April 30, 2019

What I Read This Month: March

What I Read This Month is a monthly series, sharing the books I read month by month. You can follow along here

After starting reading a lot more in 2018, I upped my reading goal for 2019, committing to reading 52 books (so, basically, one book a week!). In order to do that, I'm holding myself accountable and sharing what I read month-to-month. If you're a book lover, follow along with this series, follow me on Goodreads where I chronicle every book I've read and want to read or tap through my Instagram Story Highlight where I share my star-rating as I read. 

I'm kind of playing catch-up in sharing my reads, so I shared January on Tuesday, February on Thursday, am sharing March today and then from here-on out, the previous month's on the first Friday of the new month (ie. April reads on the first Friday of May, May reads on the first Friday of June, and so on and so forth).

March was a slower month for reading than the previous two, even though I did exceed my goal of a book a week, because the first week of March was dedicated to Carnival, meaning I did ZERO reading! With a growing list of Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) books, I spent the time diving into some of these this month – lighter, more romantic reads, because I was tired and I couldn't handle any hard-hitting memoirs or thrillers. So, at the end of it, I'd read five books in March, still ahead of the goal!


MARCH
5 books


16 years ago, Sylvie's sister Persephone never came home one night after sneaking out late with her forbidden boyfriend. Missing for three days, her body was found, but answers were never gotten for the family. Now, all those years later, Sylvie returns home to care for her sick mother, and Persephone's then-boyfriend (who Sylvie truly believes is guilty) happens to be a nurse where her mother's getting treatment. All these years later, the home still brings back memories from that night, and of Sylvie's own guilt, and she's determined to find out what happened to her sister once and for all.

Shocker! Another thriller BOTM pick! It's no secret that there's not a thriller I don't like, so I had to add The Winter Sister to my box in February. I wasn't disappointed at all, even when I figured out the direction the plot was going in early on. Despite knowing what would unfold, it was an easy and compelling read for thriller lovers like myself.


IZZY IN EL MAREO (c/o): 2/5 stars 

Izzy needs a change, and so she takes a job at an international resort in Mexico hoping to shake things up. But soon she finds herself falling back into her same bad habits and she has to find a way to break it before she spirals back into the life she tried to run away from. 

This was my first ARC and I was soooo disappointed. I found it so difficult to like the character, and found myself wishing I could stop several times. Also, it was set in 2009 and I don't think that was ever made clear so I spent the better half of the book wondering why she was living in the stone ages of technology until I realized lol.  Also, this was 100% a situation where I chose the book because of the cover. What a let down!

Special thanks to River Grove Books!


GIMME SOME SUGAR (c/o): 4/5 stars

A young widow returns to her hometown in Georgia to start from scratch, face the ghosts of her past, and decide if she's ready to take another chance on love. After her (cheating) husband suddenly dies, Lucy and her son return home to Georgia for a simpler life, where Lucy intends to open her own bakery. Faced with the reminder of the loss of her parents, the small town gossip, a meddling mother-in-law who does more harm than good and her old BFF-who-grew-up-hot, this was a cute and easy read.

This is technically the third in the Southern Eclectic series, but it was easy to read as a stand-alone and I really enjoyed the characters that Molly Harper created. Definitely a light read for those romance lovers.

Special thanks to Gallery Books!


FAME ADJACENT (c/o): 4/5 stars

Inspired by the Mickey Mouse Club, this book follows a children's TV show where all the members went on to become really really famous (think boy bands and it girl status), except one. Now, 25 years later, Holly feels even more left behind as all the other members except her are invited to the anniversary special, and she's determined to show up and show them who they left out. One problem: she's in Internet Rehab after spiraling out of control. But that won't stop her.

To be honest, I didn't expect to like this book the way I did. Cue internet rehab funniness, a whirlwind romance with flawed characters and a plot line that'll make all 90's babies sing, and you get Fame Adjacent. I laughed, I cried, I swooned.. cannot lie, I experienced so many more emotions in this book than I was expecting. And of course, I didn't put it down til 4 am.

Special thanks to Grand Central Publishing!


THE FLATSHARE (c/o): 4/5 stars

After a bad breakup, Tiffy needs somewhere to live, but she has zero budget. With the only other option being a rundown dump, she accepts a spot in a flatshare – except this is more like a bedshare. Tiffy gets the apartment after 6 on weekdays and on weekends, and Leon gets it from 9-5 on weekdays. When the two finally meet and sparks fly (through the perfect meet-cute btw), a friendship unfolds in the best way possible.

This sounds like a typical romance, but truly it's not. Despite the best meet-cute, a ton of stolen glances and a near-death experience, the book also addresses some serious topics and deeper storylines for both characters, including wrongful imprisonment, gaslighting and emotional abuse. Seeing the story unfold from both of their perspectives made me fall even more in love with the characters and the book, and I found myself wishing Netflix would pick up the rights to turn this into a movie, like now!

The Flatshare is out on May 28th. Special thanks to Flatiron Books! 


BOOK COUNT: 17/52 

Have you read any good books lately? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!
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April 25, 2019

What I Read This Month: February

What I Read This Month is a monthly series, sharing the books I read month by month. You can follow along here

After starting reading a lot more in 2018, I upped my reading goal for 2019, committing to reading 52 books (so, basically, one book a week!). In order to do that, I'm holding myself accountable and sharing what I read month-to-month. If you're a book lover, follow along with this series, follow me on Goodreads where I chronicle every book I've read and want to read or tap through my Instagram Story Highlight where I share my star-rating as I read. 

I'm kind of playing catch-up in sharing my reads, so I shared January on Tuesday, am sharing February today, will share March on Monday and then from here-on out, the previous month's on the first Friday of the new month (ie. April reads on the first Friday of May, May reads on the first Friday of June, and so on and so forth).

February was another great month for reading. I went over my goal of a book a week, and I read overall really great books, including my first three books from Book of the Month, picks from both my January and February boxes. That being said, I read six books in February, and today I'm sharing them with you. 


FEBRUARY
6 books


This book was a true psychological thriller, following Jessica Farris, who joins a psychology study on ethics, run by Dr. Shields. As the study becomes more and more real, the lines get blurred between the study and reality, and soon Jessica finds her life being controlled by the study. But can she leave?

I really enjoyed this book! While I figured out the plot somewhat early on, it didn't feel like a drag to finish it, and I found myself sucked in by a series of twists. It's definitely an easy read for those who love the psychological thriller genre.


THE SILENT PATIENT: 5/5 stars
A Book of the Month pick

This book follows seemingly-perfect artist and wife Alicia Berenson, who one night after her husband returns from work, shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks a word again. Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who's dying to work with Alicia and get to the bottom of what really happened that night. Will he get Alicia to open up?

THIS BOOK! I have recommended this book to literally everyone I know. For a debut novel, it was incredible. It had me thinking about it for days. I can't even write much more than this, except for the fact that everyone should read this. If you're a fan of psychological thrillers, you can't miss this one! 

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – but no one has ever told her she should be more than fine though. She certainly weird, and lives a bleak life, filled with work, vodka and chats on the phone with her mummy, and not much social interaction. So when a guy from work named Raymond enters her life after they save an old man, the friendship opens Eleanor's life (and eyes) up, and maybe she's not as fine as she thought she was.

I really enjoyed this book, much more than I expected. I didn't think I'd like it based on the description, but the hype was real with this book and I decided to go for it. It was so cute, while still balancing difficult topics, and I found myself in love with the character, flaws and all. This is soon to be a movie, with Reese Witherspoon slated to produce, so read it before it's out!



A memoir by comedian and writer Lindy West, Shrill focuses on what it's like to be a woman, a feminist, fat, funny, loud and proud. The book was a huge success, eventually being turned into a series on Hulu.

I wanted to love it.. but I couldn't. The book was decent. There were some chapters I found so difficult to get through, while others were so easy to read and I found myself laughing alongside her. The book really opened my eyes to a lot of different things that Lindy discussed, like fat-shaming, rape culture and abortion, grief and love and loss. All in all, this wasn't a favorite of mine, but I enjoyed it for what it was worth. A solid 3-stars from me.


GOLDEN CHILD: 5/5 stars

When I saw this book as a Book of the Month option, I freaked out. It's set in my home country, written by a Trini author and was hand-selected by Sarah Jessica Parker (CARRIE!) for her imprint at Hogarth. All of my worlds were colliding, and I quickly added it to my box.

Where do I start with this book? Based in Trinidad and Tobago, this book follows a set of twins, Peter and Paul: Peter is the bright child – smart, obedient and destined for greatness, while Paul is not – born a little odd, and definitely with a little mental and intellectual delay. The family loves Peter more, their golden child, and one day Paul goes missing. In the process of trying to find his son, the father Clyde is faced with some serious decisions and has to come to terms with what life was like for the not-so-favorite son.

I can't write much more without giving it away, but this book haunted me. I seriously finished the book and sat in silence for ten minutes (this never happens), and then quickly made other people read it so we could discuss it. I still think about it often. Seriously, read it!


ALL WE EVER WANTED4/5 stars

This book follows a well-to-do town where privileged families are held to their own set of rules and standards. Sound familiar, no? When a life-changing situation involving a young girl from a not-so-wealthy family and an affluent young boy, actions and consequences are required and taken, by the families and the school they attend. The book switches between a few different view points, and touches often on the differences between those with money and those without, and just how different their moral compasses seem to be.

Don't want to give too much away, but I thought this book was real and relevant, and felt a little sick reading it considering how often these kinds of people get away in real life for the same (or worse) actions. It was infuriating reading the behavior pass from one generation to another, and I really felt sad for the characters. This was one book that was worth the read, especially considering the time we're in right now.

BOOK COUNT: 12/52

Have you read any good books lately? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!
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April 23, 2019

What I Read This Month: January

This is the beginning of a monthly series on The Caro Diaries where I share the books I read every single month. You can follow along here

As you may know, I started reading a lot more in 2018. In fact, between September and December last year, I read more than 30 books. This year, I've committed to reading 52 books (that's a book a week!). Since that's a pretty lofty goal, I want to make sure I'm keeping myself accountable by sharing what I read month-to-month. 

If you follow me on Goodreads (and if you don't, you definitely should), you'll see that I chronicle every book I've read and want to read, and I rate and review them once I've finished. I've also created an Instagram Story Highlight where I share my star-rating as I read. 

I'm kind of playing catch-up in sharing my reads, so I'll be sharing January today, February on Thursday, March on Monday and then from here-on out, the previous month's on the first Friday of the new month (ie. April reads on the first Friday of May, May reads on the first Friday of June, and so on and so forth). That being said, I read six books in January, and today I'm sharing them with you. 


JANUARY
6 books


This one is so cute! I started it just after my Christmas in Vermont and it's the perfect, easy read for a cozy day curled up on a couch in front of the fireplace! It follows a girl, Laurie, who experiences love at first sight on a bus one day – she looks and looks for this guy everywhere after, and cannot seem to find him, until one day, her BFF introduces Laurie to her new boyfriend.. who is none other than mystery man himself. The book follows her journey for love, and it was definitely a cute read.


THE HONEYMOON: 3.5/5 stars 

I didn't expect to enjoy this one, and to be honest, it was a hard one to get into right away – but once it hooked me, I couldn't put it down. A couple goes on their honeymoon, get a little drunk one night and get into a big fight, and the next morning, the wife wakes up and her husband is missing. Did he run away? Did he get kidnapped? Did he just go for a midnight swim and drown? Who knows.. but they'll definitely find out.


FINAL GIRLS: 4/5 stars

This was one of those books that everyone was talking about, so I read it to see if it lived up to the hype, and it totally did! The book follows this group of three women called the 'Final Girls': each a lone survivor of separate mass murders. When one of the three final girls is found dead, and there's a cryptic message from her only hours before her death in another's inbox, then things get interesting. I don't want to say too much cause I'll give the plot away, but the ending had me shook.


THE PROPOSAL: 3/5 stars

Unlike most romantic novels that end with a proposal, this one starts with one: an unwanted one. When Nik gets proposed to be her douchey, not-even-serious boyfriend at a baseball game, she has to awkwardly say no – and she gets rescued by super-cute Carlos and his sister Angela. Their friendship evolves, and turns into a super cute love story you won't be able to put down. (This technically is a sequel, though the books can be read out of turn.. you're just introduced to the characters in the previous novel).



Former psychologist Anna Fox is a recluse who stays home, drinks way too much and spies on her neighbors – until one day she witnesses something in the window of her new neighbors, and she needs to tell someone. But will anyone believe what she saw, and can she even believe her own eyes? 

This was another one of those books that everyone and their mother was talking about, and honestly I found it a little over-hyped. I'm a huge fan of psychological thrillers, and this one really disappointed me. I figured out the plot line (and almost all of the twists, even the huge one) pretty early on. If you're a fan of unreliable narrators (I'm usually not), then you might be into this one! 


THE WEDDING DATE: 4/5 stars

This book is actually the first book in the same series as The Proposal, and it was SO cute. Like, I had all the feels reading it! It follows type-A, workaholic Alexa who gets stuck in an elevator with a super-cute doctor, Drew, in their hotel. She's there to hang out with her sister, and he's there for the wedding of his ex.. to his best friend. Oof. The two instantly click, and just as they go off on their separate ways, Drew asks Alexa to be his date to the wedding. What follows is the cutest love story that'll make you wish you were in it! 

Have you read any good books lately? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!

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April 16, 2019

April Goals (+ March Recap)

Whoops – this is coming late, even though I wrote and (thought I) scheduled this weeks ago. Anyway... How the heck is it April already? Has March really come and gone so quickly? In March, I celebrated my 6-year blogging anniversary, played Carnival and gotten drowned in work.. but what's new, right?

We're officially a quarter-way into 2019, and it's a little terrifying to be honest. We're officially in that time period where I start to majorly ignore my New Year's Resolutions, and the whole 'new year, new me' schtick just about ends. That's why I'm committing to doing my monthly goals and really trying to stay on track. Without further ado, let's get into this month's goals and last month's recap!


RECAP OF MY MARCH GOALS

1. GET BACK ON TRACK WITH EATING HEALTHY // I want to give myself 50% credit for this, because 2 weeks out of the month consisted of eating healthy, and then the other 2 weeks.. oof! I feel like I had one bad weekend, and then I just spiraled. So I definitely need to get back on track for that! 

2. SCHEDULE MORE BLOG CONTENT // Technically this is a yes and no. I did do a ton of blog work, drafted a bunch of blog posts and have them all sitting in the backend waiting to post, but I didn't post as consistently as I wanted this month. However, I did post a couple times this month, so I'm doing better than (my recent) normal, so I'm considering this a win! So here's to continuing to try harder and be better month after month. 

3. BOOK MY FLIGHTS FOR E'S WEDDING // UGH, not yet! I sourced a flight out last month that I planned to book this month, and then I checked on it sometime this week and the price was doubled! I'm always one to look for the most affordable flight fares, and one of my fave travel sites advised me to wait a little before booking as they suspect flight prices will drop again soon, so I'm holding out a few more weeks! 

4. WAKE UP EARLIER // Wow, I definitely failed at this one! I'm no better now than I was last month, so I need to work on in April. I think my whole schedule is off right now, ugh!

5. START BACK POSTING ON INSTAGRAM // While I'm definitely not as consistent, and I'm not quite #OOTD status, I did return to Instagram in March, and posted 3 whole photos (and lots of Story content), which is more than I can say for all of 2018, eek! 

TOTAL: 2.5/5: I'd say a pretty average month, I definitely need to work harder next month! 


APRIL GOALS

1. READ 6 BOOKS // Kind of a typical goal for the month, but I'm hoping to get through 6 books this month, so that when I'm a little busier on later in the year, my reading goal for the year doesn't get pushed aside. I also have a ton of ARCs to get through, so I'm hoping to make it through at least 3 of them this month! 

2. START A NEW BLOG SERIES // One of my goals entering my 6th year of TCD is to be a little more consistent (wow, I sucked this month, didn't I?) and I think creating a few blog series that I'm able to write about regularly will be a big help. I already have a couple ideas, but would love to know what you want to see on the blog, so let me know in the comments!

3. CHALLENGE MYSELF IN SOME WAY // I definitely need to shake things up, and I think that finding a way to challenge myself: physically, mentally, emotionally even.. is important. I'm hoping to find something this month that can challenge me in a good way! 

4. INVEST IN SOMETHING FOR MY WARDROBE // I made the decision this year that I'd stop spending tons of money on fast fashion or clothes that don't last me more than a season, and would start investing slowly in more timeless pieces for my wardrobe. It won't be every month, but if I can purchase a capsule piece two to three times a year, I'll build a strong wardrobe without feeling it on my wallet.

5. PLAN MY UPCOMING TRIP TO NEW YORK & NASHVILLE // I originally was planning to spend an extended weekend in New York with my friend Bean, but then we got to talking with another friend and next thing you know, we planned a trip to Nashville for a few days after NYC. I've never been, and am DYING to go, so I want to book flights like, ASAP, and plan some of the itinerary for the trip. Have any recommendations for me? 

So that's it.. my goals for April.
What do you want to do in April? 

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March 29, 2019

6 Things I Learned Through Blogging (& Celebrating 6 Years!)

Wow.. 6 years. Much like most of my personal posts, today's is a difficult one to write. Not because there's not much to say, but because I just can't find the words to say it all. On March 29th, 2013, I sat down in my bedroom at my sister's house in New Hampshire and wrote quite possibly the world's worst blog post. At the time, I thought it was just something I'd do to build a writing portfolio so I could eventually land a job at Teen Vogue a la LC in The Hills. Never in a million years did I think this was something I'd still be doing a year later or even two.. let alone SIX years.


I've said this before, but when I first opened my laptop and logged into Wordpress to create my blog, I wanted to call it Sights on the City, because that's all it was: one step in my detailed plan to eventually live and work in the city. Somehow, I decided to name it The Caro Diaries instead – and I'm so glad I did. The name just fit. Maybe it's because I meticulously kept diaries all throughout my childhood, filled with mundane entries about how my brother was being mean to me, or how I like-liked the cute boy in my primary school. But once I settled on the name The Caro Diaries, everything unfolded.

I'm very proud to say that through the last 6 years, I've shared many chapters and pages of my own personal story. There were moments I'm happy to have closed the chapter on, and there are definitely many that I go back to read when I want to reminisce, like reading your favorite childhood fairytale years later. Though this blog has seen many ups and downs, and quite a bit of "OMG I am SO sorry I went MIA!" posts, one thing has always remained true for me: the catharsis that I feel when I pen these words.

And so, now, here we are.. six years – roughly 2,191 days – later, and I am so much better for it. While I never saw The Caro Diaries being a huge part of my life on the day that I penned my first post, I cannot imagine my life without it now. And while I haven't necessarily been the best blogger over the years, there's nothing more satisfying than knowing that no matter what adventure I'm on, no matter what life throws my way or what lessons I'm struggling to learn, there's one place where it'll always make sense. And for that, I'll always be thankful for every page and every chapter of The Caro Diaries. Now here's to creating many more..


In honor of six years, I thought I'd share some special 6's.

SIX LESSONS I LEARNED THROUGH THE YEARS: 

ONE // You're going to change, and so will your blog 

And guess what? That's ok! If we all stayed the same as we were the day we hit publish on our first post, well then things would be really boring, right? I personally would still be an 18-year-old college freshman who thought she'd move to New York after graduation – and my life couldn't be more different, and my blog shows it.

Through relationships and friendships, ups and downs, life lessons and laughs, new hobbies, new stages and new habits, you continue to grow day after day, and your blog is a reflection of that. And there's so much beauty in seeing the transformation over the years, even when it hurts to look back.


TWO // Don't get caught in the comparison game

It seems like everyone's a blogger or an influencer (ehh, I hate that name) these days, and it's so easy to find yourself comparing yourself to everyone else. This one has 100K followers on Instagram, while this one got a fully-comped trip to Bali and this one is wearing a brand new designer dress for free. The rat race of followers and numbers is real, and the best of us have been caught up in it. But at the end of the day, the important thing to focus on is to keep creating the kind of content that you would want to read, and the audience will follow.


THREE // (that being said) Don't put all your eggs in one basket 

When I first started blogging, Instagram (and really, even social media) wasn't the kind of animal that it is today. Now, it's a whole different ballgame. Plain and simple: there are bloggers and then there are Instagram bloggers. While there's nothing wrong with creating exclusive content for social media vs your blog, many people focus on Instagram way more than they do their actual written content. And it's easy to understand why: the visual platform is more appealing, easier to sell clothes and even easier to keep in touch with followers. But at the end of the day, we have no control over it.

Yep, we don't own Instagram (or even our content ON Instagram for that matter), so if the app was to magically disappear tomorrow, or just shut down for a day (we all know the mayhem that ensued), what will you have to show for it? There's nothing wrong with focusing on your visual content, diversifying your forms of monetization or using the social media platform, just don't forget about your actual content in lieu of it.



FOUR // Stop trying to fit in

It's only natural in blogging to take inspiration from others: maybe a big-time blogger you follow does a series you wanna start on your blog, or maybe you like the editing style of their Instagram feed. It's okay to be inspired by others in the game, but changing your brand to fit into an image you think you should be like isn't. So if it means following a trend you'd usually never wear because every fashion blogger is wearing it on Insta, or writing a certain way on the blog because this famous blogger does it, or even covering topics you'd never write about on your own, well.. it's not worth it. All it'll do is leave you feeling inauthentic, and ultimately, uninspired.


FIVE // Block out the bullshit 

Starting a blog (especially now, when everyone and their mother are 'influencers' or 'content creators') can come with some negativity or skepticism from friends and family. My biggest piece of advice? Ignore them. People always have something to say, and they always will, so you might as well do you in the process, right?

When I was still internally battling about starting my blog, only a few days before I took the plunge actually, I made the mistake of telling a friend of mine at the time that I was thinking of starting one. I remember she pointedly laughed and said "what are you gonna write about? boy troubles and college classes?" like it was the biggest joke. I looked at her and said, "yeah, if I want to". It was the edge I needed to actually open up my laptop and get it done. You know what the funniest part is? The minute she saw my blog, heard how friends and strangers alike were reacting to it, and saw that I got to do cool things, she decided to start a blog of her own. No laughing matter now, huh?

Could you imagine I heard her laughs and decided not to start my blog after all? Guess it's a good thing I learned early on that you have to block out the bullshit.


SIX // You might feel vulnerable, but that's okay

Throughout the last 6 years, I've broached many personal topics on the blog. Whether it was getting my first negative comment (and finding out it came from someone I knew IRL), discussing the end of relationships and friends, sharing my personal struggles with my body image or my future, or even just figuring it all out right here on this page, I've experienced it all on The Caro Diaries. And because of that, many people I knew in real life read these words, and in a way, got a glimpse at my innermost thoughts – and it can feel downright nauseating.

But in the scariest of these moments, through the times I hit post with my eyes closed, I came out stronger and better for it. In the most vulnerable of posts when I thought I might die if someone I knew admitted to reading it, I got countless comments of support from readers and followers. In the posts where I dug deep to find the words I didn't even know I was feeling, I got messages from readers who were feeling the same way. For every word I typed on this blog, there was someone out there who could relate to it. There's a power in releasing that vulnerability into the world, but there's magic in turning that vulnerability into something special. And that's what The Caro Diaries is – to me at least.


6 Most Personal Posts Over The Years

For some reason, my personal posts always seem to be the most popular posts around these parts, so I figured I'll share my top 6 most personal blog posts. 

ONE // After years of dreaming of living in NYC, my first few weeks there were... meh. To be honest, they were quite challenging, and so I shared that side of New York, beyond the fabulous Instagrams. 

TWO // My first 'real' post on the blog after that crappy introduction post was this: a blog post about figuring out where you can call home when you're in between two places. It was something I struggled with for a long time, and I felt compelled to share it on the blog. Has my writing style changed, or what? 

THREE // After months of experiencing a health scare, I laid it all out there. Oh, and I promised to run a half-marathon (that I ended up not even running because it clashed with sorority recruitment.. lol one day!).

FOUR // For years, my life was all laid out in front of me: work hard in high school so you can get into a good college, and then work hard in college so you can graduate with a good GPA. But no one talks about what happens when you leave college. Yeah, we get a job and become an adult.. but it felt like a "now what happens?" moment, so I wrote about it. 

FIVE // This entire post can be summed up by saying: it's crazy how much changes in a year. When you think your life is doomed and over, it's only just begun, and the journey is a hell of a ride. 

SIX // The prequel to post #5, this one chronicled my feeling like I didn't have it together, especially as I entered my final semester of college. What caused it? A job rejection on New Year's Eve (yep, they really did that). Oh, and I curse a lot in this one! 


6 Most Viewed Posts Over The Years

ONE // I guess there's a lot of sorority girls on people's Christmas list.. but really, classic gifts for any gals in a sorority, from a girl who had WAY too many Alpha Chi stuff during my time as an active member.

TWO // Decorating your college dorm can be hard when you're a broke college student, so I shared some of my favorite DIY dorm room decor, just in time for my junior year move-in.

THREE // Being in a sorority can be expensive. Between the dues, and the shirts, and all of the accessories you haveee to have, and let's not forget about taking a little. I took two littles in college, and I maintained a pretty strict budget both times around, so I shared my tricks and tips for taking a little when you're #BallinOnABudget.

FOUR // When my sister got engaged, I was in college in a totally different country, but I still wanted to show her that I was there for her, excited and ready to help with the wedding planning, so I made a little DIY engagement basket, filled with some of her favorite things and wedding planning necessities as a little gift. Also: every bride-to-be needs a shirt that says Feyoncé.

FIVE // Just one day after I opened up about how tough it was living in NYC, I decided to challenge myself by making a bucket list of items I wanted to experience before I left the city. The list was perfect for tourists and locals alike, which made it one of my most popular posts.

SIX // Post-grad sucks.. and balancing everything when you're employed full-time somehow feels so much harder than it did back in college. In this post, I partnered with Erin Condren (who, fun fact, was the first brand to ever work with my blog back in 2013!) to share my tips to finding ways to balance work, your social life and a side-hustle.


So that's it.. six years worth of memories and six years worth of posts. I'm so excited for sixty more!
Will you still be reading TCD in 60 years? ;)

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March 20, 2019

Budget-Friendly Skincare Routine for Combination Skin

This post is sponsored by Bioré but all content and opinions expressed here are my own and that of The Caro Diaries.
One of the hardest things about having combination skin is finding the right products that work for you. I've tried just about everything – both drugstore and high-end – and it still feels like it's impossible to find the balance that's needed to treat both the oily and dry patches of my face. Some products dry me out even more, while others don't even begin to treat the oiliness, and it's a serious problem.

I've been a fan of Bioré's products for a really long time, as you know, so when I heard about their new line of Blue Agave & Baking Soda products, made especially for those with combo skin, I was dying to try it! I picked up the line's Whipped Nourishing Detox Mask and the Balancing Pore Cleanser, and it's safe to say I've added it into my regular routine pretty quickly!
I wasn't sure exactly why the combination works perfectly on combo skin, but if you're smack dab in the middle of oily and dry, this is your skin's secret weapon! Baking soda is known to deep clean and get into your pores to remove all the guck, and it can be very harsh on your skin, so the Blue Agave, which is known for it's conditioning benefits, helps to soothe and nourish the skin! The combo makes it possible to target both the oily and dry patches, which is a very hard balance.

And even though the products are perfect for those with combo skin, they also have tons of benefits for those who don't consider themselves to have combination skin – which means that these are the perfect addition to basically everyone's skincare routine! Each product is priced at under $7, which makes it affordable and attainable for just about every budget – who says skincare should be expensive?

I tried the Whipped Nourishing Detox Mask, and it's the best for feeling like you got deep down in your pores and cleaned everything! The mask has menthol in it, which gives you that intense, pore-tingly sensation that feels amazing (and makes your skin look it too!). It's a whipped texture that applies so smoothly onto a wet face, and in only 3 minutes, my skin felt drastically cleaner! (Instructions say keep them on for 3-5 minutes, and no longer!) I will say, if you have sensitive skin or you're sensitive to menthol, this product may not be right for you as it might cause short-term flushing of your skin. But to be honest, my skin is fairly sensitive, and I had no reaction to it!

The Balancing Pore Cleanser is definitely the newest addition to my every day routine because it was a great face wash that exfoliated (it has jojoba beads!), deep cleans and leaves my skin feeling smooth, refreshed and just all-round clean! I used it in place of my regular face wash at night, and really felt like it removed all the guck and impurities from my pores and took off the remnants of makeup trapped in my skin. I can definitely see how using this product long-term can make my skin softer, brighter and healthier! 
I ordered these online through Walmart, but they're available in stores all over (check here to see where it's available), online through Walmart, Target or even Amazon!

 
While it's no secret that I'm a fan of Bioré and especially this new line, I feel like anyone with combo skin will be too!

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March 11, 2019

March Goals

So, Carnival has come and gone, and now March is in full swing, which means it's time to share my goals. February brought a lot of consistency, a virus and tons of Carnival prep – I even shared more about Trinidad Carnival on my Instagram Stories, and it's all saved in my Highlights, so if you missed it, go check it out!

Now that Carnival is finished, life is a little slower in some ways and definitely more hectic in others. I won't be hitting fete after fete anymore, but I'll be working a ton more trying to get my April issue out on time, as well as helping with three other publications coming out in the next two months. So it's going to be crazy - but fun - as always!

Now let's get into this month's goals and last month's recap!

Check out last month's goals and recap post HERE


RECAP OF MY FEBRUARY GOALS

1. READ SIX BOOKS // I really wasn't sure I'd be able to do this one, because February was so hectic, but I'm happy to say I managed to read 6 books in time! I knew the first week or two of March would be Carnival and recovery so I wanted to make sure I was ahead of my reading schedule (link to goodreads challenge) and i'm proud to say I did it!  

2. EXERCISE 5 DAYS A WEEK // I definitely exercised way more in February, and even days that I missed training, I'd make the effort to go to the gym and do an hour, wake up early in the morning, or go to a lunch-time yoga class. However, two weeks before Carnival, I got super sick with a virus and I was out for three days straight, making it that much harder to workout 5x that week. Besides that week though, I met this goal, so I'm giving myself partial credit here!  

3. FINALIZE MY CARNIVAL ACCESSORIES // Of course, this happened super last minute – but I somehow managed to get it all together in time: my Monday Wear, boots, tights, accessories and even glitter spray to make sure I was looking extra sparkly on the road! 

4. GET TO SLEEP EARLIER // I feel like this is always going to be a yes and no for me, because it was really dependent on the night. Sometimes, I stayed up til 3 am, and others I was passed out by 11:30 pm. I've accepted this is just who I am, although I'm always trying to get to bed earlier regularly!

5. TRY SOMETHING NEW // This is super tiny, but was something so totally new for me. If you know me, you'll know I'm so boring with my manicures: they're always gel polish, either in a bright red, a pale pink or trusty nude, and sometimes if I'm feeling exciting I'll do a deeper red. That's it. Four shades! Lame, right? So, last month I tried both white nail polish AND rose gold chrome nail polish, which I did to complement my Carnival costume. I shared them both under the NAILS highlight on my Instagram, so if you're looking for nail inspo, I gotchu! 

TOTAL: 4/5: Overall a great month, considering I hit most of my goals! 


MARCH GOALS

1. GET BACK ON TRACK WITH EATING HEALTHY // Carnival was last week Monday and Tuesday, and after months of being super strict and eating super clean, I gave myself the rest of the week to 'cheat', and eat all of the cravings I had while I was hardcore. Now that the last few days have passed, I need to re-commit to the healthy lifestyle I'd been following and it's a massive goal for my month to get back on track. I've seen in the past how easy it is to continue 'cheating' after Carnival (especially because there's no huge goal in sight: Carnival you're literally half-naked on the street so you're super motivated!). 

2. SCHEDULE MORE BLOG CONTENT // Now that I'll have a littleee more free time, I want to commit to blogging more often than just twice a month. Really trying to become more regular, especially as I approach my 6-year blogging anniversary at the end of the month! I'm trying to work on creating more content for TCD. 

3. BOOK MY FLIGHTS FOR E'S WEDDING // One of my besties from my sorority is getting married in the Fall! I know that I don't want to miss seeing her walk down the aisle to the love of her life, and so I've planned a quick little trip for her wedding, and to visit some friends in Boston and Connecticut. This month, I want to book flights while they're still affordable, book my hotels and finalize the details so I can officially RSVP YES to Erica and Matt!  

4. WAKE UP EARLIER // In the last few months, I've been making an effort to be up earlier, and at the start of the year, I was up consistently by 6 am. But obviously, as time passed and as I've gotten less and less sleep, I've found myself hitting the snooze button more and more. I live 5 minutes away from my office, and I definitely take advantage of that sometimes, so I want to get back to waking up early and enjoying my slow mornings before the work rush begins!

5. START BACK POSTING ON INSTAGRAM // Instagram has definitely been the platform I've been the most hesitant to jump back into since returning to TCD, and I've been really slow starting back. In the last few months, I've started to post more on Instagram Stories, even creating a few highlights and showcasing some things that are important to me! But I want to find the motivation to post more photos to my feed. So, if you have any advice or suggestions on content you'd like to see, let me know!


So, that's it! My goals for March! They're a mix of personal and blog goals, and I think that they're gonna be hard to accomplish! Let's do it! 

What are your goals for this month? 

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February 14, 2019

How to Keep at Your New Year's Resolutions (Even After January)

Now that we're more than a month into the New Year, some people have already started failing at their New Year's resolutions. It's a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, most people don't make it past January with their goal to be a 'new' them for the year. And I get it: in fact, most years, I fall off the wagon with some goals too. It's nothing to be ashamed of, cause it happens to the best of us, but it's something to learn from.

I think that's the most important part of a New Year's resolution. Not completing the resolution itself, but learning and growing from trying to change certain aspects of yourself or your life, seeing how you perform and react to change, and seeing how hard you persist with a lofty goal. It's definitely hard, but if you make it through the year, it's worth it.


My resolutions this year are a little vaguer than normal, because I'm letting one word guide me instead of goals. But that doesn't mean I can't fall off the wagon. In fact, it's easier than ever. So I spent some time reflecting on all progress I've made on resolutions throughout the years, considering those I succeeded with and those I failed at, and I decided to share the magic potion to staying on track with your resolutions past January!

ONE // SET REALISTIC GOALS

I feel like this one is pretty much the reason why most people fail at their New Year's resolutions: they create too big of goals that are highly unlikely to be achieved in one shot. Instead of putting "clear all debt" or "lose 100 pounds" on your list, aim for something a little more achievable.

Know yourself and what you're actually going to do before making a goal that you'll more than likely not achieve. So instead of "lose 100 pounds", make your resolution to eat healthier for the year, or get to the gym more. Being realistic sets you up for success in the long run.


TWO // WORK AT THEM EVERY DAY

It's called a New YEAR's resolution for a reason: they'll happen over a year's time. It doesn't happen overnight, and it's totally unrealistic to expect that to happen. The beauty of a resolution is that it's meant to change your habits, and that takes time and requires you to put in work. If you want to get out of debt, you can't just save money on one day and expect that to make a significant difference. It's important to learn and understand that in order to keep the goals you made for yourself, you'll have to work at them, even a little bit, every single day!


THREE // DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP FOR A BAD DAY

That being said.. not every day is going to be perfect. If you're really trying to eat healthier, and you have one bad day of eating like total crap, that's OKAY! It's okay to have ups and downs – in fact, it's healthy.

It's important to recognize that it's alright to have a bad day, but you can't let yourself turn it into a bad week or a bad month, because soon it'll be a bad year. This is what you call 'all or nothing' type of thinking – and breaking this mindset is the first thing you should do if you ever want to succeed in any goals you set.


FOUR // REWARD YOURSELF

Listen, New Year's resolutions are hard. If they were easy, everyone would keep theirs year after year, and the world would be a happier, healthier, wealthier place, right? But they're hard: and that's not to be forgotten, so find ways to reward yourself for staying on track.

Say your resolution is to exercise more, create mini-rewards to keep you going! Exercise 5 days this week? Treat yourself to something nice. Make it through a month of consistent exercise? Reward yourself with a little gift. These small encouragements will help you continue to crush your goals day by day and month by month!

FIVE // KEEP YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE

If you want to do something this year: talk about it. Tell everyone you know. Beg friends to join in on the resolution with you. Make a group chat to encourage each other to stick at it. Tweet, Facebook, Instagram the journey. Let the world know what you want to do, because if it's out there, you'll be shamed into actually doing it. Because no one wants to be the person who didn't achieve their goals!

So find someone who has a similar goal as you this year, or just ask a friend if you two can hold each other accountable for your individual resolutions, and then stick to it! Keep in touch regularly and encourage each other. Share your wins, share your mistakes and even share when you fail – because you'll get back up and go again and again this year!

So.. now that February is in full swing, will you still keep at your New Year's resolutions? 
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February 11, 2019

February Goals

This post is coming a little late in February – to be honest, I haven't as much as opened my laptop in weeks! But I committed to blogging and I'm trying my best for 2019, so here we go..

Can you believe we're already in February? I feel like I say this every year, but January always feels soOoOoOo long, and then the rest of the year flies by, and it's looking like 2019 is no different! But let's see what I want to accomplish in February!

Check out last month's goals and recap post HERE

RECAP OF MY JANUARY GOALS

1. RE-COMMIT TO THE BLOG // Can I give myself partial credit for this? While I didn't blog at all since my last goals post, I drafted several posts, brainstormed a ton of ideas for my content calendar and slowly got back into Instagram Stories. I know I need to be more consistent across all channels, but it's been so difficult transitioning with work, and it's a crazy time of year, but I'm positive I'll be better! 

2. PERSONALIZE MY SPACE AT WORK // I definitely didn't do as much as I'd hoped, but I did bring in little details that reflect who I am to make my office feel more 'me'. I think this'll be a passion project throughout the year, and month by month I'll see small changes, but I started by bringing in some candles, a personalized calendar featuring photos of the kids in my family, a desk clock, a little acrylic box with my name on it, pen holders and a cute little decor sign. So while it's not perfect, I'm chalking this as a win!  

3. SAVE MONEY // In January, I actually did pretty well at not spending money unnecessarily. Besides the must-haves like gas, groceries, my gym membership or medication, I avoided spending in the month of January and I really impressed myself. I'm hoping to continue this 'no-spend' trend as much as possible throughout the year, but it's so hard! 

4. CUT OUT DIET SODA // I am SO proud of myself for this one! For the first two weeks, I completely cut out diet soda, and I was feeling so good! Then, I would allow myself to have a sip of one if I wanted, without feeling like I needed to have the rest. I definitely slacked a little bit lately and have been having one more often than I would like (though still WAY less than I'm used to, so it's good?) and I want to cut down even more. 

5. EXERCISE 5 DAYS A WEEK // I'm giving myself partial credit because some weeks, I exercised more than 5 days, while others I fell short at 3-4 days! But I'm definitely more active and that was the overall goal, so this is a win! 

TOTAL: 4/5: Definitely not my worst month – I'm proud of myself for sticking to most of these! 

FEBRUARY GOALS

1. READ SIX BOOKS // Carnival is the first week of March, and I know that week is going to be crazy and I'm not going to have enough time to read at all, so I'll probably fall behind if I'm going for the 'one book a week' idea. So I want to get ahead of myself and read a couple extra books this month in anticipation of those hard weeks! 

2. EXERCISE 5 DAYS A WEEK // Bringing this January goal with me to February, especially because Carnival is around the corner (oh my goshhh!) and I need to feel comfortable and be fit for the road! I'm hoping to train 5x a week, but also planning to get workouts in wherever I can! 

3. FINALIZE MY CARNIVAL ACCESSORIES // This is less of a goal, and more of a must-do, but Carnival is around the corner and I feel so disorganized. I haven't even figured out what I'm wearing on Carnival Monday, or ordered my boots or anything yet! So I definitely need to get on Amazon and figure all of that out ASAP! 

4. GET TO SLEEP EARLIER // For the most part, I've been so much better at getting to sleep earlier, but I still find myself staying up late some nights, whether it's reading, playing games on my phone or just doing work, and I definitely pay for it the next day when I'm falling asleep on myself in my office.

5. TRY SOMETHING NEW // I think one of my biggest flaws is my hesitance to try new things sometimes, even when it comes to the smallest things, so I'm hoping to try something new this month – maybe it's a food, maybe it's an exercise, maybe it's a new hairstyle.. whatever it is, I'm excited to try! 

So, for the most part, my goals are all self-improvement goals, but I'm excited to see if I can get through them this month! 

What are your goals for this month? 

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