The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle

Have you ever come across a story where there’s just no way someone could make it up? The Glass Castle is one of those stories. (some spoilers ahead)

The Glass Castle has been on my reading list for about a year. After a good friend said it was one of her favorite books and had a big impact on her life, I knew it was worthy of adding to my Goodreads list. I started the book about a week ago and finished in a matter of days, unable to tear myself away from the unbelievable but true memoir of Jeanette Walls. 

The book follows the WallS family and their hippie, nomadic, and free-spirited lifestyle. Their family is rarely in one place for too long, constantly moving around from one rural town to the next. Jeanette, the storyteller, is the second child of four. Her mother is an artist who spends almost all of her time and energy focused on herself and her work, and her father gets short blue collar gigs and works odd jobs here and there. 

The WallS family is dirt poor. They don’t have enough money to feed their children every day. Everyday showers are not a thing, but rather weekly baths whenever possible, sometimes with recycled bath water. Sometimes they would live in abandoned buildings. Other times they would live out of the family car. 

Though Mom and Dad tell themselves they were doing the best they could for their families, they often acted selfishly. They provide here and there, but neither parent can (or want to, depending on your opinion) put forth enough effort to give their children a stable home. Both parents have issues where they are facing their own demons, preventing them from being good parents to their kids. 

Jeanette and her siblings are always off doing their own thing with little supervision. Inevitably, she and her brother, who was basically her partner in crime, sometimes would wind up in trouble after a tiff with neighborhood kids or she would get entangled in a bad situation where she would be the victim of bullying. She always has to help take care of her siblings and always has to take care of herself. 

The Glass Castle is what Rex WallS (Dad) is working toward. His plan is to build a home completely made of glass, powered by solar energy. He creates the blueprints for the house, having studied up on physics and all things science to research, but the family needs money in order to build such a home.

He tells himself that everything he is doing, searching places to mine for gold to strike it rich, gambling to try to win the jackpot, and leaving for days at a time on jobs, is for his family. But he gets so caught up in those things he can’t focus and make The Glass Castle a reality. 

Jeanette and her siblings love the dream of living in The Glass Castle. After all, her father makes it sound like the coolest house, and as a child, why wouldn’t she trust her father? 

As the story progresses and Jeanette grows older, we can see how she matures from an innocent, adventurous, and forgiving child who loves and trusts her parents to a young woman who is skeptical, smart, hard-working, and if I had to use a modern-day term, “woke”. Having faced hardships left and right, whether those hardships are due to family circumstances or school bullying, Jeanette becomes a humble, strong, and nearly fearless woman. 

The beauty of the story is how Jeanette and her siblings persevere trying times, unite and help each other when needed, and grow to create lives wildly different from their parents’. Her growth throughout the book is so beautifully realistic. When she is seven, she thinks, acts, and speaks just like an average seven year-old, yet you see her situation and what she is surrounded by and how she adapts. 

It’s impossible to go through Jeanette’s story and not have opinions on the Walls’ parenting, their careers, their life choices, and more. In fact, a lot of our own analyses of what goes on with the Walls family can end up being quite political.

For example, the Walls are poor but they are too proud to sign up for food stamps or any other type of assistance. Some of us may agree with that and say we would do the same if we were in their shoes, while some of us cannot even fathom not trying to get some type of assistance. 

The Glass Castle really gives readers a lot to think about. Jeanette Walls is an inspiration. Also, her story is real. 

If you’re interested in reading The Glass Castle yourself (and I highly recommend you do), you can pick up a copy on Amazon. I originally went searching for the book at my local library only to find about 15 holds waiting on each copy of the book, so I ended up purchasing the book and I’m really glad I did. 

Oh, and there’s a movie of The Glass Castle coming out on August 12th, starring Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, and Woody Harrelson. I must say, I am really excited to see the film, especially since Brie Larson is one of my favorites. 

If you’ve read The Glass Castle, are reading the book, or are planning on watching the film, let me know in the comments! I would love to talk more about the story. It’s really special when we come across stories like these. 

 

Experiences, Not Things.

Experiences, not things

Over the past couple of years, I’ve started to shift my spending from more clothes, shoes, and accessories to spending on experiences. Designer labels and brand names are becoming less important as I get older, and at the same time, I’m starting to think more about how I want to spend my money on memorable experiences. I mean, who really needs 8 pairs of sandals? 

(No one.)

Now that the weather is warming up, I’m starting to give a lot more thought to how I want to spend late spring, summer, and fall. Even though I’m somewhat used to my homebody ways of watching Netflix or reading and snacking in pajamas, it’s time to break out of that mindset and get out there. It’s time to start going out more often (GOMO)! 

I’m pretty lucky that I live in one of the coolest places in the world(San Francisco Bay Area whaat!!) and there really isn’t a shortage of fun things to do around here. From concerts to sporting events to wine tasting and camping, there’s something here for everyone to love. 

With the help of my friends at Eventbrite, I’ve put together a sort of bucket list for fun things I want to try in 2017 that require me to get out of my comfort zone, get out of the house, and have fun and make memories! 

Here’s the list:

Go to a concertGo to my first country concert. In a few weeks, I’m going to be sipping on some bud light with my cowboy hat watching Chris Stapleton take the stage. I’m no stranger to concerts, but I’ve never been to a country concert. The group of friends I’m going with aren’t the usual friends I go to concerts with, so I’m really looking forward to making some great memories with these friends at this show. Fingers crossed that the weather is nice and it doesn’t get too chilly near the end of the show!

Take a cooking class

Take a cooking class. I took a baking class a couple of years ago while in New York at the Momofuku Milk Bar. Even though I was by myself, I found the experience to be pretty fun since I love to bake. The thing about that class is that while I loved baking and I learned a lot, birthday cake isn’t something I can incorporate in to my diet on a regular basis (but wouldn’t that be awesome if I could!?!!?). I’m hoping to take a cooking class on some type of cuisine–perhaps Thai or Japanese? I don’t have much experience with cooking those types of cuisine at home and some recipes feel pretty intimidating to tackle on my own, including beginner recipes.

go on a wine tour

Go on a wine tour. Lucky me, I live pretty damn close to wine country. While Napa County is world-famous and everyone and their mother goes there, there are wineries throughout the Bay Area, including the East Bay and the South Bay. It would be awesome to get a group of friends together one Saturday or Sunday and go on a wine tour where the itinerary is already planned and all we have to do is show up. 

Hit up a foodie festival. There is no shortage of foodie festivals in the Bay Area. Whether it’s about craft beer, coffee, wine, or street food, there’s a festival happening somewhere just about every month. Some of them can be pretty pricy, and you definitely have to make sure you don’t upset your stomach with too much food, but it will be really fun to see what local vendors have to offer and even do a taste test. 

spend time at a retreat

Spend time at a retreat. Whenever I take time off work to go on vacation, I usually pack that time full of activities and don’t give myself a lot of time to unwind and rest. With that strategy, I make the most of my time off, but I also come back to work feeling tired and unfocused…which is not good. Heading to a retreat–a holistic one, a yoga one, or something similar, where we take time to rest, heal, and connect, would be an awesome experience. 

What do you think of my list? I hope my list has inspired you to step out of your comfort zone and plan to do something new this year! 

If you’re looking for ideas, you should definitely check out Eventbrite. And if you’re the type of person to plan your own event, Eventbrite even has an event planning page that’s perfect for you. 

With all this being said, what do you say–let’s GOMO this year? 

-S

Spring Cleaning Tips Not Related To The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Spring Cleaning Tips Not Related To The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

 

If another person talks about how “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” changed their life, I swear I’m going to…

do nothing about it :) Did I get you there?

I have the book but haven’t gotten around to reading it. And I do have to say, I’m a little tired of the hype. 

As a self-proclaimed “hoarder” (a title I hold with a tiny bit of pride, actually), I tend to accumulate a lot of things and have trouble getting rid of them. Although I keep some items for sentimental reasons and “what if” situations, I mainly just collect more items than I get rid of. 

Now that it’s spring and I can actually see everything that has caught dust over summer, fall, and winter, I want to share with you a few of my weird but hopefully helpful tips on spring cleaning. (Note: None, literally none of this has been endorsed by Marie Kondo)

If you have trouble purging your clothes, go through them during an off season. 

For whatever reason, I find it a lot easier to part with items I haven’t worn in a long time if I’m parting with them in an off-season. For example, It’s a lot easier for me to get rid of an old summer dress in March and dingy sweater in July. I know that I haven’t worn some of my dresses in a really long time and if I find them in my closet and don’t really seem to care much for them, I know it’s time for them to find a new home.

Having those items out of sight lets the decision making process easier for me, because I know that I’ve lived without that item for a good period of time without needing it

Promise yourself to replace intimates and accessories. 

We often forget to go through intimates, socks, etc.–things we use on a daily basis–because we use them on a daily basis and they aren’t seasonal. It’s important to go through this stuff and throw out the ill-fitting item, outdated items, and items that have holes in them. If you’re anything like me, the idea of getting new items in their place can be pretty exciting. Promise yourself to get new bras when you toss the old, new socks when you toss out the old, etc. 

Turn your unloved but good quality items into a little cash

Take your clothes and accessories (not intimates though, ew) to secondhand stores that buy gently used items. You might get a little cash out of it. You can also consider selling your items online, too, but I personally find that to be a lot more work than taking garbage bags of clothing to a secondhand clothing store. It takes effort to get to the store, but you can get rid of your clothes in a matter of hours. Problem solved!

Set up a calendar for your skincare and cosmetics

Or any item that has to be tossed or replaced after a certain period of time. It might seem like a lot of work, but believe me, it’ll come in handy and you’ll be organized as hell. You could use a spreadsheet or set calendar alerts on iCal. 

Or, replace your items based on the calendar year. 

Replace your toothbrush and mascara every quarter. Your foundation, every new year. As long as you have a system that works for you, you’re good. Be sure to do a little research on the lifespan of your products. 

Clean your shoes, brah. 

I don’t know how often we think about this, but it’s worth cleaning your shoes after winter. If you’re like me and store shoes you wear on a daily basis in a closet with clean clothes…uhh that’s kinda weird right? Kinda like eating right next to a dirty bathroom, but not as dramatic. Just clean your shoes from time to time. Some shoes are okay to put in the washer and dryer, but you can use disinfecting wipes to clean the others, or special shoe cleaners if the material is more delicate. 

Reward yourself for cleaning. 

I’m a bit of a lazy person, with “bit” being an understatement. Cleaning isn’t my favorite thing to do, and clearing through and organizing clutter can be a major pain in the butt for me. In moments when I’m cleaning, I’m usually wondering how there are some people who actually like cleaning (I’ve met a few of you and I’m still wondering. And for the record, I don’t have anything against you or hate you). Anyway, I like to give myself a reward for cleaning. Nothing crazy, but something enough to make me want to do it. Like pizza. Pizza is a good reward for anything. 

If you have a lot of cleaning to do, set up a 30 day challenge and hold yourself to it. Then, give yourself a really large reward. Basically, just get yourself to do it. 

Actually create a system that works with your lifestyle.

If you like the minimalist look but are a hoarder, you’ll have to get creative to stash away the clutter. And, if you hide the clutter, you may forget you own certain items and buy them again, creating a vicious cycle. This is a moment where you have to tell yourself “No, I have a lot of things and I can’t live like a minimalist.” and then gear up for the lifestyle of a person who has a lot of things and needs creative but accessible storage. We all have to face reality and accept ourselves. 

Seriously, replace your bras. 

Ill-fitting bras showing through your t-shirts or dresses isn’t cute. If you’re in denial that your bra needs to be tossed (I think all of us have been here at some point), you need to check out this infographic. Good bras are important!!!  

Lifecycle of the Bra

If you need a new bra and not thrilled by the idea of going to the store to have yourself measured by a stranger (super awkward), you need to check out ThirdLove. Get 10% off your purchase at ThirdLove with the code TLSPRING10.

That’s pretty much what I’ve got for Spring Cleaning Tips. Do you have any to add to the mix? I would love to hear them, especially since I’m not very proactive when it comes to cleaning. 

Notes: I have nothing against Marie Kondo. She sounds pretty cool and I hope to get around reading her book soon. It has “Magic” in the title for a reason, folks.