Literally just a list of books I’ve read recently (with links)

Because I love you and I want you to be happy. So without further ado, here’s a list of all the books I read for school last year with no comments about them. (They’re good, I promise).

Short Story Collections

Virgin, April Ayers Lawson

The New Yorker Stories, Anne Beattie

The Color Master, Aimee Bender

A Manual for Cleaning Women, Lucia Berlin

Can’t and Won’t, Lydia Davis   —

My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead: Great Love Stories from Chekhov to Munro, Anthology edited by Jeffrey Eugenides

Swim for the Little One First, Noy Holland    —

Runaway, Alice Munro

Wilderness Station, Alice Munro    —

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Haruki Murakami

Fourth Corner of the World, Scott Nadelson

The Complete Stories, Flannery O’Connor    —

Later That Same Day, Grace Paley    —-

Portrait of My Mother Who Posed Nude in Wartime, Marjorie Sandor

Tenth of December, George Saunders

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, David Foster Wallace

The Collected Stories, Eudora Welty

Taking Care, Joy Williams

Novels

The Vet’s Daughter, Barbara Comyns    —

Turtles All the Way Down, John Green

The Vegetarian, Han Kang    —

Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill

Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney

Any recommendations for this year’s list?

xx, Tab

NARS X Erdem Strange Flowers Launch

If there’s one thing Vegas knows, it’s glamour. I’d seen the casinos lined with high-end shopping malls and the glittering sidewalks and the gorgeous showgirls walking The Strip with “Veg-ass” written… well, you can guess where. It’s all so mesmerizing, even if I don’t consider myself very glamorous these days. That’s why it was so much fun to doll myself up a little and head to Caesar’s Palace to mingle with a bunch of Las Vegas’s most fabulous women. That’s right, friends. I went to a make-up launch.IMG-8253NARS Forum Shops and fashion stylist Christie Moeller (check out her website here!) hosted a party to celebrate the NARS collaboration with esteemed fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu for the collection, “Strange Flowers,” which features

-Two gorgeous eye shadow palettes, one in rosy neutral shades and one in bolder garden tones

-A powdered lip palette (yes, I said powdered!)

-6 lipsticks from red to dark purple,

-The most adorably packaged blotting papers you’ve ever seen

-Two single blushes in a pale pink and a brighter shimmer

-And (my favorite) a highlighting pencil

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In leiu of the traditional black packaging, everything comes in sleek white decorated with beautiful blooms. I wanted to buy everything, even the things I didn’t know how to use—lip powder? Highlighter pencil? Is it obvious yet that I’m not much of a beauty blogger? (YET?)

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The NARS site describes Strange Flowers as, “Eclectic. Eccentric. Enigmatic. This summer, flowers go free-spirited with famed fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu’s captivating mix of originality and oddity. Modern, unexpected shades and petal-soft textures meet the British visionary’s signature floral aesthetic, creating an exclusive, custom-designed collection that flourishes with feverish femininity. Lips feel the rush. Cheeks get flushed. Eyes mesmerize. When fashion goes full bloom, expect the unexpected.”

 

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Thankfully, the extremely friendly staff was there to play host and answer any questions we had. There was even a NARS artist who demonstrated the products with such ease that I thought even I could handle them. My problem is that I always want to buy the fun stuff, like lipstick or eye shadow, and I never want to splurge for what I actually need. I forced restraint and bought my first ever NARS item—the iconic “Orgasm” blush. We also received a Velvet Matte Lip Pencil as a treat!

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Aside from the beautiful products and proximity to so many fabulous women, there were also cocktails and a table of Blo Blow Dry Bar with stylists braiding gorgeous floral styles for the guests. If the new collection and astounding glitter assortment (and, guys. The glitter cannot be overstated) wouldn’t make me a NARSisisst, this party definitely would.

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So, overall? Got to make a few friends, meet some of the faces I’ve seen on Insta, go a little out of my comfort zone, and leave with a NARS starter pack. Not a bad Friday night.

xx, Tab

How the season of Lent changed Easter for me

Although I knew what Easter represented, I don’t think I fully grasped the magnitude of the holiday until a few years ago. That’s the blind, innocent faith of a child who was lucky enough to be taught the bible from a young age. I guess I saw it like, well of course He rose from the dead. He’s God! That’s just what God DOES! Easter was God, but it was also candy and egg hunts and family. As things changed in my family, the “God part” got sort of glazed over. So did the family part. We grew up and had to go to work. Because the traditions that I had learned to associate with it faded, so did the feeling of importance.

(Disclaimer: I don’t mean to say that Lent is the only way to do Easter correctly. I was raised non-denominational Christian. I didn’t even understand what Lent was until I started working at McDonald’s and experienced Filet-o-Fish Fridays! This is just how experiencing Lent as a church changed my perception of Easter.)

It would be a long time before I found my way into the heart of the faith. The understanding that it’s not just God, it’s Jesus. It’s a MAN, who lived like we did but did it perfectly, who chose to do so even knowing he would die for us. For me! This is why I love to sit in a church and have the bible broken down line by line to wash over me. Hearing it puts it into such a different perspective!

I started going to The Flipside church in Rancho Cucamonga with my big sister, and life was never the same. It was there that I first experienced Lent, which I had never known non-catholics to do. I didn’t partake in all of the rules (I still ate meat on Fridays), but I performed my first ever fast. I gave up social media the first year, shopping the second. Total first world things, right? But mostly, I wanted to give up things I did to fill time. You don’t realize how strong your impulses are to pull out your phone or wander around Target until you can’t do it for 40 days. You definitely don’t realize how long 40 days will feel. I tried to fill that time with being more present and noticing my blessings. The Flipside does a bunch of amazing activities throughout this time. I made a point of trying to bring as many of my friends from work as possible that first year and it was such an unbelievable bonding experience. Johnny Rockets was feeling the LORD through that holiday weekend, let me tell you.

On Easter morning, we pulled up to the park for sunrise service in our PJs and worshipped at an hour I hadn’t even been awake to see in years. Our sweet family friends had us over to make breakfast together. It felt so whole. So this was why it’s a family holiday. I finally understood. Maybe life has been too all over the place to make lasting traditions just yet, but it’s nice to be reminded that there are traditions to be made.

I didn’t realize how much this connection had changed my understanding of Easter until I moved and got stuck in my bubble of working at home alone in a city where I knew pretty much no one. I wasn’t planning not to participate in Lent until I realized it was Ash Wednesday and I’d had no idea. I didn’t want to come up with something to fast on a whim, so I decided not to take part this year. I knew my heart wasn’t really in it with all the distractions. Without taking part, Easter snuck up and felt like it would be just another day. Lent really causes you to focus on the season. You are reminded, sometimes it feels like 20 times a day, of the reason you made the sacrifice. Of the sacrifice your small fast honors. Without it, and without those special family moments with the church, it’s easy to forget about how huge Easter is. How everything that defines your faith came to a head on this day.

I felt weird about Easter approaching without a plan, like I was going back on all the progress I’ve made in the last 3 years. As much as I’ve been hoping to find a church home in Vegas, I still haven’t done the work to look for one. I felt very far from home realizing I wouldn’t be with my family and especially my niece. But instead, I got to spend an amazing weekend spending one on one time and laughing a lot with my sister. We ate things that were terrible for us and sang worship songs in the car and cried together watching a video of my best friend’s husband getting baptized. When we got back to my apartment, my boyfriend had gotten us both flowers. This may be a transitional time, but this is home. Progress doesn’t always have to be a straight line, especially when it comes to your faith.

So I’m telling myself, be gentle on yourself with however your Holy days go, but don’t lose track of what your heart is truly after.

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is make perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Cor. 12:9-10

The Basic Diaries–Morning Lavender

(Alternate title: When your addiction to aesthetics is stronger than your crippling self-consciousness, but just barely)

I wish I could start this post like this: I went back to CA for the weekend and had a morning to kill with my sister Brittany of @the.b.law, so we decided to go exploring. We stumbled upon this adorable coffee shop/boutique in the heart of Downtown Tustin! We spent a little time window shopping, then ordered jasmine teas and matcha macarons. What a perfect place for a sister date!

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But alas, I can’t. Because I love you guys and I’m not here to lie. I’m here to shamelessly embrace this life and everything I want to make of it. I’ve also been inspired by @indyblue (of indysev.com) and @steffy (of steffysprosandcons.com) and lots of other bloggers I’ve seen admitting the ridiculous lengths they’ll go through for the good shot! So, let’s be real. Here’s what really happened. Read More

On living like a travel blogger

I’m at that age where at any given time, half of my timeline is either on their honeymoon, studying abroad for undergrad, teaching english overseas, raging in Mexico, or just… I don’t know, dropping their regular grind to go chill on an island or something? And honestly, it’s wonderful! I truly love to see your wedding pictures and the beautiful places you visit. I love seeing people doing service or just laying on a beach somewhere looking dang good. That’s why I follow a ton of travel bloggers that seem to never stay in one place long. I  love it and I’m happy for them, but I can’t help but envy their lives. I can’t help but feel like those lives are so far from how my life could possibly look. It’s enough to make you bitter, at times. This is normal when you’re flipping through at your desk that is mounded with work. I make sure that this envy is never enough to where I’m not glad they’re doing what they’re doing. These blogs and accounts take you places you may never have seen. They bring publicity to places less traveled and surely help stimulate the economies of the places they visit. Influencing is changing the accessibility of the world. And, duh, they help you imagine the places you could go! And isn’t that important?

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of negative talk toward these types of people. There are arguments that this influence is made to make regular people feel bad about themselves for having to live a normal life. That these people are so out-of-touch with the real world that we can’t even relate to them. And maybe that can be true, but it can also be hurtful. So here’s the thing: It is a privilege to travel. Viewers need to accept this. Travelers need to accept this. It’s not a judgment, it’s a fact. Even if you worked your butt off and paid for it yourself, even if it is a privilege you’ve earned, you still have to recognize all the forces that had to work with you to make these things happen. You have to have the funds not just to travel, but to pay your bills without working for the time traveled. You have to have responsibilities that can live without you for the duration of the trip. You have to have a job that will allow you to take time off. I think it’s important to recognize this, and for “normal people” like me to remind myself of occasionally.

Yes, many of the people traveling probably don’t have the types of responsibilities that would hinder that lifestyle. Many of them are probably supported by some outside force (parents, paid time off, etc.) But I’d be willing to bet that most of them had to hustle really hard to earn that privilege. That’s why it’s those who are in awe of their own good fortune, and especially those who share the realities of their trips and advice for regular people who want to travel too, that I really support with all my heart and hope they have a million more adventures that I can witness.

So anyway, it got me thinking. A year ago in my life, it was a privilege to earn even one weekend night off. It wasn’t until early 2017 that I started to have 2 days off in a row and this was like A HUGE FLIPPIN DEAL, GUYS. I worked my butt off for that. Wednesdays and Thursdays were MY DAYS. I felt like a gosh dang queen. I felt similarly when I finished undergrad the year prior. And now with my new job, I get to work from home AND have weekends off?! Too good to be true.

I could still technically grumble about how working a 9-5 keeps me from exploring the world, or how I work my butt off but still can’t afford spontaneous trips to Europe. Or (better idea), I could be stoked at the privilege I have now to work from home with my cat and the weekends I can spend doing homework with my boo thang and occasionally getting out of the house. I can be so thankful for the trips I was actually able to take in 2017 after years without anything that dimly resembled a vacation.

So here’s my revelation. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, there is someone out there who hasn’t been there and done that. I live in Las Vegas, for crying out loud. I moved here from one of those 45-minutes-from-LA towns. My life is a tourist trap and all this time, I’ve been missing it. Here’s the thing: we’re after the life of those bloggers because they’re after their own lives. If they weren’t living so totally in awe, cramming in every spare memory they can find to soak up the beautiful place around them, their lives wouldn’t seem quite so worth sharing. I would like to argue that you can live with that kind of what-did-I-do-to-deserve-this-life wonder from anywhere. You just gotta look for it and capture it and pretend you look like Amber Fillerup as you do it.

So here’s to all the adventures you can possibly find and all the stories I’m about to tell that won’t be nearly as interesting as if you’d actually been there. The thing about stories is they’re worth telling.

xx, Tab

2018: The year we stop defending ourselves for being basic

(Dakota in this photo embodies just how basic and unbothered I plan to be this year.)

It’s January 1st, 2018 (okay it’s not, but it was 12 days ago when I started this…) I’m doing a lot of January 1st things, like regretting alcohol and browsing Pinterest for ideas about starting a bullet journal and thinking about how I turn 25 this year and feeling weird but also grateful because I am in a good place. And, like probably a lot of tweens around the world, I’m watching Indy Blue’s 2017 video and feeling very maternally proud of her.

And this girl is 20. What was I doing when I was 20?! I was crying over what I thought was the only boy that could ever love me and missing out on everything to go make frozen yogurt for the hip Claremont masses. I told myself (and everyone around me) that I was chill now, even though that’s the last word anyone would use to describe me, and then I had to live up to it. I started to say yes to things. I didn’t know then that I was setting up the pieces for the life I’d be so content with 4 years later.

But anyway, this isn’t about me. It’s about America’s trendy little sister, Indy Sev. Read More

Lessons in adulting: Trader Joe’s Edition

Though I’ve been sort of skirting the edges of adulting for a long time now, I have to admit that I’ve gotten used to taking a lot of shortcuts. Like, I know how to do my taxes and when to get my oil changed, but I haven’t been the savviest in a lot of the day-to-day tasks. I blame this on years of being a busy bee garbage person who ate 80% of meals while driving and kept a toothbrush in her purse in case she crashed on somebody’s couch. Now all of a sudden, I cook every meal and fold laundry right after I dry it instead of letting it sit in a basket until it’s so wrinkled that I just wash it again. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Which is why I decided to document the silly life lessons that I pick up along the way! Much of what I’m learning these days are things that I already knew but didn’t want to hear. I’m giving in to those, these days. Here’s what I learned grocery shopping alone on a Monday night.

  • I mean, obviously, make a list.
  • But not just any list. Make a list of what you know you need AND what you’re gonna make with those things. We’re mostly pretty simple. Protein, carb, vegetable. We also like to throw in a frozen easy meal or two.
  • Eventually, you can train yourself to remember your reusable bags (even if you live in a state that doesn’t charge for plastic and they look at you like a hippie weirdo)
  • If you’re hungry, even a little, stop somewhere for a snack. This is worth it. Thank you, Sweet Potato Smash Fries, for keeping me from going on a hangry rampage.
  • SHOP ON WEEKDAYS. I normally go on Sundays when everything is terrible. The combination of my list, not being hungry, and the fact that TJs was a ghost town got me in and out in thirteen minutes. Thirteen minutes.
  • TJs is my favorite for almost everything, but I buy my meat at Smith’s because it’s cheaper and we get gas points.
  • Put your heaviest items on the line first so they get bagged first! (This is a Sarah tip. I’m not advanced enough for this one.)
  • By taking the time to plan out full meals, I made a pretty full list. This meant I didn’t buy random fillers just in case. I actually spent around $30 less than we normally do!
  • Yes, you are a strong independent woman who just knocked out a week’s worth of shopping in no time. But no, carrying all of it in one trip was NOT a good idea.

Tune in next time for more things I shouldn’t have to learn (and yet…)

xx, Tab

Things to think about while putting your life into boxes.

“Sit. Feast on your life.” –Derek Walcott

I always come back to this poem in my mind. I found it in the beginning of my favorite book, The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffeneger. And, you know, since I am currently finding myself unable to do all the writing that needs to be done, instead I’m feasting on this bright and beautiful year in which so much bad and scary has happened to the world and so much good and happy has happened to me. It’s a lot of feels. Read More