Monthly Wrap-Up

JULY 2018 | Wrap-Up

What’s this? A blog post? For the first time in weeks?! July was a ridiculously busy, hectic month for me, meaning that I was too occupied with other things to have any free time to blog. While I won’t be back to my full blogging self yet (still so much to get done!) I thought it would be nice to do a little wrap-up post in the meantime.

In July I read a total of 4 books:

  1. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  2. The Problem that Has No Name by Betty Friedan
  3. Create Dangerously by Albert Camus
  4. Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

As you can see, not much reading progress was made last month; however, I did really enjoy most of what I read (with the exception of Roth…). I think my favorite book of the month was The Problem that Has No Name, mostly because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I finished it. These essays by Friedan are incredibly thought-provoking and empowering–I highly recommend checking them out!

+ MUSIC: This past month I discovered the band Little Chief and have been listening to them nonstop on my commute to and from work. Their music is so relaxing and I love the variety of instruments they utilize. Unfortunately, I don’t think the band is actually together anymore–I’m always late to the party!

+ FOOD: Definitely the blueberry pie my mom baked with the blueberries we picked at a local farm. Picking berries is one of my favorite things to do every summer, especially when the weather is as lovely as it has been recently.

+ PLACE: Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend the day at White Lake State Park, the campground where my family has been going since I was really young. Returning to this lake always feels like returning to some sort of home.

WOW, July was a BUSY month! I spent most of my time working at the nonprofit I work for, and when I wasn’t there I was living and breathing LSAT prep. It’s such a relief to finally be done with this exam! There’s only so many logic games and practice exams you can take before you start to wonder if they’ll ever end…

Once my exam was over, I finally had time to tackle all of the things I’ve been meaning to do all summer: research for my honors thesis, write a draft of my nearly-completed WIP (which I’m BEYOND excited about), choreograph a tap dance for my group’s next show, get ahead on some reading for this upcoming semester… the list goes on and on! Fortunately, I also squeezed in fun days and chats with friends that I haven’t seen in far too long. I’ve missed everyone so much since I was abroad!

Speaking of being abroad… I’ve also spent the last month continuing to transition to being back home from Oxford. I feel much better now than I did at the beginning of the summer, especially since my Wheaton move-in date is approaching so quickly. Who knew that studying abroad would involve so much recovery time?!

 Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

How was your month of July? What was the best book you read? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Monthly Wrap-Up

JULY 2017 | Wrap-Up

July was a blur of hot days, air-conditioned office spaces, lakeside reading, and time spent with friends and family… not a bad way to spend the bulk of summer! Here’s what I was up to this past month:

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In July I read a total of 9 books:

  1. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  3. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  5. George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
  6. Echo by Nadette Rae Rodgers
  7. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
  8. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I honestly can’t believe I read so many books this past month, especially since many of them are LONG (I’m looking at you, Middlemarch). Picking a favorite is difficult, but I think the best book I read in July has to be Tuck Everlasting. This short little read was absolutely adorable, charming, and insightful. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! I never read it when I was younger but I wish I had– I feel like it’s something I would have loved.

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It happened, people: I finally visited Willa Cather’s grave!! This is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I learned a few months ago that it’s located a little over an hour away from where I live. Willa Cather is one of my favorite authors, so standing at the foot of her grave was absolutely surreal. I went on a rather dreary day, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every second of it. You can read more about my adventures in this graveyard here. 

My family and I were also able to spend a few days by the lake in July, which means I had plenty of reading time by the water. And who can pass up the opportunity to take some bookish photos in such a beautiful place? (Not me!)

The majority of July was spent trying to plow through my required reading for Oxford, finishing up paperwork for studying abroad, spending time with friends I haven’t seen in a while, and working. It’s strange to think that we’re already more than half way through summer… September will be here before we know it! Also, I started watching the TV series Fargo… is anyone else obsessed with this series?!?!?!

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This past week I also had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Booktube-A-Thon. As you can tell from my initial TBR post, I really wasn’t expecting to get through much reading in a single week. However, in twist that I never saw coming I was actually able to complete almost all of the challenges and read even more than what I had put on my TBR!! I’m so happy with the progress I made and I actually miss the Booktube-A-Thon already. There’s just such fantastic positive bookish energy during those intense seven days of reading! ❤

Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

Here are some posts that I loved reading this month (there are so many!!):

How was your month of July? What was the best book you read? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo 2016 | Wrap-Up

Let's Go- CAMP NANOWRIMO

I did it. I actually, finally, miraculously did it.

I reached my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of 25,000 words!!

To be honest, I was doubtful that I would be able to reach this goal at all by the end of July due to my busy internship schedule, a family camping trip, and the BookTubeAThon in the latter half of the month. However, I completely surprised myself by surpassing this goal on July 15th, just about the halfway point of July!

This certainly isn’t a full draft of my novel, but it nevertheless feels amazing to have a solid foundation upon which I can build in the future. I’ve been working on various drafts of this one story for years, and I finally feel as though I have a version of it that I’m really pleased with. I’m so glad I decided to take on Camp NaNoWriMo this summer!

CNW_Winner_555-1One piece of advice that I found really helpful was to write every single day. Even if I didn’t feel like writing after getting home from work or if it was simply too hot to think, I made it a point to scribble down at least a few words or thoughts. Not only did writing every day keep my momentum going and my spirits up, but it also kept my story churning in my mind. I found myself thinking about it even when I wasn’t actually writing, which meant that I was much more prepared with ideas when I did sit down to write.

Goodbye for now, Camp NaNo! It’s been real.

Did you participate in Camp NaNoWriMo? How did you do? What tips and tricks did you find helpful? If not, have you been writing lately? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

JULY 2016 | Wrap-Up

JUNE 2016-2

Oh, July. I always have mixed feelings about the seventh month (in fact, you can read all about them here). June is filled with the excitement of a new summer and August is brimming with the anticipation of a new school year, but July– it’s just kind of there. But this year I had such a busy and productive July that I hardly know how I fit everything in! Here’s what I was up to this month:
June

18405In July I read a total of 7 books:

  1. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  2. Animal Farm by George Orwell (Spanish translation)
  3. Illusion by Nadette Rae Rodgers
  4. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  5. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  6. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  7. Sphere by Michael Crichton

I read so many amazing books this month (I gave 6 five-star ratings!!!), which means that picking a favorite is incredibly difficult. However, I think I’m going to have to go with Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Not only is this an amazing work from a historical perspective (I love the Civil War and Reconstruction setting), but it’s also an incredible tale of romance, family, war, poverty, feminism, and challenging social norms. It took me a while to read, but it was worth every minute!

Full reviews of all of these books are in the works!

June (1)The bulk of my July consisted of continuing with my internship, spending time with family, and working on the various writing/reading projects I decided to tackle. The highlight of the month was definitely my family’s annual camping trip at White Lake State Park. This year was our fourteenth consecutive year camping there, and I never get tired of it!

Camping is just such a great way to unplug and take some time to simply relax. It’s a lot of work, to be sure– cooking and cleaning and setting up the site and unpacking– but it’s absolutely worth it in the end. There’s nothing better than lounging by the lake, roasting marshmallows over a campfire, and sleeping in a cozy tent at night. Plus, it provides some excellent reading time!

On a different note, I saw Finding Dory and LOVED it. ❤ I couldn’t resist mentioning it!

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June (2)

July was a month of productivity for me. Even with my busy schedule of interning, spending time with friends, and going camping, I still managed to write and read more than I ever expected I would.

CNW_Winner_555-1During the first half of the month I managed to reach my 25,000 word goal for Camp NaNoWriMo, a feat that I thought would take me the entire month at least. I was working on writing a second draft of a novel I finished during NaNoWriMo a few years ago, so I did have a bit to work with already. While this is by no means a complete draft, I’m nevertheless ecstatic to finally have a decent foundation to work off of in the future. Who knows, maybe a NaNoWriMo is in the cards for this November?

2016-07-16 09.53.32I also participated in the BookTubeAthon this month and I exceeded all of my expectations of how much I would be able to read. Because of my camping trip I was away for about half of the readathon, but I still managed to get a lot of reading done. I love participating in the BookTubeAThon, especially when the online bookish community is really excited about it, too. I already can’t wait for next year’s event!

Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

How was your July? What books did you read? What fun things did you do? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Writing

Let’s Go: Camp NaNoWriMo!

Let's Go_ CAMP NANOWRIMO

It’s that time of year again: Camp NaNoWriMo is finally here! My experience with Camp NaNoWriMo last July was pretty much a dud (I only managed to write a few thousand words) but this year I feel much more prepared and ready to write, write, WRITE.

What is Camp NaNoWriMo, you ask? Camp NaNo is a more relaxed version of National Novel Writing Month that takes place in April and July every year. Instead of the usual mandated goal of 50,000 words, Camp NaNo gives writers the flexibility to set their own word count goals. Moreover, you don’t have to write a novel: you could write a series of short stories, a play, poetry, whatever floats your boat! To find out more info about Camp NaNo, check out their website here.

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This year I’m planning on writing another draft of the novel I wrote for actual NaNoWriMo one year when I was in high school. I’ve actually been working on this story for YEARS– the first horrible beginnings of it were written when I was in sixth grade!– so I’m really excited to revisit it and shape it into something that I’m really proud of. Realistically, though, I know the chances of me reaching 50,000 words are really slim, so I’m going to set myself a goal of 25,000 words. I’ll be ecstatic if I can manage to write more than that, but I’ll also be really happy if I can simply reach that goal.

On the official Camp NaNoWriMo website my username is nutfreenerd, so be sure to message me if you’re also participating! I’d love to chat with other people about how their writing is coming along!

Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month? Have you done so in the past, or in any other of their events? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

July 2015 Wrap-Up

July 2015 Wrap-Up

The summer is already half over- can you believe it? Each year as July comes to a close, I start to get a wee bit restless. Excitement about the upcoming school year begins to bubble inside of me, and this year is definitely no exception. Still, I keep reminding myself that it is nevertheless summer, and I’ve been really trying to take it all in. July was a great month, in more ways than one!
June

jane eyre coverIn July I read a total of 7 books:

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  2. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
  3. The Butterfly Effect by Andy Andrews
  4. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
  5. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  6. The Lost World by Michael Crichton
  7. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

I just realized how many amazing books I read in July! Picking a favorite is incredibly hard, but I’m going to say Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. But Vicious, The Lost World, and Jellicoe Road are amazing honorable mentions- really, they were fabulous!

June (1)

What a month! So many things happened, but it also feels as though I spent a lot of time relaxing and simply doing whatever I wanted. (Oh, the luxury of the summer in between high school and college!) Although I majorly failed at Camp NaNoWriMo (less than five thousand words- at least I wrote something!) I had a lot of fun with friends and family on various adventures.

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Saw this fabulous bird at our hotel in West Virginia- her name is Mosa, and boy was she talkative!
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Sparklers on the Fourth of July!
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A great beach day with friends.
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Yup, my friends and I walked all the way out there!
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I found a local ice cream place that has nut-free soft serve 🙂

I also went camping with my family like we do every summer, and I had a fantastic time!

June (2)

Since I obviously didn’t have school in July (SUMMER!!!) I was able to schedule plenty of posts ahead to time. I absolutely love scheduling posts, because it removes the hurried rush of having to write and edit posts minutes before I post them. I’ve really enjoyed taking my time with posts, getting the design of them just right, and allowing my ideas to fully develop before writing drafts. Hopefully August will provide a bunch of blogging time as well!

Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

Also, I recently wrote a guest post for Bella @ Ciao Bella! in her feature called Summer Lovin’. Her kind words certainly brightened my day! Click here to check it out! 

June (3)

Here are some posts that caught my eye in July (rhyme!) in the blogging community:

How was your July? What books did you read? What fun things did you do? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Favorites

July Favorites: Fall Out Boy, Pugs on Twitter, and My Love Affair with Guacamole

July Favorites

What a strange month this was! It’s the summer before I go to college for the first time, so I’m sort of stuck in that awkward transition between being a high school and college student. July has been filled with a lot of hanging out with family, relaxing, and getting super excited for college! Here are some of my favorite things from July:

  • What I've beenlistening to_“Young Volcanoes” by Fall Out Boy: This is a great summer song that I stumbled upon a few weeks ago. It’s awesome for jamming along to in the car!
  • “Summer Love” by Justin Timberlake: I’ve always had a love for Justin Timberlake, but lately I’m been on a Timberlake kick. This song is one of my favorites at the moment- and appropriately so, because it’s perfect for the summer!

What I've been watching_

  • The DUFF: I watched The Duff earlier this month and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s a fun, quirky movie with a really important message behind it. In case you missed my review of it, you can check it out by clicking here.

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  • Lost: I listed this last month as well, but I just couldn’t make July’s list without it! This show keeps getting better and better with each episode, and even though I have absolutely no idea where it’s going I still adore it. If you want to keep up to date with my thoughts about Lost, you can follow me on Twitter @peanutfreeisme for updates with #hollywatcheslost.

What I've been doing_

  • Following @PopularPugs on Twitter: I love pugs!! I’ve always wanted one, but I know they tend to have some health issues so my parents have never obliged. Instead, I found this fantastically adorable Twitter called @PopularPugs which tweets only pictures of the cute little buggers. I mean, isn’t it just ADORABLE?pug
  • Lighting Sparklers: On the Fourth of July my friends and I lit sparklers, and it was so much fun! It’s a teensy bit scary when the flame gets closer and the sparks start flying just inches away from your hands, but it’s worth the risk! They look so pretty, especially at night.

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  • Mini Golfing: I went mini golfing for the very first time this month, and it was so much fun! I’m pretty terrible at it and had no beginner’s luck whatsoever, but I had a blast doing it. There’s a course not too far away from my house, so I’ll have to go more often now!

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  • Guacamole: If you have never tried guacamole, you MUST. Oh my golly goodness, it’s AMAZING. It’s so easy to make, too- all you need are some avocados, salt, maybe some lime juice, and any other extra things you want to add it. Mash and mix it all together, and BAM you’ve got a bowl of tasty, delicious guac. Yum!

What are some of your June Favorites? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo is HERE!

www.nutfreenerd.com

Camp NaNoWriMo has begun, and I am so excited!! I’ve packed my backpack, my hiking gear, and my s’more supplies, so I am ready to set off. Of course, Camp NaNoWriMo isn’t really an outdoor camping adventure. Rather, it’s a month of writing as much as possible- ideally to reach the goal of 50,000 words.

Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is normally in November) has shined on July once more this year. Writers from around the country (and even the globe!) are gearing up with their pens and keyboards to create some seriously fantastic stories, poems, plays, anything! It officially began yesterday, but it’s definitely not too late to join in on the fun!

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My decision to participate in this event this year was sparked by two distinct reasons: 1) this is my last summer of doing nothing before college, so I might as well get some writing accomplished! and 2) an idea for a story suddenly came out of the shower head one night (as always) and popped into my mind, conveniently in time for Camp NaNoWriMo. My goal is to reach 25,000 words, so hopefully I can get there by the end of the month!

On the official Camp NaNoWriMo website my username is nutfreenerd, so be sure to message me if you’re also participating! I’d love to chat with other people about how their writing is coming along!

Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month? Have you done so in the past, or in any other of their events? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY