TRAINING FOR 2015 (on tuesday)

Here's a confession: one of my goals for 2014 was to run a 5k. I talked about it over and over again but never got around to even registering for a race. I made it about half way through C25K and I loved it, but life's distractions always got in the way. And I was lazy. A lot.

2015 is just a few days away so I'm starting off the new year with the same goal. I'm going to challenge myself to find a race that is before June 30th and run the entire thing. Easy enough, right? I'll check in with Alyssa and Tracy again next month with more details. I haven't decided if I want to try C25k again or what my plan to get back into the swing of running will be.

Two more fitness related goals for the year:

1. Barre
2. Pilates

Pilates is a little more realistic because classes are offered at my gym, but after Biana's reviews & hearing so much about barre from Amanda's blog I think I would really love Pure Barre.  With barre it's going to be more of finding the right time to try out the monthly new client pass so I can make the most of the membership because it's not cheap.

I'm so thankful for this blogging community, not only for accountability, but for always being so encouraging and inspiring! Make sure you linkup with Tracy and Alyssa to share any of your training goals.

Are you fitness focused at all for the new year?



If you were to ask me about this past year I would probably tell you it wasn't the best. Losing my grandma was really hard, and there were some other challenges along the way. What I'm learning more and more that it isn't the size or number of our experiences/accomplishments-- but the people we share them with. The little moments in life really are what make it special. A few weeks ago Kristen wrote this post on the importance of loving your life no matter what. When I stopped to take the time to look back at my year, I saw how blessed I was with so many wonderful experiences.

When we look at  resumes or job applications or awards at work or school it's all about our accomplishments. How many things we've achieved. While there's obviously a purpose for that type of measurement of success, it's not the only thing that matters. Society might not appear to value it as much, but the type of person you are and how you treat others is invaluable. In a world so driven by stuff sometimes it's easy to forget that. 

This isn't the post I intended to write when I started typing and I realize this might sound kind of random and off topic. I guess this is really just a reminder for myself (and maybe you) to not always think of accomplishments as things that are easily measured or can be bulleted out on a list. Always celebrate the big things, but if this past year didn't go according to plan, remember to reflect on the little things as well :)

A few favorites of 2014 as documented on the blog: 
Another Thanksgiving Day spent in NYC
Completing my 2014 reading challenge
Sharing my favorite places in DC
A northern Michigan summer vacation
Finding a way to give back (girls love mail)
Making so many amazing friends through blogging!

Linking up with Jenn - what were some of your accomplishments in 2014?


Collective Beauty Haul

This is a bit of a collective haul of things I've picked up over the past couple of months. As you'll see at the end of the post, a few things took forever to ship so I didn't have them in time to take photos. Affiliate links are used in this post and I will earn a small commission based on clicks and/or purchases. 

I only picked up two things during the Sephora VIB sale. The Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Pressed Powder in pale yellow had been on my wish list since I saw Amelia Liana talk about it in her contouring video. I imagine it as being a pressed version of the highly talked about Ben Nye Banana Powder. I prefer pressed powders and this one is extremely finely milled and feels nice and light on the skin.

I talked about the Bite Lipstick duo in my October favorites and when I saw they had a little holiday collection available at Sephora I had to pick up another duo in the Scarlett/Poppy duo. I kind of wish I would have got another one or two for gifts!

Ignore the foundation swatch! I decided to put the foundation in a separate post-- coming soon!
I went through my makeup not too long ago and almost all of my cream eye shadows were dried out. I picked up barely branded from Target a few weeks ago and LOVE it! I also picked up the L'Oreal infallible shadow in eternal sunshine. It's pretty & I like the two together, but I kind of wish I would have went with Mia's suggestion and got iced latte instead.

They're both more shimmery in better light, but the top is barely branded & the bottom is eternal sunshine
A couple weeks later I used my $15 Sephora rewards card on a few items. I was planning to buy the full-size of the Lancome eye makeup remover but this randomly happened:

I ended up ordering the Clinique Take Off The Day makeup remover instead. My mom gave me the Mary Kay eye makeup remover so I'm excited to try it and see how it compares to Lancome and Clinique. I also picked up the Clinique Moisturizing Lotion+. In the past I've preferred the gel version, but I need something a little bit heavier for winter- especially at night.

My more "fun" purchase was the St. Tropez Self Tanner Starter Kit. The last time I tried a self tanner it was the bareMinerals Faux Tan and I was not the biggest fan. It hardly showed up on my skin, which is not what you want after you spend forever applying it.

I finally decided to give the Mario Badescu Drying Cream a chance when it was 30% off at Ulta. I also picked up the L'Oreal Infallible Gel Liner. I'm excited to try both of these products, and will definitely be back on the blog with a review.

That wraps up this haul of a little bit of everything. What products have you been loving lately? Any new favorites? 

Recent Reads: end of the year edition

Happy Thursday! It feels good to be back to blogging (kind of) and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who sent emails and tweets over the last couple of weeks- they really brightened my day. Once again I'm really behind in getting this recent reads post up, but I wanted to do it before the end of the year.

Yeah, Maybe by Jo Hodges: This was an adorable YA novel that will make you feel like you've transported back to high school with all the good & the bad. As much as I hated Annie's BFF at times- Joey kept her so real and honest to how someone at that age would actually behave. I'm hoping for a sequel :)

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood: This is one of those books that I thought about days after I read it, and after I had time to process it I liked it a little bit more. It reads as a mystery/suspense, but it's really more of a study on each of the different characters. It's a group of individuals who live together in a boarding house and there is a lot of craziness (and a murder) that go on from each of the character's point of view. Because there are quite a few different people to follow I had some trouble keeping them straight at the beginning, but once I got into it, it was easier to follow & an enjoyable read.  [c/o netgalley]

Life Drawing by Robin Black: The story pulled me in immediately but as it progressed it seemed to slow down and I found myself losing interest at times. I found Black's writing to be wonderful, easy to read, with great imagery, but the story fell flat. The story follows a couple who has moved out of a big city to the country in an attempt to get a fresh start after the wife has an affair. This is a book that looks at marriage as well as friendships and how the two intertwine. [c/o netgalley]

A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale: It's no secret I love the cheesy holiday movies, so I figured maybe I would love a book in the same genre...turns out, not so much. The story had a lot of promise for a cute Christmas story-- the nanny falls for single dad and his perfect family. It seemed like Hale glossed over the parts I thought would have been interesting and spent way too much time on Carrie going over the same thoughts- it got boring after a while.

A small thing that bugged me was that the story is set in Virginia, but as I was reading it felt so forced to me. I decided to do a little research and found that while the author does live in Virginia I believe she's British, which made some of the weird word usage make a little more sense. Not a huge takeaway, but it obviously distracted me. [c/o netgalley]

The last thing I'll say is that all four of these books were completely different. A little YA, a suspense, drama, and some chick lit. I'm currently reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and I love what I've read so far! And if you missed it, I did a full post on my thoughts on The Goldfinch.

I have a lot of housekeeping type things to do over here in blog land, but I'm looking forward to posting again.

Have you read any of these books? 
What have you read recently? 
I kept going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to post about this. I don't like to let things get too personal on my blog, but I didn't feel right going on as though nothing in my life had happened.

My sito (grandmother) passed away this weekend and there aren't enough words to describe the amount of sadness I feel. I'm so thankful for all of the years we got to spend with her here on earth and I have comfort knowing that she's now resting peacefully in heaven.


Thoughts on The Goldfinch

I mentioned The Goldfinch for the first time a couple of months ago while I was still reading it, and this book was definitely the standout of all the books I read this year. I almost don't want to bother reviewing it because I don't think I'll do the story justice.

The first thing I'll say is that it's long. It's possibly one of the longest books I've ever read and that's what put me off from reading it for so long. However, the book was so good that even at nearly 800 pages I didn't really want it to be over.

The book starts off in NYC with 13-year old Theo and follows his life over the next 15 years or so. Right away I was pulled into the story because I love all things New York City and I love museums. If you read the synopsis of the book you'll know that Theo's mother dies in a tragic incident in the first few pages. Even though the mother wasn't in the majority of the story I felt like I missed her, just as Theo did throughout the story.

There were parts of the story where I hated what Theo did / what happened to him. So much so that it makes my skin crawl to think about it, but I was so wrapped up in the story, and had so much hope for Theo that even the hard parts were really brilliant to read. Not to mention, I was easily captivated by Tartt's writing style.

There's also a level of suspense and mystery to the story because you're never quite sure what's going to happen-- to Theo, or to the painting.

This is a hard one for me to review without giving too much away, but if you've been debating reading this, I'd say it's a must-read!

Have you read The Goldfinch
What have you been reading lately? 

November 2014 Favorites

2014 is quickly wrapping up and I'm here to share a few favorites. I apologize for the not-so-great picture, but I quickly snapped a picture on Sunday night so I could get this post ready to go for today.


Thanksgiving Weekending in NYC

Happy Monday! I hope everyone who celebrates had an amazing Thanksgiving weekend. We spent most of the weekend in NYC and now are back trying to catch up.

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