Poems I’ve Read Recently That You Should Too

Hello everyone!

Today I’m going to be sharing some poems I’ve recently read and enjoyed. All of them are works I’ve discussed in my writing workshop last week, since that’s what I’ve been doing this entire week. It’s been an amazing experience and you can definitely expect a whole separate post on that sometime soon. If you’re interested in reading some awesome poems and possibly discovering new poets, keep on reading!

I hope you’re inspired to check out some of these poems! It’s been such an amazing experience to take part in a writing workshop and get exposed to so many different authors and types of poetry. Please let me know if you have any favorite poets or poems you think I should check out. Stay safe and healthy out there.

Brooke

Books I’ve Read In Spring 2020

Hello everyone!

Today I’m going to be going over all the books I’ve read in the past couple months. As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been keeping track of everything on Goodreads, which makes it much easier to make this post. If you’re interested in finding out what I’ve been reading and my opinions on each book, keep on scrolling.

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany – I don’t know how, but I was never really aware that this add-on to the Harry Potter series was a thing. I didn’t love everything about it (no spoilers here though) but I was happy to have anything added onto the series. In some ways, I think the series would’ve been fine without this add on, but I’ll take what I can get. I would love to see the actual play live someday. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.
  2. Child of the Moon by Jessica Semaan – My mom got this on Amazon as a whim and I read it after her. It falls under the umbrella of Instagram poetry, but since I write a decent amount of poetry in that style myself, I was still able to appreciate it. I also like work that relates to the moon/astrology so that was interesting for me. I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads.
  3. Almost Home by Madisen Kuhn – This was another book my mom ordered and I ended up reading. I thought the separation of the book into different rooms/parts of the house was clever, and I related to Kuhn’s sentiments about never really feeling at home, but I wasn’t particularly in love with any of the poems. Kuhn is another Instagram poet, so I’d avoid this if you don’t like that style. I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads.
  4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding – I read this for English class, and I really enjoyed it. I had actually been thinking a lot about the nature of man lately just because of everything going on in the world right now and our (our meaning society’s) reaction to it all. It was a short and easy read, and I was able to pick up on the symbolism in it. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.
  5. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – We were supposed to read this in my English class but it got cut from the distance learning curriculum. I had already bought it in advance, so I read it on my own. Although I know the message behind the story is important, it was very hard for me to get through despite it being a short read. I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads.
  6. The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer – This is an outlier on this list since it’s a spiritual self-help book, but I still wanted to include it. It’s enlightening but still in the way of being hard to take action and follow the book’s advice in everyday life. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.
  7. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson – LOVED this. It was suggested but not required reading for my writing workshop. It was a super fast read and honestly my dream book since it incorporated supernatural elements with an otherwise realistic fiction plot. I rated it 5/5 on Goodreads.
  8. I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark – This is a book of poetry that’s required reading for my writing workshop. Clark’s poems are moving and I think everyone should read this and support her as a talented Black poet. I rated it 5/5 on Goodreads.
  9. Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson – This is a book with multiple short stories, all somewhat different from one another. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Nothing to See Here, but I definitely do love Wilson’s work and hope to read more of it soon. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about the books I’ve read recently, and that this inspires you go to spend some time reading. Whether it’s an old favorite or something new, reading is always such a relaxing and nice pastime. Plus, it’s summer! Congrats to everyone who is finishing up/has just finished their school year. Stay safe and healthy out there.

Brooke

My Childhood Favorite Books

Welcome back everyone!

When I was younger, I used to devour books. I would get ten at a time from the library, and read them all within a weekend- I lived and breathed to read. I still love to read, but I definitely can’t keep up with my younger self’s dedication to seeking out new books and series to binge-read (Is binge-reading a term? If binge-watching is, it should be…). As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently re-read a bunch of my old favorite books as I was figuring out which I was ready to part with and pass on to the next generation of young readers. If you’re interested in my list of the best kids’ books, keep on reading!

I would like to clarify that these vary in age-range. I read most of them between second grade and seventh grade, but I read at a higher reading level throughout elementary school, so the books I read in elementary school aren’t very different from what I read in middle school. Some of these recommendations are very basic, but I included them anyway if they were truly some of my favorites, since that’s the topic of this list.

  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – What would this list be without the Harry Potter books? I read them starting at the end of first grade, but didn’t finish the later and longer books in the series until second grade. These rocked my world and made me fall in love with the fantasy genre, and every time I go back to read them again I’m reminded of the magic they held in that first read. My personal favorite has always been the Goblet of Fire.
  • Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder – This is another classic series that I started in first grade but didn’t finish until later in elementary school. My grandmother adored these books and bought me a box set of the first few for Christmas one year, and I remember being fascinated by them, wanting to experience prairie life for myself. My grandmother has now passed away, and although I haven’t read these in quite a few years, I know that when I eventually revisit them I will be reminded of her.
  • The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch – I forget how I stumbled upon this series, but all I know is I loved every minute of it. The humor (especially coming from the narrator) and the mystery are perfectly intertwined, and each book actually gets better rather than worse as in some kids’ book sequels. It’s a fairly intricate storyline in terms of trying to sum it up, but the reveals towards the end of the series are worth waiting for and actually not predictable (I’m bad at predicting events though, so maybe find out for yourself on that one).
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – I actually didn’t like this book at first. I’m still not the biggest fan of the other books in the series, but I will say this book grew on me more than I ever thought it would. The world Madeleine L’Engle creates is mind-boggling yet completely realistic (funny how that works) and made me appreciate science and theoretical thinking more. I love how the Murry family is relatable in some ways, yet incredibly special in their talent and intellect- it’s the perfect balance and makes you want to root for Meg and Charles Wallace even more.
  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funk/e – I got this book in a random store in upstate New York the summer after second grade, looking for a book to read during long car rides on that trip visiting my grandparents. I wish I had the same ability to make words come to life that Meggie does, but reading this book was magical enough. However, I didn’t enjoy the other two books in the trio (Inkspell, Inkdeath) nearly as much.
  • The Winnie Years series by Lauren Myracle – This book series isn’t a classic or a series with a complicated plot, but it meant a lot to me as an anxious pre-teen awaiting middle school. It’s a fairly accurate portrayal of late elementary school and middle school, and I went through a lot of the same things that Winnie did. I recommend it for girls who are in the pre-teen age range and just need something light and fluffy to relate to.
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech – My mom loved the plot of this book so she read it out loud to me in early elementary school. I think it teaches some important life lessons with a creative manner of events unfolding, and the twist at the end was both unexpectedly beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s a sad one, but the ending only shows how great the beginning of the book/everything leading up to the end is.
  • Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass – As someone who’s been having an existential crisis since forever, it made sense I would love this book. When I re-read it a few weeks ago, I cried just as much as I did the first time. I saw a lot of myself in Jeremy, and you’ll enjoy following his journey- it’s a really beautiful storyline.
  • A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass – This book is another sad one, but it’s just as beautiful. It follows the story of Mia, an eighth grader with synesthesia (someone in The Secret Series also has synesthesia!) and her discovering what exactly that is and how it relates to her self-identity. I found this book fascinating as it introduced me to something new, but it also managed to be relatable just because everyone struggles with their identity in some way. It perfectly captures those growing pains.
  • A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin – Another heartbreakingly beautiful book my mom read to me when I was younger, this story is set in a 1960s summer where a small-town-girl meets her mentally-ill uncle that was previously hidden from her. The ending is abrupt and sad, but twelve-year-old Hattie was all too relatable to me at the time of reading this, and her growth throughout the story is inspiring.
  • A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler –
  • Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman – I remember liking this book a lot, but I didn’t even realize how wonderful the plot and the protagonist’s journey was until I re-read it a couple weeks ago. It follows ten-year-old Allie moving cities (to a street named Strawberry Hill) and experiencing the struggles of making true friends as well as anti-Semitism. It clarifies what a true friend is, and it also has a couple cute pictures in my version of the book.
  • The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall – I LOVED this series when my second-grade teacher first introduced me to it. I always wanted sisters (I just have a younger brother) and I envied the Penderwicks’ tight-knit family. It’s a fun read that still touches on life lessons and serious issues like most kids’ books do.

I hope this list helps anyone out who’s looking for good kids’ books! Whether you’re a teacher, parent, or just someone who likes to read and was curious on if we shared the same favorite kids’ books, this list should have something for everyone. Honestly, I enjoy most of the books I read, and I’ll dabble in pretty much any genre if someone encourages me to read a certain book or I’m gifted one. I could’ve included more, but these are the ones that I would re-read again and again and that really stuck out to me. Let me know what your favorite children’s books are/were!

Brooke

What I Learned From Rereading My Childhood Books

Hello everyone!

Due to all the free time I’ve had at home, I decided I would declutter my bookshelf in my room. I had an idea of which books I had long outgrown and would be able to part with, but I kind of wanted to read them one last time before letting go of them, just to reflect on what my younger self saw in them. I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts on what I read and how I felt during this little process of decluttering, so if you’re interested in hearing my thoughts and possibly doing this yourself, keep on reading!

I’m not going to go too into depth about each specific book that I reread, but in case you’re curious, here’s the list for reference:

  • The Winnie Years series by Lauren Myracle (Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Thirteen Plus One)
  • Canterwood Crest series by Jessica Burkhart (20 books so I won’t list them all!)
  • The Fashion Disaster That Changed My Life by Lauren Myracle
  • The Clique by Lisi Harrison
  • The Ashley Project by Melissa de la Cruz
  • Ten Rules for Living With My Sister by Ann M. Martin
  • Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life (So Far) by Ann M. Martin
  • A Corner of The Universe by Ann M. Martin (this one’s more serious and sad)
  • Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman

They’re all pretty childish, each centered on girls around 10-13. I read them all in the later portion of my elementary school years, but remained attached to them in middle school. I haven’t looked back on any of them in a few years at least, but there were many other books I’ve donated and let go of since I was younger; these were kind of the stragglers remaining on my bookshelf from long ago. Reading them was a huge awakening as to how much I’ve matured, considering I used to think they were such thrilling storylines packed with drama. Now, a few of them just seemed like, well…typical young person problems. Don’t get me wrong, a couple of them tackle more serious issues for youth and teach important life lessons, but a lot of the books were simply obnoxious (The Clique, The Ashley Project).

It was crazy to think about how the girls in these books (middle school age) seemed so old to my fourth and fifth-grade self. Honestly, now I know why- because middle schoolers don’t act like that. At least in my experience, I didn’t have the independence a lot of the book characters did, and that greatly influences the events in the books/what the characters do. The types of books I read also said a lot about the person I aspired to be. A lot of the books focus on privileged, independent preteens with some sort of exciting lives (boarding school, living in the city, take your pick). This is not exactly the type of life I’ve experienced, but I am 100% okay with that now.

I find these books could greatly skew a young, impressionable child’s impression of middle school, but it’s all in good fun. Even as a child, I don’t think I took them too seriously. However, I’m glad I decided to reread them and experience them one more time before letting go of them; I was worried I would get too sentimental and want to hang on to them, but reading them only confirmed I was ready to pass them on to someone else who can enjoy them. The feeling of clearing space on my bookshelf and that these books will get read by others is super special. I’m not sure where to donate them yet and will obviously still be hanging onto them because of the current quarantine, but I’ll figure it out soon.

Overall, I can definitely see how much I’ve grown as a person through even the books I’ve gravitated towards reading. Most of these books were realistic fiction, but now I prefer to read almost anything but realistic fiction, as books are truly an escape. However, at the time I read them, I think these books still were an escape to me, an escape to my ideal middle school/preteen life. I also learned how important it is go through your books and belongings in general to donate things you’re no longer using. I hadn’t even questioned getting rid of these books before, but I’m glad that I finally did since they’ll go to much better use.

I used to be extremely attached to everything I owned and hesitant to get rid of/donate anything, but now I’m almost the opposite and am eager to give away anything I feel I’ve already gotten my use out of. I suggest you also go through your books, reflect on the person you used to be when you read them for the first time and how they helped you grow, and pass them onto someone else if you’re ready. It’s rewarding, I promise!

I hope you enjoyed hearing my perspective on this. I didn’t want to go too into detail on each book since that’s not the most relevant part of this little process, but let me know if you’d like to hear more about any of them 🙂

Brooke

Netflix Recommendations for 2020 – Slightly Less Basic!

Welcome back everyone!

If you didn’t know already, I am an avid Netflix (and Hulu, and Disney+) binge watcher, and I’m always looking for new things to watch. I’m not exactly a TV or movie critic, but I like to talk about whatever shows I’m into at the moment, and I tend to see the good in most of the programs I watch. Netflix hasn’t gotten as much love lately but there’s still plenty of new stuff being added all the time, so here are a few of my recent Netflix recommendations.

Keep in mind that I have a fairly “basic” teenage girl taste in TV shows, so I tried not to put anything on here that was extremely basic, and preferably things I hadn’t heard too much about previously.

  • The Circle – This is a Netflix original, and I got hooked after the first episode. It’s a little cheesy at times, but it’s basically a social media competition where 8 people live in separate apartments isolated from each other and can only communicate through this chat platform called “The Circle.” They compete for popularity and people get “blocked” out of the house and replaced. There’s only one season out, but I’m hoping more is coming soon.
  • Greenhouse Academy – This isn’t a new show but it’s another Netflix original and I don’t hear people talk about it often. I believe a new season is in the works, which is exciting since the last one ended on a major cliffhanger. It’s basically a mystery show that takes place at this uniquely structured boarding school for geniuses. I’ve always wanted to go to boarding school so that was the draw for me at first, but I genuinely enjoyed it.
  • Cheer – I guess this one could be considered basic if you think about all the media attention it has gotten, but it holds a special place in my heart because of my experience with cheerleading. Although I was a high school cheerleader, I also had an experience on a competitive team (nowhere near the level of Navarro, of course). The documentary series follows the ups and downs of Navarro College’s national champion team and their big competition in Daytona. I highly recommend it even if you’re not a cheerleader.
  • Big Mouth – This cartoon focuses on the struggles of puberty, and it’s absolutely hilarious albeit pretty inappropriate at times. I enjoyed it as a lighthearted show before bed, but I didn’t follow along with the storyline too closely. A few of my friends are completely obsessed with it as well, so it’s worth a look if you like cartoon shows like Family Guy and the like.
  • Yummy Mummies – This is completely random, but one of my friends suggested it to me because she found it hilarious and she knew I would be down to try watching anything. It’s a reality show covering the lives of these absolutely insane Australian moms and moms-to-be, and it’s like The Real Housewives on crack. Again, it’s not new, but I haven’t heard anyone talking about it so I figured I would share.

Let me know if you guys have any underrated Netflix recommendations or if you end up watching any of these and enjoy them. As I said, I’m always down to try out a new show 🙂 I get through shows embarrassingly fast as well, so I’m sure I’ll have some new recommendations soon enough…

Brooke

Review – Philips Sonicare Toothbrush

Hello everyone!

Around the holiday season, my parents got a set of Sonicare toothbrushes for the family. I’ve used a couple different electric toothbrushes over the years, and I was using an Oral-B electric toothbrush before I received my new Sonicare. The Sonicare I have is probably one of the most basic models- it’s the Sonicare Series 2 for plaque control, which you can get on sale for $40 here. If you’re in the market for an electric toothbrush but don’t want to spend a ton of money, keep on reading to hear my thoughts on this Sonicare!

The first few times I used the toothbrush, I was really impressed. I have pretty sensitive teeth and gums yet it didn’t irritate them (sometimes electric toothbrushes do since the bristles move at such high speeds), and my teeth felt really clean after using it. I liked that the toothbrush actually stopped after the two-minute timer went off so I wouldn’t lose track of time, since my Oral B’s toothbrush had a timer but didn’t have that feature. My teeth looked a lot whiter during the first couple weeks of using it, so I was very pleased.

As I’ve used the toothbrush more, I don’t see as much of a clear difference in quality between it and the Oral-B toothbrush I had before. I’m still pleased with it since I believe it’s $10-20 cheaper than my previous toothbrush and I like the timer feature a lot. However, my teeth definitely don’t look as white at the moment (could be other reasons, but I’m not really sure what), and I have to charge it quite often. I’ve started just keeping it on the charging dock whenever I’m not using it, but sometimes it still seems a little slow certain times I’m using it.

Another thing to consider is the price of brush head replacements. My Oral-B replacement heads were around $7 for a pack of two, but most of the places I’ve found that carry these Sonicare replacement heads are $8 for one. This would outpace the $10-20 initial price difference of the two toothbrushes really quickly, so it’s something to consider if price is a concern, or if you like to replace your brush heads more than the average person.

My overall thoughts are that I would rate this toothbrush a solid 8/10. It’s not too pricey, so I wasn’t expecting a ton from it- at this price point, you can’t really expect fancy features, and that’s fine with me. I’m glad I have it and I do enjoy it more than my Oral-B for the time being, but if you’re considering whether to make the brand switch, I don’t think it’s really necessary unless you’re comparing more expensive toothbrushes and there’s more discrepancies in features. I would get whatever is the best deal while you’re shopping.

Hopefully this helps any of you toothbrush enthusiasts! I know it’s something weird to review, but I’m kind of obsessive about dental care since after getting my braces off eight months ago I really want to take good care of my teeth. I’m also willing to try any toothbrushes and toothpaste that will make my teeth look whiter and cleaner, since I have naturally yellow teeth and nothing really helps. Let me know if you have any recommendations 🙂

Brooke

TV Review – Good Trouble

Hello everyone!

I recently watched both available seasons of the show Good Trouble on Hulu and I absolutely loved it, so I thought I would talk a little bit about it. I normally don’t find that many things I want to watch on Hulu, but I watched The Fosters while it was popular a couple years ago and my friend told me that the sequel type show was on Hulu. I checked it out and finished it within one weekend (in my defense, I was sick and pretty much bedridden). It was a little cheesy, as all shows of this sort are, but definitely better than I expected for a sequel.

I highly recommend watching The Fosters before you watch Good Trouble, but it’s not completely necessary since there’s a lot of new characters in the show that weren’t in The Fosters. However, it does pick up almost exactly where The Fosters left off, so I would still suggest it. It follows sisters (adopted sisters) Mariana and Callie as they move to Los Angeles for their jobs at a tech startup and clerking for a federal judge, respectively. They move into an apartment in a building called The Coterie and realize it’s a communal living space- they have a bedroom to themselves, but communal bathrooms and kitchen/living space. Craziness ensues as they meet the other residents, and there’s lots of drama.

The show moves quickly and there’s tons of relationships and little storylines here and there woven throughout the main conflicts. The thing I was most pleased about was the continuity from The Fosters- pretty much all of the family members and original characters ended up coming into the show at one point to visit Callie and Mariana and there were actual plots surrounding these events. They weren’t just meaningless cameos to somehow tie the show back to its roots; they actually continued old storylines. I thought that was a really nice touch since sequels often don’t bring back the characters and plotlines- I know I was disappointed with The Originals after The Vampire Diaries, so much so that I never even finished it.

I don’t want to say too much else about the actual plot because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that Callie’s character probably annoyed me the most throughout the episodes that I watched. She kind of annoyed me in The Fosters too so that’s not the biggest surprise- I have a lot of respect for her because of her passion for law, but she still makes self-destructive decisions and in some case just can’t make decisions.

Another element of the show I didn’t expect to enjoy so much was the portrayal of Callie and Mariana’s respective workplaces. I’m not sure how accurate a depiction of those jobs they are, but they definitely opened my eyes and I liked the little focus on the workplace- especially in Callie’s case, since I’m interested in law. Mariana’s storyline with her job really opened my eyes to more of the mistreatment of women in STEM (something I mentioned in another recent post of mine- you should go check it out!!). I felt that was a super important thing to include.

Overall, I really enjoyed the parts of the show that I watched. The show is currently still airing its second season, which I didn’t realize at the time of watching; I forgot that Hulu gets episodes pretty quickly as they air on actual TV. That being said, I guess this review only covers my impression of one and a half season then? Either way, I will definitely be watching the rest when I get a chance, but I’ll probably wait for the rest of the season to be done so I can binge-watch it all at once.

I hope you guys enjoyed this. I’m not the best at reviewing things, so please feel free to give me pointers or suggestions of things to review so I can get more practice in. Let me know what you think if you end up watching Good Trouble 🙂

Brooke

Reusable Notebook Review – Rocketbook

Hello everyone!

Today I’m going to go more into-depth on my experience with a product that I received as a Christmas gift and had been wanting for a while: the Rocketbook reusable notebook. I found out about this product from a Buzzfeed video and I knew I wanted to try it because of it’s eco-friendliness and convenience. I’m a big planner and I like to write out basically my whole life on paper, so it would be a way to continue doing this without as much waste, but still getting the feeling of actually writing and not having to go fully digital. If you’re interested in getting this product or something similar, keep on reading!

In case you’re confused on what the Rocketbook is, it’s a notebook where the ink can be erased from the pages. In order to preserve whatever writing you have, there’s a QR code on each page that you scan using the Rocketbook app, and the contents of the page will be sent to your online destination of choice as a PDF or JPEG file. Once you’ve digitally saved the file, you wet the microfiber cloth that comes with the notebook and use it to erase the special pen ink from the pages- and repeat!

For specifics, I received the Letter size Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook in Deep Space Gray, purchased off of Amazon for $34.00 (I picked it out so I know the details ;)). When you receive the notebook, it also comes with a little instruction manual, an erasable Pilot Frixon pen in black, and a towel that erases the pen ink from the pages when dampened. The notebook is thirty pages. The instruction manual tells you to download the Rocketbook app from the App Store, and things get exciting from there.

The app comes with how-to videos in case you get confused on anything, but it will start with having you make an account and link it to an email and/or some sort of cloud. I linked mine to my main email account (a Gmail account) and the Google Drive that goes with it. There are 7 categories that you can connect to different destinations so you can organize where your files are going if you’re using one notebook for different subjects/purposes. Your scans will also be preserved in the app to look back on in case you lose track of them in whatever online file storage you sent them to.

I’ve really enjoyed using it so far- I don’t waste paper on simple to-do lists, and I can keep a lot of thoughts in one place. I don’t love the dot-grid since I tend to write crooked without structured lines, but it’s not a deal-breaker since I only use it for planning and creative writing. It would be bother me more if I used it for school and note-taking though. It definitely feels different than writing with a normal pen and normal paper, but it’s not different enough to be weird. I don’t think there’s much more to say about using it, but I’ll include some pictures to give you more of an idea!

Here’s the overview of a page- the inside cover has the seven categories’ images.
A close-up to give you an idea of how the pen writes!
The scan history screen in all its glory.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Let me know if you end up getting a Rocketbook or similar product and how your experience goes 🙂

Brooke

10 Basic Things I Unapologetically Love

Welcome back everyone!

Before the new year began, I made a mental note that I wanted to be ~myself~ more unapologetically. I feel like I’m pretty open with my thoughts and everything on this blog regardless, but I was trying to think of interesting post ideas that could relate to this goal. Eventually, the title of this post popped into my head- I’m going to be talking about a few things that are very basic, but that I still love anyways because hey, I’m a pretty basic girl. It reminds me of a topic that would be some YouTube tag from back when tag videos were the thing to do on YouTube, but oh well! I loved those videos anyway 🙂 If you want to find out my basic guilty pleasures, keep on reading.

  1. Starbucks drinks – I had to start with probably the most basic thing to get it over with. To preface this, I (funnily enough) used to HATE Starbucks; I thought it was overpriced, overrated, and bland. It all changed on one sleep-deprived day at yearbook camp, when I finally tried the iced caramel macchiato that all my friends loved… it’s been true love ever since. I’m honestly not the biggest coffee fan though, so I expanded my horizons and tried the mango dragonfruit refresher with lemonade added- I would highly recommend that as well. If all else fails, I love their hot chocolate on any cold day.
  2. Glossier balm.com chapstick – I was reluctant to give into the Glossier hype at first, and I’m not the biggest fan of some of their actual makeup products, but I LOVE the balm.com lip balm. I got it in birthday cake for my birthday last year and it was the best chapstick I’d ever had. I also enjoyed the coconut and mint flavors, which I’m currently using.
  3. LUSH bath bombs – I guess this isn’t the most basic thing, it’s more of a self-care thing, but I remember when LUSH was all the rage. I love a good bath and treating myself, and I’ve just found that the bath bombs from LUSH were always my favorite. The scents are so much stronger, and the colors are much more vibrant.
  4. Poetry books like Milk and Honey – Yes, these are the “basic” poetry books that you’ll see pictures of all over social media. I love poetry and I write it quite often (if you’ve stuck around my blog for a while you would know I love to write 🙂 ), and I still enjoy reading “basic” poetry like this. I also recently read the Pillow Thoughts series since I got them all for Christmas, and I enjoyed those as well. Just because they’re shorter and less complicated poems doesn’t mean they’re not good quality writing- I think it’s great that they’ve also reached an atypical audience for poetry as well.
  5. Hydro Flasks – After reading this post, you’ll probably assume I’m a wannabe VSCO girl. You’re entitled to your own opinions, of course, but I’m definitely not. I got my first Hydro Flask four years ago, and I have never used any other type of water bottle since. They keep my water cold all day at school, and they’re very durable despite the fact that they dent easily. My favorite part is the straw lid you can buy, because it’s the best straw functionality I’ve ever had on a reusable water bottle, and I prefer drinking with a straw much more (don’t worry, I got metal ones for Christmas for when I’m not using my Hydro). Plus, they’re just so pretty!
  6. All the trendy shoes (Birkenstocks, Nike AF1s, Doc Martens) – I figured I would just combine these three pairs of shoes into one thing. I got Birkenstocks three years ago for Christmas, Doc Martens last year for Christmas, and Nike AF1s for my birthday last year. They are all pretty much my go-to shoes for school or various occasions, except for when I need something more neutral and I wear slip-on Vans. I live in Birkenstocks outside of school and during the summertime, and Nike AF1s are my go-to slightly dressy sneaker. These are three comfy shoe staples that every girl could use.
  7. Lululemon leggings – Yes, they are worth it. I got my first pair for my birthday in middle school and it completely changed my perspective on leggings and athleisure in general. I know that sounds dramatic, but they’re just so comfy and flattering. I have a couple pairs that I rotate, and they’ve all lasted at least a couple years without much sign of wear or tear. Another plus is that if they rip or anything, if you keep your receipt, they will exchange your damaged pair for a new one free of charge!
  8. Bath and Body Works candles – Again, I remember when these were all the rage on YouTube and their sales would be insanely crowded in my local mall. I’ve moved on from the world of Bath and Body Works perfumes and body lotions, but I still love their candles. They just have the best and most comforting holiday scents, and there are certain fall and winter scents that when I sniff them I just get flooded with memories.
  9. The casual look (hoodies and sweatpants, baby!) – This isn’t really a defined item, it’s more of a fashion taste/look in general. I feel like in the past few years it’s become more acceptable and even trendy to wear loungewear like oversize hoodies and sweatpants out. I have a hoodie collection that grows more and more each year, and I absolutely love to be comfy. Unless it’s summer, a special occasion or I’m feeling like I want to put together an outfit, you will most likely find me in a hoodie and sweats; that’s what I’m wearing right now.
  10. Teen drama shows (like Gossip Girl or Vampire Diaries) – These shows are just irresistible for me. I’ve binge-watched all of the main/most popular ones on Netflix and Hulu, and even a few of the lesser-known ones. I used to have way too much free time on my hands not having any extracurriculars in middle school; I barely watch any TV now, but I do often have my old favorite shows on in the background so I don’t really have to pay attention to them.

These are just a few of my numerous basic girl indulgences. I’m not embarrassed that I like these things, but I am hoping to find some less-basic things that I could talk about and recommend to you guys on this blog in the future. Let me know if we share any of the same guilty pleasures, or if you have any recommendations based on what I’ve shared 🙂

Brooke

2019: A Year in Review

Hello everyone!

Wow. It’s the last day of 2019, and the year is actually about to end. I know, I know- it’s obvious. That doesn’t mean it’s not crazy though! This past year absolutely flew by, and I can’t believe we’re about to say hello to a new decade. I completely grew up and matured through the 2010s… in 2010 I turned 6, so obviously in 2020 I’ll be turning 16. As the title says, this is a year in review, not a decade; however, it’s still crazy for me to think of how fast the past ten years have flown by as well. If you want to hear about my journey through 2019, keep on reading!

January: When the year began, I honestly still wasn’t completely adjusted to freshman year. Winter break was a nice escape from high school, but as soon as I came back it was back to cheer and craziness (similar to this year!). I felt like my life was boring yet too busy, which is why I started to think about what else I would rather be doing with my time. I was still actually kind of into cheer at this point though, and I remember constantly stretching and going to tumbling classes. I feel like it was really too busy of a month to be significant, considering I don’t have any pictures from January in my camera roll and only a few with friends in my Snapchat memories. I had my first round of high school finals… I guess that took the most out of me.

February: Always a short but sweet month, this month was mainly marked by my freshman year cheer season ending. I had to be switched into offseason PE for 2nd semester which was a huge source of my angst at the time. I remember it being a pretty cold month by Southern CA standards at least, so I pretty much lived in hoodies and sweatpants. Now that cheer wasn’t taking up any of my time (unfortunately, PE was), I started to research extracurriculars and opportunities for next (this) year. This is kind of when I got on top of my game as far as planning for the future and realizing what it takes to get into college…aka stumbling upon College Confidential for the first time. Because of these things, my self-esteem took a little hit. To deal with that and to fill my time, I started volunteering at the local animal shelter which I still do and love today.

March: I volunteered a LOT this month to fulfill all my hours for Key Club. I did Rotary events with my dad, I went to the animal shelter every week, I volunteered at the YMCA, and more. It was honestly a great experience since I met so many new people at each place and got to do “normal jobs” that I hadn’t before, and I was so proud of myself when I fulfilled most of my fifty-hour requirement during this month. I had volunteered on and off before, but this is when I really started to get into it and realized how good it made me feel. Before I knew it, cheer was also (sort of) back in my life- tryout meetings and sign ups were upon us. I had a major breakthrough in strength in my tumbling classes though, so my self-esteem and happiness had increased quite a bit in this month.

April: Spring break offered another escape from the craziness of school. It was the peak of studying for my AP Human Geo test (a major feat at the time) and cheer tryouts were coming up quickly. Palm Springs with my friend was super fun though, and it stopped me from stressing too much over the break. I kept volunteering and finally finished my Key Club requirements as well. I also had a little phase of being into hiking and photography- I still enjoy both things, but I noticed when scrolling through my camera roll I did a lot of those things in April. Maybe it’s because the sun finally started coming out again.

May: Cheer tryouts time! The end of the school year came fast, and cheer took over my life (again). Everyone made the JV team and we immediately started two-hour practices after school everyday again. Between that and studying for finals, I don’t really remember anything else. I was just counting down the days until the beginning of summer and my Europe trip. I dissected a pig in biology and that was kind of the hot topic among my grade at the time.

June: SUMMER BEGINS!! After my second-ever round of high school finals, I could finally say I had survived my first year of high school. As soon as the school year ended, my family left for our first out-of-the country trip ever, to Europe. We spent most of the rest of the month there, and it was honestly one of the best experiences of my life- we went to Paris, and all over Italy. In fact, when I embarked on the trip, I started my blog! I had wanted to start a blog for so long, and having an exciting trip to cover encouraged me to finally do it. I’ve blogged extensively about the whole trip in the past, so I recommend checking out my first posts if you haven’t before. It was amazing and I felt almost like a different person when I returned; I definitely saw some of the most beautiful places I think I’ll ever see.

July: My grandparents stayed with us for a couple weeks at the beginning of the month, and while they were here I spent a lot of time taking my online AP Psych course and researching extracurriculars for sophomore year. I also started editing submissions at the literary magazine I still work with, and I got into writing a lot more. I also found out that I poem I submitted in spring to a contest had gotten selected for publication! It was a fun month though as I celebrated three of my good friends’ birthdays. We had a couple beach days and other celebrations. However, the second half of the month was crazy! I went to yearbook camp and got my first taste of being on the yearbook staff at Chapman University; it was actually SO much fun and I felt so independent living a mini and relaxed version of the college life. Right after returning, it was back to summer cheer practices and conditioning, and the last couple days of the month I left for cheer camp at Knott’s Berry Farm.

August: The month began while I was still at cheer camp, which was sadly less than pleasant, but luckily August 1st was our last day there! Before I knew it, it was time to go back-to-school-shopping. My birthday is August 14th, so I also celebrated my 15th birthday- a VERY low-key affair. I also happened to get my braces off, so that was great. The next week, sophomore year started, and I had no idea what was about to hit me. Football season kicking off was a nice start to the year though. I kept volunteering, I began tutoring in my school’s history center, and I joined Youth and Government. Between all my new hard classes, yearbook, and all the other new activities I had joined, my schedule was absolutely loaded.

September: I felt pressured to overload my schedule even more, so I tried out a bunch of different clubs and activities and settled on a few more. I joined Spanish National Honors Society (making me a tutor in our school’s language center!) and English National Honors Society, as well as a couple leadership programs outside of school that I applied for. The first few tests in each of my classes were trying, but I was (kind of) getting the hang of my new busy schedule. I had my first in-class English essay, which was a very over-hyped experience. Honestly, the thing sucking the most energy out of me was cheer practice and football games, and I was beginning to fall out of love with it more and more. I had a lot of breakthroughs in tumbling class, which was weird since I wasn’t even enjoying it as much- something I learned I needed to let go of.

October: Homecoming month!! The first couple weeks of the month were all just hype leading up to homecoming week. Our homecoming game was actually quite fun, and the dance was much better than last year. I think it’s just a lot less overwhelming of an experience as a sophomore. I also got way more into Youth and Government during this month, as we had our first mini-conference/bonding experience. I was definitely still overwhelmed and felt like the year had just begun, but I was having a lot more fun of a time.

November: November was an absolutely insane month filled with fun and crazy experiences. I had my first official Youth and Government conference in Fresno, which was absolutely surreal. It made me fall in love with the program and realize what an amazing thing I was now apart of- I definitely could see myself pursuing a government career someday. I also got sick, which unfortunately coincided with my Post Malone concert that I got tickets for in August. The concert was still a cool experience though since I’ve loved his music for so long. I’ve saved the best for last though: my Thanksgiving break trip to Seattle with my mom. We spent almost the full week in the city and I absolutely fell in love. I could see myself living there someday for sure, and now I can’t wait to explore more places in the U.S. currently unknown to me. School stuff was definitely still stressful, but it finally took a backseat in my life for this month.

December: This month absolutely flew by. I didn’t even get to decorate much or go ice skating before break started. I had SO much schoolwork bogging me down, but now that I’m on break I’m relieved to have another escape. It was super stressful but luckily I barely had cheer so I could focus on other things. I’ve had a lot more fun with friends and family than I did in the past couple months though. However, there was also a lot of prep leading up to what will be a crazy January with basketball season and finals!!

I know I went through the months as if they were a list, but it’s only for ease of clarification. In my mind, this year went by so quickly that I barely even remember most of it. The main thing I know is that it was one huge learning experience- I figured out lots of things I do and don’t like, and I explored so many interests I didn’t even fully realize I had. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunities to travel more and experience things I never thought I would before- thank you 2019.

If you made it to the end, I appreciate you and thank you for sticking with me. I would love to hear about your 2019 journeys and realizations as well, so feel free to share them with me! 2019 was a year of growth for me, and I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings- bring it on! It’s crazy to think the new year’s here, but it’s even crazier to think I’m going to become an adult, go to college, and grow up ~for real~ in this decade. I know, I know- I’m getting ahead of myself. But hey, the roaring 20s are here 🙂

Happy New Year,

Brooke