What I’ve Been Reading Lately

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For the past few months, I’ve been spending the bulk of my time job hunting and preparing to teach classes I ended up not actually teaching. In my spare time, though, I made a serious effort to get back into reading for pleasure, since it’s something I don’t do very often when I’m teaching. Something about starting at student essays for three hours just kills my desire to keep reading, even if it’s for fun. ūüėČ

After getting a library subscription, I discovered that our local library does digital books. It’s amazing because I don’t have to find a library that has the book I want, and the waiting list for digital books is a lot better than physical ones. Even though I had to wait almost a month for some of them, I had plenty to read and do while I waited. So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been reading lately!

1. How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas

This book was such a fun read! It was part guidebook, part picture book – which is great if you’re not up for a serious read. I enjoyed reading about fashion, food, parenting, love, and life from four different Parisian women. It’s definitely a book I will buy in the future, if only for the wonderful photos and graphics throughout. Highly recommended if you’re as obsessed with Paris as I am.

2. Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange

The only physical book I could get my hands on was this one, and it was well worth waiting a few days for it to get shipped in from a different library! This is another book I will definitely buy for my collection someday, and the book itself is about as chic as the advice within it! This is also a mix of amazing photos, quirky illustrations from Ines de la Fressange, and amazing advice. It’s like having a much cooler older sister or aunt giving you advice. She’s honest, but keeps most of her advice pretty universal and basic. There is also an entire section devoted to her favorite shops (many of which are online now), which reads like a¬†secret guide for where the real Parisiennes go! She also has a YouTube series she did with Roger Vivier, where she shows us around many of the stores mentioned in the book (if you can handle subtitles). I enjoy watching them because it reminds me that I should get back into practice with my French skills (and that I can understand her more than I thought). Also highly recommended for the French-obsessed, and for the discerning shopper.

3. #GIRLBOSS by Sophie Amoruso

Okay, so I’m going to admit this right off the bat – I didn’t finish this book. I think I made it about halfway through before moving on to something else. Part of this might have been because we moved in the middle of me reading it, but honestly, it wasn’t for me. I’ve been hearing great things about this book from just about everyone I talk to or read about online. At the beginning, it seemed like a great story from a woman who is about my age, and who came up during a time when a “traditional” career path no longer existed for many people who couldn’t afford (or didn’t want to go to) college. She made her own way in spite of not having the right education or trust fund parents – and that’s something many people my age can relate to.

However, I think this book is better suited to women about a decade younger than me – for me, it was a bit “yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all this before.” I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is just graduating from high school or college, as a nice reminder that the paths they are about to take don’t have to be boring and traditional ones. Since we’re getting to that time of year, I’d totally give this as a graduation present. Sure, Amoruso’s career is obviously more the exception than the norm, but her sentiment is still great for young women to hear. I just think it fell on deaf ears in my case. I might try to pick it up and finish it this week, if I¬†can renew it online.

4. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

This is the most recent book I’ve read, and I think I blew through it in only a few days. I know, I probably could have read the whole thing in one evening, but I have a husband who thinks my reading alone for hours on end is offensive and weird. Someday I’ll work on getting him over that, but until then, I’m lucky if I can swing an hour alone at a time. ūüėČ

Anyway, this book was a great read! In the past, I’ve enjoyed reading books from Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Chelsea Handler, so I knew this would be right in my wheel-house. Sure, Poehler’s¬†funny and all, but this book is also a great reminder that as women we have help each other out in rough times. Her message is very much that of a normal woman, raising two kids while trying to juggle her career, friendships, love, and happiness. At a somewhat turbulent time in my life, it was great to hear from someone else who has also been through rough times and gotten through it¬†(she wrote the book while in the middle of her divorce from Will Arnett). Though I don’t think this book would work for the #GIRLBOSS crowd, it would make a great gift for someone more my own age or older – especially those who also juggle the million things most women do. Her mantra of “Good for you, not for me” is one I think most women can relate to and should hear more often.

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I’ve had a lot of fun getting back into the habit of reading again, and can’t wait to start a new book (though I have no idea which one).

If you have any suggestions, I’d totally appreciate you leaving it in the comments!

Life on Instagram: Moving…again!

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1. Not long after I took those lovely photos of my apartment, we packed it all up and moved again. My husband got a job closer to Seattle, and since I had just heard I wasn’t working anymore, it made no sense to stay an hour-plus drive from where D works – the commute was killing him. I was really sad to leave this apartment, since it was the first one I chose and decorated purely on my own. Almost half the time I lived there I was alone, and I’m going to miss my tiny sanctuary. I am, however, very excited to have separate bathrooms again. Sharing a bathroom any longer would have ruined our marriage. ūüėČ

2. This was by far the fastest move we’ve ever done.¬†From start to finish, moving the furniture only took about 3 hours (including the almost 45 minute drive), thanks to my brother in law helping with the heavy lifting. It rained the entire time, so it was also the messiest move we’ve ever done. Our mattress is still streaked with dirt from being dropped. We’ve been here almost a month now, and still adjusting to having so much more space. Everything feels half empty now.

3. One of the biggest selling points with this apartment is the location. This photo was taken from our living room. Since the apartment is built on a steep hill, it feels way more secluded than it is. Also, just beyond that hill is a pretty nice hiking trail. It’s great to finally live close within walking distance of great trails, which is the only thing keeping me sane right now!

4. It has taken almost a month, but things are finally starting to feel moved in. Not having a job has made decorating extremely difficult, since I don’t have a lot of stuff anymore and we have a LOT of blank walls. This place doesn’t feel like home at all yet, but we’re getting there in small ways.

This last move was a bittersweet one for me. Part of me really loved that last apartment – it was the first place I chose myself, and I felt reflected my style more than anywhere else I’ve lived. I didn’t have to compromise for what someone else wanted, and got to decorate it however I felt worked for me. It was a lot more feminine and modern than any other apartment we’ve lived in, and I miss that already. I’m sure I’ll work more of that into our current place, once I have the budget to do so. This is also the first apartment I’ve lived in where they say I can paint, so I might be experimenting with that soon (since tan walls are the WORST). Sure, they’re going to charge me to paint it back when we move, but I’m willing to cough that up not to have shitty tan walls anymore!

Of course, there are things I like about our new place. The location is much better, since it’s only about 20 minutes from Seattle, instead of an hour. We’re also a lot closer to the water, which I’m sure will be a huge plus in the summer months. I’m also closer to better shopping, hiking, and other fun stuff. I also have more counter space now than I’ve ever had, so cooking has been a LOT easier than in the past!

I know I haven’t shown you much of the apartment yet, but I will once things are less “in transition.” I have a lot of great ideas for this space…I just need the budget to go do them!

Tough Goodbyes

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Today was supposed to be my first day back to teaching in almost four months. I was excited to be back in the classroom, and eager to meet a new batch of students. I had two classes prepared and ready to go.

Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen.

The college I worked for contacted me right before we moved to tell me that they were taking away one of my classes to give to another teacher. I wasn’t happy about it, but it wasn’t the end of the world – I still had one class left. Right after we moved, they told me they gave away the other class. Since this happened rather suddenly and without warning, I was devastated.

Now I’m back to square one. I’ve spent the past few months applying to dozens of teaching positions, and other jobs within the college systems here. I have woken up every morning to an inbox full of politely written rejection letters, which I can tell you is not the best way to start the day. I’ve written so many cover letters that they’re starting to blur together. I also think I’ve applied to so many positions that I fear that I applied to some of them twice (sorry if I did that). It’s hard work trying to find work, and it can wear down even the most thick-skinned person. While I’ve always struggled to keep my career afloat, this is different.

After a lot of careful thought, friendly advice, and sleepless nights, I’ve come to a very tough decision:

I am leaving the teaching profession.

It’s tough for me to admit this, but it’s time for me to move on. I gave teaching 11 years of my life, and I truly mean my whole life. Teaching often meant sacrificing friends, family, vacations, and¬†time for myself. I’m 31 years old and in no position to buy a house, have children, or pay off my student loans – all things I would have expected to have accomplished by now. I’ve read more books in the past three months than I have in the past 10 years, and didn’t realize until now how much I missed that. While the stress of not having a new job keeps me up at night, it’s nothing compared to the years of anxiety,¬†not knowing if I’d¬†make enough to pay rent every¬†few months. It’s time for me to choose another path – one that is more stable and allows me to have a life outside of work. I can’t continue to risk my physical and mental health on a promise that never came to fruition. I want to be excited to wake up in the morning and head to work, something I haven’t felt in years.

This is a decision I didn’t make¬†lightly, and I promise¬†it’s not an angry reaction to this recent layoff. I’ve been struggling with this decision for years.¬†This blog exists because I was unhappy in my career, and needed an outlet. Two years ago, I even made a new year’s resolution on the blog to explore other career options, whether it be blogging, writing professionally, editing, or something else. I knew even back then that things were bad, but since I was working consistently, I didn’t feel ready to let go quite yet. Now I do.

I don’t know¬†what the future holds for me, which is scary given I’m an over-planner. Part of me wants to go back to school,¬†but I don’t know if I can handle another round of school, and another pile of debt I may never pay off. I started looking into careers outside of teaching, and while many of the positions I’ve applied for look interesting, I still feel very much like a fish out of water.¬†Breaking into a new industry is hard, especially when you feel over/under qualified and too old. Making money as a blogger would be great,¬†which I assume is as simple as finding a unicorn whose tears are made of money.

So for now, I’m overwhelmed and terrified…but I’m also hopeful and excited to see what the future has in store for me. I’m trying to stay positive, which isn’t always easy, but I’m trying.

For those of you who read my blog, thank you for sticking with me through a very long post! For those of you who write the blogs I read, thank you for the distraction during such a rough time. This community of bloggers keeps me sane, it really does – and I can’t imagine where I’d be without you.

And if you happen to know anyone in the Seattle area who’d like to hire a former English professor, let me know. ūüôā

Just in Time

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After six months of living in this apartment, I finally feel like I got some rooms completely finished. It took a lot of work, time, and shopping, but the kitchen, dining room, and my office nook are pretty much done…

…just in time for us to move again!

We’re moving into a bigger apartment¬†a LOT closer to work, and within walking distance to several hiking trails (the biggest sell for me, of course). Moving always sucks, but this time I’m looking forward to an easier move than last time! At least this time I won’t have to fit everything I own into a car (though I’m pretty sure I could do it again…it’s not like I bought much over the last 6 months).

Part of me is going to miss this place. It’s the first time I’ve lived alone in a long time (for the first few months¬†anyway), and the first one I truly had control over decorating. Our next place is the first one I’ve been given permission to paint, so I’m excited to¬†do that in the next couple months. We will also each have our own bathrooms again. I’m really excited about that (boys are gross, am I right?).

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Between packing, work stuff, and more packing, I can’t imagine I’ll be online much this week. I hope everyone has a great week, and if I’m smart I’ll be back next week with some decent “before” pics of the new place!

Beauty: Surviving Winter

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Seattle has been going through a bit of a heat wave this winter, and I’m loving it. However, it is still winter, and I have to modify my beauty routine to combat the cooler temperatures and the drying air that comes with having the heat on. Most of these products you’ve seen on the blog before, but they’re my old standbys when it comes to staying happy in the cold!

Skin: Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion

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I pretty much wear this lotion everywhere during the winter! It’s a great lotion for the face, especially at night. Every time I use it before bed, I wake up with smooth, happy skin. Even with the nicer temperatures, indoor heat often leaves my skin dry and flaky – and this stuff pretty much gets rid of it! It’s also good for people with acne prone or sensitive skin, and it makes a great after shave lotion on my legs! The best part is that it doesn’t take much lotion to cover me, so it lasts forever. I think I go through one a year, maybe?

Cleanser: Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser

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Seriously, if you’re acne prone and have sensitive skin, I highly recommend this cleanser in the winter! Even my usual Cetaphil cleanser is too drying on my skin this time of year, but this one is gentle enough not to be drying. It’s another one of those products that doesn’t take much (I can cleanse my entire face, makeup and all, with a pea-sized amount), so it lasts for a long time. I think I’ve had this bottle for a year now, and I’m almost done…but for a daily cleanser, that’s pretty good!

Hands: Neutrogena Fast Absorbing Hand Cream

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I’m a bit of a hand lotion hoarder, to be honest. I carry one in my purse, and have two more sitting in my nightstand. While I do own a Bliss lotion, I find it stings when my hands are really dry. I reach for this one because it’s great for dry, cracked hands, and it’s a lot cheaper than the Bliss one I use! Part of my bedtime routine always includes hand lotion, and this one is a great buy for daily use.

Nails: Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream

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I’m a cuticle biter, and this has been the only product that gets me to stop. It keeps my cuticles nice and moisturized in the winter, and it tastes horrible (haha…just being honest). Another problem I tend to have a lot in the winter is hang nails, and this seems to keep them at bay. The only thing I’ll warn you about is that this stuff is greasy, so it’s better left to wearing at bedtime.

Lips: Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips

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This is another product that I bought almost a year ago, and as you can tell I’ve barely put a dent in it, even after wearing it almost nightly! Aside from the fact that this is the most adorable product I own (it’s so tiny), it WORKS. I can’t stand the flavor of plain Vaseline, no matter how good it is for lips – so this one is a great alternative. I love giving these away as gifts too because no one ever thinks to buy something like this. Unlike the many Chapsticks I’ve lost over the years, I never lose track of this little guy! I apply this before bed, and during the day if I need a bit of protection from wind or chilly temperatures (especially when I’m out hiking/running). Seriously, it’s got to be the best $1 I’ve spent!

So for those of you suffering through another rough winter, try some of these to keep your skin moisturized and happy from head to toe!

Life on Instagram

This was supposed to go up on Friday, but things got busier than usual last week! Better late than never, right?

Here’s what’s been going on lately on my Instagram:image(Clockwise from top-left)

Whenever I feel down about moving so far away from home, I remember that it’s sunny and 60 here most days! / Been on a popcorn kick lately. Not really into watching movies, though – but when you live with a film geek, you endure it. / Decided I need to get better at taking selfies…and air-drying my hair more often (so much easier!) /¬†When your husband refuses to leave the house, you get creative about putting together his Valentine’s Day surprise!

imageGetting stuck in traffic in Seattle (which happens every day) is so much easier with a view like this! / Thoroughly enjoyed laughing my ass off at the SNL40 special. The Californians is one of my all-time favorites! / Decided to give cutting my own hair a try – and it turned out pretty good (though I might have to do some tweaking once it grows out a bit) / A Polish Mardi Gras tradition – paczki! I had to drive to Tacoma to find them, and the trip was totally worth it! This was one thing I thought I’d have to give up living outside the Midwest, but no!

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram if you want to see more of what I’ve been up to!