Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2018 - 3/12 - March Goals

2 months down! I am finding that monthly goals are the way to go for me, even if I am not accomplishing all of them, they stay on my mind and I like the quick turnover and the ability to change them up because life changes and goals change, also my mind just changes a lot.

Here's a picture of my pretty little idiot, Chelsea.

February Goals:
- No new library books & read the ones I have 
Pass! I didn't get to them all because I have a problem with borrowing too many, but I read what I could and returned the rest.

- Meal plan and stick to grocery budget. 
Fail-ish We meal planned all but one week I think, but still went over the grocery budget. I know I could 'stick to' the budget if I increased the budget, but I don't want to. There has to be a way to spend less, we spend way too much for just the two of us. It is going down steadily but I still want to be under the amount I've set for us.

- Read all netgalley books with published dates that have passed. 
Fail-ish - I was way too overzealous with this one, no way I could have read all my library books and all my netgalley books, but I still made a sizeable dent. As of right now, I have 5 books that have passed their published dates.

- Gym 3 times a week.
Fail - I have some excuses - I was sick, it was my birthday, I dislocated my knee... but there were plenty of days nothing was wrong and I was still lazy.

- Paint my nails twice. 
Pass - I painted them twice the same colour, but it counts.

- Try to limit book purchases to not at the library books only. 
Pass-ish - I technically purchased 2 books on sale that the library also has, plus I pre-ordered one in a paperback that the library has in hardcover (I own the first 2 in a series in paperback and normally I don't care about matching, but for some reason this time I do) however in all of those cases, I used a gift card I got for my birthday so does it count? Does it?

- Limit eating out/bad (but awesome) food to already planned events. 
Pass-ish - Didn't eat out except for pre-planned birthday events. I probably had some bad food at home a few times, but it was birthday month so that was a stupid goal anyway.

If we are friends on Instagram then I've shared a million times how Millie loves the pig rug in the kitchen (me too Millie, me too) and she loves it so much she doesn't care if you need to stand on it to, say, do dishes. It's adorable. This could be only adorable to me but I don't care. So I'm sharing.

March Goals:
- Read all netgalley books with published dates that have passed. Same deal as last month. I will catch up one day!

- No library books. I need to start working on books I own, but when I have library books (or netgalley or kindle unlimited) I feel a need to read those first because of deadlines/value for money, but then I just keep getting/borrowing more, and I never get around to reading the books I own. So that's my focus this month. I might have a library book come in that I've been waiting for, but besides that, no library books!

- Meal plan and stick to grocery budget. Will this ever not be a goal.

- Gym 3 times a week.

- Go back to kickboxing at least once.

- Try to limit book purchases to not at the library books only. Even if I'm not reading library books this month, I don't need to be buying books if the library has them.

- Catch up on blogs. I am caught up on emails, but now I need to work on blogs.

- Try one new recipe from a cookbook.

Also, just a quick reminder to anyone who wants to link up with us - tomorrow is the next What's New With You link up.

What's New With You

I always love February because it's my birthday month, but I don't like it as much here because it's cold and winter-y. So I'm okay saying goodbye to February and hello March. I'm thinking I should just change my birthday to a summer month while I live here, which will be the forseeable future. I can have two birthdays? Yeah?

Do you have a favourite cookbook? I have bought a couple recently but I want to build my stash.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Link Up Reminder

Just a quick note to remind anyone who wants to link up with us - this Thursday the 1st is the next What's New With You link up.

We hope you'll join us!

What's New With You

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Books Lately

Yay book day with Steph & Jana! I have read a ton of books since the last link up. I don't share every book I read, so if you want to see all the books I read but don't talk about here, lets be friends on goodreads!

^ I also read A Curious Beginning but will save my thoughts until I finish the series.
Hidden Legacy series - Ilona Andrews - 5 Stars
paranormal romance trilogy
Yep, that cover is beyond ridiculous, I think it's a requirement for paranormal romance books. If you like PNR, I highly, highly, highly recommend. This was my first series from this author duo and I am hooked. The characters are fantastic, the writing was all-the-yes, it was funny, interesting, I just loved everything about this series and highly recommend.
Living Out Loud - Staci Hart 5 Stars
sense and sensibility retelling
Another fantastic Austen retelling from Staci Hart! I don't think I have ever loved a S&S retelling, but this was fabulous. It only tells Marianne's (er, Annie's) side and Elinor's (or Elle's) will be the next book and I. Cannot. Wait.

Seeing Red - Sandra Brown 5 Stars
romantic suspense
This is my third Sandra Brown book, Mean Streak was one of my top reads last year and I was let down by the other book (Lethal), so I was nervous going into this one. No need, I thought it was fantastic. Right amount of mystery/suspense + a little bit of romance. I would say this is like 50/50 for which genre it belongs in, I wouldn't call it just a romance. The mystery was really interesting, I had no idea where it was going and I was definitely on the edge of my seat. 
Received copy from NetGalley
The Beau & the Belle - R.S Grey 5 Stars
romantic comedy
Another hit out of the park from RS Grey. I might be partial because I'm slightly obsessed with her, but I loved it. This is like a romantic comedy movie, only better. Hilarious, the writing is fantastic, the setting is everything, I just love her books.
Received copy from author.
From Lukov with Love - Mariana Zapata5 Stars
romance about two figure skaters
To say I was champing at the bit to read this one would be a massive understatement. Ever since she announced it I've been obsessively checking Amazon to see if it had been released. I fully admit I am a Zapata fan girl, so I am not sure if this was absolutely amazing or if I was just determined to love it. I wish certain things were developed more, it wasn't my absolute favourite of hers but I still loved it. I recommend if you like her other books.

Young Jane Young - Gabrielle Zevin - 3 Stars
aftermath of congressional intern having affair with boss
It was hard not to have high expectations after AJ Fikry. This book was fine, I was interested, I really liked the characters and the story, but I just wanted more. It was so incomplete. It was also different than what I expected based on the synopsis. It passed the time just fine. The ending was abrupt. Overall it was just okay.
Received copy from NetGalley
Silent Child - Sarah A. Denzil 3 Stars
child went missing and turns up again 10 years later
This is a hard one for me, I was super into it and basically read it in one sitting, but it was frustrating. I wasn't a fan of the writing style and the ending was ridiculous. I didn't necessarily see anything coming, but I was disappointed by the way the author wrapped things up.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman - 4 Stars
eleanor is very much not fine
This is a hard book to review. Overall, I liked it, I like the story and the message it sends, but lordy Eleanor was hard to like sometimes. It made it hard to get into, plus parts of the book were just boring. But I'm glad I did push through because it got better and I really did like it overall.

Most Of All You - Mia Sheridan - 4 Stars
romance where both characters had a hard childhood/something happen to them
This is my second Mia Sheridan book and I liked it more than the first (Grayson's Vow). She's quite popular in the romance book world so I had high expectations. For some reason I keep expecting super intense reads and that's not what you get. Anyway, I liked the growth that both characters went through, this was a very sweet all the feelings kind of book. Not mad I read it and got it on sale. This is the book Gina and I read together this month and I think I liked it a bit more than she did.
Wish You Were Here - Renee Carlino - 4 Stars
guy gets all weird after one night stand, months later girl tries to find him
I liked Before We Were Strangers and absolutely adored Swear on This Life. So my expectations were high for this one. Unfortunately it disappointed me just a bit. I still liked it, I liked the idea of it, I felt the emotions. I just had a few issues with it. I felt like the synopsis was a bit misleading and I didn't always understand the characters actions. That being said, I definitely didn't hate it, it's just not my favourite from this author.
Received copy from NetGalley
The Royal Treatment & The Royal Wedding - Melanie Summers - 4/3 Stars
royal romance
Predictable, fluffy but oh so enjoyable. I didn't enjoy the second as much, but it was still cute and I'll read the third when it comes out. Recommend if it sounds like your jam.
Received the second from NetGalley

The Girl In The Tower - Katherine Arden - 3 Stars
Oh man, I struggled with this one. I do not know why but I just didn't enjoy it as much as the first, though there were certainly some good parts and overall I liked the story, I still want to read book 3, it just wasn't as... enchanting as the first one. The first half of the book was really slow, though the second half really picked up and was just wonderful. I feel bad rating it a 3, but at the end of the day, even if I want to read the next one, this one did not hold my attention as well as the first, and it was not as enjoyable a read.
Received from NetGalley

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

Life According to Steph

TL;DR - I recommend ... well, everything and nothing depending on if it sounds like your jam! My favourites were all the ones up top. The only one I wouldn't recommend is Silent Child.

Gina and I will be reading Nemesis by Brendan Reichs before the next link up if you'd like to pick it up as well. It was one of the daily e-book sales I shared in the last couple weeks. The start of the synopsis grabbed me: It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.

Read anything decent lately?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Pumpkins, paper towels & pimples

Because who doesn't love alliteration?

Here's another one, P for Penny being cute.


I've been trying to incorporate more Australian things in my life lately, helps with the homesickness and I just want to be able to give myself a slice of home whenever I want. Not that these things are specifically Australian, more like they remind me of home. I made my sausage rolls, they turned out great. I ran out of the pumpkin soup (in cans) I brought back with me and my mum suggested pumpkin soup - to which I just laughed, baby steps mum. I watched my mum make pumpkin soup several times in my life and it was always such an ordeal, so I just bought the cans. Of course you can't get it here, though I did discover some at Trader Joes - I bought it but have been too scared to actually open it, because - generalising here - Americans tend to use things like cinnamon or nutmeg with pumpkin and try to make it sweet, and just... no. Nope nope. I prefer pumpkin to be savoury, so I'm scared I'll try it and it will be gross. Anywho. So I thought I'd start really simple and just make roast pumpkin - cut up the pumpkin, little bit of olive oil, some herbs and spices, in the oven and voila, delicious side dish.....

Except I can't find pumpkin anywhere! I even called a fruit shop and the guy was like 'no we don't have any pumpkin, it's February' (like I was the idiot) but suggested I try Kroger for pumpkin pie excuse me I didn't ask for pumpkin freaking pie. I was quite cranky. Why can't I buy a pumpkin right now?! 

Moving on to the second P. I've been meaning to 'confess' this for ages. I am addicted to paper towels. It's weird. Not just addicted to using them all the time - for napkins and tissues, but I can't go to sleep without a scrunched up paper towel in my hand.

Yep, seriously. I think it started because I like to hold things when I don't feel well - like water bottles or face washers. Plus my nose is always running or bleeding, so I started holding tissues all the time, but tissues are stupid and no match for my bloody nose. So, paper towels. All the time. I figured, may as well hold one in my hand in case my nose bleeds while I sleep, and now I am not kidding when I say I have a paper towel by my side at all times, always in my pockets or handbag, definitely in my hands if I am going to sleep. I realise this is not normal. Also, I feel like I wouldn't be as embarrassed if it started when I was a kid, but nope, definitely started some time in the last 6 years (I just know it wasn't a thing back home).

I want to use less paper towels around the house - they are so expensive - but the first step is probably to stop acting like a toddler and they are my blankie. But I just really like holding them you guys.

Hey, at least I don't eat them. That would be really weird.

Lastly, my skin. I hate it! It's so stupid. It hates me. Pimples everywhere! I feel like a 13 year old pizza face Kristen. Actually my skin is probably worse than it was when I was a teenager!

If we are friends on Instagram then you know yesterday I woke up with a freaking chemical burn on my freaking face after using this product (not an affiliate link because that would be really weird). I have actually used it a few times and this one several times, never had a problem with either except for yesterday. I had it on all my spots which was basically my entire face and obviously there were parts of my face that didn't need it and wanted to let me know. Funny thing is, it made my pimples go down, so yay, but chemical burn .. eh, not so yay.

I think I know exactly what started my skin hating me but I have no idea how to make it stop. I swear I have tried everything and I am about ready to put a paper bag over my face. Almost. In one last effort, I bought a bunch of new products the other day so hopefully they will get here soon and there will be a miracle product in there somewhere. All I want is:
- something affordable and I can get it multiple places (more chances for coupons or sales)
- something cruelty free (I will try anything right now, but long term want to find something cruelty free)
- something that actually works.

Is that *really* so much to ask for? REALLY?

So that's me for now. Pimply faced, addicted to paper towels and just really wanting some pumpkin.

Is anyone else addicted to something weird, or am I the only weirdo?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

January 2018 Recap - What's New With You Link Up

Good morning everyone! Time for another link up with Gretch & me, all we ask is that you link back somewhere in your post. Thanks a bunch. I'll be doing a monthly recap, as always.

What's New With You

January felt really ridiculously long and like it would never end, but also the end kind of sneaked up on me. It was actually fairly busy, which is weird - normally January is very low key for us.

It started of with a wedding show with my very talented friend, which is always fun because we get to eat food and I get my hair all done up.

We had our monthly book club meeting, food + books. If you haven't read Little Fires Everywhere yet, I highly recommend. It's a great book club book, sparks lots of discussions.

The I did one of those wine & painting nights at Pinot's Palette with some girls from work, but we did a wine bottle instead of a canvas which was really interesting. I have zero creative talents but I don't care, I like doing these things even if I don't keep the finished product. Plus I discovered a new to me wine (Tomasello red raspberry moscato) and it was SO delicious.

I had an impromptu dinner with my girlfriends, that's always fun and I discovered a new cider. So good. None of these photos are particularly good but they sum up the night perfectly.

^ I would just like to point out that while I have certainly had many bud lights over the years, I am not drinking  bud light in that picture.

January 27th marked 6 years since I moved to America, that was a bittersweet day and if we are friends on IG, you saw what I mean by that. It gets easier each year, it gets harder each year.

In other news, The Beau & The Belle is released today, it's on kindle unlimited or $2.99. If you grabbed it on pre-order, it would have only been 99 cents. Score! I loved it. If you like romantic comedies, I recommend.

Oh and it's my baby brothers birthday today, he's 30! He's the one I am trying to kill by holding his nose in the below photo. Apparently I did this so much that my mum had to stop giving him a dummy (pacifier) because otherwise I would take the dummy, and the way I did that was to hold his nose so he'd spit it out. But he didn't spit it out, so instead he couldn't breathe. Also, apparently I did it even when he didn't have a dummy. I was delightful, clearly. He's only 11 months younger, maybe I wasn't a fan of not being the baby anymore. We are the same age for 11 days and when we were younger, I'd let him 'be the boss of me' for those 11 days, but naturally I didn't actually do what he said. I just let him control the remote sometimes.

If you'd like to link up with us, please do so below.

I am excited for February, it's birthday month and I have a couple of things planned. Most of them involve food. Duh. So - what's new with you?