Lauren Conrad Tea Pot & Earl Gray Tea

So my birthday was just over a week ago and I’ve basically been celebrating a whole bunch. Because birthdays only happen once a year and I’m in an okay place right now, which is awesome. Anyway, so my best friend, who happens to share my love of horrible reality TV and Lauren Conrad, quite possibly sent me the best gift I’ve received in a while.

If you’ve been living under a rock lately and haven’t heard, Lauren Conrad of The Hills fame has her own fair trade line called The Little Market. And all products sold are made fair trade by local female artisans around the world. It’s awesome stuff and all the products are insanely adorable. I love any product that is functional, appealing, and gives back in some way.

So when my bestie said she was mailing me something, I knew it was going to be good. I just didn’t know it was going to be this good.

The tea is organic fair trade earl gray and I’m obsessed. It’s not super fruity but its definitely caffeinated, which I love. And I haven’t had a chance to use to the tea pot, I’m waiting for a morning where I have some time to just sit and enjoy it while overlooking the trees by my apartment. But if you have a chance, check out the Little Market and pick up some goodies for yourself! I promise you won’t regret any purchase. Plus, you’ll feel good doing it too!

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriaty

So I’m almost done with this book and IT’S FANTASTIC. I have yet to see the miniseries on HBO because i wanted to read the book first. And I heard so much hype about this book that i honestly was putting it off because I didn’t want it to let me down. As I’ve often found to be the case with such books that are also made into TV shows. But then again, apparently this mini series was produced by Reese Witherspoon and her production company. Can you really ever go wrong with Elle Woods anyway?

If you’ve been living under a rock the past year or so, Big Little Lies has become a powerhouse book and mini-series. It follows a group of four girlfriends with kids and living in a small town. It covers wealth, greed, sexual assault, abuse, and so much more. It goes deep but it’s also weirdly mysterious and you don’t want to put it down. Real talk, i definitely fell asleep a couple times with the book still open because i was so exhausted and refused to put it down. That might have given my boyfriend some fodder to make fun of me for in the morning….

The book also leads up to a murder but you don’t know who was killed or who did it until literally the last chapter. It’s ridiculous, a total risk, and totally worth the ride. I’m looking at getting a few of LIane’s other books — her writing style is amazing. She’s poignant, hilarious, and sheds light on a lot of real world problems most people shy away from.

Big Little Lies dives into abuse and sexual assault for what they really are. How the survivors often feel incredibly embarassed and even ashamed that they were in that situation. It goes into victim blaming and the shame game as well and provides examples of just how difficult it is to leave an abusive homelife, even if you have small children and are in the process of getting out. It’s difficult, messy, and complicated. And this novel does a fantastic job of creating complex female characters that talk about more than boyfriends and cocktails.

I highly recommend this book. It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. And the person who ends up getting fed to the fishes (sorry mob life) may not be who you expect.

5/5 

Songs I Can’t Stop Listening To pt. 2

It’s Memorial Day, I’m sitting in one of my favourite coffee shops here in Dallas, and in order to stop thinking about all our fallen soldiers & those who are still MIA, I decided to create a playlist of all the songs I can’t stop listening to right now.

  1. Sam Hunt “Body Like A Backroad” Um, can we just talk about Sam Hunt for a sec? That guy is ridiculously talented and if my boyfriend serenaded me with this, I’m not sure how long I’d last.
  2. Bonnie Raitt “Give Them Something to Talk About” This song reminds me of childhood. I loved Bonnie Raitt and I would dance around our living room to this song without a single care in the world. I probably needed dance lessons but whatever.
  3. Ed Sheeran “Galway Girl” Ugh, Ed Sheeran. Why do i feel the incessant need to be best friends with you? I love this song and I will sing every word.
  4. Shawn Mendes ” There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” Guilty pleasure right here. I love this song and its fun to blast on the freeway.
  5. James Arthur “Say You Won’t Let Go”  I want to walk down the aisle to this song. It perfectly encompasses everything I feel about the current person I’m dating. #mushymuch?

And there you have it! As I’m sure you’ve been able to tell, I have a weird mix of music that I’ll listen to. And i’m thinking of doing posts like this maybe once a month or so? Let me know what you think in the comments! Also, if you have any songs you can’t stop listening to, let me know!

The Coffee Shop in Lafayette, CA

So I recently went back to my hometown/part of California last week for part business part finally seeing my parents new house in the East Bay of San Francisco. And during my super short vacation to my favourite state, I caught up with an old friend of mine who i’ve known since middle school at a place called The Coffee Shop.

At first, when he mentioned meeting there for coffee and catching up, i didn’t know that its actual name was The Coffee Shop. But apparently they also have a location in Walnut Creek and though it may insanely hipster, it has a great atmosphere and great caffeine. I got their matcha latte (sorry, diet, but at least it’s high in antioxidants?) and my friend got some of their coffee. Their ‘for here’ cups are insanely adorable and this great blue colour. And it was a great day for sitting out on their patio at one of the high tops.

I was a little worried when i first walked up because the line was almost out the door and it was only 1030AM or so. I thought at least we’d beat the morning rush! But the line was worth it. The staff was friendly and I wish i lived in he area still so I could make this spot a regular go to to work at! Super cute and in downtown Lafayette as well.

Plus, their colours are yellow, gray, and blue with a logo of an upside down man with a bowler hat. Can it get any more fantastic than that?!

If you’re in the Lamorinda area and have some extra time, check this spot out! There might be a line but it’ll be worth it. I can’t wait to try some of their food and stronger caffeine the next time!

“The Universe Has Your Back” by Gabrielle Bernstein

My nutritionist/holistic coach (oh hey Stevie) recommended this to me a few weeks ago, during one of our last phone sessions. And I just finished it, having read most of it on a flight back from San Francisco for work & family. Needless to say, I am obsessed with this book. It’s wonderful and has just the right amount of cheesiness for a self help book.

Gabrielle Bernstein is apparently a pretty well known guru who’s all about meditation, giving into the power of the universe and total new age stuff. But this is the first time i’ve ever really heard of her and I’m definitely incredibly tempted to buy her other two books.

I think my favourite part of the book was definitely her guided meditations and ways to actually give into the universe without feeling super cheesy or weird about it. It’s a great book and a really easy read if you’re looking into some of the new age stuff but don’t know where to start.

3.5/5 

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

TW: this will be frank in discussion about sexual assault and revenge. If you are in danger, please either call 911 or, if you need help, RAINN at 1-800-656-4673.

This book has been wreaking havoc with my nightmares and has probably been the main reason why I’ve been in a weird mind space recently. It’s not because of the way it’s written or the themes it dives into. I mean, it’s a YA novel, for goodness sake’s. It’s about the subject matter and how close I am to it, whether i care to admit it or not.

The Female of The Species is heartwrenching and an important novel to read, especially today. It’s about a few teenagers — Peekay, Alex, and Jack — with appearances by other key characters as well. Alex lost her sister in one of the most violently brutal ways a person can go, in my opinion. She goes because someone took the time to rape, torture, and murder her in seemingly cold blood. Or on a meth binge, that part’s not really clear.

Anyway, we come into the novel after the attacker of Alex’s sister has been killed (we learn later on that it’s Alex. this isn’t a spoiler, promise) and the small town is coming to grips with not only one murder, but two. Though this book revolves around high school students and the weirdness that is high school, it dips into some pretty significant themes. Like how do you say no when you’re terrified for your life? And is it rape if you froze? And does God frown upon it if you have sex while on an altar in a historically abandoned, rotting church?

The Female of The Species also takes into account how in several other species, the female is often, more so than not, the protector. The defender. And the one who brings home the bacon, often literally. They’re the strongest links and often the ones that are defended first, not because of weakness but of  necessity. And this novel brings the conclusion that the human species isn’t too far off either from the natural kingdom.

Alex is the protagonist and throughout the book, you can tell she has no problems taking revenge out violently, if the end result takes out a child molester, a rapist, or another vile kind of person. And she understands that her decisions were hers and hers alone. And Peekay & Jack are drawn to her, not because they knew what she was capable of, but because of her strength and her ability to remain standing while everything else was crumbling.

I picked this book up for selfish reasons. I wanted to read a book where an assailant got justice, vigilante or judicial. Mostly, I wanted to see someone with a harrowed past actually be talked about like they were human, instead of some space case where what has happened to them will be all they ever be. And this book broke my heart. It made me cry more times than I care to admit, not because anything necessarily sad happened. But because I know the themes all too well. Maybe not to this degree but Mindy McGinnis has a way of writing that even the coldest of hearts will have their muscle grow a few times too large after reading this. Even the Grinch couldn’t read this without a little change in soul.

Anyway, if you have the steadfast resolve to pick this book up and finish it cover to cover, be prepared for your insides to go through the ringer. Be prepared to question so many things and be at the ready to have things distorted for you.

Maybe it’s the current political climate, maybe it’s that women make up most of the purchasing decisions, but YA novels are becoming more and more nuanced with real, honest stories. ANd though I often feel a little old to be reading, it feels really great to know that a generation is being taught through novels that sexual assault is nuanced, gray, and horribly complicated. And according to this book, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Favourite quote: I wonder what would happen if I went down there, took a ball out of the cage, and pretended to have sex with it. I think people would stop & look….but boys will be boys, our favourite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll. 

6/5

 

‘Wildly into The Dark’ by Tyler Knott Gregson

If you asked me who my favourite poets were, Tyler Knott Gregson would definitely be in the top three. This guy is absolutely magical. And i’m sure you’ve seen his work on Tumblr and on various celebrities Instagrams. His work is thought provoking and hits you straight in the feels.

He does type writer poetry and it’s a fun take on poetry. He really has revitalized the image of what people assume poetry is. And he is such a great vibe too. Super friendly, and incredibly passionate about a variety of work. I’ve written about his previous books here.

I’ve worked with Tyler in the past on a few projects for a non-profit I volunteer with and i can honestly say he’s one of the most genuine artists I’ve ever met. He devotes his time and dives right into projects he honestly cares about. And the ideas he brings to the table are often nothing short of brilliant. I don’t think I can say one negative thing about the man and I don’t even know him all that well.

You can follow him @tylerknott on various social media channels and he also has a wedding photography company as well! If you haven’t bought one of his books or somehow oblivious to his rounds  made on Tumblr, Instagram, & the like, check his stuff out. His books are found anywhere books are sold and I promise you won’t regret it. His words will move you not unlike mountains do.

Favourite line: All I could think to say was that poetry is taking an ache and making it sing 

10/5