What I’ve Been Reading | May 2017

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Hello, everybody! I’m really excited to talk about my book pick for this month with you. I know I typically pick out more light-hearted reads for you all, but I really wanted to talk about this book while everyone is still buzzing about it and the show. And also, I don’t only read YA–I’ve just been devouring it lately. If you haven’t heard about this book or the show Netflix made based on it yet–where have you been? I did watch the show before I read the book, which I try not to do, but it only made me want to pick the book up more.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher follows Clay Jensen as he tries to understand exactly why the girl he liked, Hannah Baker, killed herself. The story is told from both the perspective of Hannah and Clay, and their inner monologue is mixed together in a way I’ve never seen before. Before she commits suicide, Hannah records a collection of cassette tapes listing the 13 reasons she chose to do what she did. The book is a sad mix of rumors, betrayal, disappointment, and mystery. That being said, I think everyone should have to read this book. No, it’s not a topic everyone is comfortable talking about, but it should be. And it’s so important that we do talk about it. There is such a stigma around mental health issues, and the book gives a perfect example of what happens when a person slips through the cracks. This is not a book you’ll be able to forget.

Go out and grab a copy of this book, or just watch the show–do both. And I genuinely hope that the “buzz” surrounding this right now motivates parents and teachers to read this with their teenagers. Everyone deserves kindness, and no one’s voice should go unheard. So go out and spread some kindness today. Let the people close to you know that you care. Smile at a stranger. You never know what someone is going through, so bring some positivity into the world. It goes further than you think.

xoxo,

❤ Taylor ❤

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What I’ve Been Reading | April 2017

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Hello, everybody! Spring is in full swing, and there’s nothing I love more than enjoying a good book in the sunshine. This month I’m talking about a book that truly encapsulates spring for me: blooming gardens, sunshine, music, and of course–shameless romantic that I am–falling in love. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson took me on a whirlwind journey through grief, love, and growth this month and I couldn’t wait to share what I thought with you guys!

If there is one reason to read this book, for me it’s got to be Nelson’s writing style. She writes with such imagery the characters come right off the page, and she manages to blend poetry seamlessly into her prose. I honestly can’t wait to read her other work. The novel follows Lennie, a teenager who has just lost her older sister, and her journey to find who she is through her grief. She finds herself caught between Joe, who is new to her town and shares her passion for music, allowing her an escape from her grief, and Toby, her sister’s boyfriend, who helps her remember it. Nelson explores pain and how it controls the bereft, but more importantly, how to continue to live despite it.

Grab yourself a copy and let me know what you thought in the comments below! Happy reading!

xoxo,

❤ Taylor ❤

20 Facts About Me

 

 

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Hello, everybody! I know I typically talk about baking and beauty and fashion and fitness, but today I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about me. I love reading these on other people’s blogs–I think it gives a deeper insight into the content they post–so I hope you enjoy reading mine. These facts aren’t in any order of importance, and all of them are quite random. Read on to play 20 questions with me!

  1. I was born and raised in Seattle–it will always have a special place in my heart, but Portland has certainly won me over!

2. My favorite color is yellow–it’s so bright and cheery and it just makes me super  happy.

3. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I really really love KathleenLights. She’s probably my favorite American YouTuber. We have very similar style and she cracks me up. I also love all of her beauty collaborations.

4. Speaking of YouTube…I have a bit of a problem. I watch A LOT of it. Mainly British YouTubers. Zoella, Tanya Burr, PointlessBlog, Gabriella Lindley, Patricia Bright, and Sophia and Cinzia. It sounds silly, but while I was living in Texas a few years ago, I didn’t know anyone and my friends and family were thousands of miles away. These YouTubers were really comforting to me and became familiar faces I could look forward to watching. Silly, but also kind of nice.

5. I feel absolutely no shame in saying that I love the Kardashians. Judge me if you must, but honestly it won’t change a thing. I’ve been “keeping up” with them for years. I even have a Kardashian coffee mug (thanks Midori!). And just because I know you’re curious, I’m a Khloe.

6. My all time favorite TV show is Gilmore Girls. I’ve watched it probably over 30 times. I’ve mentioned in a past blog that I even follow the Gilmore Guys podcast where they discuss every single episode (sometimes for over 3 hours). I could probably quote the whole series. It’s my comfort show for sure.

7. I may love baking, but I really hate cooking. I really do try, but somehow everything is a failed attempt. I’m beginning to consider that I may have been cursed.

8. I have two cats–Figaro, who is 2, and Luxe, who is almost 1. They are tuxedo cats and also the cutest cats in the world. Fun fact: Black cats don’t get adopted as often as other cats because people are crazy and superstitious. Which is so silly because black cats are the best.

9. My drink of choice is tequila tonic. It sounds weird but seriously, give it a try. You have to add lime though–that’s what makes it.

10. My favorite season has to be summer. I really love winter because of all the holidays, but summer is just so HAPPY. I love seeing people get outside and enjoy the nice weather, and who doesn’t love the longer days?!

11. Growing up, my best friend and I were OBSESSED with Barbies. I mean…we were die-hard fanatics. I literally had two storage tubs full of them. We would play for hours and create very detailed games. We even created a newspaper for the dolls!

12. That same friend and I also LOVED Mary-Kate and Ashley–she was a Mary-Kate, I was an Ashley. I had posters all over my walls, their calendar, all their books, we watched all their movies, we even had their…Barbies.

13. I don’t necessarily have a favorite food, but my weakness is definitely fries. Waffle, sweet potatoes, shoe string, truffle–give me ALL of them. But actually…please send fries, I’m kind of hungry.

14. I have 3 major girl crushes: Gina Rodriguez, Rachel McAdams, and Mandy Moore. Sigh.

15. My favorite movie of all time is Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand. If you haven’t seen it, which a lot of people haven’t because it’s from the 60’s, go watch it–it’s amazing.

16. My favorite animal is an elephant. I don’t know what it is, but they seem so peaceful to me! Also, they have amazing memories and are super family-oriented.

17. I don’t drink coffee anymore, because it makes me too jumpy, but I still really love the taste. Typically my hot drink of choice is hot chocolate.

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18. I always have to have my toenails painted. Is that weird? Probably. I just think it looks so weird when they aren’t. Plus I like the color to reflect my mood.

19. Even though I’m a grown woman I truly enjoy playing The Sims 4. Mock if you must, but I’ve loved playing since I was a teenager. I find it very relaxing and you can be so creative!

20. I couldn’t get through life without my girl squad. My friends are the least judgmental people ever and they just get me. Find friends that love you but also call you out when you’re being crazy. Love you, ladies!

Tell me something interesting about you in the comments below! I’d love to get to know all of you!

xoxo,

❤ Taylor ❤

 

What I’ve Been Reading | March 2017

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Hello, everybody! Today, I’m talking about my favorite book this month: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider. If you haven’t read her first book, The Beginning of Everything, go pick that one up too, because it also great. Schneider, who happens to be a bioethicist, really brings something different to each of her books: the medical narrative.

In Extraordinary Means, we follow Lane and Sadie during their time in a tuberculosis sanatorium. No, this novel is not set in 1850. Schneider dreams up a world in which a new, drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis is sweeping the United States, creating the need to reopen housing for the sick. It is Lane and Sadie’s love story, but it’s also so much more. Schneider gives her reader’s an in-depth experience of what it’s like to be lock away from the world all whilst battling all the normal nightmares of coming of age. I was hooked from the first chapter and couldn’t put this book down. It’s a must read in my opinion. Go grab a copy for yourself!

What have you been reading this month? Leave your recommendations for me in the comments below so I can check them out for myself! Happy reading!

xoxo,

❤ Taylor ❤

Let’s Talk About Fitness

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Hello, everybody! Today I thought I would talk to you a little about my fitness journey and how I stay on track. I started making changes to my diet and exercising in March 2015. I had always been active in sports growing up, and used the gym in college, but that first year after I graduated, I noticed I was gaining weight rapidly. Now, I’ll admit I’m a bit vain, and I started this journey with the hopes of looking really good. However, along the way I’ve realized it’s about so much more. It sounds cheesy, I know, but fitness changes you on the inside too. You feel better, you have more energy, sleep better–it’s all connected. I’ve learned some things along the way that I wanted to share with you, so grab a cuppa, because it’s a bit of a long one! Read on for more details on how to stay fit, healthy, and happy!

Before I start in, there’s something you should know about me. I don’t like to sweat. I don’t like dirt, mud, or pain. Let’s just say nature and I haven’t always been on speaking terms. And we are still figuring things out if I’m being honest. I’ve really pushed myself outside of my comfort zone these last 2 years. Because that’s where all the magic happens, right? The best advice I can give someone who is just beginning their own fitness journey is to start walking. Put on your sneaker, pop in your headphones, and start heading in any direction. Find what motivates you. I know I’m willing to walk four miles if it means there’s a cup of hot chocolate or a nice smoothie cart waiting for me at the other end. Put one foot in front of the other and just start moving. I lost 20 pounds just by eating better and walking two miles every night. It’s so easy to do, it requires no equipment, and you can bring a buddy.

If you’re looking for something you can do in your house, try YouTube. Sure you can go to the gym, but if there isn’t one close to you or you can’t afford it, there are hundreds of thousands of free videos at your fingertips. Lately, I have been addicted to Blogilates. It’s like having your own personal pilates trainer. There are monthly work out calendars you can download and each day a new workout playlist is added to the channel. Plus, Cassie has the most bubbly personality, and also really great clean eating recipes. Seriously, go check it out. You will be sweating and shaking, but it’s so worth it! If you’re more into the yoga scene, try Yoga with Adriene. She has a huge YouTube following and is fantastic. She also does 30 yoga challenges that will increase your flexibility and strength. Go check out her channel!

At the end of the day, you are your only motivator. Do I want to work out everyday? Of course not! We all have days when we would rather be couch potatoes. But every excuse we make sets our progress back that much further. And I don’t know about you, but I want to look and feel great this summer–and every season.

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When it comes to food, my advice is very simple: eat as clean as possible. Processed food is just that–processed. It’s full of chemicals and preservatives, and I promise you that your bag of Cheetos’s was not plucked from the dirt. There are some many different ways to eat clean, and it can all get a bit confusing if you don’t have the right information. Paleo, gluten free, vegan, organic–we see and hear these words every day, but what do they really mean? The best thing you can do for yourself is to be informed. Get to know what works best for you. I personally have decided to cut meat out of my diet, but that doesn’t mean that will work for you. Typically, I eat a vegan diet during the week (with the occasional exception of fish), and will eat vegetarian maybe once or twice a week. I start my day with a smoothie bowl–which is actually the highlight of my day..is that sad? Nah, it’s a really good bowl. For lunch I eat leftovers from the night before or I will eat tuna from time to time. For a snack I love a honeycrisp apple with peanut butter. Nothing beats it. For dinner I love cooking with my Thug Kitchen cookbooks. They are so funny and full of delicious vegan recipes. I’m addicted.

Eating right is about holding yourself accountable. Do I indulge? Duh. But in moderation! If you’ve been craving ice cream for a week, don’t deprive yourself. You only have this one life, so enjoy it. I used to obsessively count calories and beat myself up over every little slip up. It’s just not worth it. If you go out for dinner and have a few drinks and some fries, who cares? In fact, letting yourself have one meal a week where you stop worrying is so exciting. Seriously, try it out. You’ve earned it.

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The last thing I wanted to talk about is where you buy your food. The biggest complaint I hear from people when it comes to buying quality food is that it’s too expensive. Yes, organic produce and snacks can sometimes cost more than conventional foods. But not always. I typically do all my shopping at Trader Joe’s and pick up specialty items from Whole Foods and Fred Meyer’s.

I will admit that some quality items do cost a pretty penny. To me, it’s worth it. However, if you’re looking for a bargain, try Grocery Outlet. I know what you’re thinking, but honestly, every item in the picture above was purchased there. You can get quality organic snacks for $1. Check the expiration dates, and if you’re not familiar with a brand, just Google it! Usually brands will tell you on their website which stores their product is sold in. If you see a store you recognize and trust and you understand all the ingredients on the package, you’re good to go. Their selection is always changing, so it can be hit or miss, but give it a try. I honestly love the thrill of the find!

I hope these tips were helpful to anyone just starting their fitness journey. Or maybe a helpful reminder for anyone who has fallen off theirs–I’ve been there! If this is something you’d like me to blog about more often, let me know in the comments! And please share your fitness stories with me! I’d love to hear them!

xoxo,

❤ Taylor ❤

What I’ve Been Reading | February 2017

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Hello, everybody!

For this month’s book, I thought it would be rather appropriate to choose a book about fate, and of course, love. This, however, is not your typical love story. I absolutely LOVE Nicola Yoon’s books–she is such a talented writer and she puts so much research into each of her books–and The Sun is Also a Star is no exception.

The book follows two characters–Daniel, the son of Korean immigrants and Natasha, whose family has immigrated from Jamaica to the US. The two meet in New York City and spend one day together. Daniel is a poet, and Natasha dreams of being a scientist, and each have their own ideas about love.

I honestly could not put this book down. Yoon draws you in from the first page, and leaves you thinking about the characters long after you close the book. It’s a love story, yes, but also a story about chance and how science plays a part in fate. Go grab a copy and share what you thought in the comments! Happy reading, everyone!

What books are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo,

❤ Taylor ❤

What I’ve Been Reading | January 2017

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Hello, everybody!

January is all about starting fresh–starting a new journey, if you will. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate book to kick off 2017 than David Arnold’s Mosquitoland. The book follows Mim, a teenager dealing with mental health issues, on a journey from Mississippi to Ohio to find her mother. The majority of the story takes place on a Greyhound bus, as Mim travels from city to city, attempting to work out how her family has fallen apart, and what part that has played in regard to her mental health.

While this book is in the young adult genre, it really is a book for everyone. Arnold really does an amazing job of digging into the darkest corners of Mim’s mind and poses the question–what is normal?  Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy–then let me know what you thought in the comments. Happy reading, everyone!

What books are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo,

❤ Taylor ❤