books, Uncategorized

Books I’m Excited To Read in 2023

My love for reading has grown exponentially since the pandemic – & my younger self would be so happy because I was such a bookworm back in the day. With a new year comes a new reading goal. And I’m striving for 100 books this year! And I have so many books I’m excited to finally read. This past year, it has made me so happy that you – my readers enjoy when I talk about books. Very few in my real life have the level of love for reading as I do – so the fact I found this corner of the internet where I can discuss books to this degree warms my heart. As much as I adore the blogging community, I’ve learned the book community is just as sweet. So thank you for listening & being entertained by my love for books. Today, I wanted to share a few new releases & books that are new to me that I hope to get to this year. I figured it would be fun to look back on this post & see if I actually manage to read them all. Let me know if you are excited to read these yourself or if you’ve read them before.

Light Bringer by Pierce Brown

The sixth installment of the Red Rising saga is releasing this summer. Last year, I fell in love with this sci fi series & my husband & I are both are stoked for this next book. If you are looking for a sci fi series that is epically fast paced, filled with plot twists & such memorable characters – definitely add this series to your TBR. I had no idea I would be so entertained with the sci fi genre as I am with this series & I can’t wait to see how the story continues.

Crescent City Series

I was gifted the first two books to the Crescent City series for Christmas. And although they have been out for some time, this series is new to me. And as an avid Sarah J Maas fan who read both A Court of Thorns & Roses series & Throne of Glass in 2022; I’m so happy to have another one of your series to read. And supposedly, the third book will be coming out sometime this year. So, I definitely want to get caught up.

His & Hers by Alice Feeney

In between my fantasy reads, I love getting lost in a high stakes thriller. And I discovered Alice Feeney after reading Rock Paper Scissors last year which I rated a solid five stars. Her thrillers are so good! I hope to read His & Hers next, which I have on my bookshelves as well as the rest of her back list. Most times, I catch the twist in thrillers. But Alice Feeney’s writing seems to leave me shocked.

Dance of Thieves Duology

My love for the fantasy genre grew this past year & so I’ve been wanting to add a few more series that will scratch the ACOTAR itch. I’ve heard great things about this romantic fantasy series & hope people are steering me in the right direction. Not to mention the covers are beautiful & look so nice on my shelf.

Bunny by Mona Awad

I’ve been told this is the weirdest book ever. And I’ve been holding it off because some people say it’s rather dark & messes with their head. But the curiosity is enticing & I need to know what the hype is all about. It’s one of those contemporary fictions that reminds people of Mean Girls if they are all in a cult. Others also compare it to Heathers mixed with The Secret History. A lot of the story isn’t what you may think & I have a feeling it’s a metaphorical mind fuck that I’m intimidated to be a part of. But I’m striving to read books out of my comfort zone this year & am curious to see my take on the story. *since posting this – I have read this & is the first finished book of the year – mini review coming soon*

Happy Place by Emily Henry

So far, I have mixed feelings on Emily Henry’s books. People We Meet on Vacation was a solid friendships to lovers summer read. And Beach Read was not what I was expecting with it’s grief storyline. And Book Lovers left me bored. But I am still curious what her newest release will be about & if it will be one I end up loving. The premise of a fake dating trope seems interesting enough & so I’m willing to test the waters once again.

The Serpent & The Wings of Night by Carissa Broadbent

After reading a few great fantasy series in 2022, I definitely wanted to find some new books / series that would scratch that itch. This is a vampire fantasy romance & I’ve heard really great things. A lot of people compare this to ACOTAR & Throne of Glass if those series had vampires.

What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

-B

self care

10 Self Care Tips To Combat The Winter Blues

Snow is pretty. And I love cozying up in my most comfy sweater & drinking warm beverages. But I’ll admit – the winter season can be rather dull with the shorter / darker days. Not to mention the cold weather has enticed me to hibernate until spring. To make the winter season less depressing, I’ve come up with 10 self care ways to combat those winter blues. They are not extraordinary tips & are probably ones you’ve read before – but I personally find these activities & routines to be very helpful during these cold months. And I hope it inspires you to add a few of these to your own routines.

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add ambience & light in & outside your home

After the holidays, people tend to take down their holiday decor whether it’s outdoor lights or your Christmas tree [ if you celebrate ]. I’m not saying you need to keep the holly jolly atmosphere up until March – but I suggest you maybe string some white neutral lights around your apartment, bedroom or home to brighten your surroundings. I’ve noticed during those cold dark nights in the winter, when I have string lights or the fireplace going, I find myself more at ease. Another suggestion would be to simply open your blinds throughout the day & bring in that natural light when you can. And although we may want to save money on our electric bills, it’s important to keep your lights on if you are going about your home. Sitting in the dark can dampen your mood & can actually affect your circadian rhythm.

get outdoors & explore nature

I know what your thinking – it’s too cold to go for walks. But I say, bundle up & get moving even if it’s a few minutes a day. Getting outdoors & breathing in that fresh air is so good for our health. It provides us with a sense of clarity & can actually make us more productive when we return to our usual tasks. I personally love taking walks around the neighborhood or go window shopping at local towns during the winter. And if it’s snowing, at least we have pretty views to admire. When we do get the chance to visit the mountains during this season, I love hiking the local parks & taking in the iced over waterfalls & trudging in the snow.

escape in a good book

When you are looking to relax & shut your mind off I highly recommend getting lost in a book. As you may know, I have became an avid reader once again & love prioritizing a few hours in my evenings to reading a few chapters. Some of my favorite genres to have that proper escapism is fantasy or thrillers. If you are looking for some book recommendations, check out my favorite books & series of 2022.

take a warm shower or bath

For me, I’ve became a shower girl. Some of it has to do with the fact I found a giant spider in my tub a few months ago & I’m still not over it. But I digress. I love taking warm [ borderline hot] showers in the evenings. Sometimes I will literally sit on the floor of the shower & let the water fall on me. The warm water helps me get sleepy & for obvious reasons, warms me up from the frigid temperatures. On nights or weekends I’m able to, I enjoy doing a full self care routine with hair masks, exfoliation, shaving & using a nice smelling body wash. It sounds simple but I always feel so rejuvenated once I’m super clean.

declutter your space

Are we even surprised I mentioned this? I think a good decluttering session is always a good idea especially in winter when we are in our homes more often. When our space is organized chances are it will brighten our moods in the process. Go through your clothing, toiletries & even miscellaneous items. And if you are looking for decluttering inspiration in all areas of your life, browse through my entire decluttering section on the blog.

play videos games or old school board games

If you are looking for a fun activity to do with friends, your significant other or family – board games are a fun way to spend your time. I love going / hosting game nights especially in the winter. We tend to order takeout & just catch up as well. Video games are also a great way to occupy your time whether alone or connected with friends. It’s a great way to connect with friends from a distance. During the pandemic especially, we loved playing Fall Guys & Animal Crossing. I’ve even considered re-purchasing The Sims as it was a favorite of mine back in the day. These activities are nice ways to unwind & relax after long days.

start a blog or get to writing

This is a rather specific idea & one that has been a great hobby. I think if you are looking for a way to express yourself creativity or feel connected to other fellow writers, starting a blog is a wonderful option. I started my blog during the pandemic in 2020. I have always had a passion for writing & I love how blogging allows creative freedom. It’s a wonderful outlet for those who are interested. If you don’t necessarily want to write publicly, you can always opt to start a journal of some kind. For instance, I kept a gratitude journal in the past & it was a fun way to practice positive psychology & develop more grateful outlook of life. Especially if the winter season brings on seasonal depression or a general sadness for whatever reason – writing down your thoughts & getting them out of your head is a healthy form of expression.

deep clean your home

Cleaning your home isn’t just a spring time routine. I think the winter time is a great season to really cleanse your home & organize it. Not only does a clean home improves your mood, it can also be a healthy & productive distraction when you are having an off day or have a lot on your mind. And since we are in our homes a lot more during the colder months, we tend to analyze & take in our surroundings a lot harder.

enjoy a winter activity

Sometimes if we are ones to dislike the cold weather, it’s important to consider a different perspective & find ways to enjoy it. There are tons of fun winter activities to choose from including iceskating, skiing or tubing, weekend escape to a cabin [ bonus points if it snows] or shopping around town [ which isn’t winter specific].

book a warmer destination

If you are someone who really dislikes the winter weather, why not just book a trip to a warmer climate? I’m sure there are places you would love to visit & I think this time of year it’s a great time to take some time off, get a tan & soak up that sunshine. I few places I would love to visit at some point is The Caribbean, Greece or California again.

The key to combat the winter blues is to find simple [ or somewhat extravagant] ways to make it better. Outside the travel suggestion, a lot of these are rather easy ways to incorporate in our routines. And to those who absolutely thrive in the winter season, definitely comment down below some of your suggestions.

Stay warm!

-B

intentional living, Lifestyle

15 More Ways to Simplify Your Life for the New Year

It’s the start of a new year, which commonly stands for a fresh start. And one of the best & sure fire ways to see change is to simplify life. And from personal experience, I’ve discovered simplifying can be done in a multitude of categories. Last year, I shared 15 Ways to Simplify Your Life & it received so much praise that I wanted to share 15 more ways for this new year.

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Here are 15 More Ways to Simplify Your Life in 2023

1. Create a Vision Board

I find vision boards & collages to be a creative & visual representation of my goals & aspirations. It takes me back to the days where I would spend hours cutting out magazines & making collages that I would hang on my bedroom door or closet. Back then, it was usually photos of the Jonas Brothers or Zac Efron, but I digress. Whether it’s digitally on Pinterest or done the old fashion way, I think vision boards are a fun way to really ask yourself what you want to accomplish or strive for & the new year is one of the perfect times to do that.

2. Downsize Your Digital Footprint

We tend to focus on the physical clutter when we are simplifying our lives & tend to neglect our digital space. In the new year, look through your social media platforms & let go of the ones you aren’t using or ones that aren’t benefiting you. Go through your followers & mute or unfollow those who aren’t inspiring you or are providing a negative pool. I also recommend cleaning up your devices, desktops, files, photos etc to make space for new memories & projects in 2023. If you are looking for specific decluttering tips in the digital space, click here to read 15 Ways To Downsize Your Digital Space.

3. Let Go of Clothing You Don’t Love or Use

I love closet declutters! As we know by the countless blog posts I have about said topic like 30 Items You Don’t Need in Your Wardrobe I find it so refreshing to let go of clothing that doesn’t fit, is worn out, or has simply met it’s expiration date. Make space for new items, a fresh style & one that works with your lifestyle in the present moment.

4. Prioritize Relationships That Lift You Up

Life is too short to place your time & energy on people who don’t deserve it. Focus on the ones who lift you up, encourage & help you grow into the person you wish to be. When we waste time on those who bring us down, we are only hurting ourselves.

5. Let Go Of Habits You No Longer Want to Entertain

Every time I think about this point, I picture people rushing for that gym membership on January 1st. And then by March, they are back to their usual routines. My biggest suggestion with letting go of old habits & striving for new ones, is to be realistic. Take baby steps if possible in the direction you want to be in. Habits are better formed this way then going full force all at once. Whether it’s adding a few healthier options on the grocery list or carving out a few hours in your day being active – these small changes will keep the enjoyment alive.

6. Say No More Often

I talked about this concept in my 11 Things I Intentionally Say No To blog post & I’m reiterating this fact because saying no is so powerful. I used to be quite the people pleaser & thought I had to accept every invitation or request that was presented to me. News flash, saying yes to everything simply causes intense burn out. So, in the new year say no more often & put your self care & rest time above certain things. Pleasing people won’t give you more friends, it only hurts yourself.

7. Learn to Gift More Practically

Living a simple life means not allowing excess clutter to enter your home or someone else’s. I’ve learned to gift & shop more practically by choosing clutter free alternatives. During the holidays, I shared 50 Clutter Free Gift Ideas that can inspire any gift related holiday in the future. I’ve learned gifting practically saves you money & allows you to shop smarter.

8. Shop Smarter

When we feed into consumerism & trends of society, we tend to over shop which can become detrimental to our bank accounts. By living a more minimalist life, I’ve learned I can live without so many things society tells us we should have. I prioritize the essentials & even find cheaper & more efficient alternatives. Not to mention when we shop smarter, we are helping the environment as well [ especially if it’s sustainable alternatives]. Check out this blog post on sustainable alternatives & plastic free swaps here.

9. Slow Down Your Routines

Society makes us feel like we need to be busy all the time. We need to be doing more & productively become faster. This is not the case. It’s actually more productive when we slow down some & take our time. Allow ourselves those breaks so burn out doesn’t fester. One of my favorite things to do is have slow mornings on the weekend or whenever I can. I’ll make a warm beverage & just sit in silence for a few minutes before my day really starts. Instead of rushing through our tasks, we should learn to savor them.

10. Stop Keeping Up With The Trends

You don’t need the new Ugg ultra minis or flair leggings. You don’t need to the newest iPhone if yours is still working great. Only buy trends if you genuinely love it. Otherwise, you are wasting your money on items that will go out of style in a few months or you’ll just get tired of. Stick with classics & buy items that make you happy & fit your style. If certain trends do that for you, great!

11. Lessen Your Screen Time

Downsizing my social media & intentionally choosing other activities other than looking at my phone or laptop screen has helped me stay grounded & relax more often. As a blogger, it’s tough because I’m always in front of my laptop typing away. But I try& schedule in time for reading a good book or spending quality time with family & my husband. Getting lost in good conversation is one of my favorite things & sometimes we can forget that act of connection when we are starring at our phones all the time.

12. Get Outdoors

I want to take more walks in the new year & get outdoors more often. I love going on hikes or just walking through the neighborhood. It’s so healthy to get that fresh air & vitamin d. And I think it’s something we tend to forget. In the dark winters especially, I find short walks to be so relaxing & help me get through the season depression that tends to creep in when it gets darker earlier.

13. Focus on Experiences

Focusing on experiences over material items opens yourself up to making new memories, stepping outside your comfort zone & evolving as a person. I love spending money on experiences & trips over new clothing or makeup now a days. In my honeymoon blog post to Maui, I talked about how the best money to spend in with traveling. And it’s so true. When you let go of the notion to add more clutter into your home & instead venture out and see the world, you are expanding your horizons & getting a taste of what else is out there. And you aren’t creating physical baggage for yourself that will weigh you down.

14. Downsize Your Products

I love simple routines for the efficiency & the quickness. As someone who has rather sensitive skin, I rarely like to experiment with new products & have an array of items to choose from. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” stands true with my lifestyle & my wallet also has thanked me. The concept of decision fatigue can really wear at us & so when we have less to choose from, it becomes easier for us to then focus on the parts of life that matter even more.

15. Live in the Moment

A habit I’m trying to enforce more in the new year is being more present & living in the moment. I think we all tend to live in the mindset of “what’s next?” when we really need to be focusing on the “right now.” How many times do you find yourself scrolling your phone mindlessly instead of engaging in heartfelt conversation? All of a sudden the voices around you sound like the adults in the Peanut specials & you missed every word someone said. Not only is that rude, but you are doing yourself a disservice of escaping from the present moment. Stop rushing your life & worrying about the future so hard. It’s good to plan & have goals, but I think we tend to forget that our future is based on what we do in the present.

How do you plan to simplify your life this year?

-B