Wall Décor Tour

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            It’s March, I think March of 2020 was like a week ago but here we are in March 2021 and I cannot believe that, but here we are no matter what. 

            I am super kitschy when it comes to art on my walls that I didn’t create, I love things on the walls though and I need to put more stuff up but I am waiting to move into a place that is larger than my apartment, like a house but that is just not in the card at the moment. Most of it I found at random stores; like Hobby Lobby, Target, and At Home. I know that there are probably thousands of people who have this same picture but that’s never really bothered me because it’s my style and while some it is unique I am still sometimes a basic white girl.

Llama(?) picture:

            It might be an alpaca and I really do want a black and white photo of an alpaca for my wall but again that will be eventually because I have not found one that I like on the internet or in a store to this point so eventually but not today. I found this one at At Home when I moved to Arkansas so it’s almost three years ago now and I really love seeing it every time I walk out of my bedroom. 

Quote 1:

            I also got this one at At Home and it’s on the wall directly across from my bedroom door so I see it literally every time I walk out of my bedroom and I love it, it just says ‘Don’t tell people your dream, show them’ and some days I need that affirmation.

Quote 2:

            This is in my office and it says ‘messy bun, getting stuff done’ I am a huge fan of typography in general and I found this also when I moved down here at Hobby Lobby and I have seen other people with the same sign. It doesn’t really matter if someone else has it because that’s how mass produced art works. 

London Skyline:

            I got this from Etsy several years ago, from a shop called artPause, in late 2016 because this came down from Indiana with me and I love it so much because London is one of the places that I desperately want to go. I wholeheartedly regret not going abroad in college, but here we are. The shop still exists so if you want to check it out go ahead because I really love the piece. I would for sure buy more art from Etsy because some of it so cool. 

            Small pause, I would put my diplomas here as well but there is some wall art that I won’t be sharing, my diplomas included and a poster or two that I have around my apartment because I don’t have to share everything.

Mask:

            My parents got this in New Orleans in 2015 and I love masks, my graduation party from high school was Mardi Gras themed and I have a bunch of masks tucked away in boxes all over the apartment and I have a few that I want to put up but they have to be shadow boxed and that hasn’t happened yet because I need help making the shadow boxes, this hung up in my room in Indiana as well and it is one of my favorites. I got one in New Orleans when I was there in 2017 that’s half metal scroll work and that one for sure will be up eventually but it really needs to have something around it that protects it.

            I have a few things around the apartment that are supposed to be on the wall but are on the floor because they are heavy and I cannot pound nails into the walls of my apartment so all of my honor cords, tassels, and graduation caps from undergrad will go up eventually but not now.

            Can we count things on my doors as wall décor? I’m going to anyway. I have a little banner on my office door and my bedroom door, the one on my bedroom door says ‘Follow your heart’ and it’s for sure for Valentine’s Day but it stays up all year except for Christmas and the one on my office door says ‘Heck yes’ and that also comes down at Christmas. I am working on one for my office closet door but that is a DIY kit from Target and I am going to be working on that at some point this week.

            I feel like I have more pieces but I don’t have to share all of them, some of them are my personal art, posters, and even my old cork octagons that used to hang above my desk, I moved my desk and they stayed so they are above the side piece that holds all of my book binders and things. I have a few prints from the Art Institute in Chicago but they need frames and that’s a project that I have asked my dad to help me with but that is an eventually thing.

            I have a lot of things on the wall, I used to have more including my Instagram pictures, an inspiration wall of quotes and stuff, and other things but that was in Indiana and times have changed since then. Décor is amazing and I really like some classy stuff and also some really not so much. I have things that need to be put up a London skyline that actually fell off the wall because it was too heavy for command strips, art that I have created, things that have been given to me, and other that I cannot hang at the moment, I will eventually but right now that’s not in the cards so what I have or now, will have to do. 

            Alright I will see everyone later in the week for another post so until then I hope that everyone has a great week!

            -MJ 

Books I’ve Read so Far in 2021 Part #1

            Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            Here we are in 2021 and here I am with my first batch of books I have read this year. I mentioned last year that I was going to read kind of differently this year and I want to break that down in this post so going forward it makes more sense because I am going to be reading some different things than I did last year and this year also I have increased my number read goal to 45 even though I for sure have also written 42 in various places but I am hoping to get 45 but if I only get 42 I won’t be all that upset. 

So what is my attempted reading book list this year? 

I am going to give you a list that comprises of 45 books so just bear with me. I own most of the books I plan on reading already so they are mostly already pulled from my collection and piled on the shelf in my office because why not. I am doing this to branch back out and not just read cozy mysteries this year, granted I will be reading a bunch of them because they are quick reads but I want to have a variety. 

-10 Classics (hopefully)

            I am not going to list them but it’s basically just a collection of classics I already have and throwing darts at the Barnes and Noble classics collection. 

-5 Historical Fiction

            I read a lot of pre-World War 1 English historical fiction and I haven’t picked one up since then so I plan on reading 5 historical fictions this year. 

-5 Sci-Fi or Fantasy

            I love sci-fi and fantasy but I haven’t been reading them lately so I have already picked five out of my collection and they are on the list.

-5 General Fiction 

            Just random books, they can be whatever genre of fiction that I kind of feel like but most of them are just regular books. 

-2 Memoir’s/ Autobiography’s 

            I like books about people written by the person it’s about, I read a few last year and I have had several in my collection for years and it’s time to give myself a reason to read them. 

-1 Non-Fiction

            It’s going to be education related because that’s kind of my life so I plan on finding one that interests me, I may have one or two so we’ll see when it comes to that. 

-2 Thrillers

            I like serial killers and true crime as much as the next person and I have some fictionalized versions of actual serial killers so I plan on reading them this year and I am both dreading and excited for it because I haven’t read a thriller in years. 

-15 Choice

            This is where the cozies will show up and just random books that I want to read because between all of the categories that I am putting myself under this year I still want to just read random things and have the flexibility to do that so 1/3 of the books are my choice. 

            Alright on from that, I will probably keep a count of how many I’ve read this year in each section and put that at the bottom just to keep me accountable to it because it’s me and if I don’t I will just read whatever I want all year and all of those classics will just go back in the shelves and I don’t want to do that. 

            Let’s be real though, of course my first book of the year was a cozy though so we are just going to roll into that. 

Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle

            Shannon Hammer as always is amazing and I love the series, I am going to do a suggested cozies post at some point soon so you know if you haven’t been following along you can just see what I enjoy reading. This one had so many twists and turns and I could feel the insanity of the person who actually committed the crimes. I loved the introduction of the character of Amanda, another woodworker and that’s again really cool because ladies doing carpentry is always a win in my book. I had to look up what an orangery actually looks like and I love them. I want a sun room made of glass on my house when I grow up. I still love the continued world building and I can’t wait to dive into the next one but I am going to hold off and read something else from my list first. 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

            So I grew up with the Disney versions of this book and my goal is still 10 classics this year and so this was my first. I actually really enjoyed it, I know it’s a lot, it’s very fanciful and it’s supposed to be that way. Someone I knew in high school called it a Victorian Acid Trip and I have never done acid but I can understand what they meant because the movie is very trippy. It’s just a really interesting book because it’s taking something that I have only seen in animated and live action films but reading something so familiar but also reading Through The Looking-Glass it was much different than the movie and I thought that was pretty cool. I really enjoyed it and it wasn’t a hard read, I read it in two days and for me that’s about average overall for my book read time when I actually get a chance to sit down and read. This book, if you like the movie, you should read because it’s the original classic that has become so familiar over the years to so many audiences. 

Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding 

            Guess who didn’t know that this book was originally published in the 90’s, me, I had no idea. I saw the movie years ago, I think I might own it or I just watched it on the internet; honestly I cannot remember. I am a single human being approaching 30 and I am in that bubble where so many of my friends are getting married and having babies so I understood a lot of the feelings in this novel. Times have not changed much to be honest. I read it in pretty much two days because it was based around the premise of a diary so it was easy to read and digest and having seen the movie first I knew kind of what to expect but it was rather funny at parts and gave me a new take on really what we say we are going to resolve in the new year every year. I might read the other Bridget Jones novels at some point because let’s face it, I have been proven over and over again to love funny books. 

West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan 

            So I have read a few books about authors from this time period including The Paris Wife and I really like reading about early 20th century authors that we consider to be masters of the written word today. Truth be told though, I have never read any of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s actual books. I am planning on it eventually but I have never gotten around to reading any of them, even The Great Gatsby which is one of those books that so many people have read and look at you funny when you haven’t read it or at least seen the movie. I find the lives of creative people of the past fascinating and that includes authors, artists, and actors because even if it’s fiction it gives such a perspective on a real person no matter the fictional underpinnings. It was a long read but it kept me interested and that’s really all that matters. I cannot tell you how long this book has been in my collection and if you like reading about people who write, this is a good one to do that with. 

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

            I mean I watched the mini-series on Amazon Prime when it came out and I even wrote a blog post on it all that time ago. You can read it if you like. I loved the book, the show did it justice which sometimes is not the case. Though the book was also different from the series in some regards but it still read like a film and I couldn’t put it down. It’s separated into days unlike many books that are separated into chapters and it has so many story lines that finally come together at the end and it’s fantastic. Because there is a series (and I am watching it again because I can) I can see each character clearly in my head by their series counterparts and the casting was amazing because it just fit as I read the book. I feel like I am disjointed on this one but I still love the idea of a flaming Bentley blasting Queen racing toward the end of the world. 

A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle

            Second cozy mystery of the year because I needed a break for all of the rest of the stuff I was reading. It was a really quick read, it only took me two days in like two hour and a half long blocks because that’s just how my day works. It was a good book and it kept me turning pages, it was really good, though I have not read a book by Kate Carlisle that I haven’t liked. This one was really fast paced and I loved meeting Chloe, Shannon’s sister, for the first time in the series after hearing about her through several books now. Whitney, that character, grinds all of my gears because she reminds me of people that I went to high school and even college with. I went to a university in my home town and a lot of the students would call people from town “townies” and there was also this connotation that they were better than the people who lived in town and that bothered me quite a bit. So that theme throughout the series is sure a true problem and I get it. 

Esperanza Rising by Pan Munoz Ryan

            I read this with the sixth graders I work with, it was one of those books that I heard of but had never actually read but I did and as a coming of age book and a learning who you are kind of book for middle schoolers, it’s great. It’s really impactful in so many ways and seeing it through the lens of being an adult but also reading what kids had to say about it was fascinating to me. It is a quick read but if you have a middle school aged kid in your life, it’s worth the read. I did volley back and forth on whether or not to put this one on the list but this list is all the books I have read in 2021 so that means that it goes on the list! Also with this group I am going to get to read Tuck Everlasting and I’ve never read that one either so look forward to that eventually. 

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

            I normally don’t get super excited for books but Erin Morgenstern writes amazing books I cannot describe them in words but The Night Circus is my favorite book and being able to read another one of her works (finally after it sat on my shelf for a while) was like coming home. There are no words for how good this book was, all of the threads coming together and creating what I would describe as a literary masterpiece. I have so many words but no words at all, it was more sweet than bitter which I loved and the symbolism throughout had me turning pages faster than I could read and actually process them but I couldn’t stop. I want to read it again already and I just finished it, I also put it down for like a week and a half but that was an accident and I wish I hadn’t. It is so vivid I could see it in my brain, it was like watching a movie that I didn’t want to end. It’s fanciful, fairy tale-esque, and just down right amazing, (I feel like I say that a bunch but it’s true), I cannot describe how this book made me feel, I have no words even though I have so many that I want to say but none of them would accurately articulate how good this book was. I want to go to the Harbor, I want to get lost in stories, and feel like I am surrounded by magic. If I did long form book reviews this would be at the top of my list but I just don’t do that no matter how much I would like to. I will leave you with this, and Fate fell in love with Time. (How cool is that?!)

            Well that’s it for part one and below I put a counter of all the genres that I plan on reading this year so you can follow along. I was hoping to get ten books read in January and February and I was on track for that and then things changed so here’s hoping that I get more read in March and April, I think I am going to do every two months this year instead, like I did the last several months of last year just because I don’t want these posts to be TL:DR kind of posts. (My next book is my first thriller of the year so look forward to hearing how I feel about that one.)

            I hope that everyone has a good start to the week and I will be back mid-week with another post!

            -MJ

Let’s keep track shall we?:

Classics:  1/10

Historical Fiction:  1/5

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:  2/5

General Fiction:  1/5

Memoirs/Autobiographies:  /2

Non-Fiction:  /1

Thrillers:  /2

Free Choice:  2/15

What was in My February 2021 IPSY Glam Bag?

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            How is it already just days away from the end of February? I just don’t understand how this year has already started to fly by. Well I got this in the mail before the snow-pocalypse that we had in the mid-south last week and today it was 70 outside, I don’t know with weather anymore y’all I really don’t. I am just going to start writing this post though because my brain still isn’t fully back into this yet but it’s been that kind of month. February and March are usually my low months and I will eventually feel better and more creative but that day is not today.

The Bag:

            There were two different bags this month and I actually really wanted this one, it’s a fold over with a set of lips on top and on the back it looks like a letter and I actually really like the variety of bags when they just aren’t a top zip. It’s a super cute bag. 

The Products:

Basic Beauty Tweezers:

            I got tweezers in my Glam Bag Plus last month but having a second pair just means that I can have one in my bathroom and one for travel purposes so that’s kind of exciting. They are very pink, I will say that; I like pink but I do not have a lot of pink things around my apartment. They are a nice weight for tweezers so I am looking forward to putting these with the rest of my tools and using them as needed in my beauty routine. 

Haruharu Black Rice Hyaluronic Toner:

            I am still getting into toners and I am actually really jazzed about getting another toner to try out. When I got it, because it was so cold it was more gel than liquid but as it thawed it went back to liquid and I am hoping that it didn’t effect this product. I know that I will get around to using it sooner rather than later and I am looking forward to it. 

The Crème Shop Fusion Sheet Mask Duo:

            I love sheet masks, one of my goals this year was to meditate and do a sheet mask and to be honest, I haven’t actually done it once yet but I really need to get back into it because I need to take some time just to be one with my own brain and take time to just be for like a half an hour with a face mask on but I’ll get back to that soon enough. I like that these are like mash ups, so it has multiple benefits. I have a whole thing full of face masks in my fridge and I really need to use them so I should be doing it about once a week not once every couple of months. 

Thisworks In Transit Camera Close Up: 

            I had no idea what this actually was, but it’s a moisturizer. It’s also a primer and a mask all in one which is nice for traveling. I like Thisworks, I usually use their pillow spray which is really great but I am looking forward to giving this one a go. I don’t mind getting moisturizers because most of them don’t seem to really effect my skin, I know some that do and I do avoid those but the more I try the more I can rule in and out for my skin. 

YC Collection Loose Setting Powder in #117:

            Tiny setting powder, I don’t use setting powder very often. It’s just not part of my usual routine, I don’t mind using setting powder but it’s just not something that I usually use. IPSY sometimes picks some weird things for me which is fine because it’s to branch out but sometimes it kind of misses the mark when it comes to my specific beauty and skincare routine needs. 

            Overall I liked my bag this month, there are very few months when I don’t enjoy my bag so it’s not all that shocking I guess to say that I enjoyed this one. 

            So short and sweet because I am just not in the mood to write long form prose in blog form right now; which I don’t like but right now I have to deal with me and what’s going on in my brain. It’s a mess up there y’all, a real mess.

            If you want to see what I got in January, you can! Just click on the month.

            Either way though I will be back this weekend with another post and I hope that everyone has a great and safe rest of the week until then.

            -MJ

February 2021 IPSY Glam Bag Plus Unboxing

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            So this month has been crazy, we have had a week and a half of remote learning because of snow and ice which is not a usual thing in the south. I took some time off because I needed it and I could really take another week or two off and still feel like I still needed more time but I’m doing this anyway because I enjoy writing posts and hanging out on here but at the moment I am just tired. I know everyone else is just as tired or more tired than I am but we are all living through back to back to back historical events and it’s all just a lot to handle. 

The Bag:

            The drawstring bags are really starting to grow on me and to be honest I love the metallic lips all over the bag. I feel like I can’t say much about the bag this time because the products are more important than the bag itself even though it’s still pretty cool. 

The Products: 

Goldfaden MD Vital Boost Even Skintone Daily Moisturizer:

            I got a Goldfaden product last month and I really am enjoying it. I am using it as setting spray and it actually seems to work really well. My one problem with this is it’s for uneven skin tone, I don’t have uneven skin tone. I do like Goldfaden products so I am hopeful that this one, even if uneven tone isn’t one of my skin concerns, I still like it when I actually get around to using it.  

The Crème Shop Ethereal Glow Ampoule Serum:

            Serum’s are not something that I am used to but I have been using them for a little over a year now so getting another one isn’t a bad thing for me. It smells really good and I am hoping that it works well when I actually get to use it. My thing about serum’s is that sometimes they are a little too oily for my skin type and I am hoping that this one isn’t super oily because otherwise there is no way I can use it because too much oil really likes to break my skin out. 

Glow on 5th Bye, Bye Puffy Eyes:

            Eye creams are amazing and I really enjoy them so I am looking forward to actually having a full sized eye cream again, I usually use sample sizes because that’s what I have. I am really looking forward to integrating this into my beauty routine. I feel like I am saying actually a lot but that’s where I am right now as I am writing this. Anyway, I am really excited to use this. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Luminous Foundation in 120W:

            I wish if they offered foundation they would let you choose the shade. This one is fine, it’s about the right shade but I could have used a shade lighter. That is my one complaint about foundations through ISPY is they decide the shade for you in the choice menu, let me choose my shade. I love Anastasia though so I was excited for this to be one of my choice items. 

F.A.R.A.H Rendezvous Brush Set:

            I love brushes and I don’t have many brushes like these so adding these to my collection. I feel like there isn’t much I can say about brushes besides they are soft and I hope they are effective. I love the shape of the contour brush and I am always a fan of a fluffy highlighting brush for a more diffused glow highlighter look so adding this set to my collection is great. 

            Overall this month I didn’t feel like I was given many choices but I liked everything that I got in my bag. I know that this post is shorter than usual just because I need to get back into the groove of writing blog posts and finding my voice again. Also I am distracted but that is my own fault, it’s been that kind of week. 

            I have a feeling that my next post will be my regular Glam Bag for February so look forward to that later in the week.  If you want to check out what I got in January, you can!

            I hope that everyone has a great start to the week and a safe time out there because it’s been crazy weather these last few weeks. 

            -MJ 

All About MJ

Hey hey, I’m MJ,

            See what I did there instead of hey hey, it’s MJ it’s…never mind you get it. I feel like I have been thinking about writing this post for months now and I don’t actually know when this is going to be posted because well it depends on my other posts and scheduling but here we go. I’m MJ, it’s a nickname and it has been since I was little, I have an ironic name with an ironic birthday that I don’t plan on telling y’all about. I am really private for these things and the internet is a place where I don’t want to give away all of my secrets. 

So here is a little mini bio about me:

            I grew up in a medium sized college town in North Western Indiana, we were considered sometimes a suburb of Chicago but I grew up surrounded by corn fields and I learned to love that. Valparaiso, the Vale of Paradise as it means in Spanish was my home town I was born there in 1992, I grew up there, went to college there, and in 2018 moved out of there. 

            Who am I though? I grew up and only child with poodles first there was Dusty who passed away on my fifth birthday and then we got Duke who was born an old man I swear if he was human he would have been a history professor suede elbow patches and all, he passed away when I was in college. Y’all have seen Ozzie and Ginger if you have seen my Instagram or a few of my older posts. 

            My dad is a retired electrician and my mom stayed at home with me and the dogs, I grew up on a road with a cul-de-sac, typical Americana right? 

            I started to develop depression and anxiety when I was in middle school and I still live with it, therapy in high school did wonders, but I did have four therapists in 3 years so I have some trust and abandonment issues but other than that, it’s good. I still have my moments where I get to those lows and this year has not been great but I’m working on being and feeling better. 

            I developed stress and tension headaches in my junior year of high school which made me miss half a year and then I went into an alternative program for the second semester and made up a year’s worth of work in a couple of months, it’s okay I promise if you have to do something like that. 

            Despite that I still got into college I did my first year at one of Purdue’s satellite school’s before transferring to Valparaiso University where I spend three amazing years being in radio where I was a DJ, Assistant Program Director, and Program Director my senior year. Joined a sorority, Delta Delta Delta, which sadly closed on my campus my senior year but I am a Tri Delta alum and proud of that every day. I got my B.A. in Digital Media Communications, TV and Radio and I loved every minute of it. I interned for the country station I grew on and got to meet an owl named Hoosier and Hunter Hayes all in one weekend; it was a lot of fun because I got to work with radio personalities I had grown up on and looked up to. 

            The end of my senior year I found myself a little lost and decided to go and finish my Psychology degree so I went back to Purdue for a little over a year and then I was done with my B.S. in Psychology with honors (3.77 GPA for the win) with full intention of going to grad school, I had a bad work experience and decided that I needed something else. I clearly couldn’t settle on what I wanted to do.

            Here’s the thing I know what I want to do, I want to write full time be an author but that takes a lot of time, skill, and even luck so that’s just not a full time option for me right now and that’s okay, eventual dream. 

            So what did I do next? My neighbor across the street was a curriculum coach at a school in another district and they had an opening for an Instructional Assistant and I got it so I was back in education. We had a lot of high risk high poverty inner city kids so I learned a lot of empathy and got a thick skin being in a building like that and I miss a lot of the kids, the 3rd graders I student taught are in 6th grade now and I knew those kids when they were in 1st grade so that’s so hard for me to wrap my brain around. I was really not out of a school building from 1997 when I was in kindergarten until the beginning of 2018 and I went back at the end and started subbing down here, but that’s for later. I spent two school years as an Instructional Assistant and about a semester in I started my M.A.E (Master of Arts in Education) in Elementary Education online through University of Phoenix (don’t bash an online program, it was what worked for me!). I graduated in the first week of 2018 with a 3.80 GPA literally weeks before I packed up and moved to Arkansas.

            I moved to Bentonville, Arkansas in February of 2018, the Wal-Mart capital of the world, if I throw a rock I could probably hit something Wal-Mart related and that means that there is a lot of diversity down here which is great. 

            That was about when I started the blog because I was in a new place and I wanted something as an outlet. 

I was down here months before my parents to be boots on the ground for the building of their house, they built a log cabin, I got to help and I learned so much about construction and life in general. The guys taught me so much and I will always cherish those memories. (It was a lot and I wrote a bit of a memoir on it but it will never see the light of day.) 

            I started substitute teaching later that year and have been doing it ever since and there is nothing I love more than having a kid recognize me and run over to give me a hug, granted we can’t do that right now because of COVID but I love working with kids. There is no one better at building you up or tearing you down more than an elementary school aged kid because they have no filter. 

            There is so much more I could tell you, I promise that, I have finished 12 books all by myself and if you count my work with a friend that number is over 20. I just started working out again, I walked my first 5K in October. (this might go up in October but if it doesn’t there you have it and I hope that I have walked more than that since then but who knows!) I like art and if I could have I would have gotten a degree in Art History because it’s one of my favorite things, I love dogs and hedgehogs and I want nothing more than a Cockapoo (cocker spaniel and poodle mix), I love Funko Pops!, books, makeup. I love to craft and do DIY’s and I know that I am a lot to handle for a lot of people but I wouldn’t trade being me for anything! 

            I hope everyone has a great week and I will see y’all later with another post! 

            -MJ 

A Short Pause

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

Normally I don’t write directly into the editor on my blog, I always write it in a word document and transfer it over but right now I am just writing something short and sweet.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t take any time off this year, I was going to post two times a week every week and that was a promise to myself this year. Well I am a person and right now I have hit a creative wall and I didn’t mean to take last Wednesday off. I was planning on posting something but nothing came to my brain to actually post so I left it. Today I also had a plan to post something else that I already have written but I just woke up this morning and I didn’t want to.

My mental health tanked last year and February and March are usually the months where my depression really hits me and I need to take care of myself. I’m not going to be gone for long for the few people who read this blog. I’m only taking another week off, I’ll be back on Sunday next week (2/14), Valentine’s Day because I don’t have a Valentine, I will probably spend that day writing and hanging out with my family. I just need a few days to get my blog post based creative mojo back.

I am just burned out on social media at the moment and I think that a lot of other people are also, I have seen so many really large creators take breaks this year as opposed to years prior and it’s hard to keep that energy going while the world is falling apart. This blog is a creative outlet to me in a public space but right now I just don’t want to share anything. Like I said it’s going to be a week, last year I took all of February and March off and I don’t want to do that this year because I have been trying to be more accountable with my posting schedule.

I have like 150 blog posts to check out if someone needs something to read in the next few days but nothing new for just a week, well week and a half when it’s all over but for now I am going to take the time to recharge my energy and get back to writing things that I love on this forum.

Until next week, I hope everyone has a great one.

-MJ

Anatomy of a Creative’s Desk

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            I feel like I am on a hamster wheel and I kind of want to get off but there is no place to do that without causing great bodily harm. I know that we are already at the end of month one of 2021 and I feel like my stress level is just through the roof at the moment. I considered just taking today off and just rolling with it, really taking this week off and coming back next weekend but I am nothing if I am not a glutton for punishment. 

            I was watching Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith earlier and it occurred to me that I have never actually seen the movie, only the memes all over the internet. I knew what was going to happen but it is what it is. I got into the Star Wars game like super late because as a younger human I just wasn’t into it but I am now and better late than never right? 

            I have no idea how to open this post and I feel like I am rambling, I am one of those people who will talk and talk until someone tells me to shut up. I spend a lot of my time by myself so actually being able to talk to people means that I will talk and talk. My dad tells me all the time that my talking is the reason they named me Mary, after my grandmother, who also had the gift of gab. 

            My post is not about any of this but at the moment my brain is so scattered this post may be a post with no point, my downstairs neighbors have been fighting again and that very much disrupts my very quiet existence up here, I shouldn’t dwell on it but I do because I don’t like when people argue it makes me anxious. 

            What is this post really about you may ask? Well it’s in the title, I have had a number of desk set ups over the years, if I have any on my computer I will share them as well but I consider myself to be a pretty creative human on most days, some days I look at everything on my desk and just feel absolutely brain dead because I can’t produce anything productive. 

            My desk, my office really is a safe haven to me because it’s my space to work, to creative, and to be me without pretenses. I write a lot, I like art even though I am not great at it, and I really enjoy reading. If I could have an study, a library, and an art studio in a house someday no one would ever see me again; I would be a little more reclusive than I already am. 

            What’s on my desk though? 

            Notebooks, all sorts of notebooks, my bullet journal, my writing notebook, my writing prompt notebook, my outline and idea notebook, and sometimes just a writing notebook that I hand write in but that’s in my work bag so it’s not in here at the moment.

            Pens and things, all sorts of pens and things, markers, fine line sharpies, highlighters, and even some pencils for all of the things that I work on. They are mostly for my bullet journal but I use them for other things as well. 

            Assorted figurines, they are mostly Funko Pops!, eventually I will be doing a highlight reel of my collection but that’s an eventually plan when I have my whole collection at my place of residence. Except the ones that were stolen from my last apartment, I still miss all of my Doctor Who Pops that were lost which was most of them and some pretty expensive rare ones that were exclusives and someone took them. I hope that person rots in hell. One my desk though I have two of the characters from Funko’s original collection of Wetmore Forest which are Snuggletooth and Butterhorn, I love them both. I also have Rosie the Riveter and the Coca-Cola bear because I love the polar bears in their commercials. I also have a small Beanie Baby giraffe that was a present from my best friend a few years ago. I used to have more figurines on my desk but things have changed. 

            Random things, stapler, tape, sticky notes, lotions, white out, wireless ear buds, my backup hard drive, drinks, sometimes plates because I pretty much live at my desk. I also have a grammar book which I should look at more often as well as my address book because I still write cards to people. 

            My computers, I use my laptop every day, that’s what I do all of my work on. I have my iMac out because I use Photoshop on it, it’s so old I cannot update it anymore but it still has Photoshop so I still use it for that. Yes I am a Mac person, I have been since like 2007 with my first Macbook. 

            Things that are sometimes one my desk but aren’t at the moment:

            A book, usually the one I am reading or just finished.

            My phone, I’m using it to take the picture.

            Things for whatever I am writing a blog post about, ISPY stuff, makeup and skincare, books, random stuff, and anything that I am using that I know I need to remember to put in the post. 

            Binders, for whatever book I am working on but they live in the bookcase next to my desk most of the time. 

            More computer and electronic cords than I know what to do with but need. 

My very small desk, or at least part of it my senior year of college so this is late 2013 because I had Christmas stuff on the desk.
This is circa early 2016 so this was when I was still in Indiana right before I started my Master’s so I have no idea what was on the screen but I was watching a lot of YouTube at the time, I still do.
This was my original set-up when I moved to Arkansas so February-March 2018.
This was my second set-up at my old apartment and that was late 2018 or early 2019, more Christmas stuff there so it’s gotta be Christmas 2018 because I was only in that apartment for one Christmas.

            In hindsight I wish that I had taken more pictures of my set up over the years with how much it’s changed in my memory, I will put a few through this post because it’s a trip down memory lane for me, all the way back to college. I really do wish I had a picture of my old school desk from when I was in high school and I might somewhere but who knows where in my archives that could even be. I have gotten rid of so many photos over the years but even looking back to some of the ones on my computer from 2013 I realized most of the books in the bookcase I had at that time I don’t own anymore which is such a weird feeling knowing how many books I have donated over the years but that’s not what this post is about. 

            This post was more for me than anything else but I like showing small snippets of my life here I need to be more open but only to my comfort level at this point. 

            I will see everyone mid-week with a post that I haven’t decided on yet so that should be fun but until then I hope everyone has a good start to the week and a good start to February. 

            -MJ 

Gaming Update

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            I was going to make this another MJ Plays like I did with Animal Crossing last year but I figured this post is just going to be a little more broad. I got a few games for Christmas and I might as well talk about them, right? 

            This post isn’t going to be long because it’s just one of those posts that’s filler for me. I know I shouldn’t have any filler posts on the blog but this is what I have in me tonight. I waited until the last minute and that’s about it really. I will hopefully actually get more into these games and things eventually but in this post it’s more of an overview so roll with me. 

            So I got three games for Christmas and I bought one over my Thanksgiving Break so I would have something besides Animal Crossing to play. I have 8th graders who tell me that the reason I am too busy to date is because I need to play Animal Crossing. Roll that through your brain for a second. 

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

            My best friend loves all of the Zelda games I think more than she loves to breathe so I figured if I played this then we would actually have something video game related to talk to besides Animal Crossing and Mario Kart. I am enjoying the game though I haven’t been playing much of anything recently just because my life is a little hectic and I keep dying in the game. I am so bad at games and that is no secret but I am trying with this one. It is beautiful and open world which is really great because I love the exploration aspect of it .

Pokémon Shield

            Got it for Christmas and I have been playing Pokémon since Ruby and Sapphire, I have missed a few in there but I absolutely love Pokémon, I grew up on the games, the TV show, and the cards even though I don’t think I have ever played a real Pokémon battle. I am naming all of my Pokémon in the game after artists I like and this is the first time I have used a fire type starter. It also is a lot different than games in the past but that is also just what is happening to video games they are going from side scrolling to open world and they are amazing. 

Luigi’s Mansion 3

            I watched people play this last year and now I am playing it and I am stuck on like the second level because I am so bad at games! I really am enjoying it though and I need to get back into it because the graphics are cute and amazing and who doesn’t love the character’s from the Mario universe. 

Super Mario Odyssey

            I love the combination of platform side scroller game, open world game, and puzzles that you get with this game, again I am stuck in the desert and I will eventually get back into it because I am having so much fun playing it. 

            I didn’t play a lot of games growing up so I am catching up now and I am still not great at them but it’s just a hobby, I’m not trying to be the best because I feel like that takes the fun out of it. 

            I told y’all this wasn’t going to be a long post because I don’t feel like I have much to say tonight but maybe eventually I will be able to make posts on each of these games or reviews of them even though they have all been out for years now but I am usually behind on the trends so why would that change now? 

            Alright everyone I hope you have a great rest of the week and I will see you over the weekend with another post. 

            -MJ 

Cozy Mysteries To Try

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            I am a devourer of cozy mysteries I have a bunch in my collection, 40 actually, excluding the ones that I haven’t read yet, that span several authors. My mom has a series or two at her house and I have read many of them as well. So I am just going to run through the first’s in the series that I am currently reading and give my recommendations on cozy mysteries if you want to find a few to try out. 

Not pictured because I don’t have them in my personal collection, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder and Caught Dead Handed because they are in my mother’s collection.

            I am only including series where I have read two or more, I don’t want to base a suggestion on just one book; no matter how much I liked the first book. 

            I am not going to really summarize each series, just give my opinions on them and let you, if you want to, discover their content on your own as much as possible. If you really want to see some of the summaries I did read a lot of cozies last year and you can sift through the books I read last year series if you want to: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

  1. The Meg Langslow Mysteries by Donna Andrews. 

The first book is A Murder with Peacocks.

This is one of those series that I have been reading for a little over 4 years now. I have read all of the ones that are out in paperback so far and I am going to be honest it is one of my favorite series to read. I love the world and the characters and watching them all grow and change as time goes on. Some of them are a little hard to find, I know there was a second in the middle of the first fifteen or so that I had to order used and even then they were hard to come by. I hope they eventually rerelease them so they are easier to find because it’s so good.

2. The Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke 

The first book is Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

I started reading these after seeing the series on Hallmark and I have read the first several but again, finding them in bookstores can be hard if you don’t start a series pretty close to it’s beginning so I have to order them off the internet a lot, thanks Amazon. I enjoy the series and the characters, again. I also enjoy the cookie and other bakery treat recipes that are sprinkled throughout the book. They are not exactly the same as the TV movie series but I really enjoy them even though I haven’t read one since the middle of last year. 

3. The Fixer-Upper Mysteries by Kate Carlisle

The first book is  A High End Finish

I read the first several in this series over the last year and I have fallen in love with the series as a whole. The characters and the story lines, the world building and the fact that the main character is in construction because you don’t see a lot of ladies in building. Sometimes these are hard to find as well but also it might just be my specific Barnes and Noble that fails me on having books beyond the first one sometimes and maybe the fifth one. 

4. The Cookie House Mysteries by Eve Calder

The first book is And Then There Were Crumbs

I didn’t start this series until late last year but I read both books in like a week and am patiently but not so patiently waiting for the third one which comes out in April, I think. It’s not the same style as others I have read in the past and I love that to be honest. I am looking forward to seeing the expansion of the world and the characters in the future because both books urged me to keep reading even when I knew I should put the book down. 

5. The Nantucket Candle Maker Mysteries

The first book is Murder’s No Votive Confidence

Like the Meg Langslow mysteries I didn’t read the first one first, I read the third one first because it was in a Halloween book box from last year. I read all three in like a week and a half and again I couldn’t put them down. I love candles and used to have a much larger collection than I do now but I do follow some artisanal candle companies on the internet. It takes place on Nantucket, so a small island and that feels like a locked room mystery series to me and I absolutely love it.

6. The Witch City Mysteries

The first book is Caught Dead Handed

I am never against a mystery series that is slightly supernatural, I love the characters and all of the craziness that happens, I have a degree in TV and Radio so seeing a TV personality in a mystery book is never something that bothers me. It’s just slightly magical which is really cool because sometimes authors go overboard with the magical nature of things or it becomes cliché but this series is for sure worth a read.

            For now that’s about it, I know that in the future I will have a second post with more books because I know me, I have enough to read that as I get more series in my book shelf and I need to get the second and third books in series that I have only read one book in so I can add to this list but for now I am giving suggestions on six series that total somewhere around 80 books in total to read so I think that will keep anyone and everyone who wants to read them busy for a while. 

            Alright, this is my first book post of the year and there will be more because I like writing about what I am reading. My first reading post will come out late next month if everything goes well but we will see I guess. 

            So I will see everyone later in the week with a new post and as always I hope that everyone has a great start to the week!

            -MJ 

What Was in My January 2021 IPSY Glam Bag?

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            So I wasn’t planning on having two IPSY posts back to back this month but I got this in the mail and figured, why not? 

            I actually didn’t know when this was showing up because the tracking number didn’t work so it just showed up in my mailbox and that’s about it. We are already more than half way through January which is insanity to be honest. I know that so much can happen in just a few days, if last year was any indication to that fact but I hope that everyone is having a good week. 

            I didn’t pick anything for this bag, I told them to surprise me because I didn’t really know what I wanted from the choices so this one is just IPSY picking stuff for me. 

The Bag: 

            It’s a mostly clear bag but it’s frosted with the word Dream again in dot matrix across it like the Glam Bag Plus. It’s a top zip with a clear blue ring zipper pull. I like it because it’s plastic and that’s better for any sort of travel purposes than some of the other bags in the past.

The Products: 

Ahava Dead Sea Water Mineral Hand Cream in Sea-Kissed:

            This is the first repeat product I have ever gotten from IPSY I think, I know I got this in January of 2019 and I love Ahava so I don’t have any problem with getting another one. I don’t mind repeats of products I have gotten in the past and loved. It’s a good hand cream there is no doubt in my mind about that, if you want to feel really moisturized go with Ahava, all of their products are A+’s in my book. I have used Ahava for years and I am never upset about getting their products in boxes. 

Ciaté London Glow To Illuminating Blush in Matchmaker: 

            It’s a beautiful shade but I am not used to a blush being both pearlescent and glittery, it feels more like a highlighter than a blush. I like the shade though and that’s all that matters really. It has a pretty good pigmentation as well which is not always the case with blush. It’s a very summer shade to me though so it will be put away until the summer season hits if we are all allowed to leave our houses by then. Like seriously I only wear mascara, foundation, and concealers right now I would love to dive back into actually wearing a full face but with a mask that’s almost impossible, but mask up everyone, seriously. 

SLMissGlam P30 Angled Blusher Brush:

            This is the first glam bag I think I have ever gotten where I got a brush and the product that it’s meant to put on in the same bag. This brush feels really nice but to me as someone who has a lot of brushes this one is one that is not really me. I like the brush but the handle reminds me of those sets we got as kids, like a first makeup kit, a little juvenile. I normally don’t judge on looks and I still am trying not to because their brushes work really well it is just hard to clean with the rhinestones or whatever in the handle under the brush top. 

Soo’AE HangBang Sheet Mask Duo in Collagen and Hylaronic Acid: 

            Love me some sheet masks and I am really going to go through a lot of them this year, that is already a plan; get back into meditation with a sheet mask one at least once a week. I have not done it yet this year but I plan on actually doing one tonight. I really like Soo’AE as well, I have gotten products from this company in the past; cannot remember what but it’s not a brand that I don’t recognize. I will have to go through the archives and find out, I have their Rose water spray, that’s what it is. I love their rose water spray. 

 Youth To The People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Oil:

            It has Maqui (which I had to look up because I have never heard of it before), Goji, and Acai berries in it plus prickly pear and it smells amazing. I cannot wait to give this a try because I have been getting more and more into skincare in the last few years and oils are a pretty new step in my beauty routine. Though there is some discourse on when to put it on. I have read that you put it on after toner and other places say to put it on closer to the end. I just kind of stick to doing it at some point before I moisturize because I feel like moisturizer should be the last step to seal everything in. I could be wrong but I am really looking forward to trying this one out. I love Youth To The People so I hope this works for my skin. 

            Overall I really enjoyed my Glam Bag, first one of 2021 and I am excited to keep unbagging them and telling y’all what I got. I am so used to listing out months here but I don’t have to. I think maybe at this end of this year I will do a top ten IPSY samples post if I remember because then I can go back and maybe suggest some of my favorites from the year.

            I will see everyone later in the week with another post and I hope everyone has a great rest of the week!

            -MJ