Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Recently Added to My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is Hosted by the gorgeous gals over at the Broke and the Bookish!

Abandon Cinder Girl Defective

Abandon Cinder Girl Defective

My Heart and Other Black Holes P.S. I Still Love You

 My Heart and Other Black Holes PS I Still Love You

Sister Wife The Dress Shop of Dreams The DUFF

Sister Wife The Dress Shop of Dreams The DUFF

This Side of Salvation We All Looked Up

   This Side of Salvation We All Looked Up

What are some books you’ve recently added to your TBR? Let me know in the comments!



Craft Tutorial: Hand-Painted Box

Hand-Painted Box

Hey y’all! So recently, I was totally inspired by a bookstagrammer, @ursula_uriarte. She writes her favorite quote from a book after she’s finished it on a journaling card and keeps them all in a box! How cute is that?! As a quote collector, I knew I had to do the same. So I went off to Michaels, bought a wooden box and some paint, and got busy.

A few notes before we start: the border designs were inspired/heavily based on these GORGEOUS cookies. Seriously, tell me they don’t want you to decorate everything around you just like them. The colors used were also inspired by the cookies. I found them on pinterest a few weeks ago and have been struggling to figure out a way to incorporate them into a craft. This box was the perfect opportunity.

The center design was found here, as a coloring page. I wanted to make sure it was just a design and not a significant/sacred symbol, and my research said it wasn’t. I’ve since made a similar-ish design of my own to use on any future crafts, so I don’t feel like I’m stealing/cultural appropriating any more I highly suggest you do the same.

Step One: Gather Materials

– wooden box (Michaels, $4.99, less with coupon!)
– paint (I used Folk Art Turquoise, available at Michaels and Walmart for cheap)
– brushes (I used an inch wide brush for most of the painting, and a fine point to get into corners and paint around the hardware.)
– paint pens ($2.99 at Michaels, again less with coupon)
– ruler with centimeters
– pencil
– ballpoint pen
– printed design
– towel and water for washing brushes

Step Two: Paint Box

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This is the easiest part, as you’re just slathering on paint and then working around hardware. I did 2-3 coats so the color was bright, and it took about half a tube of paint. You’ll want your paint to be very dry before you move on, so I suggest watching an episode of something on Netflix.

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Don’t forget the inside! I only did a couple of light coats in here, since it’s not the fancy part and I wanted to save paint.

Step Three: Start Marking Your Border

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You want to make two or three markings 1 centimeter apart, 0.5 centimeters from the edge. Use your ruler to make two straight lines, parallel to each other and the edge of the box. Once that’s done, make 1 cm markings down BOTH sides of the lines. This will be your guide for the design. The more exact you are, the more precise it’ll look.

Step 4: Start Drawing on the Border

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Use your paint pens or a fine point brush. I used both techniques, and I prefered the paint pens because I can go faster. However, I wasn’t as precise and it shows if you look too closely. Also, the width is kind of unpredictable and can lead to multiple tries of getting it right. You know your painting skills best, so do what you like.

Outline the two parallel lines. Connect the dots in diagonal lines going in both directions.

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Put little dots in the corners of the x’s.

Next, you’ll make your brackets. You remember those brackets you had to use in math when you did matrixes? It’s the same thing. You want them to line up with the x’s, and you might want to draw them out with the pencil first. After they’re drawn on, you can decide if you want to do the single like as shown in the picture at the top, or you can do another outline of brackets as seen here:

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It’s totally up to you. I like both designs. After this, you just add dots or lines or any extras you like.

Step 5: Trace the Main Design

For this, you just place your image on the top of the box and trace it with the ballpoint pen, as hard as you like. This will leave a small indention in the wood, and you can then trace that with your paint pen.

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Step 6: Let dry and enjoy!

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Ta da! You’re done and the proud painter of a gorgeous box! If you’ve made any mistakes or want to fix an area, just carefully use your base color to paint over the mistake, let it dry for at least an hour, and try again. You can also use the center design on the sides of the boxes, as I did on the top box. This is such a fun box to make, and it’s a great gift. If you don’t think you can do it, I’m considering selling them on etsy at some point. Just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you soon!

(All journaling cards seen were found at Michaels and Walmart.)

Thank you so much for coming to my blog and going through this tutorial with me! Let me know if there’s anything you need me to elaborate on or if there’s something else you’d like a tutorial for. Have a great day, y’all!


Book Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash and Lily

Info: 260 pages, paperback, Contemporary YA romance, published October 11, 2011

Synopsis: “I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors ofNick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

First Impressions: I think with the quality of the content, this cover could have been so cool and fun. It’s not terrible, but it’s totally forgettable.

Why I Chose This Book: In my reading challenge, I needed an author with my first name. While trying to find one that spells Rachel without the extra A (Why would you throw in another vowel? #Unnecessary), I realized that half of one of my favorite contemporary romances was written by Rachel Cohn, and I was saved. Plus, this concept is flawless and I’ll never have enough of it.

What I Liked: Everything? Lily is precious and amazing. I could only picture Emily Osment from Hannah Montana, probably because of the name. She’s just so optimist and caring while remaining realistic. It was so fun to experience ‘Shrilly’, and the story of how she got that moniker totally broke my heart. Also, these are MY FAVORITE PLOTS. I LOVE books going back and forth, strangers leaving dares and quests. I need more in my life. If you have any suggestions for some books with these, PLEASE give them to me so I can go add them to my shelf posthaste.

What I Didn’t Like: Dash is the textbook pretentious teen boy. Ugh. But he got better.

Ratings and Recommendations: Amazing read for a light, fluffy contemporary romance. Perfect if you want that kind of book AND it’s Christmas time.

1. New Favorite Alert

Final Thoughts: If you liked Little Numbers of Klaine fanfic fame, you’ll LOVE this. Very similar. Now excuse me while I get the other Cohn/Levithan books. Oh, Nick and Nora…

Let me know: Have you read this PHENOMENAL book? Did you love it as much as I did? Are you going to read it? PLEASE DO.


Book Review: Popular by Maya Van Wagenen


Info: 272 pages, hardback, memoir, published April 15, 2014

Synopsis: Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular? The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.

First Impressions: This cover is SO CUTE. I love this concept, and it perfectly matches the content. A+!

Why I Chose This Book: This not only knocked off multiple categories in my reading challenge (Memoir, nonfiction, based on true story, author under 30, takes place in home state, etc), but they were the categories I was really struggling to get interested in and find books that fit that wouldn’t be a fight to get through. Besides all that, the idea behind this book is right up my alley. I probably would have picked it up without the challenge motivation. Since I got it for $1 (Thanks Dollar Tree!), it was hitting all the right spots for me.

What I Liked: This book read so easily and quickly. This was a book that I should have read years ago. It could really help a lot of kids feeling invisible with no clue how to change that. It also showed that changing your clothes and look isn’t the most important part of popularity or appearance. It’s how you treat others and going out of your way to bring people into your life. I wished I’d had the bravery Maya did, not just at her age, but now.

What I Didn’t Like: The stylist in me wanted to help little Maya. I wish I’d had help when I was younger (God knows I needed someone to keep me from looking terrible. -shudder-). The secondhand embarrassment was real, y’all. Some have accused it of being emotionally manipulative and having been edited like crazy. But it’s an eighth grader’s diary, so of course it’s going to be super edited? I wasn’t too emotionally invested, so I didn’t see any manipulation on that front. I mean, the beloved teacher getting sick wasn’t really relevant, but it also wasn’t a surprise and therefore didn’t do anything to me. I don’t know, to each their own.

Ratings and Recommendations: To kids trying to break out of their shell, anyone wanting an easy intro into memoirs, people looking for a way to make friends.

4. Pretty Good Read

Final Thoughts (or ‘Book Summed Up in a Taylor Swift Quote’): “No amount of vintage dresses gives you dignity.”

Sound off in the comments: Have you read this book? What did you think? Are you going to pick up a copy?


Bookworm Quirks: How Blogging Has Changed Me as a Reader

 How Blogging Has Changed Me as a Reader

Before I started blogging, I read so much less. It was just when I felt like it, and I picked up any book that looked good. I wasn’t very aware of new releases, and my shelves had a lot of vanity books (books I got just because they were old and pretty and made me feel smart for owning them, even though I would probably never read them ever). I had too many books that caught my fancy, and almost none of them were new. I rarely had to wait for a new book in a series because I didn’t hear about them until they were finished, popular, and being made into movies.

Now? My TBR is overflowing with new releases and pre-orders. While I still rarely buy them without a gift card ($14 is a lot to a college student that gets paid in used books, y’all), I add to my wishlist constantly. I have screen shots of books talked about on instagram, a ‘Books to Look At’ board on Pinterest that is 321 pins and growing, as well as saved blog posts that have books I need to add. It’s a problem. Meanwhile, I never make progress on my TBR because I reread SO MUCH. But to be fair, I did that way before blogging.

Since starting a blog, when I want to read a certain book, I have a few questions I ask myself: 1. How quickly could I read this? 2. Would this be a worthwhile review? 3. Would anyone even want to read a review of this book? 4. Are there already enough reviews of this book out there, and I’m not setting myself apart at all from all the other book blogs?! 5. Do I really want to read this book, or am I just letting the hype and excitement over this book brainwash me?

Who Knows

Unfortunately, Number Five is often a yes to the latter. Books like The Winner’s Curse and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer are symptoms of that. I love the covers and they were suggested by trusted friends and fellow bloggers, but the plot just isn’t really something I look for. As a result, they sit on my shelf and taunt me. Curse you, gorgeous books! Because of these questions, I’ve edited down my shelves quite a bit and I don’t impulse buy books very much.

I Don't Know

But a real problem I have with looking towards new reads is the hype. I get tired of hearing about something and not having read it, so I just never want to read it and never want to hear about it. This happens to me in all media (I’m looking at you, Monty Python and Orange is the New Black)No matter how good I’m sure something is, I’m just sick of hearing about. Maybe I’ll get past it one day, but for now I’m angry just looking at those words.

Angry Eye Roll

A positive side of how blogging has changed me is that I can really see how I feel about a book after reading. Before, it was either a like or dislike, love or hate. No specifics, no real reasons why either side. It wasn’t until I joined a book club that I saw how talking about a book and getting other opinions on it could really help me fix that. Now when I finish a book, I read a ton of Goodreads reviews to help me figure out how I feel and why I feel that way, and then I write out a rough outline of a review for this blog.

I’ve also become much more well-read since blogging, and I’m much more comfortable recommending books to people now. Before, it was more of a “Well, I know you like fantasy and sci-fi, but I really loved this historical fiction series, so maybe try that?” and it wasn’t helpful or fun for anyone involved. But now, I can pull up a blog with similar tastes and see what they liked before I make recommendations for genres I’m not well-versed in.

Boo Yah(I’m going to use that gif as much as possible. Sorry not sorry.)

Becoming a blogger has made me a better reader in that I can dissect my feelings towards a newly finished read and help others find their new favorite book. But I also feel like I’m responsible for what I read, and sometimes that gets overwhelming.

How has blogging/reading blogs changed you? Do we suffer from any of the same symptoms, or do we have the same improvements? Sound off in the comments!


What’s Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday

Hey y’all! I hope you’ve been having a great day/week/month so far! Because I recently finished my reading challenge, I decided to take a short reading/blogging break. But now I’m back in action (blog-wise), and I’ve been crafting like crazy! So hopefully I’ll have some tutorials coming up for you.

This Saturday, I get to go to a convention I haven’t attended since I was but a wee child: The Dallas Pen Show. Dallas Pen is an office/school supply company that my other job works with pretty heavily. Every year, they have vendors come and talk about their awesome new products and give out free samples. It’s amazing!! I love it, but school often restricts my schedule so I can’t make it. Fortunately, this year I get to attend with my mom and sister (my mom is the Purchasing Manager at the office supply I work at). I can’t wait!

As I said, I’ve been crafting SO MUCH lately. It all started with the boyfriend’s idea of a house warming present: he wanted us to have a pair of really awesome chalices, and when I go to visit, we would toast his first apartment with champagne. We quickly found some fancy goblets he liked online, but nothing was my taste. I decided to try and make my own. With just a little bit of playing around, I love my prototype.

2015-03-19 22.02.51I’m going to work on making my roses bigger/less droopy, and maybe add some tint to the glass? I don’t know yet. After this, I thought I would make a wine glass for my best friend for our friendaversary. Since her two loves are wine and dragons, of course that had to inspire the design. I’m SO HAPPY with how it came out, and the only change I would make is tinting the glass black so it had a smoky look.

It’s so awesome!! I’m so so happy with it. But that’s not all the crafting I’ve been doing! I’ve also made little clay charms of all my wax seals in a variety of colors.

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And my favorite craft so far (the tutorial you’ll have on Monday) is this painted box!

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I was inspired by a post from Instagram user @ursula_uriarte, in which she said that she writes her favorite quote from books she’s read on these cute little journaling cards and keeps them in a box. How fun is that?! One of my friends asked me to make a set for her, and I used her box to make a tutorial for y’all. So stay tuned! The design of the box has also made me start doodling a lot more of mandala-like designs, and it’s been a nice break from teacups and tiaras in the margins of my paper.

As I said, I haven’t been reading much since finishing my reading challenge. While I was still fueled by the challenge victory, I finished rereading the Selection series, as well as reading The Jewel by Amy Ewing and the School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. Those reviews went up this last weekend, and my last few books of the challenge will be coming up soon as well. I feel like I’ve been rushing to read lately, and as a result I haven’t enjoyed it as much. But soon I’ll get back to it and all will be well!

What I’m Making:

What I’m Watching: 

What have you been up to lately? Catch me up in the comments!


Book Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing


Info: 358 pages, hardback, YA Dystopian/Romance, published August 21, 2014

Synopsis: The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

First Impressions: This cover, as many have said, just looks like a knock-off of the Selection. In fact, I honestly don’t know if I would have picked it up were it not for the resemblance. Get it together, HarperTEEN.

Why I Chose This Book: I had just finished reading The Selection series, and I thought this might be a good follow up. (Spoiler: I was wrong.)

What I Liked: The descriptions. One thing I love to read is luxury. Maybe that’s why I love The Luxe and stories of the New York Elite so much? The descriptions in this book were so gorgeous and vivid, I found myself angry because I wanted to SEE these clothes and rooms. I wanted pictures or sketches included of these ridiculously amazing sights (an entire city made out of precious gems and metals?! Yes please!!) Also, the auguries are super cool. I want them, but at the same time am so happy I don’t have them. I liked the world, but I would have loved to have more world-building. I liked the romance, but it wasn’t exciting. I’m getting sick of the forbidden love thing. It’s becoming the new love triangle to me.

What I Didn’t Like: At the end of this book, I was trying to talk about how I felt after it. And I swear, every other sentence was “I don’t know.” It was forgettable. When trying to describe it, it just felt silly. It left kind of a bad taste in my mouth. A lot of reviews talk about the insta-love, but I thought it was pretty realistic for these two. They were both raised in this world without choice since they were young (around 12 years old). She was taught that she would never have love of her own and her whole purpose was to be a surrogate for royalty. He was taught to be a companion, flirting and dancing (and more!) just to keep himself and his family safe. When they meet, it’s the first time either of them have met someone that has a similar situation, and since they’re emotionally stunted, of course they’re going to have some insta-love. So I didn’t really mind that aspect. But it was very Romeo and Juliet in that of course it’s going to end badly and these are 17 year olds with the emotional maturity of 12 year olds when it comes to love. Because of this, I wasn’t invested in the romance.

Ratings and Recommendations: I don’t know.

6. Not Sure How To Feel

Final Thoughts: I don’t know. (I DON’T KNOW!!)

Let me know in the comments: Have you read this book? What did you think? Are you going to read it? Please help me identify my feelings towards this book.