Friday Favorites – Mid-June


Happy Friday! I haven’t been up to anything interesting this week (work + being sick), so no big intro, just this week’s list of favorites!


1. Rain, Rain, Rain


The AC in my house doesn’t work, so despite fans and white curtains to keep the sun out and basically everything else I can think of, the temperature in here usually hovers in the mid to upper 80s. As a result, I get SO EXCITED any time it rains lately! A storm last night dropped the outside temperature from 93 to 73 in the course of like 90 minutes, and there was enough wind that the cooler air was able to get into the house and actually cool it off. HEAVEN. I’ve been looking at one-room air conditioners like this one on Amazon, but I just don’t have a spare $300 right now, so I’ll just keep hoping for rain!


2. True Facts

I came across one of these on Facebook and lost a large chunk of time binge watching them. Here are a couple to get you started:

(I am calling armadillos “Turtle Rabbits” from now on, btw.)


3. Y’all know that Chewy Box day is my cats’ favorite day:



So, here’s something embarrassing – we got a 24-pack of the Purina Pro Plan True Nature Ocean Whitefish & Salmon Grain Free cat food this month for the #ChewyInfluencer program, and I just realized that I forgot to take pictures of it, and the cats have already eaten it all. Huge blogger fail.


Let’s just pretend that I took this photo instead of stealing it from the product page! Check out my mad photo skills!

An embarrassing amount of scrolling through my iPhone photos going “Where are the Chewy pics?” aside, these went over quite well with the meowers. They’re grain-free, made in the USA, and free from artificial colors and preservatives. My cats usually aren’t big pate fans, but they do love fishy-flavored things, so I think that won out here.

In good news, I do still have one can of the other food we got this month, so I’ll have actual photos next week! WOOT!


4. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the GoodRX app is SUPER handy. Most doctors seem to have no concept of what prescriptions cost, which gets annoying. The last time I asked my doctor to please make sure my Rx was affordable, I got to the pharmacy and found it was $55. LOLNOPE.

On Tuesday, I had an infected tooth so painful that when the dental assistant BARELY grazed it with her fingertip while taking an x-ray, I jumped about a foot and immediately started sobbing. (Of course, I also managed to get the hottest dentist ever, which is totally what you want when you’re gross from crying and generally looking terrible because you don’t feel well.) Anyway, he had to prescribe antibiotics and I was able to pull out my phone on the spot and make sure that the one he picked was something I could actually afford. They had actually stayed late to see me, so I knew that if I got to the pharmacy and couldn’t afford whatever they picked, there was no hope of calling over to request a change, so I wanted to be sure we were cool before I even left the chair.

The app also provides coupons and shows prices for the pharmacies near you. This isn’t sponsored, btw, just trying to save y’all some dollars. On a side note, does anything in the world taste as horrible as Clindamycin?? I can’t swallow pills so I have to open the capsules and dump the powder into a tiny bit of coffee (the bitterness of the coffee is the best thing I’ve found to mask the awful taste) and it’s just blechhhhhhh. It’s 2018, why don’t we have gummy antibiotics yet?


5. It’s 3 p.m. on Friday and I still don’t have a #5 for this list, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Have a fantastic weekend!


Friday blog linkup







Friday Favs- June.


Happy Friday, and happy June!

I started this post last week and it had an intro about how hot it’s been and how much I’ve sucked at blogging and blah blah blah, but then I decided to go run errands and finish it up Friday evening, but then… Sam. (See my last post if you missed it.) It was weird to re-open this post to finish it and see those petty complaints from Friday morning. It’s hard to take your previous concerns seriously after something like that.

I also mentioned that I’m working on a big thing, something I’m hoping to accomplish by this fall. Keep your fingers crossed!

(Friday morning post script: Well, shit, Anthony Bourdain. I’m going to miss your moody music-hotel room instastories. Thanks for making travel writers look cool.)


Here’s what I’ve been loving lately!


1. I found this tote bag at Dollar Tree of all places:

When I leave the house, I usually have several things besides my purse, like a notebook, bottle of water, etc, so I’ve been loving tossing my purse plus all of the extras in here when I go. Plus, I then have a reusable grocery bag handy, as long as I’m not buying anything too heavy. (I mean, it was $1, it’s not super sturdy.) They also had some super cute anchor and pineapple-print bags, so if you live near a Dollar Tree I’d suggest stopping in to check them out!


2. I got to hang out with my tiny perfect pony friend last week:



The down side of being freelance is that I’ll occasionally have a REALLY slow work week, and that throws my budget off. I had one of those last month and thus had to cut some non-essential spending, which meant no riding for a whole month. I missed it so much! While I was away, someone else rode Folklore in a local show and he was awesome. Such a good boy!

I moved my lesson to 10 a.m. instead of my usual noon in hopes of escaping the super hot heat, but it was still HOT. I took a few breaks to walk but I didn’t want to “waste” lesson time just walking, so I tried to keep them short. I was SO HOT by the end, though, that I only let Folklore graze for a few minutes and then untacked him and groomed him as fast as humanly possible so I could go drink water and blast the AC in my car. I didn’t have as much water as I wanted, so I drove straight to Walgreens (about 10 minutes) and stopped in the bathroom there to splash some water on my face, but was surprised to see that it was still BEET red. At first I thought it was sunburn, but nope, just flushed from the heat. Bought a liter bottle of water and drained it in record time, considered going back in for another one.

So basically, I need to come up with a better plan for riding this summer! My trainer said I could start coming at 9 or earlier instead, so hopefully that will work? I might also look into getting my own riding helmet – I use one that belongs to the barn and it’s the black velvet kind, which is obviously NOT the coolest thing to have on your head in the summer sun.

I’m not a fan of how the white ones look, but I guess not passing out would be worth it?


3. My cats’ favorite day of the month is always when we get a big box from that’s full of kitty food or treats for us to review for their #ChewyInfluencer program. This month, we got a 24-pack of Purina Pro Plan cat food, which Captain Kitten was kind enough to model for me:



We got the Seafood Variety Pack, which had salmon, a seafood stew, and tuna.


I don’t usually buy small cans like this since I have several cats to feed, so it’s a huge treat for the cats when Chewy sends some over! The variety pack had three different flavors, and they all seemed equally popular. These are finely diced meat, which my cats seem to prefer over pate or big chunks. Definitely kitty-approved!



4. I always stop and look at the chameleons when I’m in a pet store (If I wasn’t convinced the cats would find a way to eat them, I would TOTALLY have a pair of chameleons.) but last night I was treated to the following surprise:



5. The Show Us Your Books link-up is coming up on Tuesday, but I had to go ahead and share a note now! I’m listening to the audiobook of Mary Roach’s “Gulp”, and in the chapter on pet food I learned that outdoor cats are usually either birders or mousers – rarely both. I don’t know why, but that struck me as so fascinating! I always assumed they just saw prey as prey and were equal opportunity hunters. What else do I not know about the tiny weirdos who live with me?


May your weekend be lovely and summery and full of beautiful things!


Friday blog linkup



I’m going to keep this fairly short, but I wanted to share that I lost my Sam cat on Friday.

I got home from running errands and found him by the back of the house unable to move his back legs and panting hard. It was already almost 6 pm so no local vets were still open, and the closest emergency vet is like 90 minutes away, so I was in a bit of a panic as I texted a woman I went to school with who is now a vet. She told me to go ahead and bring him up to her clinic and she’d meet me there. I spent the almost hour-long drive talking to him, asking him to hang on, trying to make sure he understood that we were going for help.

About 45 minutes into the drive, his panting stopped, and I had a feeling that was a bad thing, not good. I could tell he was still breathing at first, but the next time I tried to check it was impossible to tell while still driving since he was facing away from me in the kitty carrier.

When we finally made it to the vet clinic, I let my friend know before I even got out of the car that I didn’t think he made it, and she agreed as soon as she saw him, but took him inside to examine anyway in hopes of figuring out what happened.

He had no visible injuries, was only 5, and had always been the picture of health, so I had no clue what might have happened except that it had to be something internal. The first thing she had asked when I texted her the symptoms was if he had a history of heart murmur, and although I’d never known about it, she was 95% sure that he’d had an undiagnosed one that had caused a clot towards the back of his body, thus not being able to use his back legs and the blue-ish back paw pads when she examined him.

I was obviously a mess. I’d been running on adrenaline from the minute I found him until we arrived at her office a little over an hour later, so my brain couldn’t quite wrap around the idea that my little guy was gone. I’m still working on that.


Sam was pretty much the perfect cat. He had such a funny personality – he loved to be held upside down like a baby, he’d go sit by the back fence to taunt the neighbors’ dogs, he LOVED his little brothers when they were born and would even let them “nurse” on him when they were babies. If I overslept, he knew how to yell and wake me up. He let me put hats on him for silly photos. And of course, he was polydactyl, and always walked with his extra thumbs sticking out in a way that made him look like he wore high heels.



We should’ve had at least five or ten more years together, but at least it was pretty quick vs. being some kind of drawn out illness. And I’m SO thankful to know what happened – I owe my friend big time for going back to work at 7 pm on a Friday night so that I didn’t have to go to the emergency vet, which let’s be honest I really couldn’t afford anyway. If she hadn’t examined him I’d still be totally confused and probably blaming myself in every possible way, but she said that finding him sooner wouldn’t have helped – there’s not much they can do when this happens except euthanasia to end the pain quicker. It’s still SUCH a shock – he was basically my age in cat years and a super active, healthy, happy guy.

I’m doing better than when I lost Jasper back in February, but ugh, I’m going to miss his little feet so much.

Friday Favs -Middle of May



Happy Friday, friends! I’m finishing this post up in between a busy morning of writing work and a trip to Target. (YAY!).  It’s supposed to be **92** tomorrow, so I’m REALLY happy that I’ll be working at the thrift store, since I don’t have air conditioning at home. #WillWorkToAvoidHeatStroke. If that kind of weather continues, I’m going to have to go back to writing at the library, which is kind of the worst because I have to put on pants and they frown upon bringing a cat for company.

Anyway, here’s what I’m digging right now!


1. I go in phases when it comes to food. I spent the last coupe of weeks eating way too much Tasty Bite, now I’m back on Morning Star black bean burgers. Sometimes I’ll put those big pickle slices from the refrigerated section on them, but mostly it’s just burger, cheese, bun, BBQ sauce. Given that it’s less than $4 for a four pack of black bean burgers and buns and cheese are super cheap, you’ve gotta love a meal that comes out at like $1.25!


I always seem to get on a burger kick this time of year. Anyone else? Are there any other good black bean ones I should know about? (Most veggie burgers seem to be mushroom-based, which… NO THANKS.)


2. I’ve only got about 10 pages left in my Morning Pages notebook, so I’ve been looking out for a new one. I was so excited to find this one at Walmart!

(I love that you can see cat food & coffee in the cart… I feel like I buy those two things every time I shop!)

I LOVE dragonflies, and I’m totally into this pattern & colors, so I’m looking forward to writing in this. They come in 3 different colors/patters, and there are also full-size one subject notebooks in similar prints.

One of the other options


3. I’ve been decluttering and yesterday that involved finally flipping through some free newspapers I picked up on my last trip down to Eureka Springs. I’m SO GLAD I DID, because I found these gems.

First, I discovered that the Eureka Springs Independent has a “Constables On Patrol” section. The one about the lamb is my favorite:



Second, I came across this amazing typo:


4. Y’all know I loooooove Chris Hayes:


Well, he has a new podcast! I finally found time to listen to the first episode, and as expected, it’s really good.


5.  This last one is kind of a favorite, kind of not. I’d been looking for a really pale purple nail polish with glitter, and found this one. It looks awesome for the first day or two, but then it starts looking REALLY bad.


Important question to end on: What’s on your summer/beachy playlist? I need new music!


Friday blog linkup


Show Us Your Books – May



Happy “Show Us Your Books” link-up day! I missed last month’s, so I’ve got some catching up to do! To be honest, I’ve spent most of this month re-reading Harry Potter yet again. (I’m like 2/3 through OOTP right now and just overwhelmed by how hard that year was for Molly Weasley. And also by the fact that this book says Lucius Malfory is 41, which means he was barely older than me when Draco started Hogwarts. WUT.)



ANYWAY… book review time!

(BTW – shout-out to whoever bought a bunch of stuff via one of my Amazon affiliate links recently. The commission credit got my cats a 12-pack of cat food, so you’re a VIP here at Casa Crystal.)


30 Before 30 by Marina Shifrin

Goodreads * Amazon

This book of essays explores the author’s escapades completing her list of 30 things to do before turning 30. I’ve always loved making to-do type lists (101 in 1001, bucket lists, etc etc) but I really suck at actually completing them. This was a fun read – fairly quick and packed with humor. It’s one of those books that was enjoyable but that I don’t have much commentary on. Would make a great airplane book.



How To Stop Feeling Like Shit by Andrea Owen

Goodreads * Amazon

This book was worth reading entirely for a quote that I highlighted:

“Life is hard. Not because we’re doing it wrong, but because life is hard.” – Glennon Doyle Melton

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve had plenty of “WTF am I doing so wrong that this is my life?” moments. I really needed this quote as a reminder that sometimes it’s nothing I did – life just throws random things at you.

To be honest, I picked this up from NetGalley because I recognized the author’s name from some podcasts and was pretty sure I liked her. (I may have read her previous book? Probably not a great sign that I’m not sure?) This is one of those books that I had to read slowly because I needed time to digest it.

One kind of nit picky thing that bothered me – the book has a chapter on “catastrophizing”, but the author uses the term incorrectly. She uses it to describe the phenomenon of not being able to experience joy because you just keep thinking about all of the ways things could go wrong. Catastrophizing actually describes a thing people with anxiety disorders tend to do, where they take a fairly simple thing and blow it up to overwhelming proportions. (It’s kind of a subtle difference, not sure how to explain it better.) I learned the term back when I worked for Disney and had missed several weeks due to overwhelming anxiety and panic attacks, and I had to visit the company’s health services building to get clearance to return to work. (Standard procedure if you miss more than like a week.) I ended up missing an entire additional week of work because that appointment seemed SO SCARY. I would lie awake at night practicing answers to all of the probing questions I was sure they’d ask. I’d freak out about every possible detail. And finally, of course, when I did bring myself to go, the appointment was nothing – it took less than five minutes. Funny enough, that experience of catastrophizing vs reality was a huge help in dealing with anxiety, because it was such a clear example of how much my brain could blow something up that was truly going to be fine. A total tangent that’s barely related to the book, but I wanted to share in case anyone else might benefit from having a term to describe a thing they know they’re doing!

I liked that this was a bit of a different format than the usual “self improvement” genre book. Each chapter focuses on a fairly common thing that people tend to do without realizing how destructive it is. From isolating yourself during tough times to imposter syndrome to people pleasing, you’re likely to see yourself in some, if not most, of the chapters.


In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Amazon * Goodreads 

I picked this up at my thrift shop and read it one morning when I was home sick and couldn’t deal with the glow of a screen. Judging by the reviews, you’re either going to love this or hate it, and expectations seem to play into that quite a bit. Despite cover blurbs about it being scary, it’s… not. There’s definitely a tense feeling for at least the latter half of the book, but not that “omg this is so suspenseful I’m going to throw up” feeling and definitely not spooky or horror-y. That said, really thrilling thrillers leave me wanting an entire bucket of Xanax to eat like popcorn, so I liked the more mellow mystery of it. (It’s the same author as The Woman in Cabin 10, which also gets mixed reviews, but I haven’t read that one yet.)

It worked out perfectly as a sick day book, just don’t think TOO hard about the plot or the characters, or you’re likely to start poking all kinds of holes in the story.


Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

Goodreads * Amazon

This book is mostly filled with Sarah’s comics, which I adore and find infinitely relaetable:


She also has a few sections on what it was like to be an artist on the internet back in the day vs. now, and tips for aspiring artists. You can find most of her work on her Instagram, so the actual book is probably best as a gift for someone who is either a big fan of her comics or that not-very-internetty friend who you know would love them but will never get around to clicking the link you sent her.


All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

Goodreads * Amazon

I’ve enjoyed most of Emily Giffin’s books, so I requested this from Netgalley as soon as it popped up, but when I started reading it I worried it would be a DNF (did not finish) after the first page because I instantly disliked the narrator so much. I considered setting the book aside quite a few times during the first 1/3 or so because everyone was so unlikeable and I wasn’t that into the plot, but it got better about halfway through and I liked the last 10% or so quite a bit.

The book switches between three different narrators, offering both adult and teen points of view, and this is one of few books I’ve read that actually handles multiple narrators well. They’re distinct enough that you don’t get confused about whose chapter you’re reading, and it’s interesting to watch the story unfold from different angles.

This novel is VERY 2018, covering things like how smartphones have changed teenage culture so much, current politics, the definition of rape (as in “well, I said yes to kissing” not making anything else that happened okay by defaut), etc. Can’t decide if it being so full of current hot topics is a good or bad thing, but I do have a feeling that means it won’t age as well as books set in a less specific time frame.

Overall, I’m kind of “meh” on this one, if you average out my dislike of the first section and enjoyment of the latter part. Okay, but not up to the level of the author’s first few books by far. (This book will be published in June – I received an advance review copy via NetGalley.)


Amsterdam Exposed

Goodreads * Amazon

This book is supposed to be a look into Amsterdam’s Red Light District, one that goes deeper than the quick walk through that most tourists experience to satisfy their curiosity. I feel like I’m being super harsh, but given how things went when the author tried to collect info, there’s just not a book here.

I almost quit this on my second night of reading it because I could not deal with the author. For instance, he refuses to spend money to talk to the Red Light District prostitutes for the book because that would cloud things (?), yet buys the one woman who agrees to talk to him an expensive necklace as a gift. Because that’s totally different. So much of it comes off as a college boy who has taken Philosophy 101 trying to explain sex work to you. He approaches his research in a way that someone who studied law should know better than – by approaching the women while they’re trying to work in hopes they’ll give him material for his book. I don’t care what your line of work is – if some random stranger approaches you while you’re working and wants you to meet up to help him with a project with no benefit to you except “the chance to tell your story”, you’re going to be annoyed. Surely there were better ways of scoring interviews, especially since he was there for months. You probably wouldn’t have to befriend many locals before finding someone who was a friend of a friend of someone who worked in the Red Light District, thus opening the opportunity for an interview that doesn’t involve approaching them at work.

The other issue is that the story takes place in 1999 when the author temporarily moved to Amsterdam to study law and research the book. So much has changed since then, but from the introduction it seems like he’s been working on the book on and off ever since, so it was surprising to see some things pop up that should have been edited in that process (countless culturally insensitive remarks and terms like “transvestite”). If he’d prefaced the book with “Look, I realize that I sound like an absolute douchebag in this, but it was a long time ago and I was young.  I chose to preserve my original opinions in the book, though, because that’s what I was thinking at the time.”, I’d feel a little better about the awful things he spouts, but there doesn’t seem to be any self awareness regarding how it comes across now.

And on a weird note, he says he lost contact with one of the first people he met there because email wasn’t a popular thing yet. IN 1999??? I had a BLOG by then. Everyone I knew had been using email for at least 3 years at that point. There’s no way you didn’t have email, dude.

The whole “I’m an American man who was here for a few months, so I’m now going to totally explain the culture to you” is cringe-worthy enough, but then not even getting a diverse array of accounts from the women who work there makes it feel pointless. I wanted to hear from women who are there for different reasons, the one who has been there for a decade’s experience vs. that of the newbie, etc, not just from the one girl you were attracted to. Paint a more vibrant picture of the men who partake of the services. Talk to locals who work there in other ways, like bartenders or security. If you really want to get a story, there are so many ways, but half-heartedly wandering through the district after the woman you wanted to talk to stands you up just isn’t one of them. Maybe consider paying the women for their time? (gasp!)

The whole book leads up to getting one woman (who, of course, he wishes he could “save”) to share her story for the book, but when she finally does, it’s not that remarkable, just the average story of a person who has had a rough life. Despite the author’s infatuation with her, she doesn’t come across as likeable,  but the few pages that include her perspective on working in the Red Light District are fairly interesting, even if they’re basically what you’d expect.

Maybe he’s actually a good guy who just comes across horribly in his own book, but ugh, it was so frustrating to read. The sad thing is that the parts where he’s just describing the city aren’t bad. If he’d focused on writing about the city as a whole, in a kind of Bill Bryson “young man experiences foreign culture” way and just included a chapter on his fascination with the women behind the Red Light windows, it could’ve been good. Instead, we’re treated to the wisdom that you shouldn’t stick your finger in a prostitute’s butt without permission… not because that’s an awful thing to do to a person without consent, but because they’ll charge you triple. Thank goodness this dude is here to explain women to us, am I right?

(Complimentary review copy via NetGalley.)


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