My 6 Month “To Be Read” (TBR) Book List

I’m not sure whether you’re a reader or not, but I want to be clear that whether you open a physical book, read it on a Kindle, Nook or your phone, or if you even listen to Audible- that’s reading! I personally mix the three mediums and a lot of it has to do with availability, circumstance, and how passionately I feel about the book, which guides me to buy it physically or not.

My TBR is broken up bi-annually and that’s simply because I tend to do two major book hauls each year. I do one in the beginning of the year and one in June for my birthday. I don’t usually stick to a specific genre, but you can say Fiction is where I live. I love visualizing the story being told! Although I do indulge in Non-fiction, it’s usually along the lines of a work improvement book, a biography, or something highly rated from a friend or family member. So now, what is currently on my TBR list? Let’s get into it and all of these books can be shopped at this link!

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia | A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler | The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult | The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado | Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo | Beach Read by Emily Henry | Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert | One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London | This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

If you want to see what I read in February, you can check out my quick video recap here! Let me know if you have read any of these yet!

xx Alicia

Prepping for The Wedding: My Self- Care Routine

Prepping for The Wedding: My Self- Care Routine

Planning a wedding can be really stressful and I recognized that quickly. That’s why I was very aware that I needed to build a self-care routine to help me spend time on myself, so that I could relax and feel good! Now, I won’t say it was perfect, but I know that spending time on myself; especially when stressed, was so helpful. This whole year I tried out so many products and services for some “me time” in preparation for the wedding.

Appointments & Treatments:

Well, 2020 threw me for a loop. I started the year strong working with my girl Hilary on a treatment plan for me when I thought the wedding would happen in May. When it comes to treatments, I wanted to ensure I was selecting services that I would maintain. So here’s what I decided on!

Picture by Brows by Hilary
  1. Monthly waxing was a must do for me. Everyone has their own opinion on the service, but I have loved the experience and it’s been a great addition to my self care maintenance routine!
  2. Lash Lifts. I did so much research about the lash lift process vs. lash extensions and I just felt more comfortable with the lift. I still wore individual fake lashes for added volume on my big day, but the lift provided such a great base for the wedding. I rarely wore mascara and enjoyed the look of my lashes when they were lifted.
  3. Facials – treat yo self! I highly enjoyed booking facial appointments before the wedding. It felt like a reset for my skin and it provided a healthy base for makeup for my wedding. I did facials about every other month leading up to the wedding, which I think worked out well for me. I’m not an esthetician, so partner with yours to build out the right routine!

Let’s Talk Nails:

Since March and the shut down, I have walked into a nail salon twice. Once to get my nails done for the wedding and one more time to get those off. I loved my wedding nails! They were beautiful, but I also don’t tend to keep my nails long, that’s just my preference. The game changer for me were the press on set from Impress. I usually brought them directly from the site, but have also found them on Amazon. So grab a glass of wine, put on a show, and pamper yourself with an at-home manicure! Here are some of my favorites I’ve ordered.

Skincare: I think this year was a big year for the skincare game. I don’t know about you, but if you are on Tik Tok and follow Hyram, then some of my skincare will look familiar. I have some tried and true products I’ve been using, but lots of new items as well since discovering him. Skincare only does so much though, I was always making sure I drank enough water and taking my makeup off at the end of the day- I admit, I used to be SO bad at that. It took some time to see the changes in my skin, but well worth it in preparation for my big day!

You can take a look at all my products here, the only thing not pictured since I just ran out and ordered more is the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy. It saved my lips and I’m on my third one, I ordered an extra so I would stop running out, I’m addicted!

Face Wash: I keep CeraVe in my shower & La Roche-Posay at my sink.

Toning Solution: I only use my Ordinary toner at night.

Serums: I use the Ordinary Niacinamide serum in the morning and at night and in addition, at night I add my Ordinary “Buffet” serum after.

Moisturizers: In the morning, I still use my tried and true Clinique Moisture Surge and at night, I use the CeraVe PM Facial Lotion.

Sunscreen: No skin routine is worth having if you don’t use sunscreen! I still go back to my Neutrogena & CeraVe sunscreens, these are also tried and true and one of them is a mineral sunscreen.

Additional Products: For body lotion, I use the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion. For Makeup Melting and Cleansing, I use the Ordinary Squalane Cleanser – no need to use water, just get a pea size and massage your face. For heavy makeup days, I occasionally use the Urban Skin RX cleansing bar, but jury is still out about how I feel about the exfoliation pad. Lastly, I SWEAR by my pimple patches by COSRX. Any time I have a pimple that has a white head, I cleanse my face and slap one on at night.

Do you use any of the same skincare? Skincare doesn’t have to be difficult! Pick a cleanser, a moisturizer, and a sunscreen! You got this!

In addition to all of the products, services, and appointments mentioned, I could say that a glass of wine and a bath bomb from LA Suds did the trick some nights. A good book and a night in were just as important in my self care and creating time for myself. Oh, as well as a haircut before the wedding because ya know, quarantine. Find what your wedding prep looks like for you and just ensure that at the end of the day, you’re creating time and space for yourself to relax!

Well, that wraps up what wedding prep looked like and I hope you enjoyed reading! Let me know what you think!

xx Alicia

I’m a POC & Can Be A Better Ally

I’m a POC & Can Be A Better Ally

Today I saw someone’s post saying that if you’re silent on the world right now, to ask yourself why you’re so uncomfortable speaking up. Many will say this post came too late and I’ll respect that opinion. For me though, I’ve taken this time to digest and listen to a lot of people. I’ve used this time to journal, reflect, and work through my feelings, so that I may eloquently express my thoughts more clearly. I still may not get this right today, but there’s no more waiting to speak up on this matter for me. 

I’m not writing this to appease anyone, I’m writing this for myself because it’s been heavy on my mind and heart, as I’m sure it has been for you. I’m not here to fuel the fire and bring negativity, I’m writing for clarity for myself and to hold myself accountable. So that the next time I want to say something and I’m too afraid to, I don’t hesitate. So that I push myself to read and listen more. Don’t take this as me on a soapbox, that’s far from my intention. I’m writing this as a reflective piece that I hope at least one person can take time to understand. So that this opens up conversation so that I can learn about people’s experiences that have shaped their opinions.

Here’s my take. I’m not silent because I’m okay with the wrongful deaths we have seen replayed and reposted across our timelines. I’m silent because if I feel this disgusted, confused and sad, then imagine how our black brothers and sisters are feeling. I’m not white, but I have privilege and I recognize that. I’m not white, but my fiancé is. I will never have to feel or worry the way my family and friends have to that are black, or have a black spouse or have bi-racial/ black children. I’m not white, but I mourn with the black community and I know I can be a better ally as a POC. I’m aware I will never understand.

Many countries have an underlying characteristic that unites their people. We never had that. We had slavery, Jim Crow, lynching and so much more. This country NEVER treated people equitably. There has always been a divide. This country had slavery for over 200 years and after that, black people still had to go through segregation. It’s only been 55 years since segregation was outlawed…black people have always been a marginalized group. We’re on a hamster wheel and until we start having these conversations and we start seeing action, we’ll stay on the wheel. 

I understand there’s been destruction the last few days, there’s been ugly arguing, but people are more important than property. Although I feel terrible for every business hit, by many who were just opportunistic looters, I feel twice as terrible for our black CITIZENS not feeling heard and that this destruction is now being talked about more than the life we just lost. This is nothing new- racially fueled attacks are unfortunately nothing new. Let that sink in. 

Here’s where I stand. I don’t think your profession makes you a bad person. I think you are either an evil person or a good person, just wearing the same uniform to work. You can take off a uniform, black people can’t take off color. I do truly believe there are good police officers because I know many of them outside of their uniform. I’ve seen their uniform amplify the good they want to provide to their community because they have a duty to do so.

For GEORGE FLOYD, this was not the case. For PHILANDO CASTILE, this was not the case. For BOTHAM JEAN, this was not the case. For BREONNA TAYLOR, this was not the case. I can go on and on…

In my opinion, this is so much deeper than that though. It’s when people of power, abuse it. It’s when people of power are racist, prejudice, discriminatory- they are bigots. We have seen this abuse of power and misuse of privilege amongst our citizens. We have lost the lives of AHMAUD ARBERY and TRAYVON MARTIN because of it. We have seen the “Karens” and the recent video with the Central Park incident with Christian Cooper that could’ve went a lot differently.

We continue to see this privilege and power abused in the healthcare system, judicial system, and in society as a whole. If we’re all US Citizens and we’re all supposed to be equal, then we need to start acting like it. It starts at home. We will probably never eradicate bigotry since it starts at home, but we can shame, we hold those people accountable, we can hold our society to standards that aren’t bias.

At the end of the day, we all need to do better and it will take time. We all need to talk about it more. We can’t sit here and say “all these people are animals, look at them looting” without also posting about the loss of life that fueled some of the outrage. We can’t go back to the peaceful protest Kaepernick started and still think he was kneeling for the flag/the military and not the injustice we see black people having to endure and how marginalized they are. We can’t keep shutting down people who have a platform to speak when they do.

I will personally be reading and educating myself to be an even better ally. Below are some resources and readings people have sent my way in case you would like to check them out too. It starts with us.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo | The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander | The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein | Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD

Here’s a great link with TONS of ways to contribute: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

Donate to the NAACP or The Minnesota Freedom Fund, sign petitions, call your representatives, vote, listen to POC openly and speak out. I know there’s a lot more you can read, listen to, and do, but this is a start.

Alicia

Touché Digital Age

Touché Digital Age

Hey there! Let’s just jump in, shall we? Recently, I had the bad luck of my phone breaking and I had to wait for a replacement. What that led to was a two week hiatus that started off VERY rough, but ended up providing me more self-awareness I didn’t know I needed.

I think we all know that the digital age we are in right now is very impactful. We are constantly depending on technology and more so, our phones. We keep our memories, messages, and so much more on a small device that fits right into our hands. In the beginning of the year, I tried following the trend and writing about my vision for 2019. You can read it here, but spoiler, I did not do so well. I will give myself a solid 2.5/5…awkward. Either way, one of my goals was completely about my use of technology and using the screen time feature on my phone.

Long story short, two weeks without my phone was a struggle. In the beginning of the hiatus, I used my laptop to constantly still be on social media. I thought I was missing out on so much and I hated not being able to check on my accounts. I genuinely thought this would completely derail the work I put into the blog.

Half way through I reflected on a recent coffee date I had with two amazing women. On this coffee date, I opened up about the stress of writing and how I fall out of love with ideas and how I don’t use my time properly. I took this memory and just started writing in my journal. By day 5/6, I would check my accounts, but not nearly as often, especially since I had work to push me through the day.

I thought it was so crazy that I was actually aware of my change in mood without a phone. I started off as antsy and annoyed, then upset that I may be missing out on something, to at terms with the situation, to finally realizing the blessing in disguise this was. It’s not often that you can be completely disengaged and not have people have an easy way to reach you. Although I can see the convenience, I now also see the benefits or as I have been saying… I think I finally understand Ed Sheeran’s madness. Now don’t get me wrong, by the end of the two weeks, I was extremely happy to have my phone back, but I definitely can feel the difference and recognize the difference.

So, here are a few things I learned about myself:

  1. I’m awful at directions. I rely on Google Maps constantly, so having to drive places without it truly made me use my memory and take time to plan ahead.
  2. Holy moly, people aren’t kidding about phones being glued to your hand. While out, I was the only friend phoneless and it was obvious as everyone was looking down. There would be times the space got quite and I don’t think anyone noticed except for me.
  3. I didn’t miss anything life changing. I was so worried I was missing out on something exciting and important and I didn’t. This made me realize that limiting my time going forward on these apps wouldn’t hurt and is honestly needed.
  4. I have a lot of time in my day and without my phone, I was honestly more productive. I indulged in Netflix; don’t get me wrong, but I also crossed things off my list that have been on there for MONTHS. I got wedding things done, worked out, and took time to write and read.
  5. I am so much more excited for my content. I don’t know the last time I had time to actually write; paper and pen. By doing so, I was able to outline so many things I want to write about as well as making lists of entrepreneurs to reach out to for CLT BTS. For two weeks I stopped comparing my content to others and it was really refreshing.

At the end of the day, I’m not a consistent blogger and I’ll own that. What you can expect of me though, is that the things that I write are all topics I feel inspired by, that I’m excited about, and that I enjoy. I am 100% in on each post that I publish.

So, do you ever just take a few days off from your phone. Put it down, maybe on silent or do not disturb? I challenge you to do so. I think I’ll try doing it again around the holidays to make sure I’m as present as possible.

What started off as a simple inconvenience lead me to a much needed time of reflection before the end of the year. What’s something you wish to take time to do before 2019 is done?

So as I started this post off, I’ll tip my hat to this digital age and say touché. You really have changed the world we live in. Now it’s up to us to decide how we use it and how much importance we put on it.

xx Alicia

25 Things I’ve Learned As I Turn 25

25 Things I’ve Learned As I Turn 25

I feel as though this is a pretty typical post you see for big milestone birthdays. I wanted to put a bit of a spin on it and let you guys into how my last 24 years have shaped and molded me into what’s about to be one of the best years of my life! I have a lot to look forward to this 25th year, so it’s been extremely refreshing to look back and reflect on how far I’ve already come.

In the past 24 years, I have graduated college; technically not high school- long story, gotten a big girl job, moved states, have lived overseas, gotten a dog, purchased a house, started a blog, and have gotten engaged!

Then there are the struggles. I have lost those that I have loved, I have left a job, I have had major surgery, been rejected, had my heartbroken, and have struggled with myself.

Good or bad, I’m so grateful I opened my eyes on my 25th birthday, ready to take on another year. So without further a-do, let’s jump into it!

  1. Self-love and self- awareness is a journey. You get better and better at it, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
  2. Self-confidence does not equal self-love. I said it. I find myself still battling my confidence in other places in my life other than the love of myself.
  3. Some people just don’t love, respect, and/or support you as you do for them. That’s okay. Recognize it, evaluate the relationship you have with them and figure out whether it’s a healthy relationship to keep in your life.
  4. Emotions are not a weakness. Learn to communicate your emotions, but understand that being “more emotional” doesn’t make your emotions less valid.
  5. As you grow, some people will always see you for the person you were. Those people are probably not in your life anymore…you know who you are. You don’t need to prove you’ve grown. Your actions will speak for you.
  6. TREASURE YOUR ALONE TIME. Being comfortable being alone only makes you stronger when you’re with others. It keeps you balanced.
  7. Just do it. Life is too short. If you want to travel, find a way. Want to start a new hobby, try it.
  8. Spend time on what brings you joy.
  9. De-clutter your life and refocus on people, goals, dreams, and versions of yourself you want to work on. Anything that doesn’t serve that purpose, let go.
  10. Fail, fail again, and then try again until you succeed. Success comes from failure. The failure to try does not bring you success.
  11. Let your mom continue to teach you…especially when you think you can sew, but can’t.
  12. There’s not one way to do something. Honestly, don’t get stuck in your ways and realize everyone has their way of doing something.
  13. Everyone falls on the dance floor at least once in their life and everyone dances on a table at some point or another.
  14. Everyone has something to contribute and something to teach you. Listen up!
  15. Just because you’re right does not make you smart. Be smart and know when to be right.
  16. Stop pacing your life to those around you. Do things in your own time.
  17. Dear college, you were the best and worst.
  18. Family isn’t always a title given to those that are blood related.
  19. TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN. Skincare before makeup 100%.
  20. Making friends as an adult is so much harder.
  21. Take time and truly learn to have a healthy relationship with money. Financial independence is where real adulthood kicks in.
  22. In general, take care of yourself. Seriously, go to your annuals and don’t skip the dentist; although I’m not a fan. Just take care of your body.
  23. Get off your phone, be present.
  24. Your life isn’t over when you make a mistake. You’re alive right? Okay then, clean slate, keep living.
  25. Seriously- call out people commenting on someone’s body. It’s not cool. You don’t know someone’s story so zip the lips.

Bonus 26- Drink the beer, eat Chick-fil-A, and just be content with the fact that all your clothes will always be covered in dog hair.

Well that’s all folks. What would you tell your younger self? Let me know!

As always, thank you for stopping by.

xx Alicia

My Birthday Buys

My Birthday Buys

No birthday is complete without a few “treat yo self” moments, right? I hope so because I sure did go for it! Here are a few things that have caught my eye and I decided to grab for my birthday this year.

Although I purchased a few things, I was able to enjoy some great experiences this past weekend as well! We went to a local speakeasy, Top Golf, got my nails done, and ate so much good food I’m still full!

For everything I did purchase, it’s linked below. So, what are your favorite items to buy for yourself on special occasions?

All pictures are product pictures from their respective websites.

Self Love Sunday Tee from ShopGoodToBe.com | Thirsty Palette & Jawbreaker Palette from Jeffree Star Cosmetics | MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot (purchased from Ulta) | Hair Scarf Scrunchie from Girl Tribe Co (purchased in two colors) | Jewelry from Baublebar

As always, thanks for stopping by!

xx Alicia

My Vision For 2019

My Vision For 2019

Well hello there 2019, you came in hot! New year, same me, new ambitions, more focus. I’m not a fan of resolutions and promises, but I do love some goals and goal planning. I’m not saying you have to make new goals at the beginning of the year, honestly you can start whenever, but I love the sense of a “reset button” that the new year provides you!

It’s time to say “This is what I want and I am going to get it!”. So let’s jump into 2019 with more focus to drive us to the goals we have in each aspect of our lives. Currently I have professional goals at work, but I wanted to share some personal ones with you all. Let’s jump into “business” first.

All Things Alicia Goals

My main goal for this blog in 2019 is creating a community and connecting with you guys! I want to be able to have a steady pulse on what you guys enjoy reading and seeing me share. Expect to see more polls, giveaways, and more consistent content. Especially content I’m passionate about, like the Local Spotlights! Get ready to learn a ton about local businesses, services, and organizations.

As for my social media presence, I’d love to bring you all more consistent content on my Instagram and Facebook page. My main goal will be creating a goal plan to do so that comes from a message and purpose. I don’t want to just put out content for the sake of it! I also want to share more about myself and push myself to do so on all of my platforms.

Personal Goals

The biggest “theme” of my goals this very is finding the purpose behind each one and to ensure my intention is in the right place. I want to be able to know why I am doing something so clearly that it becomes a habit.

  1. Traveling: I love exploring new places and visiting familiar ones too and although I did that in 2018, I really want to travel to a few places on my “wish list”. I’ve had a list of places I’ve wanted to since Sophomore year in college and if I could even cross two places off this year, it would be a win for me!
  2. Reading: I am such a book worm and it brings me so much joy! Unfortunately, I have a handful of books still chilling in my Barnes & Noble cart online that I want to find time to read. This year it is my goal to commit at least 2 hours each Saturday or Sunday to a book. I want to carve out time for an activity that I love so much, that I almost categorize under my own type of self-care.
  3. Technology: If 2018 taught me anything, it’s that I was constantly ashamed of my screen time that my iPhone so graciously provided each week…and still does. I haven’t set a goal yet for my actual screen time usage, but I do want to stop using my phone at dinner and after 8pm. I think that I will begin plugging it in somewhere other than my nightstand and will set reminders on my phone to do so.
  4. Relationships: I am that friend that is always following your journey and rooting for you, but from afar. I’m not good at keeping contact with my friends and family and that’s changing in 2019! I am giving myself the goal of reaching out to someone and checking in each week. Whether it’s on my way home from work or it’s after church, I want to ensure the people I love in my life know how much their relationship means to me. This also goes for Dan as he travels for work. My love language is very much so quality time, so I want to make sure the time we spent together is intentional and appreciated.
  5. Health: Last one and the hardest one. My goal is to find a class or gym that I find joy with. I continue to want to improve my health and mobility and I have to put my heart into it. Finding a class or gym I enjoy I believe will truly change my motivation and help with my mental health as well. So here’s to 2019 and trying new things to find my best fit!

So that’s my list and I’m sure it’ll get longer throughout the year as I start accomplishing some of these. Thank you to everyone for following and supporting me as I started All Things Alicia in 2018! I am forever grateful and can’t wait to see the growth we go through together in 2019. I hope some of my goals help you build your own. Leave me a comment of a goal or two you have for 2019!

Ya’ll I can feel it, it’s our year- cliché I know, but I believe it!

xx Alicia

A Weekend in Charlotte: 10.25

Happy Monday, back to the grind we go! Today I’ll be sharing a weekend wrap up with you guys! It was a fun and special weekend in Charlotte and wanted to spotlight some places I spent my time. 

Although I wish my weekends were always this fun and busy, you can usually find me on the couch one day out of the weekend binge watching Netflix and catching up on anything I recorded. Can anyone else relate? I’m all for a good adventure, but sometimes I really like being a home body.

THURSDAY

Last week I was able to host an Alumni happy hour for my Alma Mater and it was great! That started my weekend off on Thursday. We held it at NODA Brewing and I received great feedback on the options on tap for beer as well as the wine and spiked seltzer they had. The spiked seltzer is actually a newer release for them and it was so good. If you head over to their taproom I highly suggest trying it out! 

We had a great turn out for our event and indulged in the food truck, Tin Kitchen that was on site. I personally love the food trucks in Charlotte as there are a ton of options and there’s always one parked at a brewery. As for the brewery itself, if you ever want to host an event there, it’s a great option. The taproom is big enough and they make using their drink tickets easy! 

FRIDAYAll week was leading up to Friday. We got to see Hamilton with the Phillip touring cast.  It was unreal honestly. I was captivated and rode the wave of emotions that Lin-Manuel Miranda so beautifully wrote to evoke connections and engagement within the crowd. I laughed, cried, and held my breathe. I was not only grateful I was able to see Hamilton, but also grateful that Charlotte has such a beautiful theater to allow these kind of experiences. 

The Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center is centrally located within the city. Dan and I grabbed dinner at RiRa’s Irish Pub not even a block away from the center and walked once we were finished. The ease of it really made me appreciate the city set up, especially on this cold and windy night! I’m still reeling off this night as it’s now Monday morning and I’m going through the Hamilton soundtrack album on Spotify for the second time rewatching the show in my head. Who can blame me? 

SATURDAY

Honestly, going out in Charlotte for Halloween is not for me. Just like most cities there is a bar crawl, most bars are jammed full, and you will get hit by someone’s costume at least once. This year I wasn’t planning on doing anything until Dan came home with costumes in hand for a Halloween party a friend was hosting at his house. 

It was the epitome of a throwback house party in college and they did an awesome job setting up. Each room had a different theme for Halloween and people got creative. I lasted maybe a half hour in my heels and put flip flops on…girls you know what I’m talking about! Other than that though it was a great party and a great way to see some friends without the craziness of the city. It wasn’t a late night for us, but I was glad we got out of the house for some fun together since Dan has been traveling often for work. 

SUNDAY

Sunday was a self- care day in the morning, but also a needed cleaning day. Dan headed out to the Panthers game and I put on a face mask and went to cleaning, which was pretty quick. Just before half time I was getting stir crazy and made plans with a friend to get out of the house. A girl’s day in NODA was much needed! 

I have not been to Divine Barrel until today and it was great. They had live music, tons of space in the taproom as well as outside on their patio and table games. We played a few games, watched some football, and I grabbed a glass for Dan’s collection before heading to Jack Beagle’s for some dinner. If you haven’t been in the NODA area, there are a ton of options and all walking distance within each other. Plus Jack Beagle’s has solid mac ‘n cheese…just saying! 

I finished my weekend just hanging out with the pup and Dan before going to bed. This weekend was a jam packed one and one I wanted to share with you guys. A peek into my life! Let me know some of your favorite places in Charlotte and I would love to try them out on a weekend. As always, thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you guys next time. 

xx Alicia

My Genetic Testing Experience

Hey guys! I took a few polls on my Instagram this weekend and you guys let me know that you wanted to know more about my genetic testing experience. Please remember that this is just my story, I’m not a specialist and I’m only sharing what I learned! If you have questions, I highly suggest you talk to your doctor about the possibility of getting tested. 

I would be lying if I was not nervous writing this, but transparency is key with you guys. My experience with genetic testing was recommended by my doctor as we started digging into family history. Doctors have recommended the testing to me before, but I have never followed through. As I start to have conversations about family planning, I realized the importance of the testing due to my family history. 

No one in my family, to my knowledge, has had this testing done before. Going through this experience has taught me that cancer stems from genetics or environmental factors and sometimes both. It’s usually separated by hereditary, familial, or sporadic cancer and I’ll leave those definitions below. My family history includes throat, stomach, colon, prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer. At the beginning of this process, I could attribute possibly only one of these to an environmental factor, which was smoking. Of course that’s what my mom told me, so I’ve never been sure. 

The best way to explain genetic testing is that it’s a test that helps you figure out if you carry any of the 28 main genes that are connected to 8 important cancer types that fall into that hereditary bucket I mentioned. The genes tested are for breast, ovarian, colorectal, uterine, melanoma, pancreatic, stomach, and prostate cancer. There is a ninth column for “other” cancer that really just means that with specific genes, they can tie back to multiple other cancers that aren’t necessary as “prominent” as the eight mentioned. 

For the testing itself, I had the option of a blood or spit test and was told I would have results in about 2-3 weeks. As for the results, the genes could fall into three categories: positive, negative, and uncertain variant. For uncertain variants I was told that they are treated as a negative result until there is an update on the specific gene, but often the gene is categorized as a negative anyways. 

If a gene came back as positive, there is a structured plan for managing the risk. Each plan would correlate to the specific gene mutation found. There were also statistics provided to me for positive results. One specifically that explained a positive result would correlate to a 50% chance that my parent(s), sisters, brothers, and children would have the same gene mutation. 

So exactly sixteen days later after spitting into a tube, I got my results. I locked myself in my room and listened to my specialist tell me I tested negative for all but four genes that came back uncertain variant. She explained I would get updates on those genes as more research was done, but to treat them as negative results otherwise. 

This easily has been the best news I’ve gotten in a while and made me very grateful I did it. I have truly had a weight lifted off my shoulders as I’ve always worried about cancer. Of course this doesn’t mean that I am immune to cancer, but it does mean that nothing in me has put me at an additional and elevated risk. 

All in all, my experience was a good one. I had a supportive specialist that answered all my questions and ensured I understood all the information provided. Luckily my results came back negative and my nerves have been put at ease. I truly recommend this test to those of you that have worried about cancer within your family. For me, this has calmed my mind for the simple fact that I now know my body isn’t putting me at a disadvantage to this very impactful genetic disease as well as knowing my chances of passing it on to my future children. It’s a painless process and worth it if you’ve been thinking about it. As always, thank you for stopping by and I will see you next time! 

xx Alicia

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Hereditary Cancer: Occurs when an altered gene (gene with a mutation) is passed down in the family from parent to child. People with hereditary cancer are more likely to have relatives with the same type or related type of cancer. They may develop more than one cancer and their cancer often occurs at an earlier average age. 
Familial Cancer: Likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with familial cancer may have one or more relatives with the same type of cancer; however, there does not appear to be a specific pattern of inheritance (e.g., the cancer risk is not clearly passed from parent to child).
Sporadic Cancer: Occurs by chance. People with sporadic cancer typically do not have relatives with the same type of cancer. 

3 Thoughts On Home Ownership

Welcome back! Today I wanted to share some thoughts as it’s been a bit more than a year of being a home owner. After taking some time and reflecting, I have come to three conclusions I stand by and remind myself about often. To give you the backstory on our house before jumping in, I’ll give you a short summary of our house hunting journey.

Dan and I started looking to buy a house in mid May of 2017 and closed on July 25th, 2017. Our house had three offers on it by the time we were even able to see it- thank goodness for our amazing realtor David Traugott. Honestly, we didn’t think we had a chance, but still put in an offer and maybe an hour later we got the verbal acceptance! I cried in the parking lot of a Dunkin’ Donuts, I’m sure all first time buyers have been here before…right? Back to present day and we love our house, but we have also needed to come to terms with some things. With that said, let’s hop into my top three thoughts on home ownership!

Setting Yourself Up Financially  When we bought the house as you could imagine our savings took a hit, but we knew we needed to start back up as soon as possible to ensure we had money ready and available for any unforseeable issues. One of the best things we did was set up a joint account that we transfer money into each paycheck. We have made a goal for this account, which is to save 20% of the house value. I think that everyone knows they have to save when they have a house, but my thought on this is to truly make a goal and stick to it. Breakdown what it will take to get there whether you get paid weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc to ensure your goal is feasible. 
In our case we use this account for other items as well, but we use the app GoodBudget to ensure we are budgeting our funds for the right things. For example, within the app we have “buckets” set up for the dog, house, wedding, and monthly charity donation we have set for autodraft. When money is put into the account we allocate the proper amount to each of those and when we use the joint card, we subtract the expense from the proper “bucket” to track our cash flow. 

Know Your Home This is a big one. We are one year out and have been extremely lucky. We have gotten our AC fixed with no major cost and have had to buy a new toilet, but that’s about it. We are fully aware that it could be worse and will be at some point when something big goes out. We took time to ensure we knew how old everything was for our house and if there was anything replaced. This goes for the AC, water heater, to the fence and roof outside! Over this last year, we have made sure to do what we can to take care of these items as best we can. There’s not a whole lot you can do sometimes, but when you can take preventive methods just take the time to do so. Even when that item may break at least you will have a plan and be aware that it was a possibilty! 
Even for the little things like a sliding door, take the time to maintain it and ensure it’s in good condition. Owning a house is such an amazing accomplishment, but it is not cheap so avoiding costs and taking care of your home is so important! Proactive measures and prevenative methods will always beat out being reactive and rushed when things do go wrong. And again, things will go wrong at some point. 

Have Realistic Expectations Would I love to redo my kitchen and fill my house? Of course, but with purchasing this house I had to humble myself and remind myself that we will grow into the space with time. Our house is four bedrooms, two and a half baths, and basically 3200 sq ft. Yes, we are crazy. No, we do not regret buying the home. Yes, the house is too big sometimes when Dan travels for work. At the end of the day though, we got an amazing deal, a house we can grow into, and a home that had everything we wanted on our list of “must-haves”. 
If you’re anything like us, most of the furniture in our home is a combination between both Dan and I’s apartments. We purchased some items and were gifted things as well, but for the most part our house is just a mashup of everything we have owned previously, which surprisingly works out for the most part. With this said, I have to remind myself that it’s going to take time to fill this house and that’s okay. My taste and style have already changed a hand full of times so the more time I have the better I’ll be able to buy and decorate the house with Dan. 

I used to get so frustrated with all the space we had and the lack of furnishings, but I’ve had to remind myself lately how lucky I am to be a twenty-something young professional with a house. I am so grateful to have a place to call home that has my name on it. To be paying money for more ownership into something. Having a home to create traditions and memories in. More and more I must remind myself that the material things that fill the home do not make it a home. 

Filling up the house and making updates are still expectations I have, but are now long term plans. When you buy a home, make goals and have expectations that are feasible with where you are in life and what makes sense. I understand the pressure to do so especially if you want to host people or if you just want that “Pinterest” look, but your friends will understand and well, Pinterest projects aren’t always all that they seem. Just remember to pace yourself accordingly and build a timeline of projects, goals, and expectations based on the right timing for you. You alone, not for anyone else. 

Owning a home has been wonderful and we have some amazing memories and traditions we have created here. I always love reflecting on our journey and how we got to where we are. As the end of the year creeps up on us, I can’t help but look around at my slimly decorated home for fall and smile. I smile because 2018 has challenged me, rewarded me, and humbled me. All things I have been able to process and work through within these four walls of my home, for which I am grateful for. 
So how long did it take you to decorate your home? Were there things you were grateful you thought about once you owned your home? Do you like these types of reflection posts? Let me know in the comments! As always thank you for stopping by and I will see you on my next post! 

xx Alicia