November 2015 Birchbox Unboxing



Happy November! We are now in my favorite time of the year. As much as I love the time around the beginning of autumn when the leaves are changing and the air is getting cooler, the time between Halloween and New Year’s is definitely my favorite of the year. It’s such a cozy, festive time. I could do without it getting dark at 4:30 p.m. now, but I have been loving  big scarves, tall boots, and all the hot tea and cocoa I can get my hands on. A new month also means a new Birchbox! First though, as always, a look back at how I fared with October’s samples.

October was a good month. My favorite sample was definitely the Borghese facial cleanser. It left my skin so soft, truly like I had a face mask on for 20 minutes. I also liked the Smashbox primer, and the Stila mascara was nice too, but a bit more dramatic than I typically go for everyday. The Harvey Prince perfume really grew on me, and I wound up loving the jasmine scent. The dud of the box was the Number 4 texturizing cream. I just have no use for that type of product.


The theme for November is “feeling fancy” and I have to say, this box does make me feel fancy. I love the pattern, and at first glance, this month’s samples look like some of the best I’ve gotten in a while.

My first sample is Living proof. Perfect hair Day (PhD) dry shampoo. I’ve been wanting to try something from this brand and dry shampoo is right up my alley. This product promises to clean your hair and soak up oil, sweat and odor. This is a great sample size for a dry shampoo and I’ve got some early mornings ahead of me (which means no time to do my hair), so I know this will be getting some good use.

My next sample is Liz Earle Superskin Moisturizer with Natural Neroli. I love Liz Earle products, but darn are they expensive. This moisturizer is supposed to be superhydrating and restore your skin. It feels so silky, and smells delicious. This is another really great sample size, and I love that it’s in a tub, versus a squeeze tube. I just hope I don’t like it too much…I’m not sure I can justify the $72 price tag of the full size!

My third sample is LOC One & Done Shadow Stick in Impress Me. LOC stands for Love of Color and is Birchbox’s very own new brand. It just launched, and the first collection was curated by YouTuber Tati Westbrook (aka GlamLifeGuru). This is a creaseless, waterproof eyeshadow stick. It is SO creamy and smooth, and blends beautifully on my hand, so I can’t wait to try it on my eyelids. Each subscriber got to pick their shade this month, and I chose Impress Me, which is a beautiful rose gold that I thought would look lovely during the fall and holidays.

My fourth sample is MAKE Face Gloss. This is a clear gel-like product that is supposed to make skin luminous, without being a shimmery highlighter. I’m unsure of this product…it’s definitely got the feel of gloss and not in a good way. It stayed tacky on my hand for a long time, so while I like the idea of the product, I’m not sure I actually want to put it on my face.

My last sample is Temple Spa La La Lagoon Aromatic Bath & Shower Gel. This is a bath gel that is supposed to soften and smooth skin. It smells like a mixture of peppermint, basil, and rosemary to me. It is definitely an invigorating scent, and I know I’ll probably use the entire tube. It smells really luxurious, so it’ll be a nice shower treat.

So that is my November 2015 Birchbox! Overall, I’m really happy at first impression with this box. All the products definitely feel fancy, and the sample sizes are fantastic this month. Plus there is a great variety of hair, makeup, and skincare in this box. If you are interested in signing up for Birchbox, it is a $10/month subscription service.  You can pay monthly or pay for a full year up front.  Everyone gets 4-6 different samples each month, tailored to the beauty profile you fill out and you can review your samples to earn Birchbox points.  Birchbox has the best points system, hands down.  You get 10 points per review and 100 points  = $10 to spend in the Birchbox shop on full size products they sample.  It’s like they pay you $4-6 every month just for taking your box.  If you’re interested in learning more or signing up, you can click here for more details.

October 2015 Birchbox Unboxing



Happy October!

I am so excited that it is October because it finally feels like fall. The air has that crisp freshness that it loses during the summer, the leaves are changing, the sun is setting earlier, and I just want to be outside all the time. This is truly my favorite time of the year, and it is so short lived in Chicago. We’ve been lucky with some really sunny, but cool weather, perfect for afternoon walks and steamy cups of tea. I’m currently obsessed with the Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Tea. It’s spicy and apple-y, and basically fall in a cup. My Birchbox arrived super quickly once again, and I’m hoping this trend of boxes arriving earlier in the month continues. Before we get into October’s goodies, let’s look at how I fared with September’s box.

September was a good month! My two favorite items were the Japonesque eyeshadow and the Anastasia brow pencil. The eyeshadow is just the perfect all over lid color for fall. It looks natural, but still gives some color, and the brow pencil gives such a soft, natural look. The Acure face wash and L’Artisan perfume were both nice, but not life changing. The dud was the Davines sea salt spray. I think I have the wrong hair type for this product. It didn’t change the shape of my curls, but made my hair really dry and frizzy. It’s probably great if you have straight hair, but for me it did nothing.

On to October’s box!


How beautiful is October’s box? I feel like I say that every month, but I absolutely love the pink marble pattern on this one. The theme of October’s box is “positive force” and the boxes are pink to promote breast cancer awareness. Birchbox partnered with the Estée Lauder Campanies Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to fund a whole year of breast cancer research lab hours, which is so awesome.

My first sample this month is Borghese Fango Purificante Clay Cleanser. This foaming cleanser is supposed to be very gentle and leave your skin feeling like you’ve used a face mask. The grey color isn’t super appealing, but it smells really fresh and floral. I love trying new face cleansers, so this is going straight in the shower.

My next sample is Harvey Prince Yogini perfume. I’ve tried several Harvey Prince perfumes, and they’re usually hit or miss for me. This one is a hit, once I put it on. Just smelling it in the vial, it smelled a bit off-putting, but once I put it on my skin it completely changed. It’s a really light scent and smells of citrus and jasmine. It smells very relaxing and like the sex bomb and Christmas Eve bath bombs from LUSH. I’m a huge fan of this scent for fall and the holidays.

The next sample I received is Number 4 Texture Styling Créme. This is supposed to give your hair weightless control and a hefty dose of texture. I don’t usually use texturizing hair products because I have enough natural texture. I’ll try this, but I don’t foresee it being a win for me. Plus, this tube is so tiny, it’s probably only enough product for one use for me.

My next sample is Smashbox Cosmetics Photo Finish Foundation Primer. I love Smashbox and have been wanting to try this product. I don’t typically wear foundation, but I like primers to help fill in pores for smoother looking skin and to put under eyeshadow to help it stay. I tried this on the back of my hand, and at first it definitely has a silicone feel, but it quickly blends into the skin and just leaves it feeling soft and smooth. It’s unscented as far as I can tell, and given that it’s a primer and you only need a tiny amount, this little tube will last quite a while.

My final sample this month is stila huge extreme lash mascara. This was my sample choice this month. Everyone got one of five mascara samples, but I made sure to pick this one because it was the only one I hadn’t tried, and it’s a brand new product. This promises to give you a major boost in volume, curl, and length. The wand is huge. They really weren’t kidding about that. I put this on almost immediately and am pretty happy with it. It’s jet-black, and definitely delivers on curl and length, but I don’t particularly notice a lot more volume. The look it gave my lashes is pretty dramatic though, so I’m not sure this would be an everyday mascara for me, but my first impression is that I do like it.

So that is my October 2015 Birchbox! Overall, it seems like a pretty good month. Once again, there is a nice mix of products that I think I can use and incorporate into my daily routine. If you are interested in signing up for Birchbox, it is a $10/month subscription service.  You can pay monthly or pay for a full year up front.  Everyone gets 4-6 different samples each month, tailored to the beauty profile you fill out and you can review your samples to earn Birchbox points.  Birchbox has the best points system, hands down.  You get 10 points per review and 100 points  = $10 to spend in the Birchbox shop on full size products they sample.  It’s like they pay you $4-6 every month just for taking your box.  If you’re interested in learning more or signing up, you can click here for more details.

Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling


Once again, I feel like I’m a little late to the party. The Cuckoo’s Calling came out in 2013, but I just now got around to reading it. I think in some ways, I was putting off reading it. We all know by now that the author of the book, Robert Galbraith, is J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym, and since the end of the Harry Potter series, I’ve resisted reading her other works. I’m not entirely sure why. I guess I was afraid they wouldn’t live up to my expectations or that I couldn’t imagine her writing about anything but Hogwarts, Harry, and Voldemort. But, I finally gave into reading her first mystery / thriller novel, and I am glad I did.

If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, or at least my reviews, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of mystery & thriller novels. The Cuckoo’s Calling seems to fall into the literary thriller category, because the characters are very well defined, and there is more to care about in the story besides the whodunit aspect. The novel opens with the death of Lula Landry, a beautiful young model and socialite who has seemingly committed suicide. But parts of her death don’t add up, prompting her older brother to seek out the services of his old friend Cormoran Strike, a private detective whose life is in shambles when we meet him. His girlfriend has kicked him out, he’s living in his office, and has few to no clients. He also has a new temporary secretary, Robin, who seems destined for a marketing job, but is not-so-secretly enthralled with detective work.

One of the great strengths of the novel is that I honestly couldn’t figure out exactly who the murderer was. Looking back on it, all of the pieces were there and laid out, and there were several characters that seemed a little more than suspect, but it wasn’t like some thrillers where the killer is evident about halfway through the novel. The book also had some substance to it; I found myself not only intrigued by the mystery, but also by the interaction of Strike and Robin, and how their personalities played off each other. They are foils for each other, and have very different personalities, but they come together in unexpected ways. This novel really pulls double duty. It’s a stand alone story, but it also lays an excellent groundwork for other novels in the series. I know there is already a sequel, The Silkworm, and a third book in the series is actually due out later this year. Both of those books are definitely on my “to-read” list now.

I have to say, I do understand why Rowling chose to write this book under a pseudonym. Just as I resisted the book because of my association of Rowling with Harry Potter, I imagine that other people also have expectations of her writing. It’s strange to read her very distinctive writing style dealing with a murder, but like all of her other work I’ve read, I was instantly transported into Strike’s London, and I was instantly invested in the characters she created. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Hello September


I know it has technically been September for 24 days now, but this image just didn’t feel appropriate to post, until now. It is officially fall, though the weather isn’t quite cooperating. It’s getting cooler, but I suppose like most people, I have unrealistic expectations and expect temperatures to plummet into the 60s on September 1st and stay there.

I am a huge fan of all things autumnal. It is easily my favorite season, and not just because it means I can unabashedly light pumpkin and cider scented candles, and drink pumpkin spice coffee (though, that is a big draw). Everything seems so fresh in the fall, so crisp and invigorating. Mornings begin later, evenings begin earlier, and the air just has a little extra oomph in it. Even though I am not on a traditional academic calendar anymore, I imagine I will always associate fall with starting school, and the fresh beginnings that entails. A new season is a good excuse for a new start, a new routine. Fall feels full of possibilities.

It also doesn’t hurt that I love crispy leaves, bonfires, pumpkins, and college football, and that all of these things take center stage in September and October. When I lived in the south, fall was more of a concept than an actual season. Southern summers last from April until Thanksgiving, if you’re lucky, and then things just move into grey and dreary winter. Living in Chicago, we get a true changing of the seasons, and over the last three years I have learned to enjoy it while it lasts, because winter is always coming.

For now though, I will enjoy my cool mornings, and light as many pumpkin candles as I can get my hands on.

September 2015 Birchbox Unboxing


Happy September, everyone! I really do love September and I am glad it is here. Usually around the end of July I start getting bored of summer, and tired of the heat. I am so ready for crisp mornings, cool breezes, sweaters, boots, and pumpkin spice everything. Yes, I am that person, and happy to be so. We are having a cool few days here in Chicago, which is a nice change of pace from the 90-degree temps that brought in Labor Day. I didn’t keep up with any of the sneak peeks this month, so I had no idea what to expect with this box. It also came quite early – it’s only the 11th! But as always, I want to tell you all how I fared with last month’s samples.

I honestly wound up not loving any of the products from August’s box. I’m glad I got to try all them, but none are going to be must-haves. I did enjoy the dr. brandt+ exfoliant, but it’s nothing special (and certainly not worth the price tag). The same could be said for the Rene Furterer smoothing fluid. Nice, but not life changing. The LAQA & Co cheek and lip tint is a great color, but so dry on the lips and never felt like it set on my cheeks. I really wanted to like the OPI polish, but I hated the black color and the formula was a nightmare. So streaky and goopy. Same goes for the St. Tropez gradual tan. I wanted to like it, and still like the idea of it, but it’s just not a product for me. Self-tanners are way too fussy.

So August wound up being a bit of a let down, but I’m still glad I got to try all those products (and didn’t spend a lot of money to do it!). On to September!


September is Birchbox’s anniversary month, and this is their fifth anniversary. The theme is “better together,” and is supposed to be about celebrating Birchbox’s subscribers. The box this month is cute. It’s not  my favorite though, just because I feel like I’ve seen the watercolor / paintbrush stroke type pattern a lot lately. Still, I love that they’re doing fun boxes every month, and really hope they continue doing that next year.

My first sample this month is Acure Organics Facial Cleansing Gel Superfruit + CGF. This is a really generous size sample for a face wash. This is supposed to infuse skin with anti-aging ingredients for a fresh, younger-looking complexion. It smells really fresh and citrusy, and I am always looking for a good face wash. This will definitely get used.

My second sample is Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil in Medium Brown. Every beauty guru and their brother talk about how great Anastasia brow products are. I’ve tried some of her brow powder, but never a pencil. This seems like it’ll be an okay color, but perhaps a bit light. The sample size pencil is really tiny and hard to hold, and the pencil itself seems a bit hard, but we will see. I’ve definitely been wanting to try more from this brand.

My third sample is Davines This Is a Sea Salt Spray. This is a huge sample, which is nice because typically hair product samples are pitifully small and don’t have enough product to really try out. As the name suggests, this is a sea salt spray that is supposed to give texture and volume. I’ve never used a sea salt spray, and I’m not sure how it’ll work with my curly hair, but I’ll definitely try it out. I like Davines products. This smells super beachy and summery, so a bit of an odd pick for a September box.

My fourth sample is Japonesque Velvet Touch Eye Shadow in 05. The packaging is so pretty! I love the marble watercolor pattern. This is a full-size product too, which is lovely. The shade I got is so beautiful, especially for fall. It is a dark, purple-y taupe, with a bit of metallic sheen to it. This is look beautiful as an easy, all over lid shade. And they were not kidding when they said velvet touch. This shadow is incredibly soft and smooth, with very little fallout. I anticipate getting so much use out of this shade.

My fifth and final sample this month is L’Artisan Parfumer La Chasse Aux Papillons Eau de Toilette. I don’t mind getting perfume samples too much, I just wish they were bigger! This one smells fantastic, but really not fantastic enough to make me consider paying the hefty price for a full-size. It’s very light and fresh, with hints of orange and jasmine. It smells very similar to the LUSH sex bomb bath bomb, which I love.

So that is my September 2015 Birchbox! This box has a good assortment of products, and I like that it’s pretty much all brands that I’ve never tried before. Plus, the sample sizes in this box are on point. They are so generous, which was a nice surprise to find. If you are interested in signing up for Birchbox, it is a $10/month subscription service.  You can pay monthly or pay for a full year up front.  Everyone gets 4-6 different samples each month, tailored to the beauty profile you fill out and you can review your samples to earn Birchbox points.  Birchbox has the best points system, hands down.  You get 10 points per review and 100 points  = $10 to spend in the Birchbox shop on full size products they sample.  It’s like they pay you $4-6 every month just for taking your box.  If you’re interested in learning more or signing up, you can click here for more details.

Happy (almost) fall!

Book Review: Notes From No Man’s Land


(image source)

Since I moved to Chicago, I’ve made it something of a tradition to treat myself to a new book or two each year on my birthday. I make a point to go to a small, local bookstore, and I also make it a point not to have any particular book in mind. My goal is to browse and enjoy meandering through the stacks of books and taking in all the covers and spines and pages. This year, one of the books I found was Notes From No Man’s Land by Eula Biss. I am no stranger to her essays; the first book I read this year was actually her latest book, On Immunity: An Inoculation, and I previously read one of the pieces is this collection from 2009. When I saw this book on the shelves, I knew I had to bring it home.

Notes From No Man’s Land is a relatively short book at only 200 pages, but it is sprawling in it’s subject, which is race in America. It is a hard thing to write about, and Biss does it beautifully. She isn’t afraid to confront her own misgivings and assumptions and she is unrelenting in her quest to dig deeper and probe her own feelings about race and how it effects her. She blends the personal with the factual so seamlessly, and I am truly jealous of that. This is definitely a book that I will be keeping by my side as I fine-tune my own collection of essays. Reading Biss is like talking to an old-friend. Her voice is calm, measured, and unpretentious. Having met her a handful of times, as she teaches at Northwestern, I can tell you that she writes the way she talks, which is a harder feat to pull off than it sounds.

Even though it was written in 2009, I was struck by how relevant this book is for this moment in the U.S.. Every day there seems to be a new story in the news about racism that has always been lying under the surface but has emerged in another horrific way. Biss doesn’t claim to have any answers or profound statements about race; she is writing to find out what she thinks about the topic, and that is why the book works. It isn’t prescriptive, but instead provocative. Reading her will make you question things that you take for granted or just take as the status-quo. And even if race seems too deep to wade into, I recommend reading Biss for her dazzling prose alone.

August 2015 Birchbox Unboxing


image from

Happy August, everyone! I can’t believe how quickly summer is winding down now. I also can’t believe how fast my Birchbox made it here this month! It is only the 7th of August and it was already in my mailbox! This is probably the earliest I’ve ever had a box ship, and I have a feeling it is because of the box I got, but more on that in just a second.

First, a quick look at how I wound up liking July’s products. I honestly liked every single product from July. My favorites are definitely theBalm bronzer/blush (but used as an eyeshadow), and the Stila liquid lipstick. It is so bright, but beautiful! If I had to pick a least favorite, I’d say the StriVectin eye serum, just because it is so hard to tell if it’s actually working…but I still liked it.

On to August!


So I did something I haven’t done before this month. I opted to receive the guest editor box this month for two reasons. One, I thought it looked like a good range of products that I’d be happy with, and two, I thought the box pattern for August was pretty ugly. I know that’s kind of a shallow reason, but Birchbox has totally stepped up their box pattern game and August’s grid design and pool just looked really bad to me. So I went for the guest editor box which was curated this month by Nicole Richie. I think the floral pattern is really lovely, and the products themselves are a great assortment.

My first sample is dr.brandt microdermabrasion exfoliant. This is a facial exfoliant that you use 1-2 times a week for glowing skin. I’ve had a few dr. brandt products in the past, and I always want to like them, but so far haven’t. This seems like a really basic product, so I’m hopeful it will work for me. It’s got a really nice, lemon-y citrus scent as well, and the sample size seems good for two or three uses.

My second sample is LAQA & Co. Cheeky Lip Crayon in Humble Brag. I really like LAQA & Co. products, so this was a huge draw to me. This is a brand new product that is a cream cheek and lip product. It’s a beautiful mauve-y pink, very soft and great for everyday. It sets to a matte finish (so it’s slightly drying on the lips), but it is beautiful. It sheers out on the cheeks to a super natural flush, which is my requirement for a cheek product. Definitely going to be getting some mileage out of this product.

My third sample is OPI Nail Lacquer in My Gondola or Yours? How stinking cute is this baby bottle of nail polish? I love mini polishes like this. This color is from the fall 2015 Venice collection. It looks black in the bottle, and it is in the black color family, but it’s also got hints of purple and brown. Definitely a shade I’ll use in fall if I’m feeling a little edgy.

My fourth sample is Rene Furterer LISSEA Leave-In Smoothing Fluid. This is a leave-in hair product that protects during heat styling, but also tames frizzy locks and flyaways. I’m mostly interested in the smoothing properties, so we will see if it helps tame my frizzy curls. This product definitely has a salon smell. I can’t pinpoint the exact scent, but it smells like something you’d get at a high-end salon. The sample size is also pretty small for someone with as much hair as I have.

My fifth and final sample this month is St. Tropez Gradual In-Shower Tan Lotion. This product is going to be a bit of an adventure for me. I always like the idea of self-tanners, but I have never had good results. They always look so fake and orange. This one promises to create a gradual, buildable tan that looks natural. I also love that it is an in-shower product. The instructions say to apply to damp skin, wait three minutes, and rinse. Easy peezy, and you get to avoid getting self-tanner all over everything. This is such a big sample size, and it smells fantastic. It’s very floral and fresh. I am looking forward to giving this a try.

So that is my August Candidly Nicole Birchbox! I am really happy that I chose this guest editor box because I think I can use every single one of these products. If you are interested in signing up for Birchbox, it is a $10/month subscription service.  You can pay monthly or pay for a full year up front.  Everyone gets 4-6 different samples each month, tailored to the beauty profile you fill out and you can review your samples to earn Birchbox points.  Birchbox has the best points system, hands down.  You get 10 points per review and 100 points  = $10 to spend in the Birchbox shop on full size products they sample.  It’s like they pay you $4-6 every month just for taking your box.  If you’re interested in learning more or signing up, you can click here for more details.

Savor the last month of summer!

Book Review: The Girl on the Train


image from

I am a huge fan of mystery novels. I love the fast paced nature of them, the suspense, and well, the mystery. Mystery and thriller novels get a bad rap sometimes as being “pulp.” Now, it’s true there are a lot of mystery novels that are poorly written, but I think most get deemed un-serious literature based on the fact that mystery and thriller novels tend to cut out a lot of exposition and filler information and just get to the action.

Enter the literary thriller, which takes everything people love about literary fiction and smashes it together with a fast-paced thriller novel. The most popular recently has been Gone Girl, and this novel, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Many people have actually been comparing the two novels, but I’m not sure that is a really fair comparison. The Girl on the Train takes place in 2013 and is told from the perspective of three women, all of whom are extremely flawed, unreliable narrators. There is Rachel, who is the girl on the train. She is an unemployed alcoholic, still reeling from a divorce that happened a couple of years prior. Every day, to keep up the pretense that she still has a job, she takes the train in to London, which takes her past her former house, where she sees her ex-husband, his new wife Anna, and their baby daughter. It also takes her past the home of Jess and Jason, a couple she doesn’t know, but names and imagines a happy life for.

As the reader, we know that Jess and Jason aren’t happy, and aren’t Jess and Jason. They are Megan and Scott. Megan narrates several of the chapters from the past, and much of the novel centers around her disappearance, and the fact that Rachel can’t remember exactly what happened that night, but that she was possibly outside of Megan’s home that night. The other chapters are told from the perspective of Anna, who married Rachel’s ex-husband and who loathes Rachel entirely. All three women have things to hide, things to be ashamed of, and it’s clear early on that all three aren’t exactly trustworthy and may be bending their sides of the story. You never know who to trust, and I think that is one of the great successes of the novel. Hearing the story from several perspectives keeps you guessing up until the end.

The novel does a great job of keeping the suspense high, and I honestly hadn’t guessed who was responsible for Megan’s disappearance and death until close to the end, which for me is the mark of a good thriller. Nothing ruins a mystery faster than knowing who did it within the first one hundred pages. That said, at times I did find the book to be dragging along, particularly at the beginning. Once Megan disappears and the real meat of the story gets set in motion, the pages really fly by and go quickly. Would I say that this is as good as Gone Girl? No, but it is a good read nonetheless, especially if you enjoy thrillers.

On Being Intentional With My Time

Left to my own devices, I’m kind of useless.

This is something that has been hard to come to terms with, and I don’t mean it in a self-deprecating way, or that I can’t do the basic functions of daily life. No, I mean that left to me own devices, I don’t get anything done with my day. I’m fortunate right now that, where work and school are concerned, I set my own schedule almost entirely. It sounds like a nice  idea doesn’t it? Total control over how I spend all 24 hours in my day? It is great in theory, but I need more practice at it.

It is too easy to say I’ll allow myself one day, just this one day, to be lazy and watch YouTube all day and not get dressed and lay on the couch. But one day bleeds into another, and before you know it, weeks have passed and there is nothing to show for them. So I’ve started thinking a lot lately about how to be more intentional with my time, and what that even means.

I feel like “be intentional with your time” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot and is code for get your shit together and do something. But I think it’s more than that. When we say something is intentional, we mean that someone meant to do something. The action was thought through, premeditated, planned ahead of time. It wasn’t spontaneous. So if I’m being intentional with my time, it is more than just doing something to feel like I’m being productive. It’s thinking through what I want to accomplish and purposing to take the steps to get there. But that is hard too.

My entire life, I’ve had people or institutions planning out my time, and I always thought I was good at time management, but I realize now that I had a lot of help in that area from school and activities that took place at set times, and that I had to plan around. Basically, it boils down to the fact that I used to have a routine, and now I don’t. And I wish I did. Routines are an essential way to be intentional with your time because they are essentially daily tasks that you do at the same time, in mostly the same way, on the same days. So how do you build a routine when you have few outside forces making demands and impositions on your time?

That is what I am struggling with at the moment. I like the idea of routines, and I used to have routines that I liked and followed religiously. But time passed and things changed and those routines got thrown to the side and across the room, and now I’m trying to pick up the pieces. I’ve been making some small steps toward a routine for the last week, and I do mean small. I’ve been setting aside an hour every afternoon to be away from my computer, to read or write without the distraction of a screen. I’ve been trying to get up a little earlier every day, go to bed a little earlier, hoping that those small changes will jump start something.

So my question is this: how do you set a routine? What is helpful in thinking of ways to be intentional with your time, and once you’ve decided to be intentional, how do you actually put your plan in motion and follow through?