meg says read this, Read This

Read This: Once and For All

Is it really summer if you don’t read a Sarah Dessen book? YOu may recall that Dessen’s latest Once and For All was on my list of anticipated reads for this year. Now that I’ve read it, I just want to be immersed in the story again. As you know, I’m not a fan of formulaic writing (exactly why you don’t want to get me started on Nicholas Sparks books.) Although some may think that Dessen’s novels are predictable, I on the other hand am pleasantly surprised by her plot twists. There was a gut punch in Once and For All that I wasn’t expecting, (which is sometimes a delicious surprise, but here I was biting my lip, and trying not to cry.) Okay, okay I’m getting ahead of myself. Once and For All chronicles the summer before Louna goes off to college. Her mom owns a wedding planning business with her best friend William. Louna is used to not getting caught up in the “magic” of weddings, constantly seeing the bridezillas or the behind the scenes meltdowns, but you have to wonder how a teenager got so jaded. What happened that makes her question if true love is real? Well, you’ll find out. I love that in this story, we’re introduced to Louna’s best friend Jilly, and the trouble maker ADD son of a client Ambrose – both of their personalities balance out Louna’s serious nature. Ambrose is completely unpredictable, and Jilly is all about “living your best life” (however you do that!) As the story unravels we learn about Louna’s past, maybe what makes her skeptical or hesitant, and we’re also reminded that people aren’t always what they seem to be on the surface. It’s a great summer read, as Dessen finds a way to take us back to her favorite endless possibility beach town, Colby, and even teenagers working hard in the summer have to let lose once in a while. I read this entry on Sarah Dessen’s website where she wrote about some of the things that inspired Once and For All (two babysitters simultaneously planning their own very different weddings.) Then I stumbled across this passage, which not only sums up the heart of Once and For All, but it’s also pretty accurate about life:

As I started to think about all this, I began taking it wider, to the idea of how many “perfect” things we want, or are allowed. I’d had everything I wanted with SAINT ANYTHING: maybe I’d never get that again. Louna, my narrator, has this amazing first love and thinks that’s her only chance, her once and for all. But life goes on, even after those walking into the sunset moments. We can’t always have a perfect day, or a perfect experience. We need to take those great moments, though, and appreciate them. It’s tough for us perfectionists, but it’s true. The best stories, I have learned, often come when things don’t go as you planned. (source)


I definitely recommend this book for some summer reading, but I’ll warn you maybe I’m just a sap, or maybe the content really does go straight to your heat – I found myself tearing up a few times. Even still the imagery will make you laugh a few times, as you imagine Loud Cell Phone Lady in the coffee shop, or Ambrose and his antics, or Jilly’s siblings running all over the house. Dessen did it again with a little world to get lost in, and remind yourself of a few of life’s most important lessons.
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Versatile Blogger Award

Good morning everyone and “Happy Monday!” (Should those words be put together? I’m not sure yet, but let’s pretend and see how it goes…) So over the weekend, Chris at Rileys Random Review nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! Chris’s blog has a lot of posts about food (and he does a little “Musical Monday” and “Funny Friday,”) so if you’re a foodie you should definitely check it out – one of my favorite of his more recent posts was this deliciousness, I mean he is right – fruit is good for you.

Anyway, this is the way the rules work for this award:

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award.
  •  Include a link to their blog.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

As for fifteen blogs I think you should check out? These are going to be a bit broader, with larger followings than one’s I’ve mentioned before – and some are beyond the WordPress sphere. Also, I’ll include a few repeats from before so you don’t miss out on some of my faves! (Note: this list is in no particular order.)

  1. Cupcakes and Cashmere Emily Schuman’s blog covers everything from recipes to fashion. I especially enjoy her updates on little weekend getaways where her and her husband check out fun restaurants and unique boutiques. Her husband photographs for a lot of her posts, and they’re wonderful as well! Her first book will be published in August, and I can’t wait to check it out.
  2. Rockstar Diaries Naomi Davis has a lovely little blog that I seriously check out every morning hoping to see a new post. Her and her husband Josh live in D.C. with their beautiful daughter Eleanor and their adorable bulldog Kingsley. She always has great posts that include her awesome taste in food and style and capture the sweet moments of their little family. She does cool giveaways and I love getting to see their adventures as they explore different cities.
  3. The Wonderlist This blog is maintained by my dear friend Emily (who I have mentioned here before specifically for her awesome mixed CD skills,) and her friend Allie. We all went to FSU. They currently live in Atlanta, Georgia and share their post-grad adventures in the “real world,” here. This blog is another one with awesome photography that ranges from their beach vacations, market exploring, concert going, fashion finds and everything in between. Definitely check it out for a refreshing view from fellow twenty-somethings.
  4. Tally Vision This is my younger brother Ethan’s blog. He hasn’t been posting much lately but I’m hoping now that summer is here for him he’ll pick it up again because I really like checking out his posts. We have pretty different taste in music, and check out a lot of different random stuff on the internet so it’s always nice to see something from someone with varied tastes perspective.
  5. Life, Leadership, and Faith This is my dad, Lee’s blog. I’ve mentioned it before, but if you haven’t checked it out yet – you definitely should. The photos he shares from him and my mom’s adventures at the beach in the Panhandle are just gorgeous! Sunrise, sunset, moon photos – they’re all there. Also, he’s really honest about the journey God’s lead them on in this season of their lives, which is intriguing.
  6. Cracking Spines is the book review blog of my friend Chelsea. She chronicles her BCD (book compulsive-reading disorder) and I have to say it’s always impressive to me that she finishes all the books she starts no matter how much she dislikes them. (This is something I have a terribly difficult time trying to do.) She reviews books from all different genres, so there’s something for everyone here. Also, she’s read an incredible amount of books, so it’s cool when I’ve heard about one but not known anyone who’s read it yet, to be able to read her honest opinion of it and decide where it goes on my “to-read” list.
  7. Stockholm After Eight Lotte and Diana are “two ladies living in Stockholm.” If you haven’t picked up on it yet – my favorite blogs tend to be comprised of great photos, recipes, and fashion and this blog includes all of this. Seriously I feel like I “like” every single blog that shows up on my reader dash from them.
  8. The All Saints Hop Yard this blog comes from the great little artsy district in downtown Tallahassee. The Hop Yard has delicious food truck round-ups, great live music, beer out of mason jars, corn hole, friendly people, etc. Their blog keeps you up to date on all the exciting events happening at the Hop Yard!
  9. Tiki Chris An American free-lance photographer, living in London. I’m in love with his “London Daily Photo” posts.
  10. R&M Photography I haven’t been reading Ronnie’s blog for too long, but so far I’ve really enjoyed the posts. I encourage you to check out his “About” page to learn more about his life’s journey so far. He only took up photography a few years ago, after being diagnosed with lymphoma, and realizing how desperately he wanted to capture the joyous times he spent with his son, to know that he could leave him with images of their moments together. Ronnie has been in remission since 2009, but he has continued to document the special moments of life. His posts include great shots and stories of his time with his “Modern Day Brady Bunch” family.
  11. Sally’s Baking Addiction This is another blog I’ve rambled on my obsession for before. Sally has great posts on super delicious treats (that a lot of times involve cake batter and sprinkles, mmm!) Seriously I don’t think she’s posted a recipe that hasn’t left my mouth watering, yet. Plus the photos are always really pretty and her treats are a lot more visually appealing than mine, haha.
  12. Foodie Frolics Nina and Toby document their foodie explorations and appreciation in this great blog. Look their most recent post involves London pubs and cider. Enough said.
  13. NYC: 5 boroughs, many snapshots I really enjoy seeing daily splashes of city life from this photo blog.
  14. The Fotographing Fat Kid (But Not For Long!) Nathan is another Tallahassian an Florida State fan who chronicles his weight loss journey on his blog. Frequently he posts photos of his appetizing healthy meals, and updates on his journey but he also includes other life things – like watching Downton Abbey, cheering on the Seminoles, and fun local places he’s tried lately!
  15. Inga’s Angle is another incredible photography blog, where Inga Sarda-Sorenson shares seriously stunning shots of the city. Seriously, these images blow my mind and make me long to walk the city streets with a camera in hand.

Okay, phew – that’s a lot of blogs for you to check out! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Thanks again to Chris for the nomination, and now to fulfill the last little rule seven things about me (and I’ll try to switch them up from when my The Life of Mugs blog was nominated for the Liebster Award and I had to share some random facts about myself.)

  1. I’ve been on sweepstakes kick lately. This has happened one other time (spring semester of my senior year at FSU,) where I enter to win about a ba-billion sweepstakes. I wasn’t the grand prize winner of anything crazy, though one time I got a box of books from an I Heart Daily contest, which was pretty awesome!
  2. I am an Olympics junkie. I especially love the summer Olympics. I’ve actually been scouring the internet lately to find contests I can enter to win a trip to see them in in London this year. (Olympics + London = two of my favorite things!) When their 2012 location was announced, I was convinced that I would be watching them live this year. Oh, imagination…
  3. I have various random collections of things – from Troll Dolls to metal lunchboxes. These made flea market and thrift store adventures that much more exciting while I was in the height of these phases.
  4. I love stationary and journals. Basically all kinds of cutesy paper products. Pretty little note cards, leather bound journals. Love. them.
  5. I am probably one of the biggest supporters of snail mail and the US Postal Service. I’ll send out like twelve hand written letters at a time. Though I’ve been slacking lately it’s probably one of my most favorite pastimes.
  6. I’ve lived in small towns my whole life, (other than a six-week study abroad stint in London in 2008,) and would love to call a bustling city with public transportation home at some point in my life.
  7. John Green is probably one of my favorite humans. If you’re not a nerd fighter and you’ve never watched any of the vlog brother videos, or read any of his books I strongly suggest you do so ASAP. DFTBA!