Top Books I Read in 2019

I still can not believe that this is the end of 2019. I also can’t believe that it’s the end of the decade.

2019 was an exceptional year in terms of reading. I’ve surpassed my Goodreads goal by over 20 books. As we close yet another year, here are some of my favorite reads. All of these books are those that I highly recommend to those who are looking for a great book to read in the new year:

  • The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
  • The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
  • Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
  • It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  • There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
  • The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
  • Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
  • Things You Save in A Fire by Katherine Center
  • Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
  • Girl Wash Your Face and Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
  • After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
  • Say You Still Love Me by KA Tucker
  • Frankly in Love by David Yoon
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
  • When Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis
  • 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
  • To Hell With the Hustle by Jefferson Bethke
  • The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Sometimes, The Grieving Need Space

Without a doubt, this was one of the worst Christmases that I had. It wasn’t because of anyone, no event, nor was it because I was not without a place to go and presents under the tree. It was because it was the first without my mother.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the grieving and mourning process. Holiday time is the worst time for grieving. It is a time to be happy, yet you are clouded with memories with your deceased, which turns a good occasion into a painful one.

This Christmas, I kept busy. I spent it with family and I made the effort to show up for them. However, I know many people who are grieving that are choosing to spend the holidays away from people — which is something that I can see.

Honestly, I wish that there was more understanding about grief and how everyone grieves. Some people want to spend their holidays with their loved ones, and that’s truly great. Others would rather be alone. Both are okay.

Have you ever had someone try to just belittle you for grieving? For instance, if you express repeatedly that it’s something that you may not want to do or are uncomfortable doing, only to be greeted with a well, we still want to see you, or don’t you want to spend it with family.

Sure, it’s nice to be invited somewhere. That is something that is so awesome. But, I hate that people put pressure on those who are grieving to attend and be okay. Newsflash: it won’t ever be the same for them again. And, they may fall apart. In my case, it’s because my mother passed away practically overnight. In others, it’s saying goodbye to a sibling or a spouse. Whatever the case may be, it’s a process. Everyone grieves differently. Sometimes, it’s just giving yourself the space to grieve.

And, you have to be okay with that.

I spent the holidays with people, and I will say this: it is pretty hard to try to be happy. When I’m with people, I constantly feel a pressure to put on a smile and be sociable even though it was killing me to do so. Sure, this is strength. And, I know that if I chose to spend the holiday in my bed, it still wouldn’t change the fact that my mother is deceased. I know my mom wouldn’t want me in bed, but that’s where I wanted to be.

However, I want to keep it real here. No one should ever critique someone for simply trying to do what’s best for them. No one should call them selfish by trying to put their needs first. No one should try to make them do something they are not ready to do. It’s self care, damn it. And, it’s definitely not selfish.

I’m not trying to say that you are not being helpful. But, I wish that we can change the dialogue that we have with each other to be more focused on the individual’s needs and to let the grieving just be.

So, if you know someone who is grieving, here’s a tip: try to be more understanding. Listen to their needs. Sure, it’s awkward for you, but they are trying to be honest — which is a hard thing to do. What you can do in return is try to meet them in the middle.

Blogmas 25: What I Love About Christmas

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Merry Christmas readers! I still can’t believe I completed all 25 days of Blogmas! I hope that whoever is reading this is having an awesome Christmas! Here’s what I love about Christmas:

  • Cookies:

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This goes without saying — the best part about the holiday is the Christmas cookies. For me, just one bit instantly puts me into the Christmas spirit. Everyone has their favorite, but mine is either gingerbread or those Pillsbury printed ones.

  • Holiday books:

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I love reading holiday themed books throughout the month of December, because they instantly put me into the holiday mood. For me, they are like Hallmark Channel movies. I am currently on my last one, and I’m loving them.

  • Holiday movies:

This year I have not watched that many holiday movies other than the Charlie Brown Christmas special which is a given at my house. I do love holiday movies, because they give me the warm and fuzzy feeling of the holidays. My goal is of course to watch a few of the holiday movies before December 31st.

That said, I also have been watching the Great Christmas Light Fight all holiday season — which is one of my favorites.

  • Decorating the Christmas Tree:

This is my favorite part of the season, because I love looking at all of the ornaments and thinking about the memories associated with them. This year, I decorated three: my own, my boyfriend’s, and my father’s tree.

Of course, this one is one that I will always remember my mom loving. One year, she stayed up all night trying to decorate the tree for me. She was particular about the beads, and she always made sure that it was perfect. When I put up my tree this year, it was one of the most emotional things I did during this holiday season. However, getting the opportunity to decorate my own tree was something special as well.

  • The Music:

For the month of December, I am jamming. From Band-Aid, to Mariah Carey, to She and Him, I am listening to Christmas music. I have a playlist on Spotify with my favorite songs that I have linked above.

  • Starbucks Holiday Drinks:

I wish that they can serve peppermint mochas, gingerbread lattes, and all of the holiday menu at Starbucks all year long. To quote Ryan Reynolds in the Proposal, it’s like Christmas in a cup. And, I agree. Starbucks seems to taste better during the holiday season. Therefore, these are my favorite part of the holiday season.

What are your favorite parts about the holiday? Let me know in the comments below.

Blogmas Day 24: Traveling for the Holiday? Here are Some Tips to Make It Easier On Your Dog

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Dogs are a part of the family. Therefore, you bet they are a part of your holiday celebration — whether they are going to grandma’s the next town over or in the next state.

However, having a dog around can be a bit stressful — on you and the dog. So, here are some tips to make it easier on your puppy:

  • Bring the essentials: This goes without saying — make sure your pup has their food, medications if they need any, water bowls, and treats. However, you may also want to pack a few other important items in the bag. This includes: their favorite toys, their bed, and their blanket. The more familiarity, the better off you are.
  • Make sure they get enough walks: I have a Jackabee, and she has a lot of energy. Therefore, make sure that you walk your dog and that you make sure that they have adequate amount of exercise. Actually, one thing that I would suggest is make sure that you go out for a longer walk than needed. That way, they’ll be calmer, and not bouncing around the car.
  • Keep their routine (as much as possible): Being in a new environment is super overwhelming for them. Therefore, make sure that they keep their routine. Do they eat at 7 a.m.? Make sure to feed them. Do you go for a walk at 9 a.m.? Do the same. The more routine you keep, the better off you are.
  • Communicate: This is key. For instance, make sure that everyone knows that you are bringing your dog. Make sure that they know not to feed her chocolate. Also, one of the biggest things that you can do is make sure that everyone knows how your dog behaves. For instance, I let everyone who Lucy encounters — especially those who actually don’t have dogs — that she is super jumpy. That way, they know what to expect.
  • Don’t give them these: I think that we all can agree not to give your puppy chocolate. But, be sure to keep poinsettias away too. My dog is curious and gets into pretty much everything. Therefore, make sure that everyone knows to tell the puppy to stay away from these items.
  • Make sure you stop: Finally, if you’re traveling more than a few hours, make sure you stop to both walk them and make sure they use the bathroom. They will appreciate it!

Blogmas Day 23: A Little Message About Holidays and Significant Others

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“Where’s Eric?” 

“Why couldn’t Eric make it?” 

“Does Eric not like us?”

Those are just a few of the many things that I have been asked about during holiday family gatherings during the two years that I’ve been dating my boyfriend. To be honest, I feel as though that’s something that we honestly don’t talk about balancing every family  gathering during the holiday season. Honestly though, it’s super overwhelming. 

First and foremost, let’s focus on the positive. It’s really great that people want our significant others are welcome to our family gatherings. It’s really great that they care about them, and their whereabouts to, because it shows that they care that they have a place to go during the holiday season.

That said, we’re going to be honest here — it’s pretty overwhelming.

We all have a lot of family — mom’s side, dad’s side, etc. Since my parents are divorced, for me there are two separate celebrations. My boyfriend has a lot of family gatherings as well since he has a big family. Needless to say, there are a lot of holiday parties to hit. And since many of us can’t be in the same place at the same time, it means that sometimes that we have to miss a celebration. And sometimes, this means that we have to go to things separate.

After all, everyone has their own traditions.

Let’s just make this clear right now: he is not obligated to go to every family function. And, that’s perfectly okay.

So, while my boyfriend may not be attending every single gathering, you bet that he will be there as much as he can. And, vice versa. Family is a crucial part of the holidays and sometimes as much as we would like it that they are there with us, it’s okay to miss somethings.

It’s not a snub. It just means that we’re balancing the best ways that we can. And, while he may not be there in person, please note that he is still giving you holiday wishes from wherever he is.

Blogmas Day 22: Why I Blog About Grief

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For years, writing has been a form of therapy for me. Sure, I go see an actual therapist. But, there is nothing like writing for me – whether it’s when the pen meets paper or when I tap the fingers onto the keyboard.

This is why I’m constantly writing about grief – and the loss of my mom – on this blog.

By blogging about grief, it not only serves as a therapy for me, it also serves as a way to normalize it. Grief is something that everyone seems to experience. However, there is this big taboo about talking about grief. We can’t talk about it simply because it’s uncomfortable for others to hear for whatever reason.

With that being said, I want to change that. I want to try to normalize grief and make sure that it’s okay to talk about. Grief is something that should be socially be accepted. But, it’s not. It’s the same thing as mental health. It’s become an epidemic, yet it’s something that no one talks about.

And, for me, writing about grief is something that helps me. It helps me to write about my mom and the memories that we share. It helps me to talk about her, because as I mentioned earlier, it is a release. This blog is my personal safe space, and to write about her since she was such a crucial part of my life, helps me remember her.

So, that’s why I blog about grief regularly.

Blogmas Day 21: Best Purchases of 2019

The fact that we are nearing the end of the decade is still so shocking to me. 2019 was a weird year for me personally, and probably one of the worst of my life.

With that being said, I wanted to take a moment to focus on the positive of the year. That is, some of the things that I purchased this year that I have loved and use almost daily. Therefore, I decided to make a list of my favorite items that I purchased in 2019. And, if you still haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet, these make great gifts for anyone on your list.

Longchamp Le Pliage Totes:

I have been lusting after these purses forever. In April, I decided to finally make the splurge and purchase one. And, I’ve been hooked ever since. I now own a variety of colors, and these are my favorite purses. I love them because they are foldable, and they fit everything but the kitchen sink. I also love it that it has enough room to hold my computer.

Kindle Paperwhite:

I swore for years that I wasn’t going to ever get a Kindle as I am a Barnes and Noble gal. However, I decided to try the Kindle because it was waterproof, and my Nook almost died during a near accident with the pool. I’m going to be honest, though. I love the Kindle so much more than the Nook. The battery life is much better, I can listen to my Audible books on it if I wanted to, and it’s actually a lot slimmer than my Nook. I am not sure how to sell the Nook, and I still have the books I haven’t read on there. However, I am definitely now a Kindle girl.

Tiffany 1837 Ring:

I bought this as an impulse purchase for my 25th birthday and I’ve worn it every day since. I love this ring because it’s so comfortable and it’s simple for everyday use. I can add other rings to it, or I can layer. This is definitely one of my favorite pieces of jewelry, and I am so glad that I purchased it.

SV Decker Rose Quartz Necklace:

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with my rose quartz necklace from SV Decker. Rose quartz has so many healing qualities, as well as love – especially self-love which is something that I’ve been needing a lot more of. I’ve purchased quite a bit of gemstone jewelry lately, but this is my favorite.

Mantrabands:

These have been my favorites throughout the year. I have such a huge Mantraband collection. I like these bracelets, because they are little nuggets of positivity on my wrist. They offer comfort, encouragement and are my reminders to breathe. I have them in a variety of colors, and they go with pretty much anything. I also love their necklace and their rings as well.

New Coat:

I recently purchased a new coat with a hood, because believe it or not, my winter coat that I’ve had for years did not have one. Shocking, I know. This Black Friday, I purchased one from Old Navy in olive, and I love it. It’s so warm, and it’s weather proof – perfect for snowy days.

MacBook Air:

Because I didn’t keep my MacBook updated throughout the years I’ve had it, I was beginning to have trouble with my computer. I also had a Netbook that I used, but never did the job in the right way. Therefore, I needed to purchase a new computer. I love this computer for a number of reasons. It’s really fast, and it’s easy to carry everywhere I need to go with it.

What were your best purchases of 2019? Let me know in the comments below.

Blogmas Day 20: 5 Last Minute Shopping Tips

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It’s the final shopping weekend before Christmas. If you’re like me, your holiday shopping is done. However, I know that there are a few procrastinators that are going to be braving the malls this weekend. So, if you’re one of them, here are some tips to get your holiday shopping done with your sanity in tact:

  • Use In Store Pick Up Feature: Many stores out there now have the In-Store Pickup Option. This means you can order it online and pick it up in the store. I’ve done this with quite a few stores, and it’s a lot easier and faster than actually going through the store to get it.
  • Go Early: If you want the holiday shopping experience, the best option is to go early. This means going as soon as the mall or the store you want opens its doors. If you do it that way, chances are you’ll be in and out.
  • Have a Game Plan: Take a line from Santa’s book and make a list and check it twice. Grandma needs a sweater? Write it down. Knowing what you need to buy is a lot easier than scrambling to find something. The stores are already going to be crazy, so the more prepared you are, the easier it will be.
  • Go In Pairs: One of the best things my boyfriend and I do together is honestly go Christmas shopping together. Going in pairs is super helpful for a number of reasons. One, if there are long lines and you know that you are going to buy something, you can send one of you to the line to begin waiting while the other finishes up. Furthermore, this is a great way to get opinions on what you’re getting, as well as a great way to spend some quality time together. It’s a win-win.
  • Use your Prime Membership: If all of this gives you anxiety, honestly, just use Prime. It’s handy, but trust me, it will be worth it to avoid the stress.

Blogmas Day 19: 4 Tips to Make the Holiday Season Slightly Less Stressful

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It’s the most wonderful time of year, yet it is the most stressful because there is just so much that needs to be done. Between cookies, wrapping and of course, regular daily responsibilities always leads to chaos. And when that happens, chances are you’ll be stressed. However, there is a few things to avoid the holiday stress. Or, at least try to lessen it. Here are some tips to do so:

  • Make lists:

Take a page out of Santa’s book and write down everything you have to do. From wrapping to last minute shopping, write it all down. Then, give yourself a reward once you complete the task — whether it may be takeout or a holiday drink from Starbucks.

Furthermore, another idea is to get a calendar and write down what you need to do by day. I have a day planner and every day, I write down what needs to be done. For example, if I have a list of ten things that I need to do, I write them down and break them up. That way, the task becomes less daunting.

  • Be Real With Yourself:

There’s only 24 hours in a day. And, eight of them, you are most likely sleeping. Therefore, there is only so much that you can fit into so little time. So, be honest with how much time you have, and chances are, you won’t be scrambling to fit everything in.

The same goes with commitments. Sure, everyone in the family wants to see you. Problem? You have three different invitations in three different places. So, be honest with your time and try to not stretch yourself too thin. This may mean having to miss stuff and say no. And, that’s perfectly fine.

  • Make Time For Self Care:

Since there is so much going on in the holiday season, it’s very easy to forget that you need to self care since you are so driven to get things done. Therefore, make time to go to the gym, do yoga, etc. Putting yourself first is so important so you can be your best self for everything else you have going on. So, while you’re constantly on the go, try to take a moment just to breathe.

  • Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute:

The best way to also avoid stress? Stop waiting until the last minute on everything. By waiting until the last minute on everything, chances are you’ll be trying to get everything done at the same time. Which is never a fun time. So, instead try to be proactive instead of putting it off. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.

What are some tips you have for avoiding holiday stress? Let me know in the comments below.

Blogmas Day 18: What I Love Wednesday December 18

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We are only one week before Christmas.

Yup.

Let that sink in.

I know. I can’t believe it myself.

With that being said, there is so much to do, yet so little time to do it all. However, here are some things that I am loving this week:

  • That 70’s Show: 

This used to be my favorite show that I watched after school in high school. Recently, I have been rewatching some of the seasons on Netflix. I love this show because since I have seen it so many times, to the point where I can watch any episode and know what’s going on. For me, this is both a sense of comfort and nostalgia, despite the fact that I have about five different TV shows that I haven’t watched yet to watch.

  • She and Him Christmas Music: 

Many of us think of Mariah Carey and Micheal Buble for Christmas music. However, I love the She and Him Christmas albums. I have been listening to it since the beginning of December, and it is a cozy coffee shop vibe — which I love for this time of year. I do enjoy She and Him, so I highly recommend their holiday music as a way to check the band out.

  • Gemstone Jewelry:

I have been really into gemstone jewelry lately. Last weekend, I purchased a rose quartz necklace from SV Decker (you can check out the post I wrote about them here), and loved it. I love Rose Quartz because it promotes self love and self healing. However, I have also been loving my amethyst and my moonstone bracelets.

  • Recent Reads:

I just finished 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston and it was the cutest book that I’ve read recently. If you love To All of the Boys I Loved Before series, this is the book for you. It’s about Sophie, who was heading to the Christmas holiday heartbroken. She had just broken up with her boyfriend Griffin. Her family’s solution? Go on blind dates. She goes on a series of blind dates, which is both comical and awesome to read. If you love Young Adult Romance, this is a great novel for you to check out.

Currently, I’m reading 25 Days Til Christmas and listening to Hell With the Hustle.

  • Bath and Body Works In the Stars: 

Of course, I have to talk about a Bath and Body Works product. I took advantage of their $4.95 on all body care sale, and treated myself to a new body spray, which was the Into the Stars scent. I love it, and have been using it all week, and I highly recommend that you check it out if you love body sprays that smell like perfume.

What are you loving this week? Let me know in the comments below.