Friday, December 19, 2014

5 Must-Have iPhone Apps

Just one day before leaving on my honeymoon, I upgraded to an iPhone 5S. Woohoo! My previous phone was an iPhone 4, and though it worked fine (if fine = randomly shutting off, the battery icon being stuck at 19 percent, and all the apps wonking out because of the iPhone 6 updates), I was excited to finally get a phone with a nicer camera (8 megapixels vs. 5, if you were wondering) right before my big trip. Anyway, the point is: obviously I had to download some apps the minute I walked out of the store. I have been making a conscious effort not to clog up my phone with unnecessary apps to help preserve its efficiency, but here are five apps I would rather not live without. (And the best part is: They're all free! I don't pay for apps. Pssh....)



Instagram | Duh. I am addicted to Instagram, as my almost-daily posts probably illustrate. And the only reason I don't post more is because I don't want to scare away potential followers (and because I like to think I hold my Instagram photos to a pretty high standard). If you like photos of beautiful books, cozy coffee cups and pretty places, you should definitely follow me! :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Only Wedding Checklist You'll Ever Need



I'm planning a short series of posts with helpful tips I learned while planning my own wedding over the past year, but before I begin posting any monthly checklists or what to look for in a wedding dress or how to narrow down your guest list, I thought it was important to start with the only things you really need to know before you get married:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Best of 2014: Read

I'm a little nervous to post my top 10 books of the year today because I just picked up Leaving Time from the library yesterday, and we all know how much I love Jodi Picoult. But, The Broke and the Bookish is hosting a Top Ten Tuesday about the best books we read in 2014, and I just had to join in on the fun! So, pending any amazing books I may read in the next two weeks, here are my ten favorite books I read this year (all title links go to my Goodreads review):



My Name is Memory, Ann Brashares | This is my go-to book when people ask me for recommendations now. A must-read for anyone who enjoys time travel books and/or is looking for a good love story.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekly Wishes: End-of-Year Edition

What better time than the end of the year to set some organization goals for myself, amiright? Why wait until January when I have 23 days of this month left at my disposal?! That being said, here are five things I hope to accomplish this week. (Because after this week, I'll be visiting San Diego and then my brother will be visiting and then it will be Christmas and then it will be New Year's and then my family will be visiting for a belated Christmas ... sheesh! Basically, I need to get shiz done this week or it's not happening at all haha.)


1. Address, stamp and send all holiday cards and wedding thank you notes! We're sending them together in one envelope to save on postage, but I'm still sending separate cards for each occasion because I just love writing cards. :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

5 Fun Things We Did on our Honeymoon

My spanking-new husband and I just returned from our honeymoon on Monday evening, and though I definitely plan to share more photos and stories in upcoming posts, I wanted to give you a little sneak peek to enjoy this weekend. :) We decided to visit Asia for the first time for our honeymoon and split our time between Cambodia (Siem Reap) and Thailand (Chiang Mai, Railay Beach and briefly Bangkok). Here are five fun things we did during our adventure:


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Best of November: A Month in Review

Woo November! Last month marked my first trip to Asia ... for my honeymoon! Expect lots of travel recaps over the next few weeks (or months, knowing me haha). We spent a little more than a week in Thailand and Cambodia to celebrate; let me know if you have any specific questions about traveling in Southeast Asia that you would like me to address in my travel posts!

Most Popular on Instagram & Notable Events

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It looks like my Instagram followers also preferred Cambodia to Thailand; the two pictures on the right are from our time exploring temples and relaxing at our hotel (which is how we spent almost all our time in Siem Reap). November also marked another important travel "first" for me: I finally rode a cable car in San Francisco (pictured at lower left)! I know, I know; I've lived within driving distance of the city for nearly 12 years and had never done this before. It's a shame how much we take for granted the things we have nearby (which reminds me—I really need to write a Bay Area bucket list! This strategy helped me get a lot of cool stuff done when I was living in Santa Fe.) And, of course, as I mentioned last month, I think any wedding pictures are automatically going to skyrocket to the top of my "like" spectrum from now on. ;) Personally, though, I think this Instagram photo should have been the most popular last month. Seriously; how gorgeous is that?! (#unhumblebrag)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Winter 2014 Book Challenge: Month 1


Hello, readers! First, I sincerely apologize for the delayed posting of the first check-in. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may already know I was on my honeymoon until last night (err, early this morning), and thus I wasn't able to get the post ready for December 1. If you didn't know that, hopefully you weren't waiting too impatiently for the check-in! ;)

If you're new to the challenge, feel free to review the rules for the winter challenge here. Remember, all books you've read back to November 1 count, even if you join the challenge today! Continue reading after the jump to learn how to check in with your progress.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Do you have five minutes?

Then pretty please, take my reader survey! :) It's super short (only 11 questions, and most are multiple choice or yes/no; all questions optional) and will help me improve Semi-Charmed Kind of Life even more in 2015! I've embedded the survey here to make it easy peasy for you to participate. All feedback is appreciated! :)


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The survey will be open until the end of the month, so if you don't have five minutes today, please come back again in the next 31 days and share your thoughts!

If you are a blogger, have you ever done a reader survey? What was most (and least) helpful about the results?

P.S. — It has come to my attention that several people were unable to take the survey because the formatting was wonky. I sincerely apologize! This appears to be a browser issue (i.e. it looks fine in Firefox, but is tiny and impossible to take in Safari). If the survey box above is not working for you, please feel free to visit the survey at this link. I really appreciate all your feedback!

Friday, November 21, 2014

5 Podcasts for Any Personality

Earlier this year, I mentioned I had started listening to podcasts at the gym while I was training for my triathlon. Then, in the past week, six different people recommended a new podcast to me; I started listening to it this week and am already hooked. So for today's "5 Things" list, I thought I would round up five of my favorite podcasts! They are each pretty different, so you should be able to find at least one that interests you. :)



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Best of October: A Month in Review

I was going to wait until next month and wrap October and November up together, but with me getting married and all in October, I thought it deserved its own post. ;)

Most Popular on Instagram & Notable Events

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I have a new foolproof way to get more than 100 likes on an Instagram picture! It used to be simply "include Jonathan in the photo," but now I think "include wedding dress" would work as well. ;) I've calmed down on posting wedding photos a bit recently, but that's just because I'm waiting for our professional photos to come back. Be sure to follow me on Instagram at @mcstroup if you want to see those babies when they're available! (I'm also known to post photos of books, coffee cups, and vacation destinations near and far.)