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Women Who Work: Jess Costa

Photo Credit: Alexia Garza-Gomez

For Jess Costa, her career as a filmmaker started with music videos in her preteen days. Fast forward ten years later, Jess graduated from NYU, and is now working on her first feature film, Sleep Talking (it sounds so amazing so definitely check it out when it’s released).

I was introduced to Jess from my friend Danielle, and I am so grateful for the chance to interview her for my blog. I am not as familiar with the technical end of film making, so it was so interesting to get a chance to talk with her and learn about something that is outside of my expertise.

That said, here’s my Q and A with Jess:

1. What made you decide to become a filmmaker? 

I became a filmmaker because of the play of it; I started off having film days with my friend, Elana, when we were 11, making music videos to All American Rejects, and posting them to YouTube. From then on I was set, I was a filmmaker. It’s obviously taken different roles in my life. It’s still fun and now it’s really cathartic. I tend to use film to work out whatever I’m learning in life at that moment. 

2. What is your filmography? 

I have pieces I made in high school, but I start counting my filmography with my NYU senior thesis, Once Upon a November, because with that project I admit to myself I was a writer then and took full ownership of my work! I write and direct fantastical/magic realism pieces with a heart center. They tend to revolve around the moment we realize the world isn’t what we always thought it was (and sometimes how we move on from that, which has been in more of my recent work, like 99¢ Dreams). I’ve made many shorts (like Once Upon a NovemberDreamers (about the DACA program), 99¢ Dreams, and more) and now I’m creating my first feature (a full-length 90 minute movie!)! 

3. Do you have any directors that you look up to? 

Ava Duvernay for her strength and heartfelt characters, Pheobe Waller-Bridge for her vulnerability and her ability to say exactly what we’re feeling – and with humor, and Tim Burton for his magical realism and world-building.

4. Tell me about your latest film, Sleep Talking.

Sleep Talking is a fantastical thriller feature film about a 12-year-old girl Maya who needs to learn she can’t fix everything. When her mother’s need to resurrect their family’s past takes over their lives, Maya starts scheming to solve the mystery, but instead, discovers the terror infiltrating her family when her sister starts to sleep talk. There’s a “true” crime element, there’s a magical moth lore and lots of sisterly love. It focuses on the older sister who grows up too quickly to protect her younger sister from the cruelties of the world, which is what my sister did for me so this movie is dedicated to her. 

Since YA novels are my jam, I realized the flow of the script on the page reads very similarly to a YA novel (this girl can leave the YA target range, but the genre never leaves the girl haha). 

5. When will it be released? 
We will be finished with the film in December and then in 2022, we are going to taking it on the road with a Drive-In Tour of America and, if the state of the world warrants, a special seated cemetery screener with ghost stories and a breakdown of the moth mythos.

6. How has COVID-19 affected the film? 
For all of the bad COVID brought, my silver lining is that with the shut down in March, I was able to take an online class and finally finish the first draft of Sleep Talking within a month. Since then I’ve had the space to work remotely and refine the script to really make it what it is today. I finished the script at the beginning of the year and now I get to put on my director hat and my producer/business partner, Danielle Benedict, can breakdown the logistics of the script. We’re at this fun step where we’re getting everything together to film in July so it’s the work that demands we stay at home and buckle down.

7. Where can people view the film once it’s released? 

After the tour, we are going to partner with online distribution so everyone can watch from the comfort of their couch! 

8. How do you get ideas for a film?
Sometimes it’s a writing exercise; for 99¢ Dreams, I saw a neon sign reading exactly that, “99¢ Dreams” and I started to picture what that store would look like. For Sleep Talking, it started from a friend sleep talking and I made a passive joke saying, “what is he possessed.” Then this idea flooded of a nightmarish sheet being pulled out of someone’s mouth and wrapping another person in a cocoon – which became the jumping-off point for this script. From there, I started seeing the characters and remembered I used to sleep talk when I was younger so, since that’s what I connect sleep talking with, I made it from the point of view of children, and then it’s just lego blocks piling on top of each other to make the first draft!

9. Finally, what is some advice that you have for someone who wants to be in the film business?

Start off by making a project, whether you’re creating every bit, whether you’re working on someone else’s set – just jump in. I’ve seen folx who spend most of their time dreaming it up, but they don’t take action on it, waiting for “that break” or that perfect moment. By being on set and making a short from beginning to end you learn what parts you love, hate, that you do out of survival – and then find amazing people you admire that love doing the parts you hate and there’s a beautiful partnership to make a fun movie. Keep at it, it takes some time, but, for me, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else so I don’t see the point in stopping. 

Interested in checking out Jess’ work? Be sure to check out her website, her Instagram, and her YouTube channel!

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What I Love Wednesday: Wednesday January 27, 2021

Happy Wednesday everyone! This Wednesday is a snowy one for me, and I couldn’t be happier.

This week’s favorites are a bit random, as I have less to share than usual. That said, I still have a few awesome picks for you this week to share.

UV Nail Lamp: I love having painted nails. However, I am the worst at keeping them still and waiting for them to dry. So, for many years, I never had painted nails. Last week, I discovered this and I bought it instantly. I did my nails, and they were dry in less than ten minutes. And my nails look great. I am loving this, because it gives me a chance to have pretty nails, but it also does them quickly.

Essie Gala-Vanting Nail Polish Set: With the UV Lamp, I also purchased a new nail polish color — this beautiful Essie red color. I have had this on since Friday and so far, my nails have been really holding up. I also love txhat for about $15, I get the nail polish and the top coat. Definitely a great deal, and this color is perfect for Valentine’s Day.

SV Decker Sleek Heart Necklace: I saw this piece on their Valentine’s Day drop and I became instantly obsessed with it. I bought the silver, and I have already worn it a few times. I love how simple this is, yet it’s different than any other heart pieces that I own. I also can layer it with a few other pieces as well, which I am really excited for.

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Eating My Way In CT: Katz Deli In Woodbridge CT

Katz Deli is famous in New York City. However, what many don’t know is that there is one in Woodbridge, CT as well. It may have no affiliation with the one in New York City, but still worth the trip. This location is convenient for travelers who want to grab lunch or dinner, as it is located just off Exit 59 on the Wilbur Cross Parkway (aka Route 15).

The deli has been a staple for Westville/Woodbridge dining for many years, and still remains standing after an electrical fire in June 2020. As a side note, Katz became a staple for me while in college, and is still remains to be one of my favorite places to get sandwiches.

So, what can you get there?

Their menu has so many different items to choose, including: breakfast foods, sandwiches, soups, salads, burgers, and more. You can truly get any meal at this place. And, of course, you can get the classic Jewish deli staples — Reuben sandwiches, potato pancakes, and of course, black and white cookies. The menu also offers “Rachels,” which is a sandwich with your choice of meat, Swiss cheese, Russian Dressing, Homemade Cole Slaw on Rye Bread.

And, while Katz is a great takeout place, you still can sit down and enjoy your meal. Recently, my boyfriend and I went there for a lunch during our day off. I had a grilled chicken wrap with avocado, and he had the Reuben. One thing that is worth noting is that they have a ton of wraps and sandwiches to choose from, and it’s so easy to customize them to your liking. We both also got fries, which I highly recommend, because they are one of my favorite places to get French Fries.

And, it was amazing. The wrap was so delicious, and you can tell that the ingredients were fresh. The sandwiches came out pretty quickly, which is something that I enjoy in a restaurant as well. With the fries, you can definitely fill up pretty quickly, and not be hungry for the rest of the day.

Overall, I highly recommend checking out Katz deli if you’re in the New Haven area, or even if you’re passing through. It’s a deli that has something for everyone, and you can definitely find something for everyone on your list.

Have you been to Katz deli in Woodbridge? Let me know in the comments below.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

It is safe to say that one of the most hyped books of 2020 on Bookstagram and Booktube was the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. It was my October Book of the Month, and has been sitting on my shelf for a few months.

That is, until now.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue tells the story of Adeline, “Addie” LaRue. Addie lives in eighteenth century France, and wants to explore the world. At the start of the novel, she is in her early 20s, and by those standards, she is considered to be an old maid. On her wedding day, she runs out of the chapel to meet up with this man with curly black hair, and green eyes. Adeline has been dreaming of this man, and has been praying to them to avoid getting married.

She then makes a deal with this gentleman — her soul with the ability to live forever. However, there is a catch. As soon as she meets someone, they will forget her. Addie accepts.

The story is told in two different time frames — Addie’s life in the past and in New York City in 2014. She eventually meets Henry, who is the first person in 300 years to remember her. The two fall in love, until they realize that he has made a deal of that nature.

This book was really hyped, and with good reason. This story is definitely one of the most unique novels that I have read to date. Schwab’s writing was beautiful, and I loved reading the story about Addie’s relationship with both Henry and “Luc.”

Some may argue that this novel is a love story with the devil, but I personally do not agree. I think that Addie was lusting after Luc, however, I believe that Addie was truly in love with Henry. Addie’s relationship with Luc was more of the captor/captee type, while Addie fell in love with Henry.

I also loved the main character Addie. Addie was a true feminist, but she was born in the wrong time. She wanted to see the world, versus getting married with children, which is something that wasn’t allowed in that time period. I believe that was a realistic desire for women who lived in that time period. I also thought it was interesting that Addie had tip-toed on the line between right and wrong. Addie obviously couldn’t have a job because her boss would forget her on her second day, which resulted in her stealing food and clothing in the efforts to be fed and clothed. And, in a way it worked, because people forgot about her the second she left their site.

Furthermore, I can not imagine what it is like to be Addie. She can not leave her mark on the world, and everyone that she encounters will forget her. How can someone live with that knowledge and survive the mundane day to day tasks? I am sure that she leads a lonely life.

One final point that I would like to bring up is the different time lines. I’ve read on some reviews online that it is confusing. I disagree. I think that they are essential to the story, because each flashback sheds some light on what’s happening in the present. I personally enjoyed it, and I thought it added a great element to the book.

So, have you read the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue? Let me know in the comments below.

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What I Love Wednesday: January 20, 2021

Happy Wednesday, everyone! It is a short week for me, but it’s definitely one that is going to be productive.

This week, I have a few favorites to share, and unlike weeks past, they aren’t TV shows. I am excited to share them all with you. So, here are this weeks’ favorites:

Yeti: I got a Yeti for Christmas this year and I have been obsessed with it. I’ve had Hydroflasks, but I have been gravitating towards this one. Since it’s smaller, it is easier for me to drink it, and I end up drinking a few of these per day. I also love that this fits in a car cup holder as well, which is a challenge with those other bottles.

Rachel Cruze Podcast: I have been obsessed with listening to Rachel Cruze’s podcast, because it talks about money, but in a way that isn’t strict or restricting. Instead, it talks about how you spend more money in a mindful way, which I really like.

Cricut Joy/Easy Press:

I have joined the Cricut train, and I am obsessed. I have made a tote bag, mug, book sleeve, and water bottle. While I have so many things that I need to learn about it, I am amazed on how easy it is and can’t wait to make more projects.

Ember Mug:

As a slow tea drinker, I am always having cold tea. This mug is something that is the answer to my prayers, because it is temperature controlled by your phone and keeps your drinks warm for up to 3 hours. I am so happy that I was able to get this thanks to a Best Buy gift card that I got by trading in my old Apple Watch, because I love it!

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January Amazon Favorites

Happy January everyone! I’ve been refraining from purchasing items from Amazon lately to try to save up more money, but I have picked up a few items lately. Many of these are kitchen supplies, but that’s okay.

Needless to say, here are my Amazon favorites this month:

Phone Stand: I use this every day and I absolutely love it. I’ve used this as a tripod to take selfies with my boyfriend, a stand on my desk for my phone, and to hold my iPad while I am following along to a workout video. This holds both my iPhone 11 Pro and my iPad 6, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for a phone stand for work, home, etc.

Mini Steamer: This was hands down the best $5 I’ve ever spent, because it has made steaming vegetables so much easier. It is easy to heat up in the microwave, and you don’t burn your hands on your containers. Definitely a win.

Fruit Basket: Yes, I am talking about a fruit basket. But, I really like this basket because it gives me a chance to keep my fruit that is not refrigerated in a place that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

JBL Speaker: I mentioned this last month, but I am still loving this and have been using this almost everyday. This has become my everyday shower speaker and I listen to podcasts while I shower, and I absolutely love it. For the small size, it packs a big punch, and I am sure that I will be taking this with me to the beach in the summer as well as with me when I travel.

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What I Love Wednesday: January 13, 2020

Happy Wednesday everyone! We are halfway through the week, and I couldn’t be more excited. This upcoming weekend is a three day weekend for me, and I am excited to get some r and r and complete a home project that has been on my mind for a while. More updates to come on that.

That said, here are my favorites for this week:

Gentler Podcast: I discovered this podcast while I was listening to I Love You So Much by Kenzie Elizabeth, and I really have been enjoying it. The podcast talks about a gentler approach to life and self care, and I’ve been enjoying it. I have only listened to a few episodes, but it has provided me so much insight about life. Her podcast is perfect for anyone who wants a gentler approach to finances, which I really love because sometimes Dave Ramsey can be a little too intense for me. I highly recommend this podcast, because it serves as a reminder to just be gentler on yourself.

Grown by Tiffany Jackson: I have heard amazing things about this book, so I decided to pick up this book this weekend. Once I started it, I could not put the book down. The story is about Enchanted, who has a dream of becoming a famous singer. Enchanted meets Korey Fields, who is a famous singer who is almost ten years older than her. The two begin a relationship, which takes a twisted turn. Then, Korey Fields is found dead, and Enchanted wakes up with blood on her hands. The book is amazing, but don’t be fooled. This definitely has topics such as rape, grooming, and abuse. But, this book definitely opens your eyes to those topics, which I really liked about it.

The Graham Stephan Show: Okay, so I found a new obsession on YouTube that I have been binging. That is the Graham Stephan Show, which basically is Graham reacting to Yotubers talking about spending. It definitely helps you begin to think about the money that you have coming in, and how you spend your money.

Lita Crossbody Purse: I love this purse. It looks like the Prada Reissue, but at a much lower price. I currently have two and I’m obsessed. I got the khaki online when they were on sale over the holiday season, and I loved it. When I went to return a shirt that didn’t fit, I found the black one and picked that up too. And I am so glad that I did. The purse is small, so you can only fit your on the go essentials. What is also cool about this purse is that you can wear it as a crossbody, or you can wear it as a shoulder bag. That versatility is what sells me.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab: It seems like every book tuber and bookstagrammer has been talking about this book. This was my Book of the Month pick for the month of October, and I am so happy that I choose this one. It is living up the hype. It is about Addie LaRue, who makes a deal with the devil to live forever with a catch of not being able to make her mark on the world. This means that she can’t write anything down without it disappearing, and if someone sees her, they are quick to forget her. I am only 20 percent in this book, but so far, I am enjoying this. (Also if you want to test out Book of the Month, click this referral link so we both can score free books — it’s $14.99 a month and allows you to get a brand new release (in hardcover), which is such a deal).

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Women Who Work: Food Blogger Natalie

For many, the New Year brings the resolution of healthier eating habits. Of course, this can be challenging, especially if you choose to opt to be gluten free.

However, blogger Natalie of GF Macros with Nat has got you covered. Her blog, which originally started as an Instagram account of the same name, has many different healthy recipes for those choosing to eat healthier in 2021. Natalie’s blog has so many different choices that even have me drooling — even though I am not gluten free.

Be sure to keep reading and check out my interview with her, and then check out her blog!

Photo Credit: Natalie Asarisi

How did you get started eating gluten free?

I started eating gluten free when I got diagnosed with a gluten intolerance about 5 years ago. 

What was the hardest thing about beginning your journey about eating gluten free?

The hardest thing was adjusting to not being able to eat “normal” anymore, I had to figure out my new normal and that took some time to get used too. Eating new foods, finding gluten free substitutes and realizing they don’t taste the same at all.

Photo Credit: Natalie Asarisi


What inspired you to start your blog?

I decided to start my blog, since I had many people reach out to me from my Instagram Page and Facebook Page saying how if they go away with social media they would still like to read and see my posts so I thought it was finally time to give the people what they were asking for, a way to access my information without social media.  Tell me more about your blog.

How many times a week do you plan to post? Will you be growing to different meals, like dessert or breakfast, or stick to dinners and snacks?

I plan to post every time I make something new. Lately I have been doing dinner, breakfast and snack. I hope to include dessert sometimes soon.

How do you come up with new recipes?

I get a lot of my inspiration for my recipes through Pinterest, of course I have to modify to fit my Gluten Allergy. 

You have an Instagram account as well with so much delicious content. Will some of the recipes you share there make on the blog as well?

Yes, I have a few on my blog now. 

Photo Credit: Natalie Asarisi

What is your favorite gluten-free meal?

I would have to say, four cheese Alfredo with gluten free penne pasta with shrimp and gluten free garlic bread! 

Do you have any tips for someone who is beginning a gluten-free journey, whether it may be for health reasons like yourself, or just trying to lose weight?

I would say do a lot of research before just jumping into gluten free. I did a lot of research read a lot of articles looked at different recipes and use Pinterest that is your best friend. 

Do you have any tips for anyone who is starting a food blog in the new year?

I would say if you always wanted to do it and still never did it, nows your time to shine! Go and make that blog!

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2021 Mashed Potato Book TBR

Last year, I created a TBR that consisted of my “mashed potato” books. The definition of a mashed potato book is a book that has been sitting on your shelf for at least six months that you haven’t read yet. Many of these books have been sitting on my shelf for at least one year, if not more than that. Yeah, I really need to work on trying to get to these.

That said, I really want to try to read at least two of these a month for the year. If I don’t, I won’t penalize myself for it, but I want to really try to reduce the number of unread books that I own.

So, without further adue, here are the Mashed Potato Books that I hope to get to this year:

  1. All The Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr
  2. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses (and hopefully the series) by Sarah J. Maas
  4. The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
  5. Tempting Fate by Jane Green
  6. The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz
  7. Lady Midnight (and hopefully the series) by Cassandra Clare
  8. Followers by Megan Angelo
  9. The Lies We Told by Camilla Way
  10. Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict
  11. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
  12. How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway
  13. November 9 by Colleen Hoover
  14. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  15. Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan
  16. With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevado
  17. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
  18. Still Me by JoJo Moyes
  19. The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes
  20. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  21. The 7 1/2 Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
  22. Me by Elton John
  23. Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
  24. Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison
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What I Love Wednesday: January 6, 2021

Happy Wednesday everyone! This is the first What I Love Wednesday of the year, and I am really excited to share my new favorites with you! Many of these are TV shows, since I’ve been doing a lot of binging, but that’s fine. That said, here are this week’s favorites:

90 Fiance: I started getting hooked on this show on a complete and total whim. I love watching reality tv, and I love that it just is simple and entertaining. If you don’t know what 90 Day Fiance, it basically documents the day to day lives of couples who have someone who is coming to the U.S. on a K-1 Visa, which basically means that they have 90 days to get married. It’s interesting to see the dynamics of the couples, and yes, I do love the drama.

Chrissy Teigen’s Cookbooks: I found the best deal on these cookbooks on Poshmark– two for $20. Normally, these are $30 a piece, so I thought that these were a steal. I got them on Monday, and have enjoyed flipping through them. So far, I’ve tried the Caeser salad, but I can’t wait to try more recipes this year, and to get more into cooking.

What’s Happening with Snooki and Joey: I am a huge fan of Jersey Shore, and I recently discovered this podcast so I had to listen. It’s really entertaining, and discusses lifestyle and celebrity gossip. It’s something that I’ve enjoyed listening to in the morning, because it’s something that always makes me laugh.

Pandora Elevated Heart Ring: My boyfriend gave me not one, but two promise rings. I have been wearing both equally. This ring is super special to me because every time I look down at it while I am working, I think of him. Cheesy, yes. But, it makes me really happy and I’ve been wearing this one a lot.

Bridgerton: Everyone and their mother is talking about this show, and I just started this show once I finished the third season of 90 Day Fiance. So far, I can see why everyone is obsessed with it. The best way to describe it as a 1800s London version of Gossip Girl. It is dramatic and addicting, and I am here for it. It is based on a book series, so I am sure that I will be reading that soon as well.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett: I was listening to the I Love You So Much with Kenzie Elizabeth podcast episode where she was discussing this book. This is already on my TBR, and I wanted to read it. I’m only a few pages in, but it’s about two twin sisters who escape a small Southern town in the 1950’s, and one of them returns many years later. There are a lot of jumps for this book, but so far, I am loving this book and understand the hype.