What I Read June

What I Read June

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I’ll receive a small portion of the cost of anything you buy using my links.

This is going to turn into a two part post. I had these books become available via my digital library holds, so I wanted to read them before they expired since I’d been waiting a long time for them. And then in trying to keep up with the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge, I have another three books that I’m going to do in a separate post. And I may or may not still be reading one of those.

Brooklyn ★★★★☆

Brooklyn is the story of an Irish girl, Eilis, who leaves her family to start a life for herself in America. With the help of an Irish priest, she moves to Brooklyn where she has a job in a department store waiting for her. Brooklyn follows her journey as an immigrant and the struggles and joy that come with it. I loved reading Eilis’s story. I felt like I really got to know her and get inside her head throughout the novel. It’s rare that you get to know a character so genuine and innocent, which I think is why I liked Brooklyn so much.

The Kind Worth Killing ★★★★☆

I loved every single minute I spent reading this book until I got to the last page. Imagine you’re having a drink with a stranger in an airport bar when you half-jokingly suggest that you want someone close to you, and that stranger offers to help. That’s how this suspenseful novel begins, and together they plot his wife’s murder. This novel is full of surprising twists and turns, and I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in three days. The ending is very open-ended though, which is the only reason I didn’t give this book 5 stars. As much as I loved everything else, I found the end to be a little bit of a letdown.

What did you read this month?

July Goals

july goals

I didn’t too bad for the month of June. I’ve started working on more creative writing. I hit 10,000 steps most days, with the exception of a few weekend days and a couple days when I had strep throat. After a couple attempts at starting week one of the Kayla Itsines workouts, I’ve finally stuck through it and am in the middle of week two. And I read three and a half books. I’m still going to finish the last book for a June BookSparks post.

Now onto some July goals.

  1. Finish Kayla Itsines’s weeks two through five.I really want to stay in the swing of things with these workouts, because I know I’ll start to see major changes if I do. Even as early as the end of this month I’m sure I’ll be much stronger (and hopefully a little leaner too).
  2. Run 3 days a week. I’m really starting from scratch (again) with the running. But I’m really hoping to stick with it this time. I found out a couple weeks ago that I was selected as an ambassador for the Annapolis Running Classic, which means I’ll be running my first half marathon on November 19! If you’re in the area and want to join me, you can use the code XOLAURENELIZ16 for 15% off before July 15. After July 15, the discount will drop to 10%.
  3. Budget. I’ve been spending way too much money lately. Money that I should be putting towards my student loans and savings account instead of spending on new dresses.
  4. Meal plan. When the boyfriend and I plan and prep ahead of time, we’re much more likely to stick to healthy eating. And we’re spending less money on food, which is a win for my budget.


What do you want to accomplish this month?


Currently June


It’s been a couple months since I’ve done a currently post. But, let’s be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve written any kind of post.

Reading// Saving Abby. So far I’m really loving it! It was one of the June books for BookSparks’ Summer Reading Challenge. I’m a little behind on this month’s books, but I still want to finish the challenge books and get a post up.

Watching// The Bachelorette. I’m obsessed! I’ve also started watching Guilt on Freeform (is anyone else still having trouble making the switch from ABC Family?), and I want to give Dead of Summer that premiered this week a shot too.

Eating// Healthy foods. At least I’m trying to. But it’s really hard when I want all of the pizza and bagels all the time! My boyfriend and I have both gained 10-15 pounds in the year and a half that we’ve been together so now we’re trying to lose those pounds together.

Drinking// Coffee, coffee, and more coffee. If you’re anywhere near the DC area, you’ve probably heard that they’re doing a ton of track work over the next year that’s causing all kinds of delays for commuters. I changed my hours to 8-4 to try to offset that by getting a little ahead of rush hour, but those earlier mornings have been hard on me.

Needing// To stick to my workout schedule. I mentioned the Kayla Itsines guides in my June goals. I’ve started week one three times in the last six weeks or so. I most recently started on Monday, and my legs are still sore! But I’m going to make time for the arms and abs workout tonight and squeeze in the full body workout while I’m at the beach. If I can get started on the second week next week, I’m hoping I’ll have a lot more success keeping it up.

Wearing// Skirts. I’ve been more into skirts lately than I ever have. I haven’t gotten very creative with my top options, usually I’m in a skirt and a white tee or tank, but I’m loving skirts in fun patterns and colors.

Wanting// To try Le Tote. I figure I spend at least the cost of the subscription on new clothes each month anyway so this way I could have a rotating wardrobe and not spend quite as much. Has anyone tried this?

Looking Forward To// This long weekend. I’ve taken off Friday and Tuesday, and my boyfriend and I are headed out of town for a beach trip. I can’t wait to relax on the beach and get away for a few days!

What You Should Know For Your First Mud Run

What You Should Know For Your First Mud Run

I didn’t take my phone with me to take pictures because I didn’t want to risk getting it muddy. All photos are courtesy of Aloha, Dirty Girl Mud Run, and Gameface Media.

A couple weeks ago I ran my first Dirty Girl mud run. The Dirty Girl mud run is an all-women and all-levels 5k run with 10-12 obstacles and lots of mud. These tips are specifically for the Dirty Girl run, but some of the tips could also be applicable to other mud runs as well.

1. Wear clothes that you don’t mind losing when you’re done. I wore these compression capris, and they made it out okay. But I tossed my socks, underwear, shirt, and sports bra. They probably could have been salvaged if I had been willing to put in the effort, but I had already planned on throwing them out when I was done.

2. Wear comfortable shoes that are old or cheap. You’re probably not going to want to keep these when you’re done either. Dirty Girl will have a place where you can put shoes when you’re done to be cleaned and donated.

3. The tighter, the better. Mud is going to get everywhere. You don’t want mud inside your shorts or pants to be dragging them down as you’re trying to complete the course.

4. Take advantage of the free checked bag. Dirty Girl offers one free bag check per runner. Use a backpack or gym bag to bring a change of clothes, flip flops, a washcloth, a towel, and a trash bag. You’ll be able to rinse off using hoses, but a washcloth will help you get off more dirt than just water. Dry yourself off, change, and throw everything dirty in the trash bag. Note: the hose stations aren’t private so you’ll want to wear under clothes you’re comfortable stripping down to in front of other women.

What You Should Know For Your First Mud Run5. Bring an extra towel for the ride home. Even though you’re going to be a lot cleaner after rinsing and changing, you still might not want to sit directly on your car seat.

6. Don’t keep anything on you when you run. This includes jewelry, fitness trackers, keys, phones, and anything else you don’t want to get dirty. Unless you skip a lot of the obstacles, you’ll have mud everywhere.

7. Have fun! The Dirty Girl mud run is truly an all levels course. While some obstacles are more challenging than others, none of them are all that difficult. At the end of the day it’s about having fun and be able to laugh at yourself as you complete each obstacle.

What You Should Know For Your First Mud Run


June Goals

june goals

I’m about a week late on this, but it’s never too late to set goals, right? May ended up being a busier month than I expected. And June is going to be even busier. All of my weekends are booked through the 4th of July weekend! That being said, I still have some June goals that I want to accomplish.

  1. Complete the first four weeks of Kayla Itsines’s Bikini Body Guide. Two weeks ago, I did the first week. And then last week I didn’t do anything. These workouts are no joke! I only made it halfway through the first one I did and couldn’t walk for two days because I was SO sore after 15 minutes of working out. If I can get through the first four weeks, I know I’ll start to see a difference in my body and strength.
  2. Read 5 books. This one is ambitious, especially considering that we’re a week in and I’m still on my first one. But I have two books (including the one I’m currently reading) that became available from my digital library that I need to finish before they expire. And I’ve been able to get three books from BookSpark’s Summer Reading Challenge June books that I also want to read. Wish me luck!
  3. Write. Yes, I do want to write here more. I also want to do more creative writing. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve always wanted to write a novel. Reading Big Magic last month definitely inspired me to work on some more creative projects. Some creative writing this month would be a great start to that.
  4. Walk at least 10,000 steps a day. My office is doing a team walking challenge with up to 25,000 steps a day counting for points. Most week days I can get 10,000 easy between walking Jessie and my commute, but weekends are going to be a bigger challenge for me.

What do you want to accomplish this month?

What I Read May

What I Read May

Big Magic ★★★★★

I borrowed this book from my digital library and was only about a third of the way through before I bought a hard copy on Amazon. Elizabeth Gilbert gives an honest look at the creative process. I’ve always considered myself to be a creative person, but I haven’t been making my creativity a priority. Reading this made me want to start writing more again and creating things.  One of the parts that I enjoyed most was getting an inside look at Gilbert’s path as a writer. She got small breaks here and there, but didn’t really make it big until she published Eat, Pray, Love. I highly recommend Big Magic if you’re in need of a creative spark. It might be exactly what you need.

Bossypants ★★★★☆

I listened to this one on audiobook on a long drive. Tina Fey narrated it, and I’m so glad I chose to listen to this one instead of read it. Hearing the stories straight from Tina Fey’s mouth made them even better. I laughed out loud through the whole memoir. And I learned a lot about Tina Fey that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. If it’s possible, listening to Bossypants made me love her even more.

The Nightingale ★★★★☆

I’m not always the biggest fan of historical fiction, but everyone seemed to be reading and loving this so I gave it a try. The Nightingale is about two sisters in France during the WW2. I got completely caught up in the story immediately. I was rooting for both sisters and found myself on edge any time either was in danger. The ending both surprised me and pulled at my heartstrings. The novel has its emotional moments throughout, but the ending was especially touching.


What I Read May

First Comes Love ★★★★☆

I got an advanced copy of this from the publisher through Net Galley. It was the only May book from BookSparks’ Summer Reading Challenge that I was able to get my hands on. I loved Emily Giffin’s other novels, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. First Comes Love tells the story of two very different sisters. The story is told from alternating points of view of each sister. What I loved the most about First Comes Love was how real the characters were. Josie and Meredith are flawed individuals, still trying to recover from a family tragedy fifteen years later. Their story was honest and emotional. I wanted to keep learning more after their story was over. I personally was more interested in Josie’s story. I tend to be more attracted to the free-spirited character. I think I would have loved this more if the whole story had been from her point of view. I enjoyed the dynamic of the competing viewpoints, but I found myself rushing through Meredith’s chapters to read Josie’s. Overall, First Comes Love was extremely well written. It’s a story that you’ll love and relate to, especially if you have a sister.

Dorothy Must Die ★★★☆☆

This one came recommended by Christine. As much as I loved the idea of it, I didn’t love this novel. I thought about giving up about a quarter of the way in. Then things got interesting about halfway through. And then I finished it pretty quickly because I wanted to finish it, not because I really cared what happened. If you’re a die hard Wizard of Oz fan, this one might be for you. It just wasn’t for me. It’s the first of a series, and I don’t think I’ll be picking up the next one anytime soon.

What did you read this month?

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