book report: november 2018 + O.W.L. reading challenge update

I officially finished my annual reading goal of fifty books! I’m excited that I managed to do it a month early this year, which means I’ll have to increase it next year. Maybe I’ll aim for 55 or 60 books next year? The new goal will depend on how much I manage to read by the end of December.

This month, I added an extra element by simultaneously doing a themed reading challenge I found on YouTube. I really enjoyed doing it, so I’m doing a holiday themed one next month and might continue doing these if I keep finding fun ones!

Total Progress: 51/50

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
I had this on my TBR when my friend mentioned that she had read it all in one day recently because it was so gripping. I, too, read it in less than 24 hours because I just couldn’t put this one down. It’s about a mom whose daughter goes missing as a teenager, then years later she begins dating a man whose young daughter reminds her of her own daughter who went missing and the mystery that ensues. This book wasn’t what I was expecting going into it, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. I definitely want to read more by this author.

Everybody, Always by Bob Goff
This. book. Everyone needs to read it. I love Bob Goff and his positive philosophy on life and enjoyed reading his first book “Love Does”. But this one is so timely in that it’s all about how to love, well, everyone always, especially the people who are most difficult to love. He really shows what it means to love in action instead of proselytizing. It’s really, really good. There are several chapters about his work in Uganda with witch doctors that are super interesting, too.

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
This was the seventh in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, which I love so much. This one was about an art critic who is found murdered at the after party of a gallery open for one of the main characters in the book. As always, this series is so cozy and is always comforting to read no matter the plot or season.

O.W.L Reading Challenge

I mentioned earlier this month that I had found a Harry Potter O.W.L. themed reading challenge on YouTube and wanted to incorporate it into my reading for the month. The goal was to read five and I got three done here which, according to the challenge rules, means that I passed my O.W.L.s with the grade ‘Exceeded Expectations’.

Next month, I’m going to try the new Christmas at Hogwarts Challenge! But, here’s what I read this month for the O.W.L. challenge.

HERBOLOGY | Read a book with a nature related word in the title
The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
I loved this book so much! It was a little hard to get into for the first few chapters, but then it started to remind me of Jane Eyre which is one of my favorite books. The love interest is like a nicer Mr. Rochester, which is very dreamy and the plot has everything from haunted estates and witches to sibling rivalry and romance. This is such a good book for fall and winter!

MUGGLE STUDIES | Read a muggle non-fiction book
Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton
The reviews I’ve seen of this book were mixed and I’d have to say I agree. The book is broken into seven sections, covering seven different events or portions of the art world. The first few sections were more interesting than the last sections, but I have to say reading this took me forever because it felt really slow and that’s coming from someone who studied Art History in college.

TRANSFIGURATION | Read a book that deals with transfiguration/shapeshifting or a book with a cat on the cover.
The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
Oh my god. I wept. If you have a cat or have ever loved a cat, you have to read this but be prepared to cry. I don’t want to say anymore than that!

wellness wednesday: incorporating adaptogens into your diet

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Happy Wellness Wednesday! I wanted to talk a little bit about adaptogens today. I feel like ‘adaptogen’ is one of those words that sounds complicated when it’s really a pretty simple concept. Adaptogens are herbal ingredients that adapt to your body’s needs and stabilize physiological processes.

They’re especially good for managing adrenal fatigue (something super common in modern day life) and hormonal responses to stress. These herbal ingredients have been used for thousands of years in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and are safe for long-term use.

Types of Adaptogens
There is a litany of different adaptogenic substances with some of the most common being Ashwaghanda, Maca, Ginseng, Rhodiola, Reishi, Holy Basil, and Licorice Root. I like to buy adaptogens from Moon Juice because they come in beautiful packaging and I trust their sourcing, however you can also find most of these things on Amazon and even deeply discounted at HomeGoods!

Forms of Adaptogens
Adaptogens come in a couple of different forms such as capsules, tinctures, powders, and teas. Teas are probably the easiest to find and incorporate into your daily routine. But, I personally really enjoy consuming adaptogens in liquid form or by dusting. In liquid form, you can mix tinctures or powders into smoothies or drink it as a tea. With dusting, something very commonly done at Moon Juice, you’re adding adaptogenic powders to consumable recipes like pancakes or even ice-cream.

Ways to Consume

The easiest way to introduce adaptogens into your life is to incorporate them in the things you’re already consuming. You can add adaptogenic powders into your smoothies, your protein shakes, tea or coffee, and recipes like pancakes and muffins. There are also specific protein powders and creamers that contain adaptogens to make things easier.

Are adaptogens currently a part of your diet? Let me know!

celebrating sweater weather with boden

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Is this not the prettiest photo spot? I can’t get over the magnolia trees and that classic architecture. It’s only right that I paired this location with some classic pieces from British clothing brand Boden. I absolutely love classic British style and pieces made from high quality fabrics, so I was really excited when Boden asked me to collaborate with them for the next few months to share some favorite pieces with my readers.

From the current collection this month, I chose a couple of pieces including the cute London themed mug I shared with you all in yesterday’s post. But the main pieces were two major fall staples: the Francesca sweater and the Clapton boots.

You guys, these boots are so good. They’re brilliantly made with leather and suede, are super comfortable, and have this slightly worn-in look that make them feel like a really cool pair of boots you found at a vintage shop. I know they’re going to be on heavy rotation in my fall wardrobe and also during my upcoming trips because they’re so comfortable for walking.

Moving on to the sweater! I’ve always considered myself to be a sweater person. I was known in college for sometimes wearing sweaters in the summer because I just think they’re so my style and so indicative of what I’m all about.

I really fit into the entire stereotypical narrative of sweater wearers and sweater weather so much, I feel like I must have been a sweater in a past life. When I think sweater weather, I think of many of my favorite things including thick rimmed glasses, cups of tea, burning candles, and reading cozy books by the fire.

I’ve shared a selection of Boden’s coziest sweaters this season and to go along with that, I’ll give you some of my favorite book selections to read while you’re wearing your new sweater and hopefully drinking a cup of tea.

Cozy Authors & Book Selections

AUTHORS:

  • Agatha Christie

  • Louise Penny

  • Marisha Pessl

  • Dan Brown

  • J.K. Rowling

  • Donna Tartt

  • Alexander McCall Smith

BOOKS:

  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

  • Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

  • Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen

  • Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë

  • The Witch of Willow Hall - Hester Fox

  • The Power of Myth - Joseph Campbell

Get 30% off now with code V4N9 at checkout!

planning my trip to london + partnering with boden

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Happy Monday, everyone! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m partnering with Boden for the next three months to share their winter collections with you all. As a lover of British fashion, I’m a big fan of Boden and this collaboration actually comes at the perfect time since I’m currently planning a trip to London for the spring.

Since that’s the case, I thought it was only right that I order this London mug to celebrate! Tomorrow, I have a post scheduled to share the pieces I chose, courtesy of the Boden team, for this month but in the meantime, I wanted to share a little bit about how I’m planning my London trip.

I have a pretty long travel bucket list and a couple of locations that keep popping up in my mind over and over. With all of the hype around Harry & Meghan’s wedding this year, I got super excited about London again and decided that’d be where I go next! Since then, we’ve also added on a second location in Europe which will be really fun!

Okay, so you may already know that I’m a pretty obsessive planner so some of this might seem a little crazy to be doing so far out, but I swear it pays off!

travel planning tools

google maps
I’ve been using the ‘Your Maps’ feature, which is one of the best travel planning resources I’ve come across. You can basically pin all of the locations you’re interested in on your own custom map. One scenario where this is really helpful is for choosing restaurants. You pin every restaurant in the city that you’d like to visit, then when you’re out and about and get hungry, you check the map to see which is closest. You can also use the maps to help plan your itinerary.

google sheets
I use a multi-page Google sheet to organize our itinerary primarily because it’s accessible from all of my devices and for anyone I share it with. This just makes it easy to reference and edit the document whenever I need to. I plan a pretty tight itinerary because I like to have an idea of what I’m doing during the day, but I make sure to schedule time for spontaneity, which is kind of a funny concept but it works.

tripit app
This app is a great way to keep all of your important travel information organized. Right now, I only need the free version but will probably upgrade right before my trip. I’ve linked the app to my email so it stores my flight and hotel confirmations all in one place along with any ticket purchases. On the day of travel, the upgraded app will give you all sorts of updates from any flight changes to gate locations and even suggest when to leave your house based on airport traffic.

choosing where to stay

hotel versus airbnb
I debated between staying in a hotel or renting a flat through Airbnb or One Fine Stay. I’ve done both in the past and like them almost equally with hotels only coming out ahead by a little bit. After looking at the prices of flats in my desired area, I realized they were priced at or even sometimes above what a good hotel would cost, so I went with a hotel. In other cities, Airbnbs tend to be cheaper than hotels but that’s not the case in most areas of London, from my experience.

surrounding area
I wanted to be in a central area because this is my first trip to London, so I figured I’ll save the East End for another trip. I looked around Marylebone, Mayfair, Covent Garden, and so on, but really wanted to be in Mayfair, so that’s where I ended up booking. I’ll post more about the hotel in my post-trip blogs in the spring, but I’m excited about where we’re staying!

proximity to the tube
This is a big one no matter where I’m traveling. If there’s public transportation, I want to be as close as possible. The hotel we booked is like a three minute walk from the Tube and there’s a ton of cute things en route 😉

planning daily activities

planning for spontaneity
Like I mentioned above, I like to plan time for spontaneity. I make sure to have time in the schedule available to do things last minute I may not have thought of before and that time tends to be scheduled in the evening.

grouping by location
A great way to plan your itinerary is to group things by location, which is made super easy by using the custom map tool in Google Maps. I will typically pick a neighborhood or two for each day and schedule my itinerary around those locations. For instance, one day will start in Notting Hill, then flow through Kensington.

grouping by theme
A more unique, fun way to schedule that I considered was grouping by theme. For instance, I thought about doing themed days like history, royals, pretty things (art and cute cafes), and so on. For example, the history day would consist of visiting historical sites and even choosing restaurants with historical significance. I still think that’d be fun to do, but this trip will be scheduled by location.

what’s on my itinerary
I don’t wanna give too much away because it’ll all be covered in my posts after the trip, but one thing I’m really, really excited about is the fact that I’ll be there on my birthday and have already gotten tickets for the Harry Potter Studio tour that day and also plan on doing breakfast at Chiltern Firehouse.

packing + logistics

styling outfits ahead of time
It might seem weird to be planning my outfits six months in advance, but I swear it’s such a good idea because it gives you plenty of time to think of things you want/need that may not come to mind closer to the trip. I create little look books of the outfits I want to wear, then figure out what pieces I already have (the majority) and what things I need to buy before that time.

organizing practical items
I like to be organized really early on so that I don’t forget anything. A few months in advance, I like to get all of my travel related items together in one place. This includes my passport, converters, travel pouches, packing cubes, and so on. I round up all of these items and put them in a box labeled ‘travel’ so that I know where to find everything.

carry-on kit
I’ll talk about this in more detail later and include photos, but I like to start planning what I’ll take in my carry on so I have it ready to go. Typically I take a few beauty items like face mist and hand cream plus entertainment (books, podcasts), and some health items like snacks and a lifesaver kit with tea and vitamins.

Do you have any big trips coming up?

the weekend list no. 48

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Happy Saturday! Hope you all had a great week.


HIGHS: My highs this week have been all of the Thanksgiving celebrations. It was so nice to spend a whole day cooking, which is one of my favorite things to do. The leftovers have been great, too! Some other highs were receiving my first package for an upcoming brand collaboration as well as my very first Barrington tote!

LOWS: My low is that my skin completely freaked out this week! I wore a concealer over the weekend that usually works well for me but this time, it literally caused painful cystic acne on multiple parts of my face. Needless to say, I am getting rid of that and have ordered the RMS concealer to replace it. I’ve spent the whole week trying to treat these blemishes and they’re just really bad. Can’t wait ‘til they’re gone!

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Now that Thanksgiving is over, I am moving into full-on holiday mode. That means Christmas movies, my newly updated holiday playlist, shopping for gifts, and pulling out the decorations. I’m not sure yet when we’re getting a Christmas tree, but when we do, all bets are off. I’m going to be in a fugue state set to the tune of cheesy Hallmark movies.

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There’s nothing like the beauty of shooting on film.

Kelly has some great ideas for fall gifts.

You, of course, have to watch the John Lewis Christmas commercial if you haven’t already.

This really never gets old.

Six artists created artwork inspired by Gucci.

Jenny Mustard gets her apartment lighting ready for winter. Super helpful for those who live in colder, darker climates!

I like these ideas for taking a chill break during your work day.

Can’t you picture this on Audrey Hepburn?