Books of the Month: August 2020

It’s already September and I can’t even. Can you? Like where did the year even go? And will I ever stop reading and leave my house? I am officially at 39 books, so hopefully on track to hit 60 by the year’s end, though according to Goodreads, I’m one book behind schedule…

The Jetsetters was okay? I really liked that the book focused on mental health, this had me cheering all the way through, but overall the story was mediocre, nothing overly exciting. It was a nice story that made you thankful for your own crazy family. Basically a older women wins a Mediterranean cruise and she brings her three children along with her, forcing everyone to deal with their problems and family secrets. Would read on the beach.

The Nickel Boys was a really good book, it had a great story, with a twist that shocked me, and it came so perfectly full circle I wanted to cry. It’s about a black boy who ends up in a Florida reform school in the 60’s/70’s, and has to deal with the torture that happens behind closed doors. MLK quotes are sprinkled throughout, making it very poignant for today. Overall, would really recommend!

Other People’s Houses was cute, very classic Abbi Waxman. It wasn’t my favorite of hers, but I know I can always go to her for a good read. It was about a mom and the drama that occurs in her LA neighborhood when one of the other moms is caught cheating on her husband, and the aftermath that follows.

Kindred was interesting and made me think. Set in the 70’s, the story deals with a black woman who finds herself time traveling out of the blue, back to the antebellum south in the 1800’s….where she has no rights, and is considered to be a slave. I felt the plot to be a little weak, but I thought it was very poignant and like I said, it made me think.

Poet X was fantastic story. I loved that it was written in poems. The main character is a 16 year old girl who lives in Harlem and is navigating high school, her body, her faith and her mother. There were so many lines I wished I could highlight (was reading a library book, le sigh), especially the ones regarding her confusion around her religion and her standing up for herself and owning her body.

Anna K was such a fantastic YA story. It’s a retelling of Anna Karenina, which I have never been personally able to sit through reading, though it is on my list for some day. It was a modern millennial meets Gossip Girl retelling of the classic story and I tore through it. If you loved GG as much as I did, would recommend this. xoxo!

The Jetsetters by Amanda Ward

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Anna K: A Love Story  by Jenny Lee

What books did you read in August? What are your plans for September? I’m currently reading, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and I plan on reading either Mexican Gothic or A Woman is No Man (hopefully both)!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 35

August is over this week and what happened to summer? I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming three day weekend, hoping to doing something outside of my apartment, but I feel like everywhere in LA will be packed? My week was made much better by the return of the pumpkin creme cold brew at Starbucks, because ya girl is a basic bitch who loves her pumpkin. Currently planning future pumpkin baking…

16C11C10-83CD-4276-89C5-02DB5033E3EF
pumpkin creme cold brew + Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil

 

  1. I really don’t like overtly discussing politics publicly, BUT I feel there are things we should all be aware of. The RNC wrapped up this week and 45 accepted the Republican nomination with a speech that was jam packed with lies and inaccurate claims. To be fair, here is a fact check of the DNC as well, though the democrats didn’t flagrantly abuse national laws during their convention.
  2. 64 days until the election, make sure you’re registered, know your polling place, request you mail in ballot… it’s SO important and yes, your vote DOES matter.
  3. I am not a huge Marvel/DC/whatever person BUT I was shocked and sadden to hear about the death of Chadwick Boseman, especially since it came out of nowhere, as he kept the knowledge of his advanced cancer under wraps. Here is a list of his movies you can stream online.
  4. I made this One Pot Lemon, Basil, Corn and Ricotta Pasta this week and it was *chef’s kiss. The perfect summer dinner, it was basically fancy corn mac and cheese!
  5. Really random, but I loved this list of costume easter eggs from popular films and tv shows. I love film costumery and learning about how the costume designer is often helping to tell the story with the clothes the actors are wearing.
  6. Book of the Month September picks are up! I picked the book, Anxious People, but Caste and The Last Story of Mina Lee both sounded really good too. I would really recommend joining and getting a new book every month, especially if you’re a book lover like me!
  7. I love these tips from a clean make up artist on how to look good on zoom. I’ve embraced the no makeup look for the past 5 months and to be honest, I’m kind of missing doing my makeup? More of a creative thing, but I love the simple clean tips she gives here to look your best, especially since zoom meetings seem to be here to stay.

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 34

Is anyone else sweating their brains out? Just kidding, I’m not either, I’m wrapped in a sweater in the AC, but from what I hear, it’s very insufferably hot outside in LA rn, as I assume also in most of the country. If you don’t have AC, I apologize, I really don’t understand why that isn’t like an automatic thing that’s everywhere, like in Florida. Anywho, in other news, another boring week of laying around the apartment. I have been a reading fiend, as my boyfriend has been playing more video games this week in the evenings, leaving me to read in peace in the bedroom (not saying I don’t want to spend time with him at all, just saying I get through more books during these weeks). Here’s what else got me through the week…

06B35C8F-473E-4A4E-A825-1CC4375E369A
fav outfit this week
  1. The DNC took place this past week, and if you were like me and only caught some of it in real time, or watched recaps the next day, here is a guide with all the major highlights. 
  2. For those readers out there, Malala is launching a book club later this year, like can I sign up now? I also want to read the book she recommends for millenial women…. like, adding to my list ASAP.
  3. I loved this piece about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her hoop earrings. I personally didn’t know about Latina women and the custom around hoop earrings, but I’m so happy to see a Latina woman in a place of power to be a role model for girls everywhere, especially those who can see themselves in her.
  4. If you wish you could make yourself a billboard for voting when you go outside, you should get some merch to spread the word! If doing so, make sure it’s voting merch that is giving back. I personally want the VOTE canvas tote with QR code, bc how convenient? But also LOVE the ‘big ballot energy’ cashmere sweatshirt for a cool $380 (YIKES catch me crafting my own on a champion sweatshirt and donating to a cause instead).
  5. Make this No Churn Fudge Brownie Coffee Ice Cream like right meow. Again, would mail you some, but this time, I already ate it (sorry not sorry).
  6. I was hit with a case of I WANT TO TRAVEL blues this week, so just drooling looking at this list of tasty European foods that I can’t have (*cries).
  7. As I’m trying to work through my own capsule wardrobe, I loved these Grown-Lady Shopping Rules. I especially loved the notion of ‘cost per wear,’ something I definitely need to consider more when I’m shopping.

Here’s to a hopefully cooler week for everyone!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

 

Sincerely Seven: Week 33

Goodness gracious, it’s toasty in LA this weekend; I’ve coped by staying indoors in the AC and doing basically next to nothing (another weekend in the Q, what’s new). I’ve built more Sims houses (can’t stop, won’t stop) and haven’t read much of the book I’m on (it’s good, but slow). Siiiiiigh. Anyone else in a slump? Or just bored? Or have you all gone back into the world, quarantine be damned? …Is anyone there?

B11D9136-DE30-4908-87CC-76F93F7803AE_1_201_a
Nothing really happened this week other than I put this Disney eyes filter on my cat… a lot. 
  1. This week, Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris to be his running mate (was that THIS week? Seems like ages ago to be honest). I was a bit surprised since these two seemed to really go at each other during the debates, but loved this article that broke down why Biden picked Harris over others. Overall though, love this move for women AND cannot wait to hear ‘Madama Vice President.’
  2. You all know I live in an apartment in LA, so I don’t come by backyard fires and s’mores very easily these days; this deep dish s’mores bowl is SO tasty and easy and made me feel content and cozy in my fifth floor apartment.
  3. In a (non)surprising turn, many colleges are changing their minds about reopening/allowing flocks of students to return. I’ve been keeping an eye on this for awhile, but if you’re a college freshman, STOP what you’re doing, do not start at an expensive school, stay at home and go to the local community college to get your 101 classes completed this year. You will save SO much money.
  4. Chrissy Teigen is pregnant with baby No. 3 and I’m honestly so happy for her (is that weird?), especially after she tweeted how she conceived this child naturally, AND has been taking pregnancy tests every month since she was 21 hoping for a positive that would come naturally.
  5. If you haven’t noticed, a lot of fashion companies are filing for bankruptcy and closing stores. It’s so sad to see my LinkedIn feed these days, it’s mostly colleagues or friends of colleagues who are posting about having been let go from their jobs, as their companies are doing rounds of layoffs to stay afloat.  I’m worried it will only get worse as the pandemic continues and fall and winter loom in the distance.
  6. If you love cooking shows, love Selena Gomez, or just watched everything on all the services and have nothing new to watch, check out HBO’s new show, ‘Selena + Chef.‘ It’s cute and delightful, and I really want to make the ramen and the matcha cookies that Chef Candice taught Selena how to make.
  7. Finally, and MOST importantly, buy some stamps!!

Hoping for a more exciting week ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Journey to Sustainability: Zero Waste Options

As I’ve been journeying down to fashion sustainability town, I’ve been learning a lot about zero waste living as well. Basically, one lives a lifestyle that is zero waste- so think composting, not using plastic bottles/bags, etc. It’s a very cool thing and I would love to get there some day but it seems really overwhelming when you actually sit down and think about all of the waste you create on the average day. From toilet paper, tampons, and shampoo bottles, to ziploc bags, paper towels and sponges, there are literally hundreds of products in my apartment right now that will eventually sit in a landfill.

Like I said, it’s overwhelming and honestly, where does one even start? I decided to start small with some everyday things like:

Stasher bags: I ran out of Ziploc bags and decided to make the switch. I do need to buy some more as I only have three at the moment, but they’re a great way to re-use and reduce waste.

Cloth Produce Bags: I wonder how many minutes of my life I’ve wasted trying to open those god awful thin plastic produce bags they provide at the store? Regardless, I can’t stand them and was happy to find an alternative to bagging my produce. I love these so much and it’s so easy to toss in the wash every few weeks.

Toothpaste Bites: I was running out of tradition tube toothpaste and thought why not try these? These come in a glass jar and if you subscribe, Bite will send you refills in a packet so you can refill your glass jar. Most toothpaste tubes aren’t recyclable (I believe Tom’s of Maine might be one of the few), and millions get dumped in landfills every year.

I really really love these bites; however, the cost of these is higher and since there are two of us, we go through them twice as fast (all the quantities are so small?). There are some other brands I might try, but it seems like a lot to spend $15-$30 on toothpaste every month. If I lived by myself, I could definitely swing that cost every 2 months, but until this becomes more mainstream, not sure if I’ll be doing this!

Reusable Cutlery: I love this set I got from Anthro, it’s perfect to fit into my lunchbox (well when I was taking a lunch), but overall, great and condense option for traveling, and they are dishwasher safe!

Shampoo Bar: I also was running low on shampoo and discovered shampoo bars; there are dozens of kinds of bars, all with mixed reviews. Instead of spending $12 on a LUSH or Meow Meow Tweet bar, I decided to see if I would even like using a shampoo bar, and bought one from Target for $4.99. I’m still getting used to it, but this way, I can try it and then possibly shift to another brand with higher reviews.

Silicone Body Scrubber: Just to be clear, this would not align with zero waste, as it is still recycled, but I wanted to share it, because unlike loofahs, these are 100% recyclable and aren’t breeding grounds for bacteria. I also love this one I got, it does a great job and somehow sticks to the wall of my shower without falling? I love it.

As you can see, generally, my method for shifting into a more zero waste lifestyle has been using what I have and replacing with a better for the earth alternative when the need arises. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to being completely zero waste; I love my Charmin soft TP and menstrual cups kind of gross me out tbh, but I did shift into organic cotton tampons…baby steps, right?

(Also TMI? but who cares, we all know women get periods and use the toilet)

Untitled design

Would you ever consider shifting into a more sustainable lifestyle or are you already on your own journey? I would love to hear about the things you couldn’t make the switch on, or things you’re already doing (I need some tips)!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 32

Another whirlwind busy week of work and it was so nice to turn off my brain this weekend. I do feel like I’m the only one still quarantining? There were so many weddings, bachelorette parties and vacations  all over my social media feeds this weekend? And no one was wearing masks in any photos? Not even in the background? Are we just done? Cool….I’m still in my apartment, making my way through Netflix and the ever growing pile of books to be read. I’ve also picked back up on the Sims, designed my dream home. But yeah, lots happening over here.

1F334C54-7CBA-4AA4-AFAE-01C80EE92AF9
I cried when I ate this last piece, feat. Aurora
  1. I know I know, I should find another food blog other than Half Baked Harvest, but her recipes are SO easy and SO incredibly yummy. This week I made her Simple Blueberry Basque Cheesecake (look at that beauty above), and I’m googling how I can safely mail cheesecake to all of you . No results yet, but I’m trying. In the meantime, and I’m saying this because I care about you, make this cheesecake!!
  2. I love this love letter to fancy shoes, it describes my feelings exactly; I have several pairs of shoes I probably would have needed to replace by now because I used to wear them so much, and now? Well now, they’re dusty in the closet and haven’t seen the sun in months. I miss you mules, I miss you wedges, I miss you ankle booties.
  3. My kickass woman of the week is Betty Reid Soskin, a 98 year old PARK RANGER in CA (she started when she was 85, what EVEN). She’s also been an activist and singer, but I really loved her perspective of looking back on her life, especially hearing of her time working with the civil rights movement.
  4. Not sure if there are any Selling Sunset fans here (🙋🏼‍♀️) but I’ve been dying to know what happened with Chrisnell and Justin Hartley of This Is Us; the newest season of SS dropped on Friday and we finally learn some more of the heartbreaking story of what happened. Here’s an article summary in case you don’t watch SS (but come on, you should, at least for creeping in on million dollar LA homes).
  5. Not to cheat and do 2 recipes, BUT I just didn’t feel like cooking dinner this week and made this AMAZING deli salad from Chrissy Teigen. Like, so simple, easy, and delicious, we devoured it! I feel like it’s a perfect summer meal, plus you’ve seen all my baking, I could use some salads in my life.
  6. This week on Armchair Expert, Leslie Odom Jr. stopped by to chat about Hamilton, BLM and cancel culture. Definitely worth a listen; I especially found it SO interesting that he almost walked away from the Hamilton film because he was asking to be paid the same for the film as equivalent white Broadway stars in other shows. Like SO commendable and I hope more BIPOC stars start taking more of a stand for themselves and for the industry.
  7. If you are like me and still quarantining at home, it’s SHARK WEEK! I literally didn’t even know they still did this. But since no one has cable anymore and we should all be stuck inside, here’s how you can stream it online!

I hope your week is beautiful ahead; I know mine will be, my folklore album should be coming in the mail this week…

Sincerely,
Sara Ann