The Smart Lioness Guest Post

I’ve missed you, loyal readers (well, the eight or so of you that exist)! This post is long overdue! I’d blame it on life and work, as most wayward bloggers do, but I also had a bout of pure laziness/lack of motivation. Alas, let’s not dwell on the past and dig right in to the present – after all, it’s the most wonderful time of year!!

 

A while back, I had the honor of writing a literary guest feature for a sweet childhood friend of mine, Hillary, for her company blog The Smart Lionesssmartlioness

Hillary and I went to elementary and middle school together, and though our paths have diverged since then, we have been able to keep in touch through the power of social media ;).  Since then, Hillary has nabbed a bachelor’s in Human Development and her Master’s in Clinical Health. She not only teaches at our hometown college, but also has started her own business from the ground up! Her passion is female empowerment, especially by helping women with a history of abusive or toxic relationships. She has created a blog with features from women of all sorts of backgrounds and lifestyles, a loyal Facebook following, and an array of programs to help women achieve their goals and work toward healthy relationships with friends, family, and loved ones. Personally, her programs and support pages have encouraged me to achieve my own personal work and fitness goals. The Smart Lioness is her passion and she works on it every single day in addition to her academic position – whether it be her Facebook live chats, her blog posts, her downloadable planning sheets, or her weekend brunch groups.  Basically, she is the definition of a GirlBoss and an incredible asset to our hometown of Dothan, Alabama.

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Photo credit http://www.chloebeephoto.com/

 

I think there are an abundance of websites and blogs that push this new trend of “self-care;” and though I certainly think having time to relax is important, I have issues with too much encouragement of wine time or food indulgences. What makes Hillary’s business unique and special is that she finds ways to give you balance without tipping over into the realm of overindulgence or laziness. Instead, she helps you become productive while staying mentally sane!! Plus, she’s just a wonderfully empathetic and witty person to be around in general. I highly highly encourage you to check out her course catalog (especially the Dare to Roar challenge that I myself have taken!) and start on your own journey to mental health and balance.

 

What program from The Smart Lioness would be most useful for you? How do you find balance in your work week? I’d love to hear!

My Podcast Playlist

Although I’ve mentioned in previous posts of my love of audiobooks, I also am quite the fan of podcasts on my commute to work, while doing housework, on afternoon walks I take around the neighborhood, etc. Though my subscriptions lean toward the literary, I mix it up with all kinds of different topics. Here are just a few of my many favorites for you to check out!

(I’m not even going to mention some of the more obvious ones, like S-Town or Serial…we all know them, they’re amazing, go listen).

Book-Related Podcasts

From The Front Porch

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Ok, so this is the newest love on my list, but I’ve also binge-listened to these episodes like a madwoman because the hosts (particularly Annie Jones) are just so dang ENCHANTING. Which makes sense, as her life goal is to be Kathleen Kelly a la “You’ve Got Mail.” Which basically means she and I should be friends because Kathleen Kelly is my fictional idol and mentor. Annie runs a bookstore in Thomasville, GA, called The Bookshelf, and the podcast covers books (obviously), as well as life in the South. She and I are around the same age, both married to men who are heavily interested or involved in politics, and have similar taste in book preferences. Basically, we are the same person, or at least in my mind.

Annie is balanced out with the other host, Chris, who is a PhD student and hilariously sarcastic. They have a lot of fun themes in their podcast, including “Love it or Loathe it” and monthly reading recaps. Check it out if you enjoy a nice mixture of in-depth thematic discussions, tangents on life in the south and pop culture, and interest in the bookseller’s market.

All The Books! by BookRiot

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Hosted by Liberty Hardy and Rebecca Schinsky, two of the most prolific readers I’ve ever encountered. They discuss the latest releases each week from the book publishing world, with a special focus on indie booksellers and small print presses. My reading list always grows by another 10 titles with every episode I listen to.

The Reading Women

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I love this podcast for a multitude of reasons: 1) it focuses on female authors, which as a pageant-loving, mascara-wearing feminist, is my kryptonite 2) the podcast hosts are from Greenville, SC, and Atlanta, GA, both cities that are on my list of places I do (or have) called home, and 3) the book selections are excellent!  I love the balance of in depth discussion and off-subject humor these podcasts offer. I feel like I’m curled up in a chair next to these girls chatting over coffee or wine, and I seriously want to be friends with both of them.

Lit Up

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This podcast has in-depth interviews with authors, hosted by the delightful Angela Ledgerwood (Australian accent and all!). A writer herself, Angela knows all the incisive and perceptive questions to ask her guests. To be honest though, mostly I’m just mesmerized by her voice. Think of this as a literary version of NPR’s Fresh Air.

**Note: occasionally discusses adult/explicit themes and passages in books as well as occasional crass language**

 

Educational/In-depth Reporting

Radiolab

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 Love love LOVE me some Radiolab! Investigation in a different topic every week that centers around one central idea and unfolds the story around sounds and episodic vignettes, where science and culture and art all combine. They have an excellent episode on Henrietta Lacks, as well as “Juicervose” – a story about a family and their autistic son, and his journey from an isolated child to a communicating member of society (all the emotions).

…Anything NPR 

This American Life (for the story-lovers) , Fresh Air (for those who love a good interview), Invisibilia (for the science-minded), TED radio hour. (for those obsessed with self-improvement)… you name it, I probably listen to it.

 

Current Events/Political Podcasts

With Friends Like These

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I love this podcast because it brings together people of opposing and differing viewpoints and worldviews. Instead of obnoxious punditry like we get on cable news, these discussions are more about listening to each other than arguing.

**Note: at times explicit**

NPR News Now 

Five minute soundbites of the latest in news for a quick rundown after a long day at work.

Pop Culture/Entertainment

The Popcast 

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They talk about everything from celebrity news to emojis to Disney princesses. This is a fairly new one for me, but I’m already into it.

 

Reply All 

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“A podcast about the internet.” This is another one introduced to me a few weeks ago, but it’s quickly becoming one of my top 5 podcasts. Alex Blumberg gets informed on the internet trends of the week, because he usually doesn’t have a clue.  I loved the episode on #Covfefe.

Will You Accept this Podcast?

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My fellow Alabama Junior Miss sister and friend Mary Catherine hosts this hilarious podcast with her husband as they unpack all the drama from the latest Bachelorette episodes. To be honest, I don’t even watch the Bachelorette anymore…and yet I listen to this podcast because of its wit, humor, and legit in-depth analysis of the most ridiculous reality show of our generation. Check it out on her blog Deep Hunger, Deep Gladness (her blog is excellent too if you want to get sucked into a rabbit hole for the next four hours of delightful writing).

 

True Crime/Mystery

….my ultimate guilty pleasure, as I always have nightmares the night after listening to one of these shows. Some girls watch The Real Housewives, this girl listens to crime and mystery podcasts…

 

My Favorite Murder

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Two VERY west-coast girls talk about all the crazy murders and serial killers and mysteries, while also making you laugh out loud. People also phone or email in their hometown murder stories. It’s comedy, it’s gore, it’s Valley girl accents…what more could you want?

**explicit because, duh, murder. But also lots of crass language.**

 

Casefile True Crime

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REALLY in-depth research into some scary crimes. The latest on the Original Night Stalker has been giving me nightmares all week. BUT I CANT STOP LISTENING. Another creeptastic episode series was The Moors Murders (as in the English Moors a la Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”).

 

Thinking Sideways

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This one has more of a historical bent to it, and some non-scary stories (ex: an episode on the origins of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer), but they also had a fascinating episode on Jack the Ripper I really enjoyed. They cover everything from unexplained disappearances to petty crimes to serial killers.

Uplifting stuff, right? Don’t judge me.

 

Anyway, HAPPY LISTENING you guys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Motherhood and Memory in The Joy Luck Club (California pick) + Bonus rec’s!

Psst, this year I am attempting to read one book set in each state of America. To see the full list and what I’ve read so far, click here! Joy Luck Club is also a part of my list for Classics Club, click HERE for that list). 

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Happy Mother’s Day to all my motherly friends, family, and of course, my own beautiful mother and grandmother! Because of my mama, I know (among many other things) how to cook the most scrumptious cornbread and Red Velvet Cake in existence, the necessity of daily sunscreen for our porcelain (ok, pasty pale) skin, the understanding that a weekend spent on the beach can cure virtually any ailment, and – my personal favorite – the ability to make everyone in a social event feel included and comfortable. I could continue on with so many more reasons why my mom is the best, but in order to avoid sounding trite, I’ll simply say this:  I am beyond blessed to call her my mama.

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Weekend in Louisville, Kentucky

Last month, Charles let me tag along on a work-related road trip to Kentucky. As usual when I’m about to head to a new city, I spent hours researching and planning all the adventures I would have while Charlie boy was stuck in meetings. I maybe had even let my OCD self go wild by creating an hour-by-hour itinerary based on site locations.  I wanted to make sure I had time to tour the Derby Museum, the 21c Museum hotel, and walk along Waterfront Park.

…none of these things happened.

The trip coincided with the “snow storm” that hit the South this January, and although Kentucky didn’t actually get hit with a lot of snowfall, it was absolutely frigid there. With the windchill, it was -9 degrees, and since I would be without a car and would need to walk (or Uber) everywhere, some of the outdoor and out-of-the-way tourist sites had to be nixed from my list. Plus, I seemed to have developed some sort of sinus congestion/cold virus that week; nothing that was serious enough that I could make a legit excuse to lay in bed all day, but enough to make me feel like that’s all I wanted to do.

And you know what, reader? That’s (basically) what I did.

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Charles and I spent the weekend at The Brown Hotel, a gorgeous historical Louisville mainstay dating back to the 1920’s.  It houses a well-known lobby bar and three restaurants which all serve the infamous Hot Brown (more on that later).

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So while Charlie boy spent the day getting #lawyered, I spent a delightful morning curled up in our hotel room sofa, reading and snacking on room service. Eventually I ventured out of my room for a small work out and then explored the hotel, taking way too many photos of the gorgeous lobby area while the bar pianist played jazz music. I felt like I had stepped back in time and half-expected Zelda Fitzgerald to pop up at any moment like in Midnight In Paris.

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That night, Charles and I had a ramen dinner at Milkwood  (absolutely delish, by the way) and then returned to the hotel bar, where we tried bourbon Manhattan’s and, at the end of the night, the famous Hot Brown. This is a dish created by the original chefs of The Brown Hotel restaurant, and it was often ordered as a late-night menu after a night of dancing at a wedding or party. The dish is basically toast in a creamy sauce and covered with turkey, bacon, tomato, tons of Romano cheese, and a thick gravy. In other words,prepare yourself and wear your elastic waistband pants when you order this monstrosity.  It’s just as delicious (and dangerous) as I imagined, and if you’re willing to risk the potential heart attack, it’s worth it. You can also make the dish at home using this recipe.

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The next day, Charles and I did actually manage to venture out together in the cold to work off some of that Hot Brown (though not for long). As on any trip, I am a brat and demanded we find the best independent bookstore in town, so we stopped by Carmichael’s bookstore to explore the shelves. I picked up a copy of The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan. As it is set in Kentucky and is, to some extent, about horse racing, I figured this would kinda-sorta-not really make up for the fact that I did nothing cultural in Louisville. I’m in the middle of this book as we speak and thus far no regrets for forking out the $25 for this book.

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So, I definitely loved our trip to Louisville, even if it wasn’t my typical action-packed road trip weekend! The hotel was a kind of historical site in and of itself, so we weren’t COMPLETELY lame. Plus, sometimes it’s fun to just have a lazy weekend in a fancy hotel! 😉

We do want to make another trip to Louisville in the future, when we can ACTUALLY explore the city – what should be on our cant-miss list? What should we skip? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

Back from Hibernation

Hi, everyone! I am ACTUALLY alive, I promise! I just had to disappear for a couple of weeks.

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For those of you that noticed, apologies for the sudden disappearance. I was hired for a couple of freelance writing projects (!! so fun!!) that took up a majority of my free time. Then, I had my big bad dental licensing practical exam this past weekend, so I had to do a lot of preparations for that. Lastly, I had a big job interview which fortunately went extremely well! So fingers crossed my test scores are good so I can move forward with a new job that’ll combine my interest in healthcare and writing!! 🙂 🙂

Anyway, all this is to say that I’m back to the blog and will hopefully return to my normal posting schedule :). To make up for all the books I HAVEN’T read these past two weeks, I will be having my own personal readathon for the next few days! Can’t wait to catch up on some good books (I’m thinking A Passage to India, The Nix, and FINALLY finishing Bleak House) and tell y’all all about it! I’ll also be making a post about my trip to Boulder, CO for the test!

What have y’all been reading lately? What cities have you been visiting? I want to hear!

Versatile Blogger Award

My Tables of Content Versatile Blogger Award

What a great start to the weekend!  I would like to give a an extra-large THANK YOU to Brittney from A Traveling Gypsy for the Versatile Blogger Award!  I was having a rough week (having a bit of an existential crisis, debating what the heck to do with my life and other typical melodrama), so getting nominated for an award was a nice pick-me-up! Definitely check out Brittney’s awesome travel blog for beautiful pictures and travel tips :).

Here we go…

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The Big Move and a Story of Dreams

Sorry for the delayed post, lovelies! The hubs and I have been busy with our cross-country move down to Georgia in between friends’ weddings and family vacations, and it has been more than a little chaotic, to say the least…

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a recent snapchat of unpacking hell

Of course, I still have my priorities, and my books were the first boxes to be unpacked! (they also were the most numerous of boxes, even with my tendency to hoard clothes)

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this is one of THREE bookcases, and all of them are overfilled. I think a trip to Ikea is in my future…

We’re also about to embark on another trip, this time to Hungary and Austria (goulash, pastries, and wine, hurrah!), so I’ve been practicing my packing game to maximize suitcase space (more on that in another post).  Despite all the chaos currently going on in my domestic life, I still carved out time for a little readin’ and reviewin’.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

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The Sunshine Blogger Awards

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The Sunshine Blogger Award is an award given to bloggers by bloggers. It is given to “bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.

I was nominated for this award by the fabulous Outcast Wayfarer ! She has a beautiful and witty travel blog so this is an extra honor to be nominated by her!  Please check out her site and a big THANK YOU! Would love to work with you on a travel post :).

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven blogs to receive the award and write them eleven new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

Without further ado, here I go!

  • What’s the coolest thing you ever saw?
    •  Can’t decide between a couple of experiences..1) The Blue Mosque in Istanbul – absolutely breath taking. 2) St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City; such beauty in honor of God. 
  •  Your favourite movies:
    • I am slightly obsessed with Nora Ephron (and her sister, Delia), so any movies written by them like “When Harry Met Sally,” “You’ve Got Mail,”” Julie and Julia,” etc.  Childhood favorite includes the Anne of Green Gables movie series – I wanted to BE Anne growing up! That spunky carrot top 😉  
  • What’s something you’d like to achieve?
    • I would LOVE to publish a novel, but I suppose first I need to write one! Daily struggle to sit down and force myself to write!
  • Are you as lazy as I? You would be very lazy then.
    • Well, since I haven’t gotten around to writing that novel yet, I must be pretty lazy… 😉 
  • What’s likeable about mosquitoes?
    • After living in the South and always eaten up by mosquito bites…and now with the Zika virus fears…absolutely nothing!!
  • What’s something you miss in the blogosphere?
    • Honestly, I’m too new to the blogging community to have something to “miss.” It’s all fascinating to me!  It does seem like everyone has to kind of already know how to do web design and blog promotion from the moment they start a blog, which can be very intimidating for someone like me who is just now learning how to use wordpress!  
  • Do you know that me nominating you means that I really want your blog to grow?
    • That is incredibly flattering, and I’m still blown away that you care!  I really love to write and to come up with engaging, interesting posts for this blog so discovering that there are readers genuinely invested in this blog is such an honor.
  • How will you try to let it grow?
    • Right now I’m just trying to be consistent with my posts and providing high-quality content.  I’m also interacting with other bloggers in this digital world both for support and inspiration for my own blog!  I haven’t made much of a social media presence yet, but have plans for an Instagram account and Twitter feed soon.  Any other tips? 
  • For how long have you been blogging on your current blog?
    • So this blog has been a dream of mine for over a year.  Fear prevented me from actually making a post until this past spring (I think around March?).  However, I wasn’t consistent with my posts until this summer – I am on a hiatus from working at my day job until October, as my husband and I are moving across the country.  So I am  DEFINITELY still a newbie and learning the ropes of web design and blogging in general!
  • Who is the grossest person you ever met?
    • I find anyone who is completely self-absorbed, willfully ignorant, or condescending as fairly repulsive, and unfortunately I’ve come across a few people like that in my life! I try not to dwell on the negative people though :).
  • What’s to you the coolest thing in the world?
    1. That no matter how many trips I take, there’s always a new destination and experience out there waiting! We live in a big, chaotic, beautiful world.  
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Photo by Megan Butler, 2015.

And now, questions for my nominees to answer!

  1. What city/country would you like to travel to next?
  2. What book(s) are currently on your nightstand?
  3. What do you find most rewarding about blogging?
  4. Any advice to new bloggers?
  5. What is the craziest/wildest/most adventurous trip or journey you’ve taken?
  6. Three songs you always have on your travel playlist:
  7. What is one book you are secretly embarrassed you haven’t read yet?
  8. Do you have or want any pets?
  9. What are your favorite types of blog posts to write?
  10. Are you a planner or a spontaneous traveler?
  11. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Here are my personal nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award.  Each website inspires me and teaches me something new, so I wholeheartedly recommend you check them out!

  1. This Life in Books  I love how detailed and thought-provoking her book reviews are! She also does a great job of having variety in her reading life and interesting list posts.
  2. Biblioglobal Reading books from every country? What a cool idea! Since my two main passions are reading and travel, this blog was basically made for me to read!
  3. The Book Feminist This is a new blog that I came across during my participation in the #24in48readathon.  I really love the mission behind this blog to bring awareness to social justice issues around the world while also promoting wonderful books. This blog is going to do great things!
  4. Bookish Tendencies This is one of my all-time favorite blogs! Reading her posts makes me feel like I’m chatting about books over coffee with a friend.  We also have similar tastes in books. Love her reading recs!
  5. Dine and Rhyme: food and poetry in a magical combination! I always have to grab a snack after reading her blog posts.
  6. Addlepates and Book Nerds a wonderful classic review blog, particularly for YA books!
  7. Traveled Life I just started following this blog, and was immediately inspired by his beautiful travel photos!  His posts are also high quality in the content – I feel like I’m actually learning something while reading his posts. Highly recommend!
  8. Samantha in Transit One of my favorite travel blogs, hands down. I feel like I could be friends with her and travel together!  Her posts inspire my future trips, and she has a beautiful, streamlined, and organized blog design that I really appreciate. Plus her insta photos are 100% on fleek!
  9. The Critiquing Chemist LOVE having another blogger who has a very different day job from her blogging world! Like Sarah, in my day job I do something completely unrelated to reading or traveling (I’m a dentist), but I have a passion for writing about the places I see, the books I read, and the things I eat!  Her reviews are thought-provoking and well written!
  10. Nut Free Nerd Isn’t this blog design absolutely adorable? I loved her recent post about her thoughts on Gone With the Wind.  Great choices in books!
  11. Booker Talk LOVE this blog. In depth reviews, discussions on the latest book award nominees, and the publishing industry in general.  Insightful comments and high quality picks!

There were so many other blogs I wish I could add to this list, but I had to keep it down to 11!  Please check all of them out as they each bring unique and inspiring content to the blogging world :).  And thanks again to An Outcast Wayfarer for nominating me!