1/30/17

Activism behind the screen: five ways to get involved.



There are a million causes to get involved with; causes to feel passionate about, and sometimes it can feel like you don't have the resources (energy, financial, time, etc.), to contribute in the way you want to, or feel like you should. Or maybe you live in a really red state, and it's hard to find any groups to get involved with. Perhaps, like me, your anxiety sometimes gets in the way. Whatever your reasons, it's all okay. There are plenty of ways to get involved, without even leaving your house. The power of social media, and the internet as a whole is inspiring, but sometimes undervalued. So I put together this quick list of five ways you can get involved online. While it might not feel like direct action, every little movement can create a crack, and together we can make a difference.

1. Follow inspiring people. This one might seem silly, but trust me it's not. Following people who are out on the front lines, can inspire and motivate. It keeps you engaged with what is happening and helps to get the word out. You might not always be able to go out and participate in a particular action or cause, but you can stay informed.

2. Participate in social media campaigns. They might seem useless, or like a bunch of noise, but they are important noise. They signal to others that they aren't alone in what they care about. They help to create momentum and shine a spotlight on a cause or issue. People notice when something is trending - it gives exposure. It helps to engage more people and to create a larger conversation. It can lead to greater organizing. Social media has proven to us time and time again, that it is a powerful tool. Look at the Project for Awesome that happens every year for example!

3. Be kind. Be compassionate. The internet is full of a lot of hate. Make it more welcoming. Pay someone a compliment. Add a kind word to an Instagram post or reply to a twitter feed. There is a lot to get passionate, or worried about in our current world, try and lighten the load by making online communities more inclusive and constructive!

4. Make calls. When representatives or activists call for making calls over a particular issue, make them. Flood those phone lines!!

5. Subscribe to good news media. Support journalism. It's no secret that we now live in a society in which journalism is under scrutiny. Support good journalism by subscribing to their publications and engaging with them on social media. We need these organizations to tell the honest stories! The New Yorker, The New York Times, and NPR are great places to start! If you've got others - please share them in the comments!!

I kept this list short and sweet on purpose. I wanted to make a list that felt manageable no matter your situation. Think of it as a starting point!

1/28/17

This is not America. #RESIST



I've been trying to have a normal Saturday. I did a little cleaning, tried to work on some school stuff, watched a little SVU... but I keep going back to social media and the news because I'm distracted. I'm distracted by the cowardice of donald trump and his vicious and hateful fascist actions. Sometimes we all need to step back or pause. I'm human. The news lately has been so depressing and I've been having a hard time being as productive as I would like to be. Sometimes, I genuinely want to get on a train and head downstate to join in protest. Today though, just feels like its too much. The Muslim ban is disgusting and heartbreaking. It is un-American. It is unconstitutional.

trump has set out to threaten all types of people from all walks of life. He cares about no one but himself and his businesses. He is fueled by greed and hate. He is deranged. He is not presidential. He should NEVER have even been inaugurated. He needs to be impeached.

His hate does not represent America. It does not represent what a MAJORITY of Americans want, or believe. We must continue to speak out against this kind of abuse of power. We must hold our elected officials accountable. 

If you can join a protest, do it.

Call your representatives.

Donate to the ACLU. 

Donate to CAIR. 

Join the conversation on social media. Speak out. Demand action.  

#RESIST

1/27/17

The Sims 4: Vampires REVIEW

I've mentioned it plenty of times here on the blog, but for those of you unaware, I am a huge fan of The Sims. I enjoy the open ended game play, and the escapism that it provides me from reality. Sometimes I enjoy making realistic fantasy lives, and sometimes I embrace the weird. I've been known to spend hours making a house, only to abandon the family within it in mere minutes. It largely depends on my mood, but regardless of what goes down when I play, I'm a loyal fan of the Sims franchise and have been for many years. They recently released a new game pack that takes things to a new level of fantasy: vampires.

While my playing of the game more often than not lives on the more realistic side, I was open to trying out a new fantasy world with vampires. I like that they went for the more traditional, slightly goth, old-style interpretation of vampires, rather than the glitzy (or should I say glittery), Twilight style representation (and I can diss Twilight as I have read each and every one of those books). When I watched the trailer for the game, it was the house features that really got me excited! Radiators!! Spiderwebs! Holes in the walls!! Candelabras! New beds and kitchen counters (two features of the game I have frequently found underwhelming in their styles)!! So whether I decided to really dive into the world of the undead or not, I knew there were decor features that were worth getting the game for.



The game pack comes with a new town: Forgotten Hollow, which is foggy and mysterious and absolutely stunning in my opinion. I haven't explored game play with vampires in other towns yet, because I honestly haven't felt the desire too. I've been satisfied simply exploring Forgotten Hollow!

The house I built from above. Look at that beautifully foggy town! 




The decor has certainly gone beyond my expectations as well. Although, I think it would have been cool if they had expanded on the whole herbology idea - maybe more plants, decor and interactions for the average witch or wizard? ;)





I think they did a great job with the whole vampire story line and its honestly hard for me to think of many ways in which I would tweak or change things. I like that the vampires have to learn about themselves and that they have plenty of different ways to satisfy their needs within creating an endless buffet on humans (although, I can say that I've been enjoying that feature just as much). When they drink plasma, it sort of looks like they're drinking a Capri Sun which is pretty amusing. Oh and I will say that the woohoo in a coffin interaction was a lot more hilarious and animated than I honestly would have expected! I've only been playing the game for about a day now, so there is still plenty left for me to explore, and I like that. I like that there are still unknowns - it adds to the mystery.



Honestly, if you enjoy The Sims at all, I highly encourage you to get this pack if you haven't yet. It's worth it for decor alone, but exploring the world of vampires has been a lot more satisfying that I had thought it would be. I've really been enjoying the escapism from reality! For you simmers, this *should* bring you to the house I build which I uploaded to the gallery. Is it just me or could they stand to make the gallery more user friendly??

1/25/17

Small Great Things - Jodi Picoult - REVIEW

 

I have never read a Jodi Picoult book before. It's not out of disinterest, but sometimes when an author gets a lot of hype, or is quite popular, I tend to avoid reading their books. I think part of it is that I'm afraid I won't enjoy their work as much as the hype suggests that I should. When something is talked up a lot and put on a pedestal, it gives it a lot to live up to. I guess I feel its easier to enjoy a book when there are no expectations. Regardless, over the years, I've had interest in a few Jodi Picoult books, but it wasn't until her recent work, Small Great Things was released, that I finally decided to give her a try. I will say that I'm glad that I did, and that she certainly has lived up to the hype.


1/23/17

Chicken Soup with Wild Rice {Recipe}



This time of year, the cold can feel like it gets into your bones. It's the time of year where time often feels like it goes by more slowly. There's something special about a comforting meal any time of year, but during this time of year, they can often feel a bit more important: almost like a requirement.

Soup is often the ultimate comfort meal. It's what we frequently turn to when we're not feeling well, or when we need something to warm us up. It's often an easy meal to put together, and over the years, I've developed some habits that make it even easier, as is evident in this chicken soup with wild rice.


1/20/17

At Home Tim Hortons Ice Capp Hack



I don't remember exactly when I had my first Ice Capp, but they always bring me back to summer trips to the beaches in Canada. I swear that the Ice Capps in Canada taste a million times better than the ones you can get stateside, and it's very likely to be true. Not that I have anything against the Ice Capps I can get locally, they're more often than not fine, but they just don't compare!

So I've done a bit of research over the past few months on how to try and replicate an Ice Capp at home. There were many misses, and many ingredients involved. Ice creams, espresso, regular coffee, chocolate syrup....but nothing seemed to really hit the mark. Then, I heard about an elusive product from Nescafe, called Ice Java. Of course, it was only available in Canada, so on my most recent trek over the border, we acquired a few bottles and I set at making an Ice Capp dupe yet again...


1/18/17

Born a Crime - Trevor Noah {REVIEW}


Well, I'm one book down for my 2017 TBR & reading goals for the year. One down, 19 to go! I can't lie: I feel some pressure to try and get a good deal of reading done before the Spring semester starts and school reading takes precedence. I also feel like how I start the year, sets the tone for the rest and how much reading I'll get through. I love to read. I really do. I just don't know how to not be neurotic about the tasks I set out to accomplish. Whether they are hobbies I enjoy doing or otherwise. I suppose that's something to work on...

Anyways, so the first book of the year is read, and I ended up starting the year off with Trevor Noah's debut book and memoir, Born a Crime. I'm a fairly big fan of Trevor Noah. I was a huge fan of The Daily Show when it was hosted by John Stewart, and I think that Noah is a wonderful host as well. He is not John Stewart, just like Steven Colbert is not David Letterman, and no one, I mean no one, is Craig Ferguson (♥♥♥). That is neither complement or insult. It's merely fact. I think Trevor Noah does a great job hosting The Daily Show. I also have to admit that I could listen to him talk all day. That accent. <3

I only knew a little bit about Noah prior to reading his book, just the basics of his life growing up in South Africa, but I knew that I wanted to read his book as soon as I heard about it. I put it on my Christmas wish list and thankfully I was gifted the book.

The book tells the story of Noah's life growing up, but does not really dive into his rise to fame, or his life now. As he is only 32 years old, that's not really surprising. He's still young - and it leaves the door open for more writing if he so desired down the road. It could also be that he doesn't feel the need to talk about that part of his life - that really isn't the point of this book I suppose. I have a thing for memoirs and learning about people's lives though, so I guess I often find myself wanting more (you could probably write a book that documented mundane day-to-day tasks and there's a good chance I'd read it...and enjoy it). I think that by only focusing on certain chapters of his life though, he made the book stronger.

In reading Born a Crime, you not only learn about Noah's personal life, but also, the book exposes you to the climate of life in South Africa. The culture, racism, conflict... the book is incredibly dynamic and while it is through Noah's point of view that the reader is introduced to all of these themes, it feels straight-forward and not overly laced with bias. I think that Noah has a gift for writing - and writing in such a way that engages his reader, through clear language. It was difficult to put this book down - and it was all to easy to fly through the pages, perhaps even too quickly.

Noah fills the pages of his book with the same wit and sarcasm which has made him such a hit as a comedian, and as the host of The Daily Show, and which has made me such a fan. He has a talent at delivering truths while also layering in some humour. Maybe its just the art of highlighting what is ludicrous in reality. Whatever it is, he's got a knack.

In Born a Crime, his discussions of language as a tool of apartheid and of "racist code" is interesting and well done. In the United States, we often hear the argument that people should learn to speak English if they're going to be here. Language is often used in perpetuating societal conflict, and many racists feel that it justifies their fears and their assumptions of other classes, races, and ethnic groups. Someone speaking a different language is seen as untrustworthy. The woman speaking Spanish must be illegal, yes? The man speaking Arabic is dangerous, right? Language is a fuel to the fire these stereotypes create. Language can open doors or close them. Noah discusses the importance and benefit of knowing multiple languages, especially in a place like South Africa, where so many languages exists together. Language helps him to traverse the complicated mix of cultures and social constructs. Later in the book, he highlights just how language, or the lack of understanding a language,  can hold an individual back or pin the system against them. The importance of language is something I'm sure we all can understand and appreciate to a degree, but Noah highlights it's power on a whole new level.

I enjoyed the argument that he makes in Born a Crime, that the dreams we dream, are often limited by what we know. The world we live in, the environment we know and are exposed to, influences what we think of in terms of our hopes and aspirations. Our life chances dictate our dreams. He says,

"We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited."

I think that Noah provides a refreshing perspective when it comes to poverty, and the cycle of living in such an environment. In the book, he also discusses crime, the "hood", and life within it. Noah makes an interesting argument that crime does more to provide for those living in dire straights than the government frequently does. He notes how crime is viewed differently based on the culture and climate in which it is occurring, and how different people view crime differently. Violent crime is still violent crime, yes. However, Noah's life experiences brought him to view crime as a far more complicated subject than many might. Instead of viewing all crime as simply wrong - he accepts the fact that often, crime comes as necessity, and as a means of survival. Something frequently overlooked in the discussion of crime.

Reading Born a Crime, felt like I was reading a book made of many layers. There were personal stories, some lighthearted, others heartbreaking, and then lessons on culture and history. I can say that I feel I have learned a great deal about Noah as a person, but also about South Africa. I found the book to be a rather refreshing read, and it's one I would urge anyone to read. It was my first book of the year and I rated it five stars on Goodreads! I'm glad I started the year off with such a winner!



1/16/17

March - A trilogy - John Lewis {REVIEW}

 

I have been a fan of John Lewis for quite some time now. When I first heard that he had put together a comic book/graphic novel detailing the civil rights movement, I was fascinated. I needed to get my hands on these books!! I added them to my wish list, and thankfully, I received them as a gift for the holidays. I started reading the first book in the beginning of the month - it's the smaller of the three, but I was busy with other things so it took me a few days to get through it. Really though, if I'm honest, what really gave me momentum to read through the trilogy was the recent criticism Lewis has received for what I see as, his honesty. After spending some time on social media venting my feelings on the subject, I took to finishing book one. Then I read book two that same day... and started on book three... I finished book three today and I immediately sat down to share my thoughts on the triology.


1/13/17

Oh Canada: The Quest for Real Chocolate


Buffalo, New York from Fort Erie, Canada

I've never been one for sugary candies. You can keep all the weird candies like ring pops and fun dip. Give me the chocolate. Creamy, delicious, chocolate. My favorite kind of chocolate is hands down, Cadbury. The first time I had a bar of Cadbury chocolate was a life changing experience. I'm not joking. As someone who has grown up with chocolate like Hershey's...to finally taste a chocolate bar that tasted...well,....good, was amazing! If I'm honest, I can say that I've never liked Hershey's. I use their cocoa for baking but that's pretty much where our relationship ends. I find their chocolate to taste quite...nasty. I don't know how to describe it, but it's almost as if it always tastes old, or like it's gone off.


1/11/17

Grandma Mary's Ham & Potato Casserole



If we were playing a word association game and you were to ask me what is the one thing I think of when I think of my maternal grandmother, the answer would easily be: food. My grandma Mary was not just someone who exposed me to delicious Italian/Sicilian dishes, but she was also the type of person who always wanted to make sure everyone's belly was full. You could tell her that you had already ate, or that you weren't hungry a million times and she wouldn't take no for an answer. It sometimes felt like saying no was a personal insult to her.


1/9/17

10 Cold Weather Essentials



Where I live, winter seems to last forever. The scale is not balanced between warmer and colder months, so being prepared for our time on the planet Hoth  in Western New York is essential. For those of you who might not be familiar with living in this kind of climate, I thought it might be helpful to put together a list of items I see as cold weather essentials. If you are native to a colder climate, there might be something on this list that you haven't thought of, so read on!

1/8/17

Weekend Vibes #1

This weekend was a low-key one. I finished reading my first book of the year (review coming later this month), and started on the second.

It snowed. It felt like it was endless. Like we live in a snow globe. It's snowing right now as I write this.

I worked a bit on the blanket I've been knitting - whenever my hands would allow me to. I'm using this Scarfie yarn, and it's a slow go, but it's turning out really beautiful so far.






I made pizzas for dinner Saturday night. I used only ingredients we had on hand in the fridge/freezer/pantry and it was a fun challenge. One pie was proscuitto, genoa salami, black olives, provolone, mozzarella and parm with a white pie sauce. The other was a vegetarian Buffalo chicken pie. Both on gluten free crusts from Trader Joes. They're definitely on the list for the next time we head out to Joes. They were only $3.99 for two crusts, and gluten free pies can be fairly $$$!

I also made dupes of Tim Hortons Ice Capps (recipe coming soon), that were A+. 




I did some online shopping and picked up this gorgeous top from Modcloth. I'm so excited about it and crossing my fingers that it fits and that I love it as much in person as I do in pictures. As a huge dog lover, I feel it is a requirement that I own it. I almost got this shirt, but I held myself back.

Sunday so far, has been a quiet one. We started off with croissants (another Trader Joes favorite), and I made a small dent into my current read. I'm currently trying to battle a headache, and tonight is a TV night with NCIS: LA, Madam Secretary, and Elementary, during which I hope to also get some knitting done.

Hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend - whether it was a nice homebody paradise, or if you were out and about. :)

1/6/17

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul - Deborah Rodriguez {REVIEW}

 

I love learning about different cultures...and different worlds, and I guess that is one of the many things that draws me to reading in general. No matter what you read, you are usually able to escape your reality and enter into a world belonging to someone else, realistic, or otherwise. Curiousity got the best of me when I was on the Book Depository site awhile back and I picked up this book: The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, by Deborah Rodriquez. Now that I think of it, maybe it was the name that got my attention... ;)

When I started reading this book, I was hoping for a light read as it was right around Christmas and I didn't want anything too serious or heavy. I would say that this work of fiction falls more into the category of chick-lit than what I was expecting, or really, what I had wanted, but I made it through. I wasn't sure I even wanted to write a review of the book, but I figured since I had stuck with the book and finished it, I might as well share my thoughts. I think for myself, its more difficult to write a critical book review, rather than the more glowing and positive ones. So I'm considering this a challenge to myself!

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul is many stories in one: it's an adventure story, and one of many romances. It's a story of loss, and of war. It's a story which explores culture, and personal growth. Based on the above summary, it should have been the perfect book for me. 

I wanted to enjoy this book. Obviously...that's why I bought it right?? But there were so many times in which I literally paused, glanced over at my bookshelf and considered taking out another book...any other book. I think what I found so frustrating about this book was that there were so many different characters - many of whom were interesting - but whose stories were either overshadowed, overlooked, or just simply mishandled. It just kept falling short. Beyond that, I found the book lacked a good flow. Have you ever watched Drunk History? That's sort of how it felt reading this book. The focus kept shifting from one POV to another, in a way that was more distracting than insightful. One minute you were following Sunny, and the next you were in Ahmet's mind. I've read plenty of books which jump from character to character, but this was just plain confusing. I found it to be a distraction from what had the potential to be an interesting story. Had it been told from the POV of less characters, it might have had better flow in my opinion.

Beyond the flow, I feel like the book wants to be so many things all at once. Is it a story of overcoming challenges and adversity? Is it a story of community? Does the book seek to explore and highlight a culture, sharing it with readers who might not know much about Afghanistan? Is it a unique take on feminism? Or is it simply...another odd romance novel that in some ways, tries to dive into all of the former mentioned topics, consequently making one hell of a confusing book? Ding, ding.... I'm really sorry to say this but that's the winner. I feel like this book had potential to create a unique story, and instead provided one which was watered down and filled with stereotypical chick-lit romances, as if the female reader cant handle anything complicated or dynamic. It felt like the author was just manipulating the "exotic" scene of Kabul to set her cheesy romance story in. I'm sorry, but I think this book really missed the mark. What's more is that after all my struggling to stay with reading the book and make it through to the end, the end was like some afterthought. It drives me nuts when you make it through some long saga of a story and then it's like the author just say there thinking, "oh shit, I guess I should end it now." and boom: a few pages of cliff hangers and loose ends tied up all slapdash. ARGHHH!

What I can say is that, I'm proud of myself for trudging through a book which was wildly underwhelming, but beyond that, there isn't much to offer in terms of positive criticism (the cover of my copy was rather pretty??).

Apparently there is a continuation to this story. I feel so exhausted after reading this one, that I highly doubt I will ever find the need to continue down this literary road. If you've read it, would you say it helps to redeem the first book? Is it just as bad? If you did enjoy The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, I'd love to hear your reasons in the comments - maybe it was simply a bad book for me. Different strokes for different folks and all! 

Remember, you can always follow my reading on Good Reads. I always record & rate what I'm reading there, even if I don't write a review on the blog!

1/4/17

2017 TBR Reading List



Last year I gave myself the goal of reading twelve books in the year. I not only achieved that goal, but I ended up beating it by more than double. This year, my goal is to read twenty books. It's still not a huge number, but being a busy grad student, who doesn't always find the time for pleasure reading, I wanted to keep it a number that was still achievable. Like last year, I've put together a list of books that I want to read this year. There aren't twenty books on the list, because I wanted to leave flexibility for the books I know I will discover throughout the year. I'd love to know what you're hoping to read this year, so please share with me in the comments!




 ~ 2017 TBR ~  

Dreams of my Father by Barack Obama - This is one of the many books I picked up from the book sale my library had this past year and I just haven't gotten to it yet. I figure, now is as good a time as any to read something in Obama's voice...maybe it can help me get through this nightmare we are now collectively experiencing.

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs - Another book sale pick up, I'm a fairly novice knitter and sometimes a little light fiction is just what I want to read, so I grabbed it. Sometimes I acquire books this easily. I like the gamble I guess.

Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen - I read the first book in this trilogy what feels like ages ago, and was anticipating the second book for awhile. Then, I got distracted and never picked it up. Then I did pick it up...but it sat on my shelf for what felt like forever. This year I'm vowing to finally read it and then perhaps I can finish out the trilogy??

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande - I like memoirs, and I like reading the story of peoples journeys, especially those of immigrants. So when I heard about this book via social media, I was intrigued and decided to pick it up!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Adichie is one of those writers who I feel I must read. I finally read We Should All Be Feminists in 2016 and loved it, and I picked that and Americanah up from Book Depository, so that's next on the list!

A Nation of Nations by Tom Gjelten - Another book re: immigration. This one was discussed on MSNBC one day and I was gifted it for Christmas so it's on the reading list for 2017!

Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla (A collaboration of 21 writers) - I think I heard of this book from JK Rowling (not personally...though wouldn't that be a nice brag..."oh yes, I get my reading recommendations from JK Rowling...NBD."), and like I've said before, I'm fascinated by peoples stories and the experiences they have as immigrants, so I grabbed it from Book Depository (a wonderful site when books aren't available here in the states, as this wasn't!).

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah - I'm a big fan of Trevor Noah and when I heard he had written a book, it went on my Christmas list straight away! Luckily I was gifted the book and it's now in my TBR pile. I know from watching The Daily Show a bit that Noah has a rather interesting story to tell so I can't wait to dive into his book!

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult - I can honestly say that I have never read any Jodi Picoult books before. I came across this one in my new releases newsletter and it intrigued me enough to add it to my wish list.

March series by John Lewis - I don't really think these books need any explanation. I was gifted them for Christmas, and I cannot wait to dive in. John Lewis created this trio of graphic novels to tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement as he experienced it. It's won awards and received a lot of recognition and I'm so excited to crack these open!!

Jane Austen collection  - (includes Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, & Persuasion). - I've never read any Jane Austen, and I picked this up last year thinking that it was about time I did. I hope to get through these at some point during the year, but I must admit that the size of this book is a bit overwhelming. I sort of wished I had gotten them all separately! 

A  Colony In A Nation by Chris Hayes - This book isn't out yet, but I've had it on my wish list since I first heard about it. I read Twilight of the Elites and really enjoyed it, so I have little doubt that Hayes' second book will be anything less than great.





Well, that's it for now...This list will of course grow as the year progresses...they always do! Like I said above, I'd love to know what you're reading this year - I'm always looking for ideas!! I'm especially wanting some good YA books to dive into - I like to mix up my genres so I don't get burnt out from one particular type of book. :)  
 


1/2/17

December 2016 Favorites

I went back and forth for awhile between whether I should simply make a monthly favorites post as usual, or whether I should do a cumulative favorites of the year post. I decided that it would likely be more interesting if I were to do a monthly favorites, rather than talking about things I've already mentioned here, so December favorites is what you get!




While its no shock that I'm a huge TV junkie, it might not be known, how much I love MSNBC.  It is a fair bet that the channel is on at least in one room of our house, at any given time. With that being said, I do have some favorites in particular. With those being: Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell, and Joy Reid. Rachel Maddow is really where it all started for me, and awhile ago, I was just randomly browsing the (very) limited MSNBC merch available on the NBC store, and I happened to see that the Rachel Maddow hoodie I had thought about getting months before, was now on sale....for 90% off! You better believe that I snatched one up right away! I am so happy I did because not only do I now have a very nerdy hoodie, but it's American Apparel and super soft and comfy! I wish I could say there were more available, but unfortunately, hoodies go rather quickly at $5 bucks a pop! It's a holiday miracle that I even got one!





Continuing on with the nerdy theme, I've also been loving the Sim City Build It app. I've been trying to fall back in love with my iPad over the past month because there was a long time where I did nothing but charge it. I thought I would like it for school, but I didn't find it useful for my particular needs. I find that the browser or the device itself is incredibly, frustratingly slow. I don't know why, and its been like that since the beginning, but its meant that I'd rather look something up on my phone or just use my computer. So earlier this month, I decided to wipe my iPad clean and start over. I downloaded a bunch of games, thinking that it would make me enjoy using the device again, and one game in particular, certainly has. I'm a huge fan of Sim City, and open-ended games where you can manipulate and create your own world (like the Sims in general), and this particular app is right up my alley. It's pretty clear what you do in this game - you build your own city. Sometimes game apps can be fun for a few levels, and then any further progression requires you to make in-app purchases, but that's not the case with this one. While you can make in-app purchases, it is also incredibly possible to play without doing so. It's a game which involves some strategy, but is relaxed at the same time. I find that playing games like this sometimes helps with my anxiety, and it's also nice to have a game to play in bed when I can't sleep, or am not feeling well, so it's a definite winner!

Now onto an entirely different subject and a very random favorite: Jason Sea Fresh Toothpaste! This toothpaste is freakin' awesome. Yes, I said awesome. I came across it initially because I was looking for a fluoride free toothpaste and this one sounded intriguing when I was browsing the VitaCost website. It fits all my wants....a minty toothpaste that doesn't bug my sensitive teeth, while also providing some anti-plaque protection and whitening. This stuff is great. It isn't too strong and it feels like its actually doing its job. When its gone, it will definitely be a repurchase!

When it comes to reading, my favorite book this month was easily, Hannah Hart's Buffering. I wrote a review of the book earlier this month, which you can read here. It's a great read, even if you know little to nothing about Hannah and don't follow her (if that's the case... you really need to change that!).

Last but not least, my final favorite for the month was the Master Class Christmas Episodes from The Great British Baking Show on PBS. I only watched a few so far but I really enjoyed them. I watched them with my mom and sister over the holiday and the only complaint that I have is that they made me want to go and make all sorts of fancy treats. They're a great way to learn about baking things you have never eaten before, or tried making, or even heard of. Christmas might have past, but I still suggest checking these episodes out!