old thing every year.

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For more booking goodness, be sure to follow Meg at @basicwhitebook. See you next wine 😉

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HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY TIME!

The holidays are all about giving. But for some of us, the holidays, are just giving us a headache.

Wait. What did she just say? What a freaking grinch…

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Please, no one shoot me. I love Christmas Vacation and am a song sucker for Carol of Bells. But, lesbi-honest, we all know some of us are more Halloween queen kind of girls… So let us help you, help us get through the holidays together. And what a better way than some free sh*t?

I’ve partnered up with muh fellow working girls (not prostitutes, like we actually work for a software company kind of work, geez) @miss_artsydesigns and @basicwhitebook to give away a little “we kinda like you” gift. So get to the point, what’s in the giveaway and what do I gotta do to win? Ok-k-k, calm yo titties. The giveaway includes this adorable animal book mug made by the talented Miss Artsy, some tasty little treats (cause we all love a snack), and a Starbucks gift card from who else but your resident Nine to (Twenty)Five caffeinated queen, me. Oh, and the mug is customizable! Get your name, fave slogan, social security number, or ex-boyfriends digits on the mug, whatever you want to make it personal to YOU, and as long as it fits on the mug.

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RULES:
1. Like this blog post
2. Follow me@miss_artsydesigns, and @basicwhitebook on Insta

3. Tag 3 friends

For a BONUS ENTRY, simply follow our blog, right here, right now. You know you won’t regret it.

*account must be public
*must be 18 or older
*no spam accounts
*US only (sorry, international friends, hopefully we can do one for you in the future!)
*Disclaimer – this giveaway is not affiliated with instagram, wordpress, or any other social media platform. k?

So twat now? Kick back, relax, drink some heavily spike egg-nog. We will be reaching out to you if you are the lucky winner.

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As always, thanks for following! You know you love me.. xoxo… oh wait, that’s Gossip Girl, not us…

xo, your gal-pal, Al

#SelfCareSunday for your Monday

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Hi party peeps!

Sooo, my hubs and I recently bought a house (woohoo, adulthood!) and things have been a bit cray-cray up in here! We are now the proud new owners of a soon to be fully remodeled 1950’s bungalow style mountain house, located just outside of our city.

And since we are basically broke after the down payment and never ending renovation costs, this Ulta/Sephora/Target junkie has had to break out the old budget brain tricks. Waaat! No, I know. We work so hard for our moneys to buy adult-ish things like cars and homes. Now, instead of counting sheep, I fall asleep counting little gold tubes of YSL lipstick jumping into a black Sephora shopping basket. *Broke millennial tears falling* But it’s OK! I can pinch some pennies when need be.

After a long weekend of removing century old insulation and some pretty god-awful parkay floors, I was in a serious need of a scrub down. So, how do you have a #SelfCareSunday kind of night with little to no money to spend on things like boujee a$$ exfoliaters, butters, creams, and masks? Simple answer: Like remodeling a house yourself, you have to get a little creative, and DIY that sh*t.

Now, I’m pretty sure I came up with a formula that my boss-b business brain tells me I could package and sell for profit, but because I love you, I will share. This recipe is quick, simple, and you probably have the ingredients or something similar in your house already.

Allie’s Homemade Body Scrub:

Ingredients:

Directions:

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Then in the shower (or tub), scrub your tasty treat body until your dark little heart is content.

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I’m telling you – your skin will feel softer than the fresh skin, business end of a new born baby. And it smells so LUX you will be wondering if this just came out of your kitchen or Jo Malone’s.

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To finish off my short but sweet #SelfCareSunday sesh, I threw on my favorite oldie but goodie, Queen Helena mud mask. Great deep clean, and SO cheap, $3.27 at WalMart. Then I followed up with my Earth Therapeutics eye mask (which this eye mask is great if you are headache prone). I keep it in my freezer for a quick cold compress anytime my head is banging or eyes are puff-puff-pass-puffy. And yes, full disclosure – it helps with a bad case of the wine flu too 😉

So that’s it – simple and almost free. Maybe money can’t buy happiness! But… money does buy custom cabinets, and have you ever seen a sad person standing in their own gourmet kitchen eating creme brulee? No – I didn’t think so.

 

 

The Book Lover’s Guide to Holiday Gifts

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It’s that time of year! The most magical time of gift giving and receiving – where you spend money you don’t have making sure your friends and family have that OH moment when you give them a present… and also when it’s totally acceptable to request that ridiculous purse you know you don’t need, or the blingy pair of shoes you wouldn’t dare spend your own money on. Oh, and yes, also family time, good food, good friends… it’s all there. ‘Tis the season!

But what do you get that nerdy person in your life that doesn’t want a pair of Kate Spade earrings, or a new band for his or her fancy apple watch? What if you have a friend who literally loves to spend Saturday nights watching Game of Thrones or reading the latest fantasy thriller they picked up at B&N? Well, wonder no more! Just in time for Black Friday… I have for you the ultimate gift guide for nerds.

#1 House edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – most millennial nerds have started out with Harry Potter, let’s be real. Whether they are a serious fanatic or just a general fan, why not get them a special edition that matches their own house. First, you’ll need to find out if they are a Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, or .. dare I say it.. Slytherin (why are you friends with them?), then you’re all set!Books

#2 Tote bag – a tote is the perfect accessory for the traveling book lover. If your friends or family are anything like me, they aren’t just reading one book at a time. And since books are heavy, and you can’t be expected to just carry them around in a backpack like some peasant, a tote is the perfect solution. Etsy of course has some fabulous totes, but also check out Society6. This site is almost like a commercialized Etsy, and carries a whole host of items, including totes.

#3 Blanket & pillow – two critical items to create the perfect cozy book space are a Books and Blanketgood blanket and pillow. Even if it’s 100 degrees outside, it just doesn’t seem right to snuggle up with a book but no fluff to cuddle with! I personally love either faux fur or knit. Pottery Barn has the most fabulous collection which you can find here, or go ahead and roam around Etsy for some great handmade knit blankets like this one.

 

#4 Bookish candles – whether you like to read in your bedroom, a little nook in your Books and Gift.jpghouse, or just the couch in your living room, create the perfect ambiance with a bookish candle. My personal favorites are from A Court of Candles. They range from Harry Potter, to Game of Thrones, to some of my favorite fantasy books. These candles smell fabulous, and the packaging is really pretty. If you want something more generic that just has a fun book name – “old book smell” and “oxford library” to name a few – check out Frostbeard on Etsy.

#5 Bookmarks – this may seem like a cop-out gift for a book lover, but have you SEEN (said in Chandler’s voice) some of the bookmarks out there? For any fandom lover, or just anyone who loves great artwork, you can find a myriad of bookmarks online. Etsy sells watercolor, laser cut, magnetic, metal, you name it. Just do a quick search and see what you find! Your friends will certainly appreciate having something serious to mark their pages with instead of a receipt or dentist reminder card from their purse.

#6 Mug – another way to make a perfect reading experience is with the perfect drink. MugNow you know I’m a huge wine lover, but sometimes when it’s cold and damp out (and maybe too early to respectably drink alcohol) you just need a good cup of joe in your favorite mug. And speaking of Society6, my favorite designer is Evie Seo, who just happens to design the most fabulous mugs. Check out her store here.

#7 Litograph – here’s a gift for your more eccentric book friend. You know the one – wears thick glasses, only appreciates fine works of literature (won’t find them plopped down with Twilight), and drinks something intense like bourbon. For this person, try a lithograph – aka artwork made from words… ok it’s really hard to explain, just go to litographs.com and you’ll see. These things come in prints, t-shirts, totes, even scarves, and range all genres of books. They are a truly unique gift for a book lover.

#8 Custom editions – Most book lovers have a particular book that really got them Book and Gift IIinto reading. And if it wasn’t Harry Potter, it was likely a classic. The Folio Society turns your favorite classic into a collector’s edition. Whether it’s the Disney classics, Jane Austen, or J.R.R. Tolkien, this site has something for you. Each book is illustrated, and comes in its own fancy little case. TBH, I’m ready to buy half the books just for aesthetics. I can love Ray Bradbury after the fact… right?

#9 And for the really intense book fan in your life – a book subscription box. Now this is exactly what it sounds like – a monthly box delivered to your house, filled with bookish items. There are a couple of different companies out there, but the ones I’ve been following are:

The Bookish Box – boxes vary in price and contents. You can choose to include a book, a Instat-shirt, just book related items, or all of the above! You can also customize your shirt type, and whether you want a YA or Adult book. I personally have enjoyed three months of this subscription – highly recommend 😊.

Fairyloot – mostly based around the Fantasy genre, Fairyloot also includes a book and other bookish items. I have not ordered from them yet, but follow them religiously on bookstagram and the stuff looks great!
 

Happy holidays, and happy hunting to all! BRB… spending all my money.

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For more booking goodness, be sure to follow Meg at @basicwhitebook. See you next wine 😉

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