HOW I GOT MYSELF TO READ A BOOK A WEEK

Before I tell you the simple secret of how I got myself to read a book a week, let me tell you about my awesome new morning routine.

On March 2, I started the “millionaire morning routine,” where I wake up “early” (around 7:15…that’s early for me), recall my dreams, meditate, jumpstart my energy by working out for just a couple of minutes, journal, and make to-do lists.

I have to say that it was all very successful. I felt great, my productivity was off the charts, I received more material manifestations, and my mind was at ease. I felt like a new person.

Another thing that I decided to do was: read a book a week. And with all the extra time I have at home because of the COVID-19 lockdown, I found that it was super fun and easy to get some good reading done. I’ve gone from bingeing on Investigation Discovery TV shows to curling up under the Snuggie with a good book. New person.

So here is the secret to read a book a week: commit to just 45 minutes of reading a day. That’s it. With average reading speed and average word count of an average novel, you will on average read a book a week…if you just commit to reading 45 minutes a day.

And just to share, here are the books I read in March:

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

I got this book after Jenni Many recommended it to me. It was the best book that I read this past month. The author is a master of using similes and I felt like each character was vivid and realistic (down to her Lanvin flats).

The plot is interesting. Supernatural theme, which is a theme that I just recently started gravitating toward. The characters relive the same day in a Neverworld realm, which ends up being kind of like Groundhog Day, but not as hilarious. They use their brains to navigate through the Neverworld to try to solve the mystery of one of their friend’s death. Love a good book about brainy rich kids.

I also liked the underlying theme where the main character has drifted apart from the group of friends and doesn’t feel like she fits in with them anymore. Sounds familiar.

I would recommend this book. And Jenni says the author’s first book (Special Topics in Calamity Physics) is even better. I will check that one out too.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I got this book because it was in the “Hot and New” section of my local library branch. I typically read a lot of classic literature, but I figured I should start reading some hot and new fiction. This one is written by an NPR host and is about a lady who is about to leave her lame husband, but then the husband dies in an accident. And then she falls in love with a washed-up professional baseball player.

After reading Marisha Pessl’s rich and intricate writing, the writing in this book felt cliché. I didn’t like the main character, Evvie, at all (I liked that she drinks bourbon, but there is a part where she secretly follows Dean, the baseball player, at 2AM and it made me think she is crazy and weird). And I didn’t understand why the baseball player fell in love with her in the first place.

BUT, the book does a great job of painting a scene. I loved the family scenes, like how the family and friends gathered on Thanksgiving (even though Evvie got lame again when her sweet dad made a toast), and I love how she described the seaside town and culture.

Not an awful book, but not a book I would recommend. But people on Amazon seem to love it, so what do I know?

Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday

Dave gave Eddie this book, and I decided to read it too. It discusses the benefits of some Stoic and Buddhist principles…mainly how slowing down in life can be beneficial to everything in life—your work, relationships, health, etc.

The book goes into some interesting stories about artists, leaders, and athletes, like JFK and Tiger Woods. And one particularly interesting story that Dave liked too…about Michael Jordan giving a speech where he called out all the people who he felt had wronged him early in his career. Haha.

This is a good book. But I already practice most of the things the book was encouraging, so I did not really learn anything new. But it’d be good for someone who is anxious and high-strung, and wants to read about an alternate way of being.

Buy here on Amazon.

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Hmm. I have read a few other MG books, eg, Blink, Outliers, Tipping Point, and loved them all. I was happy to see Talking to Strangers in the Hot and New section at the library. But it has ended up being my least favorite one of his books.

The writing style is all the same and I love that part. MG explains psychological studies and findings so you don’t get bored or overwhelmed. But the topic of talking to people we don’t really know and the idea that they might be lying to us just isn’t that interesting to me.

What’s interesting is the acknowledgement that humans default to truth. It is our default setting to believe that others are telling us the truth. And that is largely why we wouldn’t expect our sibling to be a Cuban spy, our colleague to be a pedophile. If you thought I was acting shady and called me out on it, and I said “I was tired,” or “I was just joking around,” you would probably believe me. (As you should. I am not shady.) But you probably shouldn’t believe everyone.

I think every MG book is worth reading. I’m just saying the topic of this one just isn’t as interesting to me as the others I’ve read.

Available here on Amazon.

And now it’s April. But the library is closed. I’m planning on reading a book about marketing (currently taking a copywriting course), and maybe some random books that I find in Eddie’s book pile. We shall see. E-books are still available from the library, which is great.

Hope you all are staying safe and healthy during this weird time!

Do you read a book a week or do you prefer to lounge with Netflix? Let me know if you’ve read anything good. Or if you’ve watched anything good!

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Category: LIVING


PLANNING WINTER WEAR IN TORONTO: EXPRESS FLEECE JEANS

Hi! I’m back. Hopefully I’ll be able to update this blog more. It’s been hard for me to create outfit posts because I’ve been working like crazy. I counted that I have seven jobs (some more legit than others, but…medical editing, teaching, private tutoring, freelance medical writing, shoe flipping, IG influencing, freelance creative writing), and all that work on top of trying to prioritize home life, health, and self-care (and bouldering!) has been a little much.

But I think I’ll stop worrying about creating “perfect” blog posts and just write frequent little updates and post useful heads ups on sales, products, and other random things that I fancy and that I think you might fancy.

So, the thing that I have been obsessing over lately is my upcoming trip to Toronto. Eddie is already out there on business (mixing a movie), and I’ll be joining him during the first week of December. Snowfall has already begun there. I heard that it doesn’t get crazy snowy there, but this LA cold-weather wimp is going to need some legit winter wear. Just for the record, anything below 77F is considered cold to me.

Even though I’ll only be staying in Toronto for 10 days, I have zero gear for serious winter weather, so I get to do a bit of shopping. Here’s my shopping list:

  • North Face down jacket
  • Snow boots in case of heavy snow or a day of frolicking in snow
  • Snow sneakers for everyday exploring without worrying about slushy sidewalks
  • Base layers
  • Fleece-lined jeans or jeggings ✅
  • Sweaters

Also, I’m on a tight budget, so I’m looking at sales, last year’s/discontinued styles, and thrifted items.

EXPRESS COZY FLEECE JEAN ANKLE LEGGINGS

Express fleece jeans were the first thing that I ordered after I bought my plane tix. I live in jeans, so I knew I needed warm ones. I picked these Express ones because they were 40% off (regular price $79.99), and seemed cute. Old Navy has some too that are highly rated and on sale right now.

Mid Rise Black // High Waisted Grey // High Waisted Button Fly Blue

I should start off by saying that I am a jeans snob. A loyal jeans snob. I pretty much wear only Frame Denim because they fit perfectly, are comfortable, and last forever. Also, I can always find them for a great deal on Posh and ebay (I’ll never pay $200 for jeans). I probably would never consider straying from my favorite brand, except that I got seduced by idea of the cozy fleece lining in these Express jeans. And I didn’t just buy 1 pair, I bought 3. But am I keeping them? Read on.

Feel this! Super cozy lining. All jeans should have this.

Don’t expect super thick jeans. The lining is pretty thin and fuzzy, which is good because your legs won’t look all swollen. Feels very good on the skin.

FIT: I bought size 0 Short in all of the Express fleece jeans. I definitely like the short length (I’m 5’1″). These are stretchy and roomy. Not a “skinny jean” or jeggings fit, but these would be good in case I want to wear a base layer underneath.

The high-waisted blue jeans are cute and pretty standard. Sorry, my camera washed out the blue. The denim is a true, darkish blue.

express cozy fleece blue jeans high waisted try on
The high-waisted blue ones are comfortable. I don’t care for the button fly

The waist is a little big on me (I usually wear a 24 in Frame jeans and the waist on those are perfect). At this point, I’m undecided whether I’ll keep these.

The waist is loose and there is a little bit of a gap in the back when I sit.

One of the main reasons I prefer designer jeans is because I like how they make my butt look. These jeans made my butt look okay, but something about the fit made me feel like I was wearing frumpy little girls’ jeans and not women’s jeans. Not super flattering. And I’m not feeling that great in them.

Next, I tried on the mid-rise black ones. I wish they were high waisted, but I couldn’t find high-waisted black on the site. These are okay. I mean, they fit (though the waist was big on these too). They look basic. Nothing exceptionally cute or special except for the lining. Just black jeans. Not sure I’ll keep these either.

Finally, I tried on the high-waisted gray pair.

Yucko! Maybe because they are gray and lighter in color, but the looser fit is just not flattering on me at all. And worst of all, they have these terribly ugly seams running down the sides of the legs, which make the jeans look very cheap and out of style.

The seams on the sides of the legs are a deal breaker for me.

No thank you. The gray ones are definitely going back.

WARMTH: The Express fleece jeans are definitely warmer than my Frame jeans. The cozy lining works, and I think the jeans would be great for something like camping or winter hiking where you don’t want to wear your finest denim. But I’m going to Toronto, a fashionable and fun, hip city. I want to look and feel cute. And still be warm.

So…I tried on my Uniqlo Heattech base layer underneath my Frame Ali High Rise jeans. These jeans are skinny fit and stretchy. It felt like “home” when I put these on after trying on the Express jeans. And these jeans + the base layer were warmer than the Express jeans. (I’m sure the Express fleece jeans + base layer would be the warmest. But not the cutest.)

OVERALL: After much deliberation, I decided to return ALL of them. I know myself and I know that I’ll always be reaching for my Frames (probably even when hiking) so there’s no need to keep these around. I decided I’ll just wear my Frames with the base layer in Toronto. I think the Express jeans would be a great choice for people who already love the Express brand and know that their jeans work for them. I’m just a little too in love with my Frames, and even the prospect of freezing my buns off isn’t enough to get me to stray.

I’ve actually never shopped on Express online. Apparently, they only accept store returns.

Well, that was fun. Thanks for stopping by! Do you have brand loyalty to your jeans too? Did you get what I meant when I said my jeans felt like “home”?


5 TRENDY HAIRCUTS I’M LOVING

Hi. It’s been a while. I’ve been busy with work and life stuff, and so many things have been put on the backburner like blogging, shopping, and going to the salon. My gray roots have grown in like crazy (luckily it’s blending kind of well with my blonde highlights), and it’s definitely approaching time for me to get my hair cut again. Today I’m talking about some trendy haircuts that I’m loving.

Pixie

They say a pixie cut is best for those with a heart-shaped face (that’s me!). It can also work well for oval faces. I had super short riot-grrl hair in college, but it was never quite a pixie. Think I can pull it off? I think pixie cuts might require too much regular salon maintenance to keep its shape, but they sure are cute. I see this style on professional ladies in Arts District. If you own a home among Richmond real estate, you probably see this urban style frequently in your city.

Short and Blunt

I’ve been seeing some girls wearing this futuristic hippie chick style. And even though I’d probably never go for it myself, I give much respect to the girls who pull it off. It seems pretty low maintenance, but it can be styled with a flat iron, and you could get a little creative with curls and half-up styles.

Long Layers

You know this is my look and my usual cut. Long layers and beachy waves are a beautiful and natural way to wear your hair and there are so many ways to style it. I’ve been wearing ponytails and top knots on repeat. But I recently learned how to blow dry my hair straight using the Dyson Airwrap.

Here’s me after a fresh root touch up!

Long Bob

This is a cut that I’ve been considering. I love that it’s still kinda long, but for me it would feel super short—like I made a major change. This cut seems great for most face shapes, and allows you to wear your hair down without it being too heavy and is still long enough for a variety of updos. I’ll probably consider it more when my blonde highlights grow out more and need to be chopped off.

Bangs

Bangs are my go-to when I need a change. It’s such a commitment though because they need to be trimmed all the time! And the grow out stage is so awkward. My stylist, Christine (@phases) says I shouldn’t do bangs right now because of my highlights, so that’s another style I might need to wait on.


Anyway, I was exploring different hairstyles and just wanted to share some of the looks I was seeing. Let me know which is your fave!

This post contains a sponsored link.


SUGARFIX BY BAUBLEBAR FRINGE EARRINGS AT TARGET

One of my favorite and most beloved brand relationships that I have is with Sugarfix by Baublebar. When I first started blogging, I remember an influencer platform survey asked me to list a few of my “dream collaborations,” and I distinctly remember naming Baublebar. That was back when I was obsessed with their bib necklaces, and when Wendy’s Lookbook had a beautiful collaboration with them.

So of course I’m super proud to represent Sugarfix by Baublebar, currently exclusively at Target. All their pieces are not only adorable, but extremely affordable. All on trend with vibrant designs, and you’ll find some edgier pieces by them as well.

I rounded up some of my favorite Sugarfix fringe and tassel earrings. Shop more of the collection at Target.

Sugarfix by Baublebar Tassel Drop Earrings with Beaded Studs ($12.99)
Sugarfix by Baublebar Tassel Fringe Hoop Earrings ($12.99)
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Category: FASHION


AS SEEN ON IG: JOGGERS

Hi! Well, I haven’t been able to update this blog much lately. I’ve barely been able to keep up with Instagram and my day job. But I wanted to post the items I linked on IG on the blog as well. So here they are–mainly my new obsession–high-rise joggers!

I totally fell hard for joggers. Yes, higher the rise the better. Last month I posted these Caslon ones from Nordstrom, which started the whole love affair. I love the linen material on these, but the waist didn’t seem to fit me perfectly. I bought an XS Petite, and the waist was loose and sat lower than I would have liked. Even with the drawstring tightly tied. I think an XXS Petite would have fit me better, but they weren’t in stock at the time.

Caslon joggers :: Nordstrom ($59) and Nordstrom Rack ($27.97)
Ella Moss Samantha boxy top :: Lord & Taylor ($35.80 on sale from $89.50!)

Since then I’ve purchased 3 pairs of high-rise joggers by Hollister. Hollister is a brand that I’ve never shopped before until now. But turns out these joggers are the bomb, and I even bought some high-rise paper-bag shorts from them too.

First, I got these black Hollister joggers on the buy-sell app, Mercari, for $9! I wanted to give the Hollister brand a try, and for $9, it seemed like a no brainer. Turns out they became my favorite pants. Do you shop on Mercari? It really is like an online garage sale, and I’ve picked up quite a few preowned as well as brand new gems there. I also sell items too, but it’s mostly a buyer’s market on that app.

Sign up for Mercari! Here’s my invitation link : https://merc.li/BQ8ZSHb Sign up now because they’re giving out coupons for $10 off your first purchase.

I also got these Nikes on Mercari for only $13 with free shipping.

Bag :: YSL Vicky Small

I bought some khaki paper-bag style joggers from the Hollister website. They were on sale for like $25, regularly $44.95. They’re super comfortable and cute and fit true to size. I got XS.

HOLLISTER JOGGERS

Hoodie :: Tiger Mist at Lord & Taylor (on sale!)

When I like something, I get it in all the colors. Had to get the olive green ones too. Currently on sale for $26.97.

HIGH-RISE JOGGERS

Joggers :: Hollister
Hoodie :: Askya at Lord & Taylor (on sale for $14.70; regular $49)
Bag :: Chloe
Shoes :: Chloe Kerenn shearling slides (some preowned deals: size 5; size 5 black; size 6)

I’m all about casual comfort these days, and these joggers are perfect for everyday wear. I seriously want all the colors and designs.

Are you Team Jeans or Team Joggers?