the view from Sunday: outings and adulting

It’s been a good weekend, which feels like a good change. I did some adult things and some silly things, including:

  • Opening a secondary savings account for experiences and thrills, rather than the big life events.
  • Brunch at ikea, because pancakes and things. Not all of which were entirely necessary, but I can handle it.
  • Cleaning. Lots of cleaning.
  • Writing. And worrying about said writing.
  • Running. Yes, I did it again🙂
  • Reading trashy reads, because they are the best.

Now, we have ginger snaps

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Old plants in new “pots” (really a mug)

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And kitties begging for treats

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video: using things up… Empties #2!

In an effort to make better use of the things I buy, I give you my second Empties video🙂

Lots of products mentioned here, including health stuff, bath stuff, and some general lifestyle bits. I intended to list them all, but life happened and I lost track of time. So just watch for details and feel free to leave any questions in the comments.🙂 I’m happy to share my thoughts on all and any products mentioned, or feel free to leave a recommendation.

Apologies for video quality issues, I noticed some blurring as I was editing, but I recycled all the products before I watched the video. Lesson learned.

life: kicking and re-starting habits

November has been a long, long month. Actually, the last three months have felt longer than usual, and not in a good way. Things have been off-kilter and I’m only just getting back to a semi-normal state. In an effort to make some changes, I’m going to start focusing on two things that have nothing to do with writing.

  1. I’m going to kick my semi-regular Starbucks habit. I go through cycles with this one. It starts, the seasons shift and I let it go, but my trouble tends to be the fall season, when I go a little latte crazy. I need to stop, for my wallet and my waist.
  2. I’m going to start running again. It’s been over a year since my last regular running session and I miss it. I was never competitive or into long distances. I just enjoy the thrill of running. My knees will ache and my lungs will burn, but a little goes a long way and I want to give my self another chance.

There’s so much more I want to change, but baby steps.

What are some of your goals for December and beyond?

off the shelf: latest reads, a book binge

Mini Review time… for more detail, watch the video🙂

Campbell’s Redemption by Sharon Cullen (via NetGalley)

Highland romance featuring a widow and a misunderstood laird. I liked that it was original in its take on life and romance after loss. Post-Culloden setting (totally missed that in the video, what was I thinking?!). Perfect for Outlander fans looking for a bit of fluff between seasons (and tomes).

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify  by Francine Jay (via LibraryThing Early Reviewers)

Easy to read manual on everyday minimalism. Not as intense as KonMari and very approachable if you’re just looking for an intro to minimalism as a lifestyle.

The gods lie. by Kaori Ozaki

Japanese light novel… not light at all. Reminds me of Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden. Very dark and melancholy with a touch of hope.

A Girl on the Shore by Inio Asano

Another light novel… reminds me of Bertolucci’s The Dreamers. Teens in very adult situations. Rated 18+ and well-earned.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

The Dregs at their finest. I loved the intricate plots and the “just when you think all is lost” feeling of it.

After You by Jojo Moyes

Not my usual cup of tea, but I’ve really fallen for Jojo Moyes’ writing, and this one did not disappoint.

life: upgrading my gear

Happy post-binge/consumerist-frenzy day! You’ll have noticed no video yesterday. Why? Because I bought the one thing I had been hemming and hawing over for months… a new laptop! At last! I can do things at ludicrous speed! Seriously. My laptop was 7 years old and feeling it. Now I have a fancy new HP envy and it makes me feel all kinds of feels. I was briefly tempted to upgrade my camera, but I decided to hold off. My current cam is not the greatest, but it’s functional and serves my needs for the moment.

So what I’m trying to say is… yesterday’s video will go live on Monday with lots of bookish goodness.

In the meantime, bask in my excitement

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life: giving thanks

2016 has been a shitty year. Personally, politically, it’s been an all-around mess. So when I think of giving thanks, I have to think a little harder to find the joy I’ve been missing… whether they’ve been subsumed by loss, pain, or stress, the good times have been there, I just need to shine a light on them.

After mulling it over for a few days, I realized I’m grateful for:

  1. Surviving what could’ve been a tragic car wreck with little more than a ruined car and a few scratches.
  2. The briefest of vacations with the boy, but a vacation nonetheless.
  3. Two healthy, well-adjusted cats. After a few hiccups, they’re getting along and experiencing no more poopy drama.
  4. Minimalism. Because it’s made me appreciate what I have, what I can afford, and what I can live without.
  5. YouTube! A silly one, but I started making videos as a way to force myself to use my camera and learn some Premiere basics. Now, I’m hooked and it’s my preferred form of “reality” entertainment. Plus, I’ve learned so much.

There’s so much more, but I will reserve those for my year-end recap. In the meantime, have a happy holiday!

life: on not following tradition

I’m doing something different this year: I’m not planning/making/stressing over a Thanksgiving feast. Nope. No, sir, not this year. I’ve decided to make it a take out sort of night. Just good, non-homemade food and time spent with family (mom, gran, bf). That’s it. No recipes. No shopping. No cooking. No cleaning. Just time to kick back, watch some films, and veg out.

Being on the Whole30 during the holidays is supposed to be next to impossible, but I’ve actually realized that I’m not really missing any of the stuff I would traditionally gorge on. Growing up Cuban, the foods associated with Thanksgiving were not really on the menu, so I have little nostalgia towards things like pies and casseroles. I only discovered pumpkin pie as an adult, and I prefer my own to anyone else’s, so I can make it any time I really crave it. As I write this, my coworkers are arriving with all manner of dishes for our holiday feast, and I know that I will only pick out those sides that I enjoy and which are compliant. I won’t feel deprived, nor will I feel deprived when we’re chowing on friscase or picaddillo on Thanksgiving.

Sometimes, not following tradition is the best tradition.

video: sparking joy – space and STUFF

It feels like years since I recorded this video, which happened before everything seemed to go out of control, but I enjoyed filming it and I still think it works.

A few thoughts on moving out, moving in, and dealing with space and all the stuff that inevitably fills it. (also, pre-haircut hair!)

review: tieks by Gavrieli

Because I finally caved.

I have been looking for a good, investment shoe for a while. I wanted flats to replace my pink Tom’s Camila flats (no longer available, a tragedy), but I wanted something that would be comfortable, sturdy, and long-lasting. I’ve purchase cheap shoes and I’ve purchased mid-range shoes, but I’ve never purchased something as expensive as these.

They came!!!! #tieks

A photo posted by Gricel (@emperatrixx) on

I did my research. Soooo much research. I watched countless videos, read dozens of blogs, and I vacillated between getting them now or getting them later. In the end, now won out.

I’ll post a review after a few weeks of wear, but my first impression is this:

  • These are sturdy shoes. The construction is solid. The leather sole under the rubber heel and toe is surprisingly tough, and the rubber is really strong too.
  • I watched a few videos on half-sizing (I’m ideally a 10.5, but rarely find shoes in that size). I followed the suggested sizing and went down to the whole size, and they fit just right. Toes are spacey, heel is not strained (we’ll see how they wear).
  • The color is really fair. I went for the ballerina pink and they look just like pointe shoes. Love it.
  • I was a bit concerned that the teal sole and stripe would be too showy, but they aren’t as obvious while worn.
  • The hand-written note is actually a nice touch (I didn’t think such things would sway me). My mom was really impressed, so that’s a thing.
  • And the flower is black and really pretty. But that’s just the icing on the cake.

I wore them at home for an evening (they have a really generous return policy according to reviewers), but they felt right so I decided to take them out this morning.

We are taking them out. #tieks #ballerinapink #iloveflats

A photo posted by Gricel (@emperatrixx) on

Enjoying them so far🙂. Just wanted to add my own review. I paid for these, so this is an unbiased opinion, but someone who has issues with shoes in general.

5 things: making me happy right now

I feel the need for a little lightness. Here are five things that are making me happy right now…

5 things: that are making me happy right now
My Lotta clogs, because this color is just perfect. Turtle necks, because it means it’s not a 100° outside and they make me feel like a French girl. Almond milk lattes, because Starbucks finally made my non-dairy dreams come true and I don’t care if they’re not Whole30 approved. My Kanken mini, because it’s orange and Swedish and the perfect blend of modern and retro. RMS diabolique, because it’s the perfect blush and if I go overboard, I look like a Flapper.