What I Read May

What I Read May

I got a little behind on my 2017 reading goal with some books that it felt like it took me forever to get through. After getting through four books in May I’m feeling confident that I’ll get back on track.

What I Read May

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood ★★★★☆

I have to admit I had a hard time getting into this. There really is no explanation or introduction about the world that you’re being transported to by the narrator, which makes it confusing at first. But after a few chapters, I was hooked. I wanted to know more about what was going on and who this girl narrating was. The only part I didn’t like was the “Historical Note” at the end of the novel. While it did clear up some of the questions I had about the world the narrator was living in, I felt like it also took away some of the magic of her story. I’m really interested to watch the series on Hulu to see how that compares.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly   ★★★★☆

I really loved this because it’s great real life story that’s told as a story and not written like a textbook. It’s the story of black women who began their careers as computers for NACA, now NASA, at a time when integration was unpopular and women didn’t work. Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden had a huge impact on the contributions of NASA, including putting a man on the moon. It is a story that everyone should hear, one I’m surprised isn’t better known. The writing gets a little bit more technical than it probably needs to, and the story jumped around a lot in a way that I found to be confusing. However, it’s pretty easy to get through.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion ★★★★☆

At the end of 2003, Joan Didion loses her husband to a coronary while their daughter is in the ICU on life support. She’s dealing with one loss while praying that her daughter makes a recovery. Didion’s account of grief is so moving. This is a perfect read for anyone who has suffered a loss.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon ★★★★☆

Madeline Whittier has SCID, a rare disease that weakens the immune system. Madeline hasn’t been outside of her house since she was diagnosed as a baby. She can’t go to school or meet other kids in real life. When a teenage boy named Olly moves next door, Madeline can’t stop thinking about them. The two start chatting online, and their doomed love story begins. This was the perfect beach read to spend my time in the sand with over Memorial Day Weekend. I finished in two days, and I could not put it down. I came really close to giving this 5 stars. As much as I loved the story, it ended too abruptly for me.

What did you read last month?

November Goals

november goals
I can’t believe it’s November already! Before we know it, it’s going to be New Year’s. But before we get that far, I’m ready to tackle my November goals to end this year on the right note. Between working out more, eating better, and adding some extra reading, I think I have a pretty well-rounded month to come.
Cut out alcohol and sweets. I’m really trying to start eating healthier to lose some weight and fit back into my winter clothes. (I have two pairs of jeans that fit, and one of them is starting to get a whole in the crotch). Hopefully cutting out alcohol and sweets will help me cut out a lot of the calories that are keeping me out of my other jeans.

Read 4 books. I aimed for this last month, and only got three. But I was successful in September so I’m hoping I can do it again in November.

Run every other day. I decided against the half marathon later this month, and signed up for the 10k instead. I want to be able to run the whole thing and take a good bit of time off of my last 10k time.

What’s on your list of November goals?

What I Read September

what i read september

My goal for September was to read four books. And I’m happy to say that I was able to finish those four books!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children ★★★★☆

I really wish this book hadn’t taken so long to get into. It took about a third of the novel for the story to really draw you in, but once it does there’s no putting it down. I loved exploring Miss Peregrine’s world. I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book. And I’m really interested to see what they do with the movie version.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls ★★★☆☆

Do you ever read a book or watch a TV show/movie, and the whole time you’re thinking, “No! What are you doing? Don’t do that!” No? Maybe that’s just me. But this is one of those books. The main character, Thea Atwell, makes bad decision after decision. And honestly, I spent the whole time reading getting frustrated with her. Anton DiSclafani is a talented writer, but this story wasn’t for me.

Angels & Demons ★★★★☆

I could not put this down. Seriously, my kindle was in my hand if I had a spare moment to read a chapter or two. The first book in the popular Robert Langdon series was not a let down. There are new adventures at every turn, and the suspense keeps you turning the pages.

The Heir ★★★☆☆

The fourth book in The Selection series fast forwards to America and Maxon’s daughter, Eadlyn. At 18, it’s time for her to go through her own selection. While I did enjoy this novel, it wasn’t the original selection that I loved so much. I think I would have rather seen America and Maxon in their engagement or their first years of marriage in the continuation of the series. I did grow to like Eadlyn and her suitors towards the end, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for.

 

No Spend September: Saving Money

Last week I told you about my No Spend September. Honestly, my biggest problem when it comes to saving money is spending. I usually don’t think twice if there’s something that I want to do or buy, but I should. This week I’m going to focus on ways that I plan to save money that you can use too!

saving money

Take breakfast and lunch to work everyday

I easily spend $20 a day just while I’m at work. I’m not a morning person, which means breakfast is eaten at my desk. And I get lunch out more often than not. Lunch out in DC usually means spending at least $10.

Make coffee at home

Starbucks is my weakness. Especially the cold brew and iced chai lattes. Cold brew is so easy to make at home. And while it’s a little bit of a big spend at the grocery store, buying chai concentrate is a lot cheaper than $4 a latte. Even just a regular hot coffee for a few dollars a day adds up, so make your own!

Meal plan and cook at home

Takeout and going out to eat definitely put a dent in my budget. Planning meals that use the same ingredients and buying everything I need in one shopping trip is going to make a huge difference.

Use Groupon and LivingSocial for dinners out

I don’t want to eat dinner at home every night. Groupon and LivingSocial always have great local restaurant deals. Buying vouchers are a great way to still eat out and enjoy the restaurant dining experience without spending so much money.

No shopping

I spend too much money on clothes and other things that I don’t really need. No more nonessential shopping for me.

Use coupons and shop around

There are always going to be things that you need. Whether you need toilet paper or toothpaste or cleaning supplies, shop around. Buy what’s on sale, and use coupons if you can find them.

 

What tips do you have for saving money?

 

 

September Goals

september goals

August was a rough month for me. A stressful month at work combined with some health issues has gotten me behind in multiple aspects of my life. I can’t believe summer is already coming to an end, but I can’t wait for the weather to start getting cooler. And of course, for pumpkin season.

I want to use my September goals to get back on track. I have a lot of areas that I want to improve this month and stay on top of. I definitely want to finally get back into (and stay into) the swing of things with my blogging. With my first half marathon coming up on November 19 (run with me and get 10% off your registration using code XOLAURENELIZ16), I need to start doing a lot more running. Expect my running to also start showing up in more posts around here.

Here are my September goals:

  1. Read 4 books. I’m one book ahead of schedule on my 2016 reading goal, and I want to make sure I stay ahead. If you have any recommendations for great reads, let me know!
  2. Run 5 days a week. I usually wouldn’t be so ambitious in my training. But I have a 10k coming up the first weekend of October, and I’m a couple weeks behind in training. Getting extra running days in each week will help me get caught up on that training.
  3. Reach 1,000 pageviews. It’s not a secret that my blogging lately has been spotty at best. And my pageviews reflect that. I’m hoping to get my pageviews back up with more regular blogging this month.

Looks like I’ll be doing a lot of reading and running this month! What are you hoping to accomplish this September?

No Spend September: Setting Up a Budget

Does anyone else tend to overboard on spending during the summer? Between weekend getaways, outdoor dinners and happy hours, and the overload of cute summer clothing on sale, it’s easy to keep spending money. So I’m implementing a No Spend September. Obviously I have to spend some money. I need to pay rent and utilities, and I of course I need to eat. But I’m cutting out nonessential spending, and cutting back on luxuries.

no spend september

I’m going to do regular No Spend September updates throughout the month with all things saving. But today, I want to start with setting up a budget. It’s harder to save money if you aren’t keeping track of what you’re spending.

Tools for setting up for your budget:

There are a lot of tools available for budgeting. You can even set up your budget in an Excel document and update it as you’re spending. Find an app or program that will work best for you.

Learnvest is what I’ve started using for my budget. They primarily offer financial consulting, but they also have a free mobile app that you can sync with your bank accounts. I also have my student loan account synced so that I can keep track of that in the same place. (Note: this isn’t affiliated with Learnvest in any way, it’s just the app that I like best.)

Knowing what you have:

Before you can start deciding how you’re going to spend your money, you need to know how much money you have to spend. I know for some people that’s not a fixed number. If you’re estimating based on previous months or paychecks, estimate on the low end to make sure you don’t overspend.

I have my fixed income from my day job, but I also make money on Poshmark every month. I budget with my day job paycheck, and then any extra money from Poshmark or anything else can be put towards my savings or student loan payments or used for a treat that I didn’t budget for.

Know what you need to spend:

Unless you have zero regular expenses, there’s money that you’re going to have to spend every month. That might include rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, loan payments, cell phone bill, groceries, etc. Start by budgeting for these expenses. You might not be able to predict your exact expenses, but I know that my utilities could be as high as $100 so I always budget for the highest possibility.

Budget for extras:

You can save a lot of money by grocery shopping and eating more at home. But be realistic. There are probably going to be happy hours, dinners and brunches out, and nights where you really just want something delivered.

Have a budget for fun things too, Whether that be going to a movie or a concert or anything else fun that comes up.

Be sure you have a budget for anything that you might spend on from a shopping day to an Uber ride.

Budget for savings:

If I don’t plan to put money into my savings account, it doesn’t happen. Budget whatever amount you’re comfortable with to add to your savings account each month.

 

What are your best budgeting tips?

 

 

 

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