Life Update | Marriage, Moving To America, and Kittens.

3/24/2019


This is so long overdue that it's almost laughable. I haven't really written anything personal on my blog for over a year, maybe even longer. Part of that was due to my break from anything social media, which sadly goes hand-in-hand with blogging. I wrote up my To All The Social Medias I've Loved Before post, but that was written down in physical form long before I even thought of posting it on here. It's been an internal struggle for me to decide whether I even wanted to continue with this part of the Internet, purely because my love for the interacting part of the blogging world went away. I wanted to hide, and posting seemed nonsensical if I wasn't willing to socialise for it. But I'm trying to rediscover my passion for this one thing that is purely mine in my world (this blog), so.. hi, again. And let's catch up. (I'm choosing to sip on some wine during this one-sided ramble but please, order whatever drink you want, it's on me.)


The last time I properly checked in, me and my long distance boyfriend got engaged. Yay, that would totally last, right? Ha! Jokes on anyone that thought otherwise, we're now married and I have, in theory, moved to California while we go through the dreary process that is immigration. *Insert in Chandler Bing voice* Could we of chosen a more better time to do this? Well.. probably, but it's seemingly going smoothly so far. Want me to summarise how we got here? Oh, okay. Promise to try and do it in as little words as possible. 

I came for another 3 month visit back in January of 2018, and after a few appointments with various lawyers to discuss our options, we decided to do the one that was me outstaying my visa and getting married before we even applied for a green card. Sounds highly illegal, I know, but it's actually quite a common method of doing this whole immigration process and one of the more faster ways that didn't require me being either unable to see my better half or my mother for too long a period. Well, that was initially the case but as it's now been close to a year since we married and only received the letter regarding my final interview a few weeks ago. The government, am I right? Nevertheless, we're getting there and I'm as excited as I am nervous. I'm desperate to go home and see my family, and yet I am equally happy in the little life me and my husband have created. This is single-handedly the most selfish thing I have done in my life, but I think it was the best decision given the circumstances. 


Since getting married we have moved into our own space that is purely thanks to his family, people I will never be more thankful for knowing. He was off work to a work injury for close to a year, which really helped in our life building. And you know, as cliche as it may sound, it was really good for us. We spent almost an entire year in each others company, rarely doing anything apart, and it didn't affect us negatively in any way. We still missed each other after he'd go out for a few hours, and we found new things to do with each other that wasn't just watching TV or going out for day trips. I think it helped us see how a future would be, and that really did aid in our decision making process. The beginning of our relationship was defined by the small chunks of the year that we got to physically be together, and it made us crave these days we now probably take for granted.. the days of chores, household duties, and just doing simple things like reading. My point being.. I think we're now just your average couple and I probably can't call us a LDR anymore. What a wonderful thing to write.

Now time for the most important part of this entire post.. We adopted two kittens! Right? That's what you were waiting for. My main little kitty Bruno is still in the UK living with my mum, and though I hope it's still a decision we need to make one day, he is now probably better undisturbed. I miss him like a chunk of my heart has been ripped out, but it is what it is and he's doing okay. That's all that matters. The kittens have helped, but they'll never take up his place.
About them.. They're siblings, a girl and a boy. And both are as bonkers as each other. They were roughly 8-12 weeks old when we brought them home, and now they're nearing 11 months. We adopted them from the Santa Cruz Animal Centre which I highly recommend if you're in the area and looking to adopt. The volunteers there were all so friendly and helpful. The girl cat, Lea (she's the less fluffy one) is a little rascal who demands attention like it's going out of kitty style. Dresden (the fluffy one) on the other hand, only really likes attention if it involves giving him loves or food. He definitely found it the hardest to adjust when we brought him home, but looking to his sister helped and now we rarely get any room on the bed thanks to his space hogging. He also thinks it's okay to take snacks out of my hand as I'm eating them. Safe to say, he's no longer nervous around us. They're happy and we're honoured to be their parents.

Health wise, I've been doing okay. Fibromyalgia will always be something that dominates aspects of my life, but I'm learning to manage it better. I've definitely gained perspective on the theory that getting a better handle on ones mental health will aid in coping with physical pain, and that's something I'm grateful for. It's all a journey, but one I'm starting to not hate myself for having to go on. 

Writing it all down like this makes me realise just how much my life has changed during the past 12 months. It's crazy, but wonderful. I'm thinking of doing a series going through the entire immigration process once we've finished surviving experiencing ours, so do let me know if that would be something that'd interest you. And of course, expect a post all about the cats because I'm Anne and Cat Lady syndrome is my life description.

Do let me know what you were drinking! 
PS: I started a Book Instagram account, to hopefully aid in rediscovering my love for social media. Want to interact on there? Give me a follow and let's chat >> @BranchingPages

7 TV Shows To Binge On Hulu

3/21/2019


There are so many posts online advising you on what to watch on Netflix, but where's our recommendations for Hulu? Any other Hulu lovers out there? The shows on this list are either my current favourites or past rewatch favourites. Enjoy!


Single Parents (2018-)
Seasons: 1 (so far *fingers crossed*)
When Will's seven-year-old daughter Sophie starts at a new school, he is quick to be a part of the PTA and encourage other parents to take part in school activities. Enter in the outcasts, the other "single parents". The group decide to band together to get Will out into the dating world and make him realise that being a great parent doesn't mean sacrificing everything about his own identity.

This is one of those comedies that sounds plain on the tin, but holds some delicious crumbly cookies on the inside. Much like Brooklyn 99, Kimmy Schmidt, and HIMYM, the characters are what make Single Parents stand out as a great show. Each character is original and no one takes a backseat in the character development department. Plus it stars Leighton Meester, need I say more?


One Tree Hill (2003-2012)
Seasons: 9
In the town of Tree Hill, the high school basketball team defines it's residents. When Lucas Scott, the half brother of the high school star Nathan Scott, joins the team, emotions grow heightened and no one is unaffected by the newcomer. In the style of Friday Night Lights, Dawsons Creek, and The OC, this is a teen drama that has more depth than you'd ever imagine going in. But personally, having watched almost all the popular teen dramas, OTH is the best. I love the characters, and it got better with each season.

If you're reluctant to start this because it appears to be revolved around sports, have no fear as this is definitely more about the characters. Originally the creator wanted to make a movie revolved around basketball but instead got the script picked up as a TV show, which is a fun fact that most definitely explains why season one feels very much different than the following seasons.


Dollhouse (2009-2010)
Seasons: 2
I'm not including the godsends that are Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel on here, because I'm assuming you have a smart brain and have thus already rewatched both a million times. Dollhouse is from the same creator Joss Whedon (aka: the Earth's own personal TV God), and stars the flawless Eliza Dushku.

In this she plays Echo, a human who has signed a contract to be under the control of the Dollhouse, a secret facility in which they erase the personalities of human beings so they can assume any relevant personas they may be assigned in engagements that cater to the wealthy, powerful and well-connected. After each assignment, the "actives" are subjected to another personality wipe so they can enter the next scenario with no memory of an earlier one. As the series unfolds, Echo's memory begins to return, and she slowly starts piecing together her true identity. If you like sci-fi, fantasy, or something fast-paced that captures your attention instantly, watch this.


Rosewell (1999-2002)
Seasons: 3
Bizarre things start happening in the little New Mexico town where UFOs were spotted in 1947. Cut to 1999, when a cute high-school student saves the life of an equally cute teenage waitress. Max and Liz try and find the line between teen romance and trying to not get captured by, well, the government.

If you love a good cheesy angsty teen drama, this should be your pick. If you watch the first few episodes, and can't get with the cheesy acting, stick with it! Trust me, it gets so better. It is mindless entertainment with a good looking cast, great family dynamics, and a great storyline that has far more depth the more you watch.


Ally McBeal (1997-2002)
Seasons: 5
Young lawyer Ally McBeal experiences emotional turmoil when she takes a job at a firm where her childhood sweetheart and first love also works.

A strange mix between Will&Grace and Suits (kind of, I couldn't think of better examples), this was a 90's hit starring the lovely Calista Flockhart as our main girl Ally. With quirky dark humour, you'll be marathoning the series and devouring Chinese food with a big grin on your face.


Firefly (2002-2003)
Seasons: 1 (Plus a movie titled Serenity)
Another Joss Whedon show, Anne? ... Yes. This is cowboys in space though, so of course it's going on this list. When Simon and River Tam come on board the ship Serenity, Captain Mal and his crew of rebels get shoved into an even darker side of space.

This is one of those infamous one season shows that is still loved by the fandom to such an extent that cons and forums still exist. Every person I know who has watched this one hit wonder, loved it and continues to rewatch episodes with a secret hope that more will somehow appear. Just watch it, whether you love sci-fi, character development, or comedy. It's got something for everyone, and ain't that just shiny? (This is also the show that bonded me and my now husband when we first met online, so it's got a special place in my heart.)


Ghost Adventures (2008-)
Seasons: 6 on Hulu
Aaron, Nick and Zak are three of the most elite ghost hunters of our generation. Follow their adventures in the few seasons that Hulu has available.

The only non-fiction on this list, this is the classic show of a team going ghost hunting. But with more integrity than some others I shan't name (*cough* Ghost Hunters, Most Haunted *cough*). But the main reason me and my mother enjoy rewatching GA so much is the friendship dynamic between the guys. Even if you don't believe in anything paranormal, you'll find yourself laughing at some of the antics they get up to. Give it a go, you may be surprised.
-

Quick note to list the things I assume you've already watched but that I love:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Angel
Will & Grace
Brooklyn 99
Smallville
The Handmaid's Tale

What are you currently marathoning on either Netflix or Hulu? Let me know in the comments!



The 30 Books I'd Keep | The Marie Kondo Challenge

3/10/2019


When word spread that Marie Kondo suggested one should own 30 books or less, the Internet rioted. But it did come out with a fun tag so that's what we're doing today. To quote her exactly from her book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up;

"I'm afraid that from personal experience I can tell you right now, 'sometime' becomes never. If you missed your chance to read a particular book, even if it was recommended to you or is one you have been intending to read for ages, this is your chance to let it go. You may have wanted to read it when you bought it, but if you haven't read it by now, the book's purpose was to teach you that you didn't need it. There's no need to finish reading books that you only got halfway through. Their purpose was to be read halfway. So get rid of all those unread books. It will be far better for you to read the book that really grabs you right now than one that you left to gather dust for years."

I do have a brief disclaimer, my choices are random as all hell. Don't read this expecting to see Charles Dickens or Jane Austen. No doubt they are authors of books that ought to be devoured for an entire lifetime, but Marie's whole spiel is to only keep things that bring you happiness, so with that I looked at my shelves and chose the books that make me smile and cause my fingertips to twitch with the temptation to reread them right at that moment. I hope you can understand that.

Also! (Last thing, I promise) The images I have used for this post are borrowed from artists on Redbubble, which is a site where you can get your artwork printed onto an array of items. I have linked everything and hope you find something that tickles your fancy! Obviously, I am not sponsored. Just like supporting art. 'Kay, bye.


Click HERE to buy print. Full credit to the designer.


[1] The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath
A classic in it's own right, The Bell Jar is a novel revolved around a woman's descent into madness in the 50's. Inspired heavily by her own experiences with depression, Plath sheds light on the thoughts we ourselves keep hidden in our heads. Written fast and beautifully, this had to top my book list.

Click HERE to buy.

[2] The Perks of Being a Wallflower

by Stephen Chbosky
Ever read a book that feels as though someone has sucked out your thoughts and placed them on paper for the world to read? Yay for overly relateable characters in the most devastating of ways. Charlie is a quiet, anxiety ridden teenager trying to get through life as quietly as possible. But after making friends with a ragtag group of individuals, he learns both how to live in the moment and be overcome by the past. Though this is a YA coming-of-age story, I do believe that it can be enjoyed by all ages. The movie is also a great adaption of Charlie's story.

[3] The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This book. THIS book. Oy vey. If you were to leave this list with only one book on your mind, make it this one. Following the fictional story of a reporter as she gets the scoop of a lifetime; a tell all by Hollywood legend Evelyn Hugo; this is a tale of love, family, and life. Evelyn is the most flawed but glorious character I've read about in a long while, and delving into her full life of seven husbands you can't but be rooting for her and her one true love throughout. This is a rich story that reads flawlessly.

[4] Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. Every moment of her week is planned, she is fine. She spends her free time isolated with her own company, it's fine. Her  routinely scheduled phone calls with her mother leave her in a pit of self loathing, it's not fine. When a guy at work makes her shake things up a bit, she goes on a journey that she hopes will lead her onto a happier path. Eleanor is one dysfunctional, socially awkward, loveable mess. Gail Honeyman writes the perfect example on how to write an otherwise dislikeable character with heart. One of the main things I love about this novel (thus making it to my 4th spot) is how unromantic it is. This could've easily gone the easy route of having our lonely protagonist fall in love and have that solve all her problems, we've all read that before. Eleanor on the other hand takes the road less travelled in literature, friendship. It is so beautifully innocent that you'll find yourself feeling as though you've been dunked in a warm cup of tea. I have also never read something that deals with loneliness as though it is depression, after all, aren't they one of the same?

[5] The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah
A tale of two french sisters as they deal with Nazi occupied France during World War II. You've already heard of this book, it's won an abundance of awards and is loved throughout any book-related internet place. I'm a firm believer that this Kristin Hannah novel will stand the test of time, and will continue to be devoured by sympathetic readers for years to come.

Click HERE to buy this awesome Lou print.
[6] Still Me (Me Before You #3)
by Jojo Moyes
This is of course the third book in the Me Before You trilogy. Despite how flawed the first book's story was, what with the poor representation of disability, I couldn't help but fall madly in love with Lou as a character. She is as mental (not literally, which I should most definitely clarify given my previous book choices) as she is charismatic. I personally found the most recent book in the series (aka: this one) to be the most character driven and I enjoyed the turns that Lou's story took.


[7] The Outsiders
by S. E. Hilton
Basically Grease on steroids with a tragic twist. I read this for the first time when I was 20, and I'm so glad I picked it up at an age where I could appreciate the social issues S. E. Hilton sheds light on without reading through immature Grease-tainted glasses.
Click HERE to buy this gorgeous print.

[8] Big Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty
A book revolving around a mystery and a group of mothers doesn't sound like the most enticing read, but Big Little Lies was a breath of fresh air in the world of "thriller/mysteries". The character developments in this 500 page novel were glorious. It's a wonderful look on female dynamics, the various relationships you can have, and I can guarantee that you'll laugh out loud. You may already be familiar with the title due to the TV show adaption starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, which I have yet to watch. (Should I? Have you seen it? Let me know!) If domestic fiction isn't your usual jam, I still urge you to give this a try. Trigger warning for domestic violence.


[9] A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness
 If you want a tear-jerker, this should be your pick. A story of a child going through the difficulties that come with having a mother that is dying of cancer (yeah, this one is heavy). Patrick Ness has a way of writing magical realism with such finesse that it only seems logical when a monster appears at the boy's window. This is a quick read, and I have yet to speak to anyone who didn't appreciate this book. If you want to read my full review click HERE.


[10] The Time Traveller's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
Slipping through time is hard enough, but being the one that is constantly left behind? It can be harder. This is the only romance book on my list, let's just say this is more than adequate to be enough. It is a love story in reverse. If you enjoyed the movie About Time, then I double-recommend this.


[11] Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
After Cheryl Strayed's mother passed away, her life took a dark turn that eventually led her to wanting to hike the Pacific Crest Trail without any prior experience. This is a memoir of her travels. I adore this book way more than I was ever expecting to. I've written a full review of it HERE so head on over if you want more in depth thoughts.

Click HERE to buy.
[12] The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. This is another you've probably already read or it's on your "books to read in my lifetime" list. It took me a few tries to get into The Book Thief, due to the entire story written from the POV of death. But once it sucked me in, I wanted to stay forever.


[13] Firefly Lane (Firefly Lane, #1)
by Kristin Hannah
This is a mix between Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill in book form. You're following two females throughout their early lives, as they turn from girls into women and it's about the career paths they take. If you liked The Nightingale for Kristin Hannah's writing, then I urge you to pick this one up next. It's a beautiful character-study type book with awesome female characters.


Click HERE to buy.
[14] Matilda
by Roald Dahl
If there's one book that defined my childhood, it's Matilda. Granted, I saw myself more in Miss Honey than I did our main protagonist, but you can't win 'em all. Matilda is of course about a young girl who escapes her home life by reading books. It's a children's book but I still adore it and it's more than worthy enough to take a spot on my list.


[15]  Kindred
by Octavia E. Butler
When a modern day African-American woman finds herself slipping through time and having to survive the years of the past living in a world of slavery. This was a beautifully done book and I wish it was mentioned more often in the same context as books such as The Handmaids Tale are. Strongly recommend to everyone.

We're halfway! Yay! But also.. did you know that this is a collaboration post with my husband? Be sure to check out his list HERE. (If you're reading on Sunday, his post will be up later today.) But I'll also link to it at the bottom of this page as I'm sure you're currently way too invested in my list to stop scrolling.

[16] The Host
by Stephenie Meyer
The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. This debut adult novel Stephanie Meyer released is often overlooked and shoved onto the YA shelves, but I absolutely love this book. A story of family, soul seekers, and a love triangle I can get behind? Sure. To be honest, I do think this reads as a mix between adult and YA, much like An Ember In The Ashes, but it's good nonetheless. And has great re-readablity. But whatever you do, don't watch the movie.

Click HERE to buy.
[17] The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime
by Mark Haddon
A modern classic about a boy with autism who sets out to solve the murder of a neighbour's dog and discovers unexpected truths about himself and the world. I adore this book, it's a sweet mix between The Perks Of Being A Wallflower and Atypical.

[18] The Sun and Her Flowers
by Rupi Kaur
The only poetry on the list, but one that I would be satisfied rereading for the remainder of my days. Rupi Kaur's work is the definition of modern poetry and though it can lack the same depth as, let's say, Emily Dickinson, it holds the same amount of beauty. Poetry is a personal thing, and once you find one that touches your soul, you're fulfilled.

Click HERE to buy.
[19] The Diary of a Young Girl
by Anne Frank
One of the few non-fictions on my list, The Diary of Anne Frank is a simple must. I didn't even have to give it any thought. As you 110% know, this is the journal of a young Jewish girl whose family was hiding during WWII.


[20] Everything I Never Told you
by Celeste Ng
When a  teenage girls body gets found in the local lake, her family struggle to come to terms with the actions that let to such a tragic outcome. This was a recent read for me, and though this could easily be a case of "insta book love", I just had to put it on this list. It made me laugh, cry, and remember what it's like to adore a character so much that you find yourself wishing for a different outcome with every piece of your heart.

Click HERE to buy.

[21] Little Women
by Lousia May Alcott
The story of a family of sisters as they wait for their father to return from the civil war. This is a classic that stands the test of time solely due to the charismatic characters. This is one you know whether you'll like it, before even turning the first page. I loved it.


[22] The Handmaids Tale
by Margret Atwood
You kinda already figured this was on the list, right? This is of course a dystopian tale set in a future whether women are forced into having babies for couples who can't. People may be more familiar with the TV show adaption, but I urge anyone and everyone to pick up this Atwood classic.

Click HERE to buy. How gorgeous is this?
[23, 24, 25] The Final Empire,The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #1, #2, #3)
by Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn was the first ever epic fantasy book I read, and boy, did it make the genre appealing to me. I adore our main girl Vin and reading as she dominates the Mistborn world that is under the rule of an evil Empire will forever be awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot points of the story but what I love the most about Brandon Sanderson is that the plot always takes a backseat to the characters. It's like coffee and sugar, you come for the coffee but stay for the sweetness.


[26] Twilight
by Stephanie Meyer
Hear me out! You know how people reread Harry Potter to get that nostalgic feeling? Well, Twilight is that for me and even though it's so problematic and the characters are meh (besides Alice and Jasper, all the fangirl feelings.), it's the book that opened so many doors for me online and I'll always enjoy it for that fact alone.

[27] The Girl You Left Behind
by Jojo Moyes
The Nightingale meets Me Before You, basically. In this Moyes book we switch between the past and the present for a story of war, art, and marriage. In the present, we have Liv, a widowed modern day woman who is fighting to keep a painting her husband bought for her on their honeymoon in France. And then we have the story of Sophie in France, 1916. Who must keep her family safe whilst her adored husband Edouard fights at the front. When she is ordered to serve the German officers who descend on her hotel each evening, her home becomes riven by fierce tensions How will their stories intertwine? You just have to read to find out.


[28] The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
by John Boyne
This is the tale of a young German boy who unknowingly befriends a Jewish boy in a camp. This book is heartbreaking but so beautiful. I didn't know whether I wanted to add it to my 30 books due to the endless tears you experience whilst reading it. But you know, a beautiful book is one that should be cherished.

Click HERE to buy.
[29] The Brontë Sisters: Three Novels: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey
by The Bronte Sisters
Am I cheating? Well... My husband did it first! And this is an actual book I own, soooo.. that's perfectly acceptable right?


[30] To Kill A Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
I'm cheating. Don't throw those pitchforks at me! I haven't actually read To Kill A Mockingbird. I know, I know, my husband still looks down on me for it. And I don't have an excuse, except that I want to wait for the right moment to pick up this well loved classic. Stupid? Yes. Plausible in my head? Absolutely.


We made it! Three cheers (and gulps of coffee) for us! If there are any books on my 30 that you'd like to have a more in depth look at, check out THIS LIST on my Goodreads, oh, and maybe add me while you're there? Whoop.

As mentioned above, be sure to check out my husbands list HERE.

Do you know what would most definitely top your 30? Let me know in the comments! And if you're a blogger who loves to read, then I nominate/tag you to do this post. It may seem daunting but was actually really fun and made me realise how badly I want to reread old favourites.


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