Winter Reads: Horses, Humor and Haute Couture

January 27, 2016

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

I love horses, stories told from non-human characters and adventure, and this book has plenty of it. The book which inspired the motion picture and the play, War Horse, was told through the eyes of Joey. A noble and trusty steed who was reared as a farm horse but was born with the heart of a soldier. Through his eyes, we watch as he is separated from his childhood friend and master, and is thrust into adulthood and straight into the raging war. Through his narrative, he boldly faces the depths of no-man's land and the secrets of the trenches. In the face of pain and strife, we watch him touch numerous lives; setting souls ablaze and giving the most unlikely of characters the strength to persevere. This tale of heroism, friendship, and brotherhood, War Horse, perfectly captured the essence of the human spirit through the eyes of a horse. Short and sweet, Joey's inspirational story is one full of turmoil, triumph, and transformation in the midst of one of the worst wars this world has known.

I can hate you more, but I'll never love you less.
- Michael Morpurgo, War Horse

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

If the title doesn't hook you right in, I don't know what will. An ode to the little voice in all of us full of random musings, honest advice and a great sense of humor, Mindy Kaling will keep you interested from the beginning to the end. Proving that she's the best friend that we all need, and the wise (and wisecracking) older sister that we all want, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) was a joy to read. Whether it's for the young woman who knows that she is  destined for greater things. Whether it's for those with larger-than-life imaginations and who have over-the-top moments. Or for those looking for nuggets of wisdom, this is the perfect book. Like reading a diary, the series of essays and biographical accounts welcomes you in like an old friend: arms wide, full of funny jokes and bit of good-natured sass. Relatable and intriguing, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) offers us insight into Mindy Kaling's life. As we experience what made Mindy Kaling, Mindy Kaling, we also learn a few things about ourselves. Honest and entertaining, I closed the book with a smile on my face, excitement for what the day would bring and an eagerness to face the world.

“I just want ambitious teenagers to know it is totally fine to be quite, observant kids. Besides being a delight to your parents, you will find you have plenty of time later to catch up.”
― Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
“Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.”
― Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

Who needs a life coach or an exotic getaway, when Sophia Amoruso's advice is already a breath of fresh air. It's the wind that lights the spark within you to answer your call (whatever it may be), to unleash your inner girlboss. Full of no-nonsense advice, the fascinating account of how Nasty Gal rose from a one-woman run Ebay shop to a multi-million dollar business is inspiring. Amidst the tale of dumpster diving, hernias, and thrift shopping, are plenty of valuable lessons for how you too can become your own girlboss (or guyboss). From acing your interviews to budgeting and from being authentic to embracing your own brand of weird, #Girlboss puts the "u" back in fun. As each page is filled with enough inspiration to give even DJ Khaled a run for his money, the book will give your view on life a new zest. It is a true testament to the notion that everything that you need is already instilled within you, Sophia Amoruso gives everyone the key to success. So, spread the word, get to hustling and get ready to be your own #Girlboss.

“The energy you’ll expend focusing on someone else’s life is better spent working on your own. Just be your own idol.”
― Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS

~Alexandra XO

Visualization Board: 6 Steps to Realizing Your New Year's Resolutions

January 01, 2016

Happy New Year! I've mentioned in previous posts about how great visualization boards are. They allow you to put all your various aspirations in one central place. If done well, it can create a positive atmosphere, help you to focus and fulfill your New Year's resolutions. Basically, it's a giant dream collage, which you can style any way you want.

Every new year or every time there is a shift in my goals, I make a new visualization board. This New Year, I decided to take it up a notch and create a Visualization-Action Board (or VAB for short). This way, I've created a central hub where I'm not only motivated to accomplish my new year's resolutions, but I also have the "tools" right at my disposal. Make sure to check out my previous post for more details on visualization boards and how to make the original version, because this time around, I'll be focusing more on the action part of the VAB. Enjoy!


  • A corkboard
  • Pushpins
  • Magazines
  • Washi tape (or ribbon)
  • Old cards
  • 2 types of wrapping paper
  • Sharpies
  • Post-its
  • My free calendar printout
  • A sheet protector or  a self-laminating sheet
  • Scissors
  • Mountable momentos

1. Find a corkboard of a suitable size. Grab your wrapping and scissors, and cut enough out to cover the cork suface of the board. Depending on the model you have, you'll either have to cut more so that the paper is able to be tucked and pinned around the edges or, you will need just enough to cover and pin the surface area.

2. Secondly, designate how much of the board will be dedicated to visualization and how much will be dedicated to action. Once you've decided, grab your ribbon or washi tape to create a line of division.


3. Now, here comes the fun part. Take your time to flip through magazines (that you don't mind cutting up), sort through old cards and momentos, for items to pin onto the visualization part of the board. Cut out whatever jumps out at you. Take whatever you feel fits within the mood or aspirations that you are trying to achieve. For example, if you wanted to lead a healthier lifestyle, then you could cut pictures of people in movement and action words. If you have more than one thing you'd like to focus on, don't sweat. The board can illustrate multiple aspects of your life and your goals.

Another great place to find clippings to put on your visualization board? General stores and local shops! Stores often have brochures, flyers or cards that can add a nice touch to your board. See the black cards, with golden accents on my board? I got them from Starbucks, and they are a perfect way to represent the globetrotter aspect of my visualization board.

Psst. Check out my previous post for more information. 


4. Cut out a square piece of wrapping paper (preferrably not the same kind), grab a sharpie and write out your New Year's resolutions. Make it bold and then pin it near the top of your board.

5. Grab some Post-It notes and arrange them across the center in two neat rows. This will serve as your "notification hub". This is where you'll write down memos, work that needs to be done or quotes for when you need a bit of motivation.

6. Print out my calendar template (it's free!) and grab your washi tape, scissors and self-laminating sheets (or sheet protectors). Using the scissors and tape, place a long strip of it across the top of the calendar. Then once you're satisfied, either slip it into the protector or slap on the laminating sheets. This way, you're productive and eco-friendly. Now you can use dry erase markers to fill in the month, the date and the monthly events.

VoilĂ ! Once everything is arranged to your liking, pin it down, hang up the board and enjoy.

~Alexandra XO

Happy New Year!

How do you keep track of your New Year's Resolutions?

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