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My 5-Star Reads from 2019

No time like the present, eh? I read 94* books last year — thanks to a long commute + it’s now part of my job — and have a goal to finish 100 in 2020.

If you’ve started (or abandoned!) a reading goal or are stuck on what to read next, here are the books I gave 5 stars to after reading them in 2019. It’s a pretty even split between new and old, fiction and nonfiction, plus various genres.

And while I’ll happily discuss books with anyone, anytime, I do not need to hear your thoughts on why a book “sucks.” We all have our preferences; if some (or all) of these aren’t your style, simply share your faves so I can try those out, too 🤓

background book stack books close up

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Fiction

Nonfiction

*I read 94 books from cover to cover. For the first time in a while, I allowed myself to abandon books I wasn’t enjoying. I listened to some in audiobook format, but did not make it through any from start to finish. </end disclaimer>

My Kinda Bar

Courtesy of Mah iPhone

It’s very important we girls follow the basic life motto: Treat Yo’Self. As such, my friend Jen conveniently needed someone to style as she finished her training at Dry Bar. Drinking + pampering? Consider it done.

Courtesy of Mah iPhone

I can tell that we are gonna be friends.

Dry Bar is a fairly new concept — No cuts. No color. Just blowouts. For $40, you can enjoy some wine, fun music, a movie (if you’re in the VIP room, holler!) and a sleek new style.

Courtesy of Mah iPhone

As they say, “Pick your poison.”

The ambiance is bright and friendly, the products and styles are named after drinks of choice. Its commitment to that detail makes the entire experience enjoyable and engaging.

Courtesy of TheDryBar.com

Shaken, not stirred.

I was very pleased with the service, both from Jen and the other consultants. I opted for the Cosmo-Tai, a mix of the Cosmopolitan and Mai Tai styles. My hair transformed into a voluminous cascade of curls, and the 100 Proof Treatment Oil left my locks soft and shiny.

Courtesy of Mah iPhone

Selfies are still in, right?

Though I won’t be going on a weekly basis, I’ll definitely return for special occasions. Why not treat yo’self to a birthday blowout or pre-date pampering? Side note: If you know a nice, straight young man who can appreciate a woman with sometimes-gorgeous hair, hook a sista up.

Courtesy of Mah iPhone

The life of a cover girl.

What’s your take on this new trend? Share your stories in the comments section!

Bag Envy

I’ve never been big on designer labels, and certainly not logos associated with top-name brands. The Louis Vuitton and Dooney & Bourke craze that hit my hometown around high school was met with my eye rolls and scowls.

But moving to the city means high fashion is inescapable, particularly with handbags (because who wants to hoof it 30 blocks in killer heels?).

While I still don’t dream of products smattered with branding, I can appreciate the beauty of a well-made bag. And if it’s equal parts fashionable and functional, well that’s a win-win-win.

These are my latest loves for any budget. Any I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Image Credits Linked Below

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Image Credits Linked Below

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Image Credits Linked Below

1* / 2 / 3 / 4

*But I got this one in Gunmetal at her booth on W. 38th for less than $50!

Emerald Isle Style

My Irish eyes are smiling as St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaches. Inspired by Pantone’s Color of the Year, these stylish solutions are making me green with envy. Enjoy!

Image Credits Listed Below

EMERALD ISLE STYLE – DRESSED
1 / 2* / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

 Image Credits Listed Below

EMERALD ISLE STYLE – BEJEWELED
1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

Image Credits Listed Below

EMERALD ISLE STYLE – DECORATED
1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

*I can’t find the original image anywhere — leave a comment if you know its source!

Pumped for Pumpkin

I don’t allow myself to get excited for any holiday until a week (maybe two) prior. It’s the nature of my job — planning content for the winter while suffering through July’s sweltering heat makes me grinchy. I’d rather stab Santa than read one more article about how to have a holly, jolly holiday.

But this year, something changed. I’m genuinely excited for the coming weeks, and it all begins with what used to be my least-favorite celebration: Thanksgiving. Try one of these Turkey Day recipes — some I’ve tested, others I’ve tasted. Enjoy!

  1. Pumpkin Whoopie Pie by Dreamy Desserts
  2. Bourbon Pumpkin Tart with Streusel Topping by Smells Like Home
  3. Thankful Rolls by The Girl Who Ate Everything
  4. Turkey Cupcakes by Spoonful
  5. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread by Fever Avenue
  6. Pumpkin Pie White Hot Chocolate by Closet Cooking
  7. TV Dinner Cupcakes by Black & Eiffel
  8. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread by Sunday Baker

Clearly, I have a sweet tooth. It’s only a problem if you make it one.

Make It a Movember

No-Shave November is kind of unfair if you’re a lady (like moi). Try as I might, I just can’t seem to grow a sweet ‘stache in support of men’s health issues. I’m stuck simply donating monies and rocking assorted moustached items — life is tough. My favorite furry facial finds:

  1. Ring: Girlz Lyfe, $10
  2. Tee: Wet Seal, $14.50
  3. Tote Bag: Polyvore, $20
  4. Sunglasses:  eBay, Various
  5. Bandages: Urban Outfitters, $7
  6. Necklace: Windsor Fashions, $10.90
  7. Corkscrew: Fred Flare, $12
  8. Scarf cowl: etsy, $40
  9. Set of (6) Mugs: etsy, $66 (plus 15% off with code HOLIDAY15 at checkout!)

And don’t forget to show your support by donating to the cause. Brilliant!

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

If you’re anything like me, then you know how to put the PRO in “procrastination.” What better time to get some St. Patty’s inspiration than the day before? I’m killing it.

I’m proud of my Irish heritage and had the pleasure of studying abroad in Ireland a few years ago. My time in the Emerald Isle was magical, so anything I can do to recreate it is pure luck of the Irish.

[EAT]

Start the day with traditional Irish boxty — a fave of mine from my time abroad.

No St. Patrick’s Day dinner is complete without corned beef and cabbage.

Beer, chocolate and pretzels? These cupcakes must be heaven-sent.

[DRINK]

Guinness is my drink of choice, but I’ll have to switch to something lighter after my 8th pint.

If beer isn’t your thing, try one of these tasty St. Patty’s cocktails.

End the night with an always-delicious classic Irish coffee. Yum!

[DECORATE]

Stock up on awesomely tacky glasses, moustaches, necklaces and more.

Whether you’re hosting — or just toasting — your mates, these favors are adorbs.

Stainless coasters class up even the dingiest pubs.

[CELEBRATE]

Kissing a leprechaun in Dublin — typical Saturday.

Surprise! Popping up for St. Patrick’s Day greetings.

Overlooking the Cliffs of Moher (700 ft. drop, NBD).

Between a ladies’ dance party tonight, suite tickets to tomorrow’s Lightning game and my bestie from college visiting this weekend, I think it’s best that St. Patrick’s Day only comes once a year.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy weekend — cheers!