You Just Made The Naughty List | Blogmas 2017

I’ve been a busy bee working on Artmas, Blogmas, & Vlogmas these past few days. I’m working at my retail job almost every day for the next two weeks so the time to get ahead is running out. I’m trying to think happy thoughts to keep my mind off of the impending insanity. First of all, I’m seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi tonight with my family. FINALLY!! Second of all, I have a funny story to tell about my neighbor:

A few days ago, I was standing at the kitchen sink looking through the window at the backyard (let’s pretend I wasn’t simultaneously looking and wishing for snow that will never fall). Out of nowhere, a medieval-looking tool moved into view above the fence and slowly made its way to a frond on the nearest palm tree. Against such precise motions, the poor frond never stood a chance. The tool disappeared from view only to reappear and cut down another frond. This seems like a good time to mention that the palm tree is in my family’s backyard. It would’ve made more sense if any of the frond victims had been hanging over the other side of the fence, but they weren’t. I know there is a certain amount of give and take between neighbors, but that sort of action seems so childish. Oh well! It gave me a good laugh. 😂

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

➡️   ➡️   ➡️   A R T M A S   ⬅️   ⬅️   ⬅️

S e v e n   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

⬇️ Important Links ⬇️

• Previous Post: I’ve Lost My Touch | Blogmas 2017

• Previous Video: How To Play Dreidel | Vlogmas 2017

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I’ve Lost My Touch | Blogmas 2017

My North Pole elf powers have taken a serious hit in the past few years. In 2016, I had to repurchase two gifts due to damage. This year, I received two damaged gifts and was only able to successfully replace one. The other was a handmade, custom item and arrived twice in terrible condition due to measurement issues; I chose to walk away with a refund rather than risk receiving a third defective product. Seriously, what has happened to me?? Gifting used to be my cup of tea, and now I can’t seem to climb out of the funk I’m in. I carefully observe the recipients so I can pick the perfect gifts; I make an airtight budget so I can save and spoil my loved ones; and I buy from trustworthy sources (eBay has disappointed me one too many times). I’m still satisfied with my 2017 gifts, but I can’t help feeling disappointed. On top of my misery, I can’t see Star Wars: The Last Jedi until Monday night. UGH!!! On the bright side, I have a day off (from my retail job) to relax a little bit. Even though I have a to-do list of work that has to get done, I will definitely be squeezing in some baking, Christmas movies, & reading. Happy Saturday!

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

T w o   D a y s   U n t i l   A r t m a s . . .

N i n e   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

⬇️ Important Links ⬇️

• Previous Post: Moment of Weakness | Blogmas 2017

• Previous Video: Feliz Navidad | MyWebRoom | Vlogmas 2017

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Filming Frustrations | Blogmas 2017

If the joy of Christmas is what you seek, bah humbug. I swear I’m not trying to ruin your Christmas. As a blogger, it is my duty to be honest about my life. The past twenty-four hours have been awful. Last night I found out that two of the gifts I ordered online were damaged. I woke up late because I stayed up to watch a Christmas movie that I didn’t end up liking (I’m looking at you Noel). I forgot to charge my camera batteries overnight AND while I was getting ready. Despite racing to beat the sun, it took several hours to film only two videos. I wanted to get a third filmed, but I couldn’t find my dreidel which was supposed to be the starring prop. I still haven’t found that darn top! I am now tired and cranky and probably the top name on Santa’s naughty list. Bring on the coal! Despite all the stress, I am thankful for a home that is still standing because there is a fire burning a few miles away. My thoughts & prayers are with everyone being affected. Stay safe California!  <3

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

T e n   D a y s   U n t i l   A r t m a s . . .   

E i g h t e e n   D a y s    U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

⬇️ Important Links ⬇️

• Previous Post: Cozy Night At Home | Blogmas 2017

• Previous Video: Coloring The Nutcracker Ballet | Vlogmas 2017

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Life Update | August 2017

– C O F F E E –

This is a very important update so listen up: I rarely go to Starbucks anymore. G A S P ! ! The reason comes in individual serving size packets and pairs nicely with almond milk & ice. Have you guessed? I still drink Starbucks coffee but in the comfort of my own home thanks to Via Instant. I know that most people know about this product, but it has been unbelievably easy to enjoy frappuccinos on days when I can’t make it to my neighborhood Starbucks. In fact, I have become so obsessed that even when I’m presented with the option to go to an actual Starbucks, I choose my “homemade” frappuccino. How crazy is that??! My favorite flavor at the moment is Sweetened Iced Coffee.

– B E D R O O M –

My room is small so the arrangement requires a lot of creativity. I recently had an epiphany at work regarding how I could make it feel more spacious and homey. I am happy to report that my idea worked, and I vlogged the whole process. The three-day project was exhausting but worth the effort because I feel like I have officially settled in.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC6KS9yYNc

– B L O G G I N G –

I’ve been trying really hard to post consistently on both my blogs. The balance was off earlier this year because I got a paying job helping a photographer maintain her blog. I have since settled in, and I think everything is back to normal. Here are my recent blog posts:

• Misadventures in Babysitting

• Dance of the Paints | Thomas Blanchard

– F I N A N C I A L  S U P P O R T –

I love blogging & vlogging, but it does require money which I don’t have a lot of at the moment due to my status as a sales associate. I’m not exactly breaking the bank with my checks! I recently discovered a brand new website that makes it fun & easy for subscribers to support their favorite bloggers, business, vloggers, etc. Here is my Ko-fi ( pronounced like “coffee” ) link ➡️ https://ko-fi.com/A3023728

– R E A D I N G –

Good news: I took part in BookTube-A-Thon 2017, my very first time doing so. Even though my camera broke on day 6 and I couldn’t continue vlogging, I did continue to participate by reading & interacting on social media. I had so much fun and can’t wait for next year! Bad news: I am in a terrible reading slump A G A I N ! ! I was in one before BTAT, and here I am right back at square one. I have the desire, but every time I attempt to read, I have to force myself to keep going. Reading is the ultimate getaway for me, and I hate being in this mood. I need to pull up my big girl pants and just do it. I’m in the middle of 6 books ( yes, SIX ), and I need to finish all of them because I have exciting books to read in October & November. I also need to make serious progress on my Goodreads reading challenge because I have only completed 26 of my 50-book challenge. Not bad but still not great. Cheer me on!!

– R E T A I L –

I still hate retail. That’s pretty much it. 😂

– V A C A T I O N –

I am counting down the seconds, minutes, hours, days, & months until my autumn vacation. I know I echo the rest of my family when I say we desperately NEED this trip.

⏰ Current Countdown: 1 month, 12 days ⏰

– W E A T H E R –

If you’re a loyal follower of my blog, you know my visceral hatred for the summer months. I love cold foods & swimming, but this season is the absolute worst. I do nothing but sweat and feel gross and uncomfortable. I would much rather be cold & snuggle up in blankets while wearing a sweater. Whether you like it or not, autumn is upon us. Even though it’s my favorite season, I am hesitant to get excited. California disappointed me last year by remaining unbearably hot until the end of the year. Please please please don’t let me down this year!! 🍂 😭 🎃

– Y O U T U B E –

Lots of exciting news! Since my Charmed Aroma review video, I’ve been contacted by two more companies for reviews. I also have a major project in the works, something I’ve been planning for several months. I am slowly compiling products for a Bookish Gift Guide, a list of gift ideas for the bibliophiles in your life. I’ve already purchased two Jane Austen pillows and five candles inspired by A Game of Thrones, Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter, Romeo and Juliet, & The Princess Bride respectively. Before this video comes out later next year, there will be 1-2 review videos for various book-inspired candles; I plan to make this an ongoing series on my channel so suggestions are welcome. Last but not least, I mentioned earlier that my camera broke; thankfully I was able to replace it. The Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II has amazing quality, and I feel refreshed and excited for all the new content coming soon to my channel. Things are happening, and I’m going with flow. 🎉

| • I hope all of you have had a great summer. 🌞 I will be back soon with another post. 😘 • |

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele <3

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2016 Wrap-Up | 2017 Reading Challenge

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I did it!  With 45 minutes to spare on New Year’s Eve, I completed both of my reading challenges for 2016.  Here is what I read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge:

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

📚 Published This Year •

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 

📚 Finish in a Day •

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum 

📚 Meaning to Read •

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

📚 Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian •

The Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket 

📚 Should Have Read in School •

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace 

📚 Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF •

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar 

📚 Published Before You Were Born •

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

📚 Banned at Some Point •

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

📚 Previously Abandoned •

Elixir trilogy by Hilary Duff 

📚 Own But Never Read •

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson 

📚 Intimidates You •

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

📚 Already Read at Least Once •

Sisters of the Quilt trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall 

• Total: 12 categories & 31 books

• Here are links to my blog updates & my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge:

2016 Reading Challenge

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #2

Life Update | November 2016

– My 2016 GoodReads Reading Challenge

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but here I am.  I’ve decided to once again do the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge.  Keep reading to find out my tentative list for the twelve categories.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

📚 A Book You Chose For the Cover – The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

I found this gem in my local library’s teeny tiny used bookstore.  The bright yellow bird against a blue background hooked me, and the murder mystery synopsis reeled me in.  I’m trying my best not to build expectations, but I really hope this book is as good as I want it to be.

📚 A Book With a Reputation for Being Un-Put-Down-AbleSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about this book.  Some people have said it’s one of their favorite books/duologies ever written.  Of course I’m going to start with the first book, but I am optimistic that I will be purchasing book two very soon.

📚 A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been But Would Like to Visit – The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

Fun fact: I am dying to visit Egypt!!  Egyptology is one of my favorite subjects to learn about.

📚 A Book You’ve Already ReadThe Rook by Steven James

The Patrick Bowers Files series is AMAZING.  To be fair, I’ve only read the first two books, but how could it possibly go downhill from there??  I would actually like to read a few of the books in this series in 2017, but I’m setting the bar low so I don’t get too stressed.  I want these reading challenges to remain fun!

📚 A Juicy Memoir –  In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett

DUH!  Who wouldn’t want to read behind-the-scenes stories about The Carol Burnett Show?!

📚 A Book About Books or Reading – Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

This book is part of one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  It has been on my shelf for a few years, and it’s about time I got around to reading it.  Fun Fact: The main character’s cat is named Miss Marple.  How cute is that?!

📚 A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

I rarely read and enjoy contemporary books outside of the mystery genre, but I’m willing to give this book a chance since it revolves around books.

📚 A Book You Don’t Want to Admit You’re Dying to ReadHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’m not embarrassed about this book.  It’s just weird to admit that I’ve never read such a beloved series.  My aunt was kind enough to give me the first book for my birthday so I will definitely be reading it this year.

📚 A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite Author – Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

I received all of the books Tessa Afshar has published thus far as Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.  I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I finish all of them before January 1, 2018.

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great TasteAs Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

My friend Gabby recommended the Mark of the Lion series years ago, and I finally got around to reading books one and two in 2015.  The experience was so unbelievably mind blowing that I had to take a break.  There is no longer a good excuse so I need to pick up book three NOW.

📚 A Book You Were Excited to Borrow or Buy But Haven’t Read YetThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I am on pins and needles waiting to read this book.  I’m going to watch the movie with my brother first since that’s what I did with Gone Girl.  I realize that sounds like reader sacrilege, but I’m not your average bibliophile.  Watching the movie first or liking it better doesn’t bother me. ;)

📚 A Book About a Subject or Topic You Already LoveWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I haven’t actually seen the musical yet, but I am obsessed with the story and soundtrack.  I liked The Wizard of Oz growing up but fell out of love with it for a period of time.  Listening to the Wicked soundtrack every day has made me fall back in love with Oz, and I am ready to read the story that started it all.  I am on page 32 and loving it so far. 💚

• Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Goodreads Website 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy Blog

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele <3

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Tips For a Better Holiday Shopping Experience

(Image Source: http://www.metro.us/news/black-friday-don-t-forget-about-small-business-saturday/tmWmkx—efUBgYqtPMYDk/)

Happy faces??  I think not!!  I am sure I’m not the only one who hates crowds, especially around Christmastime.  I love shopping, but holiday crowds are in a league of their own.  I want to share the tips I have learned from my experiences in hopes that your stress level will decrease and your holiday spirit increase.  Let us proceed with the merriment!

1.  It is never too early to start Christmas shopping.  Sometimes the best deals show up after Christmas.  Why not get a head start?  The only thing you will have to worry about is a good hiding spot.  ;)

2.  Make a budget.  Know what you have to spend and shop accordingly.  Keep track of your money every step of the way.  Before shopping, I make a list of anticipated prices; I round up each price (e.g. $15.35 would be  $16) and add fifteen dollars for tax and shipping.  Always overestimate and expect the unexpected.  Bonus: It feels good to finish shopping and have money left over.

3.  Have your loved ones write down what they need/want.  A list will eliminate guesswork which takes precious time away from shopping and other holiday tasks.

4.  Adding to #3, make a list of what gift(s) you are getting for each person.  This way, you only have to spend time finding the best deal for specific items instead of wandering the internet with no light at the end of the tunnel.

5.  Do not be afraid of the interweb!  The internet is your best friend if you want to avoid crowds.  Also, you get to shop in pajamas and sip hot chocolate from the comfort of your home.  Nothing wrong with that!

6.  If you are concerned that an online store is sketchy, use a website like scamadviser.com or consumeraffairs.com.  You can also type the name of the business and the term “legitimate” into your web browser’s search engine for results containing reviews.

7.  If you are worried about online shopping costing more due to shipping, fear not!  You will be pleasantly surprised at how many online stores offer low shipping prices or free shipping, especially during the holiday season.

8.  The websites I visit first are Amazon and eBay.  Those are two good places to start if you want to dig and find good deals.

9.  My main tips for handling an eBay auction are as follows: Be online for at least the last five minutes of the auction, continuously refresh the page, wait until the last few seconds to bid, and bid at least one dollar above the price (e.g. if the price is $30, bid $31).  This isn’t a surefire way to win, but you will have a better chance of avoiding being outbid and winning.  And yes, I have won an auction with this plan.

10.  The Google Shopping tab is a good tool to use for finding the lowest prices for products.

11.  If you find coupon codes, use them!  I know this sounds like an obvious tip, but I am 100% certain there are people who have made purchases without realizing that there was a great coupon code available.  Not all coupon codes are valid so some trial and error may be involved, but it is worth it.  At least try!  One way to get coupon codes is to make a free account with the website you are shopping on; most online stores send a discount to new members.  Another way is typing the name of the store and the term “coupon code” into your web browser’s search engine.  The first few results are usually the most reliable (e.g. RetailMeNot or Groupon).

12.  Adding to #11, coupon codes and discounts are great, but make sure you do some math before checking out.  Discounted products could allude to higher tax and shipping cost.  Full price is not always the enemy.

13.  Another good way to compare prices is “checking out.”  Basically, I start to check out on two or more websites with the same item but only go to a certain point.  I do this in an attempt to find out the exact tax and shipping costs and calculate the cheapest total.

14.  I know there is a rush that comes with shopping for loved ones during Christmastime, but be patient.  If you rush, you might miss out on some great deals and/or accidentally go over budget.  Do not give in to impatience and accept the first price you see for the sake of feeding your excitement.

15.  On the flip side, if you find a ridiculous deal and your gut says act fast, do it.  Certain deals come once and only once.  Experience is the best tool for gauging if a deal is good or not.  That’s right!  The more you shop, the more you know.  ;)

16.  When in doubt, remember why you are shopping.  You want to put a smile on the faces of your loved ones and show them how much you care.  That is all the motivation you need to complete your mission shoppers.

My 2015 budget was $266, and I had three people to shop for.  I bought my first two presents and felt pretty good about where my budget was at.  Then, a shopper’s worst nightmare came true for me: I realized that I had accounted for $40 I did not have.  DUN DUN DUUUN!!!  That number may seem insignificant, but when your piggy bank is a source of income and a budget your lifeline, $40 is a make or break amount.  I had a complete meltdown: tears, screaming, the works.  After my less than stellar adult moment, I regained composure, put on my thinking cap, and did some more research.  Currently I have all but one gift purchased and am well under budget.  A Christmas miracle in November!!  Once I purchase my last gift, I will have spent $194 total for six gifts, received $80 for outside contribution, and be $152 under budget.  Keep in mind that the six gifts I bought for three people could easily be six gifts for six people.  I hope this gives you a visual of how the 16 tips listed above are effective, especially when money is tight.  Also, they are functional year-round.  Happy shopping!

(Image Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/christmas-lights-tree-jPVMA8hVPEl6E)

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– Lauren Michele <3

Previous Post: May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor

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