Monthly Memo: September 2016 (v. 13)

YO. How is it October already?

It has been a crazy, crazy, CRAZY month due to moving away and adapting to a totally different lifestyle. At the same time, though, I’ve had a total blast. Unfortunately, I’ve been somewhat absent on the blog lately, and I’m afraid that I’m not going to be able to post much more often than once a week.

September in three words: hard, fun, crazy (sounds contradictory, right?)

September 2016 was a particularly momentous month for me, as I moved and have to adjust to a totally different lifestyle. Click for the deets! |

What I’m:

Doing: Adjusting and adapting. And having way too much fun with it.

Wearing: I don’t know, the standard. Jeans, boots, sweaters, the occasional scarf.

Watching: After last month’s (mildly unseemly) I’ve been depressingly movie-less for the past month. I did rewatch The Book Thief, which is an absolutely incredible movie (and book) that you definitely should watch if you haven’t already.

Eating: Peanut butter, an ongoing obsession. Also, I’ve been drinking lots of apple cider. It is fall, after all.


  1. The Book Thief theme, a hauntingly beautiful piece of instrumental music both melancholy and yet somehow joyful.
  2. 100 Years, by Five for Fighting. I’m not sure why; it just resonates with me and makes me happy, and it really is a beautiful song.  🙂
  3. Just Like Fire, by P!nk. Because I cannot listen to this song and without singing along and dancing to the beat. (Disclaimer: I haven’t actually seen Alice Through the Looking Glass, so I’m recommending this on the basis of the song alone)

Feeling: Busy, but also so happy. Sure, I’ve hit a couple slumps, and I’m always flitting from one task to the next, but for the most part, I’m loving my new life. I’ve also felt rather flighty this month, so in October I’m going to try to settle down and focus.

What I Read This Month (more than I expected, actually!)

  1. Sarah’s Key,  by Tatiana de Rosnay // You can read the full extent of my thoughts on this book here, but let it suffice to say that it was a fairly harrowing, though rewarding read.
  2. The Precious Stones Trilogy, by Kirsten Gier (YA) // This I read on the recommendation of a friend and found it rather lack luster, with some rather over the top romance and time travel, which usually boggles my mind too much for me to enjoy it. I liked the first book quite a lot for its witty quips and unique story line, but my enjoyment diminished as the series continued.
  3. This Is What Happy Looks Like and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, by Jennifer E. Smith (YA) // Both of these books I found incredibly satisfying and delightful to read. Each of them were fairly simple stories, but they were told in such a heartwarming, enchanting way that made me fall in love with the characters, the setting, and the story.

Accomplishments and happenings in September

  1. Well basically I spent this month adjusting to a new lifestyle, a new home, new friends, new everything. It’s been pretty crazy. But I’m having so much more fun than I had thought.
  2. And that’s pretty much it. I notably did NOT get around to the renaming of my blog that I had planned. As a matter of fact, my posting and my page views have both gone way down.

Goals for October

  1. Essentially, my hope for this month is to get back into a routine of blogging consistently. I’ve been really lax on my social media channels, and I haven’t posted nearly as much as I want to be. Hopefully, I’ll be able to establish  a nice schedule by the end of October.

Posts this month:

  1. 8 Steps to A Super Productive Weekend
  2. Book Review: Sarah’s Key
  3. Fall, in exactly hundred words

Thanks for reading! What did you get up to this month? Let me know in the comments!

Fall, in exactly one hundred words

What is fall to you? The delicious scents, the wonderful food, the beautiful images? Or something even more elusive? |

Fall is…

1. A season.

2. Autumn


3. Leaves in every hue of gold and scarlet.

4. Skies so deep that you could get swallowed by them.

5. Starry nights

6. Sitting by the campfire. Getting mesmerized by the flames.


7. Entrancing scents.

8. Cozy sweaters, scarves, and coats.

9. Crisp, cold air.

10. Biting wind.

11. Kicking leaves with your boots.

12. Rosy cheeks and noses.

13. Frost in the air.

14. Chilly, clear mornings.

15. Cuddling in your bed with a book.

16. Apples that are crisp and overflowing with flavor.


17. Thanksgiving.

18. Pumpkins. Pumpkin spice latte. Pumpkin pie.

19. Cold wind, nipping ears and noses and blowing your hair in your face.

20. Hot drinks.


21. Family and friends.

Yes, that was exactly 100 words. What does fall mean to you?

Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay // Book Review

Summary: Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life. 

Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode. (via Amazon)

My Thoughts: In some ways, this books has left me speechless. Painfully, heartbreakingly speechless.

Essentially, it told two separate but related stories: one of a ten year old girl in Paris in 1942, and one of a middle-aged journalist, also in Paris, 60 years later. One slowly discovers the history of the other, while learning much about herself in the process.

Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay was a heartbreakingly painful read that was enthralling and compelling at the same time.  Click here to read more!  |

Sarah Starzynksi a little Jewish girl born and raised in France, along with her little brother. The Vel d’Hiv roundup was an actual event that occurred during the German occupation of France, where French police rounded up thousands of Jewish men, women, and children under inhuman circumstances. The vast majority would be killed at Auschwitz; very few survived. The story graphically describes the conditions that the Jews were left in, the cruel acts they were subjected to, and the overall tragedy of the event. When the police arrive at Sarah’s door on that infamous night, she locks her little brother in a cupboard, and promises him that she will return to get him out. The fact that we do not know his fate haunts most of the story, and he will haunt Sarah for the rest of her life.

The story alternates between Sarah’s experience and that of Julie Jarmond, a journalist who is assigned to cover the event on its sixty year anniversary. The further she investigates the Vel d’Hiv, the more she learns about her family’s own past and tragic connection with Starzynksi family. The book also dealt with a lot of Julie’s marital and family issues, thought to be honest I found this part rather tedious and unnecessary.

The writing itself was stunning. It didn’t shrink from portraying in brutal detail the savage acts and inhuman events that occurred. It was very real — it made me feel like I was seeing, smelling, hearing and tasting every thing going on. But it was also beautifully sensitive to Julia’s Jarmonds thoughts and motivations. The descriptions were really what blew me away. Without being soppy or overdone, using only a few choice similes or one short sentence, Tatiana de Rosnay was able to draw me deeply into the story she told.

Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay was a heartbreakingly painful read that was enthralling and compelling at the same time.  Click here to read more!  |

Be warned: it was a somewhat gruesome read. As I said before, she didn’t hesitate to describe the events as they happened, in a very powerful and vivd way. And the ending, while not exactly hopeless, isn’t hopeful either. The whole story was incredibly sad, and the ending left me feeling rather bleak. There were so many things that I wanted so badly to happen, that I wanted to turn up all right and didn’t.  But at the same time, it had to be that way. It couldn’t have ended differently. It couldn’t leave you feeling good about it. Because that’s not how life is, and the book had to remain true to that.

In summary: it was horrible, tragic, heartbreaking, and yet compelling at the same time. I would recommend that you read it, because it is something that needs to be known. It ought not be kept a secret, because any day, the same thing could happen all ever again. History always repeats itself. But I warn you: you will not be the same. At least in my opinion, it will haunt you just a little bit for the rest of your days.

8 Steps to A Super Productive Weekend

Happy Friday, everybody! Oh, and you can wish me a happy return to the blogging world! Due to the Big Change I’ve mentioned here and here, which essentially involves moving away and adjusting to a radically different lifestyle, I’ve been absent for nearly two weeks. That’s way more time than I had estimated, but it’s been a lot, and honestly, blogging just hasn’t been a priority.

The ridiculously busy and also incredibly fun schedule that I’m settling into doesn’t leave me with a lot of free time. Like a lot of people, I use the weekends to catch up on all those tasks that get neglected during the week — cleaning, laundry, and of course, blogging. But have you ever woken up on Saturday morning with a dozen tasks you know you need to get done, only to go to bed with the definite knowledge that you accomplished…well…you checked your Instagram feed approximately 800 times? I know I’ve been guilty of this more times than I can even count.

Sure, weekends are for listening to your jams, chilling with a good book, and binging on Netflix. These are all good things. But they’re also special because you don’t have to go to school/work — you pretty much have the whole day to do what you want with. How can you make sure that you use those 48 hours in the best possible way? Enter this post!

How to have a super productive weekend in eight steps:

Do you ever go to bed on Sunday night realizing that you got absolutely nothing done over the weekend? We've all been there. It's so easy to let time slip away when we don't have any major obligations or constraints. However, the weekend is a great time to catch up on here to read how! |

1. Make a list.

At least for me, having on paper in front of me list all the things that I have to get done over the weekend is one great motivation to actually start doing them so that I can check them off! It’ll also help you feel more organized and avoid that panicked feeling that you have to do it all. Be as specific as possible, and designate the three most important tasks to prioritize.

2. Schedule your time and plan your day.

In case you didn’t know this already…I’m a HUGE fan of scheduling your day. I really think it makes a huge difference in your productivity. And the same goes for Saturdays and Sundays. Here are a couple tips:

  • Preferably, make your schedule
  • Schedule “me time” in your day. You deserve to allow yourself time where you can do whatever you want to do, not what you need to do. You owe that to yourself and the people around you. Make sure that you’ll be relaxed and refreshed for the upcoming week.
  • But also schedule each of the tasks on the list you just wrote. Estimate how much time they’ll take, and write down when you’re going to do them. I know it sounds so simple and self-explanatory, but trust me, writing them down and setting specific slots of time for them way increases your chances of getting them done.
  • In general, try to get the tasks and jobs you’re not looking forward to as much done first. Once they’re out of the way, you’ll have the rest of the day to relax. And besides, we tend to be more productive in the morning anyway.
  • While you’re at, you could consider planning the next few days as well. You’ll feel way less blues-y and more motivated on Sunday night if you already have a solid schedule in place for the beginning of the week.

3. Be wary of too many obligations

I’m not saying that you should stay at home all weekend — of course not. Weekends are for having fun, as well as getting stuff done. But I know I’ve fallen into the trap of scheduling time-consuming outings weekend after weekend. And I think this should be avoided. Jam packing your days with activities is eventually going to tire you out, and all those things that make you say “I’ll do it on the weekend” will pile up.

4. Motivate yourself to actually cross those items off

If you have your list and your time slots, then it’s time to actually make yourself do it. At one point, you have to make yourself do it, but especially when you have a task that you don’t want to, then you might want to try some of these motivational tips:

  • Keep in mind the ramifications of not getting it done. Meaning “if I don’t do this, then _______.” Remember them while you’re catching up on Facebook.
  • Work rewards into your schedule. Like during the week, if you give yourself incentives, then you’re way more likely to actually just do it. For example: “after cleaning the bathroom, I will watch an episode of The Flash.
  • Share your goals and plan with someone else who remind you and help you stay on task.


5. Don’t try to fit it all in.

There’s only so much time in 48 hours. Attempting to squeeze every last thing in there will only stress you out, and leave you feeling unproductive and worried. Spread out the various duties in a way that doesn’t have you rushing around and having tiny freak out moments galore. Figure out what can be moved to next week and add it to your schedule, if need be.

6. Take time to unplug

I don’t know how many times I’ve sat down to write Saturday’s blog post, only to get sucked into the world of Youtube, Pinterest, and Instagram. Despite all the good that they do for us, our devices serve as a constant distraction — especially on the weekend, when we sense a lack of time constraints. Force yourself to get off your phone or computer and focus on what needs to get done.

7. Make your chill time worthwhile.

Again, I’m not saying that a Netflix binge every now again isn’t good for the soul. But I am saying that they (or something similar) shouldn’t be the highlight of every weekend. Use your extra free time to do something worthwhile — read a book, bake some cookies, journal, go for a walk, take up a new hobby like blogging or knitting. If you’re as busy as most of us are during the week, then this may be one of the few times you have to explore and learn something new.

8. Focus on the list

Remember that list you wrote all the way back at the beginning? Stick to it. You might feel the temptation to wander off down rabbit trails. For example, I might have written on my list, “Rewrite “About” Page.” All well and good. But, as I start rewriting, I might realize that certain images also need to be designed, or that my pages and categories need to be reorganized. Instead of heading off to do those tasks, add them to the end of your list. Stick with your original priorities — the new ones can come later —  or wait until next weekend.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the post, and that you’ll be able to apply them these tips tomorrow! Do you have any awesome tips for having a super productive weekend? 

Monthly Memo August 2016 (v. 12)

August in three words: eventful, emotional, and lots of fun.

August in three words: eventful, emotional, and lots of fun. This month has been all preparing for big changes coming soon. |

What I’m…

Doing: Hustling to get stuff done.

Wearing: I’m starting to break out all the fall fashion — cowls and boots and cute pants and cranberry colored everything. I LOVE fall fashion so much, so don’t judge me for getting started as early as I possibly can.

Watching: [nerd girl alert] All of these incredible amazing movies. I can’t even describe to you what a fangirl I am and how excited I am to find even more fandoms to fangirl over.

  1. I’m now caught up on on the Marvel Movies, except for Civil War. I loved them all, though I gotta say I’m partial to Loki and Iron Man.
  2. Continuing my superhero kick, I watched Batman Begins for the first time as well and thoroughly enjoyed it — even though I am more than partial to Marvel.
  3. I got to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and was rather unimpressed. I definitely thought that it was lacking compared to the first POTC.
  4. And finally, I just started watching the Mission: Impossible movies featuring Tom Cruise, and am very, very, very much in love.

Eating: More cheeseburgers than I care to admit. Also, smoothies, to make me feel better about my diet.

Listening: Gotta admit that I really love Rude by Magic!, and have been listening to it on repeat this month. I also discovered All of Me by The Piano Guys, and I rediscovered my love for Celine Dion’s breathtaking (and tear-inducing) version of My Heart Will Go On.  Feels.

Feeling: A whole gamut of conflicting emotions. As the big change I talked about here gets closer and closer, I look forward to and dread it at the same time. In some ways, I’ll never be totally ready for it, and so the best I can do is pray and prepare as best I can. I also feel like time is moving by at a speed that quite takes my breath away, and it’s the tiniest bit heartbreaking.

What I Read This Month:

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to read as many books this month as I would have liked to, but like I said above, August has been crazy, and the result is that I haven’t read as much as I would like. And I’m not expecting much next month either, what with The Change and all.

  1. Life in Motion, by Misty Copeland // Though as a dancer, I’m not the hugest fan of Misty, reading her autobiography was incredibly inspiring. It was so motivating to read about her struggles with her family and with racism and eventual triumph over them. For this reason, I would highly recommend her book to dancers and non-dancers like.
  2. The Well-Educated Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer // As I mentioned in this post, I’m planning to embark on a serious reading program this year, following the guidelines outlined in  The Well – Educated Mind. I love how this book is really aimed towards normal people, so that anyone really can learn to read the Great Books.
  3. The Story of My Lifeby Helen Keller // Another super motivating, astounding autobiography that I cannot recommend more. It is so inspiring to read about how all that Helen Keller achieved while being deprived of sight and sound. Of course, the thing most astonishing to me is her ability to describe in words things that she cannot see in a way that makes them come to live. I envy that ability.

Accomplishments and Happenings in August

  1. It’s been an awesomely crazy month, complete with parties, outings, and a carnival to top it all off.
  2. I was able to work on my about page like I had said I would last month. You can check it out here, though I still have many things to fix.
  3. Also in accordance with last month’s goals, I was able to cross off several items on my to-do list on Trello. I consider this a fact worth noting
  4. While still not at a consistency that is ideal, I have posted more on Instagram this month than in July.
  5. And I celebrated my blogversary last month! It was so exciting to realize that I have been on this incredible journey for a year (!!), and I am so glad and thankful that each of my readers has been here to share it with me.

Goals for September

  1. In the process of rewriting my about page, I made an important realization. I realized that my target audience and my goals for this blog have really changed since I started it, and the name “Creative Explorations” doesn’t fit anymore. So this month, I’m going to be renaming my blog! (And yes, this is a huge goal for a very short, busy space of time.)
  2. What with The Change, I’m going to spend most of this month settling into a new routine and lifestyle. If I’m a little absent on the blog for the next few weeks, know that it’s because I’m making some pretty huge adjustments and going through a pretty rough time emotionally and because I’m going to be changing lots of stuff up on here.

Blog Posts Last Month:

  1. 6 Things I’ve Learned in My First Year of Blogging
  2. Open Letters Linkup, Round 4
  3. What to Do Before Summer Ends
  4. Links I’m Loving, v.2
  5. How to Take Time Off Your Phone Every Day
  6. 12 Books to Read Before You Die
  7. Do’s and Don’ts of A Great Conversation
  8. On change, time, and living in the moment

Thanks for reading and leaving such sweet comments! You guys make my day, every day. Now it’s your turn: tell me what you’ve accomplished this month and what have you planned for September?

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