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?!

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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

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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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Nine Monday Morning Thoughts

Trying to roll out of bed Monday morning…

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Realizing you only have 15 minutes to get out the door, but…

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And you can’t brush fast enough…

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Realizing you left your breakfast on the kitchen counter…

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And your coffee too…

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When you read that first email…

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But realizing you’d like to keep your job…

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So you put on a fake smile, because, well, you’re an adult…

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And you know there’s only one way you will survive today…

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Happy Monday, and godspeed.

BOOKS & BOOZE | WEEK 7

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It was Halloween this week so you know what that means? It’s time to read something spooky! OK, so not necessarily spooky, because I don’t really do ghost stories, but at least we can read something graphic and slightly disturbing… right?

Let me tell you, I LOVE a good slasher flick – and I use that term “flick” interchangeably with books and movies. Give me Hannibal Lector, Freddy Krueger, and Pennywise any day (go see IT already). I’m not sure if it’s the thrill of the chase, or the mystery behind some of the stories, but I’ve always been drawn to horror. And what a perfect time of year to share that love with all of you! Sure, I’ll sip my PSL in my Ugg boots while reading, but I think it’s time we get down and dirty with a good murder mystery. So rather than steer you towards the “cult classics,” let’s take a look at a book with a bit of a modern twist… and I’m talking female serial killer here (there, I’ve said it)… it’s good stuff.

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Book: Heartsick, Chelsea Cain

Summary: Archie Sheridan spent his career tracking notorious serial killer Gretchen Lowell. He dedicated his life to hunting her down, and in the end, she caught him. After torturing Archie and then letting him go, Gretchen is behind bars and Archie is in a mental prison of his own making. Why did she spare him? What’s she up to next? These are the questions that haunt him day and night.

Meanwhile, another killer is on the loose, and Archie must battle his inner demons to track him down. With the help of young newspaper reporter Susan Ward, who is profiling Archie and gets herself caught in a cat and mouse game with the killer, the unlikely duo tries to solve the latest mystery, and even save a little piece of Archie’s soul in the process.

Why I recommend: As a frequent Law and Order SVU and Criminal Minds binger, this book was so easy to get into. It features an interesting villain, a completely fucked up protagonist, and a murderous backstory to tie it all together in a pretty, blood-drenched bow.  tuxpi.com.1509571226.jpg

Let’s start with our killer – Gretchen Lowell is your quintessential serial killer, but with boobs. She’s charming, beautiful, and extremely manipulative. Her story is literally one of every gorgeous man killer on Criminal Minds that lures women in with his fancy smile then chops them into little pieces… but gender swapped. I don’t know why I loved this storyline so much, but the feminist in me was like HELL YEA A WOMAN CAN KILL. Creepy I know, but it felt oddly empowering.

Moving on, we have our protagonist Archie Sheridan. Again, he’s a stereotypical character with a n extra fucked up backstory. Very typical detective obsessed with his job, except he has this horrific little thing where he was kidnapped, tortured (mentally and physically) by a serial killer and released by said killer. If that wasn’t messed up enough, he becomes weirdly obsessed with her… like so obsessed that he visits her in prison to get her advice on new cases. Think Clarice and Hannibal but way weirder… and more sexual…

Finally… Heartsick throws a little fun at you when you kind of want to die thinking about the bizarre relationship between the main characters. News reporter Susan Ward is the comic relief you need in a book like this. She’s sassy AS FUCK, messy, super super weird (sorry Portlanders, she is how I picture all of you now), and a really random ass character. Most of the time I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to shout that she shouldn’t be part of a police investigation or be in her shoes.

So throw all those characters together, add a generic serial killer mystery, and BAM you have Heartsick. It’s interesting, unique, and highly entertaining. ‘Tis the season to toss aside your romance novels and get down and dirty, so why not start here.

 

Wine

Pairing: let’s go with one of my fav Halloween wines. Usually most stores have something on display this time of year, but my fav is the Werewolf Merlot by Cramele   Recas. I had to look up the producer though, because I really only recognize it by the label. It’s very festive and just a good generic, cheap Merlot you can find anywhere.

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Before I link you up to Amazon, go ahead ask me.. Megan, is this a series? WHY YES IT IS! You can’t just have ONE book about a psychopathic blonde who chops people up, now can you? Check out the whole demented group:

Heartsick | Sweetheart | Evil at Heart

 The Night Season | Kill You Twice | Let Me Go

BONUS BOOK: If you like Cain’s writing, check out her stand-alone book One Kick. It features a really badass woman with a very interesting backstory.

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

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LONG FLIGHT ESSENTIALS

Long flight & travel essentials

What’s up, loves? I’ve been MIA the past month, but guess what? I’m back, bishes!

I’ve been travelling for work lately. Eleven days in Singapore. A few days back home to fight off some severe jet lag. Then turnaround and back on a flying germ tube, whoops, I mean airplane, for five days in Phoenix, Arizona.

So rather than be that girl, and bore you with a bunch of pics and stories of my recent travels, you know who those girls are, don’t be one… I thought a better welcome back post would be to share some travel tips.

Let’s start with some long flight essentials. The flight to Singapore was twenty-five grueling hours. Was it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? Ask me in a few weeks when my ears aren’t still ringing from the screaming toddler that sat behind me. Thank goddess for Delta’s free booze on international flights. So that’s a perfect seg way into my main-bish item numero uno…

#1 Noise cancelling headphones.

These are a must. There’s no better birth control than having a screaming three year old kick the back of seat for four hours straight, accompanied by slamming the window shade up and down and up and down for the entire duration of the flight. Skullcandy Roc Nation AviatorsOhhh and this Satan spawn also proceeded to take all of the contents out of the seat pocket and throw them at the back of my head. Who knew getting smacked in the ear with a Sky Magazine could lead to such intense thoughts of rage. Wow, sorry. Rant over. Back on topic… headphones. Ahh, yes. Headphones. You’re definitely going to want a solid pair of these. And pro tip: get some headphones with ear cushions soft enough, they can act as a second little musical pillow. Beats by Dr Dre are all the rage, but I have been loyal AF to my Skullcandy Roc Nation Aviators for years.

 

#2 Wet Ones.

Did I already reference the fact the airplanes are giant flying germ tubes? Because, well, they are. You’re sitting in an enclosed pipeline with recycled air from other people’s cough, sneezes, and seeping life regrets. So my next pro tip: as soon as you sit down at your non boujee economy class window seat — wipe down errr’thang. Wet OnesI’m talking the trey table, the arm rests, the seat buckle. Hell, even wipe down the area around the window if you think you might prop up and fall asleep leaning on it at some point. Oh, and don’t be afraid to offer a wipe to your neighbor either, they’ll likely appreciate the offer and wipe down their area too. Snaps for killing germs people, so many snaps. I like the Wet Ones pocket size singles. They’re quick, easy, and pack like a tiny antibacterial dream.

 

#3 Deodorant Wipes.

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You already disinfected your sitting area, so do yourself and your neighbors a solid, and try to keep your personal hygiene just as in check. Unless you are Jennifer Aniston on a Emirates flight, your chances of an actual shower are skinny girl-slim to none. I recommend a little bird bath action in the airplane bathroom, with the assistance of Pacifica Underarm Deodorant Wipes. These guys have some serious odor neutralizing powers with a scent light enough it likely won’t disturb your sensitive nosed bystanders. Bonus points: these are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

 

#4 Compression socks.

Compression Socks.JPGI’m sure you are familiar with the term “kankles”. Long flights are just as guilty as pregnancy for awarding women with some swollen ass ankles. If you take nothing else away from this post, invest in some compression socks. They aid in circulation and help keep the swelling at bay. I wore them on my departing 25-hour flight and then forgot them on my returning 25-hour flight, and let me tell you, I could tell a huge difference. Trust. Dem ankles were a bust. Oh and pro tip: wear yoga pants instead of leggings so it’s easier to slide your stylish new socks on or off. I have these from Physic Gear Sport (which are also good to have on hand for you runners out there).

#5 Packing Cubes. Packing Cubes

I know what you’re thinking… “Als, what kind of middle class BS are you tripping on right now.” I know, I know. But again, trust. Packing cubes saved my life jumping between different locations and hotels. My clothes stayed fresh and were amazingly less wrinkled. And did I mention it was so much easier to find my stuff? I wasn’t constantly digging and throwing things in and out of my suitcase, looking for that one slippery little silk tank top I wanted to wear with my Michael Kors skirt. Call me the organized millennial version of Mary Poppins, I don’t mind. Packing cubes are where it’s at.

#6 Passport Wallet.

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This is a slight upgrade from that god awful travel fanny pack or wallet-ed lanyard you see middle aged men in New Balance tennies rocking in the TSA security line. Practically speaking, of course you want to keep all your travel documents and currency exchange all safe and organized in one close spot. The last thing you want to do is be digging for your passport going through the customs line or god forbid lose a receipt from that pricey business dinner you need to write off when you get back to the office.  But you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your fashion-forward dignity for practicality. A well made (and somewhat trendy) passport wallet keeps every thing nice, neat, and safe if one place. 

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Well lady loves, I think that’s enough to re-wet your blog savory palette for now. Travelling is amazing, but it’s always nice to come home sweet home to your own bed.

Do you have any essential long flight items, you can’t travel without? As always, we lurve hearing from you!

xo, your gal-pal, Al

 

Books & Booze | Week 6

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Happy October to my favorite book people! I’ve been super busy traveling for work so it’s been tough to get my reviews out… BUT… that does mean I’ve been reading a ton. I’ve also been shamelessly hooked on the latest season of Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team, but that’s neither here nor there…

I’m going to try a tough one this week. This book is by my all-time favorite fantasy writer, and its book 6 of a series. But wait.. before you turn back, it’s a weird book 6. It was actually meant to be a novella based on one of the minor-ish characters of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, and she literally just started writing and ended up with 600 pages. Like… ok girl, the rest of us clearly need to step it up. I don’t spoil anything from the series, and maybe this recommendation might even get you amped for the series as a whole – it’s wonderful.

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Book: Tower of Dawn, Sarah J. Maas

Summary: With war looming at home, and his King and Queens status unknown, Chaol Westfall sets out to the southern continent in search of allies and answers. His body is broken and his spirit is crushed, but with Nesryn by his side and the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme within his reach, the former Captain of the Guard will swallow his pride and fears in hopes of saving his kingdom… and himself.

Why I read: I’ll be honest, I read this book out of obligation. I love the Throne of Glass series, and when I initially heard the whole thing would be pushed back to make room for a “Chaol novel” I was pretty disappointed. But being the dedicated fan that I am, I preordered Tower of Dawn (ToD) and got to reading.

Why I recommend: … and yes, I 100% DO recommend! This book just proves what a wonderful writer Maas is. I went in with my guard up, not excited, and came out the other side full of love. ToD takes an angsty manly man like Chaol and turns his world upside down. He enters foreign territory after the life (and body) shattering events of Empire of Storms, and meets a whole new world of characters. We meet the royal family of the southern continent, some of whom I think I’m going to really like in the next book (if they’re in it.. 😉), and in true Sarah J. Maas fashion, even get a few unexpected romances. What happens in Antica, stays in Antica… am I right?

But let’s talk about themes. I won’s spoil much, but let’s be honest, if you haven’t started Throne of Glass yet, by the time you get to this book you won’t even remember the minor detail I’m about to spill. At the end of Empire of Storms, our poor baby Chaol is paralyzed.  Photo Shape Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/shape-toolI won’t give you everything, but… in the epic finale, Chaol battles a few demons (literally and figuratively), loses his ability to walk and almost his best friend, and faces imminent war. Tower of Dawn takes us through the emotions of a physically and mentally broken man and what it takes to heal him. And it doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff. We see Chaol struggle with every breath to heal his broken body and fight his inner demons. Personally, having a fiancé with a mangled finger, I’ve seen how hard it is to go through the healing process, and Maas describes it perfectly. She really shows us the man behind the mask, AND in the process gives us yet another strong and independent woman whom we’ll likely have to rely on in the next book. Team Yrene all the way. To put it simply, Tower of Dawn adds a few critical pieces to the Throne of Glass puzzle we’re all working our way through. And if you haven’t read Throne of Glass, I’m not really sure what you are waiting for.

P.S. This book really hit home for the author, and I think many of us can relate. While she was writing it, Maas’s father had a heart attack and spent months afterwards in the hospital. She wrote a letter to her fans explaining what it meant to her to write about the healing process while she was by her father’s bedside working through it with him. For anyone who has suffered a debilitating injury or illness, or has had a family member who has, this book will hit you in the feels and even give you some much needed hope.

Pairing: So in the spirit of healing, I wanted to recommend something like a nice herbal tea.. then I remembered, WE’RE HERE TO DRINK. Instead, let’s go with one of my fav fall bev’s: Apple Cider Mimosa’s. And they’re as easy as they sound to make – simply pour yourself some champagne, add apple cider, and voila, fall heaven in a glass. It may not be natural, but I think even the healers of the Torre would approve.

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Check out Tower of Dawn on Amazon – and if you are behind on the whole series, get your life together and read these first: Photo Shape Editor: https://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/shape-tool

Throne of Glass

Crown of Midnight

Heir of Fire

Queen of Shadows

Empire of Storms

Oh, and I’m going to throw in the coloring book here to also check out on Amazon, because it’s really cool and apparently this is a thing now.

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

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SPOILER ALERT – ‘IT’ IS THE SCARIEST SHIT IN THEATERS

In the spirit of being honest on this blog, like our hostess with the mostest, I too am not a squeaky clean mama’s girl. I love putting on a full face of makeup, letting my bleach blonde hair down and rocking a nice Ann Taylor LOFT dress. I like sitting in my cubicle with my all-season pink Christmas tree and slapping on a pretty smile when telling people they can’t do the things they want to. I enjoy being the one my friends can cry to when their significant others break their hearts, or just when their mom says they need to lose 5lbs I just cannot see. And when the day is done, I go home and rip off the pretty smile and clothes to run for my yoga’s and the first thriller novel sitting on my desk. I spend hours watching horrific movies like The Green Inferno (look it up… I dare you) and The Silence of the Lambs, and I rage out to my fiancé about all the nice little things I did that day. When it’s all said and done, I like to think of myself as a sassy ass mother*cker wrapped in a pretty pink Barbie bow.

So to top off my badass self, I have a special love for horror movies. If you ask my preference, it’s really a good slasher flick. Ghost movies are fine, throw in something kitchy and I’m good, but what I really like is crazy ridiculousness with lots of blood (seriously… look up The Green Inferno). So when my coworker asked if I’d go see IT with her, I didn’t even hesitate to say yes. I’m not really afraid of clowns (correction, wasn’t), and I think Stephen King is a horror genius, so yea… count me in. So just like my book reviews, I’m going to give you the skinny on the latest in scary.

Warning, there are some spoilers ahead, but honestly, you might want to read even if you’re going to see it… just to mentally prepare. 

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Movie: IT

Summary: In the small rural town of Derry, every 27 years something seems to happen. Tragedy strikes for one year, and it’s always something terrible that no one wants to acknowledge or accept. In 1988, the local “losers club,” aka the town socially awkward kids, discover the terror of IT. A demon called Pennywise the Clown is snatching up kids left and right and it seems the losers are the next on it’s list.

Why I watched: Horror movie fan. Enough said. Also.. blah blah it’s getting great reviews and is very heavily promoted.. blah blah. Mostly I just wanted to see it.

Why I recommend (or do I?): This movie is scary AS FUCK, and actually had me curled up in a ball. Our theater has those really nice big reclining seats now, and I literally sat with my knees to my chest, hands in front of my face half the time. IT had lots of scares – a lot of cheap scares at that. I’ve seen Stephen King movies before, and I knew the premise of the book/movie beforehand (the book is on my desk at home to read, the fucker is huge), but I truly didn’t expect what I saw. Pennywise was absolutely stunning. As a villain, I don’t think I’ve seen anything creepier on screen. It’s unreal how they could take a beautiful Skarsgård brother and make him into the thing of nightmares. That smile, that hair… *shudders*.

Really getting down to it, IT was well done. AsTuxpi photo editor: https://www.tuxpi.com my friend pointed out, going into a movie like that, you usually expect to leave reality behind. You expect to be scared, sure, but you don’t expect to face anything you would in daily life. But IT, IT not only gives you an otherworldly freak ass clown, it gets into the true horrors of life too. An abusive father, high school bullies, hypochondriac mother, are all just part of the bigger picture the “losers” deal with beyond the thing that is IT. And let me tell you, those added horrors are just as real.

This movie is also funny as hell. I know, not something you’d expect from a horror flick, but the cast is just damn funny. You think you liked the little group in Stranger Things? See IT. The foul mouthed, dirty mind, sex obsessed group of boys (plus one sassy young girl) flailing around trying to avoid and then defeat a murderous clown is just down right funny. You’ll outright laugh, giggle like a little school girl, then cower in your chair – sounds like an A+ recommendation to me!

Pairing: Liquor. Hard liquor. You’re gonna need it.

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If you don’t feel like spending $13 to see IT in theaters, check out the old version or read the book, which you can obviously find on Amazon here. Good luck and god speed!

xo, gal-pal, Meg

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

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