Sunday, March 1, 2015

Winter 2014 Book Challenge: Month 4

Happy March, everyone! It's my birthday month and my first nephew was born this morning (yay! hence the late check-in post—sorry!), so this is a pretty good month, in my humble opinion. :) This post is the final opportunity to check in for the winter 2014 book challenge. Congratulations to the ten people who have finished already! Woohoo! Continue reading after the jump for the full scoreboard and final check-in instructions.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wedding Wednesday: Engagement Photos!

It's been almost two years since I got engaged, and more than a year since we took our engagement photos, but other than a few teasers, I've never shared them on the blog. So, today is your lucky day! :)

Personally, I was way more excited about our engagement pictures than I was about our actual wedding pictures. Obviously, I loved the way our wedding photos turned out, but I have a theory about wedding photos: They are (almost) all pictures of a loving couple in a tux and a white dress. Yes, you can get pretty creative with wedding shoots, but I think engagement photos are where a couple's personality really comes through. Here are a few of my favorites from our November 2013 engagement shoot:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why I Don't Wear Make-Up

Here's the short history of my relationship with cosmetics: In middle school, when all my friends started wearing make-up, I'd occasionally experiment with eye shadow. Like, once every two months. In high school, my mom had to practically lock me in her bathroom to do my face for formal events like Homecoming and prom. I always assumed I would start wearing make-up when I got to college, but even then I only found myself applying make-up for special events like sorority recruitment or interviews. When I got my first office job after graduation, the make-up still didn't make an appearance after the job interview.

Now that I'm in my mid-20s, I still don't wear make-up on a daily (or even regular) basis. Want to know why?

photo via Jorg Weingrill on Flickr

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

This Cambodian Temple is Even Better than Angkor Wat

I'll admit it: When I told my husband I wanted to make a detour to Siem Reap during our Thai honeymoon, it was purely to see Angkor Wat. During our three days in the province, however, we saw A LOT of temples, and this one took the cake.

I enjoyed Beng Melea (also spelled Beng Mealea or Bung Mealea) the most because this temple has not been restored, so we were literally trekking through the jungle to explore the temple. When we first arrived, I was tsk-tsking at all the completely disrespectful tourists wandering off the path to climb on the rocks. The nerve, right?! That is, until our own guide hopped off the wooden platform and beckoned us to follow him down into the ruins. Don't mind if I do....

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Best of January: A Month in Review

I know everyone is probably saying this, but holy cow: The first month of 2015 is already over! After changing jobs, starting graduate school and getting married last year, I'm happy to report my first month of 2015 was much more relaxing. Here's a quick rundown of my going-ons for January:

Most Popular on Instagram & Notable Events

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Three of these photos are actually throwbacks; the only thing pictured above that actually happened in January was reading A Storm of Swords. ;) If you missed it, I also guest posted for the Girl Gone International account for a week in January and had a boatload of fun! As far as traveling/weekend outings, my husband and I rang in the new year in Pasadena with my family. (The weekend involved lots of football-watching, drinking and walking around town.) We then drove down to the Central Valley the next weekend to celebrate a belated Christmas with my other side of the family (holidays certainly multiply when you're a child of divorce). Luckily, the next two weekends were fairly relaxing (aside from me doing a ton of homework), and we managed to squeeze in two day trips to San Francisco and a night of drinks in Palo Alto for a friend's birthday. This month is shaping up to be similarly low-key, but we have lots of trips planned for the spring!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

8 Gifts for Readers

This post was originally published as a guest post on Ever Emma in December 2014.

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, I thought I would republish this holiday gift guide to inspire anyone dating a reader. Enjoy!

For the friend who can't stop Instagramming #currentlyreading photos: Seriously. This library card phone case comes in all iPhone sizes and even some Samsung Galaxy sizes. How perfect is it?
$15 from Etsy

For the bibliophile whose bookshelves are a work of art: There are a ton of adorable bookend sets out there, but I'm currently swooning over these gorgeous metal bookends. And if you're looking for something a little more affordable, you can't go wrong shopping at World Market. ;)
$64.99 from Etsy

For the friend who drinks way too much tea: I don't even like Will Ferrell, but this quote from Anchorman always makes me laugh. I also particularly liked this mug and this one; there are so many great bookish mug options!
$16.99 from Etsy

For the ebook-lover who doesn't want to admit it: I would love one of these gorgeous Kindle covers so I could pretend I was still flipping real pages. As much as I love my Kindle, I have to admit paperbacks will always have my heart.
$40.20 from Etsy

For the friend who cohabitates with a non-reader: Looking for more of a stocking stuffer? A simple book light is the perfect solution for that friend (ahem, me!) who likes to stay up reading long after her partner has switched out the light.
$9.67 from Amazon

For the tech-averse friend who still writes everything down: If you know that one holdout who refuses to sign up for Goodreads, this book journal is the ideal way to track her favorite reads (and not-so-favorite, sometimes).
$19.95 from Moleskin

For the tech-savvy friend who prefers ebooks: I have to admit I've never used Oyster, but this unlimited ebook subscription looks perfect for anyone who's attached to their Kindle (or Nook).
$9.95/month from Oyster

For the bookworm who lives in a studio: (Or anywhere else small enough to prevent having a book nook, really.) This bookish curtain panel would liven up any reading corner.
$17.95 from H&M

Monday, February 2, 2015

More & Less in February

Is it just me, or is "February" one of the weirdest words in the English language? I did spell it correctly in the graphic, right?? Anyway, I received pretty positive feedback on my "more and less" New Year's Resolutions last month, and I thought it would be a good way to outline my monthly goals for the rest of the year! Here's what I hope to do more and less of in February:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Winter 2014 Book Challenge: Month 3

Greetings! How is everyone doing? I, for one, am super excited that I read several non-challenge books recently and still only have one category left. Woohoo! Congrats to the five people who have finished already.* And for those who haven't—you still have one whole month left! And if you don't finish, oh well. :) I just hope you found some books you loved along the way and pushed your reading choices out of your comfort zone. If you're new to the challenge, feel free to review the rules for the winter challenge here and jump right in with all the books you've read since November 1. Continue reading after the jump to see the current scoreboard and learn how to check in with your progress.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Reader Survey Results & What to Expect in 2015!

photo via Death to the Stock Photo, design by Megan

First, thanks to each and every one of you who participated in my reader survey last month! I've finally gone over the results, so today I wanted to share the highlights and also how I'll be using this information to improve Semi-Charmed Kind of Life this year.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Baanchang Elephant Park: Chiang Mai, Thailand

I still have plenty more pictures to share from our time in Cambodia, but this week I thought I would take a break and fast-forward to the next destination of our honeymoon: Chiang Mai, Thailand! Specifically, the Baanchang Elephant Park north of the city.

As I mentioned before, when Jonathan said he wanted to ride elephants during our honeymoon, I was concerned with the ethical issues around animal tourism. So, I Googled "ethical elephant riding in Thailand" and found several possibilities, including Baanchang Elephant Park. I then looked each of the locations up on Trip Advisor to seek corroboration of their claims of ethical treatment. Several of the parks had reviews noting visible animal cruelty or otherwise unpleasant experiences by the visitors, but Baanchang's reviews were positive overall, and many users noted the respect between the mahouts and the elephants at this park. So, Baanchang it was!

Riding elephants was part of the package, but the focus was on elephant education. We learned about the various circuses and cities the elephants had been rescued from, which unfortunately included some pretty horrific stories about the abuse the elephants had endured. :( We also spent quite a bit of time feeding the elephants, which was amazingly fun! The park buys all their produce from local villages to help support the local economy, which I thought was pretty neat.