Friday favs – April Showers

 

Happy Friday, friends! I missed doing a Friday Favs post last week and the week before because the first Friday was just one of those Comedy of Errors kind of days and last week I was computerless (see below!). It’s been ages since I’ve written any regular posts, but I do try to at least get this one up every week so that my poor blog doesn’t gather dust. Thankfully, the weather is getting nice and my bank account is getting less sad, so I should have some fun adventures to post about pretty soon.

Here’s what I’ve been loving this week!

 

1. NEW LAPTOP!!

I mentioned recently that a new laptop was at the top of my must-buy list. I’ve been picking up extra work so I could order one on my next (end of April) paycheck.

Oh, the best laid plans…

Last Tuesday, I was curled up in my usual comfy chair at the library, working away, and got up to take a restroom break. When I got back and picked up my laptop, the little thingey (technical term) that my charge cord plugs into CAME APART. It would charge if I physically held the pieces together, but that didn’t seem like the safest thing to do, so I finished up what I was working on as quickly as possible, e-mailed myself a few important files and passwords, and then went to my car and cried like an adult.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, I stopped at Best Buy the next day to look around a bit, even though I had already picked out a laptop on Amazon and it was just sitting in my cart waiting for me to have the funds. I told the Best Buy dude exactly that and he asked if I’d considered applying for financing. I laughed and told him that my credit score is like 2 (Ok, in honesty it has recently moved up from “poor” to “needs work”. I aspire to mediocrity!) and he told me he got approved with a score that was like 200 points lower than mine. The concept of being able to grab a laptop that very day won out over my hate for debt, so I applied and got approved for $1,000 credit instantly. YAY.

The original laptop I had picked out was just over $300, but I ended up getting one that was $500 (on sale from $600, though!). Being able to make payments (and zero interest for 12 months, at that) meant I could actually invest in what I really wanted instead of just getting what I could afford, and I don’t regret it for a second!

I did end up having to wait until that Friday for it to arrive, because the one I decided on wasn’t in stock. I spent all dang day waiting for the UPS guy because I had to accept it in person, so of course it didn’t show up until 3:30. But it’s here and it’s lovely! I mentioned that I wanted a large screen, and I did in fact get just about the biggest you can on a laptop – 17.3″. My old one was 15.6″, and it’s funny how much more luxurious that extra little bit of size makes it feel!

It’s so nice and fast and everything WORKS (my old one was in such bad shape!). The only con I’ve noticed is that it is louder than my old one. I can hear it “thinking” fairly often, and there’s a general “I’m running!” sound, whereas my old one was basically silent. But that compared to having to deal with a space bar that only works sometimes? No contest!

I got this HP with an 8 GB memory and a 1 TB hard drive if you’re curious!

 

 

2. Last week, I discovered that I can fit in kids-sized t-shirts from Target!

 

 

I spotted the Ravenclaw one in the boys section and had to at least TRY. Turns out the kids XL is pretty on par with a women’s medium. You can’t tell from the photos, but my boobs are smooshed like pancakes in there, but otherwise they aren’t bad! And they’re like NINE DOLLARS.

Pro tip! My local Target only carries up to XL, but I discovered that Target.com had XXL! I returned the Ravenclaw tee and ordered the bigger one,(The XXL Hogwarts Letter shirt was out of stock online) and it’s not significantly bigger, but it seems a tiny bit longer and roomier. (I guess no shirt made for a boy child is going to fit double D’s.)

Here are easy links to the boys Gryffindor shirt, Hufflepuff shirt, and Slytherin shirt, too! For some reason, there’s a cute girls Gryffindoor tee, but no other houses in the girls section? The shirts are on sale for $7 each right now, too! They’re officially licensed Harry Potter merch, and I’m sure if I was buying them at Universal Studios or something they’d be at least $25. (I mean, a chocolate frog is ten bucks.)

Sorry to totally nerd out about something that won’t work for everyone, but given that I’m 5’10” and broad-shouldered and large-chested, I definitely never thought kids shirts would fit me, so I wanted to share! There were SO many cute shirts in the kids’ section – Disney and Marvel and NASA and all kinds of fun things. And $8.99!!! Life changing, y’all.

 

 

3. I’ve had some really awesome luck with the Walmart clearance section this week!

 

 

Yes, you’re reading those correctly – $1 each. I was just thinking the other day that I needed to get a new permanant marker, but ONE Sharpie is $2, so of course I was thrilled about a dozen for a dollar!

 

4. When I got home yesterday, my kitten greeted me so enthusiastically that I whipped out my phone to take pictures. I laughed SO HARD when I saw this one in the stream of photos:

 

I still laugh every time I look at it. She is beauty, she is grace.

 

 

5. I’m going to leave you with the best thing I’ve seen all week:

Seriously, y’all… watch this woman SLAY.

 

 

 

By the way, if you missed it, my monthly book review post includes a giveaway for a fun book perfect for reading outside in the beautiful spring weather!

 

It’s supposed to rain all weekend, so I picked up some hours working at the thrift store because money is good. Actually, I’m planning to trade my car in later this month (CAR SHOPPING IS TERRIBLE), so I want to pick up as much work as possible so I can ease some of the anxiety of having a car payment again! (I haven’t had to worry about that since like 2014… it’s scary! I hate debt.) I also want to get as much writing done as possible because I have a little one night getaway planned in just over a week, and I’d like to just chill while I’m away instead of working the whole time! (Totally excited to share everything about that with you guys when I get back!)

Heading out to enjoy the sunshine while I can! Have a lovely weekend!

 

Linking up with Bright on a Budget and A Little Bit of Everything

 

Show Us Your Books – April Edition (with Giveaway!)

 

Happy Show Us Your Books link-up day! It’s been a weird last couple of months for me reading-wise. I started reading Devil in the White City about the Chicago World’s Fair, but my library e-book expired halfway through and there were other holds so I couldn’t just renew it. Right after that, my hold on Radium Girls finally came through, but THAT one expired when I was only 70% finished! Back on the wait list for it, too. I did finish a few new books, though, so it’s time for reviews!

As usual, I link to both the Goodreads and Amazon page for each book. The amazon links are affiliate links, which means that purchasing something after clicking that link throws a little money into the “Crystal needs to trade in her car!” fund without costing you any extra.

 


Someone You Know

Goodreads * Amazon

I’ve seen mixed reviews of this on Goodreads, but I really liked it. It’s a mystery told from two different perspectives in different time periods. One is a first person perspective from Tess, whose twin sister went missing as a teenager. The alternating chapters are told third person from her sister’s perspective 20 years ago. I liked how the stories built towards the same event, and loved a totally unexpected twist near the climax.

It’s not an edge of your seat thriller, more of a slow accumulation of clues that leaves you suspecting pretty much everyone. The writing is solid but not remarkable, but it was a fun way to spend a few evenings.

I received a complimentary e-book for review via Netgalley. The Kindle edition is currently available on Amazon for just $1.99! Not sure how long that price will last – the book was just published in February.

 

 

The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

Goodreads * Amazon

Someone raved about this on last month’s link-up (sorry I don’t remember who!) and my library had it available, so I grabbed it. Such a fun, feel-good read! I read it in one evening, so it’s pretty quick, too. I originally thought it was YA, but the main characters are in their late 20s. A great poolside read if you’re looking for quick and fun.

 


Orange Is the New Black

Goodreads * Amazon

This was a re-read for me. I recently re-watched the first couple of seasons of the show, which made me want to pick the book up again.

I’m really happy that the first time I read it, it was before watching the show. It’s a really interesting look at a woman’s experience in the prison system, but compared to all of the super dramatic things that happen in the Netflix version, it’s fairly tame. Still an interesting read, but reading it before and after watching the show are totally different experiences.

 


The Girl He Used to Know

Goodreads * Amazon

I actually reviewed this book a few days ago in its own post here! The publisher accidentally sent me two review copies instead of one, so I’d like to pass one on to one of you guys! Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget below for a chance to get it.

Due to shipping costs and different giveaway rules in different countries, this is only open to those 18+ with a US mailing address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out the link-up and see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading lately!

 

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks.

 

If you’ve ever unexpectedly run into someone you knew when you were younger, you’ve probably felt that desire for them to notice how much you’ve changed.

 

 

SheSpeaks and St. Martins Press were kind enough to send me an advance copy of The Girl He Used To Know, the new book by New York Times bestseller Tracey Garvis Graves.

This novel is interesting in that it is told in two different time frames (1991 and 2001), and while most chapters are from the main character’s point of view, there are a few from another character. Unlike most books that do those things, though, it doesn’t flip back and forth every chapter. You might get four chapters from 1991 in a row, then two from 2001, then one from 1991… it’s uneven but it works.

Within the first few chapters, you notice several signs that the main character, Annika, might be somewhere on the Autism spectrum. For the most part she reads like any other narrator, but little things like how she describes smells and textures start to add up. It was interesting to see a few of the things that happen when my anxiety is bad, like needing to take a nap after an intense social interaction, come up in the story. It’s not something you see often in a protagonist, and while it was nice to see things I’ve experienced portrayed, I’d imagine it will probably make readers who are on the spectrum feel really seen and represented.

To say that I got totally sucked into this novel is an understatement. I picked it up one night last week with plans to read 50 pages or so, but ended up reading the whole thing at once. (It’s a little under 300 pages, so it took a while, but not unheard of in one night.) In addition to being curious about how the story would develop, about halfway through I started thinking about the fact that part of the book is set in August 2001 and wondered if that might lead to where I suspected it would. (Not going to tell you if I was right or wrong!)

While the book is centered around Annika’s past and current interactions with her college boyfriend, it’s also an interesting look at friendship and family relationships. As the youngest of 5 children where everyone else is way older than me, Annika’s not-that-close relationship with her brother felt realistic to me. Most books portray siblings as super close, but for a lot of us they’re just someone we talk to a few times a year at holidays.

To be honest, since I mostly read nerdy non-fiction, I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy this when I was offered the opportunity to review it. Most books that fall into the Women’s Fiction genre hit that “Passed the time just fine” category for me – not mad that I read it, but not that noteworthy. I was so pleased to find that I enjoyed this more than I expected to! The characters were interesting, the plot wasn’t predictable, and there was an intense part near the end that I definitely didn’t expect. I’m looking forward to trying out another book by the same author if my library has one!

 

 

This brand new book just hit stores on April 2nd. You can learn more and purchase The Girl He Used To Know here!

Friday Favs – Spring Is Here!

 

Happy Friday, friends! And happy Spring! Today was in the 60s, which makes me super happy. I’ve mostly been cleaning the house today, which was MUCH needed!

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:

 

1. Sometimes you have to admit when you are wrong. I’ve been mocking Oreo Thins for at least a year because c’mon, who wants LESS Oreo? But Target was out of my beloved dark chocolate Oreos this week, so I gave in and got the pistachio Oreo Thins, and they are delicious. I’m sure my love of pistachio-flavored things plays a big role in that, but man, I was not expecting them to be so good. Plus, they’re really aesthetically pleasing in the package:

 

 

 

2. I’ve followed Nicole Antoinette on the internets since like 2008? Her podcast is the only one I’ve ever paid for the Patreon for. She’s just started a 700-mile section hike on the Pacific Crest Trail and is posting daily updates. (Daily when she has phone service, that is. Sometimes you get several days of updates at once when she’s been without service. Her captions are fantastic, highly recommend following along.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Day 2: Thump thump goes the feral heart ⠀⠀ Tucked in my warm sleeping bag I watch dawn break across the sky, illuminating the drops of dew that have collected along the outside of my tent. I stretch, feeling twinges of soreness in my shins, happy to have slept on and off for about two hours. Sleeping in the backcountry has been a challenge for me since I started hiking, and the fact that I was able to sleep at all on the first night out of town seems like a good omen. Maybe I’ll finally sleep on this hike? I’m feeling positive as I start packing up, and by 8am we’re on trail, traversing the ridges toward Hauser Creek. The sun is warm and my friends and I string out along the trail, hiking alone and then together, alone and together, moving like an accordion through the peaceful morning breeze. We stop at Hauser Creek for lunch, delighted by how much water we’ve found in this notoriously dry section, and I drink as much as I can before starting the steep climb out of the valley. The climb is completely exposed, the heat of the day has settled in all around me, and within a mile my lack of fitness has me with my back against a cool rock, gasping for breath, sweat dripping down my neck and chest in tiny rivers. This is the least fit I have been in almost 8 years. I knew hiking in this state would be hard, so at least I don’t feel surprised, but that doesn’t make the next four miles to Lake Morena any easier. I collapse on the ground when we get there, pinky toes swollen and blistered, lower back raw with chafe, legs aching, and as I sip a can of pineapple juice I remind myself of what I know to be true: that shedding the comfort and softness of the past five months will take time. There’s a feral little creature inside me somewhere – I know her well after the 2,800 miles I have hiked the past three years – and I can feel her now, coming to life in every beat of my heart. There’s an unfurling ahead of me, of this I’m sure, and as I get back on trail, unsteady on my sore feet, I envision the gap I’m working to close between who I am and who I want to be. It can seem impossible, that gap, but you close that gap the way you do anything: one tiny step at a time.

A post shared by Nicole Antoinette (@nic.antoinette) on

 

3. I am super sad to learn that Chewy is ending their influencer program! They’ve been sending my cats tasty treats and food to review for years – we’ll really miss that blue and brown box showing up at the doorstep every month!

The last item we received to review for them was a 32-pack of Wellness Gravies Healthy Indulgence pouches. They actually arrived as four 8-packs, each of which had two different flavors.

 

 

I don’t usually buy pouches because it’s so hard to get all of the food out of them, but on the plus side the pouch does mean way less recycling than usual. My cats LOVED both flavors! Lots of gravy, but also plenty of big chunks of food. It looks like my cats aren’t alone – 80% of the reviews for them on Chewy.com are 5 stars, and the other 20% are 4 stars.

 

4. I really like this acoustic cover:

5. I had fun scrolling through Travel Channel’s list of the Creepiest Places in All 50 States. I’ve blogged about the ghost tour of the Crescent Hotel, which was their pick for Arkansas, and visited the St. Augustine Lighthouse without knowing it was supposed to be haunted! Have you been to your state’s creepiest place?

 

Hope everyone has a great weekend! A couple of quick questions before the end of this post – I mentioned my raise last week, which means I can FINALLY replace my literally falling apart laptop (There’s duct tape involved). I’m leaning towards a 17″ HP that’s on sale for around $350, which is probably the max I want to spend, but I wanted to check with you guys for recommendations. I hate tiny screens, so definitely a 15.6 or 17″, the whole touch screen and 2-in-1 thing isn’t important, I just want something that’s not crappy but can deal with pretty heavy use. Suggestions?

And finally, the most fun question – I have a beauty product giveaway coming up next week (ooooh, suspense!) so I’m curious – would you rather win eyeshadow or lip color? I have a couple of different options for the giveaway, so I’d love your input. Decisions, decisions! 🤔

 

Linking up with Della Devoted and A Little Bit of Everything

Friday Favs – Middle of March

 

 

Happy Friday, friends!

 

1. I got a raise. 🎉

Out of nowhere, my main writing client sent an email that they’re doubling what they pay me. Whaaaaat? I’d been planning to ask them for a raise because after starting to work on my taxes for this year, I was reminded just how insane tax on self employment income is and that I really needed to raise my rates a bit to make up for how much I have to pay. This winter has been really tough, especially after learning my trail ride job isn’t re-opening as planed, so suddenly making twice what I’m used to from a client is a major cause for celebration!

 

Given that my car, laptop, and phone are all falling apart, I can’t make up my mind which to replace first, but just knowing that I actually CAN replace those in the near future makes me happy!

 

2. I missed seeing Fantastic Beasts – Crimes of Grindlewald when it was in the theatre, so you better believe it got rented as soon as it hit Redbox on Tuesday! Y’all… I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS!

–possible spoilers below this point–

I’m such a Harry Potter nerd that it was SO WEIRD to watch a movie set in that universe and not already know everything that was going to happen. I watched it with my neighbor and was like “Is this what it’s like to watch HP movies when you haven’t read the books??” Especially when he asked if certain characters could be Voldemort’s parents and I realized that the HP movies totally leave out the whole Merope/Tom Riddle Sr. love potion thing. Most of my ??? moments were minor (Why is Dumbledore teaching DADA? He was a transfiguration professor!) but the major one was around Credence’s parents. HOW?? Kendra died and Percival was in Azkaban… I just can’t fathom it. And the reveal about Nagini means that Neville killed a human. UGH.

I’m listing this as a favorite not because it was great (I think I prefer the first one? ) but because it was fun to actually have something to try to figure out when it comes to the wizarding world. I can’t believe I have to wait until at least November 2020 for a new one.

 

 

3. When I’m picking out cat food, my general rule is that whichever flavor sounds the least appetizing to me is exactly what my cats are going to love the most. I had the opportunity to choose between the different flavors of Canidae Adore cat food that Chewy offers to review for the Chewy Influencer Program this month, and when I saw there was a Sardine &Mackerel flavor, I knew that was the one my cats would go crazy for.

Not surprisingly since I’m a gold star cat lady – I was totally right.

I’ll spare you a photo, but this cat food actually has chunks of fish that look like chunks of fish, rather than super-processed mush. It’s nice and moist without being watery. In short, my cats basically lost their minds over it. Tennyson LOVES sardines, so I was surprised that he was the one to throw up after eating it for the first time, but was fine with it after that – I think he may have just wolfed that first meal down a little too enthusiastically?

We got the 2.46 oz cans, but they do also offer it in 5.5 oz cans (the sort of standard cat food can size). It is definitely on the pricier side (About $36 for the 24 small cans), so I used it more as a treat or an addition to their dry food than an actual meal.

 

4. Even though it was cold today, the sun was out and I got to spend some time in the yard with the cats while they “helped” me take product photos for an upcoming review:

I wish it had come out non-blurry, but my Bear is just perfect.

 

Cutting this short at 4 items this week because it’s already 7 p.m.! Have an awesome weekend!