Friday, January 24, 2020

#StepUpYourReading New Books To Look Forward To In 2020

Happy Friday, y'all! With a rainy weekend on our forecast here in Birmingham I can't think of anything better than curling up on the couch with a good book. This makes our first #StepUpYourReading post especially timely. I am so excited to have Phoebe of the blog Read & Wright back on the blog this year guest posting about different books worth reading. This first post should help you to start anticipating some of the amazing new releases to come this week. Plus, if you're looking for more ideas, she is finishing up a week of reviews on her Instagram, which you can follow here!

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Happy New Year, friends! I’m thrilled to be back sharing some exciting new books out this year. After New Years, I always get asked, “How do you read so much? I want to read more this year!” and I am here to tell you if you can binge-watch a tv show, you can read more in 2020. 

There is NOTHING wrong with a good Netflix session. Believe me, I’m all for them and need them too. But reading more is easy: just make it a priority! I try to read for at least an hour a day, which usually includes the subway and some time before bed. But also utilize your audiobooks! I love nonfiction books on audio because they’re just like long-form podcasts. 

If you’re interested in audiobooks, I highly recommend Libro.fm. It’s like Audible, a monthly subscription that allows you one credited audiobook per month. But instead of supporting a large business like Amazon, you can choose any independent bookstore in the country. It’s amazing! 

A New Year means new books and tons of speculation about which books will be the “book of the year.” I think this time of year is exciting, even though I usually like to catch up on any of the books I missed in year’s past. I’m going to be sharing seven books that will be coming out in the first half of the year, which are getting a TON of buzz and to look ahead for in 2020. 



Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid--Out now! 

American Dirt by Jeannine Cummins--Out 1/21/20

The Mirror and the Light by Hillary Mantel--Out 3/10/20

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russel--Out 3/10/20

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel--Out 3/24/20

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth--Out 4/7/20

Below are the ones I can’t wait for, especially with all the Royal Family drama lately:

HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style by Elizabeth Holmes 

The Heir Affair by Jessica Cocks and Heather Morgan 


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Goals for 2020

After sharing the things I am proud of myself for accomplishing in 2019, it seems only fitting to go ahead and share some of my goals for 2020. When the New Year rolled around, some of my friends and I got into the conversation of whether or not we were goal setters. Given how goal-oriented I can be, it’s interesting to me to realize that some people work better without having goals. I’ll blame it on my Type A tendencies and love of crossing things off of a to-do list. For my birthday, my roommate made everyone at the dinner tell their favorite quality/memory/characteristic of me. While this had me red in the face instantly, my roommate brought up the fact that no matter what I set my mind to, I work hard to accomplish and usually do. By sharing my goals for 2020, I’m hoping my roommate’s statement is correct that these will be things that I’ll be able to be proud of myself for accomplishing come 2021. The first two goals are actually roll-overs from last year that have some room for improvement, and I’m already working towards. 


Stay Better Informed
Given that this is an election year, I feel like this is a goal everyone should have. I don’t have cable, so a lot of the time, my only exposure to the news is when working out at the gym, and I’m not paying super close attention to it while there. As a solution, I try to read the Skimm and the Morning Brew (two email newsletters) as a way of staying in the know, but when things get busy, I tend to cut those out of my schedule. In case you’re not familiar with them, the Skimm is an email news service that breaks down the most important news of the day in an easy to read way. They started a podcast last year, and while I haven’t yet listened to it, like knowing it is there as an option. The Morning Brew is another email news service I discovered this past year, which is similar but more business and financially based (and usually a little over my head). I would love to hear how y’all stay up to date with world events since I know this is important! 

Engage
This word fits a lot since I’d love not only to be more engaged but also to be more engaging. In terms of the latter, I know that I am not the best at elaborating and sharing tons of detail. Friends and family tend to have to ask a bunch of questions to get full details on what I’ve been up to, and I don’t mean to make them do that, but it relates to me being a private person. If you don’t ask, then you may not know. I want to focus on being more engaging in that manner so that it’s not as much effort for the people I surround myself with and maybe helps me to be a bit more interesting.

On the flip side, I would love to be better engaged when with my friends and family in real life as well as on social media. These things would need to happen separately from one another since often, social media and technology interrupts time spent engaged with the people around you. Regarding social media, I want to do a better job of updating my Instagram and Instagram stories in real-time without always feeling like everything needs to be highly curated. While I’ll still be posting plenty of styled shots, I think that mixing in some snapshots of everyday life on my feed is something that my followers enjoy. I’ve already started to be better about talking to Instagram stories and am hoping to keep that up.

Run Another Half Marathon
Running a half marathon was on my goal list last year, and I’ve decided to add it to this year’s list as well. I don’t think I’d sign up for one until the later part of the year since I could probably only comfortably run two miles right now (I’ve been big into Peloton and true40 lately and have kind of neglected running). Creating a training plan and signing up for a race was huge when it came to accomplishing this goal last year, so hopefully doing the same will help me to check this off in 2020 as well. 

Strike Up and Strike Out
I had so much trouble coming up with how to phrase this one since being bold was the best way to sum it up but kept reminding me of a Panhellenic initiative at Furman, and I didn’t want to associate the two mentally. In terms of “strike up,” I need to be better about striking up a conversation with people around that I see frequently. For example, I’ve been going to the Y and true40 for such a long time and continue to see the same people but don’t even know their names. Instead of being shy and waiting for someone else to introduce themselves, I am going to try to be better about engaging with the people around me. For “strikeout,” I want to be better about accepting the idea of taking risks and potentially not succeeding. I am a perfectionist, so the notion of failure terrifies me and, in turn, causes me to take fewer risks. I’ll let y’all know how this goes…

Save
This is my last year on my parent’s insurance (womp), and with that knowledge, I’ve made myself some pretty lofty saving goals to prepare for more bills. I am hoping to set aside my entire year’s blogging income (other than what I reinvest back into the blog) in addition to what I already have set up to save. With a promotion this past year, I am confident that I’ll be able to do this, but it’ll take a conscious effort to achieve. I was so proud of all that I saved in 2018, and with so many weddings in 2019 definitely didn’t do as good of a job, so this is my solution to get back on track! 

I’d love to hear what goals you’re working toward in 2020! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Things I'm Proud Of Myself For In 2019

It’s the end of January, and I’m still reflecting on 2019. At this point, it seems like my new year will start on February 1st since I am still deciding what some of my goals for the year will be. Last year I decided to share some of the things I was most proud of myself for in 2018 and found it to be a great way to reflect on the following year while goal setting for the current one. 2018 definitely included more change than 2019, but even so, there are still some things that I am particularly grateful for from those 365 days. As a whole, 2019 was really good. More than anything, I started to feel settled, which leads me to be more comfortable in most situations and eventually take more risks. I wouldn’t say this was a “risky” year compared to 2018, but there was a lot of good that came out of it. I hope that none of this comes across like bragging, and I want to highly encourage you to look back at the past year and consider writing down some of the things you’re most proud of yourself for.

Running a Half Marathon
Running a half marathon was on my goal list for 2018, and I was pleased to be able to cross it off my list at the end of February. I was a runner in middle and high school and ran some in college but not the distance that I was previously able to do. When I moved to Birmingham, I realized that a lot of my friends had to study on Sundays and running gave me an excuse to explore the area while being active. After racking up some mileage, I decided that training for something would make it seem like all my time running added up to something. I signed up for the Seaside half marathon in January, and my parents made a vacation out of it, which made it especially fun. It would’ve been fun to do it with a friend, but I knew that if I had a good playlist, I’d be able to stick with it the same as I had with training. While my time was nothing to write home about, I completed it at the pace I had expected and felt so accomplished afterward! 



Getting a Promotion
While I loved my last job, when a position as a stylist opened up at my company, I knew I wanted to apply. After getting to assist stylists on shoots through my old role, I saw just how much I’d like that type of position. The interview/audition process took a little while but was worth it in the end since now I am in the role and am getting to style shoots on my own. I still feel like I’m getting the hang of food styling, but over time I know I’ll start feeling more confident with my abilities. 

 


 


Not Buying a Single Book
I realize this sounds like a very odd thing to be proud of, but after moving in 2018, I realized just how many books I owned. While I have read them all, most of them were ones that I wasn’t going to re-read. So, instead of purchasing books this past year, I committed to checking out books from the library and using the Libby app to listen to various books. I did buy a new book once January began since it was a daily devotional, but other than that, I plan to keep up with not purchasing new books since I can find most of what I want to read at the library! 

Celebrating Well
This was a year of celebrating for sure. It’s easy to celebrate when so many friends are getting married, but even beyond that, there were plenty of smaller celebrations as well. From Kate, Sophia, and Gil’s weddings to birthdays, good grades, and promotions, it was a lot of fun! While celebrating doesn’t sound like something to necessarily be proud of, genuinely making people feel special during their big life moments is something I love to do. I hope this year is full of plenty of celebrations for friends so that this can carry into 2020.









Expanding My Circle
I am so lucky to have made such awesome friends since moving to Birmingham. I have always been more of a quality over quantity person when it comes to friends, and now, I feel like I have both since I have a large quantity of quality friends. From getting to know a whole other group to taking trips with my different circles expanding my circle has been a highlight of 2019, and I look forward to continuing to foster these friendships and make new ones this year.

 




 



Being Independent
I feel like I’ve been independent for a while, but this past year especially I feel as though I’ve truly embraced my independence. From handling things on my own without a phone call home to ask for advice first (except for the Christmas light fiasco, that was a whole other story) to be completely ok with doing my own thing I definitely feel like year after year I’m becoming more of my own person, and I’m pretty pleased with the who I’ve become. 

I’d love to know which accomplishments from your past year that you’re most proud of! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Step Into My Week 1.21

Welcome back (to you, but mainly me)! I am sad that I’ve been inconsistent with blogging as of late and am thrilled that I think this week we will be back to a regular schedule. A friend asked me how my work schedule was looking this week, and upon looking at it, it feels like it will be the first week that truly seems manageable in a while since I am no longer doing two different roles and can focus on styling and dedicating time to training the girl who took my place. I have had so many shoots the past couple of weeks that I don’t feel like I’ve had my head on straight and am excited to be in town and attempting to find a new normal in this role. 


Since I had yesterday off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am treating today like my Monday and am excited to bring you along on the adventure that has been this past week. If there were a preview, it would include: a trip to Atlanta to attend market for work, setting an alarm off, and having a run-in with the police, a friend visiting town, and a cracked ceiling. You really can’t make this stuff up! 

Monday was my most normal day of the week starting with a 5:15 class at true40 as their balance challenge kicked off (the challenge is to attend 15 classes before the end of the month, and since I was out of town this past week I’m not sure if that will be a reality for me). I had a location photoshoot scheduled for that day for a small space home style issue we are releasing in the spring. We shot two different condos in the same building owned by a really sweet mother and daughter. They made me look like I was doing a great job, given how well decorated they were. I am really excited to see how the issue turns out now that I’ve styled three different spaces for it! We somehow managed to finish photographing both of the apartments around 2:00, and I headed to the office to unpack the props from that shoot and started pulling props for the shoot I had the following day. I left work a bit later than normal but still had time to eat dinner and put on comfy clothes before going to my friend Macy’s house to switch between watching The Bachelor and the National Championship game. Once the game was into the third quarter, and we had watched the entire episode of The Bachelor, I opted to head home and go to bed.




On Tuesday, I had an in-studio food shoot for Southern Cast Iron magazine. This included six recipes to fill ten pages in their July/August issue feature about one bowl baking. We didn’t start working on the photos until close to 10:00, which caused us to leave a little bit later around 6:00. I don’t feel as well versed in food styling, but I am really pleased with how all of the photos turned out and am looking forward to seeing that in print as well. I was hoping to unload my cart when we finished but needed to head to the gym if I was going to get in a workout, shower, and packing before I needed to go to bed. I did a Peloton workout at the Y before making my way home. I made dinner and showered and attempted to pack to head to Atlanta the following day for work. I finally went to sleep around 10:30, with most of my bag packed for the trip.



I woke up early on Wednesday morning and was able to get a lot done before heading into the office. I had to do a few last-minute things before the three of us going to AmericasMart left for Atlanta at 8:00. I was able to work on our way there and ordered props for shoots I have this week on the road. We got to Atlanta a little before noon and were able to check-in and head to the press room to grab lunch before beginning to get a feel for market. We started by wandering around some of the temporary booths in buildings one and two. I had the best time seeing how so many different shops set up their booths to showcase their designs and products. Stay tuned on my Instagram stories (@prepinyourstep) today for a better look at some of my favorite vendor discoveries! Market ended a little before six, and the two other girls who I went with and I went to a restaurant near where we parked before going to our Airbnb to check in and call it a night. When we got to the Airbnb, we didn’t have the smoothest check-in given that the alarm started going off, and we weren’t given the code to turn it off. Fortunately, when I called the owner of the house, she answered and was able to provide it to us to turn the blaring noise off. It wasn’t until after that experience and looking around the house that I was told by my co-workers that this was not the Airbnb I sent them pictures of. I laughed pretty hard about that slip up on my end until we heard a knock on the door and a police officer showed up to question what we were doing on the property and why the alarm had gone off. After all of that excitement, I was even more exhausted and ready for bed. 



 


 

America’s Mart opened at 8:00, so we aimed to get there a little after that to get breakfast in the press room and begin our only full day there. It took a bit to get my bearings on the setup, but I was able to talk to some great new vendors that we could potentially use in the future while stopping in and saying hello/seeing what was new with vendors we have a pre-existing relationship with. Many of the booths had snacks and drinks, and one of my co-workers and I ended our day with frose at Corkcicle’s booth. It turned out that Mila and Emma (the Instagram famous kids from this account) were there, and we didn’t figure that out until after the fact. When we left around 6:00, we went to another restaurant nearby and went back to the Airbnb to hangout seated in our pajamas after being on our feet talking all day. 





 

Friday was our last day in Atlanta, and we made our way through the rest of our lists before eating lunch and heading back to Birmingham around 1:00. We got back to the office a little before 3:00, and I was excited to head home and read on the couch for a while. I eventually unpacked, organized my room, and got our guest bedroom ready for Sophia since she drove in town for the long weekend. She got to Birmingham around 7:00, and we went for dinner and margaritas at La Paz before coming home to catch up on the couch and eventually go to bed.

 


 

On Saturday, I slept in until about eight, and Sophia and I sipped coffee on the couch for a while before getting ready to go to Bandit Patisserie in Homewood for breakfast. After that, we went in a few stores in Homewood (even though it was pouring rain all day) and went to The General and Shoppe in Highland Park before grabbing lunch at Olexa’s in Mountain Brook with Nell. After that, we went back to my house and opened Christmas and birthday presents from one another and started watching The Morning Show, which Sophia had already watched and insisted on me starting. Holy cow was it addicting. I’m embarrassed to admit that we finished it in a single weekend, but it is that good. After one episode I showered, we watched another one, and then we got ready to go to dinner at Ollie Irene in Crestline Village. It’s a bit more expensive than our usual dinner spots, but it was delicious and worth it for a splurge. After that, we grabbed a drink at Carrigan’s and came home to watch another episode.



On Sunday, we woke up to no power after a transformer blew near our house early in the morning. We got ready in the dark and met Macy and her sister Turner for breakfast at Woodlawn Cycle Café. I had not been there but was really impressed with the setup and food. Since the power was still out, Sophia and I went to Continental Bakery for more coffee after that. When we did come home close to noon, we watched another episode of The Morning Show and then met one of our roommates from senior year, Caroline, and her dog Blaez for a walk through Mountain Brook. Sophia and I were hungry once we finished that and went to Real and Rosemary for a late lunch before spending the rest of the afternoon/night watching The Morning Show. I was shocked after the last episode and am so glad that they have already confirmed that a second season will be coming out in November. If you take anything away from this post, it’s that you need to watch The Morning Show.



On Monday, Sophia and I went to the 8:15 class of true40 since I insisted that she try my favorite workout in Birmingham before she left. She hit the road once that finished, and I made a grocery list so I could go to Trader Joe’s and get my errands accomplished. Once I got home, I showered, prepared food for the week, and then got ready, so I could meet Nell at Starbucks to get some work done before going on a walk. After that, I caught up with some friends and my parents before heading home to put away laundry, organize my room, and eat dinner before heading to Macy’s to watch The Bachelor with friends. I packed my bag for the following day and then went to bed.



I hope that y’all had a great week as well and hopefully had yesterday off! 

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