A mini-review of all the books I read in July 2020.
As I mentioned in the If We Were Having Coffee post, I am adding some new themes and interests on the blog. This includes the new monthly series What I Read This Month that I am debuting with this post!
I know some other bloggers do this as well, and I thought this would be a great way to transition into writing more about books and entertainment on the blog.
What to Expect
Each month I will be posting a mini-review of all the books I read from the month prior and give each book a rating.
I like to read different subjects, but I mainly stick to classics, personal development, history, and historical fiction books.
If you read a book that fits my vibes and think I would like it, please feel free to let me know in the comments.
Also, if you would like a full review of a book I read, let me know in the comment section as well!
Lastly, like many book nerds, I am Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge. I decided to step up my game this year and read or audiobook a book a week, so 52 books in 2020. So far, I am at 19, so I am about 11 books behind, but I am confident I can get close to my goal by the end of the year.
Without further ado, here are the books I read in July 2020!
Rich Dad Poor Dad was first published in 1997 and is still one of the most recommended personal finance books 13 years later. Rich Dad Poor Dad is the first personal finance book I ever read, and I am so glad I chose this one because it has given me a sense of direction in how to break away from being an employee by being financially literate.
I read three finance books in July and this was my second read. The Total Money Makeover is another popular finance book that comes highly recommended by finance YouTubers and bloggers. Ramsey’s book was much more straightforward and less of a story than Rich Dad Poor Dad, but the book offers some great advice and some that I don’t exactly agree with. Regardless, I am currently following the second Total Money Makeover step and trying to pay my debts down using the snowball effect.
The third finance book I read in July. I had a hard time getting into this one and felt like I didn’t get to absorb the book and what the author was conveying. I did manage to take away the idea of paying myself first. I would like to give this book a second chance and reread it to see if I can follow along with the storyline more clearly.
I am embarrassed to say that at 29 years old, this is the first Jane Austen novel I have ever read. I recently had an interest in classic books and decided to start with Pride and Prejudice as it was a shorter novel to read. The novel was quaint and romantic. I plan on rereading it to enjoy getting into the internal thoughts of the characters. I also want to watch the on screens versions of the novel.
The Lady of the Rivers is the first book in the Plantagenet and Tudor novel series by Philippa Gregory. I had initially started the series by reading The Constant Princess, which focused on Katherine of Aragon and worked my way up from there. Now I am starting at the beginning and reading the first few novels in the series. I don’t love all of the books in the series, but this one is good and one of my favorites out of all 15 novels.
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The Queen’s Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile by C. W. Gortner
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Until Next Time
Have you read any of the books I mentioned? If so let me know what you thought of them in the comments below.
Stay tuned for next month’s post to find out what I read in August!
We are all aware of the significant changes that have happened across the globe since March, so I will not go into details with that, but I would like to announce some changes that have happened in my life that will affect the blog.
So grab a cup of coffee or tea, find a relaxing spot, light a candle, and let’s chat!
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I now work from home permanently full time, and I love it!
Like many others in the country, I started working from home in March. My company had advised it would be a temporary measure for a couple of months and then we could come back into the office.
I already had one work from home day a week and was longing to have more, but I thought working full-time from home was a dream.
Luckily, after two months, the company found that having everyone at home was far more productive and much more beneficial and decided to make it permanent.
I wasn’t sure if I would like working at home permanently, but after a month or so of adjustment, I found I loved it!
So many wonderful things have happened from not commuting into the office:
I now have time to work out again. Instead of a 30 – 45-minute one-way commute, I work out right after work in my living room.
I wear more comfortable clothes. Sports bras are an everyday occurrence.
I am saving money from not commuting and not hitting up the Starbucks that was in my building.
I am eating healthier, and I started intermittent fasting. So far, I have lost 8 pounds!
I am more productive at my job and WAY less stressed.
There are many more pros to working at home for me, but these are just the big ones.
The only con is that all the lovely clothes I purchased to wear to work are no longer worn. I am not ready to get rid of them just yet, but I am sizing down a bit in the meantime.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that after our last chat about my interest in minimalism I decided to embrace it.
During the last if we were having coffee post, I mentioned that I was researching minimalism, zero waste, and simple living.
Now I can say that I have embraced these ideas and started taking steps to minimize my life and live with purpose and intention.
I started by doing a whole house declutter. A lot of stuff went to Goodwill, others were thrown out and I have four bins of items to sell on Poshmark.
Alas, my ultimate declutter is still not complete. Some things I felt an attachment to and wasn’t ready to toss just yet. I decided to keep going back room to room and get rid of more stuff each time.
My mindset as a consumer is also changing. I put thought and questioning into an item before making a purchase. A lot of things I no longer purchase at all.
I will talk more about the things I don’t buy as a beginner minimalist in an upcoming post.
Minimalism is such a huge mindset change, and I hope to do even more posts about my minimalist journey in the future.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I disconnected from social media, and I have zero regrets.
Deleting social media is also part of my minimalist journey, but it’s been a huge life-changer for me, especially with what has happened in the world so far this year.
I had deleted Facebook about two and a half years ago and never regretted it. However, I kept my Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts open.
I didn’t spend much time on social media before deleting it all. The last time I checked Instagram’s activity meter, I was averaging about 30 minutes a day.
Even with the small amount of social media time I had, I was just really tired of what I like to call “noise.”
Noise is just a bunch of gossip, trendy, political, fake, and pointless garbage that our society goes on and on about.
I felt like so many people on Instagram were fake, and it all seemed so forced. I don’t know if this makes sense, but it all seemed so negative no matter how positive I tried to look at it.
Not to mention all the other facts and scientific data that backs why social media is horrible for you (possibly more on this in a blog post).
I deleted LinkedIn, disabled my Instagram and Twitter account, and took the apps off my phone.
I haven’t been on since and honestly probably never will be again.
I don’t miss it because I am not missing anything.
There isn’t a single thing on social media that was adding value to my life.
Not even for the purpose of having a blog.
If you are thinking about deleting social media, I highly recommend you do. It will change your life for the better!
If we were having coffee, I would tell you about some changes I am bringing to this blog.
Initially, when I began this blog I had planned to focus on travel and fashion with other posts varying between seasonal holidays, wellness, entertainment, and other lifestyle topics.
Now that I no longer go into the office for work or go out at all, I don’t see fashion posts being something I can sustain on the blog.
Instead, I have decided to focus on travel and entertainment. I plan to write posts on books, movies, and television shows. As well as continuing to write about travel, wellness, seasonal things, and other lifestyle topics.
As for the book and entertainment posts, I am a huge history nerd, and most of the things I read and watch are documentaries and historical dramas. So my posts will focus on books and entertainment of that nature.
I may add a fashion or outfit post here and there, but not as heavily as before.
I am excited to write about entertainment and cant wait to share my thoughts with you!
Till Next Time
Thank you for sitting down and reading the August 2020 edition of if we were having coffee!
Let me know in the comments your thoughts and what you would tell me if we were sitting down to a cup!
Taking a camping trip to Cook Forest is a great way to enjoy nature and escape the hustle of day to day life.
Cook Forest is a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh so it’s no surprise that I go there almost every year to go camping.
This year my boyfriend and I desperately wanted to get out of the house for a weekend after being stuck inside for quarantine.
As soon as Pennsylvania allowed private campgrounds to open I booked our trip and left after work on Friday.
It was so nice to escape everything that was going on with the world and connect with nature.
It was also a bonus that there is no cell phone service anywhere in the park so we could be left alone and forget about modern life.
If you have never been to Cook Forest State Park I highly recommend it as it has some of the most beautiful views I have seen in my adventures of visiting Pennsylvania state parks.
Keep reading to get further details about Cook Forest to plan your own getaway!
About Cook Forest
Cook Forest is located in northwest Pennsylvania in Clarion, Jefferson and Forest counties.
The park consists of 8,500 acres and is known for its old-growth of white pine and hemlock.
What to Do During A Camping Trip To Cook Forest
River Floating, Canoeing, and Kayaking
You can bring your own canoe, kayak or raft/tube.
If you do have your own equipment the Pale Whale will ride you down to a river launch for a small fee.
Otherwise, you have a long 4 to 10-mile walk downriver ahead of you.
The first year I went to Cook Forest we brought a raft and walked down the river launch and it was awful and exhausting so I highly recommend driving or getting a ride.
If you don’t have your own equipment you can rents kayaks, canoes, and tubes at the Pale Whale and/or Cook Forest Canoe Rental.
We have rented a canoe from the Pale Whale and had no issues using this company. We did wait in line for a long time but that is to be expected in the summer months.
The Clarion is perfect to catch trout and other warm-water game fish.
I have caught a few small mouth bass and a couple blue gills from the Clarion but I am not the best fisher.
There is also Toms Run, which is a 2.5-mile stream that runs into the Clarion. The little stream is stocked every year with trout.
Cook Forest Fire Tower
Many park-goers head to the 87.5 feet tall fire tower to get a beautiful view of the valley below.
There are 47 miles of hiking within Cook Forest. Some of the most beautiful hiking is in the Forest Cathedral Natural Area. The Natural Area is home to hemlock and white pine trees that are over 300 years old.
There are some other activities in Cook Forest for those who are less apt to nature.
The Double Diamond Deer Park is where you can check out various whitetail and piebald deer. If you go to the park in the evening you can feed the adult deer starting at 6 PM.
Other activities include nearby wineries, gift shops, and horseback riding, mini golf and go karts.
There is not any swimming areas at Cook Forest, however, if you take a 20-minute drive to Clear Creek State Park they have a beach with a swimming area.
Where to Stay
Cook Forest has plenty of different campgrounds and cabins to choose from. Some are close to the river and some are outside of the state park lands.
I have listed two examples below but, I suggest doing some Google research on what camp areas to stay at based on what activities you’ll be doing.
In light of the events that have been going on over the world within the last few months, I haven’t felt the motivation or energy to put into blogging. Not because my life is in a bad place. On the contrary, I am doing great! But I have felt like the world is so caught up in the other events that it seems pointless to blog as normal.
I am also tired of constantly hearing about the events so I have avoided the internet as much as possible since this all started. I could go into more detail but for now, I won’t.
I also have been very busy and adjusting to my new life. I now work from home full time permanently and so all of the systems and routines I had in place are still being adjusted.
I also have changed since I started this blog and have a different perspective. I would like to bring these changes to my blog whenever I feel like its time to start blogging again.
So for now, I have some ideas and some posts I would like to write but not ready to jump back in yet. Just be aware that at some point I will be back with fresh ideas.
I am so glad I did because our guide Susan and her husband were friendly and courteous. They also provided historic information and insight on more than just the witch trials and gave an overall history of the town.
This 17th-century house was made famous from the National Hawthorne novel “The House of the Seven Gables (also conveniently located near the Salem Maritime Historic Site).
The house was built in 1668 for Captain John Turner I, the head of one of the most successful maritime families in the New England colonies
Also on the property are other homes that range from the 17th – 19th centuries.
Dinner at a Seafood Place
When you are near the sea you have to eat seafood. We ate at Sea Level Oyster Bar and it was good. But we were told by our walking tour guides that Turners is the best seafood in Salem. Next time that is where we will be heading.
This was the BEST BREAKFAST I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE!! Really, I mean it. It was packed so prepare to wait. Also, the coffee was so good I started ordering it and shipping it to my home in Pennsylvania. You can order it from Atomic Coffee here.
I have to admit that I did not get a chance to go to the museum when I visited, but I really wanted to! I am an art nerd so this is right up my alley but alas I didn’t have time.
Walk the Salem Heritage Trail and Do Some Shopping
I like walking and window shopping so between the consistent rain during our stay we did walk through the town a little bit.
I didn’t get to do as much shopping as I wanted to but I didn’t find a unique top at a boutique that I really like.
Other Things To Do…That I Didn’t Get Time For
Of course, there are other things I didn’t get to do while I was in Salem besides more food and visiting the Peabody. Hopefully next time I can get to some of these but in the meantime, YOU can check them out on your trip!
I know this isn’t for everyone, but if you have an open mind the Satanic Temple has an art gallery and a huge life-size statue of Baphomet that you can sit on for some wicked photo ops
Tourist Trap and Spooky Tacky Attraction Warning
Word to the wise…there were a lot of what I would say tourist traps and cheesy attractions/tours in Salem. In my opinion, there are more tacky tourist traps than legitimate attractions so just because of not wasting money or time on these.
Let me know what you think of these tops spots in Salem in the comments below.
I am so excited to share with everyone the steps I took to create a morning routine that has positively change my life.
I can honestly say that by making small changes and following the below steps I am 90% happier, more productive and overall just feel good.
Anyone can apply these steps to create a morning routine to change their life just like I did.
It’s not hard but it will take some motivation and time to get it together.
My Morning Routine Experience
Before I created my daily routine I was waking up between 7 and 7:30 AM.
I rushed around the house feeling stressed and not having a clue what to wear.
I was getting to work between 9 and 9:30 and coming home around 6.
I was pressing the snooze button EVERY DAY.
I was oversleeping on my days off or lounging in bed for a few hours after waking up.
I felt like I had no time to do the things I needed and wanted to do.
Most importantly, I was absolutely MISERABLE.
I hate waking up and getting my day started.
I felt unmotivated and fatigued.
Then one day I decided enough was enough and started to get up earlier and create a morning routine.
Fast forward to now and I wake between 6:10 and 6:25 on workdays. I also wake up around 7 on weekends.
I now get to work around 8:10 every day.
Most of the time I wake up on my own WITHOUT AN ALARM!
I am excited to get up, start my day and go to work or get things done at home.
I get just the right amount of sleep and feel motivated and energized.
Seriously, adding a healthy morning routine has been LIFE-CHANGING!
I feel like a new person.
Why You Should Create a Morning Routine
If my experience wasn’t enough to convince you that having a morning routine is going to change your overall happiness and life, then keep reading below for more valid points.
Great Way to Practice Self-Care
One of my goals for 2020 is to focus on self-care. Therefore, my whole morning routine encompasses self-care. I am able to physically, mentally, and emotionally work on myself during my morning routine.
Once you have a routine set up and in place, the stress just goes away. No more rushing or worrying about if you have time to do this or that. Your routine will make mornings a breeze.
I truly believe that having a morning routine creates a positive mindset and that a positive mindset increases productivity. From perfecting my routine I am able to get things done in a timely manner and prioritize what’s important to me.
Good Start to the Day
You really have to do it to experience it, but having a morning routine and starting off your day in a great mood just makes that mood continue throughout your day. It may take some getting used to but once you get in your groove you’ll look forward to your AM time and ACTUALLY want to get out of bed.
Morning Routine Tips
These are the biggest takeaways from creating a great morning routine.
Don’t snooze your alarm
If you struggle with this try setting your alarm or phone across the room or even in another room if you can still hear it.
Having to consistently get out of bed to hit the snooze will wake you up and prevent you from going back to sleep.
Drink water first thing…better yet add lemon
If you feel groggy and sleepy in the morning it’s probably not because you need to get more sleep, but more likely because you are dehydrated and need water.
Try drinking a full glass of water in the morning to keep your hydrated and help wake you up.
You can add lemon to your water which has numerous health benefits including aiding in digestion, anti-inflammatory properties, and a good dose of vitamin C.
You can learn more about the health benefits here.
Prepare the Night Before
This has been HUGE in helping me have a successful morning. Get your meals prepped and ready the night before, lay out your outfit and have everything you need to take with you for the day by the door.
I even have my medication, probiotics, and skincare products sitting out on the bathroom counter so I don’t have to search around for them or forget to take them.
Don’t Go Straight to Your Phone
Heading straight to my phone to read, check my blog or social media or watch youtube videos is what had me sitting in bed for an hour or two on my days off.
A phone is a huge distraction for getting up and out of bed.
My suggestion would be to wait until you are eating breakfast or have downtime to check your phone.
How To Create a Morning Routine
And now we can get to the good part…how to create an epic morning routine of your own.
If you need an example of what a morning routine looks like, you can click HERE to take a look at what my morning work and weekend routines look like.
If you completely change what you do in the morning all at once you may feel overwhelmed and give up.
Start smalling by adding one part of your routine at a time.
For example, I chose to try to wake up earlier first, so I woke up 10 minutes earlier than I normally did for a few weeks.
Then once I had made that a habit, I set my alarm earlier for another 10 minutes and continued the process.
Make a list of what you want to get done
This is where you’ll want to plan out your ideal morning.
List the non-negotiables like drinking the lemon water we mentioned earlier, taking a shower, brushing your teeth and getting dressed.
Then make a list of the things you would like to do in the morning.
This can include other forms of self-care like yoga, meditation, journaling, or positive affirmations.
If you need some additional self-care ideas to check out my self-care idea blog post.
Time Each Activity
Next, you will time each of the activities you want to do in the morning.
For example, I give myself 10 minutes to get out of bed, drink water, take my medications and brush my teeth.
This is also where you want to see how much time you have to work with.
You may need two hours before work to get in the activities you want to accomplish and therefore will need to plan to wake up at an appropriate time.
Don’t forget to factor your commute so you leave in ample time and can avoid being late.
Once you figure out the timing you can prioritize what is most important to you after your non-negotiables.
For example, getting 10 minutes of yoga during my morning is the highest priority after my non-negotiables.
You know what is important to you, what you want to accomplish and how much time each task takes. Now you will want to organize them into a routine that makes sense for you.
If you want to work out in the morning then it would make sense to get up, get your water, work out, then shower and get ready.
Set Your Alarm
At this point, you will have a morning routine set up and know exactly what time you need to get everything accomplished.
Now all you have to do is set your alarm. I still set two alarms 5 minutes apart in case I am in a deep sleep and don’t hear the first one.
Prep the Night Before
Don’t forget to prepare in advance the night before to make your morning easier and hassle-free.
Track Your Habits
Start tracking your progress in a journal, planner or self-care worksheet.
You have all the tips and tools on how to create a morning routine that will change your life. All you have to do is apply the steps and get started!
Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get to do everything on your list at first. Believe me, I am still struggling with getting 10 minutes of yoga and it rarely happens. This is something I am still working on but even just doing my non-negotiables and being prepared have GREATLY changed my life.
Let me know how your progress goes in the comments below!
Hey Everyone! I decided to start an “If We Were Having Coffee” series here on Some Roots Wander!
I first became familiar with the virtual coffee date based posts on Twitter.
I thought it was a really cool idea.
I am also a huge coffee and tea drinker!
I will probably be posting these every month or so.
Make sure you subscribe to the Some Roots Wander newsletter to receive emails with the latest series post.
Now, grab yourself a cup of delicious coffee or tea, light a candle or some incense, grab your cats to cuddle with and keep on reading.
If We Were Having Coffee…
I’d tell you that I haven’t been on social media lately.
Particularly Instagram. Honestly, I hate social media. It seems so fake to me. I really go back and forth on whether I should be more active on Instagram to funnel traffic to my blog or just say fuck it.
I deleted Facebook a few years ago and would never ever go back to that.
I use Twitter for my blog as there seems to be a good blogging community there, but otherwise, I can’t stand reading most people’s tweets because they are so hateful, opinionated and judgmental.
I would tell you how excited I am that spring is almost here and have very exciting plans to celebrate Ostara.
Ostara is the spring equinox and is part of the pagan or witches wheel of the year. It has similar themes to the modern Christian Easter which is where Easter got its roots.
Ostara is on Thursday, March 19 so I took off work for a nice four day weekend.
On Thursday and Friday, I’ll be cleaning, cooking and doing some tarot readings.
On Saturday I’m having an afternoon tea for Kevin and I.
I think I am going to try La Gourmandine Bakery for the baked goods. They are one of the top bakeries here in Pittsburgh.
I also don’t think I will have the time or motivation to bake tons of little desserts.
I am, however, going to make hot cross buns.
On Sunday we are going for a hike at Raccoon Creek State Park and taking the afternoon tea leftovers with us to have lunch in the woods.
I’d tell you I’ve been reading into zero waste and sustainability.
I’m not exactly sure what I think of it of the zero-waste concept overall.
I have started recycling, buying second hand more frequently and stopped purchasing paper products.
However, I’m not exactly sure if moving to zero waste products like metal straws are actually better for the environment considering what it takes to mine for metal.
Part of me also thinks it’s just another marketing ploy for brands to sell you more stuff.
Perhaps I’ll dedicate a full post on this later.
I would tell you that I am looking into giving my blog a bit of a makeover.
I may possibly be changing my theme and logos around.
I ordered my theme through Etsy and the seller is no longer on there. So I have no way to get any tech support on the theme or get into the FAQ section that originally came with the theme.
I am still researching this and looking to find a theme I really love and fits my personality. I also want to make sure I am creating my dream brand.
Along these lines, I have been taking some Pinterest courses. I am experimenting with the strategies I have learned in these courses to get more traffic.
To be honest, I never put too much effort into Pinterest and just pinned my images.
I am hoping by optimizing my pins and profile I can get a significant increase in traffic over the next few months.
What Would You Tell Me?
If we were having coffee what news would you tell me?
Let me know in the comments below what you would tell me over a cup of coffee or tea.
If you are a blogger, leave me a link to your “if we were having coffee” post.
Don’t forget to subscribe to receive the latest virtual coffee dates.
SELF-CARE…it’s been all over my Pinterest feed and on Instagram as the new year started. At first, I thought self-care was just pampering yourself with beauty products and using it as a hashtag to look cool. I got curious and decided to research more into self-care and what it meant.
What Self-Care IS NOT
Despite all the lovely #selfcare photos on Instagram, it is not just about pampering yourself or taking selfies at the gym.
Here are a few more examples of what doesn’t count:
Consistently staying inside in your pajamas binge-watching Netflix and eating junk food because you had a bad day.
Eating one healthy meal and then eating junk the rest of the week and saying you practiced self-care. Self-care isn’t a one-time thing.
Retail therapy because you had a bad day and blew hundreds of dollars on clothing you really don’t need.
What IS Self Care
Self-care is balancing and maintaining your physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social health. It’s about making your life happy, balanced and preserving your well-being.
Creating boundaries for yourself and saying no to things that do not bring health and happiness to your life.
Eating a healthy diet and spending a few hours a week meal prepping healthy meals.
Getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night consistently.
Treating yourself every now and then to a tasty dessert with friends.
What Self-Care Means To Me
After processing all of this information on self-care, I decided I didn’t have enough of it in my life.
When I sat down to create my goals for 2020 I made self-care a goal. I made a list of ideas that appealed to me. Then I incorporated them into my daily routines and scheduled time to do things for myself.
Two months into 2020 and focusing on my goal, I have significantly increased time for my well-being, feel less stressed and overall happier.
Self-Care Idea List
As I mentioned previously, self-care isn’t a one and done thing. It should be consistent and part of your lifestyle for it to be effective. All of these ideas can be added to your daily routine to create healthy habits.
Have a Spa Night
Order Take Out and Watch Your Favorite Movie or TV Show
Drink a Cup of Herbal Tea
Go for a Walk
Touch Base with your Goals and Planner
Take Yourself on a Date
Catch Up with a Friend
Bake or Cook
Get in the Woods
Unplug from the Internet, Your Phone and Social Media
Listen to Music
Get Creative (color, draw, doodle, paint, etc)
Buy Yourself Some Flowers or a Houseplant
Take a Break/Time Off
Light a Candle
Diffuse Essential Oils
Create AM & PM Routines
Learn Something New
Eat healthy foods
Call a Family Member
What are your favorite ways to practice self-care? Are there any that didn’t make my list? Let me know in the comment sections below.