Currently: The January Edition

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Hey guys! I can’t believe I am actually in front of the computer typing and not holding a baby! My hubby is on baby duty and helping out while I get a quick post in to let you guys know that I am still here. Tired, but still here  🙂

We have definitely adjusted to our new dynamic in being a household of four instead of three. Well, five instead of four if you count the cat, but still, we have found our groove. But mama is exhausted. Life with a newborn is not for the faint-hearted, but obviously it is well-worth it and I am oh so thankful for both of my beautiful daughters!

What I Enjoyed This Past Month: Actually, I am still enjoying it: The series Victoria on Masterpiece about Queen Victoria when she first became queen. The second season just started and I am absolutely in love with the show just like I was last year when the first season debuted. If you aren’t watching it, you need to!

What I Am Absolutely Over: Twitter. Yes, I have a twitter account and yes I use it. But it seems like every day, it is just crap that is on there or crap that is trending. There are days when I consider deleting the app off of my phone, but then panic at the thought of not being “informed”. Does anyone else go through this? I seriously admire the people who have either sworn off twitter, or only check it when they actually sit down and log into their computer.

And this isn’t a complaint against the actual medium of twitter as a tool for social media. I enjoy the initial concept of twitter. And honestly, how else would I have found out that my favorite show Elementary, comes back on air with new episodes in April?  🙂 But some days, twitter leaves me exhausted with the sheer stupidity that seems to seep forth from it.

I just want twitter to be a happy place. Is that so wrong?

On The Healthy Living Front: I have indeed lost some of my pregnancy weight. But here is the truth: I am not actively trying to lose weight. I am only a few weeks postpartum for crying out loud. However, I am also not immune to the enormous pressure that is put on moms to lose the baby weight immediately. It took a couple of months to lose the weight after having my first daughter and I expect it take the same amount of time or a bit longer this time around.

I walk a lot and am eating as healthfully as possible but if I want a few potato chips with my lunch time sandwich instead of my normal side of carrots, I am not beating myself up over it. I accumulated this weight over 9 months; it is not going to disappear in a matter of weeks.

What I Am Currently Reading: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. GUYS!!! I LOVE THIS BOOK! And I am not even done with it yet!

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I think for many people, this book may have been required reading at some point during your education, but I have never had a chance to read this novel. But I have always, always wanted to read it.

Well last week when I was at the library paying my overdue fines (#frugalfail), I wandered over to a section I rarely visit and saw this book on the shelf. I grabbed it and said to myself, it’s now or never, I am reading the gosh-darn thing, and checked the book out.

I get why this book is beloved and considered a classic. If you are a bookworm like myself and have never read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, please go to your local library and check this book out. You’re welcome  🙂

Also as a sidenote, I post pictures on Instagram of all the books that I have read. If you are looking for a book to get your hands on and are fresh out of book titles to peruse, check out my feed or better still, look up what I am reading under the hashtag #mackenziereads.

How is January going for you guys? Let me know!

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A Magical Rose Garden

I mentioned last month that I read the book Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary. Her book was about the concept of slow living and really being intentional with your time and your days.

Well, in between some of the chapters she had quotes from famous people that were apropos to what she was discussing. This quote from Dale Carnegie, the best-selling author of the book How To Win Friends and Influence People, really resonated with me:

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Powerful quote, right?

I feel as if us humans, especially in this day and age, are always looking for something better. Something more than what we have. A better iPhone, when the one we have is in perfect working order. A bigger house when the square footage we have fits us just fine. A tropical vacation just like the one our friends took on Instagram except bigger and better! And more tropical-ly.

But what about what we have right now? Is it enough? If it isn’t enough, why not?

It reminds me of another quote and I am not sure who originated it, but it goes something like “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side”, which is usually followed up with some adage about “watering your own lawn”. As in, pay attention to what you have, and not what you don’t.

Sure there are things in life we’d like to attain or achieve, that is only natural. But the lamenting about what we do not have or not appreciating what is right in front of us, that can be your proverbial magic garden.

Putting off today for something magically happening in the future, that too, can be your proverbial magic garden.

I know life is not all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. Life ain’t easy and at times, it can be downright frustrating.

But don’t put off living your life. Don’t wait for someday.

Make someday, today.

We only get one life. We only get one chance to live the life that we truly want.

Don’t put off living. Enjoy those roses blooming outside your window.

There is no magical rose garden over the horizon…

Currently: The Farmer’s Market Edition

We are approaching the end of October and here in California, Mother Nature hasn’t received the memo that the seasons have changed and that it is no longer Summer. Today marked our 3rd straight day of triple digit temperatures. Good grief, right? Everybody else is running through leaves and wearing scarves already, and we are over here drinking gallons of water, lathering ourselves in SPF 700 sunscreen, and blessing whomever created the air conditioner. The weather-people who smile on our television sets, standing in front of green screens with our cities listed on them, have promised us that the heat will dissipate, so we’ll see…  🙂

What I Enjoyed This Past Month: Our trip to the local farmer’s market!

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We picked up some great stuff, including the best pumpkin seeds I’ve ever had! Apple Pie-Spiced Pumpkin seeds are my new favorite thing, and these did not last long in our house!  And the strawberries were so good! I used some of them to make Strawberry Muffins, and let me tell you, those were yummy as well!

One of my big 3rd trimester cravings (besides barbecue potato chips  🙂 ) is strawberries. I seriously cannot get enough of them! So these strawberries were definitely put to good use!

What I Am Absolutely Over: Bad news in general. Every day is bloody awful. Is there like, a “happy news” channel we all can subscribe to? I think our brains are overloaded by the sheer madness of everything…

On The Healthy Living/Pregnancy Front: As I mentioned above, my serious cravings have been for strawberries and barbecue potato chips, although not eaten together because, ewwwww… I am officially 8 months pregnant and when I look straight down, I can no longer see my feet, so there’s that  🙂 We just purchased the car seat for the baby last week so things are starting to come together!

On The Minimalism/Decluttering Front: Definitely, definitely working on this! If you missed my latest post on decluttering, you can read it here.

In Other News: I recently finished this book about Eleanor Roosevelt.

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I originally purchased this book last year at our local library’s book sale for 25 cents. Yes, you read that right: 25 cents. Then as you know, life happens and then the whole “I keep meaning to read this book” thing kept happening, and finally I hunkered down and read it. It took almost three weeks to finish because I don’t have a lot of free time to read and also the book was over 600 pages, which is probably what inhibited me from starting it in the first place.

But this book, which chronicles Eleanor’s life in the White House while her husband Franklin was president for the years 1932-1938, was really, really informative and honestly, really good. I am a great admirer of Eleanor’s and I have previously read her autobiography. She did so much as First Lady and really tried to help the people she felt were being forgotten during the Great Depression. She also tried to help pass an Anti-Lynching bill during a time when that senseless act of murder was still a component to instill fear in the Deep South.

This book was a great read and I definitely want to read this author’s other books on Eleanor Roosevelt that take place before and after this particular time period.

How has October been for you guys?  🙂

Destination Simple: A Book Review

I have really been into books lately, that have to do with simple and intentional living. I want to have fewer items in my house, less items on my to-do list, and want to stop feeling like I am cramming things into my day.

Enter Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals For a Slower Life by Brooke McAlary.

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I first heard of this book being mentioned in the blogging circles and it being a simple but short and compelling read. Brooke McAlary is also the creator of the Slow Your Home podcast. Although I’ve never listened to any episodes of her podcast, I decided to give her book a try.

Destination Simple is broken into three parts with just a few chapters in each section. It is a very smooth read (seriously, it is only 116 pages!), so it is easy enough to read through while drinking your morning coffee or your afternoon tea  🙂

The author, in the introduction, mentions that she used to live life to the point that she was an “overwhelmed, overcommunicated wreck”. She felt like she had no downtime, and felt that she wasn’t present to the people who most mattered to her, like her husband and children. She realized that she needed to make changes to her life and this book is a compilation of things that worked for her.

While I personally don’t feel like a stressed out wreck, and I am absolutely present for my husband and my daughter, I liked her forthcoming pages about how to just slow down. Brooke talks about how we need to single-task and not multi-task, the way our society says we should.

“Single-tasking is the antidote to modern life, where we are taught that to be effective, productive, and worthwhile, we must multi-task”. -Brooke McAlary

By doing one task at a time, we can practice mindfulness and stay in the present moment. Brooke asks readers to do just one thing at first, something that you do every day, and try to do just that one task, without also doing something else at the same time. It will give you a chance to clear your mental clutter, even if it is just for a few minutes.

My favorite chapter in the book was Chapter 3, entitled “Emptying Your Mind”.

“Our minds are cluttered. We are overwhelmed with to-do items, commitments, errands, and must-remembers…Do you ever get to bed, begin to relax, only to magically remember everything you were supposed to get done that day?” -Brooke McAlary

*slowly raises hand*

I bet there are quite a few of us in that boat. Our brains have a hard time shutting off once our head hits the pillow. We are tired but we can’t sleep because our hamster wheel of a brain is going and going!

Sound familiar?

Brooke’s solution is the art of “brain dumping”. It is basically an exercise where you take 5-10 minutes and simply journal and write down, or “dump” the contents of your brain onto paper. Write down those frustrations, those to-do’s that didn’t get done, problems that are bothering you, anything that is occupying space in that beautiful brain of yours. Get it out onto paper and out of your mind. This will help you to think more clearly, process what has been committed to paper and help you now to be in the present, without being bombarded with all those shoulda, coulda, wouldas! Some people prefer doing their “brain dumps” in the evening before bed, others prefer to start their day off in the morning and journal right away. Do what works best for you!

Destination Simple is chock full of tidbits to help you slow down and add some simple living techniques to your life.

I definitely recommend this book if you want to be intentional with your time and carve out space to really and truly be fully present!

 

 

 

Currently…The End of Summer Edition

Hellooooooo September!  🙂

I can’t believe we have reached this point in the calendar year, yet here we are! Although, the temperatures here in Southern California were undeniably hot and yucky. Yes, yucky. We had a crazy heat wave here every day with absurd temperatures. Lots of 100°days and grouchy people everywhere. See, our summers here are pretty normal but around this time of year, Mother Nature doesn’t get the memo that the thermostat is supposed to go in the other direction. Ahhhhhhh life…

Oh well, it has cooled off from the insanity of last week, but the month is still young and I am guessing we will be back to praising whomever created air conditioning once again  🙂

What I Enjoyed This Past Month: The book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner.

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I loved this book and I get why everyone raves about it  I had to wait a few weeks until my request came in at the library but it was worth it. Definitely a must-read!

What I Am Absolutely Over: Every single day, there being a news story concerning the person occupying the White House. Not going to get political here but I am exhausted by the sheer madness of what continues to headline our news stories. *sigh*

On The Healthy Living/Pregnancy Front: Trying to eat as healthfully as possible and to drink enough water and stay hydrated. Pregnancy is one of those things where something sounds good one day, and then the next day, you’re like “bleh!”  🙂 Cherry frozen yogurt has been my newest craving, and in this warm weather, it hits the spot!

Also, a friend gifted us some baby clothing that they were no longer using as their daughter is now in the toddler stage. This gift was truly a blessing!

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We are literally starting over with this baby and all the accoutrements that they need and require as my daughter is 7 years old and any baby stuff she had has long since found another home.

And yes, I am having a girl!!!

On The Minimalism/Decluttering Front: I am trying to, on days when I actually have energy, to organize and declutter things because once the baby arrives, there will be zero time for any of that.

I needed a container to hold some things but I didn’t want to purchase one. So I took a shoebox and covered it with scrapbook paper to make it pretty and voila! I have a container that didn’t cost me any extra money out-of-pocket! #frugal

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In Other News: School is back in session which has been an adjustment to say the least. We are back to a schedule which after the looseness of summer, has taken all of us some getting used to. I figure by the end of the month, we should be doing all of this, easy-peasy, lemon squeezy   😉

How is life going for you these days? Are you ready to transition into Fall?  🙂

As The Page Turns: July Edition

Haven’t read as many books as I would like to as most of the books I want to read, my library doesn’t carry and neither does any library in my county. Ah, #bookwormproblems  😀 But I did get in 4 books this month which is still good, right?

What I read in July:

Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis by Ed Sikov

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Bette Davis is one of my favorite “Old Hollywood” actresses, and her movie All About Eve from 1950, is on my top ten list of favorite movies EVER, so I was intrigued to read this biography of her life.

I liked reading about Bette’s early life before she moved out to Hollywood and I loved the behind-the-scene shenanigans that went on, on her film sets. I even loved reading about how pissed of she was that Vivien Leigh was picked to star in Gone With The Wind, and not her.

But it is a very long read and the alcoholic tantrums that became part of her persona as she got older, became tiresome after a while. All in all, a great read but will take you more than an afternoon at the beach to finish.

Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson

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I looooooooved this book!! I couldn’t put it down  🙂

The book starts off in 1940 and an American journalist named Ruby Sutton is sent over to England to report on the Second World War for both her American editors and her new job at an English magazine in London. The story follows Ruby all the way through the war including London being blitzed, to the end of the war in 1945. She endures loss and heartache, but also gains a sense of stability and perseverance while working and reporting/writing stories for her job.

Great book, seriously!

Tug of War by Beverly Cleverly

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This book started off a bit slow but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it!

Here is a great synopsis from Publisher’s Weekly:

“Set in 1926 France, Cleverly’s impressive Joe Sandilands novel finds the Scotland Yard detective, still scarred by WWI, taking a relaxing jaunt around Provence until Sir Douglas Redmayne of the British War Office gives him a sensitive assignment: to ascertain the identity of an amnesiac war veteran who’s surfaced in a French hospital speaking English. As the French government would provide a lucrative pension to the soldier’s family, there’s no shortage of people who claim him as their relation. Accompanied by his precocious ward and honorary niece, Dorcas Joliffe, Sandilands probes the four most likely candidates, each of whom has ample motive to lie. Before long, an old murder is uncovered, further complicating the quest to identify the soldier”.

You will never guess the ending and that is what made this novel so enthralling and such a great read!

A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King

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Any book involving Sherlock Holmes has my name written all over it!!!  🙂

The year is 1923. The book’s main characters Sherlock Holmes and his wife Mary Russell are at their home in Sussex when an old friend, archeologist Dorothy Ruskin pays them a visit with a papyrus that she believes was written by Mary Magdalene. She asks the Holmes’ to investigate and later that evening, Ms. Ruskin is murdered. Sherlock and Mary uncover clues not only to whether the papyrus is truly real, they also solve Ms. Ruskin’s murder, inadvertently placing themselves in jeopardy while doing it.

Loved this book! Definitely a must-read.

What have you guys read lately?  🙂

 

As The Page Turns: June Edition

A booknerd’s dream: book reviews!!! Am I right?  🙂

What I read in June:

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

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Awful. Absolutely bloody awful.

Cavallaro’s first book, A Study in Charlotte was awesome. A unique twist on the teaming of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, now featuring their great-great-great-great grandchildren, Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, who are 17 year-olds at a prestigious boarding school, solving mysteries and getting into trouble. The first book had me hooked and I was so looking forward to the second book in the series.

But alas… The Last of August was a hot mess from beginning to end, and I probably gave it an extra star more than it deserved on Goodreads. The writing was all over the place in this book, and nothing made sense and the author conveniently leaves important information out at crucial times and then tries to tie it all up with a convoluted bow at the end. At which point the book ends, and you are saying to yourself, “huh?”

Do not pass go. Do not read this book.

Mary Astor’s Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936 by Edward Sorel

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This book was in the “New Releases” section and I decided what the heck, I know who Mary Astor is, let’s give it a read. And I am so glad I did. It was so interesting!

For those unfamiliar with her name, Mary Astor was an actress who got her start in silent films in the 1920’s and transitioned to the “talkies” and became a really great actress of the 1930’s and 1940’s. One of her best known films is The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart from 1941.

Well in 1936, the very married Mary Astor had an affair with a playwright names George Kaufman and kept a diary of all their exploits, in, ahem, graphic detail. When she decided to divorce her husband and sue for custody of their daughter, said husband stole Mary’s diary and blackmailed her with it unless she gave up custody. Mary took him to court and the press had a field day about Mary’s diary, some pages her husband leaked to the press.

This book is fascinating in that, not only does the author go into detail about the trial which was a HUGE scandal at that time, but he goes into detail about Mary’s life, from her abusive childhood, to her acting career, and her problems which led her to abuse alcohol.

Mary Astor’s Purple Diary was so engaging, and I guarantee you will find it beyond interesting!  🙂

Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days by Jared Cade

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In December of 1926, author Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days from her home in England. True story, folks. When she was finally found, she was at a hotel where she had been almost the entire time, under an assumed name…. the last name of her husband’s mistress!

Dun, dun, dun…

I literally devoured this book because I wanted to know why Agatha disappeared and if she really was behind it as many had claimed or was she suffering from amnesia like she herself claimed? And why didn’t Agatha mention this episode of her life in her autobiography?

This book answers all those questions and then some. Absolutely fascinating and a must-read for those who like a real-life mystery but also want to sleep at night.

And if you want to know what happened to Agatha during those 11 missing days, you’ll have to read the book and find out!  🙂

The Red Door by Charles Todd

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Charles Todd is one of my favorite authors and this book does not disappoint. The Red Door is the 12th book in the “Ian Rutledge” series. Rutledge is a police officer with Scotland Yard in 1920. A former WWI soldier who is still haunted by the war, he has to simultaneously solve the murder of a woman who was left by her open front door and solve the disappearance of a man and finding out the connection between the two.

A great read, especially for those of who like mystery novels that are not modern. No CSI or forensics here!

What have you guys read lately?  🙂

Find The Words To Help You Find Your Way

As most of you know, I am a huge bookworm. I am also a fan of quotes and the accompanying verbiage that motivates. Let’s face it: life is hard. We are all swimming in the same ocean trying to avoid the eventual tidal wave that comes our way and knocks us off our feet for awhile. Once that proverbial tidal wave recedes, we remember that we can swim, and we paddle out into the ocean once again.

If you happen to be in the midst of a tidal wave and you are looking for some help, here are some books that I think are awesome and may help you get the earth back under your feet  🙂

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists

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If your life is spinning out of control and you feel overwhelmed by the clutter in not just your life, but your mind, this book is for you. And don’t worry, it is not a book that tells you to get rid of everything you own and sleep on the floor! But it will help you sort out the values that you feel are important and make adjustments accordingly.

Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen

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If you are looking to get healthier, look no further than this book. For the record, I cannot do a handstand to save my life, nor does Rachel make you try to do one. This story gives voice to Rachel’s story about how yoga saved her from a life that was on a complete downward spiral. She shares simple yoga poses, meditation practices, and some super healthy recipes to get you going on your way!

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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This book. I loooooved this book! For a complete review of my love of this tome, and why I think EVERYONE needs to read it, click here.

10% Happier by Dan Harris

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Amazing book. If anxiety is getting the best of you and you’ve heard about meditation and aren’t sure what exactly it’s all about, check out Dan’s book. He is a broadcaster for ABC who had a panic attack on national television and this is his story about how meditation helped him.

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

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This book, just wow. Lysa writes about how broken we can feel and get as women and how we can overcome that. Although Lysa does have bible verses sprinkled throughout, please don’t let it deter you if that’s not your thing. This book will break open your heart and put it right back together again. In a good way 🙂

Everything That Remains by The Minimalists

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I know I have two books listed here by The Minimalists but this one is my absolute favorite! It basically chronicles how Joshua hit rock bottom in his life (his mom died and his marriage ended in the same month), and with the help of the concept of minimalism, he shed which didn’t matter in his life and began to focus on his relationships and what was actually important. In turn, his best friend Ryan saw how changed Joshua’s life was and embraced lifestyle changes of his own. Want to know how The Minimalists became The Minimalists? Read this book. Some life-changing stuff here that you can totally apply to your own life.

Are there any books that you have read that you feel have helped you overcame obstacles in your life? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

Currently: The Birthday Edition

Hey guys, Happy May! 🙂 High temperature weather has arrived with a gusto this week, as it has been super warm here in SoCal. I am sitting here in shorts as I type this, lol  🙂

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I finished “Better Than New” by Nicole Curtis, who has that show Rehab Addict where she restores old houses on HGTV and the DIY network. I have watched Nicole’s show for years and am a huge fan, so I couldn’t wait to read this book about all the behind-the-scene stuff regarding her show, and also just learning more about Nicole. If you are a fan of the show, definitely check out her book!

I have been watching a lot of playoff hockey. My team is the Anaheim Ducks and I am a huuuuuuge fan, and we are currently in the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. My cat sometimes doesn’t understand how important it is to watch these games as evidenced by his indifference at blocking the television set  🙂

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It is also my birthday on Friday! In case you are wondering how old I will be turning, I will give you a hint: Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever came out in movie theaters the year I was born  😉 I am totally fine with turning this particular age (if you aren’t living, you’re dying, as they say…), I am just not ready to write or type the number quite yet. I am still wrapping my head around the dichotomy of feeling one particular age in your head, but your chronological age is totally something different. You know what I mean?  🙂

Hope everyone has a great week!

And GO DUCKS!!!!

March in the Rearview

The month of March went by with a whoosh, right? Whew…  🙂

A quick look back:

What I enjoyed this month: Reading, obviously! But also trips to see my beloved ocean and coffee dates with friends  🙂

Huntington Beach is my favorite local beach and it makes me feel all the feelings when I am there!

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I read Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham which I looooved!! If you are a Gilmore Girls fan, than this book is for you! Lauren talks about her life and of course, behind the scenes stuff about the BEST SHOW EVER!!!

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I also drooled over read The Minimalist Baker’s cookbook Everyday Cooking. I want to eat everything in this book, especially her recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bread. Yup. You read that right  😉

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What I am absolutely over: Choices for White House appointments/jobs who have absolutely no qualifications for said job, but get said job anyway. I can’t even…

On the healthy living front: I did really well exercising this month until the last week of March. Ugh, so annoying. But the good thing is, is that I recognize that it has been a week since I worked up a sweat and I am getting back into my routine. Older = wiser, right?  😉

On the minimalism/decluttering front: If you remember, I mentioned that for the month of March I was going to declutter 3 separate areas of my home: the kitchen, electronic stuff (my computer), and the bathroom. Suffice to say, I accomplished my tasks! Guys, I actually have ONE EMPTY DRAWER in my kitchen!!!! *cue squealing* I love that one empty drawer. I refuse to let anything get in its recesses again!

I also unsubscribed from emails that I no longer want to receive, and blogs that I no longer want to read. Mission accomplished.

And as for the bathroom, icky nail polish, expired medication, and make-up that has probably seen better days, has all gone in the rubbish bin.

All in all, March was a very productive month and I am looking forward to getting some more things accomplished. I’ve got momentum, y’all!!!

By the way, all my pictures in this post are from my Instagram account. Come say hi!  🙂

How was the month of March for you? Did you get in any decluttering?