Going “Beyond Salmon” at Nashville’s Miel

As a cliche urban millennial, I want my fancy dining experiences but also don’t want the guilt of the environmental impact of dining out. When we can find restaurants and experiences that align with both of these values, we get really excited. When my husband was browsing The Nashville Scene on Twitter one morning, he found this…

… and asked if I was interested in doing this “Trash Fish Dinner Thing”. I was intrigued.

Miel is an interesting place. Billed as a French-inspired restaurant, Proprietor Seema Prasad and Chef Jason LaIacona are dedicated to creating beautiful food and experiences that are elevated while also remaining hyper-local and sustainable. Matt & I went once before this event and were really impressed. I recall the highlight being the wood-grilled oysters (which are probably not transplant friendly but I live on the edge) and our wonderful gentle giant of a waiter.

The premise of this dinner was to highlight the different kinds of sustainably caught fish outside of the standard Salmon/Tuna/Shrimp rotation commonly found on seafood menus. All you had going into this was a rough idea of the flavors and preparations the chef wanted to work with.

The Night’s Menu

We were taken to The Barn, which is a lovely event space on the premise (and now where I want to have our elopement reception), and introduced to the concept by Chef LaIacona. Everything served was chosen because it was fresh, sustainable, and delicious. The actual menu ended up shifting slightly to what you see above based on the quality of what they had gotten in that morning and other ingredients available. Sounds fab.

Pre-Dinner Drink: Watermelon Shrub

While we were enjoying the unseasonably reasonable weather for Nashville in The Barn, we were offered a pre-dinner non-alcoholic drink – The Watermelon Shrub. It was a tart and refreshing palate cleanser. Not very watermelon-y in terms of what you think of when you hear “watermelon flavored”. It tasted like it was made more from the rinds of the fruit as opposed to the flesh, which I have since learned makes sense. Shrubs are essentially a vinegar-based cocktail. I can see how a splash of rum would have made this quite dangerous.

Course One: Mussels with Yuzu, Coconut, & Acid

This was delicious. Mussels are one of those foods that I forget I enjoy until I have them. These were tender and had that slight sea salt burst when you bit them. This broth though… fantastic! It was buttery and slightly salty with enough citrus to make it interesting. I had to stop myself from sticking my face in the bowl and slurping it up. I wish we had been given bread with this.

Bonus Course: Smoked Sable Mousse With Potato and Black Garlic Shoyu

Not wanting to waste anything in the kitchen, we got a few “bonus courses” through the evening. The first was this smoked sable mousse with some sourdough toast. Flavorwise, it was very reminiscent of a smoked salmon spread but with a looser texture. Would absolutely eat this again.

Course Two: Seared Sable With Smoked Honey Vinegrette and Summertime Beans

Take two with the sable was almost as good as the first. The fish was beautiful and delicate. The vinaigrette was phenomenal. The beans were… ok. They were fresh, which was great, but they weren’t cooked, or not cooked enough at least. I appreciate the joy of eating a bean right from the garden, but raw lima beans aren’t really my jam. Still, that vinaigrette dressing made it easy to overlook the texture.

Let’s Talk About The Wine For A Second…

We opted to do the wine pairings with the meal. This got us three glasses of white wine that were curated to go with the dishes served, starting from lightest to “heaviest”. The first was N.V. Maitre de Chai, Chenin Blanc, Wilson Vineyard, which was a lovely sparkling choice from California. A few dishes in, we were given a glass of the 2020 Albarino d’Fefinanes, from Rías Biaxas, SP, which really came alive with the dish below. We finished the last course and dessert with a glass of 2012 Chateau de Chasseloir, “Comte LeLoup”, Muscadet Sevre et Maine. Loire Valley, FR which stood up well to the heavier finishing course.

I’m not a wine expert, but they did pair very well and left me feeling a little buzzed towards the end of the night. Perk of being a lightweight I suppose.

Course Three: Grilled Bronzini with Lemon, Parsley, Corn, & Leeks

This was Matt’s favorite dish of the night and I don’t disagree with that assessment. The fish was heartier than the previous choice and went so well with the wine they selected. I appreciate that it was a really simple dish; lemon, parsley, salt, pepper and that’s it. It’s a testament to the cliche of the quality of your ingredients matter. This corn is also now on the list of things to recreate at home.

Bonus Course: A Take on Fish & Chips

Another bonus dish from the kitchen. I think this was Hake (I was a few glasses of wine in at this point) with the cutest little waffle fry I have ever seen. The tartar sauce was really good and the grated egg on top was a surprisingly fitting finishing touch. The presentation won a lot of points in the dining room too.

Course Four: Roasted Monkfish & Skate Wing with a Umami Ragout

First of all, ragout is a severely underrated dish. This was so good! There was such richness and depth to it. I think I heard something about the black garlic shoyu being used again, which would make sense given the umami theme running through the course. This was my first time having monkfish, and in spite of being known as “poor man’s lobster” I thought it was just ok on it’s own. The skate was the better of the two in my opinion although it was also just ok on it’s own. What made it really good was the tiny little bit of miso butter they included. I wish we had at least one more blob to put on top of these fish.

Dessert: Seasonal Fruit, Coulis, Chantilly, Basil, Tart Crumble

I think this was the least successful dish of the night. Plating wise, I think it’s beautiful. When you were able to scoop it all together in one bite, it was really good. What didn’t work for me was the deconstructed aspect. I don’t want to work for my dessert, you know? Given how constructed all of the previous courses had been, I was expecting a little more of the same for this. If this has been combined in a little ramiken as a summer berry cobbler and served warm with the cream on top, I would have been in heaven.

Final Thoughts

One thing we kept saying through the meal was “I didn’t know ______ could taste like this”. We came away wanting to expand our horizons with our fish orders as well as making a small list of things we now want to cook at home. I think it’s safe to say the goal of the meal was a success. If there was a complaint, it’s that this was a long dinner service. By the time dessert came around we had been at our table for 3 1/2 hours, which was a little more than we had expected to spend there.

Overall, our experience at Miel was as good as our first. The staff was wonderful, even if they were being kept busy the whole time. The interior is lovely. The food was amazing. We’re already planning our next visit back to see what else this team is planning to do with foods we didn’t know we enjoyed.

Find Miel Online

Website | Instagram | Reservations

Hocus Pocus Cookbook: Book Review

It’s Halloween season, and for many of us of a certain age, there is one movie that captures the very essence of this season better than any other; the modern classic Hocus Pocus. And what do we love more than a good movie binge? Why, a cookbook that goes along with the movie to create your own full immersive experience at home!

Enter “The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook”. This cookbook is authored by Bridget Thoreson, whose other works include “XOXO: A Cocktail Book”; and consulting for “Are You My Wine?” and is clearly written by someone with a deep love for the film.

I would like to thank Pacific & Court, Bridget Thoreson, and Ulysses Press for sending me a copy of this cookbook for review.

The recipes in this book are loosely organized and seem to focus more on the macabre naming of the recipe as opposed to what the recipe is actually for. The first three sections are thematic in nature; fall favorites, “townspeople” curated food, and “macabre” named items (which were my favorites). The last three sections are for alcoholic beverages, nonalcoholic beverages, and miscellaneous items that you might need to go with previously mentioned dishes. It’s great if you’re planning a menu, but gets confusing if you’re looking for something for dinner.

You can’t really review a cookbook without doing some actual cooking; so that is what I did. I picked four recipes from the various sections to test. All were super quick and easy to put together. They were also easy to modify based on what was available at the store.

@fabkiwi06

Cooking my way through the Hocus Pocus Cookbook! Review on glitterandprofanity.com #cookbooktiktok #hocuspocus #hocuspocuschallenge #nashvilleblogger

♬ original sound – Kieran ‘Kiwi’ Bailey

First up, we had the Bones of 100 Chickens, which is a take on wings. I made it using the pre-cooked wings from Publix because I was tired. These got rave reviews from both my partner and myself; a great flavorful spicy as opposed to a heat spicy. Just make sure you check your spice blends for salt before you add more to the mix.

Next, I made a big batch of the Cinnamon Pecan Syrup. I’m a Yooper living in the South… I love my maple and I love my pecans. This was delicious as is. Wonderful on pancakes, waffles, and the lot. But as a coffee syrup? To die for.

Moving on to the weakest of the lot, A Spell For Flayed And Crispy Breast of Chicken. This tasted a lot better than it looked; my oven did not want to toast this bad boy up. I’d make it again, but probably pan-fry to get it to the golden perfection it deserves.

Lastly, I had to try breakfast and I made A Little Child… On Toast, which wins the best recipe name in my opinion. You can’t go wrong with a classic egg toast like this. Would probably also be delicious with some of the leftover wings from above after a night out.

The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook is a loving tribute to the world the Sanderson Sisters stepped into when they were awoken in modern-day Salem in the mid-90s. These recipes are a fun way to create a mini-immersive experience while you have the movie on a constant loop for Halloween or any time of year; It is always Hocus Pocus season, after all.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book & Publishing Info:

The Unofficial Hocus Pocus Cookbook by Bridget Thoreson
Published Sept. 2021 by Ulysses Press
Author Website | Ulysses Press | Goodreads | Amazon

Yes, You Can Be Denied A Transplant If You’re Not Vaccinated (and that’s not new)

Living with a chronic condition during a pandemic is… interesting. In many ways, the stakes are higher and more risky. In others, it’s a chance to see how the general public would react if they were put in our shoes. I’ll be honest, lots of y’all couldn’t deal. There is no greater example of this than the internet outrage surrounding the stories about hospitals requiring the Covid vaccine for transplants.

6 years ago today I was laying in the hospital mostly unconscious after discovering the “flu” I had been experiencing for two weeks was actually kidney failure. You can read the extended cut of that story here. To summarize, I went into kidney failure at 27, was on dialysis for about 18ish months, and got a transplant in the summer of 2017. To say I understand the nuances of the organ transplant process is to put it mildly. So, when this transplant/vaccine story started making the rounds, it understandably pushed some of my buttons.

In case you missed it (since it wasn’t the only kidney transplant story taking social media by storm), hospitals are now requiring organ recipients to receive the Covid-19 vaccine before approving them for transplant. This was accompanied by a viral social media post from a Colorado State Legislator of a letter someone received telling them they were being deactivated on the list for not having the vaccine.

I have some thoughts, preceded by a long, loud string of expletives.

First: Get the vaccine. Get the vaccine if you’re a “healthy” individual, but especially get the vaccine if you have kidney issues. Covid has a habit of attacking the kidneys and sending people, even “healthy” ones, into kidney failure. I can say from experience that I do not recommend. If you’re unsure or hesitant, go to YOUR doctor who has YOUR medical records and talk to them about your concerns. If you trust them enough to care for you when you’re sick you can trust them enough on vaccine information.

If you can’t afford to see a doctor, go get the vaccine. It’s free and a hell of a lot cheaper than the quarter to half million dollars two years of dialysis and a transplant costs.

If you’re getting your medical advice from randos on the internet… well I’m a rando on the internet and I say to get vaccinated. Not only do I have science on my side, I also have a very cute cat which means I am probably right.

One very cute cat. Photo by Matthew Trask

Second: I want to explain what this letter is and what it actually means, because this sort of letter is not rare among transplant patients and the Covid vaccine is the easiest thing on the list to fix.

When you need an organ transplant of any kind, you are registered with United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to be put on the transplant list. To quote directly from their website:

[UNOS’s] policies and computerized network match donated organs with transplant candidates in ways that save as many lives as possible and provide transplant recipients with the best possible chance of long-term survival.

What this means is that there is a number of criteria that need to be met to receive an organ. For things like hearts and lungs, the threshold is lower because there is no way to survive without functioning hearts and lungs. With kidneys though, we have dialysis which can keep you alive for a number of years with no kidney function. This means the criteria to get a transplanted kidney is stricter. Some of these criteria include things you have no control over; age, reason for kidney failure, blood type, etc. Other things you might have control over, like weight/BMI or lifestyle habits like smoking. If you’re over a certain weight or you smoke, you gotta change that before you get listed.

You can also be denied listing if you don’t have an acceptable financial or social support system, which if there was a point in the process to get heated about inequity this would be it.

You also have to go get every single check up from every single specialist. For me, this meant the dentist, OBGYN, endocrinologist, and a bunch of cardio appointments. I also had to get boosters of every single vaccine I have ever known… from flu to hepatitis to shingles and more. You don’t get to decide to not get something done if you don’t want it… if your doctor thinks it’s an issue that can’t wait, then that’s what has to be done before you’re listed.

Which brings me to the crux of the previously shared letter: Medical Compliance.

All of the medical workups before your transplant are for two reasons:

  1. To make sure you’re healthy enough to have a successful transplant
  2. To make sure you’re in a position to maintain the success of your transplant

Getting a new organ isn’t like popping a new printer cartridge in and continuing on as before. It doesn’t magically resolve once the staples are pulled and the stitches heal. There’s maintenance involved. Doctors appointments. Medications. A compromised immune system. Buying Lysol wipes in bulk regardless of the pandemic status.

The cold hard truth is there aren’t enough organs for everyone – they’re gonna give it to the person who is the most likely to have a long successful life with that organ. If you’re not going to take a prescribed vaccine, how do they know you’re going to take your medication or show up to your appointments for the rest of your life? If you are not going to follow your doctor’s guidelines on your health, they are not going to give you the organ. In the case of kidneys, you can remain on dialysis as an alternative.

Another important thing to note is that this individual didn’t get “removed” from the list, they were deactivated. That means they’re still on the list, but greyed out so to speak. Should they get their required vaccinations, they would resume their place in the spot they would have been if they had been active all along. This is also not unusual. Sometimes something happens, like some wonky blood work or a suspicious mass on a CAT scan, and they deactivate you to make sure that there isn’t something else going on. Once you’re cleared, you’re back in your spot.

All of this to say that this is really a nothingburger of an issue to get worked up over. You’re trusting your doctor to either perform Frankenstein-like procedures on your body or to keep you alive with machines that filter your blood and literally drain your life force; but a vaccine is too far? That’s your prerogative but every choice has consequences that are attached. Choose wisely.

The Time I Superglued Myself To A Phone

It’s strange the random memories that come floating back to you at 3am when you can’t sleep. This one came to me a few nights ago; I probably haven’t thought about this for at least a decade. Normally I would just journal these thoughts and hide them away, but this is a fun one to share.

When I was 15 I superglued myself to a phone.

It all started because I wanted a job. Not just any job, but a “cool” job. You see, I’ve been all about having a “cool” job ever since I realized that employment was required to exist in our capitalistic society. This has been the root of many interesting moments in my life. Those are other stories for other times. What matters here is that it was 2003, I was 15 years old, and wanted a “cool” job so I could have money to buy coffee drinks and pretend I was an Olsen Twin.

When you think of “cool” places in the mindset of a mid-aughts millennial teen, Houghton Michigan is not high up on that list. As an adult I can look back at it with a sense of rural romance; a tiny town secluded in the Upper Peninsula, surrounded by wilderness and water, far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. As a teenager, I fantasised about the Backstreet Boys’ tour bus pulling into town to come take me away to a sparkly pop-star life – never mind the fact that the closest to my hometown the Backstreet Boys would ever likely come would be Green Bay, and that was still a 4 hour road trip away. “Cool” was not something we were known for, unless we were talking about the weather.

However, there was a store downtown that was a bit of a gateway to the Lizzie McGuire lifestyle I was craving. Name Redacted. Oh, this place was wonderful; clothing that was right out of the pages of Allure and Lucky and an owner that clearly took every piece of advice in those magazines to heart from the tips of her overprocessed blond hair to these fresh new things called Uggs. It all made no sense being in a town where there were more deer than people. This was where I decided I would get my first “cool” job.

Let us remember the iconic fashion of the period.

In I marched with ambition and a sugar buzz to ask for an application. There wasn’t one, but I was hired on the spot! I’m sure it was totally because of my gusto and girl power, and totally not because I was willing to work for a questionable rate under the table, but who cares because I was now in possession of a “cool” job and I started on Saturday!

So Saturday arrived. I woke up bright and early (no, really!) and made my homemade lunch without complaint (stop laughing, Matt!) and got to the store at 9am. The owner was ready and rearing to show me the ropes.

“That’s the shoe area, those are the formal dresses, those are the current trends. 4 items at a time in the dressing room. Here’s how the register works. This is how you lock up. Thanks for getting here on time. See you later, bye!”

And before I could respond, she was gone and I was alone in the store.

After a momentary bit of panic, which amounted to me looking out the front window like a dog searching for its owner, I began familiarizing myself with the merchandise. Then I straightened up behind the counter. Then I took out the trash which was mostly empty but I was running out of things to do. A customer would enter, browse, not get anything, and leave… and I’d repeat the process. “This wasn’t so bad!” I thought as I ate my lunch. The cycle continued until mid-afternoon when I spotted the nail polish table.

The nail polish table was exactly that – a table with bottles of nail polish and nail accessories on it for public use. The previous customer had pottered around with some of the items and hadn’t put them all away. “Typical,” I muttered under my breath as though I had been doing this for 5 years as opposed to 5 hours. I tightened the lids on the polish and put them back in the tray. Then I spotted a tiny tube of superglue.

For those of you who are not familiar with the many uses of superglue, it can be used as a nail glue to adhere and repair fake nails in a pinch. It also was originally devised to seal open wounds in Vietnam. This is why it’s useless at gluing two pieces of paper together but if you want to stick skin to skin, it is a phenomenal choice.

I was not aware of these things at 15.

So I pick up this tiny tube of superglue and see the cap is off. So I pick up the cap and begin to screw it back on. Somehow in this process, this tiny tube of superglue decides it’s a Genie in Bottle baby, and I rubbed it the right way. The next thing I know my hands are covered in superglue.

And then the phone rings. The owner’s number flashes on the caller id. Shit.

To recap; it’s my first day at my first ever job – a “cool” job at that, I’ve been left to tend to this store alone, my hands are covered in superglue, and I have to answer this phone call or else… idk… she’d call back. I look at the phone and at my glue covered hand. I had no choice. With my open palm, I push my hand down on the receiver. Lifting up, I spread my fingers as wide and as far back as they’d go. Very carefully, trying at all costs to avoid touching my hair, I lift my open hand to my ear.

“Hey! Just checking in on you! How’s it going?” the owner chirped on the end of the line.
“uh… Great!” I lied.
“Great! Hey, since the weather is getting a little rough, go ahead and close early. Pay yourself out of the drawer. Thanks so much!” With that, she hung up leaving me to figure it out on my own.

Closing up the shop wasn’t a difficult task, but it was going to be complicated with a phone glued to my hand. Somehow I had to detach this phone from my hand so this adventure could come to a close. My first idea was to pull the phone off with my other hand, which might have been successful if it too was not covered in a still tacky superglue. Next, I tried dribbling water between my hand and the phone to loosen the bond, with no luck. I then attempted my signature move of crying, which did nothing for the hand/glue/phone situation and only made my mascara run. In an act of desperation, I grabbed the fork from my lunch with a paper towel (to prevent the fork from sticking to my free hand), and worked on prying the phone off my hand. After much swearing and painful pokes, and a little more crying because why not, I managed to peel the phone off my skin and properly hang it up.

After an extended period of vigorous handwashing, my hands were still covered in glue residue but no longer sticky. I raced through the closing tasks, took my allocated money, and bolted out the door to finally end my shift.

The glue residue remained on my hands that following Monday, where upon relaying the entire ordeal to my Chemistry teacher, she kindly looked the other way while I used the lab acetone to scrub off the remaining evidence. As for my job at the store; I worked there for a few more Saturdays until the owner decided to change hours and I found less eventful, and far more legal, employment at the local library.

Almost two decades later, I still don’t fuck with superglue.

Useful Things To Do When You’re Procrastinating

Procrastination. It’s that damn voice in your head reminding you of all the projects you’ve been wanting to start/continue/finish when you’re trying to find the motivation to do your actual work. Whether it’s a useful desicion making tool or a symptom of neurodivergence, the point remains that we all do it and then usually feel kinda bad about it.

It’s also why I’m reverting to my college days and writing this post the night before it’s due. Oops.

Over the years I’ve discovered two important things about myself

1 – I’m going to procrastinate throughout the process of doing a big task.

and

2 – I love a ticking clock.

The Pomodoro Technique has been really helpful in the past, but what I’ve found to be really effective is to break my day up with procrastination time after each task or two. The length of procrastination time depends on how long the task(s) took, but typically 15-30 minutes are enough to give me enough of a break to get my shit back together to carry on with the project.

Sometimes it’s nice to just flop on the couch with the cat and play Disco Zoo, but there’s usually enough little stuff around that I probably have also put off need to do or should be doing for my own *wellbeing*. We’ll call it “productive procrastination”. I’ve sorted them into rough time frames that each item should theoretically take, so next time avoiding answering that email you can find something to do instead that is somewhat useful.

Productive Procrastination Ideas:

15 Minutes:

Take A Walk
Moving your body is good for you and often is enough of a change in state of being that it helps shift your perspective if you’re stuck on a problem. Lap around the block with or without a dog friend of your choice and get some air and active minutes.

Brain Dump
Feeling overwhelmed? Grab a journal or notebook and write down everything that is floating in your head so you don’t have to focus on remembering it anymore. This might end up being a list, a journal entry, doodles, or some fancy lettering of your favorite curse word.

Make An Appointment
When was the last time you went to the dentist? Do you need to get that mole checked out? Maybe it’s time to treat yourself to a spa day. Find their online scheduler or *gasp* make that call and get it on the books.

Take A Shower
I do my best thinking in the bathtub, but when I’m in a hurry a shower will suffice. Remote working makes it easier to not do a whole morning routine, which means that you probably need a shower around the same time you need a break.

Draino your Bath Drain
This could very well be a “Kiwi Problem” but between the amount of hair I shed, the amount of hair the animals shed, and what seems to be the smallest bath drainpipe ever, my tub drain gets backed up fairly frequently. Drainoing the drain is a routine rotating task anyway and might as well knock it out while pondering the finer points of Kubernetes.

Clean up your Computer Desktop & Downloads
If you’re like me, and you probably are more than you want to admit, you save everything to either your downloads or desktop and then leave it to pile up and block your festive Stefon computer background. At the very least, go through and delete the stuff you don’t want to keep anymore and move everything to a “Keep” folder.

Leave a Review
Especially if you are buying things from indie sellers. I am bad about this normally, so I’ve been doing it when I need a brain break. Sometimes you might get a coupon, sometimes you might make a friend, maybe you’ll even make some content for your Instagram.

Make Your Bed
It’s a sign of an adult and it doesn’t take long but it does make a difference when you go in and see that your have a nice looking bed.

Muck Out Your Car
Grab an empty shopping bag and gather those straw wrappers up! For every coffee travel mug you find, you need to give $5 to the charity of your choice.

30 Minutes:

Organize Something
This comes with the caveat that you pick something to organize that you KNOW isn’t going to turn into an all day event. Instead of reorganizing your entire kitchen, maybe just tackle the utility drawer or fridge door items.

Surface Clean
Set a timer and for the next 30 minutes do as much as you can. Tidy, wipe, dishes, Swiffer, whatever. I can usually get the main living area -or- my bathroom under control in this amount of time.

Plan Social Content for the Week
I have a longer post in the works that I will eventually link, but to sum up as briefly as possible: if you have public social media accounts, you should be doing at least a little bit of content planning. Take a half hour and look at the next 7-10 days both on your calendar and NationalDayCalendar and see what you might want to share. You don’t have to create any content… just do the brainstorming.

Put Away Laundry
Ugh. Laundry. It’s always needing to be done. The putting away is the struggle for me, so this is a frequent go to when I’m procrastinating.

Empty your Inbox
This could potentially take longer, so be honest with yourself about how long you have before you dive in. How detailed you go is up to you and how long you want to take. At the minimum, delete your promotions and social sections and any newsletter or sales email over a week old.

Call a Family Member
This is why I’m known as the “Helicopter Child” in my family. I will call my Mom and Oma almost every day in between tasks. I’ll often pair it with getting Starbucks. It does often take longer than 30 minutes… but that quality time is priceless!

Meditate
I…. I try this without much success, but I feel compelled to mention it because I know a LOT of people have really benefited from guided meditation. There are lots of things on Youtube and different apps to use… idk. What I do instead is put on a Killers playlist and watch the clouds from my balcony and vaguely daydream. I think it serves the same purpose.

Draw Something
Art is good and you should do more of it. Coloring in a coloring book is a start, but there’s something really satisfying about starting from a blank sheet of paper. Abstract shapes are also fun because there’s less pressure to make it look like something, and then you can double up your creativity by coloring them in.

45 Minutes:

Deep Clean Something
Same with the organizing something, don’t intentionally start deep cleaning something you know is going to take all day. But, you can probably get most of your bathroom done in 45 minutes.

Make a Real Meal or Snack
Even though I work from home, it’s still easy to end up eating like I did in the office; bags of snacks and takeout lunch at my desk. Take the time to make yourself a real plate of food, make it look nice, sit down at the table away from your computer (and phone!), and enjoy it.

Paint Your Nails While Watching an e-Learning video
Also known as: Something kinda frivolous paired with something that is work related. Other alternatives to this include “Sheet Mask & Webinar”, “Truly & Goal Setting”, and the infamous “Networking Lunch” if you’re comfortable doing that as Covid ramps back up.

15 Minute Youtube Workout
Yeah, this a 45 minute process when you include the time it takes to get set up, do the workout, and clean up after. But, it’s a good way to squeeze in a home workout.

Check in with Industry Updates
I’m not sure what you do for a living, but there’s probably a community of thought leaders and some everchanging protocols and best practices involved. Take some time to check in on the current news and hot takes. This is a really good thing to do if you are still working in the office because it is work related research.

Read Something
Building in time for reading a book. And, I mean “read” not “listen to on Audible”. No shade toward Audiobooks, I love them too, but I will do something while I listen to them as opposed to just sitting and focusing on reading. The act of having a physical book in your hand triggers different parts of your brain.

60+ Minutes:

Honestly, you’re on your own for this since you’re probably either avoiding a really big project or you’re bored. If you have more than an hour you’re trying to delay then I’d suggest going to the grocery store or running some weekend errands.

Ultimately, procrastination doesn’t always have to be unproductive. It can be used both as an escape and a form of task management if you can mitigate the desire to delay something you’re wanting to avoid. By shaking up your routine with some variety of tasks, you may find you can get more done than you expected.

Do you have any “Productive Procrastination” tasks? Join the conversation on my Facebook Page!

State of The Planner Situation

I started this blog as mostly a planner-ish themed blog. And, although I have spun out into multiple other topics including literary reviews, op-ed pieces, tea spilling, and whatever the hell this was… I do still enjoy writing about planners and the “lifestyle” around the hobby.

The problem is that 2020 came, went, and blew all established routines to bits… and that included planning. How can you make plans in a planner when there are no plans to be made?

As things slowly started to settle, plans started getting made again, and my 2021 planner situation looks a bit different than my 2019 one. Obviously life changes in two years, pandemic notwithstanding. I’ve found myself in a happy domestic partnership with TWO fur children and someone else’s plans to keep an eye on. My work situation has changed a wee bit with a new fully remote job.

Current Planner Stack

A Daily Planner that can double as a Scrapbook:

Lights Planner Action CJ: May 2021

I finished 2020 in a Plum Paper and switched to a Lights Planner Action CJ Coil for 2021. I recommend both; the switch was based on slight difference in paper preference and deep love for Bess at LPA. The important thing for me became being able to include snapshots – both literal and figurative – of life as it happened. I loved being able to print off photos and include them in the weeks while still having enough space to keep track of appointments and routines.

An “Ugly” Daily Planner:

It’s taken me a long time to realize that my “pretty” planner and my “functional” planner didn’t have to be the same planner. I love stickers and I love color, but sometimes you need something that isn’t IG ready at all times. I have a Passion Planner that I use for work and, other than some color coding via Mildliners, it’s plain and scribbled in. It’s also to remain unphotographed due to some of the data I track in there because *privacy concerns*.

I’m a little ashamed to admit what a game changer this has been, but goddamn it’s been a game changer. I feel less guilty using my stickers for aesthetics knowing that I won’t “ruin” them with inevitable scribbles. I feel better about writing down some more sensitive information because I know I won’t ever post it online or bring it out at a planner event (remember those?) It’s another layer of boundaries between the things I love and the pressure I feel to constantly be busy with work (old habits die hard).

The Bookworm Life Planner:

June 2020 in the Bookworm Life Planner

Being at home in a lockdown meant rediscovering my love of reading. I credit this planner to helping me successfully complete a couple different readathons and going over on my Goodreads goal. Although this year I am not doing quite as well with staying on top of reading, I do still get a kick out of updating when my Book of the Month is coming and how long it’s taken me to slog through some “popular” books.

A Notebook

I am a slut for notebooks. That’s it. That’s the post.

As much as I love my planners to track my thoughts, I still need a place to collect and organize them. I’ve tried so many different things but I always come back to a plain ol’ notebook. Usually with a funky cover. Currently, it’s a Lisa Frank revival and my 90s kid heart is happy.

The thing I love about a notebook is that it’s (usually, but not always) pretty cheap and you can shred it up while you figure your shit out. Time to take the grocery list to the store? *rip* Your Monday to-do list get negated by a minor crisis in your email? *rip* Need a projectile to throw at your partner for his mechanical keyboard clacking being loud enough to wake the beasts of hell? *rip*

Pictured: A Beast of Hell between keyboard clacks.

I’ve also really been enjoying my “brain dump” time and those have been living in my notebooks. It’s another post unto itself, but I seriously think that brain dumping has been the missing link between feeling some kind of way about somethings and actually making moves to change those things.

iCloud:

I fought the Apple takeover for as long as I could, but when you’re dating a tech guy you end up adapting the same tech he uses. The thing is… being able to sync all my calendars and notes between ALL of our devices is really handy, especially when it comes to things that both of us need to pay attention to.

iCal is really what does it for me; I can integrate just about everything into it and have it on whatever device I’m looking at. Yeah there is an issue with dupe events when it’s pulling from email and Google and manual entry, but I’d rather be over reminded than under reminded.

The bonus is that when I slack off on the paper planner, I have a pretty good record of what I did that week between the calendar entries, random notes I wrote, and that week’s photos.

A Bastardized Version of Organize 365’s Basket System:

Note: Putting your bookshelf in front of the fusebox is not the best idea ever.

I tried reading (and ended up DNF) Lisa Woodruff’s book “The Paper Solution: What to Shred, What to Save, and How to Stop It From Taking Over Your Life“, and although it ended up losing me about halfway through, I did really like her basket system but like… I needed the version that didn’t involve kids and a husband. So I borrowed ideas from it and created my own version with some things from Target. All random slips of paper go into a designated folder and every week (or two… ish), I go through and put things where they belong, either physically or online.

The other nice thing about this is that it gives me a small “collection” space for upcoming event items, like birthday gifts or trip prep. I’ve also got my paper form “brag items” on hand for when imposter syndrome strikes. Overall, it’s a slightly more organized junk basket that works with my scatterbrain lifestyle.

Unfollowing & Unsubscribing From Most Groups and Accounts:

I started this in 2019, but this was a strong theme for 2020 into 2021 in more than just planner stuff. Nothing personal about leaving; I just didn’t need to see every single new pen released when I’m more than happy with my Black Papermate Flairs for almost everything. Not seeing all the things means not buying all the things. My bank account is breathing a little easier for that.

Planner Peace?

The question I always have at the end of a planner stack analysis is “Is this Planner Peace?” And my answer is… I guess. Let’s face the fact that “Planner Peace” is probably a myth put out by Big Planner, or at least a subjective matter of opinion. That being said, for the time being I do feel fairly peaceful with the current set up I have now. Will all that change once the 2022 lines really start getting underway? Probably.

What do your planner stacks look like these days? What am I missing? Let me know in the comments!

Burnout is a Bitch

If there is a current shortlist for “Word of the Year”, Burnout has to be in the top 5. It seems no matter where you look, it’s being talked about as this secondary pandemic that is drastically changing the face of the American workplace. Forbes estimates that 59% of Millennials are currently experiencing some form of burnout.

Well… hey! I’m a Millennial! And a super basic/cheugy one at that! I’m pretty sure Bo Burnham’s “White Woman’s Instagram” was written about me!

And, y’all… I burned the fuck out earlier this year.

I ended up leaving my job, perhaps a little more sudden and dramatic than I would have liked to have happen. There were a handful of factors, both internal and external, that contributed to my burnout. It ultimately boiled down to feeling overworked and undervalued. Now, some of the contributing factors to that were due to the cards that had been dealt to the team I was on and there were no fixes to be had within the scope that we had to work with and I still maintain that that team was some of the best people I’ve ever worked with.

I also want to acknowledge the super obvious fact that there was (and still is as time of writing this) a global pandemic going on. Covid basically was the gasoline thrown on a fire that was slowly consuming us all. It also created this situation where being on fire was potentially a better option behind whatever ghastly unknown lay lurking behind Door #2. Yeah, I was on fire but at least I could afford to pay my rent?

I’m not a psychologist; I just like to pretend that the Psych minor I got with my degree holds more weight than it actually does. There are countless articles, books, videos, and stories about burnout on the internet, including some with actual research behind them. If you’re looking for some actual advice or guidance, I recommend you do your own research with resources you trust. That being said, now that I’ve had a few months of space to get some perspective and find my brain, I thought I’d share some of my observations on what it looked like on me. These are just the shitty coping strategies I noticed in hindsight now that I’ve doused myself with some metaphorical aloe.

I Was A Chronic Doomscroller

My career is based in digital media and thus it’s very understandable that I am on some internet device for my working hours for “work reasons”. However, staying “informed” became a shitty coping mechanism to deal with the mountain of stress related to work.

I frequently found using the “work reasons” to procrastinate and keep scrolling; falling down more and more rabbit holes through news links and social feeds through all sorts harbingers of death and destruction, mostly related to Trump. Which fed my anxiety. Which caused more dissociative doom scrolling about things I have no actual control over.. Which caused more anxiety. Which started a cascade of bad habits to attempt to pacify those fucky brain feelings.

I Buried My Troubles in Bubbles

Somewhere in some bad advice book I read as a teenager, I vividly remember a page that discussed how great it was to take a bath when you were stressed because “you can’t do anything else in the bathtub; you can’t answer the phone, take visitors, do chores… you’re in the bath!” And my emo-teen brain took that advice and flew to the moon with it.

This is probably the first big sign that something was not right. I’d be feeling stressed and decide to practice some “self-care” wind down for the evening with a bath, complete with whatever bubble or fizz I could procure from my stash. And then I’d stay in there for 3-4 hours doomscrolling.

Doing this once or twice is one thing… sometimes you just get a good “For You” page on TikTok and lose yourself until your guardian influencer reminds you to put the phone down. But I was doing this almost every night. It’s easy to get away with it when you live on your own, but when your partner is making comments about it, it’s harder to ignore.

My Guardian Influencer

I Was Constantly Tired

One of the most common signs of burnout that you see mentioned again and again is how tired you feel over everything. I feel that is an understatement. The pure exhaustion you feel deep in your bones as you go through the bare minimum of activity to get through your day is almost unspeakable. It felt like the kind of exhaustion I had before my kidneys failed – so much so that I asked for my labs to be double checked because I was convinced I was going into transplant rejection.

It’s the kind of tired where you feel like you have two spoons pressing on your lids and you’re fighting them to open your eyes enough to see. The kind of tired where sitting on the couch and staring at a blank wall feels like too much work. The kind that makes you gaslight yourself into thinking you’re overreacting because you’re sleeping more than you ever have and should not be struggling to wake up.

If you think this sounds like clinical depression, you follow my logic! That was my first thought too, and off I went to my doctor to take care of business. The problem is, no matter how much we adjusted my antidepressants or tried other treatments, the eye-spoon feeling remained.

I Was Constantly Hungry

Do you know what did make me slightly less tired through my day? Food.

Food has always been a cornerstone of my existence (see above reference to strong tortilla brand preference), and I love a good snack or two through the day. But those snacks kept adding up, both in frequency and calories.

Lunch kept getting a little earlier… my midafternoon snack kept getting a little larger… my daily Starbucks run kept getting bigger… but I was still hungry. There were nights I’d have a second mini-dinner before bed because I felt like I hadn’t eaten all day.

I, like most people, am vain enough to want to maintain a certain bodyshape that I’m comfortable with. I also strive to embrace loving my body independently of what society determines as attractive. But, I think we can all agree that going up multiple sizes in 6 months is not a sign of anything positive. And, when you’re 4’11, a 20 lb weight gain in a short amount of time is not comfortable; physically or emotionally.

I Had The Overwhelming Urge To Burst Into Tears At Inconveniences

As someone with a sun and moon sign in Cancer, I’d like to state for the record that yes, I do cry a lot. There is already a high baseline of “Things Kiwi will start crying over”. I’m also a tough cookie who has been through some shit and can usually manage my expectations and talk myself down from the emotional ledge before I fling myself into the pool of tears I’ve previously cried. So when I say I was crying more than usual, it holds some weight.

I was literally choking back tears over things like too much oatmilk in my coffee order and not being able to find the right brand of tortillas at the grocery store. If there is a category above first world problems, those are the things I was getting weepy about. More frustratingly would be that I knew that these were nothing worth getting worked up over. It goes back to the “control” or lack thereof that I felt; these were things I should have been able to decide for myself and that choice was either not there or not regarded. So I took it out on my tortillas, or any other small thing that I felt should have gone my way.

I Burned Out

By now you get the picture that I spent the latter half of 2020 and first quarter of 2021 as an anxious, sleepy, sobby, hungry, hot ass mess of a human who spent way too much time in the bathtub, but was still somehow convinced it was all in my head. Obviously, something had to give.

The combination of expectations returning “back to normal” and a death in the family (non-Covid related) were a one-two punch of perspective. Having panic attacks that were so severe I debated hospitalization were also becoming terrifyingly common. I felt I had exhausted all of the options I had to get things under control in the current situation and had to either accept that this is how it was going to be, or hit the ejector seat and get out of the things that I couldn’t change.

Ultimately, I couldn’t tell you what specific thing it was that made me leave. It was more like a egg timer went off in my head and let me know I was done. I sent in my two-week notice and it was an almost instant relief from all the eye-spooning and panicky pressure I had been feeling.

I am extremely fortunate to have the financial and family support structure that allowed me to take a risk and step out of that fire. I’m fortunate that I was able to end on good terms with my former employer and I continue to root them on from the sidelines. I’m also extremely fortunate to have found a new career path quickly that not only is in a new industry that I’m really enjoying discovering, but also is proactive about many of the pain points I experienced.

If any of this resonates, I’m sorry. It sucks and I wish you the best in finding your way out of this hell. As much as I would love to encourage you to throw caution to the wind and hit your own ejector seat, I realize that is not helpful advice for most situations.

What I would encourage you to do is make note of what your own shitty coping mechanisms are and what they are attempting to cope with. If nothing else, it can help you gage how much is on fire and what the gasoline in the situation is. I also encourage you to start looking for networking opportunities. This is two-fold; it allows you to get your name out there for potential new roles and it gives you an opportunity to talk to others in your field who may be able to show you how to put out the fire.

Of course, if all else fails you can borrow my favorite backup plan for every situation:

Drama Analysis: Scribbles that Matter and User Generated Content

It was a calm, quiet morning. The sun was finally out after a week of snow unlike never before seen in Music City. A calm and quiet Friday, or so I thought.

As soon as I sat down and pulled my Facebook tab open, I was greeted with a fresh batch of planner “drama”. Sometimes planner drama is nothing more than two people who don’t like each other because someone accidentally laugh reacted at their dog photo. But, sometimes it brings forward an important subject or issue that has been brewing under the surface of the community. Today is the latter.

The Drama:

Scribbles that Matter, a notebook company released a LENGTHY statement/apology in regards to using user generated content without permission (or compensation) in a Facebook ad. A few points to note.

  • Allegedly the ads have been running since September 2020.
  • This official statement comes from the company founder, but is only in one semi/private Facebook group. Not on any official Scribbles that Matter (STM moving forward) property as of writing this blog.

The Disclaimer

When I’m not being snarky on the internet, I work in digital media and have for over a decade, primarily with varying degrees of entertainment based brands and companies. I have been on both sides of this issue, and have some insight on what is and isn’t professionally accepted.

I don’t have any direct involvement with STM other than the one notebook I bought from them. These are my semi-professional opinions and should be regarded as such. But, I am available for actual professional consultations so you can avoid these #cam-pains.

The Statement

As I mentioned before as of me writing this, this statement/apology was NOT posted on any of STM official channels; it was posted in a Bullet Journaling Facebook group, that is public to join but not public to view. Since I’m not *in* the group that this apology was posted, I am having to go off of screenshots.

This brings up issue #1. If this is a situation that your brand feels strongly enough to write a multi-tiered statement addressing, why is it not on YOUR properties?

Thank you to a planner friend for allowing me to use these in this post.

Right. Let’s unpack.

Using User Generated Content As A Brand

From a brand perspective, User Generated Content is anything that someone else created on their own without being asked or compensated. A User generated it. Social Media people *love* UGC because it takes a weight off of us; we get an authentic look at how our product is being used by a real person, someone else has done the work of creating it, and often it’s done beautifully.

The two keys to this are PERMISSION and ATTRIBUTION.

In a perfect world, you should always ask whomever created the content you want to use if you can use it. This is not a perfect world, and sometimes brands will assume IMPLIED PERMISSION due to the fact they are tagged on a piece of public content. Often, when users do this, they’re doing so because they want to be seen by the brand. You see influencers doing this a lot. In this situation, it’s usually overlooked because A. you’re excited to be noticed by the brand, and B. they CREDIT back to your account, which is great for building your own branding.

Is it ethical or legal? Eh…. not really. But there is a certain level that is seen as acceptable, usually due to the goodwill between the brand and their community.

Giving the user something in return for use of their content is a really nice gesture, but is not typically a requirement. This is a “paid in exposure” situation. This is a big reason why you want to ask first; because if you don’t and someone with a large following sees this as a missed opportunity for revenue, you can get in some deep shit. #Foreshadowing

It is a gamble to assume implied permission. Clearly this gamble didn’t pay off for STM in this situation. This is a great case for having a PR Team (although I hate that name… that’s another blog for another day), Street Team, Design Team, or whatever you want to call a group of macro/micro influencers that you can rely on.

Hootsuite has a slightly older, but still relevant and much more in-depth guide to User Generated Content that I recommend reading for more info.

To cover your own ass, always ask permission and give credit. That’s not marketing advice, that’s life advice.

Advertising & Money

The real nut of the situation isn’t that STM used UGC, it’s that it was used in an advertising campaign without permission. That means there is now money involved, and when you fuck with people’s money things get ugly.

In this statement, STM seems to put the bulk of the blame on an “external marketing agency”. This could be on them due to the “implied consent” as discussed previously and them not knowing that the planner community has absolutely no chill when it comes to cannibalizing their own when they fuck up bad enough. Right, Erin Condren?

My thought is that the “external marketing agency” was either using a list of content provided by or, most likely, already shared by STM; assuming that all permissions had already been granted.

Regardless, in this situation there should have been another round of reaching out and confirming that users gave express permission for the use in a Facebook Ad. Honestly, if they had done that in the first place, it’s possible that users would have agreed to for free/not knowing they could ask for money, and we wouldn’t even need to be talking about the compensation side of things.

But here we are, and these users now have every right to demand compensation, and compensation based on the amount that STM made on that ad campaign. And STM needs to take down that campaign ASAP, which they claim to be doing.

Why Does This Feel Familiar?

This feels like a story you’ve read before, right? That’s because this happens all. the. time. Usually with less scrupulous Amazon sellers and well known YouTubers. As much as I would love to write another dissertation style blog on that, I still have one more big point to hit. But, I can recommend this Wired article discussing this further.

Apology?

Let’s talk about this apology real quick. Because I’m not sure it really is one.

STM does apologize using the words “we are deeply sorry that this happened” in the “What We Are Doing” section of the statement. Then there is bit of deflection and trying to spread the fault around, followed by a section called “Apologizing Clearly” which does not feature the words “sorry” or “apology” at all.

A company/brand apology needs to do a few things:

  • Identify what went wrong
  • Take responsibility for what went wrong
  • State what changes will be made so this doesn’t go wrong again
  • Show accountability

They have clearly identified what went wrong. Their ads used UGC without permission.

They don’t really take true responsibility for this. I mean, they totally try to pass the bulk of the blame on their “external marketing agency” even though STM uses a lot of credited UGC on their social pages anyway and I’m suspect if they’ve truly contacted every single one of those users. They also blame the pandemic for being hard, which like… yeah… we know. They do position themselves to look good for trying to make things right. But like… this is your company. You should be doing that. Don’t act like it’s a favor to the users.

According to this statement, they are reaching out to make it right financially per their legal team’s advice. On one hand, this is the technically correct way to do this. On the other, it concerns me because I don’t think most of the users involved in this are familiar with how FB ads work and the value that they’ve unknowingly provided STM. When a lawyer sends you a letter, it’s jarring even when you know you’re in the right. I *hope* that this legal team has more ethics than the “external marketing team” and isn’t going to offer a pittance in exchange to make this go away. Basically, if you’re impacted by this, don’t sign the first offer and seek your own legal advice; especially if you have a significant social media following of your own.

Nothing was really said about what will be done differently moving forward, which makes me think that there won’t be anything done differently moving forward. At the very least, STM needs to obtain permission before using UGC.

If they are smart, they will put together a macro/micro influencer team of their own to create this sort of content that they would have permission to use in exchange for goods/services and cross promotion. Did I mention I do digital consulting?

Given the fact that this statement was posted only in one Facebook Group, I don’t hold my breath on much accountability. This fact, and this fact alone makes the entire statement weak and worthless. Businesses fuck up, and that’s ok as long as you fix it and do better. By hiding this away in a small corner of the community, how do we know that you’re actually reaching out to everyone involved? If it happens again, how will people know this isn’t the first time it happened? There is zero accountability when you try to hide your mistakes.

The other issue with the low-key hard to find apology is that it doesn’t allow you, the brand, to control the narrative. You’re not talking about it, but you know who is? The people who are unhappy they got used in your ad. The snark groups on Facebook and Instagram. Local planner groups. Mediocre Bloggers who need to get out a blog post this month that isn’t just a list of what books she read.

Basically, I find this apology to be a fill in the blank form letter and halfassed. Put this statement on your Instagram Feed (not disappearing story) and change my mind.

What Happens Next?

Truthfully, this isn’t an insurmountable issue for STM unless they royally screw over the people they used content from. People who really like them will continue to like them and probably see nothing wrong with how this went down. But it didn’t win any goodwill from the non-fanatics. What has happened is that this has left a bad taste in the mouth of some planner-influential content creators.

Because, let’s be snarky planner people for a sec, STM product isn’t what it used to be and there are better bullet journals out there with better paper quality and better prices. They don’t have the marketshare they once did. And this whomp whomp of an “oops we got caught” apology isn’t really enough to keep their brand name in people’s mouths… especially since this all went on behind closed doors.

In conclusion, I leave you with the words of wisdom that can guide you no matter if you are a brand, “external marketing company”, or snarky internet commentator procrastinating on a Friday.

Fuck… now there’s a part 2.

Monthly Reads: January 2021

If there is one good thing I can say about 2020, it’s that it truly brought back my love of reading. Not being able to, or HAVING to, go out and socialize has meant that I have had a lot more time to pick up old hobbies that had fallen by the wayside. Reading for pleasure had been pushed aside for many years, and is now back in the front of my priority list.

I blame my competitiveness and my Goodreads Goal for part of it. After joining some Facebook groups that revolved around books (and book planners, let’s be real), I got very hyped about having a lofty goal and the “analytics” on how many books I would have to read to reach that goal at any given point of time. I ended up acing my 2020 Goodreads Reading Goal of 50 books read by going over.

In order for me to reach my Goodreads Goal of 75 books this year, this requires me to FINISH at least 6 books a month for all of 2021. Or, if you’d rather, roughly a book and a half a week. This is proving to be both harder and easier than I expected. Harder because it’s been difficult to find the time to sit down, unplug, and just read. Easier because audiobooks and working from home go together like brie and the bacon jam in my fridge – perfectly. This month was a success.


Books Read: January 2021

Shine Your Icy Crown – Amanda Lovelace

[NetGalley ARC] [Buy on Amazon]
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

My first finished book of the year and first NetGalley review of 2021. I read “break your glass slippers” last year by the pool and was surprised at how much it touched me. When I saw this up for review on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it, and wasn’t disappointed. I may end up buying a physical copy as well.

Plan a Happy Life – Stephanie Fleming

[Buy on Amazon]
Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I have a full review in a blog post [here] but in essence, this book was meh. This could have been great if it knew what it wanted to be and wasn’t two years too late.

Unfuck Your Adulting – Faith G. Harper

[🎧Audiobook🎧] [Buy on Amazon]
Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have a bit of a kink for “self help” books that have the word fuck in the title. See evidence here. This was a pretty good one, easy to listen to during the workday but with enough substance to warrant a few post-its of quotes and notes to takeaway.

Outlawed – Anna North

[Book Of The Month Club] [Buy on Amazon]
Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Working at a western lifestyle adjacent company, it’s not often I seek out that subject matter for off-work hours. The description for this on the Book of the Month site was enticing and I was not disappointed.

Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall for Them – Seema Yasmin

[NetGalley ARC] [Buy on Amazon]
Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a great read for anyone who is endlessly frustrated by the continuous social media scroll of the medical memes and claims your great-aunt constantly posts on Facebook. The biggest downside is that it was clearly planned and written before COVID-19 became a viral misinformation mine.

What Would Frida Do? – Arianna Davis

[NetGalley ARC] [🎧Audiobook🎧] [Buy on Amazon]
Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I went into this only knowing the broad strokes of Frida Kahlo’s life from what pop culture has immortalized. I wouldn’t call this an indepth biography by any means, but it was an insightful look at a multifacited artist who has had a lasting impression on society. It also made me want to put flowers in my hair, wear a bold lip, and embrace taking more selfies of myself.

Here’s to the next 11 months of good books, thought provoking passages, and hot cups of coffee under a blanket.

Follow my Instagram to keep up with my current reads: @FabKiwi06
Track my 2021 reading goals with me on GoodReads.