Link Love, Vol. 55

If you’re reading this in a feed reader or an email I suggest you view my blog in your browser to see the BRAND NEW LAYOUT I put up yesterday! As much as I loved my old layout, over time I was starting to feel it was a little too girly, a little too feminine for me. I’m super stoked with this current layout and I don’t envision it changing anytime soon :)

I’ve been scarce online this past week because I’ve been running around like a madwoman ever since getting back to DC after traveling to Alabama and Boston. I went to a few happy hours, saw the cherry blossoms, went to a hockey game and cheered on my beloved Chicago Blackhawks, enjoyed bottomless mimosas at brunch, and visited the Library of Congress. Not too shabby for a week’s work! There’s something absolutely energizing about the fact that SPRING IS FINALLY HERE!!! as I find myself wanting to spend less and less time indoors, facing a computer or a TV screen. I’m chalking this one up to a win, because goodness knows I spend way too much time plugged in. But I digress.

Break the Sky Around the Web

Beauty
I have been obsessed with facial oils recently so I loved xoVain’s explanatory post about understanding oils for beauty.

Food
Amy’s triple berry tarts LOOK DIVINE.

I’m planning on using green smoothies to solve my dual problems of not eating breakfast before work and not getting enough fruits and veggies in my diet. Melanie’s go-to green smoothie recipe sounds delicious.

Shelby’s post about fish and chips makes me wish I was back in London STAT.

Life
Cassie shares how to know you’re becoming an Angeleno. I don’t know the first thing about LA but I had a similar moment recently about living in DC and realizing that I’ve basically become a local!

I loved reading about Jenn’s experience moving from DC to Montana. I can’t ever imagine I’d make a similar move as I’m a city girl myself but I’m fascinated by those that do!

Kelly was super creative and made an AWESOME house “leaving” gift for her mom when she moved out.

Relationships
Sarah reminds us that everyone you ever love is going to hurt you. I needed reminding of this, particularly this past week, as it’s a cold, hard truth.

A Day in the Life: April 2014

On a designated day each month, I post a linkup where bloggers can showcase what “a day in the life” that month is like with photos, text or a combination of the two. For more information about this project, click here.

a day in the life

7 a.m.: First things first, makeup of the day! I decided to use some shadows from theBalm’s Nude ‘Tude palette and Maybelline Color Tattoo in Inked in Pink as an eyeshadow primer.

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8 a.m.: Walking to the Metro. My flats are so shiny.

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10 a.m.: I start working on a blog post for work.

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12 p.m.: I prep my notebook to take notes at a meeting.

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2 p.m.: I start composing an email. (You get the picture… that tiny text in the email body says “THIS WILL BE AN EMAIL.”)

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5 p.m.: After work, a friend and I decide to head to the National Mall to see the cherry blossoms. As you can see, it was a GORGEOUS day.

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6 p.m.: View of the Washington Monument from the National Mall.

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6 p.m.: View of the Capitol Buiding. You know, some days I take for granted that I live and work in the nation’s capital and get these sorts of views every day. Today, though? It was BEAUTIFUL.

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6:30 p.m.: Posing with a cherry blossom tree!

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7 p.m.: En route to happy hour after seeing the cherry blossoms.

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7:30 p.m.: Managed to find a happy hour that lasted past 7 p.m.! All of the wine, please.

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9 p.m.: After happy hour, I hit up the grocery store to (partially) restock my pitiful fridge, which has been very empty since I’ve been away traveling.

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10 p.m.: Uploading my weekly LXL vlog. Check it out here!

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11 p.m.: Bedtime. This is my current rotation for my nighttime lotions and potions. :)

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I’d love for YOU to participate in this linkup and share what your typical day in the life is like! If you’re participating, please check out the brief linkup guidelines below and submit your link to the linkup at the bottom of this post. Next month’s date is May 22!

Rules for Participating in “A Day in the Life” Monthly Linkup

  1. Write a post that documents “a day in the life.” The link you submit to the linkup must be the actual post URL. All other links will be removed.
  2. Comment on the post before yours in the linkup. This linkup is all about getting to know each other and making friends!
  3. Link back to this project in your post. A free button is provided below.
A Day in the Life: A Linkup by Break the Sky

Just Start Writing

Not long after I published my book One Word Says It All, my friend Peter was all up in my business about when my next book would be published.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said in my #thepetecast interview when he posted the question. “I think those may have been all the good stories.”

Peter stopped just short of calling me a liar but it was easy to tell that he didn’t believe me. Not even for a second.

I thought over what he said for a while. Were there more stories? Yes, of course there were. One does not experience a year abroad in China with a mere ten stories to tell. But were they ones that I could share with the public without revealing too much about my friends or me, or ones that people that didn’t know us personally would be interested in? Debatable.

I pulled out a notebook and started jotting down potential story ideas for a follow-up to my tales of adventure in China. I went back and looked through old blog and journal entries, photos on Facebook and emails with friends, anything that would jar my memory about an experience in the rough that I could polish up and share with the world.

Imagine my surprise when I came up with enough stories for not just one but two follow-up books to One Word Says It All. (Turns out Peter was right to heavily imply I was a liar.)

I was ecstatic. I had really loved writing One Word Says It All and was so excited at the prospect of reliving my year abroad through the stories I had chosen to write about. I also will never forget the thrill and adrenaline I experienced on pub day, or the day my Amazon Kindle listing went live. I can only wish that level of giddiness and excitement could be bottled in its purest form as man, that was some serious happiness that doesn’t come around often.

But instead of working on my next book right away, I hummed and hawed over starting it for the longest time.

“Not tonight,” I’d tell myself when I got home exhausted from work, wanting nothing more than to turn on Netflix and mindlessly continue watching the TV show I was marathoning.

“Maybe next weekend,” I’d think on late Sunday afternoon, facing the entirety of my weekend to do list that I had put off until the last minute.

This went on for days, then weeks, then months. After a certain point, I could no longer honestly tell myself that I was still planning on writing another book, let alone two more as I had put it off for so long. I had had the plan for so long that it didn’t even feel like a plan anymore. A plan implies action; I had been dormant for too long.

It took spending two weeks in Alabama with shoddy internet and intermittent cell phone service for me to finally sit down and start cranking out my next book. And even then, it wasn’t even until my second week there that I opened up Microsoft Word and told myself that if nothing else, by the time I went to bed I would have had at least something written.

The moment I started stringing words into sentences, I just knew that the rest would come easily and the book would be written in no time. Writing is a magical experience when one know exactly what to say. It completely makes up for the days and weeks and months where one has no idea what to say, let alone say it, and despair of being able to write anything worth sharing ever again.

That second Sunday in Alabama, I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote so much that by the time I went to bed, I had half of the rough draft completed.

I continued writing after work the next day and wrote every chance I could. I was making such progress with my book that I set myself the ambitious goal of having the entire rough draft completed before I left Alabama. Part of me wanted to set this goal because I knew I was on a writing roll and I didn’t want to lose momentum once I returned home to DC. The other part of me knew that it would be infinitely harder to be so disciplined with writing daily after work in DC and I wanted to make the most of the writing opportunity that being in Alabama presented to me.

I am happy to report that finally having the steel to discipline myself with writing has paid off. Not only did I reach my goal of completing the rough draft of my second book that last week in Alabama but I also was able to send it off to my editor. Impressive, right?!

It amazes me how much I was able to accomplish once I blasted through the barriers of excuses I had set up in my own mind about finding the time, energy and inspiration to write. Once I sat down and just started writing, the rest was easy.

I need to remember that for the next anything that I write, not just books. Getting started with writing is the hardest part. Just start writing and see if the words will come. They might not always come right away but they definitely aren’t going to come to you when sitting on the couch binge-watching Netflix or scrambling around cramming a weekend-long to do list into one evening!

Link Love, Vol. 54

I’m in BOSTON for the weekend visiting Ashley!

More stories about our adventures to come. Definitely a post with photos. Maybe even a vlog?

Break the Sky Around the Web
I guest posted on Erika from America this week and talked about my best travel tips.

I shared three things to check out in DC for this week’s LXL vlog.

Food
I’m on a quest to eating healthier (who isn’t?) so I love how kale is incorporated into this pasta dish with goat cheese and lemon.

Game of Thrones-inspired pork pie? Yes, please! (WINTER IS COMING TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I adore falafel so I’m stoked to try out this baked falafel with spicy feta dip recipe.

Life
Kate reflects on her life this time last year, which made me do the same. SO MUCH has changed, and luckily all of it has been for the better.

Sarah tackles the thin ideal and reminds us that being a pretty corpse is no use to anyone.

Alicia talks about making space to be happy.

Online
Erika shares her top Twitter tips.

Politics
Michelle Obama’s trip to China provided a high-profile, low-controversy example of US-China relations.

Relationships
I’ve always loved Peter’s Future Wife series.

Kelly reminds us you can’t love something you need.

Heart of Dixie

Two weeks ago, I’d never been to Alabama.

Actually, the furthest south I’ve been in the US prior to Alabama (Florida doesn’t count) was… DC.

Which isn’t really all that far south. And I now know that “true” Southerners will fight you on whether or not DC is part of “the South.” (Hint: most don’t think it is.)

I was sent to Anniston in northeast Alabama for two weeks by my work. I flew to Atlanta and then hopped on a two hour bus ride to cross the state border and arrived in Alabama equal parts weary and excited by my first trip to the South.

The first thing I learned was that there isn’t very much to do in Anniston.

There’s a strip mall. A Wal-Mart, a Target. A movie theater. Another mall, an indoor one, which apparently has been in its dying stages ever since the aforementioned strip mall opened.

Historic Noble Street was what I was most intrigued by because the term “historic” in front of a street name implies there is something worth seeing, But even that didn’t have much to offer by way of things to do. It didn’t help that everything closed at 5 p.m., or when I was done with work each day.

I saw a giant office chair that apparently held the Guinness Book of World Records title for largest chair in 1982.

I fought the urge to yell “Roll Tide!” everywhere I went, as if I knew anything about college football or Crimson Tide. (Shoutout to my friend Laura for advising me to shout that phrase if I ever were to encounter trouble in Alabama.)

I ate at Waffle House for the first time and ordered the hash browns, just like Clem advised. They were delicious but I was still grateful for the fact that there aren’t any Waffle Houses within my vicinity back home because I can’t handle food that greasy on a regular basis.

I enjoyed a fantastic fried chicken sandwich at Zaxby’s and wondered why this franchise couldn’t be found in DC.

I went to Sonic for the first time and had one of the best shakes of my life.

And when I had just about exhausted all of my options in Anniston, I retreated to my temporary digs and made peace with the solitude I was given in Alabama.

I read a lot.

I watched the Harry Potter marathon that ABC Family hosted all weekend.

I fought with the temperamental Internet too many times to count.

I started writing a few things, some of which may have the potential to turn into something good.

I planned future travel adventures.

I saved (some) money by virtue of the fact that there were no happy hours or brunches for me to go to.

(I missed my friends in DC.)

And I left Anniston with the sense that I saw all this town had to offer and a newfound desire to see more of the South if given the chance.

Check out my Instagram for the photos I’ve shared during my time in Alabama. I wanted to include them in this post but unfortunately the internet wasn’t cooperating!