My All Time Favorite Books

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I am a huge nerd. To me there is nothing more comforting than cozying up in a big chair with a mug of coffee and a good book. Ditto for lounging in a Barnes & Noble aisle with a cup of Starbucks. I could continuously purchase more and more books and never be truly satisfied.

That being said, not all books are created equal. It was extremely hard for me to narrow down my favorites to just six, but for you I’ll do it! This list is a mix of classic literature, history, and romance. I hope you find at least one title to enjoy!

  1. From the Ashes of Sobibor, by Thomas Blatt. This is the true story of Sobibor, a Nazi death camp, and the escape of two hundred prisoners. Blatt begins his story prior to the camp as he avoided being captured, and continues to describe his experiences in the camp, as well as his survival afterwards. There is no book like this in my opinion. I’ve taken several classes on the Holocaust, read many a book, and this one is hands down the most heart wrenching. I’ve read it several times over and never fail to be deeply moved.
  2. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston. This is a coming of age tale of a young woman who grows to learn that she is control of her own destiny. Through beautiful prose, Hurston tell’s Janie Crawford’s story of growing up in the South, and how she fights against racism and sexism. This is my personal favorite because you don’t realize how much you’re learning about the workings of America when you’re learning about the life of Janie.
  3. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende. I first read this book in high school, and while I loved it then, I don’t think I understood the many meanings woven through out the text. The book tells the story of the Trueba family, all while explaining the social and political upheavals of post-colonial Chile. My description doesn’t do the book justice. The story incorporates elements of magical realism, and like TEWWG, you don’t know you’re learning while you read!
  4. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. My all time favorite from Larson, the book tells the story of a notorious serial killer who used the World’s Fair of 1893 in Chicago to abduct his victims. Larson shows the killer’s actions in conjunction with the organizers of the fair and its meaning to the American public. A history book that reads like a good mystery, you won’t want to put it down!
  5. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter. A lovely novel set in a small coastal Italian village, Walter shows us the complexities of human interactions. The romantic setting is contrasted by the tough realities that each character faces, and the setting of the 1960s’ adds intrigue for lovers of a time far different than our own. Highly recommend! Plus it’s set in Italy, did I mention how much I love Italy??
  6. Race and Reunion, by David Blight. This book is a true history book. Blight tells us about the aftermath of the Civil War, a story we rarely talk about. What happened when the battles were over? Blight attacks our memory of a peaceful and easy reunion, and reminds us that not everything happened perfectly. This book makes me question again and again how the war so long ago impacted American education and our lives still today. Such a wonderfully written history and worth your time.

That’s all I have to offer up today. Grad school is exhausting. I read three books a week, just for my class. That doesn’t include everything I do for my thesis. I know I shouldn’t complain because I know I’m exceptionally privileged just to make it this far in my education, but man, I just want to sleep. Have a lovely day, y’all!

Apartment Tour

If I had an unlimited money tree I’d spend my life being a professional decorator. Afraid that I wouldn’t make money at it I went for a far more lucrative career path, teaching (that’s a joke).

But the point is I take pride at decorating my home and I feel way less stressed when my home environment is comfy. Has anyone lived in a place that grossed them out?

My first year of grad school I lived in the most disgusting apartment that was one step above a crime scene. I’m talking cigarette burned carpet, roaches, and mold. Good god was I happy when I got out of there.

With that experience behind me I went gangbusters helping my roommate to decorate the new place. I tried to fuse both our styles, which are thankfully very similar!

We wanted a cozy atmosphere that reminded us of home. We’re both from Portland and wanted the place to feel like the warm downtown coffee shops, a little vintage with overstuffed furniture to read a book in. I think this chair nails it!

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I frequent TJMaxx and Homegoods like its my job. By checking back frequently I can find the best deals on the items I truly want to put together the picture in my head. I have also figured out when TJMaxx and Homegoods are the most likely to restock their inventory, so this helps my search as well. Plus these stores are affordable, which is obviously important to all of us.

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Here’s the full view of the family area. Our place is in the process of being decorated for Halloween (notice the spider webs on the coffee table).

You’ll notice candles everywhere! I think they’re a great and cheap way to add coziness to any room.

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My favorite area has to be this industrial shelf, random I know! I looked like a crazy person as I rearranged items on top of this shelf in the store. All items pictured are from TJMaxx!

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I love the globe and the airplane since I have such a passion for travel. Plus they give a cool vintage vibe.

The Portland prints are from Zazzle! I don’t know if y’all have heard of this site but it’s perfect for personalized items and home decor, plus they have tons of these travel prints! The best part is they run specials all the time and I can often get these prints for no more than $5. SCORE. And of course, good old Target comes in with $2 frames for the win. I love floating frames, so classy and simple.

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This wall art is located by the door. The wall was so empty and I think this pulls the room together nicely.

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We continue the travel theme with these Ikea prints. I love the whimsy they portray, and the coral and grey pulls out the colors in the couch.

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And the apartment tour wouldn’t be complete without Maci attacking her mouse. It’s not uncommon to come downstairs and find the floor littered with cat toys.

That’s all for today folks. What’s your favorite decor style? Where do you go for your steals?

My Fall Bucket List!

Admittedly, fall is my favorite season. Maybe it’s because I’m from the Pacific Northwest where the season change is accompanied by soft rains, crunchy leaves, and wrapping oneself in a cozy Pendleton blanket!

I’ve already started decorating my apartment in fall colors and mini pumpkins. And that’s a pumpkin latte flavored coffee in my cup!

Here are the top 10 items I really want to do before the season ends:

Have a pumpkin decorating party!

Make this yummy Caramel Apple Sangria

And also in the food category, these fabulous cheesecake stuffed baked apples, perhaps for a date?

Visit a haunted corn maze, also a lovely date! Boone Hall has a wonderful one.

Indulge in ABC Family’s Halloween specials, starting Oct. 15th! Hocus Pocus, anyone?

Go apple picking, another great date. Ha, are y’all sensing a theme?

Decorate my nails in fall colors, loving this Butter London shade!

Purchase a plaid cape, so trendy (and cozy) right now!

Go on a hike to see the changing fall colors.

And of course, go to a football game!

Of course I have a bit of time before it starts to feel like fall in South Carolina, but it doesn’t hurt to pretend, right?

Outfit Planning & Closet Organization

Full disclosure: I’m type triple A. If I can organize anything to make my life easier and more efficient, especially with my insane schedule, then I will make it happen.

I’m also a shopping addict! It’s such a bad habit, but to quote Confessions of a Shopaholic:

“You know that thing when you see someone cute and he smiles and your heart kind of goes like warm butter sliding down hot toast? Well that’s what it’s like when I see a store. Only it’s better.”

I love mixing colors, prints, and textures. And I love the confidence that flows through you when you know you look good!

That being said, I’m not made of money and I wanted to organize my closet to make sure I’m incorporating the pieces that I already own into new outfits. This way, I’m capitalizing on what I already own and getting more $$$ per wear.

Enter my saving grace: Stylebook.

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Style book is an app you can purchase for $3.99. It allows you to photograph and upload your entire closet (jewelry and all!), as well as style inspiration, and stats on each item. Using your own clothes, you can put together outfits, and even put those outfits on a calendar to plan out what you’re wearing weeks in advance. These statistics also help you calculate price per wear, and encourage you to incorporate all your items as often as possible.

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Style Inspiration

For me, it’s a lifesaver! I’m required to dress in business casual daily for work, and trying to look nice and stylish everyday is exhausting when you’re trying to juggle normal household duties and homework.

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That may sound overdramatic, but have y’all heard that the most successful people in the world wear a “uniform,” meaning they wear nearly the same thing everyday to cut down on the brain power it requires to put together an outfit. It’s real, I promise. And since I’m not feeling like dressing in the fashion of Steve Jobs everyday, a la t-shirt/jeans/sneakers, this is my alternative.