2018, blog, blog post, blogpost, myblog, Uncategorized

Glamours of air travel

Doodles about my crazy morning trying to get to Houston.
You catch more bees with honey than vinegar.
You’re capable of more than you think, especially when you’re not afraid to ask for help.
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It started this morning at 6 am, when Nate drove me to the airport. I boarded my American Airlines flight at 8:30am, ready to head to Dallas where I’d have a one-hour layover then catch a connection to Houston. I was looking forward to seeing my Aunt Susan and the rest of my family. Then, I would drive to Dallas for a work conference.

Sitting on the flight, about to take off, the pilot loudly announces that there’s an issue with one of the navigation instruments and that maintenance is looking into it. An hour goes by. The pilot comes back on to tell us they can’t fix it and we have to get off the plane. As we trudge off back into the terminal, a gate agent hands us pre printed postcards with a hotline to call and info about our options.

I’m naive about flying and honestly thought they would direct us to a new plane and the flight would leave immediately. I started to follow the people in front of me until I realized they didn’t know anything that I didn’t know at that moment. I’m such a follower. Instead of going to a new plane, we all stood in a long line waiting to speak to the gate agent to make other arrangements.
My first thought was panic. What do I do? I’m alone. I can’t do this. I don’t know. I can feel my breathing growing shallow and felt very aware of the other passengers all paired up, helping each other book new travel plans.
I texted my mom and dad to tell them what happened, looking to them for advice. My mom told me to talk to the gate agent. My dad told me to take a Southwest flight. He researched flights and told me about one that was leaving at noon. By now it was 9am.
I got a text message from American saying my flight to Dallas was delayed until 12:30pm. If I took that American flight, then I’d just be stranded in Dallas. I had a choice to stick with American, try to get rebooked somehow or switch to Southwest.

The guy behind me in the non-moving line to speak with a service agent, was talking about the 12:30pm flight and I asked if he knew anything more and he said he’d gotten rebooked by calling the 800 number. So, I put away my hesitation to call the 800 number and dialed. I politely gave the woman on the other end of the phone my record locator number. I think these phone reps have such a hard job and deal with so many jerks. The least I can do, is not be a jerk to them. Especially because I need them to help me. The representative told me there was a flight got Houston leaving at 3pm, laying over in North Carolina and arriving in Houston at 7pm. That itinerary sounded terrible. She said I could always cancel my reservation and book with another airline. So that was it. I called my dad and over the phone, we booked the Southwest flight. Scribbling on the back of my ticket I wrote down my confirmation number and my immediate to do list.

  • Cancel American flight. Only cancel inbound flight, not return flight.
  • Call Volunteers of America.
  • Call Aunt Susan.
  • Call Nate.
I ran through my list of people I needed to tell about this and then exited the American terminal. I could finally breathe easy, I’d overcome this hurdle.
Not yet. Dad texted me saying he’d booked the flight for tomorrow, not today. I stared at my phone in disbelief. This wasn’t happening.
My dad apologized and told me there was a similar flight available for today. I went to the Southwest Airlines gate and to my surprise, there wasn’t a line to speak with an agent. Instead of telling the representative the whole story of this morning, I said that I’d like to change my reservation. She pulled up my flight and I told her I’d like to be booked on Flight 38. I held my breath. I expected a firm “no, that flight is booked.” It would be too easy if this were to work. She looked up at me and said “yes, we can do that.” She printed my boarding pass and wished Ms.Gillum a nice flight.
And so, here I am, in the Southwest gate waiting for this new flight. Going thru airport security twice in one day seems like cruel and unusual punishment. I’m thankful for my smartphone, for decent strangers, for my dad helping me so much, for my Aunt Susan being flexible and for my work for being understanding.

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My “I’m tired, maybe I should’ve just driven” face 
2018, blog, blog post, blogpost, myblog, Uncategorized

How to Answer Top 10 Interview Questions

pexels-photo-630839.jpeg

Interviewing for a job can be tough. You want to be honest but still show yourself in the best light. It’s a nerve-wracking process!  Learn about the best strategies to approach 10 common interview questions.

  1. Tell me about yourself.

This is where you can give your elevator speech. Make sure what you say aligns with how your qualifications match the job description. No need to give your life story from birth or go into personal matters. Focus on the meaningful job experience you’ve had. Bonus point if you throw in a fun fact that highlights your personality. I like to mention I was President of my college Quidditch team because that shows my leadership experience and shows I like Harry Potter. It usually causes the interviewer to ask what Quidditch is or gawk that it’s  real sport.

2. Why are you leaving your current role?

Never bad mouth a former employer. Don’t talk smack about co-workers, the company, the role, anything. Keep it positive. If currently employed, you can say that you’re looking for career growth. No one can fault you for wanting to grow your career. I like to say I’m looking for a new challenge or a place where I can use my strengths.

3. Why should I hire you?

I’m always tempted to smart-ass this question and answer “Because.” Something tells me that answer would be frowned upon. When answering this interview question, mention your relevant skills. You should be prepared for this question because it’s honestly what the whole interview is about and everyone knows you should prepare before the interview. You can’t stammer or hesitate on this one. Think about what the company and the interviewer needs and show them YOU are the solution.

4. Why do you want to work at our company?

This question translates to “Do you know who we are? Have you done your research?” Try to invest an hour or so researching the company’s website and their LinkedIn profile. Try to read their annual report or latest news release. Every hour of an interview = 2 hours of research.  Bonus points for researching who will be interviewing you. Do you have anything in common with them? Subtly bring that up in the interview. “You went to Denison? I also went to Denison!”  or   “I couldn’t help but notice you used to work at Disney World. My family has gone there every year since I was born. What a magical place!”

5. Why have you been out of work for so long?

Ick, this question just plain sucks and feels rude to me but you gotta answer it.  Try and mention any volunteer experience you’ve done, any freelancing you done and frame caring for your family as the full-time demanding job that it is. Admit that you’re taking time to reflect on who you are and what job would be best for you. Talk about how you read the book What Color is Your Parachute or did some personality tests to better understand how you can best serve a company.

6. Tell me a situation when your work was criticized.

Tell a story. Paint them a picture that they will remember after the interview. Admit that you were at fault or failed somehow but give it a positive spin. Show the resolution and emphasize that you welcome criticism and how it helps you grow. (Pro tip: Avoid mentioning your tendency to cry every time you’re criticized).

7. Could you have done better in your last job?

Always. Point out hindsight is 20/20 and very carefully give an instance or tell a story of something you would’ve done differently or would’ve liked to have done. Mention you’re a lifelong learner and always improving yourself. This question could quickly turn south, so approach with caution.

8. What are your goals?

Mention 1-2 specific work-related or professional goals. Don’t say you have no goals or list vague goals. State a SMART goal that relates to your professional career. Or, you can talk about a personal goal.

9. How much money do you want?

Oh geez, I think people have written entire books about how to answer this question. There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about this question too. I vote to ask “Do you have a budget or pay range in mind?” but then again I’ve heard that the first person to throw out a number wins. I don’t like to say my current salary because I’m not applying for my current role, I’m applying for a new role, so it should have a new salary.  Do you research and know what you’re worth and state your range from X to Y. Keep in mind the company’s benefits and what those are worth to you. If it’s an hourly job you’re looking at, take the hourly rate and multiply by 2080 to find your annual salary.

10. How old are you?

This is an illegal question that I’ve been asked before and answered. You certainly don’t have to answer illegal questions about how many kids you have, religion, sexual orientation, birth control use, citizenship and marriage. You can reply with “How is this relevant to the position?”

 

Interviewing is hard! It can be tough to brag about yourself or show that you are the best candidate for the role. With experience, you’ll get better and it will hopefully start to feel more like a friendly conversation than an interrogation.

2017, blog, blogpost, may

Career Growth Tips for Millennial PR Professionals

Being a young professional in the public relations industry is so exciting! And yet, kind of scary at the same time. There’s a lot to juggle and unfortunately, your Communications 102 course didn’t cover networking. Here’s some advice for millennials looking to grow their career in the PR industry.
Utilize all of LinkedIn
You probably made a LinkedIn when you were in college and it’s been collecting dust for a few years. Well, brush off that dust, look up your password and log back in.
  •         Add descriptions and job titles for previous work experience
    •    Include college and high school internships as well as volunteer work
    • List job duties, responsibilities, achievements, projects, and instances where you went above and beyond your job description. Include work samples and show off projects.
  •         Write articles on LinkedIn. This asserts your expertise on a topic, will be displayed at the top of your profile and shows you’re participating and adding content to the LinkedIn community.  
  •         Endorse skills and write recommendations for co-workers and people you’ve worked with in the past. What goes around comes around, as the great Justin Timberlake once said.
  •         Update your Headline and keep in mind LinkedIn’s algorithm uses these keywords.
  •         Write a summary that stands out from the crowd, avoids jargon and cliché’s and reflects who you are. Have some fun with it.
  •         Use a professional profile photo that is a nice headshot that doesn’t look like it came straight from Instagram. Sorry Mayfair filter, you don’t belong on LinkedIn.
  •         Participate in LinkedIn by Liking and Commenting on articles in your news feed. But, keep in mind, your entire network will be able to see what you like and comment on. With great power comes great responsibility.

Participate in Industry Groups
Connect with individuals who share your passion for PR in your community. Look at the websites of groups like American Marketing Association (AMA), American Advertising Federation (AAF), Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) or other related groups in your area. These groups are great for staying up to date on industry trends and networking.
  •         Sign up for their email newsletters
  •         Attend their events to learn more about what they do and who they are
  •         Consider investing in a yearly membership
  •         Get involved by joining a committee
  •         Stay up to date with PR industry trends by subscribing to relevant email newsletters and reading trade magazines.

Networking doesn’t have to be work
Sometimes the word networking can make introverts want to pull the covers over their heads. Re-frame the word by thinking about networking as making new friends and just keeping in touch with them.
·        You can meet people to network with anywhere, not just at specified networking events. A great place to meet new people is through volunteering at local events like fairs or festivals.
·        Most people will be happy to sit down with you and offer their perspective and advice. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and will be flattered you asked.
·        Offer to grab coffee with someone you’d like to get to know more. Come prepared by looking at their LinkedIn profile beforehand and jotting down some relevant questions. Pay for their coffee and respect their time by keeping it under an hour.
·        Take time to nurture relationships and make a commitment to go outside your comfort zone to get to know new people. It’s okay to talk about non-work related topics and this can even help you find things you have in common.
Keep it Professional or Private
Potential employers will likely search your online presence and don’t want to see your drunk tweets. Take time to clean up your online presence.
·        Google your name and see what links and photos come up. Clean up the less than flattering content.
·        Make your social media platforms private if you have any questionable content.
·        Be aware of how you carry yourself online and try to keep it professional as much as possible.
Be Proud of Your Work
Humility is an admirable trait, except when it comes to job interviews and portfolios.
·        Keep track of your successful projects, campaigns, and works by adding them to your LinkedIn or portfolio.
·        Maintain a personal website that showcases who you are as a PR Professional, your resume or skills, contact info and most importantly, your work samples or portfolio.
·        When chatting with others in the industry, it’s okay to give yourself some props and mention a successful campaign you managed. Mentioning an achievement once is not the same as bragging. Hogging the conversation and only talking about how great you are is bragging.
Have a Side Hustle
As a young professional, it can be hard to get the necessary experience. If you’re starting out, consider offering up your skills and expertise to small organizations or charities.
·        This is a great way to increase your portfolio, learn other skills, meet new people and increase your value to an employer
·        Reach out to local non-profits or small businesses and offer to write press releases, plan events, create graphics, help boost their social media presence, etc.
·        Be realistic about how much time you have to commit to a side hustle. Do you have the necessary time to help this organization on evenings and weekends?
·        Make sure it doesn’t interfere with your current position and your company allows it.
·        Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you have to work for free. Stand up for yourself and ask to be reasonably compensated.  

Wow, that was a lot. It’s okay not to do everything all at once and expect perfection. Don’t compare yourself to where other young professionals are in their career. Focus on improving yourself and learning new skills. Good luck on your journey and always be yourself!  
blog, blogpost, social media, work sample

Good Makery Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

February 10, 2017

There’s a special someone in your life and you want to get them something spectacular for Valentine’s Day. But, what do you get them? Take a deep breath, eat some chocolate and let this list of gift ideas come to your rescue:
  • Watch: Give your special someone a gift they will treasure all year long. Every time they check the time, they’ll think of you. 
  • Custom stamp: How cool would it be to have your own personalized stamp? You can write both your names or signatures on the stamp to always remember your love. A great way to liven up thank-you notes. 
  • Necklace: What better way to keep your Valentine close to your heart, than engraving their name on a special necklace, made just for them. It’s as beautiful as your love. 
  • Coasters: If your bae is slowly ruining your wooden table, subtly remind them to use a coaster, with these customizable coasters, available in ceramic tiles or in cork. 
  • Homemade cookies: Any Valentine will sincerely appreciate the time and effort spent crafting some delicious goodies. 
  • Magnet: A simple yet useful gift to hold important photos, shopping lists or notes on the fridge.
  • Candle: Nothing burns brighter than your love… except for this candle. Our scented soy candles last over 90 hours and include a heartfelt message and personalized gift inside a glass bottle.
  • Phone case: A practical yet lovely gift for that will keep you two in-sync. 
  • Cactus: This little green succulent will grow with some TLC and is long-lasting, just like your love. They will treasure this prickly plant forever. 
If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with a sincerely written card, flowers and box of chocolates.

apartment, blog, blogpost, debbie, debbiegillum, july, myblog

My Review of Albany Woods

I’m moving out of my apartment soon and I wanted to share with others the nice time I’d had and why I’d recommend others move there too.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Albany Woods and would recommend it to anyone. First, the apartments are big. You get a lot of square feet for what you pay. It’s a good rate compared to other New Albany apartments.

I liked being within biking distance of the library, churches and the Kroger grocery store. The pool is very nice and often used by the residents. It closes in the winter and opened Memorial Day weekend.

There was always plenty of parking for myself and guests. It was never an issue.

The walking trail around the property is something that really sets Albany Woods apart. It’s great for walking and jogging at any time of day. There is also a nice dog park and community garden.

The dumpster was near my apartment so taking out the trash wasn’t a big deal. If you’re ever looking for free crappy furniture, that’s the place to go. There were always couches, TV stands, mattresses and other random old furniture there.

They also have a 24hr fitness center connected to the leasing office. It has two TVs, an elliptical, weight machine and two treadmills. It’s hardly ever used so it’s a nice workout room.

I had soft fluffy carpet (while a weird color, it hid stains nicely) that I liked. I also had nice stainless steel appliances.

The leasing staff was always very friendly. They would answer my questions and be happy to grab packages that were held for me. In the leasing office, there is free Starbucks coffee, movie rentals, book rentals, newspapers, magazines, printers and computers. Best of all, they often had freshly baked cookies. It’s a great leasing office!

I often felt that the grounds were very quiet, like a nursing home almost. I always felt safe, especially with the gate. Even for living relatively near the highway, the noise was not an issue. I was worried it would be an issue but it never bothered me.

Maintenance requests can be made online and are responded to in a timely fashion. The men are very friendly and leave a note inside when they’ve completed the request. I never had any major maintenance requests that weren’t properly handled. Maintenance was very good about salting and plowing during the winter. They did their best.

The only reason I’m moving is because of the location. I want to be closer to downtown Columbus and right now it’s a 15-20 minute drive with no traffic.

They do have an online rent payment system but it doesn’t seem to take the money out on time and so I’ve heard horror stories about people being charged late fees when they use the system.

In regards to other complaints: yes, there was flooding around the grounds but it was just after a big rain storm came through. The gates did stay open in the cold weather to prevent the gates from freezing, so it was for a justified reason. I never saw a lot of dog poop in the grass, like previous people have complained about. Someone mentioned garages are rented out for storage to people who don’t live there. From what I observed, that is correct. But, I never wanted to pay the $80 a month for a garage anyway so it was fine. The stairs were fine in my opinion and like I said, noise wasn’t an issue.

If you’re considering moving to Albany Woods, I’d say go for it! You won’t be disappointed.

blog, blogpost, debbie, disney, disneyworld, list, photos, tips

Disney World Tips

I recently went to Disney World with my mom and best friend, Emily, and I wanted to share some of my tips for having an amazing Disney vacation. 
Tip #0: This post is a thinly disguised way of me to show off my vacation photos and tell you how much I enjoyed/ am missing Disney World. These tips are pretty non-earth-shattering.
Tip #1: Be a kid. I thought lollipops were only for little kids but no, they can be for anyone and they are always wonderful. I recommend splurging on a Disney lollipop and enjoying the Tomorrowland Transit Authority ride. It slowly takes you around Tomorrowland and allows you to enjoy you lolly. 
Tip #2: Meet the characters. You’re never too old to take the time and meet the Disney characters. And I found myself talking more about my interactions with the characters than the rides, when people asked me how my trip was. In the Magic Kingdom, they now have a talking Mickey. Yup, the Mickey that we met “talked” to us and it was a pretty neat use of some fancy technology. 

 Also, when we met Anna and Elsa from Frozen, they were incredibly friendly and Anna would call little boys “little snowmen.” How adorable!

Tip #3: Go swimming. We took advantage of the nice weather and the fact that we weren’t in snowy Ohio by going to our hotel’s pool. Most Disney resort hotel pools are so incredible and even if you’re only at the pool for an hour or so, it’s a great thing to include in your vacation. 

Tip #4: Make unique photos. Be more creative than everyone else by thinking of neat photo ideas. So like we spelled Ohio with the Epcot ball as our last O. And we also mimicked Anna and Elsa when they were displayed as flowers in Epcot. Have fun in your photos. 

Tip #5: Make weird faces in your ride photos. Emily and I are experts at this. Whether it’s on Buzz Lightyear or Spaceship Earth, know where the camera is and make the strangest face you can think of. Emily and I laughed so hard when we saw the face that the other one had made. 

Tip #6: Treat yo self. I’ve been trying very hard to spend less money recently but I did treat myself to things like a t-shirt, a photo frame and a mocha from the Epcot Starbucks. I was very excited to experience Starbucks at Disney World. Pretty much the only difference is the cup. 

Tip #7: Enjoy the gift shops. They sell some incredible stuff at Disney. I’m not saying you need to buy any of it, but you should at least look at it. I mean, how amazing are those wine glasses and that beer stein? 

Tip #8: Stay on Disney property. It’s not cheap but the perks make it worth it. You get free transportation by bus, free parking at the theme parks, extra magic hour perks, and really nice accommodations. We stayed at a DVC room at Old Key West and it was a gigantic hotel room with a lovely porch that overlooked “Turtle Pond.” It also had a full kitchen, two bathrooms, two bedrooms and a washer/ dryer which we used. 

blog, blogpost, january

Saturday blog post

So far this week, I’ve been really good about working out. I exercised in some way every day. I didn’t always do an intense workout but I got up off the couch which counts for something in my book.

This morning I went to Zumba and that was fun. I always like working out to music, especially songs I know. The moves were complicated at times but I reminded myself that as long as I stayed moving then that’s all that mattered. And it’s also key to remember that no one is judging you or waiting for you to look like a fool. Once I get that through my head, then I get to enjoy the class more. 
Yesterday, I worked at home in the afternoon and worked at Barnes and Noble in the evening. It was pretty crowded at B&N because the author Mike Greenberg was there doing a book signing. The good majority of customer transactions were Mike Greenberg’s book and a copy of the Sports Illustrated issue with the Buckeyes on the cover. I found it entertaining how similar people’s purchases were. When I check someone out, I try and make some kind of small talk with them. I appreciate when someone chats with me and they usually seem to like the conversation too. I get excited when someone buys a Bible or a devotional of some kind. It’s great to see people wanting to grow in their faith. 
I’m still in training in terms of being a bookseller. I honestly think I could remain in training for a month and still not know everything in that store. It’s often a struggle to find things. The guy training me yesterday he reminded me that I should always ask questions. I almost joked that it would be no problem for me to do that. As a reporter, that’s a big part of my job. But then he went on to say that I should not be afraid to make a mistake. That’s way easier said than done. Often, I try so hard to seem like I’ve got it all under control when I don’t. It’s pretty easy to read on my face when I’m flustered or confused by something. I’m still wrestling with what he said. I think it means that it’s okay to make a mistake and that it’s not the end of the world. Maybe one of these days, that’ll sink in. 🙂 
My pizza did not look like this. 
Random facts: 
I’m whitening my teeth right now with those little strips that you keep on for a half hour. 
For breakfast, I tried to make a spinach egg and cheese pita pizza. It came out fine. Next time, I’d build the nest of spinach leaves more carefully so the egg stays in the middle. Some of the pizza stuck to the foil because the egg spilled out everywhere. 
blog, blogpost, book, book review, january, rainbow, rowell

Landline Book Review

After reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I picked up another book by her. And I expected it to be another young adult novel. But, Landline felt really different than Fangirl because it’s an adult novel aimed at young adult women or married women. It’s a more mature novel because one of the major topics is marriage.

Georgie McCool (yup, that’s her name) is a TV writer living in California. She married Neal, a quiet guy who drew comics at her college humor paper. They had two little girls together. Slowly, Georgie put her work above her family and things reach a breaking point when she has to choose whether to go to Omaha to visit Neal’s family for Christmas or stay in LA to write episodes for her original TV show that is close to being picked up. Neal and the kids end up going to Omaha without her. Distraught, Georgie stays at her mom’s house and uses her mom’s landline to call Neal. The phone magically connects her to a younger Neal from the past. So now, Georgie has the opportunity to change her future and possibly fix her marriage.

I appreciated the deep character development in Landline. The backstories of Georgie, her husband Neal, and her best friend Seth are slowly revealed throughout the novel.  We see how Georgie and Neal first meet, their fights, wedding, etc. Rowell is such a beast at writing dialogue.

I loved how Georgie repeatedly ignored problems until they blew up in her face. Rowell shows us this trait first by describing how Georgie’s phone battery is dead but she hasn’t gotten around to fixing it because it works when plugged in. Also, Georgie has an ancient bra that she loves but the underwire is poking her. It’s not until it gets shredded in her mom’s laundry machine that she has to throw it away. These consistent tidbits about her helped me understand why she didn’t confront the problems in her marriage sooner.

I also liked how difficult tasks were for Georgie. She doesn’t just fly to Omaha. She deals with the front desk woman. She has to fly to Denver first. The flight doesn’t immediately take off. She sits next to rude people (Georgie asks if a mom wants to sit next to her son and she replies, ” Mhm no. They use seat assignments to identify the bodies”), she gets stranded in Denver, her phone finally dies, there aren’t taxis in Omaha, it’s snowing, she’s not dressed properly, etc.

This book really reminded me of Swim by Jennifer Weiner because both main characters are TV show writers, struggle with relationships and confidence, and it’s more about the characters than the plot.

Personally, I didn’t like Neal because his personality always seemed prickly like a porcupine. Part of me was rooting for Georgie to end things with him. I’d choose Seth in a heartbeat if I were Georgie. When Seth finally told her how he felt, I squealed. But, I realize it’d be a cliche and boring novel if Georgie just ditched her husband (and father of two kids) for her hot best friend.

The ending disappointed me because it was too much of a “happy ending.” Then again, I’d probably be complaining if it wasn’t a happy ending. I didn’t like how they magically got back together again and how the meeting for the television show was no longer a priority. It felt like the conflict was ignored and not resolved.

I think the novel could’ve been just as good without the supernatural time-traveling phone. The character development was strong enough to carry the novel and I think a more realistic plot could’ve followed. What do you think?

blog, blogpost, book, book review, january

Fangirl book review

I just finished listening to/ reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I loved the book. So much that I bought the hardcover after listening to half of the book in my car. I went for long drives just so I could listen to the book.

I’m always sad when good books are over, and I feel the same with this one. But for some reason, I’m bummed that it had such a happy ending. Everything seems to magically work out for Cath. What little drama there was toward the end, seemed like filler conflict. Like, when Levi and Cath fought about her focusing too much on writing her fanfiction. I got excited that they were finally having a real argument. But then, it lasted one minute and they made up and forgave each other. That part of Cath’s and Levi’s relationship felt unrealistic to me. They rarely had serious conflicts.

I liked the character of Nick but was disappointed with how he became this “how-not-to-be-a-boyfriend” character. He changed from being a really nice friend who Cath enjoyed spending time with to some unlikeable monster way too quickly. I liked that he took the credit for the story they wrote together. That was good conflict. But then, he’s never heard from again, except at the end in a scene where at first I thought the only purpose was to remind the reader that Nick is stupid and will never be as good as Levi. But now I think that scene served to help Cath write her final fiction writing story.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the Simon Snow passages but I could still appreciate them and they were refreshing.

I read some of the reviews on Goodreads about this book and I disagree with some of the girls who say that Cath was passive. She chose to go help her sister and dad when they were in need. She almost chose not to write her final English project. She could stand up to Levi sometimes. While I think she could be passive at times, I can’t say she was absolutely passive.

I absolutely loved the writing and story-telling in this book. I also admit that I’m biased because I could relate to some stuff in the novel. It put me back in college and back into my fiction writing class.

I appreciated how slow Levi and Cath’s relationship went. It wasn’t love at first sight. They didn’t immediately have sex. Heck, them saying I love you was a big deal that the reader had to wait and wait for. But, that made it feel genuine and real to me.

The characters all felt real to me. I sympathized with them and cared about their problems.

Several parts in the book made me laugh out loud. There are several really good one-liners sprinkled in the book. I appreciated that occasional humor.

I’d recommend this book to high schoolers, college students, those interested in writing, Harry Potter fans, fanfiction readers and those who want a light hearted young adult romance.

Funfact: I caught a typo on page 407. It reads “It has nothing to with you.” Pretty sure the word “do” is missing there.

blog, blogpost, grocery, kroger, shopping

Grocery Shopping Tips

Living on my own, I’ve gotten to experience the ups and downs of grocery shopping. My apartment is two minutes away from a Kroger so I’m never far away from the magical grocery shopping experience.

Here are some really useful and practical tips to save you money and time on your next grocery store trip.

  • Keep a list: Maintain a running list in the Notes section of your phone of all the things you’ve run out of in the pantry and fridge as well as the things you’ve decided that life so far has been incomplete without (like chocoalte chip Eggo waffles). That little shopping list keeps me focused when I’m in the store and helps me get everything all in one trip. 
  • Gas discounts: Some grocery stores offer discounts on gas, and you should take advantage of that. Kroger offers 3 cents off gas and then 10 cents off if you spend $100 on gas and groceries combined. 
  • One trip to rule them all: It was a Saturday morning and I was making crepes. I reach into my fridge to grab the milk and to my horror, discover I was out of milk. So, I drove to Kroger (looking gross, having not showered yet) and bought the milk, along with other impulse buys (candy). So now I try really hard to avoid going to the grocery just for one thing because I know I’ll end up buying things I don’t need. 
  • Cut out coupons: I’m a big fan of cutting out coupons from the Sunday paper. Make sure to only cut out coupons you think you’ll actually use. Heck, you can even invest in a coupon organizer. I’ve got one. Try to use coupons to help you buy the things you already buy. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon. I learned this the hard way. 
  • Digital coupons: Grocery stores have entered the twenty first century. Kroger, my grocery store of choice (similar to drug of choice), offers digital coupons. This is da bomb because you simply buy the product for the coupon, scan your Kroger card (beeeeeep) and the coupon is magically applied. You don’t have to tell the cashier you’re using the coupon or hand him anything. It’s a win-win for you and the teenage cashier with long dark brown hair and bright green eyes. 
  • Free items: Kroger offers a free item every Friday. It’s e-mailed out to Kroger members and all you do is load the digital coupon onto your card.  Last week, I got a free pack of Belvita breakfast biscuits (which I never would’ve bought otherwise, but now I know how yummy they are), a two liter of Sprite (which tastes delicious with peppermint schnapps), a big bag of cereal (that I gave to my mom), and other great stuff. 
    Some grocery stores offer free items
  • Never go grocery shopping hungry: Eat at least a granola bar before. When you go in on an empty stomach, you will emerge with a full cart of food that you impulsively bought. 
  • Plan out your list according to the store layout: Depending on how your drug of choice, ahem, I mean grocery store of choice, is laid out, sort your list accordingly. So at my Kroger, I put the produce first then my canned goods, cereals, alcohol, etc. 
  • Choose the smallest cart: Heck, choose a basket if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. The basket keeps you from loading up with stuff you don’t need. In Kroger, you’ll find me bee-boppin around with one of those lil baby carts. I love those carts like they were my own child. I could name it Carter… 
  • Buy generic: Consider the generic alternatives to save money. You won’t notice a difference and the price difference can be considerate. Often, the generic is cheaper than the brand name item bought with a coupon. 
  • Be polite: Move out of the way if you’re blocking something in an aisle, get off your cell phone, be courteous to the cashier and bag boy, and just be a nice human being to others in the grocery. 
  • Shop at odd times: If you want to shop in peace and quiet, avoid afternoons and evenings. Many people go shopping after work and I’ve noticed that’s when it can be very busy. Shopping late at night is a sure way to beat the crowds. You also get to meet other neat night shoppers, like yourself. 
I think this blog post confirms my intense love of Kroger.