Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Rory Gilmore Challenge

One of my bookish IG friends recently started a challenge--you may have heard of it--among our other book-loving IG friends. The challenge is to read the 339 books that Rory Gilmore was seen reading or mentioned throughout the course of The Gilmore Girls series (or at least try to). 

Here is a link to the entire list of books in the challenge: Rory's Books. It's a daunting list for sure, but I love the fact that working on this challenge has gotten me to read books that I most likely would never have picked up otherwise. I just started the challenge in July, so I haven't finished a ton of these books.Plus I'm reading other choices too. But I am really enjoying reading out of my comfort zone!

Here are the books that I have read in prior years before I started the challenge:

1. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
2. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
3. Babe by Dick King-Smith
4. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
5. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
6. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
7. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
8. Eloise by Kay Thompson
9. Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
10. Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
11. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
12.  Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
13. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
14. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
15. Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
16. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
17. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
18. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
19. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
20. The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
21. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
22. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
23. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
24. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
25. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
26. Night by Elie Wiesel
27. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
28. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
29. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
30.  Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
31. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
32.  Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
33. The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
34. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
35. Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
36. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
37. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
38. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
39. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
40. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
41. Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
42. The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum

And from July through the first two weeks of August, I have added the following books to the "read" list:


And here's what I have lined up to read next:



Have you ever tried the Rory Gilmore Challenge?

What are you reading at the moment?

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tried It Tuesday

I'm linking up today with Casey over at Hey, Momma for her Link Party #5!

Hey, Momma!

It's time for another installment of Tried It Tuesday! Yay! I've missed writing these posts, so I'm going to share some of the things I've been loving over the summer! Since I haven't posted a Tried It Tuesday in awhile, I'll quickly explain the premise of it:

Tried It Tuesday is a place where I share things that I have been loving. The items can come in any shape or form (makeup, books, YouTube videos, food, drinks, recipes, music, etc.). I am not endorsed by any of the companies who make these products. I just love to share the things I'm really liking at the moment in case it's something you'd be interested in too!

Make sure you let me know if you have tried something new that you love! I would love to check it out! :)


I have migraines...really bad migraines. I was getting frustrated because my migraines have been much more under control lately with different medications and treatments, but every time I worked out, I was getting a migraine! My neurologist told me to drink Gatorade before, during, and after working out because all the water I was drinking was flushing out the vitamins I was talking to curb my migraines. I also sweat out more of them! Well, let me tell you, I am totally sick of drinking Gatorade! Blech! I went to Whole Foods to look for some kind of electrolyte/vitamin-based drink. And I found one that tastes great!!

The powder is called 365 Everyday Value Electrolyte Plus Powder. I cannot for the life of my find a picture of it; sorry about that! (I threw my last packet away.) It is made with Stevia, so it doesn't have that artificial sugar taste. And it tastes like raspberries! It's just a subtle taste; I really enjoy it. I bought little sample packets for 50 cents each. Next time, I'm going to buy a box!

I also tried Vega One Plant-Based Nutritional Shakes this week. I tried the plant and greens protein shake. They are gluten-free, soy free, dairy free, and have no sugar added. I love them! Whey protein in many kinds of protein shakes really messes with my stomach. I had no problem with these shakes, and they have great flavors! I tried mocha and vanilla chai. I bought two sample packets on sale now at Whole Foods 2/$6. I think I'm going to purchase this as well. I'm leaning toward the mocha flavor. Sooo good! And a great snack! You can also find it at GNC and on Amazon.

Beauty Products

For some reason, my acne has flared up this summer. I was so tired of it that I started researching different solutions online, and then it hit me! I can go to Lush and find some all-natural products for my acne. The woman I talked to there was very helpful! She lead me towards this soap/cleanser: Fresh Farmacy Facial Soap. It has lavender, chamomile, tea tree oil, and rose. It calms the skin and promotes acne healing. It smells great, is gentle, and doesn't dry out my skin.

I also purchased the Tea Tree Toner Water from Lush. It is fabulous! It helps my oily skin and also has been clearing up my acne. After I get out of the shower and wash my skin at night, I spray this on and let it dry before I put on my moisturizer. It's so refreshing!


In July I signed up for a free trail of Audible. I listened to books on CD all the time when I was in grad school, driving 50-60 minutes to school from my home. I tried it again this summer! I usually listen before I go to bed and fall asleep listening to a story. It's so relaxing!

The book I got for free was Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison. I have a few more days before my subscription kicks in, and I can't wait to choose another book!

If you sign up, you get your first book free, then you pay $14.99 each month for one book (which are really expensive otherwise!) and then you can also purchase books at discounted prices if you want more than one. You can always cancel your free trial month before 30 days are up. 

Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny | [Holly Madison]

Kitchen Product

Bjorn and I like to have breakfast for dinner every once and awhile and love to make pancakes on the weekend. Pancakes, however, always make a mess. I recently heard about a product that Williams Sonoma makes to help with pancake mess! It's called the pancake pen.

Pancake Pen

You put the mix in the container, shake it up, and squirt as much mix as you want into the pan. You can also put the remaining batter in the fridge (inside the pancake pen) and make more another morning. It also has two twist off ends for easy cleaning. It's super fun!

Have you tried anything new lately?

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Thursday, August 6, 2015

I Still Can't Believe He's Gone

7 years and 3 months ago, my dad passed away. It was the hardest thing I've ever dealt with in my life. In August of 2007, he was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma (terminal brain cancer). He passed away nine months later. My dad spent most of his life battling Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but was hardly ever "sick" a day in my life. He never had the flu, a cold, strep throat. My dad dealt with his MS so well--he didn't let it stop him. He still shot hoops with us in the driveway and took us to the mall (as a father of three girls) and walked through at his own pace. Every once and awhile his MS would slow him down, but he managed it. 

When he was diagnosed with brain cancer, it was the biggest shock of my life. I never thought my parents were going to get that sick, let alone at the age of 50. I was 26 at the time, and losing one of my parents never crossed my mind. My mom had cancer years before, but came out of it alright. Twice. I thought my dad's diagnosis would pan out in a similar fashion--we'd get my dad treatment, and he'd be fine. Too bad Glioblastoma don't work that way. They gave my dad 6 weeks to live.

My dad shortly after his diagnosis.

My dad quickly went downhill. And eventually lost his battle with brain cancer.

As the years have gone by, it hasn't gotten easier--every day I find something that I wish I could call my dad and tell him about. It just hurts less as time goes on. The ache I used to feel right after my dad's death isn't as raw. The hole is still there, but reality has sunk in over time. I don't wake up anymore thinking he's alive, only to come crashing down minutes later when I remember what actually happened. 

There are so many things that I wish I could share with him by just picking up the phone and calling. He passed before I got married. He never saw me in my wedding dress. He didn't walk me down the aisle. I would love to tell him about my new job, my writing, and my Instagram businesses. He would be so proud of me; he was always good at making sure we [his girls] knew how much he loved us and how proud he was of us. 

Recently, I've been missing my dad quite a bit. A few weeks ago, my mom's dog Bella was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, bone cancer. The vet told my mom she may not make it until Christmas. That was another shock to the heart. 

Me and Bella

Bella was my dad's dog. He loved that baby. Bella is an adorable, stubborn, and loving black lab. She loved my dad more than anything. By Thanksgiving-time the year my dad was diagnosed, he could no longer walk. He lost half his weight and was moved into a hospital bed in our family room. Bella really struggled with this at first. Her "Grampy," as we called him, could no longer take her outside to throw her favorite ball. She could no longer sit on his lap. Bella tried a few times to jump on my dad's hospital bed to lie with him. It hurt my dad too much because his body had become weak. Her life was also changing at the time, but we had no way to communicate it to her. That was tough.

Realizing how sick Bella is really brings back up a lot of the emotions from my dad's last nine months with us. It brings back memories of my dad loving that dog more than anything. Giving his heart so freely and completely. It brings back memories and familiar feelings of loss that are so hard to deal with. I am so sad for Bella. I am so sad for my mom. 

Bella, never far from my mom

Loss is something you never expect, but it eventually comes in some way, form, or manner. It's never easy to deal with, and no matter how many times you've experienced loss, it always catches you off guard. But one thing I've learned in my life is that I'll get through it. It won't be easy, but I can survive. I am going to pet that Bella-boo as much as I can and give her as many kisses as she'll let me. I'm going to visit her as much as I can and lie on my mom's bed with her. I'm going to feed her dog treats and cheese and hug my mom. 

I know we'll get through this. We always do. And I know Bella will one day be back with my dad playing ball and smiling her puppy smile. Please pray for Bella and my mom. This is going to be another hard road to walk down. 

Love and happiness <3 Holly