September 28, 2020

Summer Bucket List Check-In

It's officially fall which means it's time to look back on my summer bucket list and see how I did! 

✗ Read a classic novel • This was a fail! I tried to read Around the World in Eighty Days, as planned, but I just wasn't in the mood. 

✗ Crochet something—even if it’s just a single potholder • Learning how to crochet is another one of my goals for the year, not just the summer. I thought if I put it on my summer bucket list, I'd feel more motivated but alas, I was not. 

✓ Take an online photography class • I semi-followed through on this! I bought access to a whole photography course specific to my camera. I watched half the classes so I think I can still cross this off my list. What I've realized though, between this photography class and the crocheting videos I tried to watch, is that learning online is really hard for me. I'd rather learn by having someone show me or just trying on my own. 

✓ Summer cleaning day/weekend • This should get a dozen checkmarks from me! I've done so many summer cleaning days and definitely one full weekend. I get a lot of joy from decluttering and throwing stuff out. 

✓  Finish photo book of my 2019 San Francisco cousins trip • I finally finished this! It was kind of bittersweet to put this together since who knows when we can all vacation like that again. But I did love looking through the photos from that amazing vacation. 

✓  Learn 2 new Filipino recipes • I learned how to make adobong pusit and taho. The former is a recipe my Mom used to make all the time and the latter is a breakfast dish I remember us buying from the Filipino store when I was younger. Both turned out really well and I can't wait to make them again! 

✗ Complete Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening • I swear, I'm really close! I'm going to beat it soon. 

✓ Rewatch Fringe or Orphan Black • I ended up rewatching Orphan Black and I still love that show so much. It is one of my all-time favorites for a good reason. 

✓ Work on a new apartment project • Another item on this list that deserves more than one checkmark. I redid the entryway/dining area and my "office" corner. 

✓ Take a staycation • I took a staycation the last week in July and it was the best idea ever. I need to take another one soon. 

✗ Learn how to take good photos on my polaroid • I haven't remembered to bring out my Polaroid with me but I do want to take better photos with this camera. 

✓ Visit a new-to-me local park • I visited Kingsland Park for the first time even though it's less than 10 mins from where I live. It's such a nice park that I went back a second time with my cousins. 


I finished 8 out of 12 items on my summer bucket list! Even though this past summer (well, past year really) is truly unlike any other, I still wanted to make this list and push myself to do things and I'm glad I did. 

September 25, 2020

What I'm Listening To | September

My most listened to songs this month are: 

1. Ice Cream (with Selena Gomez) by BLACKPINK
It shouldn't be surprising that I'd love a song called Ice Cream and with Selena Gomez on it, it's sure to be a bop. 

2. Valerie - From the Apple TV+ Original Series "Little Voice" by Little Voice Cast
I fell in love with the "Little Voice" series featuring original music by Sara Bareilles. This is obviously a cover but I was so impressed it and months later I'm still listening to it constantly. 

3. good on you by Lindsay Ell
I love me a good, angsty country song and this one just spoke to me. The lyrics are simple but so relatable and I love how it tells a story. 

4. Tell Her - From the Apple TV+ Original Series "Little Voice" by Little Voice Cast
This is actually my favorite song from the series, although to be honest there are so many good ones. But it's the story these lyrics tell that suck me in. Any time I drive lately, I end up playing this song at least once and I'll sing along at the top of my lungs. 

5. Bad Guy - The Interrupters
This cover was featured in season 2 of The Umbrella Academy. As soon as it started playing, I pulled out my phone to Shazam the song but it was just that good. It's super catchy and well done. 

Listen here!

What are some of your favorite songs this month?

September 24, 2020

Reviews: The Paris Secret + The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux

pub 9/15/20 by Forever
Adult - Historical Fiction
Received e-ARC from pub for review
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars | I've read three books by Natasha Lester now and while it's pretty clear that her Paris books follow a certain formula, I am 100% here for it. Her novels always have multiple eras to follow and tend to be on the heavier side, but the stories are just so moving and The Paris Secret was no exception. There are three timelines to follow. In 1939 England, we meet the incredibly different Penrose sisters. Skye is a daring pilot determined to be a part of the war effort. It allows her to reunite with her childhood friend, Nicholas, as well as meet other women joining the cause. On the other hand, her sister Liberty, seems to find every possible way to antagonize Skye. Jumping ahead to 1947 Paris, there's a side story with Christian Dior (!) post war which involves his sister Catherine who became with friends with Skye through the French Resistance. And lastly, there's the present day story about fashion conservator, Kat Jordan, whose discovery of a collection of priceless Dior gowns in grandmother's vacant cottage leads to questions about their origin and more importantly, her heritage. Skye and Kat were the two main heroines and while I was certainly the most invested in their stories, everyone in the book is fascinating on some level. It's such a dangerous time and each person we meet is fighting this fight for reasons we come to learn about and carry deep burdens on their shoulders. There's complicated families, friendships, and romances set against the consequences of this terrible war. I was so stricken by some of the details that I found myself googling to weed out the fact from fiction (note: Lester incorporates a lot of well-researched facts!). I'll admit, the book was a bit slow going at first, but these characters wormed their way into my emotions almost without me realizing until I hit the last page and found myself in tears.

Do I recommend?
Absolutely! It's three for three with Natasha Lester and I can't wait to read whatever she releases next.  

pub 9/8/2020 by Berkley
Adult - Women's Fiction
Received e-ARC from pub for review
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars | In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a sucker for any book involving Paris and The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux sounded like it would be right up my alley. Sophie Valroux is a French-born American chef who dreams of one day running a Michelin-starred restaurant. When she's sabotaged by a fellow chef and her career seemingly over, she also finds out that her grandmother, the woman who taught her how to cook, has suffered a stroke. She immediately flies out to Paris and discovers that her grandmother's old home has expanded to become a beautiful château, complete with two restaurants, that she's successfully founded and runs. It's quite a shock to Sophie, especially as her grandmother expects her to help cook in her absence, which is where the fun begins. The best thing about this book is the food. The author spares no detail when it comes to describing the elaborate meals Sophie creates. Her passion for food and how it brings people together was so beautifully expressed. That and Sophie's relationship with her grandmother were certainly the highlights for me. But it's not just about the cooking. This unexpected opportunity gives Sophie the chance to reconnect with her roots and old friends, make new friends, and find the confidence within herself to move forward. It does take a while for Sophie to start making those strides which did make the first half of the book feel slow but once she hits the ground running, so does the story. 

Do I recommend?
 | If you want to crave all the French food (and read a good book!), I would definitely recommend this. 

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