Saturday, August 31, 2013

Week in Review: 08.31.2013

Happy weekend, everyone! I'm heading back to my hometown today to spend some time with my family for Labor Day. My sister and her boyfriend are driving up from San Diego, and my fiancé and I are driving down from the Bay Area, so it will be fun to all be together for the first time since Athens. (I'm not really sure if our hometown can live up to Athens, but my dad will be there, too! So it will be a fun little family reunion.) Here's what my week looked like:

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Saying goodbye to guilty (dis)pleasures.

We all have guilty pleasures. Here are some of mine: America's Next Top Model reruns. Statement necklaces. McDonald's sweet tea.

But do you have any guilty displeasures? Whereas guilty pleasures make you feel pleasure despite your guilt, guilty displeasures don't even give you pleasure! They just make you feel plain bad about yourself, but they're so bad you can't look away no matter how hard you try. I have quite a few of these:

Fifty Shades of Grey: Ugh. Don't even get me started on this embarrassment of a series. I swore I wouldn't pick up the second book when I was about halfway through the first, but then I found myself placing a hold at the library for Fifty Shades Darker. I will proudly say that I refused to spend any money on these books, and it took me a good five months to finish the third one. So it was obviously riveting. I wish I could abandon books (and/or series).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Book Chat: Back to School

This week we are talking about those beloved/dreaded school-assigned books. Love 'em or hate 'em. What are your favorites or least favorites? Are there any books you think should be assigned, or have you ever been assigned something bizarre in school? (Also, special thanks to Jessica for letting me co-host this week with Allie! I'm honored!)

First, let me start by saying I didn't go to the most prestigious high school, so there were a lot of books I was never assigned that most of my peers from other high schools were (e.g. The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, any complete play by Shakespeare, etc.). But, there were a few commonly assigned books we did read, including:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Top Travel Apps

Welcome! This is the first topic-based Travel Tuesday I've hosted in a while, so I'm really excited to see what all your favorite travel apps are for your phone and/or tablet. Maybe I'll find some new ones to download for my next trip. :) Here are the six apps I find myself using the most when I travel:

Design by Megan | Images via Google

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekly Wishes #2

Last week's goals:

1. Revamp my "About Me" page. Done! My new page includes a short biography, recent photograph of me and links to five of my favorite and/or most popular posts.

2. Revamp my "Someday" page. Also done!... Kind of. I decided to transform my "Someday" list into my "Life List," but I also created a "24 Before 24" list to help make my goals more manageable and time-oriented. The new list will go live on my half-birthday: September 5. Be sure to come back and check it out! :) I have to admit, I'm having trouble waiting; I want to put it up now! But I like logical dates, and September 5 isn't that far away.

My goal for this week is simply to enjoy time with my mom, who's visiting from Switzerland. I also finally interviewed for a job on Thursday, which I haven't heard back from yet, but if I don't get that position I want to submit at least four additional resumes this week. What do you want to accomplish this week?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Week in Review: 08.24.2013

This week actually proved to be pretty productive for me! I loaded up a duffel bag with Norts, library books and DVDs to spend a week back at my dad's house recovering from wisdom teeth surgery. After hearing horror stories from some of my friends, I expected to be drooling and sleeping all week long, but instead I got a ton done around the blog! I designed a media kit for my blog, created a Travel Tuesday page for my weekly link-up and worked on my recent Weekly Wishes. I'll provide a full update on those goals on Monday. :) Now, for a quick recap of the past seven days:

Friday, August 23, 2013

I am not a food blogger. This is why.

Last Saturday, Jonathan and I had a lovely picnic at a local park. His mom had given me an adorable picnic basket for my birthday (pictured top right), complete with forks, spoons, knives, plates, wine glasses and a bottle opener. The little zippered pouch in the middle is actually an insulated cooler, which I filled with a bottle of wine, green grapes, pretzel crisps, Hershey's chocolate and almonds for dessert, and a big Tupperware of "Patriot Salad," which I'm going to share to the recipe to below.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Book Chat: Chick Lit

Image via styles on the go
My first thought when I saw this week's Book Chat topic was, "But I don't really read chick lit." As usual, Jessica read my mind and wrote this in her newsletter: "You've probably read more than you think." She also included a link to this Goodreads list, which got me thinking about all the chick lit I've read. I was a little surprised to find titles like The Time Traveler's Wife and The Help on the list, as well as some Nicholas Sparks titles, so I did some research on "chick lit." Wikipedia says:
Chick lit is genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.... Although it sometimes includes romantic elements, chick lit is generally not considered a direct subcategory of the romance novel genre, because the heroine's relationship with her family or friends is often just as important as her romantic relationships.
Makes sense! The first two books I mentioned above are not what I would call lighthearted, which is probably why that threw me off. And Nicholas Sparks is definitely all about the romantic relationships; there aren't enough friends and family relationships in his books for me to call them "chick lit." After this meticulous research on the definition of the genre, I'm reading to give you my list. :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Literary Junkies: August 2013

Image via Instagram
I know, I know: Two posts in one day?! This literary link-up only happens once a month, though, so I don't want to miss it! :) If you're looking for an online book club, come join our Facebook group or Goodreads group and participate in our monthly Twitter chats! Tonight's discussion is Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I read over a year ago, but I'm still excited to participate and see what everyone else thought.

1. What are you currently reading? Tell us about it!

ttyl by Lauren Myracle. I just started reading this book this afternoon, so I don't have any comments yet, but I'm reading it as my "banned book" for my summer book challenge. I ended up getting the whole series from the library for the Banned Books Challenge I'm also participating in (#3 on this list), for which I'm aiming to read five banned books by the start of Banned Book Week next month. If I finish this series, I'll complete the challenge!

Countryscape on Camera: Greece

I've decided to combine all my Greece recaps together into one post so we can have a themed Travel Tuesday link-up next week! This means I'll take a little break from my European Extravaganza posts and ask you all a question to answer for the link-up, like the old days of Travel Tuesday. :) Be sure to check the bottom of the post for next week's topic!
Image via Instagram

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekly Wishes #1

I may be getting my wisdom teeth extracted today and I may or may not spend the rest of the week crying through my gauze and watching Criminal Minds reruns while eating nothing but pudding (banana split and chocolate/vanilla swirl, to be precise), but that doesn't mean I can't have goals to accomplish this week!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Week in Review: 08.17.2013

Another week, another recap post! After looking at my post from last week, I decided my Instagram design took up too much space, but I'm definitely going to try to incorporate the stamp design elsewhere on the blog. (Maybe on my "Travel" page, which needs some severe reworking!) Other than that, the format is pretty much the same for now. I'd still love to hear your feedback and suggestions in the comments as I continue to improve this weekly feature.

I have to admit, I'm often surprised about which of my Instagram photos are the most popular. I was personally pretty proud of this picture last week, but I think the moral of this story is people like to see "healthy" pictures (e.g. running shoes + Jamba Juice!).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Book Chat: Memoirs & Autobiographies

While I'm more of a narrative nonfiction (also called "creative nonfiction") type of girl, I have read a memoir or two in my day. The first memoir that jumped to mind when I saw this week's prompt was Lucky.

Let me just preface this by saying I loved The Lovely Bones. If you didn't like that book, you definitely won't like this one. I know a lot of people who didn't enjoy The Lovely Bones because of its tragic, sometimes graphic material. If you're one of those, remember The Lovely Bones is fiction, but Lucky is the true story of Alice Sebold's rape. It's heartbreaking and haunting, and I seriously considered cutting my hair after reading this book because in one scene, Alice says she thinks she might have escaped if her attacker hadn't grabbed her ponytail.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Countryscape on Camera: Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, Switzerland

Note: If this post is too long for you, at least skip to the bottom half to see my special announcement! :)

After a week traveling through Amsterdam, Prague and Berlin, we headed to my mom's condo in Switzerland for the weekend. She moved to Switzerland a few years ago when she received a promotion, so this was the second time I'd gotten to visit her new home. I had also been to Switzerland once before, in high school, when she took my brother and me along on a business trip.

This weekend was the perfect little break, especially for Jonathan and me. My sister and brother had been able to fly to my mom's first with big suitcases and then pack in smaller backpacks for specific trips, but Jonathan and I had had to bring everything we needed for the six weeks in just backpacks. Because the cities we were visiting ranged in climate from Amsterdam (rain jackets and boots) to Sevilla (shorts and tank tops), it was pretty challenging. After our first week, though, we got to leave most of our warmer clothes at my mom's, which made our backpacks so much lighter. :)

Enough of the logistics: I know you only come for the pictures! ;) Below are views of Lake Geneva from my bedroom at the condo and the deck, a photograph of the marina we walk by any time we go into town for dinner, and some French Harry Potter books I found at the farmer's market in Montreux.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week in Review

Now that I'm back in the blogging swing of things, I've been brainstorming new ways to highlight my Internet activity. I used to do monthly recaps, but I think I'm going to experiment with a weekly format for now. These Saturday posts (I was traveling this weekend, hence the Monday post, but in the future I hope to post these every Saturday) will include some of my work that you liked that week, and some of your work that I particularly liked that week. I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for improvement in the comments! Now, for my first attempt:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Book Chat: Let's Catch Up!

Image via Instagram // Pictured: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
It has been far too long since I've participated in The Book Chat, a weekly bibliophile link-up hosted by Jessica of The Tangerine (formerly called Sweet Green Tangerine). She has also been on a short hiatus from hosting, so this week we're just catching each other back up on our bookish lives lately. I have three main updates: my current and recent reads, the status of my reading challenge and my brand-new bookcase from Target! Continue after the jump to read more.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Photo A Day: July

It's been a while since I've participated in an #fmsphotoaday challenge consistently enough to post about it. Five months, actually. But now that my traveling is done for a while (both as a Leadership Consultant and backpacking through Europe), I think I did pretty well in July! I completed 23 of the 31 categories; that might be the best I've ever done! :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cityscape on Camera: Berlin, Germany

Welcome back to Travel Tuesday and the third installment of my European extravaganza recap! Today I'm giving you a photo tour of the 48 hours we spent in Berlin, Germany. As always, you are welcome to link up any travel-related post you've written this week or even further in the past. All I ask is that you include the button at the bottom of this post and link back to my blog. :) I can't wait to hear your travel stories! Continue reading after the jump for more pictures of Berlin.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe via Instagram

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday's Fancies: Short Story

I usually gravitate more toward skirts and pants than shorts (unless, of course, it's a pair of my beloved Norts, a.k.a. Nike shorts), but I've had my eye on this pretty mint pair from Target for a while. I couldn't pick just one outfit, but I knew I wanted a sleeveless chiffon blouse and a fun statement necklace to dress the shorts up while keeping the color palette light and summery. You can find links to all the items below in my Polyvore set.

What's your favorite combination of the above items? Do you like wearing shorts?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer 2013 Book Challenge: Month 1

It's time for the first Semi-Charmed Summer 2013 Book Challenge check in! We've already had at least one reader finish the entire challenge (congratulations Natasha!), but I won't be posting a full, official scoreboard until September 1, when I post the next check-in.

In order to check in, you must leave a comment on this post letting me know what you've read so far, in the following format:
10: Read a book with a color in the title. — The Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick (289 pages)
10: Read a book that is not the first in its series (Robert Langdon series). — The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown (509 pages)
15: Read a book it seems everyone but you has read! — Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden (428 pages)
25: Read a book that is at least 400 pages long. — The Aviator's Wife, Melanie Benjamin (416 pages)
25: Read a book with a main character who shares your first name (Meggie). — Inkheart, Cornelia Funke (534 pages)
I don't want to speak too soon, but ... I think this might be the first challenge I actually finish! And considering it's my challenge, it's about time I completed one. :)

If you're new to the challenge or just want to review the rules, check out the original post with the full categories and guidelines here. Please record your progress for the first month by August 10, so I can include you in the September scoreboard. If you don't check in by August 10, please wait until the September 1 post and record all your progress there. And remember I also have a challenge button available for you to share on your blog:

Good luck! I can't wait to see what y'all have been reading.