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What I'm Reading: March/April Reads + Favorite Local Bookshops in New Orleans

My last book post hasn’t been since December which isn’t surprising to me at all. I say that because when I first had the idea to document any reads on here, I knew it would be a somewhat sporadic thing. I’m an all over the place type of reader and sometimes I forget to follow up once I’m done because my main focus is just starting the next one. I promise I’m working on this though. For the sake of all the book lovers interested in what I read and what I think, I’m working on circling back to do FULL reviews. A few people have sent me DMs on Instagram asking for my thoughts on certain books, but of all the times its been requested, I only did so once. And it was brief as hell. However, you’re in luck if you follow my book Instagram page because I for sure post all of my reads on there AND I leave little tidbits about what I thought. They don’t tend to be too detailed and verbose for the sake of me not giving away any spoilers, but I’ll definitely let you know whether or not it’s worth spending your had earned coins.

March has been a slow reading month for me. There were books I started but couldn’t finish. There were books that stopped being interesting to me about 50 pages in. There was a bunch of other real life things happening that pulled me away from actually being able to stay focused long enough to make any headway. CC: my dog dying, life being in shambles, etc. But alas, these few made it through! I read two books this month. Two. That’s slow for me but provided the circumstances, I’m glad I was able to do that much. Plus, there’s no race when it comes to reading for me. This is a fun hobby of mine so no stress, no pressure…ever. I do set goals for each month though. Doing so helps keep me on track actually look forward to reading because I won’t be stumped about choosing the next book. I set a goal to read at least three books in April. If I show up and show out and/or actually feel like it, I’ll go for four. It is what it is. We shall see!

What i read in march:

My sister the serial killer by oyinkan braithwaite

Of course, the title grabbed me. I heard a lot about this book via the #bookstagram community, so I felt like it was an obligatory purchase. Though the hype was exciting because I had been in a reading rut, I would give this book a 3/5. It had an interesting storyline and plot, but I was left a bit underwhelmed. Maybe I just had super high expectations since I heard so many great things. Here’s a little bookish pro tip: when it comes to books, it’s okay to ask folks what they think, but always do your own research and review searching too! We all have different perceptions about what’s good to us.

lets explore diabetes with owls by david sedaris

You guessed it. Yep, I’m reading yet another work by David Sedaris. He was featured on my previous what I’m reading update, and that book was hilarious. I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to discussing how funny and witty his writing is but it’s facts! If you need some light-hearted texts that’ll make you laugh, please check him out!

What i plan to read in april:

Black is the body: stories from my grandmother’s time, my mother’s time and mine by emily bernard

While perusing the many mounds and aisles of books at the Garden District Book Shop, I came across this title. The cover looked a little familiar, but I soon realized it wasn’t anything I’d seen before. Emily was stabbed at random in a coffee shop in an old New England town (what the fuck, right?!) She said how that crazy act of pure violence set something ablaze within her and it pulled out the storyteller that is she. The backstory that encouraged her to write was so out of the norm, so I had to pick this one up.

the care and feeding of ravenously hungry girls by anissa gray

I need some good fiction in my life again so I turned to this one. I read a couple good reviews that said if you enjoyed An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, this one would be a good choice. I did in fact enjoy that book, so yep. We’re doing it.

the source of self-regard: selected essays, speeches and meditations by toni morrison

I mean, Toni Morrison. I don’t need to say much else. She’s such a dynamic writer whose stories have been in my life for as long as I could remember. I’m genuinely excited about this one.

That’s what my literary month is looking like and I’m pretty excited about it. My reading has been a bit slow lately because I haven’t come across a lot of stories that wowed me, but I have faith in April. I really do. The weather is nicer, Mercury is finally out of retrograde or whatever the hell it was in and things are slowly getting better for me on my end. #GRATEFUL

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.
— Lemony Snicket

Allow me to switch gears for a second and mention a few bookshops in New Orleans that are simply amazing to me. While I love a good trip to Barnes and Noble just as much as the next person, I would much rather buy local when possible.

If you ever find yourself out this way, definitely check these places out:

Blue cypress books

Nestled on cozy Oak Street, this is my favorite bookstore right now. Please visit, the staff is so friendly and the store is so cute.

garden district book shop

This shop is located in a historic space called The Rink which is at the corner of Prytania Street and Washington Avenue in the Garden District. For some reason, I can never just browse when i visit this one— I buy something EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Garden District Book Shop. I took this a few months ago but if you follow my book IG, you’ve def seen it there too.  hint hint wink wink  follow my book page lol

Garden District Book Shop. I took this a few months ago but if you follow my book IG, you’ve def seen it there too. hint hint wink wink follow my book page lol

octavia books

This such a jazzy bookstore located Uptown on Octavia Street. Though I don’t visit this one as often as I’d like, I love the ambiance, the book selection and the fact that they have sooo many book signings so often. Note to all my book lovers: visit this place. You’ll love it.

peace and blessings,

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The Perfect Pour: All Things Wine with Rob Haynes

I love wine, red wine specifically.

If you follow me on Instagram and have ever taken a look at my stories, you’ve seen a large goblet filled with Merlot or something like it coupled with a good read. It’s a thing and because it’s such a thing, I met up with Rob a couple months ago over at Second Vine Wine. We indulged in a wine tasting plus more glasses of wine while I got the chance to learn a bit more about his profession. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a sommelier, keep reading. If you love wine, keep reading. if you’ve made it to this sentence, keep reading.

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LA: What is it about wine that sparked such great interest to you?

RH: Just seeing something go from seed to bottle. The process from start to finish. I like to see the work, the dedication and love put into each bottle.

I know that Tasting Tuesdays is your wine tasting event business. Can you explain where the idea/inspiration for it came from? And when can we expect another event?

The inspiration came when I met with Daniel Victory of Victory Bar—I was a frequent flyer over there and we ended up talking over a bahn mi and sushi from Viet Pho. I talked to them and they said I could do some wine tastings over there. I never did public speaking (hated public speaking), but I knew a good bit about wine. The first class had 18 people, second one had 33 and the third one had 47. At that point I got accepted into UC Davis, the number one wine making school in the nation and I also had four offers to different wineries out there. Everything kinda falls into place, the universe speaks to you and everything makes sense.

As far as Tasting Tuesdays goes….

As far as the next tasting, I took some time off. I’m finding more inspiration on the consulting and production side. I didn’t do any public events this whole year and I’m not in the space of forcing anything. Whatever happens, happens. Really just depends on when I feel inspired.

What was running though your mind when you realized your true passion for the production side of wine? Do you see it as a calling or something that developed over time?

It developed over time. Wine making is definitely some of the hardest work that can be done. You’re looking at 12-14 hour days…

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What is your favorite part about being a sommelier?

It’s a conversation. When someone tells you what their go to drink is, it allows you to give them a personal recommendation from your experience and stories. Each bottle has a different story and history and each bottle has a different story tied into it for me.

What advice do you have for someone interested in pursuing this career path?

Try a little of everything. I never thought I’d be doing production. I thought I was gonna own a couple restaurants and nightclubs around the world—that changed. Have an open mind; try sales, hospitality and see what fits and speaks to your spirit.

What factors make a wine excellent?

It’s all subjective. I could tell you what’s good, great and amazing, but you might think it’s terrible. That’s something I learned at UC Davis, what my palate is and what yours is are two different things. You have to keep trying things—the more you expose yourself, the more you broaden your horizons and palate.

Stemmed or stemless glasses?

Definitely stemmed. Reason being, stemless is easier—but with stemless, you’re actually warming the wine and destroying the flavor. It’s cool and looks nice, but nah.

Did you ever have any doubts about your ability to succeed when you started? How’d you push through those thoughts?

Absolutely. There are always uncertainties and doubts. I went from a predominately white industry in hospitality into an even more white predominant industry in wine. There are ups and downs and you just embrace them.

What are some good food pairings for red wines in general?

Food, like regions, opposites attracts. Opposite of sweet is spicy. So if you had some Thai food, do some Riesling. There are really no boundaries; just try things out and see if you like it.

How do you network efficiently in your industry?

Tastings, tastings and more tastings. Just trying wines and being open minded. A year ago, I never liked Italian wine, but I kept trying and trying and over time I just developed an arsenal.

What skills make you a great sommelier?

Good memory. Being able to tell the story and just having fun with it. The second you lose fun in anything you’re doing, it becomes work. Remain humble and true to whatever you’re doing.

Make sure you follow Rob on Instagram to stay in the loop about upcoming events and all things wine. You really never know when another wine tasting event will be in the works and I know y’all don’t wanna miss it! In the meantime, make sure you hold your glasses by the stem and lightly sniff your fine beverage to make it look like you know what you’re doing. K byeeeeee.

peace and blessings,

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Nine Self Love Affirmations to Encourage + Inspire You

Self love isn’t just about affirmations.

It’s not about all the beauty and glory you might see plastered across social media platforms. Self love and care is hard work. It’s dirty work and it’s uncomfortable but worth it. If you’re experiencing true growth and self improvement, it’s bound to be a little painful.

Affirmations are a good way to remind yourself just how powerful and amazing you are. Life gets difficult and sometimes reassurance is needed in order keep you on track. Remember, you’re a boss. You’re that B*TCH. I personally love writing down and reciting affirmations out loud—not only when I’m in the midst of a crisis and completely losing my shit BUT also when everything is all good. For me, doing so makes even the best day a little brighter. Think of it as extra sprinkles for the free on your favorite sundae on a sunny day. Pretty much gets no better.

As cliche as it sounds, speaking positively to yourself over your life in the midst of havoc WILL make a difference. Almost a week ago, my spirits were extremely low. I was in a terrible mood, pissed off, mad, mean…just a mess! After I got over myself and let the anger pass, I finally decided to be nice to myself. I said a couple of my favorite affirmations over and over and over. I was almost immediately immersed in gratitude because at that moment, I started thinking about all the good things in my life. Perspective really is everything… of course, when you’re pissed, you’re not trying to think about no damn perspective. Trust, I know. It was hard to pull myself out that rut but I did it. You can too!

pics taken by  Laiken Joy

pics taken by Laiken Joy

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
— Lucille Ball

These are just a couple of my favorite things to say to self when I need a little extra encouragement. Some might be familiar to you already, while others could easily be added to you list:

-I’m worthy of love and happiness.

-My life is a gift as I will treat it as such.

-I am capable. I have the ability to do anything I want.

-I am enough. (This is my favorite affirmation EVAAAAA)

-I attract love in the highest form possible. I radiate love and I’m grateful for the loving individuals in my life.

-I embrace optimism.

-I adore all parts of me. The good, bad and ugly. I work diligently but carefully to improve the things I want to change.

-I’m surrounded with love and I exude positivity and good vibes in all that I do.

-I am in full control of my destiny. I face each day with a clear head and humble spirit, ready for whatever comes my way.

So ladies and gents, as we approach a new month and year, focus heavily on making sure you’re right within. Do what you need to keep your spirits high so you can get the most out of this life. You deserve so ACT LIKE IT!!!!!! :)

peace and blessings,

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