Books in August

For the month of August, I decided I didn’t want to marathon TV. I didn't give up TV completely, I just didn't sit to watch it like I normally do (all day! yikes!) I've given up TV before, but this was a good balance for me. I watched what I wanted, scaled back and picked up reading again to entertain myself. Here's what I've read so far! 

Winter, Fairest and Stars Above by Marissa Meyer Ok, so that’s 3 books but they’re all part of the Lunar Chronicles. If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, this is all my life was for a moment. Marisa Meyer created a YA series unlike any other I’ve read before. Yes, I loved Harry Potter and nothing compares but this is a group of women, of diverse races, disabilities, and talents who fight a war in space. It’s also one of the first YA books I’ve read where one of the protagonists mentions she’s sexually attracted to someone with no shame (but I promise you t’s not 50 Shades of Gray). The series is long, each book gets longer and I began reading Cinder earlier this year and it took me some time to get through each one. I loved the characters, the wonderful and magical world where women rule in space and I was sad to see it end. 

Sex Criminals, Vol 1, 2, 3 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zsardsky. This is a comic but not a comic for kids, at all. This is a graphic (and I mean that in both illustrated and genre) novel where sex is the main topic and it’s brilliantly done. Jon and Suzie find themselves stopping time every time they have an orgasm, not your average super hero trick. By chance they happen to find each other, fall in love and become criminals by stopping time together. It’s funny, sweet, and the illustrations are tasteful, but I was still embarrassed to read it in public. Matt Fraction has written for comics before (such as Hawkeye, and brought Kate Bishop to life, one of the best characters in comics) and gives them heart and charm and I’m looking forward to the next volume. 

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein- I wanted to give this book 5 stars by the prologue. I was surprised how well Carrie writes. She’s a great musician and comedian but I never thought her story about being in one of my favorite childhood bands would resonate with me so much. If you grew up loving Sleater Kinney, or music was a part of your growth to adulthood, this book is great. I loved when she writes about music and the connection to nostalgia. I always knew bands worked hard at touring and recording, but when I read the details about the life they gave up to change mine, I can’t help but appreciate them more. 

Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen- There’s a little bit of Josely in me and by the end of the story I was hoping Sarah would write a sequel. She’s shy, loves her mother, is crushing on her mailman, and just all around kind of a nice bland girl, or so you think. The female characters in this book are all relatable at some point, and the men I either wanted slap or hug. I was about to give this book 3 stars, but without giving too much away, the last ten pages made me add the extra star.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami- I loved this book but I’m biased because Murakami could write about grass growing or paint drying and I would still praise it. If this is the first Murakami book, I don’t recommend this as an introduction. It’s a story about Tsukuru, a mid 30 some year old male going through growing pains. He seemed a little immature at first but I think Murakami wrote about issues no one in their 30’s will admit to- like a conversation you had with someone 15 years ago will effect you now, or how anxiety is still the same as a teenager. If you’re familiar with his work and love it, this is a great book to add to your library. 

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn WeingartenThis wasn’t the thriller I expected but I appreciated the banter between the teenagers and the friendship grown throughout the harder issues. It’s a beautiful cover and what could have been a great story but something about it just didn’t capture me like I wanted. The book is under 300 pages and I can see this being a YA staple for others. It was an okay read but overall the “thriller” aspect fell a little flat for me. 

Red Queen by Victoria AveyardI was so excited to read this book- I planned a full day to finish it and even if I wasn’t intrigued by page 100, I felt committed to doing so. Many people recommend this book to me and I’m not sure if it was the high expectations that weren’t met or the YA tropes that came chapter after chapter, it just wasn’t for me. I appreciated the strong female character and the ending that leads to the second part of the series coming out next year. If this book ever became a movie, I would love to watch it. The imagery of the costumes were beautiful and I’ll admit that’s what kept me reading at times. 

The Nesting Place- This was a fun book on decorating and appreciating what you have. Even if you own a home or rent, you'll find something to take away from it. The author's decorating style wasn't anything like mine (I skipped the whole chapter on used furniture after my debacle with finding mold and asbestos on my favorite couch years ago) but I appreciate everything she had to say about making a home. 

Currently Reading- The Psychopath Test Jon Ronson. I’m about 100 pages in and I love it so far. I can’t imagine many authors writing about a horrific topic and making it seem funny and charming. I’ll update this next month.

Any other books I should add to my list? You can keep up on my reading on Goodreads and the occasional bookish Snapchat under “ourcitylights”. 

Summer 2016 Favorites

Here are favorites of the summer 

+ Getting ready for baby- Nesting is my favorite part of being pregnant. My house is always cleanest, it's feels more creative, and we're so nervous to meet this little girl in a few weeks. 

+ Date Nights- It's not fair to call a married couple with no kids "date night" but that's what Scott and I have been doing. If it's not walks on Main Street in Disneyland, it's at concerts, plays or anywhere we can. It's our official last year as a family of two and it's exciting and scary what will change in our marriage. 

+ Renovations- I had the dark living room painted, our front door painted pink, re-surfaced our front porch and added more paint, and now I want to work on more things before the baby arrives. It's been nice to see it come together. 

+ Reading- I'll go into this more but I gave up marathoning TV for the month of August and I've read so much. Like, wayy more. Okay, I read 8 books so far this month alone and I'm curious what else I'll be reading. 


+ I got to see friends visiting out of town and I got to hang out with Ashley after years of internet friendship. And yes, we visited a Sephora to know it's real. 

+ On my summer playlist- Made in Heights, Wet, and Purity Ring. Basically, the same thing I've been listening to all year long. (Bands link to Spotify) 

+ I became a .com F I N A L L Y ! ! ! After waiting for the domain for 9 years, I finally snagged it when it went on sale. I love .org but did you know one time I made business cards I accidentally typed ".orgy". It was not good for business. Plus I get tons of email from volunteers, and interns asking to work for this "organization" so that won't be as awkward. 

Plus Size Maternity Favorites

The first time I was pregnant, I spent way too much time and money on maternity clothing. I ended up wasting so much money on “exclusive” maternity jeans every trimester, along with leggings, dresses, and even coats (I was pregnant in the summer, so I don’t even know how to explain that one). I also remember feeling frumpy and uncomfortable despite my new wardrobe. I hated the clothing maternity shops had to offer in my size and I didn’t feel like myself. 

I would like to think the second time around I’m a lot smarter economically and even better at wearing what I want to wear and not feel so trapped by the word “maternity” in clothing. Here are some tips to make the best of your plus size pregnancy

1. Invest in one dress to grow into- I bought this overall dress from ASOS Curve at 6 weeks pregnant and it's adorable with a simple striped tee, or basic tee.  I’m currently 27 weeks pregnant and I still look cute in it, and this will help me grow through the 9 months, including postpartum recovery. It looks great with everything, it’s light and I wear it 3 to 4 times a week! 

2. A chambray dress goes with everything, and with a summer pregnancy, I appreciate the light fabric. This particular brand runs a little large but the 1x fits fine at size 16 with room to grow in. 

3. I love short black dresses but I noticed most of them go really short in the front with the extra belly plus pregnancy boobs growing. I don't want to flash anyone, and this basic black dress is great for that. I like to switch it up with cute skinny belts. I was worried about the XL fitting a plus size but it fits well plus I can grow more into it. 

4. I'm not going to tell you what "chub rub" is but women with chubby thighs know what I'm talking about. Yes, my thighs rub together because they love each other but at the same time they can catch on fire if I don't wear something to prevent chaffing. I got the XL in these shorts, both in black and nude, it smooths out lumps but keeps the baby bump comfortable without squeezing it. 

Other tips for plus size maternity dressing- 

Make your own maternity jeans- yes, it’s possible! I bought cheap black skinny jeans on sale at Old Navy and I followed this tutorial on making them “maternity” friendly. The total cost, plus two hours of sewing it (i’m not a sewer, so it’ll probably be quicker for those that know their way around a machine), was under $25. 

Okay, so get the maternity leggings- By the time you buy cheap leggings to fit into your third trimester, you may as well have spent money on a good pair. My favorite plus size pair are from Motherhood maternity and I’ve grown from a size 14 to a size 16, and I can still get another size in there. 

if you need work clothes, Torrid makes amazing stretchy pants up to size 30. I bought a pair of their black jeans and have used this little gadget to grow into. I’m at my third trimester and have lasted. 


You’ll be wearing some of these maternity clothes for 3 months at a time, depending on how quickly you grow into each trimester. You won’t be wearing them too long anyways. You don’t need a new wardrobe, as tempting as it sounds. As I got to know more and more friends who were pregnant, they wore the same things over and over and made it their own with accessories. Be as comfortable as possible, and if wearing leather pants is what makes you feel amazing or loose sweats are your thing, do whatever is best for you and baby as long as you feel fabulous. 

Miko's Leia-themed Nursery

Being a parent of child loss, it's hard to put away your kid's things. Even if they never used them, it was meant for them. I made a space for Max and I'm not a sentimental person but there were waves of uninvited grief that came when I was cleaning it out. A friend reminded me it's okay to give your next baby individuality. I don't want this little girl to lose the excitement of her own space because I couldn't let go of what happened before. It's not fair to her and it's something I've been needing to do for some time. 

I wanted to stay with a similar theme. I love the Star Wars story and General Leia is my favorite heroine. She's sassy, rebellious and fights for the good, but she's a great leader. I'm glad I went with the grey and white theme the first time around, it was so much easier changing around small things and keeping the main colors. We framed comic books we already had in our collection for decoration. It looks minimal, and as much as I love the color pink, I wanted a more neutral setting for her. 


Details- Leia Quilt Bedhogshop, white crib Babyletto, Tree-shaped bookshelf Babyletto, galaxy mobile Babyjives, Lightsaber lamp Disney Store, Rey Lego, Rey Build A Bear Costume, Leia Build A Bear, ABC, 123, Leia and AT-T prints from waiwaiartprints, Star Wars nesting dolls, Tie Fighter wooden model

Aging, Skincare and Hormones (pt 3)

Part one is here and part 2 is here! I’m glad I started doing this again, it’s nice to go back and see what’s worked for me overtime and what I gave up. My skin has gone through so much changing and catering to my skin care is one of the best things I’ve done. I was in Nashville for a few months in the late winter and there were days that were under 20 degrees and the next day, it was a sunny 70 degrees. The ups and downs of the temperature, plus pregnancy hormones have made me change my whole routine and here are my current favorites. As usual, don’t take my advice, go see your local dermatologist. I'm a licensed cosmetologist but that doesn't make me an expert on your skin, just mine! 

Mario Badescu Facial Spray is my favorite multi-tasker. It sets my makeup, cools my skin during a hot day, preps my skin before my skin care routine. Plus it smells like rose water, if you spray it on your body after a shower, the subtle stays with you throughout the day.

I discovered Youth To The People from Ashley. It’s a natural-skincare based company out of California. She sent me this bottle back in March as a birthday gift and it really is the gift that keeps on giving. A little goes a long way, I’m not even halfway through it! I love how it takes off all my makeup (even my eye makeup) and it’s concentrated. For days when I little bit more moisture, I still go back to Laura Mercier’s cleanser but YTTP has been my daily go-to. 

I loved the YTTP cleanser so much, I wanted to try their serum and moisturizer. They both contain hyaluronic acid with natural ingredients like kale and spinach. Pregnancy brings melasma if you’re not careful, and this has helped fade the few spots I have. It’s not heavy on chemicals so it’s safe for baby, too. 

I was careful about oils because I thought oils= acne. Herbivore makes an amazing product that has tackled my pregnancy acne, my dry skin, preventing wrinkles, and keeping my skin away from dry patches with Lapis. This oil will go bad before I even finish it, I’ve had it since the beginning of the year, i use it twice a day, sometimes three if my hands are dry, and it still looks like it’s never been used. It makes my makeup go on easier and when I want a little bit of glow, I mix my foundation with it. Every person has their one cult product they can’t live without and this is mine. 

I recently switched sunblock to cater to my acne/dry skin and this one from Cover FX sinks into your skin without messing with your moisturizer. 

If you don't get to a spa for monthly facials, invest in a great at-home mask. Herbivore makes Blue Tansy, which contains natural enzymes, it brightens my skin, renews my skin without redness, and so so soft. 

Bonus- Origins Zit Zapper. It won’t dry out my skin, but it will dry out my pimple overnight. La Roche-Posay Anthellos SPF 50 Primer. When I know I’ll be out in the sun a little more, I’ll switch out my regular primer for this primer with extra SPF. 

I’ll be working on an updated makeup soon. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to gloat about my favorite skin care products. 

Rainbow Baby

One of the reasons we moved to Nashville was for work but also because I needed a change. I was feeling antsy, bored, and just coming out of this haze of sadness. I also wasn't getting pregnant, and when I did, the pregnancy didn't stay for long. We had also been going through an adoption process with the county and because of a clerical error, we were turned down for adoption services. We spent months going through classes and the process only to be told it wasn't going to work and even though it was their mistake, we had to start all over again. It just felt like another thing to add to the list of things to deal with. 

So, we moved to Nashville temporarily, and it was a nice change. A change from constant dieting to try to get pregnant, a change from being creatively burnt out, a change from just life in general, an opportunity I'll never get and I wanted to make the most of it. I loved it. I met so many great people at my new work environment, I found my strengths and weakness' in what I'm good at, and most importantly, I was keeping my mind busy (which is one of the main reasons I haven't updated, all my energy goes to work and I haven't even unpacked from Nashville after being back after a month, oops!) 

A few weeks into it, I started feeling sick, and I had to work from my Nashville apartment a few days. I had a positive pregnancy test and as excited as I am to see it, I've also seen it fade. Besides 3 years of eating on strict lifestyle changes to get this positive pregnancy test was seeing someone for fertility acupuncture. I also had my dental metal fillings removed. It sounds random, but I had them taken out when I noticed a series of issues over the past months that lead to mercury poisoning symptoms, including infertility. Within 2 weeks of this, I got pregnant. I'm not saying that contributed but I noticed a lot of my rashes, and other issues went away within the week I got my fillings taken out. 

It's been an emotional 21 weeks. Every small ache and discomfort, I can't help but worry. But also, every time I feel great, I can't help but think I'm not pregnant. It's not fair to have the excitement taken away from this little girl but when the worst has happened, I can't help but wonder if it'll happen again. I'm so so grateful for the support I've received from strangers and friends. I know it was tough to love me, it's easier to turn away when I'm not fun, exciting or feeding needs to be constantly entertained. Thank you to the friends that stuck by me and loved me when I was most unloveable. They saw past my pain, and even during those awkward silent moments, they were there. It's like a really bad storm, I survived and now there's a rainbow waiting at the end. 

March 2016 Favorites

Let's take a look back at favorites for March! 

+ I am so emotionally and physically invested in the Lunar Chronicles. I've been feeling a little under the weather so it's the perfect opportunity to catch up and the amount of hours I'm putting in this series is intense. I am obsessed! It's a twist on fairy tales but even if the damsels in distress need a little saving, they do it with robots, starting wars to save mankind, diversity and saving men who would normally save them. I picked up this tote bag from this Red Bubble shop

+ This is my third month in Nashville and I'm still exploring the city! I feel silly recommending such a popular ice cream because it seems everyone knew about it, except me! Jenni's is a Nashville ice cream shop with unique flavors and they just came out with a churro flavor. I miss Disneyland churros all the time and this was a great alternative. The best part is when I go home, I'll be able to order it

+ I turned 35 in March and Scott surprised me with a weekly subscription to Bouq's flowers. Every week I go to Trader Joe's and try to get the brightest and prettiest bouquet but this beats it! I'll be able to switch addresses when I come home and it really is the gift that keeps on giving! 

+ Eloquii came out with the cutest sweater, or most "darling" sweater, ha. It's comfy, can be layered, but light enough to wear alone, it's PINK, I get a ton of compliments on it and it's on sale. I'm wearing the 14 in photo and fits well! 

Here's to April!

The Incredible Adventures of Another YA Heroine

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl is one of most fun YA books I've read in a long time. It's a story about Alba, baker, artist, and comic book geek, and she's stuck in an apocalyptic world. There's a lot of comic book references I loved, and Alba's love for comics comes from her love for her father who passed away and passed down his collection to his daughter. She is a struggling artist and with typical angsty moments we've all found ourselves in (minus the end-of-the-world stuff). Their is a love story, but not a cheesy one that ruins Alba or her personal growth in the book.  Alba is young but her confidence is wise. Her long frizzy hair, her thick thighs, and smile are too good for most guys her age and she knows it. I wish I had her confidence at her age, it would have made my life so much easier. Melissa Keil, the author, wrote Alba so well, she could easily be my inner dialogue. She's funny, sarcastic, but also daydreams off into the characters she creates. At the end of the book, Alba's life doesn't magically come together like most YA books but she see's where her journey will take her next, and that's another adventure I can't wait to read. Buy the book here

Marvel Mondays: Black Widow (2016)

Black Widow is only one issue in, but it's one of the Marvel's most anticipated releases. Chris Samnee and Mark Waid work together again after Daredevil, and Natasha returns! Daredevil got his own Netflix series with a team like Waid and Samnee behind them, and the Ed Bruebaker editions,  I want to believe Black Widow will be a huge success as well. This is set in post-Secret Wars era, and it starts off with a very angry Maria Hill, who still manages S.H.I.E.L.D. Natasha is on the run and we read her dramatic escape. It's bloody, adventurous, and it leaves the reader wondering what will happen next. It's a strong, independent woman, running away from her dangerous past, not sexualized, beating up men who want to kill her, and that's a comic I want to read. Now that she's disconnected herself from the most powerful agency in the world, Natasha can be free, or can she?? Read the comic here!   

Friday Darlings

Every Friday I have a collection of things I find darling. 

+ I had the opportunity to photograph and interview Sara Lyons for Remedy Hair Shoppe. I'm so envious of her thick locks and her gorgeous mermaid hair color. She's planning a wedding, moving, and running a business. You can read about it here.  

+ The Rise and Fall of The Heart Shaped Bathtub

+ Why We Struggle With Change

+ Sprinkles Cupcakes has a rewards program now! When I signed up, I got a free cupcake and I'm saving them up for a special occasion. Sign up here. 

+ Ms Marvel wins Dwayne McDuffie award for Diversity in comics

+ on the topic of comics, did you know you can get an MFA in comics? Amazing. 

+ If you're as obsessed with Haruki Murakami, this article is a must-read. 

+ Vegan pizza pockets! 

Happy Friday!