Mercury Retrograde 2022 Dates – Free Printable

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FREEEEEEEEEE PRINTABLE.

Does Mercury Retrograde sneak up on your unsuspecting booty and rock your world in the worst way possible?

Well, same, friend. Same. So I made some 5×7 printables so we can hang them on our fridges and mentally prepare ourselves for retrograde a little better.

Save, print and share as you please. I made these for everyone to enjoy. Just please don’t redistribute as your own. Why? Because I made them. But please use them however else you’d like to.

Happy 2022, friends!

If you print one of these out, I’d love to see where you hang it! Tag me in your photos on Instagram or TikTok @stephlivesinpages

December 2021 Wrap Up

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I got my heart shattered by Heartless Sky and then broke down and downloaded TikTok, so let me just tell you that this was not my most productive reading month.

I just checked my GoodReads account to see what I even accomplished this month and the answer is nothing. Nothing but Zodiac Academy. An apparently now I’m distracting myself with TikTok. I also have it in my brain that I’m going to start a BookTube channel and am currently spending all my free time trying to figure out how to edit videos. Maybe Heartless Sky sent me into a manic episode of the constant need for distraction hahaha

That being said, Zodiac Academy is still the bread to my butter, the mac to my cheese, the peanut butter to my jelly. It is seriously a work of art.

I finished my Cursed Fates (book 5) and Fated Throne (book 6) rereads before Heartless Sky (book 7) came out on the 18th, so I guess my brain deserves a little reprieve. All 989 pages for Heartless Sky is amazing, though. If you have not started it yet, I’m begging you to download it to your Kindle, STAT.

I also did start Starlight Farms but couldn’t really focus on the sweetness of it. I will be picking that back up in January because it is really well written and I think it will continue to be a great read.

I also am currently reading A Court of Thorns and Roses which is my first read-through and my first book by Sarah J. Maas and I am a little upset by how much I love it. I really should know better than to think I won’t get totally invested in series.

It took me a minute to get into, but that was also how it went with Zodiac Academy, so you’d think I’d know better than to think I was above becoming obsessed.

I’m still not sure how I feel about certain characters and I’m pretty sure I’m pronouncing most of the names wrong, but I am 40 some chapters into ACOTAR and I’d recommend at least this first book of the series so far if you’re a fantasy romance reader.

What did you read this month? If you’ve read Heartless Sky….how are you feeling? How are you coping? I honestly am slightly glad I have a year to recover until we are blessed with the next book.

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Hope you had a great December! Can’t wait to see what books are in store for us in 2022.

Also, I am converting my Instagram into a bookstagram account and have also finally joined TikTok, so if you’re a book lovin’ fool like me, find me @stephliveinpages on both platforms.

Why I am changing my blog niche

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Ohhhhhh, friend. If you’ve read anything I’ve written before, been around for the wild transformation of this blog, my Instagram, etc, then I’m mildly inclined to apologize for the journey I’ve sent you on. But I’ve loved every minute of it, so I can’t bring myself to be sorry.

The last 2 years have been highly transformative for me. I have learned (and unlearned) so much about myself. I have prioritized my own feelings, thoughts, and happiness. I have hit my two-year milestone with therapy. I’ve rekindled my love of reading and just so many other amazing things have happened for me in these last two years.

When I started this blog I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, all I knew is that I wanted a blog. I actually wanted a blog back in the 2009-2010 timeframe but never made it happen. I’ve always had a lot to say and have always loved the internet, so it just felt like a place I wanted to be.

That being said, these last two years specifically have been quite amazing and I’ve truly made so much progress in every aspect of my life, but my social media platforms are now needing to change with me.

Moving forward, this blog, as well as my social media channels, will be bookish content and I personally cannot even freakin’ contain my excitement. I will also sprinkle in mental health advocacy because that will forever be important to me.

If this content is not something you’re into, I understand that you’ll be leaving me. I’ll miss you, but no hard feelings.

Remember that you’re allowed to unfollow and delete whoever you want, whenever you want, and you’re allowed to change your mind. Period.

For those of you who leave me in the dust, I wish you so well. I hope life is everything you want and more.

For those of you who are staying, I wish you well, also hahaha. I hope life is everything you want and more AND I’m excited to be a part of it!

That’s all for this post. Just a little informational post that life is changing, things here are shifting, and a gentle reminder that you are allowed to change WHENEVER and HOWEVER you decide.

Wishing you all the best,
Stephanie

Book Haul – December 26th

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Ahhhhhhhh, the week between Christmas and New Year. How do you spend it? It is such a weird week where it’s almost like time stands still. For me, I’m aggressively cleaning my house in preparation for 2022. My goal is to go into the New Year as fresh as possible. Purged cabinets, donated clothes that don’t get worn, get rid of old toys, and wash the dog bed that I avoid at all costs.

Before all that started, the day after Christmas, I was sprinting my butt to Barnes & Noble to spend my Christmas gift card.

B&N had 50% off hardcovers yesterday! Did you score any new books?

I did not buy a single hardcover, and I sit here stewing over it, but I took my Dad and my son along, so it wasn’t a leisure trip. (Lesson learned. Leave them at home when book shopping)

I actually wanted to go with my Dad one, because he bought me the gift card, and two, because he has bought my books my whole life. I thought it would be nostalgic and fun, but adding the four-year-old made it not quite that way. My Dad said he thinks he still has his Borders Bookstore loyalty card in his wallet. I forgot to have him check.

Also, I finally joined TikTok. The desire to be a part of BookTok was just too strong and I finally caved. Follow me HERE. I made a little TikTok of my Barnes and Nobles trip.

Now, onto the books I bought. I am a big fan of paperbacks. They are my book of choice unless I am a megafan and then I need the hardcovers. There’s just something so magical about a super floppy paperback book, though.

I am not going to type out the whole synopsis for each book, so if you’re looking for more info on the book, click the photo of the book to be taken to the Amazon page.

1. Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

The cover of this book is GORGEOUS! Absolutely stunning. I am a huge sucker for a good book cover, so that was one deciding factor for me. I also love books about witches for some reason, and this one just seems like it’s going to be a great read.

2. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

This book, which also has a cute cover, is heavily circulating Instagram and TikTok, so hopefully, I’m not heading into this one with too high of expectations. I did see an excerpt of a spicy scene that has me really excited about this book, though.

3. The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

The back of this book says “Never mix vodka and witchcraft” I already am in love with it and all I’ve read is the back, but like I said above, I like reading about witches and when you add the fact that this is a rom com, I feel like this is definitely going to be a new favorite of mine.

4. Beach Read by Emily Henry

This has been on my TBR for months and months, so I am excited to read it. I think the plot just seems so precious and I can’t wait to read this book.

5. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

I doubled down on Emily Henry’s books, but this has also been on my TBR for equally as long as Beach Read. Emily Henry must like writing opposites attract romance because that is also the theme in this book, but yet again, I am excited to read it because it seems like it is going to be a great book.

Every single book I bought at Barnes & Nobles is cheaper on Amazon, which has me feeling some type of way, but there is something therapeutic about being in a book store that has me letting it slide.

Did you get any books for Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

A Simple Sunday Reset

SUNDAY FUNDAY! A day of rest for some, a day of fun for others, but something we can almost all agree on, is Sunday is a great day to reset and refocus for the week to come.

If there is one thing that I struggle with, though, it’s routines. I am more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person. The less structure, the better, but my anxious brain also thrives on a loose routine.

Monday’s are also mini New Year, so it’s nice to set some intentions for your Sunday.

I am also the Queen of self-care and treat yo self, so keep that in mind as we venture on this fun Sunday reset routine journey.

I am firmly team Sunday Funday/day of rest. If you are someone who has off on Sundays and is capable of using it as a rest day, please do. If you don’t have Sunday in particular off, I still firmly believe that we need to make time for self-care, especially for our mental health.

Shop some of my skincare favorite’s HERE

Make some time for skin care

I have extremely dry skin, so I use a scrub at least once a week, but I also use a lip scrub because my lips are also dry and flaking. (I’m a lip chewer. Read about lip/cheek biting HERE) My favorite face scrub is Young Living’s Satin Mint Face Scrub but one I want to try is from Frank Body.

My favorite lip scrub is from Frank Body, smells like straight-up coffee and is so delicious I’m half tempted to just eat it with a spoon. The lip balm it comes with (but my fav lip duo HERE) is so mild, which I love, and it is so moisturizing. The only thing I don’t like is you use your finger to apply it. Which maybe you don’t have to, I’ll have to look more clearly, but it works so good I can easily look past that fact.

I’ve also made my own Coffee Scrub which you can read about HERE, but I am still interested to try Frank’s, especially after using their lip scrub and loving it so much.

Click images to purchase

Frank’s also has a couple of masks I’d love to get my grabby mitts on, but my current favorite is Young Living’s charcoal mask. I try to use that at least once a week. It smells so good and leaves my skin feeling so soft.

I also have an insane love for these little gold eye masks for whatever reason. I put them under my eyes but then also on my “laugh line” area.

Take an hour for your favorite leisure activity

What’s your favorite way to relax? Do you like to watch Netflix? Listen to a podcast or music? Read a book?

Sunday (or whatever your day of rest is. We’re just using Sunday for blog purposes) is such a great time to take an hour (or more. Watch Netflix all day if that’s what strikes your fancy) to catch up on your favorite show, book or podcast.

My favorite reads of 2021

What is your favorite podcast? I’m still stuck on Crime Junkies but would love so new suggestions.

I go through phases of what I lean towards but right now I’m on a heavy reading kick. I have KindleUnlimited and it’s really changed my life when it comes to reading.


Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans

Contact a loved one

Life gets so busy. Schedules are tight, errands need to be done, things just keep getting in the way and time is flying by, but something to make a little time for on your rest day is to contact a loved one.

When the mood strikes me, I sometimes take a couple minutes to send out texts to my close friends, my Dad, and my brother, just reminding them how much they mean to me. I just did this last week and it is nice to know that some of my favorite people know that they’re so appreciated and special to me.

I also really love taking the time to call my Grandma and chat. This is something I don’t make enough of a priority even though I am so blessed to still have her around to be able to call.

If you have a grandparent that is still living and that you love, next time you have a rest day, call and check in on them. Grandparents are the best.

Spend some time outside

I can sit in the house for months and never need to step foot outside. I can hermit up in my home and be totally fine, but fresh air and sunshine are so important.

Even if you just sit outside to read your book or listen to your podcast, or just take a 15-minute walk down your street, getting some outdoor time is a great way to spend your reset day.

And there you have it. That is my ideal Sunday funday. Add in pizza with my Dad and my brother and it is truly the best day, ever.

How do you like to reset and rest? Let me know in the comments!

8 festive books to read on KindleUnlimited

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‘Tis the season for festive everything, and that includes books! You can read my December TBR post HERE but I truly only was focused on Zodiac Academy this month and have barely moved on to my next book.

I am currently reading Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison, so that is where we’ll start on this list.

You can read why I love my Kindle and my KindleUnlimited subscription HERE

Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans

You can click the book covers to be taken to Amazon

1. Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison

I am only a couple chapters in, but these seem like it’s going to be a winner. It is getting rave reviews on Instagram from bookstagrammers, so I have high hopes. It seems to be a friends-to-lovers trope, which I personally prefer enemies to lovers, but a good friends to lovers is always a nice change of pace.

This author is very descriptive which I love. The more description you give me, the richer my mental imagery is, and, man, do I love that. This is just another reason I love Zodiac Academy so much.

The following books are books I have NOT read yet, but they are all currently downloaded in my KindleUnlimited queue because I have unrealistic expectations of my ability to read festive books before the 25th.

2. Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd

I really hope I manage to read this book. This is another festive romantic comedy, and from the description on Amazon, it sounds like an absolute winner in my book. I love festive everything, so the MC sounds like someone I will be able to relate to because she is described as extremely festive. Trope-wise, I’m guessing from the description that we’ll have a grumpy/sunshine, coworker to lovers, but again, I have not read this yet so I can’t say for sure.

3. Christmas at Cozy Holly Inn (Pinecone Falls Book 1) by Meredith Summers

According the this Amazon description, these seems to have very typical Hallmark Christmas movie vibes. Small town, an Inn, a broken heart that needs healing, a party, etc. etc. But for me personally, I love a good Hallmark movie, so this sounds delightful to me.

4. Dipped in Holly by Dana Isaly

This book is circulating on bookstagram and getting good, spicy reviews. The Amazon description alone seems spicy, and we have another festive heartbreak story, but this one comes with a slutty Santa costume and a one-night stand with a “silver fox”. Also hoping I’m able to squeeze this in as well.

5. Dashing Through the Tropes: A 6-book Holiday Collection with Your Favorite Tropes by Kimberly Krey

The description is literally just the tropes you’ll find in this book, and they’re some good tropes, too.

Enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, secret billionaire, second chance, small-town romance, and forced proximity.

This is obviously a 6-in-one and is also only available on Kindle Unlimited.

6. Kiss the Girl by Melanie Jacobson

When I read this title, I immediately start hearing Sebastian singing, with visions of Eric and Ariel in that little boat. (Prince Eric, though. *swoon*)

This book is another romantic comedy and is, yet again, one that is showing up on bookstagram pages. I’d like to read this, but I don’t see it happening this year.

7. The Fake Santa Apology Tour: A Holiday Novella by Julie Olivia

This one is getting read regardless of whether I manage it before December is over or not. The idea of a girl having the hots for fake Santa’s cracks me up and I have to see how the author tells this particular story/very weird trope.

“I’m Birdie Mae, and let’s skip to the weird part of my story: Short-term relationships with good looking Santas are kind of my thing.” This is straight from the Amazon description and, seriously, I need to know what happens here.

8. Oh. What. Fun. by Chandler Baker

I don’t believe this has romance involved. It seems to be a story about a family coming home and there’s a secret involved that I need to know what it is. Thankfully this is labeled as a short story so I’m hoping to be able to burn through it this last week of December.

There you have it. Some festive KindleUnlimited book options to cozy up with during your downtime over the holidays.

What are you reading this week? Let me know in the comments! Bonus points if it’s festive.

Why Personal Development is so important and how you can get started on your own Personal Development journey today

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Personal development is a newer obsession of mine, but now that I’ve hopped on this bus, I’m trying to grab everyone’s hand and drag them along for the ride.

In 2019, I finally entered therapy after many years of mental health struggles and eventually hitting my own personal “rock bottom”. Since then, I have learned so much about myself, grown as a person, and am truly so proud of who I am becoming. I wish this journey for everyone, but I also do try to take the time to remember how hopeless, desperate, and alone I felt. This is what drives me to talk about mental health, personal development, and any related topic so much.

I remember how it felt to be at my rock bottom, and I want to speak out about my own experience to encourage anyone who might be in a similar situation of their own.

Now, before we go any further, I just want to remind anyone reading this that I am not a mental health professional of any sort. I am a human who personally has anxiety, depression and who had postpartum depression. Anything I say in my blog posts is based on my own personal experience and current opinions/thoughts. A great perk to personal development is the realization that I don’t know everything there is to know and I am a forever student. If anything I say or talk about ever sparks a desire to have a constructive conversation with me, please feel free to leave a comment or email me. I love to hear other people’s thoughts on this great journey towards self-love and acceptance.

If you feel like you are struggling with a mental health disorder(s), I gently encourage you to discuss it with your physician or a trusted family member or friend. This is a great first step to healing.

Moving on to the glorious journey which is personal development!

The most important thing about a personal development journey, in my opinion, is your mindset. You have to realize that, while it is a journey, there really is no final destination. Personal development is a lifelong journey that we will be traveling down as long as we draw breath on this big, beautiful Earth.

What is personal development? Personal development is the art of actively pursuing activities and content that can help you grow your mind, abilities, talents, improve your thoughts, attitude, etc.

For me, personal development also included personal awareness, self-love, as well as accountability.

A year of personal development reading

Why is Personal Development so important?

Remember this is my opinion. You are more than welcome to disagree with me and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject as well.

Why do I feel like personal development is important for everyone? Because personal development ultimately is looking inward and realizing that everything you desire starts from within. When you prioritize personal development, your own happiness, and your own personal growth, everything else in your life is affected as well.

I often get met with the assumption that that makes personal development “selfish” and I couldn’t disagree more. When you are in the habit of making personal development a priority, everyone and everything in your life are also positively affected as well.

How so? Well, if you are prioritizing your personal development, your mental health is affected, which in turn affects your moods, which in turn flows outward to affect those around you. So, if you think about it, personal development is one of the least selfish things there is.

If you’re a parent this is even more true because you have small humans watching everything you do and learning your habits, hearing how you speak to yourself and others, and absorbing all your attributes, whether you’re aware of it or not. I always get shocking reminders of this from my own son when he repeats or mimics a certain action of either myself or his father.

How to start your own Personal Development Journey today

Personal development Pinterest board

You could technically say you already started it if you’re reading this post and making the mental notes to look into some new things. It really is that easy.

There are so many ways you can implement personal development. A quick Pinterest search will showcase a magnitude of amazing personal development tools and ideas, but here in this blog post, I’m going to talk about my favorite types of personal development.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

As with literally ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, consistency is the most important factor. You don’t gain weight by eating one calorie-heavy meal. You don’t lose weight by exercising once. You don’t unpack a lifetime of trauma in one therapy session. You don’t become a master of any skill without a trial and error period. Give yourself grace and remember consistency is key.

Take the Enneagram test

OKAYYYYYYYY, so I really, really, really, REALLY, love the enneagram. I am not even remotely close to being an expert on the subject and am probably wrong about some aspects, so don’t take what I say on it as the gospel, but this is probably my favorite personal development tool and it’s a great place to start.

A brief slice of my understanding on the subject is this:
You take the enneagram test HERE and see what your highest “number” is. I have never paid for a test result before and don’t feel like you need to, but again, that is just my uneducated opinion. There are enneagram coaches/experts out there you can talk to for better info.

When you get your test results, you go read the core beliefs and core fears of that “type” and see if they resonate with you. How I would explain it is if you read those core fears and beliefs and you feel called out, uncomfortable, seen, or understood, then you’ve got the right number.

From there, search Instagram and Pinterest for enneagram resources. These are the two places I found 98% of my enneagram information. It’s easy, fun, and convenient.

Enneagram 7 Pinterest Board

Above is my own Pinterest board which is dedicated to my personal number, 7, but I do need to make a general enneagram board now that I think about it.

If you’d like a book on the enneagram, I do have this one, which according to my Amazon account, I purchased in March but I have not read it yet. I’ll read it after ZA.

There are also enneagram-specific devotionals. The one is obviously for enneagram 7’s so make sure you purchase the one for your own number.

Why is knowing your enneagram number so important for personal development? The Enneagram has helped me to dive deep into some of my habits and understand myself on a whole new level. There were things I’ve read about that I had felt so alone and misunderstood about until I discovered my Enneagram number.

Example: I have a very addictive personality which is a straight-up personality trait of some enneagram 7s. There is a chunk about it in my enneagram 7 devotional and it was very enlightening.

Read some personal development/self help books

Here is a list I created at the beginning of 2021. Full disclosure, I didn’t finish it and my favorite self-help book I’ve read so far isn’t even on there.

How to do the work by Dr. Nicole LePera is a seriously amazing, life-changing book. She also is a person I’d 100% recommend following on Instagram, her handle being theholisticpsychologist.

Try going to therapy

Unfortunately, this isn’t easily accessible to everyone. One day, I hope that changes and mental health is seen as the very important part of healthcare that it is, but that is not the case right now.

If you are able to see a therapist, I would definitely suggest it, though. I have been in therapy for two years now and it has been an amazing, wild ride of radical self-discovery.

We have addressed my coping skills, dug through the trauma I had forgotten about, reframed events, worked through current life struggles, etc., etc. It has been a truly amazing experience for me and I recommend it to everyone who is able to go.

An important thing to remember if you do go to therapy is that it is not a quick fix. Therapy takes time. Like I said, I’ve been going for 2 years and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. I started going every week, then every other week, and now I am going once a month.

Practice meditation

Meditation and yoga are life-changing in an amazing way. The theme of this post, obviously. I am personally a very reactive person, so practicing meditation and yoga has helped me on the journey of becoming more mindful and aware of my responses.

I simply look up yoga and meditation videos on YouTube or my Amazon Prime account and do them at home. It’s so easy and really wonderful. Actually, yoga is one of the first tools I reach for when I am struggling with anxiety attacks. Love yoga.

These are my starting suggestions because this is how I started and these are still my favorite tools to this day. I guess since I’ve been in therapy for two years, I’ve been on this personal development kick for about two years. It hasn’t been smooth sailing, and I still regress and take steps back, but it has been the most fulfilling and glorious thing I’ve taken on yet. I am so excited for you to start digging deep into yourself and learning to radiate radical self-love from the inside out.

Do you have a favorite personal development tool? Favorite book? Whatever it is, let me know in the comments.

Preparing for a book release

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A *NO SPOILER* ZONE

If you have read any of my recent book-related posts then you’re very familiar with the fact that I LOVE ZODIAC ACADEMY.

If you have not read this actual masterpiece yet, I am BEGGING you to do so. It’s filled with some of the best tropes (enemies to lovers is THE TROPE. You can’t tell me otherwise) and the story is phenomenal.

It is an (unfinished) series, which currently contains 6 books, the 7th being released in just a few short days, and a couple novellas. There will be 8 books total in this delicious series, according to the mastermind authors, and I can’t wait to devour the last two installments.

I will say, the awakening (book 1) was hard to get through for me. Full disclosure and total honesty, when I was reading the first book, I was like how could anyone say this is addicting? Because I originally found the series through a book group on Facebook where someone claimed it was a spicy Harry Potter-esque book for adults. But, MAN, looking back, book 1 is total perfection and absolutely necessary for this story to unfold so beautifully.

Zodiac Academy: The Awakening (book 1) is not very spicy, which I love some good spice, but I kept reading because I needed to know what happened. These authors are the queens of the cliffhanger. All this to be said, I AM MIND ALTERINGLY OBSESSED TO THE POINT OF IT BEING DISGUSTING. I love this series so much it physically hurts. By book 3, I was kicking doors down to get to my husband after certain scenes. By book 4, I was screaming, crying, and cursing the heartache that was being rained down upon me. By book 5, the character development was so freakin’ good I could barely even handle it. I wanted to crawl into the book and be best friends with all (okay, not all, but some) of the characters. Book 6 gutted me and stitched me back together, just to rip my heart out, while leaving me with so much hope to cling to.

It’s ridiculous, okay? Ridiculously amazing, though. PS. All of these books are included on KindleUnlimited. Grab your membership below and BE BLESSED with the magic.

Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans

I am getting sidetracked, because, while this post is mainly about Zodiac Academy, it is also about getting prepared for a book release. Specifically the next installment of a really good series book release. Specifically the next installment of Zodiac Academy. Zodiac Academy: Heartless Sky.

Tomorrow I will be trudging into Target and grabbing some essentials for the heartbreak I’m expecting. I’ve only read one “spoiler” that they’ve posted in the author’s Facebook group because I do tend to go into things fresh and spoiler-free, so I’m not really sure what to expect or if it’ll crush my soul, but I’m leaning towards it’ll probably crush my soul.

So, if you find yourself preparing for a great installment of your favorite series, here are the items I will be hunkering down with for this Saturday.

1. A babysitter so your child doesn’t intereupt your blissful reading

I know, I know. Not everyone has kids or needs to devote an obnoxious time to reading, but I do, so I have my child scheduled to go away for a sleepover. The book gets released at midnight and I. WILL. BE. READING!

I will be going to be extra early, setting a timer for 11:30pm, making myself a cup of tea, maybe some coffee, and I will be good to GO.

If you want to grab my Sweet Dreamin’ oils bundle, grab it HERE. (This is oils stuff, not book stuff. Just an FYI if you click that link it will take you to a different site.)

I also know this isn’t something to stock up on but it is something to prepare for because uninterrupted reading time is BLISSFUL and something any book-loving mother deserves.

2. Tissues to wipe away the tears that accompany your guttural sobs

I’m a crier. I’ve already cried a lot throughout the Zodiac Academy series, so I would be SHOCKED to find that I don’t shed some tears during the 7th installment of this beautifully painful series.

You could use your shirt sleeves if buying tissues isn’t your thing, but I’d rather be prepared with a big ol’ fluffy box of tissues.

3. Chocolate to soothe the holes in your soul caused by plot twists and cliffhangers

This is going to hurt. Have I mentioned that already? I really think this is going to hurt, but again, I truly have no clue what’s going to happen. Especially since I’ve avoided almost 100% of the spoilers available to me.

4. Your comfort beverage of choice to rehyrdate from all the tears cried and anxious sweating

I know most people reach for boozy beverages in emotional times, but for me personally, we don’t do that over here anymore. Alcohol makes my anxiety literally 500x worse, plus I need to be as crisp as a cucumber to make sure I’m retaining every single smidge of information this book is offering me.

Plus, staying hydrated is so important, especially in the winter. I notice a huge difference in my skin/complexion when I’m staying properly hydrated. I’m sure regular water is the superior hydration choice, but I like the fizz of the la Croix, plus if I’m going to be sulking, I deserve a treat in the form of my hydration.

I mean, feel free to booze it up, especially after our hearts get crushed if that’s your jam. I guess I should say “comfort beverage” as this item on the list.

5. Comfortable clothes for the uncomfrtable emotions

COMFORTABLE CLOTHES OR BUST. I would rather be naked than ever wear uncomfortable clothes ever gain.

Thankfully for all of us today, comfortable is in style. Leggings are in, oversized shirts are in, waffle-knit is in…if only this could stay forever.

I am also a firm lover of all things black, so I’m imagining I will be wearing my black, oversized sweatshirt from Aerie and probably my Aerie Offline leggings. These leggings are ACTUALLY the greatest thing that has ever graced my body. It’s like a second skin, but more comfortable. They are the softest, most well-made leggings I’ve personally ever worn, and as a self-proclaimed legging connoisseur, I think my advice is pretty grand on the subject.

Leggings ARE pants and you cannot tell me otherwise.

6. Kindle with popsocket so when you crumble to the floor in a heap of dispair, you don’t lose hold of your “book”

Soooooo, I love a good book to hold, but I’m more of a Kindle fan these days, more so than I ever thought I’d be. I love my Kindle and KindleUnlimited so much it’s insane. (You can read more about my Kindle love affair HERE)

Between my Kindle (the actual Kindle, but also the app on my phone) and KindleUnlimited, I give them all the credit for why I am able to read so much these days.

I am also not an actual book thrower. I’m more of a book slammer-downer or a cry all over the pages kind of girl. So, if you’re also not a book thrower, a kindle is a great option for reading. Plus, it makes reading at night so glorious. I can just keep the lights off, turn the kindle off, rollover, and go to sleep when I’ve had enough. Call me lazy, but this is a huge perk for me.

I am firmly a pop socket fanatic. I really have no clue how anyone holds their phone or Kindle without one. It has forever changed my life and I am eternally grateful to whoever created this beautiful contraption.

Ugh, okay. So, here is my suggestions for how I’m preparing myself for the next installment of the greatest series I’ve read in a very long time.

Please, if all you get out of this is downloading the Kindle app on your phone and reading this glorious books, I will be thrilled with the outcome of this blog post.

Hope you’re having the best day, ever, and if you’ve ever had a series grip your soul like Zodiac Academy has for me, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! If you’re convincing enough, I’ll be adding it to my TBR.

Christmastime in Lancaster County

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December is here! Christmas is coming! Santa is everyone! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

I love December so much. I always have, but especially these days because my son was born in the beginning of the month, so not only do we have Christmas at the end, but I have my favorite human to celebrate at the start of the month! It’s just overall the best month of the year.

I’m going to eventually write a post about how we celebrate my sweet December boy for anyone else who has a kiddo with a birthday so close to Christmas, but for today we’re going to focus on all of the festive happenings in my home, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Now, most people hear Lancaster County, PA, and think immediately that everyone is Amish. I am not Amish. I do not, nor have I ever, lived on a farm. I drive a car, not a horse and buggy. So on and so forth. If you’ve come to this post thinking you’re going to learn or read about the Amish, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Actually, I will say that I did see online that there is an Amish cookie tour, where you go to Amish family homes and taste cookies. That seems quaint and fun for out-of-towners, especially if you’re interested in the Amish culture.

We have done a few festive happenings so far, so I’m going to start with what we’ve personally done and then end with what we’re hoping to squeeze in.

Dutch Winter Wonderland

Price: At the door- $34.99 Online- $29.99 + a fee for parking
Dutch Wonderland Webpage

If you are from the area, I’m sure you’ve been to Dutch Wonderland. It’s by the outlets, Tanger and Rockvale, and is a theme park geared more towards smaller kiddos. My son is 4 and there was a lot for him to do, with a few roller coasters and rides he wasn’t tall enough for yet, so it is accommodating for older kids as well.

They have lights all over the park, park employees stationed around offering to take your photo which I love, and a ton of family-friendly rides and coasters.

Tanger Outlets Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt

$8
Tanger’s Elf Event Page

This was so cute and so fun to do. It didn’t take us very long and my son loved finding all the “Chippy’s” that were hidden throughout the outlets.

We didn’t take any time to shop, so it will obviously take longer if you intend on shopping while doing the scavenger hunt.

You receive a booklet, which you mark down where you find the elves, but it also has activities and coloring pages inside. Then at the end, you head back to customer services and receive your prize, which is a festive Santa hat pop it!

Kozair’s Christmas Village

3 and under FREE, 4-10 $10, 11-64 $12, Seniors (65+) $11
Add $5 if you visit on a “Prime Night”, which are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Kozair’s Christmas Village Webpage

Okay, so this isn’t in Lancaster, this is in Berks County, BUT it is definitely a must-do if you’re in the area this holiday season.

This place is COVERED in gorgeous light displays, with so many amazing photo-ops.

It is a self-guided walking tour, so keep that in mind for younger or older members who might want to go along. My husband was unable to join us for this particular event because it is a lot of walking and he’s currently on crutches.

We went on a weeknight and it was still fairly full, but it was easily walkable and not too overwhelming.

They have a train set up outside, as well as another one in one of the buildings towards the end of the “tour”. They have shops throughout where you can purchase ornaments, hats, shirts, gloves, food and drink, and some other cute items.

Overall, this is one of my favorite “local” Christmas attractions. It’s just so festive and amazing.

Christmas Spirit Light Show at Clipper Stadium

$20-30
Christmas Spirit Light Show Webpage

We did this drive-thru last year, and while we will probably skip it this year, it was a nice, smaller-scale light show.

It is really wonderful to load everyone up in the car and be able to drive through, stay in the warm car, and still enjoy all the lights.

Holiday Tasting Tour at Kitchen Kettle Village

$20
Holiday Tasting Tour webpage

This is not something I’ve done yet, and I actually haven’t been to Kitchen Kettle Village before. But one of my friends was just there and enjoyed it, and I love the sound of the self-guided “tasting tour”, so I will be trying to squeeze this in this year.

If not the tasting tour, I will be making it over there to check it out with my son at some point this month.

Hershey’s Sweet lights

Online $22.15, Door $39.15
Hershey’s Christmas webpage

We have been here before and it is always amazing. So many lights and really festive.

We will probably not be doing their Christmas Candylane option, because like I mentioned previously, my son is 4 and Hershey Park tends to be geared towards older kids/teens/adults with their rides. I’d be willing to take him in the Spring or Summer, but I’m not dragging him through there in the cold.

We have been to Christmas Candylane before as well, and it is definitely a good time. So if you have older kids or are just wanting to go yourself, I’d recommend it as worth it.

The Sweetlights drive-thru is just a great option for us with our 4 year old and also for my husband who is currently unable to do a lot of walking.

Meet Santa at Park City Center

Santa photos at Park City webpage

This is the real Santa, I don’t care what anyone says. He’s the real deal.

Now, there are cheaper options when it comes to getting pictures, but I love this particular Santa and we also have the tradition of seeing him on my son’s birthday, and I’m a sucker for traditions and a good Santa pic.

There are plenty of other places to see Santa in Lancaster Co., but if you want to see the real one, you’ve gotta go to Park City.

So there’s my list for my favorite festive Lancaster Christmas functions.

Have you ever visited Lancaster County? Or is it on your travel bucket list?

I do love Lancaster, and if you’ve never visited, it’s worth it at least once. Especially if you’re one of those people who want to see the Amish and the horse and buggies.

Let me know what local festive functions you’re attending in your hometown this year!

Setting Boundaries: Holiday Edition

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‘Tis the season of holiday functions, parties, gatherings, and events. This also means ’tis the season for crotchety people to give you unsolicited advice, comments, and garbage.

If you’re a parent, this is an especially riveting time of exciting comments and opinions on your parenting choices and judgment of your parenting style. Fortunately for me, my personal family is so supportive and loving, but I have my share of other events where my choices are the topic of conversation more often than I care to entertain.

So, without further ado, let’s discuss HOLIDAY BOUNDARY SETTING! Find my Pinterest board, dedicated to boundaries, HERE.

You can also shop my 12 Days of Surviving the Holidays Affirmation Cards HERE

BOUNDARY, noun, a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

Boundaries are something that is still a new concept to me. Something that I’ve adopted since starting therapy in 2019, and an area that I am still working on today.

If you are also new to the concept of boundaries, let’s learn something together today!

As the movement of prioritizing mental health continues to grow, we’re seeing an emphasis on setting personal boundaries. Boundaries are so healthy, so necessary, and truly one of the best steps you can take when you are maybe starting a personal development/mental health journey.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk dissapointing others” – Brene Brown

1. My personal choices are not a topic for open discussion

You are not the latest topic for your family to debate at the dinner table. If you find your choices, actions, or personal life is a wide stretched topic, where everyone is weighing in their own opinions, you have every right to shut that shit down.

What you choose to discuss with a certain person, or even a select few people, is your choice, and family especially mistakes their relation to us as their green light to tell us what they think we should be doing.

An example of what I’m referring to is when someone brings up something about you, to discuss at large, without your permission or without you being the one to initially bring up the conversation.

This can often result in a feeling of being blind-sided, and we then are left feeling overwhelmed and then attacked as people start to give their unsolicited advice and opinions on whatever the topic may be.

Remember, you are allowed to gracefully decline your personal life being the center of the conversation.

Some examples of declining this topic/behavior:
1. I’d rather not discuss this with everyone
2. That is not something I’m reading/willing to talk about right now
3. I appreciate your concern/thoughts, but I’d rather talk about something else right now
4. This is not something I want to discuss with so many people.

2. My relationship status is none of your concern

Why is this a thing? Like, why, in front of a whole group of people, does your aunt think it’s appropriate to bring up your dating life? (Or lack thereof)

These people barely talk to you throughout the year, but then decide it’s a great time to discuss your love life in front of all these other people you barely even know anymore.

Some examples of declining this topic/behavior:
1. This is an awkward conversation for me to discuss with so many people
2. I appreciate your concern over my love life, but that’s a personal topic I don’t care to discuss here
3. You can call me another time to discuss that if you’re curious. I’m not talking about that here

3. My weight and/or food choices is not up for dicussion

In the words of the Backstreet Boys, TELL ME WHYYYYYYYY! Tell me why people think this is appropriate?!

If you want to eat 17 pieces of pie and no vegetables, you’re a grown-ass adult. Eat what you want! And if someone has something to say, throw a brussel sprout at their face, because they stink as much as the brussels.

In all seriousness, weight and food-shaming is such a heavy topic of conversation during the holidays, and I just want you to know that you do not have to justify your food choices to anyone! And you are also allowed to enjoy yourself at the holiday meals without feeling guilty.

Some examples of declining this topic/behavior:
1. I’m not talking about my food choices with you
2. My weight is an inappropriate conversation topic
3. Thank you for your concern, but I don’t care to have this conversation
4. *Throw brussel sprout at their stinky face*
(Just kidding…..kind of)

4. Thank you for the invite, but I’ll be unable to attend

If there is an event that you just simply do not want to attend, DON’T GO. If you are going into a function and already dreading being there, that is a sign that you should probably just skip the event altogether.

If you’re anxious leading up to going somewhere, that’s a red flag. Just don’t go. Unless you’re always anxious leading up to events. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. But if the people and/or setting of an event has you absolutely dreading attending, don’t go.

Some ideas for declining invites:
1. Thank you for thinking of me! But I won’t be able to make it
2. That sounds fun but I have other plans that day.
3. I won’t be available to come to that.

5. The Holidays are not meant to be a picture perfect event and I will not stress over the minor details

Sometimes, between social media and Hallmark movies, we get lost to the real reason of gathering with loved ones and celebrating the holidays.

As the season is upon us, let’s try to stay in the moments and enjoy the days for what they are, instead of stressing over things such as the cleanliness of our homes or the picture perfect outfits we couldn’t get our kids (or significant other) to wear.

I’m unable to think of suggestions for this topic of conversation without sounding rude, and of course, if you don’t have anything nice to day, don’t say anything at all. So if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

The graphic’s in this post are a couple of the 12 affirmation cards that are available in my Etsy shop. Please feel free to save these to your phone or print them out if you would like the reminders, or buy the full set in my Etsy shop. You can find the link to the affirmation cards towards the start of this post.

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