Playing Catch Up in May

I am a really big fan of Sara @ The Bibliophagist‘s weekly updates. They’re so clean and succinct, they must be an absolute treat for her to look back on when she wants to get a snapshot of a specific time in her life. I do not pretend to have nearly enough interesting things to share on my blog in a similar weekly format, however, I did want to record what I’ve been up to in the first half of this month right after sharing my May Goals + TBR.

A past version of myself would have considered this month (not even over) to be a fail, but I think this post will remind me that I didn’t just fall off the face of the earth and abandon all my goals this month. They’ve just been revised along the way…

 ICYMI, Here Are This Week’s Betwined Reads Posts

  1. Revisiting Harry Potter | Part I
  2. Revisiting Harry Potter | Part II

➴ What I’ve Read

  1. A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle (332 pages)
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (870 pages)
  3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (652 pages)
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (759 pages)
  5. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (229 pages, I skipped the sneak peak)

Total pages read: 2,842!

➴ Currently Reading

  1. The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L’Engle
  2. The Democratic Surround by Fred Turner

➴ Recently Acquired

  1. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
  2. The Young Unicorns by Madeleine L’Engle
  3. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  4. Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
  5. The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L’Engle
  6. Troubling a Star by Madeleine L’Engle

➴ What I’ve Watched

  1. In theaters: Black Panther (2018)
  2. In theaters: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  3. On Netflix: Love (Season 3)
  4. On HBO: Barry (Season 1)
  5. On HBO: Silicon Valley (Season 5)
  6. On HBO: Atomic Blonde (2017)
  7. On HBO: Snowden (2016)
  8. On HBO: Patrick Melrose (2018 mini-series, in progress)

Notes on Life from May 1–19

  1. Shopkicking with Mom. At the end of April, my Dad left for a work detail in Israel. As result, I’ve been spending more time with my mom. He used to go Shopkick with her, so I’ve been doing it now instead. I’ve been able to amass a lot of points very quickly with very little effort. The points on Shopkick amount to digital gift cards you can redeem at the check out in stores like Target or Sephora or online on Amazon. That’s why I’ve been able to buy books on Amazon this month! (Should I do a blog post about the app?)
  2. Un-hauling books at 2nd and Charles. There’s been a big box of books that I’ve been meaning to un-haul for a few years now and I finally decided to do it at 2nd and Charles. I’ve already taken some books to the bookstore chain in exchange for store credit (which is in higher monetary value than if I requested cash). I have about $25 in store credit now, which I hope to use soon before I forget I have it!
  3. Going to the movies. I figure a lot of people wouldn’t consider this too noteworthy, but I love going to the movies. Maybe it’s always been a special occasion because I’m not able to go all the time. But with my Dad out of town, I’ve been to the movies TWICE this month to see movies that I think are worth seeing on the big screen: Black Panther (2018) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). They were both fantastic movies I can’t wait to see again (in the comfort of my own home).
  4. Experimenting with Neutrogena Build-A-Tan lotion. I’ve found it really hard to tan ever since I started using acne medication and have been interested in experimenting with a gradual tan lotion for a long time (thanks, Anna Saccone Joly!). I used it primarily on my legs and arms for two days and then stopped to see how long it lasted (less than a week). I don’t want to run out of it too quickly so I’m going to save it for special outings.
  5. Playing Hogwarts Mystery. I downloaded the app on my smart phone as soon as I started hearing about the game, even though most of the news around the new game was negative because of the energy limitations. I’ve always found it easy to get hooked on games like this that may seem boring game because “all you do is tap.” I was going to post an app review yesterday but I wasn’t fully happy with it so it may come next week instead.
  6. Working on my novel. I’ve been kicking my work into high gear in order to meet my self-imposed deadline. I’ve discovered a new way of plotting that I found helpful and I’ve also found a way to hold myself accountable each day for writing without a word count goal. I’ll share these techniques in coming weeks in specific writing blog posts!
  7. Reading the final three books of the Harry Potter series. I read the first four in April, but I had to set aside my quest to read other books I wanted to get to. It was kind of hard jumping back in. The last three are so long and so much more complicated than the first four. For my thoughts, you can now see the notes I made rereading the books (1–4 and 5–7) this time around. This journey took up a lot of the spare time I would’ve spent actually writing.
  8. Celebrating Mother’s Day 2018. For Mother’s Day this year without Dad, we kept it pretty low-key. I made a special breakfast for Mom and picked her up a card, which I got my brother to sign. I doodled in our dogs (her canine children). We set a pot roast in a crock pot and went to go see Avengers: Infinity War (2018) while it cooked. It was a calm, nice day.
  9. Celebrating my younger brother’s 21st birthday. My younger brother just turned 21 on the 15th. He came home after his finals so we’ve been celebrating early as he needed to return to school for his internship the morning of his actual birthday. He reads maybe 2–3 books a year and I got him one I thought he might like: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It’s an old favorite of mine and a safe choice as I now know he likes historical fiction.

➴ Coming Up on Betwined Reads

  1. Monday (5/21): Hogwarts Mystery ❄ | Betwined Tech
  2. Wednesday (5/23): Making a List of Possibilities | Writing Wednesdays
  3. Thursday (5/24): A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle (Book Review)

End Note

I hope you didn’t mind things getting a little more personal on Betwined Reads today. It’s always been a goal for this blog to capture the best of me and what I’d like to remember, so I’d like to do it more, although not always in this borrowed format. I’ll enjoy playing around with different format on weeks I feel that I have enough to say to fill a post.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

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The Return

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In which I explain why stopped blogging and announce my hesitant return.

Hello, everyone.

I’ve spent the past week plotting my return to blogging here at Betwined Reads. I spent some much need time thinking long and hard about what I want this space to be, what I have to offer, and for whom I am writing this blog. A necessary question I had to ask myself was what has kept me from blogging, and that was the hardest to fully nail down. Especially since it feels sometimes that I have nothing but time.

I used to think that I could not blog if I wasn’t reading or writing, that there’d be nothing of value to talk about. But recently I have been both reading and writing and I have still been hesitant to hit that “Write” button and start new posts.

So what else?

Blogging can be hard work. Dedicating time to sit down and write. Editing your words to make sure they’re as clear and concise as possible. Working on the presentation of the blog post (i.e. featured images, banners). It’s easy to get burned out! Especially if at the end of the day, you are not happy with what you are creating. And I have not been happy with my most recent blog posts.

When I would go back to reread my posts after I published them, I often felt that words rang hollow. It’s not that I have ever lied about my thoughts or opinions in my blog posts, but I have realized that I’ve censored myself.

Censored, how? you might be wondering. Well, I feel like I’ve kept you, my blog readers, at an arm’s distance, if that makes sense. Too a degree I think it’s something we all do, and that’s not the problem in itself. But I feel that what I’d censored has been an important part of what makes me me. And it has made me feel like a phony.

I’ve felt lost ever since graduating college in 2015, and even though I went straight to grad school that fall, I’ve felt like a paper bag floating in the wind. I’ve got no roots anywhere and feel directionless, especially since I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. I feel at such odds with the optimism of the young book bloggers filling this space and the young housewives and mothers who have stability and peace of mind to build and run their book blogs.

This is feeling of inadequacy is what I’ve been hiding. It’s scary. I often vacillate wildly between feelings of confidence/insecurity and optimism/hopelessness. Looking back at the past year’s posts, I don’t recognize myself in that false optimism.

So when I was thinking about how I might get back into blogging, I realized that I needed to abandon these subconscious desires to portray myself as someone who has it all together and figured out. I needed to stop looking at how other book bloggers write and find something that was authentic to me.

I thought about what I personally look for in a blog. In many ways, I realized that there are no bloggers (that I’m aware of) that really fulfilled what I was looking for. So my goal is fill that void with the blog posts I create moving forward.

I’m not faking optimism this time when I say I want to start posting regularly to this blog. I want to write blog posts about the books I’m reading and the things that are making me happy at the moment. I also want to help others who might feel as lost as I do. I’m going to start writing with the target audience of myself in mind.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who made it through this entire post. And I’m sorry if I’ve in any way let anyone down.

If you are still on the fence about whether you want to be subscribed to this blog, I recommend checking out my recently updated About page that has been renamed The Girl & the Blog. My hope is that it does a good job of explaining what I like and what you can expect from the blog. I have many posts in the pipeline and can’t wait to start making things of which I can be proud.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

New Year’s Resolutions of 2018

Listening to: Emma Blackery’s 365: January playlist on Spotify
Reading: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Watching: The Good Doctor
Playing: Township
Eating: Homemade veggie pizza
Drinking: Monster (left behind by my brother)

Hi there.

It’s been a while, and I don’t want to dwell on why. I just want to jump back into the blog. I will say that I am looking forward to the future for the first time since September.

This optimism has mostly to do with my decision to leave my soul crushing part-time job. I don’t have another job yet, but I’ve found this move extremely important for my sanity. Maybe I’ll do a blog post on this in the future, because there’s not a lot I want to say on it at the moment. I just want to move past it.

Now that I’m I wanted to share my new year’s resolutions, since I finally have them. I know it’s late, but I didn’t start off the new year in such a happy place after the crazy holiday season working in retail. It was easier to turn my brain off and not think about much beyond the daily grind. So the first week of 2018 was spent…coming back to life in a way.

I know that people have a lot of thoughts on whether new year’s resolutions are worth making when so many fall by the wayside by February, but I’ve always liked setting them. Especially since becoming a blogger, I feel like they help me set the tone for what I want to do this year. They’re rarely achieved, but I still think, personally, that it’s better to set them and not reach them than to have nothing to work towards at all.

Anyway, here they are.

1. Try 20 new food recipes. 

Last June I began my transition towards a plant-based diet (think vegan minus the die-hard ethical side of it). Overall it was not too difficult after I established my go-to meals and learned to say no to all fast and junk food people offer. I’ve had my slip ups and weeks where I wasn’t too strict about looking at food labels for what eggs or dairy, but after everything I’ve realized that this is not just a diet, but a permanent life change.

My body physically hurts when I eat meat or dairy now.

So this year I want to start experimenting with more plant-based recipes. Vegan YouTube is super helpful, but I always find myself tweaking recipes as I go so maybe I’ll share my own spin on ones that end up on my favorites list.

2. Watch 20 documentaries.

I can watch The Office and Parks & Recreation all year long. It’s a problem. These shows are just my go-to’s when I have a little time to kill or am eating alone and there’s nothing new on YouTube. Netflix has a wonderful selection of documentaries of which I want to take better advantage, so that I can expand my mind and be inspired by new things.

3. Watch 20 new shows.

Going along with the previous goal, I want to expand my horizons and see more of what’s out there. At the end of 2017, I finally saw Mr. Robot, which has been on my radar for a long time and I really loved. I’m always annoyed with myself when I take too long to finally experience some things, so I want to force myself to branch out this year and experience more new good T.V.

I recently saw The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which was everything and then some. Next up will likely be some more things off Amazon Prime, as I lose my Prime membership in February because it’s too expensive for me right now. Thankfully, there will always be Netflix (as I’m on my parents’ account there!).

4. Read 20 books I owned before 2018.

I’ve hit a bit of a slump recently with my reading and I realized it hit one evening when I was looking at my bookshelves and realized nothing that was too new was calling to me. I panicked and have not tried to read much since then, although I have recently picked up Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, a book I bought when I was first getting into book blogging in 2015.

It feels nice to be reading something that a past me bought, so I want to do more of that and remember why I bought certain books and see if I can get myself back into those mindsets and reclaim a bit of the past that’s been lost since I graduated.

~

These are the goals that I will be tracking on the blog this year. I’ve made a page called Resolutions of 2018 under my About Me heading so that I can keep a list with links to any posts in which I may reference the items that fit under any of the four goal categories.

I have some additional goals I’d like to accomplish this year (i.e., finish my book, start my BookTube channel), but I’ll share those later on as they become more defined. They’ll be harder to track throughout the year than the goals I list in this post, so I’ll likely dedicate separate posts to them when the time seems more right.

End Note

The focus of this blog will still primarily be books and writing, but I see it becoming a bookish lifestyle blog in the future rather than just a place where I talk books and writing as a separate life. I’ve become a bit disenchanted by the direction the most popular book blogs have gone recently and don’t feel like I want to add to the noise of that niche. I want to make this space a bit more personal to me and the people who choose to follow my reading and writing journey. Hopefully the sound of this still interests you!

Not sure what you can expect next, but I’ll be working on it.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

Summer Goals ˁ̡̡̡∗★ ̫★ˀ̡̡̡

Hiya!

I didn’t mean to go another whole week without posting again, but it’s taken me a while to decide what I wanted to post next. I decided the most logical place to start is with a summer goals for myself and this blog. But before I get into it, I want to first thank you all for your best wishes on my job search. My interview this week went great, and I got some good feedback. Unfortunately I think the job went to someone who they knew.

I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to set summer goals for myself, but I feel like without a steady structure I won’t get as much done as I’d like. When I first started this post, I only envisioned stating my summer goals, but by the end I realized it might be a good time to think about what I want to accomplish long-term as well. So I’ve listed some of my wildest goals to achieve by the end of the year as well.

➴ Summer Goals

READING

This summer I want to read at least 20 books in order to be all caught up with my Goodreads Reading Challenge by September. On Thursday I’ll be posting my TBR and participation in the 20 Books of Summer challenge so stay tuned for that (& see the blog post from Rattle the Stars that inspired me ^_^)! My own post is already written, I just need to put on some finishing touches.

➴ BLOGGING

This may be ambitious, but I’m feeling really tempted to jump back into blogging in a major way by committing to posting at least every other day without fail as long as I have ideas. Right now I feel like I have a lot of ideas for things I’d both like to share and also think others would really benefit from. Some weeks I may be really busy or feel like I got nothing. I’m hoping to get through those weeks by planning ahead and actively updating a Google doc of ideas so I don’t forget them.

WRITING

I recently said that I’ve not been in the best of writing moods lately and while I still don’t want to commit to writing a novel this summer, I’m thinking about setting myself a more modest goal of writing an interactive short story. I have some past drafts of ideas that I may be interested in developing further, or I may start completely from scratch. We’ll see how that goes! I think it will also be fun to update you all on this process!

➴ Year End Goals

  1. Have a job I really like
  2. Have successfully completed NaNoWriMo for the first time since November 2014
  3. Have a modestly successful Etsy shop
  4. Have 500 blog followers between WordPress and Bloglovin’

End Note

I think it’s great to have goals for yourself throughout your life in order to continue to grow, even if you’re done with school and happy with your life. I encourage you to think of some seasonal goals and long-term goals in order to access how you might best go about achieving them. At the end of the summer/year I want to evaluate how successful I was at attaining these goals and decide what my next moves will be.

Do you enjoy setting goals? Why or why not?

What are your wildest of creative goals? How are you working on achieving them? 

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.