Friday, August 29, 2014

Five Habits I Want to Kick!

1. Drinking too much coffee. I've been relying on coffee like crazy the past few weeks. Due to a lack of sleep, no exercise routine and just overall unhealthiness, I've found myself needing coffee multiple times a day just to get through it. It's not only wacking up my sleep schedule even more than it already is, but it's giving me headaches! Is this what caffeine withdrawal is like?! I'll admit, I'm known for my love of Dunkin Donuts and their iced coffees. I've had phases where I'd get two a day. But I've never really felt like I relied on it. Now I'm actually starting to feel what a caffeine addiction is really like and boy does it suck. I'm going to start to slowly ween myself off coffee. Hopefully I can stick to at least just drinking one cup a day for now.

2. Crazy eating schedule. I find myself never hungry for breakfast, rarely eating a meal throughout the day, and then come night fall I'm eating too much. Part of the issue is not being able to sleep on a normal schedule and staying up late. It's awful for my eating schedule because I start getting hungry again after dinner and find myself needing a "2nd dinner." I've always been a strong advocate for never skipping breakfast, but lately I just don't have an appetite at that time! Not sure how I'll adjust this bad habit... but I think once I sort out some other bad habits this one will sort itself out.

3. Not exercising. It's not that I'm not active, but I've certainly fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to proper exercise. I used to run frequently. I was really into yoga for awhile. For the past few months I haven't been doing any of that. Which sucks, because I found it very beneficial. Now, whenever I think about going for a run or doing some yoga moves, I cringe. I want to get back into a good fitness routine. It's going to take a lot of effort and determination on my part, though. 

4. Eating out too often. Not only is this bad health-wise, but it's also bad for my wallet. I don't have as much time as I'd like to be making my own healthy dinners, and sometimes I just want to go out to eat with my friends and catch up. But I definitely need to cut back a bit. My goal is to keep it to once or twice a week of going out to eat with friends. I'm also going to eliminate any sort of take-out from my diet. 

5. Messiness and disorganization. When I want to be organized I'm borderline crazy about it. But when I want to be lazy... I go all out. Not just that, but I've let my already small room accumulate so much crap (mostly clothes upon clothes) that I just need to reorganize and also clear out some of it. Having a clean and organized room will definitely help me feel more at ease and clear my mind a bit as well. This, like most things, is a work in progress. I'm slowly (but trying to make it a faster process) cleaning up my room and reorganizing things. I'd also like to start being more organized about my blog. If you're a blogger you know how hard that can be. It's not just a matter of scheduling posts in advance, but also dealing with all things social media related, etc, etc. 

I've been working on kicking these bad habits to the curb for a few days now, so hopefully I will see some good results soon! As you can tell, a lot of my bad habits have to do with my health. It's super, super important to take care of yourself if you want to lead any type of happy lifestyle. I've been treating myself badly lately. Getting back on a healthy path is my number one priority right now.

What habit do you want to kick? What are you doing to change?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2013)

At first, I wasn't going to give this book a shot. I had heard a lot of rave reviews for it, but since it was classified as a "young adult fiction" novel, I stayed away. I'm not trying to enter the world of Twilight or anything like that (again...) Then, one day when I was at the library checking out books for the kiddos, I spotted this on display right in the teen books section and I just went for it. I figured there must be something so great about this kind of book if even adults (or you know, people my age) were giving it such good reviews. I put off reading it for awhile because I got stuck on some Netflix binge-watching, sleeping in all vacation long, etc. Once I started reading it though, it took me about 2 or 3 days to finish it. That is ALWAYS a good sign for a book when it comes to me. 

Reading this book had me smiling practically the entire time. I don't want to give anything away, so all I'll say is that it's essentially a love story. A story about your first love and all the craziness and wonderfulness of it. It's a sweet story, but it also has a bit of a dark side to it. The only thing I didn't like about this book was that I felt the ending was rushed. All the way up until the very last few chapters, the book had a great pace that kept me intrigued and wanting to keep reading. The end, however, came so fast and the story timeline was super sped up. I liked the ending overall, but I wish there had been more of a build up. 

I definitely recommend this book, especially since it's a quick read. Even if you're not a fan of young adult fiction or "love stories" I still think you should give it a try! I'm glad I did :)

Have you read Eleanor & Park? What did you think of it?

Check out all of my book reviews here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Songs I'm Loving Lately #3

Tove Lo

Not only do I have a crush on her, but I'm currently loving this song super hard. It's one of my favorites right now. I also love the video for this song and the cinematography of it all. It's one of those songs that most people can probably relate to if they've ever been through a hard break-up. 

"Shake It Off"
Taylor Swift

Okay, usually I'm not a Taylor fan. But, every once in awhile she'll come out with a catchy song that I can't help but love and sing along with. I like that she's addressing the haters in this new song. It's definitely one of those types of songs that I'll be adding to my running playlist and it will get me going! Also, it's good advice. Just shake it off.

"Nothin' But Trouble"
Lily Lane

Yes, I discovered this through Pretty Little Liars (they have a lot of good music, actually). No shame. Lily Lane has a beautiful voice, somewhat similar to Norah Jones. Another break-up song people can relate to. I'm sensing a pattern...

"Hospital Beds"
Cold War Kids

This one's actually an old find of mine that I recently rediscovered. I just love everything about this song. The beat, the instruments, the singing, the lyrics, etc. 

Florida Georgia Line

I couldn't help but include a country song to the list. I listen to the country radio station a lot (usually to get a break from the repetitive top 40 hits) and this is one of the songs that I turn the volume up for when it comes on. 

Check out the first two installments of "Songs I'm Loving Lately" here & here.

What song do you currently have on repeat?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Inspiration Monday: Take a step back and reflect

This is the last Monday before Labor Day, which in my eyes at least, basically means summer is coming to an end. Fall is right around the corner, which excites me because it is one of my favorite seasons, but that means summer is over and that's always a sad thing. Every summer holds so many possibilities and adventures. If you're anything like me, you start off your summer extremely excited for what this one holds for you... what awaits you. What might change and what might not. Sometimes you start off with a huge list of expectations, only to find yourself at the end of the summer totally bummed out. But then there are some summers that are so great that they will live in your memory forever and ever. What kind of summer did you have this year?

Since we're reaching the end of something and the beginning of something new, it's a good time to take a step back and reflect. Truthfully, this is something you should do often, not just when one season ends and another begins. Sometimes we just need to take a step back from all the chaos, especially the chaos that goes on in your mind, and truly reflect on your life. Everything that's happened thus far, what has changed for you and what has not, where you'd like to be, etc.

As only natural for me, I've been doing a lot of reflecting the past few days, since my summer is coming to an end. It did not in the least bit go the way I thought it would when it had first started, but that's okay. I've come to accept the way things have played out for me. I learned a lot about myself this summer (or rather, realized that I had already known all along). Looking back at where I was a year ago—a totally lost post-grad freaking out about what to do with my life and my career—I think I've come a long way. Although I think we will always feel a little bit "lost" so to say, I certainly don't feel as lost, confused and scared anymore.

I now have a clear idea of what I want my career path to be, it's just a matter of working really hard to get an opportunity. And time. Time is always a bitch. But, that's how it goes. In other parts of my life, I'm feeling more level headed as well. I haven't felt "myself" in a very, very long time, but I am starting to finally feel more like the "real Val." I'm sure there will be setbacks and more ups and downs, but I'm ready for them. Maybe the events of this summer, this entire year, were necessary in order for me to do a complete roundabout and realize these things. Who knows.

So for this Inspiration Monday, I'd like you to take a step back and reflect. You can reflect on your summer, or your past year, or your entire life! Clear your mind and really think about things. Take your time to analyze. Look at everything with a new perspective. Sometimes, that's all we really need.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Introducing: C&V Adventures!

This has been a project of mine that is loooong overdue. I've been on "staycation" this week and my plan was to finally get all caught up with this new addition to In-Between Life early on in the week, but as usual something got in the way. Not going to lie, I've spent the majority of my vacation week sleeping in and Netflix binging (I'm almost caught up with Pretty Little Liars, guys! No shame...) I currently have two basket loads of laundry sitting in my room, patiently waiting to get put away. I can't believe my vacation week is almost over. Time flies when you don't want it to. Anyway, on to the big announcement!

Although we're still in the very early stages of this new addition/project, I'm really excited to finally be sharing it on my blog. "C&V Adventures" is basically going to be a new take on fashion blogging. You'll get your serious fashion poses (mostly from Cynthia, my perfect model) but you'll also get the goofy side of photo shoots that are inevitable when you're hanging out with me. So think of this new addition to In-Between Life as fashion meets goofy? You'll love it, I promise. 

Although "C&V Adventures" is mostly focusing on the whole fashion aspect of blogging for now (which if you've noticed, I don't really do) it'll probably also incorporate our adventures. Cynthia's been on my blog before (when we went to Washington Square Park together and our Brooklyn wandering) so you'll probably be seeing more of our "adventures" as well. I'm lucky to have Cynthia as my photography muse :) I've always been interested in fashion blogs, but have never really had the passion to turn my complete focus on fashion blogging (plus, that's not really what In-Between Life is all about!) I definitely want to start adding more fashion posts to the blog, though. It's fun! So without further ado, here are some takes from our first "fashion shoot" which more or less was just a bunch of pictures of us goofing off.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Life Lessons: Never put your eggs all in one basket

It's a saying we've all heard before, but how many of you actually go by this rule? I know I have the tendency to put all my eggs in one basket... only to have said basket break/fray away/explode and there go all my eggs. The funny thing about this expression is that in can apply to so many areas in your life.

By definition "never put your eggs all in one basketis a proverb that "warns against pinning all your hopes on one course of action." When you hear this it's usually being applied to some kind of investment or anything pertaining to money. But it's a valuable lesson for all parts of your life and the sooner learned, the better.
The first time I received this type of advice was when I was 13 years old. It came from my cousins who are older than me, around 16 and 17 at the time. They didn't say those exact words, but the same lesson applied. I was falling head over heels for a guy (for the first time really, so I was super naive) and they probably saw how silly I was being, especially since they were older and had more experience in the dating world. The advice came after I told them that no, I wasn't interested in that "super cute" boy at the water park because I was already "involved" with someone else (which I only later found out that no, we were not "exclusive"). They told me I should never just have one boy around and that it's okay to "play the field" so to speak. Of course, this was said in a joking manner, but it held a lot of truth to it. They were right. Oh my goodness, how right they were. It's a lesson that I'm still learning as I go through life. Unfortunately, I'm an old fashioned soul, who likes to stick to just one person. Someone who basically likes to put "all my eggs into one basket" when it comes to dating. It's simply because when I know I like someone enough, that's that. I naively expect the same in return. But life doesn't always work that way. That's a whole other story though (which I go into further detail in my online dating post). 

Okay, so now you get the point that this saying can certainly apply to the dating world. But the real reason I thought of writing this post was because I related to the saying in terms of work and jobs. As a post-grad, you'll probably be applying to jobs left and right. Maybe you just graduated and are looking for that dream job, maybe you're already working and in search of another job, maybe you graduated a long ass time ago and still searching for a job, period. You start applying to jobs and sometimes you get lucky and hear back from places right away. Other times (cough cough) you apply for weeks.. months... and still hear nothing. It's discouraging and frustrating. So, of course, when you hear back from one job and it could potentially be your dream job, you're practically about to burst with excitement. Good for you, because you should be excited! But, wait.

I'm in a similar position right now, and for a short while I started "putting my eggs all in one basket" once again. I day dreamed about my possible future with this company, what the future had in store for me, what it would be like, blah blah blah. Of course having that "can do" attitude doesn't hurt and it's good for you to really believe that you're going to get the job, but I know from experience that you shouldn't expect anything. So even if you get the interview, even if you move along to the next step of the process, even if it all seems so promising and exciting, don't stop applying to jobs. Keep applying. Keep working for your future. Just in case one basket falls apart, you still have other ones being filled in.

Don't do this.

Have you ever put your eggs all in one basket, only to have it go terribly wrong?
What do you think of this saying/lesson? Do you agree or disagree?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mental illness is as real as any other disease.

I'm sure by know you have all heard of Robin Williams tragic passing. I think one of the reasons it was received as such a shock was because no one ever pictured someone so goofy and full of laughter to be battling with such an ugly and invisible disease. Events such as these make you wonder if you truly know someone and what they are going through just by what they personify. I know this story all too well. 

I don't think it's easy for us to picture depression, or any other type of mental illness, as just that- an illness. It's not always something you can actually see in a person. Someone could be all smiles and laughs, act completely normal, but on the inside they are dying. That's what depression does. It slowly kills you without the slightest bit of evidence to show for. Of course there are people who battle these types of issues and it is clear they are going through a tough time. But we have to remember that not everyone is like that. Some are just better at hiding this type of pain, this daily battle.

Whenever these events happen and the media is all over it, everyone sympathizes and reach out to their friends and family, reminding them how much they love and appreciate them - and if there's anything they ever need they are there for them. We even reach out to strangers and remind them to "call this suicide hotline" if you're ever in trouble. This goes on for a few days, maybe a few weeks, and then all is forgotten again. That's just the natural course of things. We are only human after all, and we must move on with our lives.

But the people who battle depression, anxiety, OCD, anorexia, bipolar disorder, drug addictions, the list goes on- they can't move on with their lives. Not always. For many it will be a life long battle with many ups and downs. If you've never experienced anything such as this, you have no idea how strong these individuals are for simply facing each day again and again. They are fighters. Silent ones. But fighters nonetheless. Sadly, not everyone will win the fight.

That's why I think it's so important to take mental illness seriously. Not see it as a weakness, or a change of someone's character. You wouldn't say that about someone who got diagnosed with cancer, would you? They may be different types of diseases, but they still affect us in awful ways. Please, if you know someone whose ever dealt with these types of problems, reach out to them. Not just when things like this happen, but as often as you can. Sometimes people are too proud to seek the help they need. Or they simply have given up.

Most importantly, remember that everyone is facing a battle of their own (whether mental illness or not) and we need to support one another the best we can. Not just today, but every single day. Not just when something bad happens, but all the time, any chance you get. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

August Blogger PJ Party: Back to School & Organization!

I'm really excited to announce that this month I'll be hosting the August Blogger PJ Party! Typically Pam from Hodge Podge Moments takes the lead (she's the one who came up with the idea 5 months ago!) but she's super busy moving this month so she asked a few of us fellow bloggers to help her out. This month marks the 5th party held so far and a lot of new additions are being made. If you've never attended one before, no worries because all bloggers are welcome!

Blogger PJ parties are essentially just a gathering of bloggers on the internet through some social media platform (this month it will take place on Facebook). You can attend from anywhere across the globe and are encouraged to wear your PJs and get as comfy as possible while you sit in front of your computer for a couple hours and chat with other bloggers! Hosts ask questions to get discussions going but all participants are encouraged to come up with their own questions or discussions. Questions tend to vary and discussions are not restricted to just blogger-related topics. It's not only a great way to get blogging tips, but also meet other bloggers and make friends!

What you can expect from this month's party:
• All participants will receive a link to a google doc containing all tips and information discussed during the party, in a concise and organized manner so you can refer back to it when necessary! 
• The theme is "back to school" so organization will be one of the topics discussed, but we will also go over things such as the importance of social media for your blog, aesthetics of your blog, sharing Pinterest boards, networking, etc. 
• Hosts will be giving away ad spots on their blogs throughout the party. The links to the rafflecopter for these will be shared sporadically throughout the event. 
• There will be a link up set up so whoever attends and participates can provide a link to their blog so afterwards everyone can take a look at people's blogs.

To attend this month's party, simply follow along on Facebook

Inspiration Monday: Hustle, Hustle, Hustle

These past couple of weeks I've found myself busier than I have been the entire summer accumulated.  I have new projects left and right and so many new things going on in regards to my blog (which you will see/get more info on very soon!) Basically, I've been hustling. Not just with my blog, but in other areas of my life as well. I'm determined to see my dreams come true. I'm determined to land that dream job, or at least start the path towards it. I always kind of knew that just sitting around waiting for things to happen wasn't a good way of succeeding, but it's not until recently that I finally got the determination to actually pursue my dreams and ambitions. Nothing worthwhile is easy, so you need to put in the hard work to see the pay-off. 

We've had this idea drilled into our heads since kids, though, right? At least I have. I've always been told that hard work pays off, that you need to put yourself out there in order to succeed, etc. However, it's much easier said than done. Even though I'm a lot busier these days and working hard towards a lot of new things, I know I could be doing even more. But I'm trying to take it one step at a time. It's also very easy (at least for me) to get overwhelmed with new projects and ideas. In the past I've had moments like these and put so much of my energy and time into it that I quickly burn out, leaving my brain fried and exhausted for a long time. This time, I'm trying to take things as they come and not go crazy on the hard work. It's so tempting, though! When you're this passionate about what you want to be doing and determined to see yourself succeed as soon as possible, it's hard to stop working and turn your brain off for awhile just to let yourself be. Could be one of the reasons I've had trouble sleeping the past couple of weeks! Oops.

So for this week's inspiration Monday, I'd like to remind you all that in order to see your dreams come true you have to hustle, hustle, hustle! Put in the work necessary. Make it happen. Get in that mindset. But at the same time, don't forget to take a step back every once in awhile. It's okay to give yourself a break. If you don't, you might overwork yourself and then what good will that do you? Also, remember that just because you don't see instant results, in whatever it may be that you're pursuing, doesn't mean you won't get there. Some things take a lot of time. The important part is that you don't give up. Set backs are inevitable. What counts is that you bounce back from them. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Lipstick Review: Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Suede

Lately, I've been wanting to get more in touch with my feminine side. Since I work as a nanny, I typically don't "dress up" for work. Also, since it's summer I tend to dress more casual and don't wear make-up (because let's be real, it would melt off my face by the end of the day). I'm usually not big on make-up, especially lipstick. I rarely wear lipstick. But for whatever reason, I want to start feeling more like a "lady" thus I went ahead and bought myself two new lipsticks on my last Target trip. I liked them so much that I now want to share my review with you guys.

First off, don't get me wrong here. I do own lipstick. Quite a few actually. I own a significant amount of make-up for a girl who doesn't really wear any! I may not be a make-up "expert" but I've tried enough brands, colors, etc. to know what's good and what's not. So with that being said, this isn't some kind of newbie review ;)

The Lipstick: Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Suede
in "Finale" and "Muse" Shades

I picked out these two colors because they're some of the shades that I'm missing from my current collection. I usually stick to more neutral or subtle colors, but I really wanted to find some colors that "popped." I chose this brand simply because it advertised the fact that it "stays" on longer than your average lipstick. That's always an issue with me! I don't know what on earth I'm doing with my lips but when I wear lipstick it pretty much comes off within the hour.



Reasons I love this lipstick:

  • Although I bought two vibrant shades, the color is subtle enough for my liking. The more you apply, the darker it gets. I like that I can choose how bright my lipstick is. Although that does mean you usually have to apply a couple times over to get it all evened out.
  • It feels "soft" on your lips. Sometimes lipsticks just feel weird on my lips. That's one of the reasons I usually stay away. But with this brand, I could barely tell I'm even wearing lipstick. I guess that's the "ultimate suede" part of it.
  • I didn't break the bank purchasing these. I'm not a fan on spending big bucks on make-up (although I have... many times). These were less than $9 each and can be found at pretty much any drugstore. 

Hope you enjoyed my first lipstick review! (am I doing this right?) :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hump Day Funnies Pt. 3

It's hump day. Half way through the week. You may be feeling slumped, bored, tired, etc. Here are some funny finds from the almighty internet to get you through hump day ;)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Book Review: The Adults

The Adults by Alison Espach (2011)

It's time for another book review! I'm glad I've been able to read more lately, since I missed it a lot. One of the reasons I missed it? Finding hidden gems such as this. It's rare for me to give a book 5 out of 5 stars on, so you know when I do I mean serious business. This book was compared to The Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower in one of the reviews I read of it. In a way, it is very similar to those two stories. The best part, though, is that this time it's told through a girl's prospective. The Adults is basically a coming of age story that follows the main character, Emily, through her young teenage life all the way to her upper twenties. The story is set during the 90s/early 2000s and mostly takes place in her rich suburban town in Connecticut. Very frequently, the story gives off a cynical vibe, but in a very relatable way (not in a way that will make you hate the character and her negativity, such as I felt when reading She's Come Undone.) I think this is one of those books that you'll either love because you find yourself relating to the character(s) and storyline so much, or you'll hate it because you can't relate to it at all. Of course, the only way to really find out is by reading it.

Coming of age stories are always some of my favorites and this is a unique one. At times, Alison Espach's prose is so captivating and beautifully written. Emily, the main character, is one of those characters that observes everything about her surroundings and the people she encounters. She sees everything that other people don't (or refuse to accept) and in a way she really is a "wallflower." The beginning of the book focuses on young Emily trying to figure out the adults in her life and their problems, not fully understanding any of what goes on around her. She isn't even really able to relate to people her own age and is constantly finding flaws in their behavior. She fits in only because she pretends to be one of them, but truthfully I don't think she really is. As Emily ages, the reader sees her go through a transformation that in my opinion was rather sad, because she starts to become more cynical and thinking in the same way "the adults" would. The funny part about this, though, is that most of us turn out this way. As children and teenagers we have a different view of the world, and don't always understand our parents, but as we grow older we start to feel the same way they do. We essentially become "the adults."

Despite all this, the book itself isn't a sad book. I think it is a realistic book with a realistic ending. I did have a problem with the main relationship focused on in the book because it is never really fully explained, but I think that's partially due to the fact that the character herself never fully understood the relationship either. Regardless, I definitely recommend this book if you're into coming of age stories or if you've read the other similar books and enjoyed those (even if you didn't enjoy those books, I'd still give this a shot because it's different enough that you might like it.)

Monday, August 4, 2014

5 Fun Facts About Me!

1. I have a dream jar. In this jar, I put in my "dreams." I write them down on colored post-its and fold them up, then toss them into the jar. I'm not sure why I do this. I actually only recently started doing this when I found this cute jar at a thrift sale. At first it was just used for decorative purposes for my room, but one day I just got the idea that I should actually start writing down my dreams and just tossing them in there. Maybe one day in the future I'll take them out and see if any of them have come true. Maybe this is my way of trying to validate them, of making them seem more real and more attainable. Pretty much, this just proves I will always have an inner child and hold on to these silly notions. I like to dream and I like to believe, despite whatever setbacks are thrown my way.

2. I read tarot cards. Okay, I'm not a "professional" and I wouldn't say I'm any good at it either. It's more of just a "for fun" thing I do. However, this is a hobby of mine that I started when I was about 14 (I think, it might have even started earlier...) So I do have a good amount of knowledge under my belt. Sometimes I just do it for therapeutic purposes. I've always had the annoying trait of needing to know what my future holds...but I've gotten better with time. Still a work in progress! Also, this way I don't have to go to a psychic and pay $50 to get my fortune told (ha ha ha - joke.)

3. I remember everyone's birthday. Okay, maybe not everyone, but at least 90%. Chances are if you've told me your birthday just once, even if we're not friends or don't talk often, I will always remember your birth date. I have this thing with dates. Might be one of the reasons why I became a history major. I have a really good memory when it comes to things like this. I also remember the exact dates of certain events in my life that normally other people wouldn't remember.

4. I always sleep with six pillows. Any less and I'm uncomfortable. If I'm traveling or visiting someone, I need to have a minimum of three pillows for me to be able to sleep. Two for my head and one for in-between my legs. At home, I have a queen sized bed so the other three pillows are usually on the spot next to me or thrown about wherever. When I wake up in the morning I'm always in the middle of the bed and surrounded by pillows. Oh, and cats.

5. I'm saving my high school journal for my future daughter. Let's hope I have one! I started writing in a journal on a frequent basis my sophomore year of high school as a coping mechanism and kept up the habit for a couple years. It ended up being completely filled up (which pretty much never happens to me) and half way through it I had decided I would save it to some day give to my daughter when she was old enough. I have another one I wrote throughout college, too. That one never got filled up, but I'm saving it as well!

Lastly, here's a picture of my spoiled brat, Leyla

What's a fun fact about yourself that might be similar to one of mine?