Best books of 2020 (so far)

I’ve tried to compile my favorite books of 2020 so far but it’s so incredibly hard to narrow them down. Tap any book to shop!

I’m thinking I might just make a blog post after every good five books I read so you have a place to see them all. What do you think? Comment below if that’s something you’d be interested in!

This is the year to learn, grow & have those hard conversations about race. Out of the books I’ve read on the topic of racism, this one was a great “starter book” to learning. Oluo starts from the beginning by asking “what is racism?”. Throughout the book, you’re given her own anecdotes of growing up Black mixed with easy to understand facts about how racism came to be in America.

I understand this book came out in 2016; I’m just mad I didn’t give it a shot earlier! It’s categorized as sci-fi but I’d say it has more a psychological thriller vibe. What would happen if you made a machine that allowed you to time travel but every time you did so, another self was living in a parallel universe? To take it even further, what would happen if all your parallel selves met up? This book was mind blowing.

I read this book in an entire day. From the jump, you’ll already invested into finding out why the patient at the psych ward doesn’t speak. Did she really kill her husband whom she loved? Each page will have you itching for answers.

IT’S TWILIGHT! I HAD TO READ IT! Being obsessed with it growing up, the books not the movies, I had to read Twilight from Edward’s perspective. Reading it was very nostalgic but be aware, I didn’t learn a ton more about the characters. Also note, it’s about 600+ pages and it only covers Twilight (none of the others). I’m only putting it on my top list because it brought me back to being a young teen.

You’ve probably heard me say this so many times but, I LOVED THIS BOOK. It was suggested to me by my favorite local, independent book store. Did I really want to read a book on someone’s husbands? No. Did I anyway? Yes, and it was so worth it. You follow Evelyn Hugo, this Hollywood scarlet, through all of her 7 husbands. They help her grow, challenge her and shape her into the woman she ends up becoming. There’s also a twist at the end that you don’t see coming!

Looking for an easy ready that has romance, a murder mystery and body positivity? This is the book for you. A body positive influencer is met with her high school bully pleading to go to her lavish wedding. Reluctantly, the influencer agrees. A murder happens and she has to figure it out while finding herself and love. What’s not to like about that plot?

This book is so sweet and short! How many times are you asked where you’ll be in 5 years? The main character has it all mapped out but then has a dream (a real vivid, was that real? kind of dream) of her kissing someone who isn’t her fiancé. This book reminds you that it’s okay to not know what’s next.

(I also read her book “The Dinner List” which is amazing as well!)

A non-fiction book that doesn’t feel like it! The author followed 3 women in very different relationships around for 8 years and wrote their stories. This book explored all types of women’s sexuality and desire. I bet you can related to at least one of these women, if not all of them.



The “B” Word

“You look like you had the best sleep of your life!”

“Your skin looks so smooth!”

“Wow! You’re looking great!”

These are all things I told myself two weeks after my first round at the “B” word. Yes bitch, I mean Botox.

For about 6 months I’ve been thinking about trying it out because fine lines started to appear on my forehead and between my brows. While I was initially upset that all my creams, SPF, and excessive water drinking wasn’t helping like it should of, I decided it was time to enlist some serious help. Like any human, I Googled my life away to see if it was right for me. How old do you have to be? Will it hurt? What med spa should I go to? How often do I have to keep it up? Well, I bit the bullet and have all the answers for you Botox first timers.

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When choosing a med spa, don’t be shy to shop around. Ask friends, family, and Google for their opinions. I’ve actually gone to Revive Med Spa for filler in my laugh lines and I was extremely impressed with my experience prior so I was thrilled to collaborate with them. The spa is very clean and everyone is very kind & welcoming.

Let’s talk about the process *breaks out in cold sweat*. To be honest, I had two big fears going into Botox. Firstly, that I wouldn’t be able to move my face and I’d look like a scary, motionless human. Secondly, that it would hurt. Thankfully, I was proven wrong on both my fears. Starting out, you talk to your nurse about what you’d like to achieve. I wanted to get rid of my forehead lines but still have movement in my brows. I immediately followed up with asking the pain level with a nervous laugh. Getting your face injected in front of a crowd also isn’t very easy. In the room with me there was a photographer, videographer, assistant and the nurse. The crowd chuckled and reassured me that it wouldn’t hurt. Once I was fully iced and numb, the injections began. They didn’t hurt at all! It felt like the smallest pinch and it was over in less that 15min.

Immediately after, it looked like small little bumps over my forehead that subsided within 10 minutes. It really looked like I had nothing done- just my forehead was missing makeup. Kayla, the nurse told me that it would take 2 weeks to see the full results. Fast forward 2 weeks and I am LOVING the results. I can raise my eyebrows and make expressions but my skin doesn’t wrinkle, same with between my brows! My fine lines are noticeably less deep, if not gone all together. Because I am a first timer, my nurse suggested I come back every 2-3 months for the first year (after that I can wait a little bit longer) to make sure the wrinkles don’t develop again.

All in all, my first Botox experience was amazing. Revive Med Spa held my hand the entire process and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Check out my stories soon on my Instagram @taytaygrace to watch the full process (if you’re late to read this, I’ll make a highlight)!

 


Moving In With Your Significant Other

There are a lot of factors to consider going into the big decision of moving in with your significant other. This is a huge step for your relationship so first of all, congratulations! I’m writing this blog post because I thought it would be useful for other couples who are thinking about moving in together.

First things first, check in with yourself and your intuition. Does this feel right? Do I want to do this? Obviously if you know the answer isn’t yes, don’t do it! When Brad and I lived in LA he asked me if I wanted to move in and I wasn’t ready then but knew I wanted to down the line. Alas, here we are now! I’m glad I waited until I was 100% certain and timing worked out perfectly for us. Listen to your heart!

Being nervous about it is perfectly normal, especially if you haven’t lived with your significant other before. This is a giant step in your relationship! Personally, I was really nervous. Not so much about the actual move itself but the idea of not feeling independent. From a conversation with Brad, I realized I’m not losing my independence. He was very accommodating and in the guest room I have a reading nook if I want to be alone; it’s something that feels like my space. Also, when Brad was designing the house, he included a deep bath tub and a fire place which wasn’t at our old spaces but I’ve always dreamed of having. I know- a serious Notebook moment. You don’t lose your independence when you move in together. I still have my activities, hobbies, friends, and a bit of my own space.

Does your idea of your future relationship align with your significant other’s idea? Talk about an awkward conversation to have before moving in but it’s 100% necessary. You don’t want to be in a position where you want kids and you find out 5 years later that your SO doesn’t. Be open and communicate what you want in the future! If your futures don’t align, rethink moving. How important is marriage and/or a family to you? Communication is key so you don’t get stuck in a situation down the line.

Are you moving in because the price is right? This is SO important- do not move in with someone just because you will be saving money. This seems like a recipe for disaster. I understand there are situations where you both need to save but if it’s only for money, it’s a bad idea. Also, talking about income with anyone is uncomfortable but I highly suggest it so that you don’t gain resentment down the line. Brad and I talked finances and made a decision on how we’ll divvy up bills, etc., that felt fair to both of us. I never wanted to get into the feeling of “I pay xxx for this and he doesn’t pay xxx for that”. Talk to each other and find a balance that works for you.

Which chores do you prefer? If you’re lucky to have a maid, please skip this sugar mama. Brad and I fit nicely into our chores. We didn’t talk about it but I do suggest you do. I take care of the dogs (taking them to work, walking them, feeding them, bathing them, taking them out, etc.) and laundry. Brad takes care of anything food related (cooking, cleaning dishes, etc.) Again, find a balance that works for you two and set expectations before it becomes an issue.

I know, I know the conversations are somewhat uncomfortable but your future self will be thanking you! Again, communication is key in any relationship. If you have any questions/want to talk/etc please feel free to email me, DM me, comment- here to help!


Brad Does My Makeup!

Staring a YouTube channel has always been so daunting to me. Filming, editing, and uploading all seemed like a ton of work but you know what? I did it for Instagram, might as well take the leap and get over my fears.

With that being said, I am so proud to announce that MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL IS LIVE! AND I’ve posted one video. Check it out here:

I really want my channel to be a place that is a peak into my life and to be relatable for you. I don’t want to be overly edited and fancy (mostly because I’m not sure how to do that).

So I hope that you enjoy and follow me along in this journey! Any sort of feedback is welcomed.

P.S. if you have a YouTube channel comment it below and I’ll subscribe!


The (Not So) Simple Life

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Instagram is often a place where you only see the good parts of life. You see people’s successes, cute outfits, perfect vacations, ideal relationships, etc. While this is great, we often don’t see what people are struggling with behind the scenes. I promise to share with you all the good and the bad & ugly so that’s why I decided it would be a good idea to write about how I struggle with my work and life balance.

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I’ve been working at a news agency for a little over a year now. My prior jobs have been in marketing, PR, & social media marketing. A news agency is essentially creates all the news you see on sites like NY Post, Yahoo!, Huffington Post and even some ‘blog’ sites like Refinery29 or Bustle. To put it simply- I help get brands into the news. Monday through Friday I’m at work 8am-4pm so it’s difficult to balance content creation, blogging, family, friends, and a relationship. I know a lot of you have full-time jobs and hats off to you! You all amaze me and inspire me. My work life takes up most of my time just because I’m there all the time, so it’s a priority to me. It’s my fixed and main source of income so it has to be my number one.

 

Now you’re probably wondering how I post every single day with a new photo, location, outfit, collaboration, blah, blah, blah because sometimes I’m surprised I can actually push out all that content. I am SO incredibly blessed to be in a relationship that is so supportive and who also happens to be an amazing photographer. It took almost a year to hit our creative groove and be able to work together, push content out on time, and both create my vision for the photos. A lot of my content creation work has helped us explore together and try new things so I’m blessed to have him want to be a part in this aspect of my life. We usually shoot on weekends and set aside 3 hours to shoot 5 outfits. Together we think of a location and bring all of the looks with us and I just change in the car. See? I told you the content creation life isn’t as glamorous as it seems! On hot days it’s especially hard because you have to change and you’re slipping and sliding all over the place. So normally the photos you see throughout the week are all shot on one day! Also, Brad is so great at actually still wanting to go on dates even though we do get to go to events. Events are fun but they’re work to me so shout out Brad for taking me places and wanting to always make me feel special.

 

Family and friends play such a big role in my life. I’m Mexican so my family is HUGE. I make sure I’m always there for the important family get togethers. A lot of the time this means not going to an event or having to scrunch in time to shoot but it’s worth it. OK, OK, sometimes I get major FOMO but I think it’s natural. I have very close friends that I’ve had for a long time, over ten years! Usually we talk on the phone as we drive to and from work. I’m lucky to live super close to one so I can walk Penny over to see her.

 

Most importantly is SELF-CARE. There have been many times where I’ve felt like I’ve stretched myself too thin. I’ve started taking weekends off of my phone to be more present and in the moment. This has really helped me balance work and life. Don’t be afraid to go offline if you feel overwhelmed. Enjoy your life and be in the moment because you deserve it! Self care- that’s hot.

 

How do you balance work and life? Tell me in the comments!

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Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice

Real talk here: lingerie can be tricky to purchase. There are so many thoughts that run through your head. Does this make me feel confident? Will my significant other like it? What lingerie can I wear that doesn’t make me look like a dominatrix? What if I want to look like a dominatrix? How do I even get into this thing? Well, I’m here to help. Lingerie shopping shouldn’t be this crazy venture, it simply comes down to your style and what you feel confident in. I’ve created a quiz to pair you with the perfect lingerie option: are you sugar, spice, or everything nice?
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1. What is your ideal Valentine’s Day date?
a. Stay at home and order take-out
b. Going out for dessert
c. Dancing the night away
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2. What are your color preferences?
a. Pinks, ivory, whites
b. Jewel tones
c. Burgundy, black
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3. Out of these songs, which is your favorite?
a. Into You by Ariana Grande
b. Roses by The Chainsmokers
c. S&M by Rihanna
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4. What best describes your style?
a. Cute and casual
b. Trendy and quirky
c. Edgy and fun
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5. You’re ordering brunch; what’s your order?
a. Pancakes
b. Nutella French Toast
c. Eggs benedict
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6. What ice cream flavor is your favorite?
a. French Vanilla
b. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
c. Mint Chocolate
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7. What’s your favorite trend right now?
a. All neutral outfit
b. Dewy makeup
c. Animal print
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8. Give me your drink order!
a. Frappacino
b. Cappacino
c. Espresso
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9. What’s your favorite holiday?
a. Valentine’s Day
b. 4th of July
c. Halloween
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10. What’s your dream vacation?
a. Paris, France
b. Rome, Italy
c. Ibiza, Spain
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If you’re mostly A’s, you’re sugar! You’re super sweet, generous, and real. You love the comfortable things in life like lounging at home with your sweetie. My best bet for you is lingerie that can also be worn as lounge wear. Being comfy and cute is your favorite! This robe from Yandy in their Sugar Femme collection is a great option for you. The material is so silky and the light pink color is super fun.
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If you’re mostly B’s, you’re nice! Always funny, happy-go-lucky, and a people person, you love to shine bright. You enjoy comedy stores, intimate nights out, and watching the newest shows on Netflix. Your best friend in the lingerie section would be a ruffled camisole with matching flowy, but skimpy, shorts. This berry colored pajama set is sexy without being over the top. You can find this option in Yandy’s Girl Crush collection!
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If you’re mostly C’s, you’re spice! You’re a bad bitch and you know it! You walk into a room and just your presence demands heads to turn in your direction. You’re always bold in your actions which means you need lingerie to match. Dark lace and dark colors mixed with the tiniest outfit to impress and stun any viewer is the best option for you. In Yandy’s Bad BITCH section, you can find this perfect number.

January’s Book of the Month Summary

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Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media

By Brittany Hennessy

 

I wanted to start off my book of the monthly book reviews with one I’ve been wanting to read for a while but never took the plunge. There was something about reading a book on influencing that was intriguing but a part of me felt as if it felt like a scam. What can a book on influencing tell me things that I haven’t learned before? Well, was I surprised when every single page had influencer gold on it. If you want to take blogging and influencing seriously, this book should be your Bible.

Here’s a little background on why Brittany Hennessy is a genius on this subject. She is currently the Vice-President at Carbon, which is an online platform that connects content creators with luxury brands, hotels, and experiences around the world. Brittany was most well-known as Hearst Magazines Digital Media’s Senior Director of Influencer Strategy & Talent Partnerships. Basically, she knows what she’s talking about and is such a boss babe.

Inside the book you’ll find tips on:

  • Using hashtags effectively
  • Writing the perfect bio
  • Creating content people will want to engage with
  • Understanding FTC rules
  • Praising brands without alienating their competitors
  • Building an audience and keeping them engaged
  • Packaging your brand and pitching your favorite companies
  • Monetizing your influence and knowing how much to charge
  • Laying out your blog in an easy to navigate way for brands & agencies
  • Landing an agent
  • Tips and insights from huge content creators

What I found most helpful was:

  1. Laying out your blog to include a “partnership” page
  2. Pitching brands effectively and giving them all the tools to say yes; this means you have to make your media kit/one sheet to send over and keep it updated
  3. Landing an agent if I ever decide to go that route; I honestly haven’t even thought about this option!

I don’t want to summarize each section because the book does it perfectly. So I know I’m ending this review on a major teaser but it’s because I love you and need you to actually read this book. So whether you’re starting from scratch or you’re well into your career as a content creator, I think this book would be extremely helpful! If you end up reading it please reach out to me; I’d love to chat about it!

Buy it on here on Amazon


Valentine’s Day Gifts For Him Under $100

So you have a man in your life and you’re wondering- what do men really want? Valentine’s Day isn’t one of those crazy holidays to go all out on a present (this is just me, if V-day is special to you, GO ALL OUT!) Skip the craziness of booking a dinner reservation and exchange gifts over a cheese board and wine because does a dinner get any sexier than that?

Luckily for you I’ve broken it down into an easy guide for the techies, chefs, sports enthusiasts, travelers, coffee fanatics, and luxury lovers all under $100!

The Techie

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“Alexa, follow @taytaygrace on Instagram.” Brad has one of these and at first I was skeptical if I’d enjoy him talking to another woman asking the weather, to dim the lights, etc. but I’m hooked! Not only does the Echo act as a speaker, it can control things in your house!

$89.99 on Amazon

The Chef

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Have you ever forgot to take out the frozen meat at the beginning of the day to cook for dinner? Have no fear- the Instant Pot is here! I used my Mom’s for the first time and cooked a frozen chicken in 20 minutes, yes I said 20 minutes! It even came out perfect! So I’m 100% a lazy chef but you can also make great things like pulled pork and chili. This appliance was life changing! For sizing I recommend the 6 quart because it’s their medium size.

$79.95 on Amazon

 

The Sports Enthusiast

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What’s better than a hoodie to your man’s favorite sports team? This gift is really a win/win for you too because we all know you’re the one going to be taking it and wearing it. Brad loves the Los Angeles Kings so I went with this one but Amazon has a ton; just type in his favorite sports team and you’re bound to find one.

$80.00 on Amazon

 

The Traveler

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Duffel bags are the ultimate weekender bag and thankfully guys got on the band wagon. I found this one that spacious, has real leather, and is a fantastic price. It also comes in tons of colors too! A big selling feature for me is when duffel bags have pockets on the inside- which this one has.

$49.99 on Amazon

The Coffee Fanatic

 

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A coffee mug for a coffee fanatic, COME ON TAYLOR DO BETTER! But WAIT! It’s not just a coffee mug- it’s a smart mug that temperature controls your coffee from an app on your phone. I have one I use at work and it keeps my coffee at the perfect temperature all day. Honestly didn’t know I needed it until I had it!

$79.99 on Amazon

 

The Luxury Lover

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A house slipper may not seem “luxurious” but they really make a difference! Whether it’s walking around the house or having to take the dogs out first thing in the morning, these slippers are a gem. If your man doesn’t have a pair, he doesn’t know what he’s missing out on!

$79.95 on Amazon

Happy shopping!


Valentine’s Day Gifts For Your Girl Squad Under $100

Let’s face it- your squad does SO much for you. They are a free therapist, a ride to the airport, a personal hype-woman, and so much more. Giving them a little something on Valentine’s Day is a great way to remind them that you love and care about them! I put together a list of gift options under $100 for every type of chick in your squad.

 

The Skincare Queen

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Our bodies naturally produce hyaluronic acid, but as we age, our levels of this key molecule gradually decrease. I’m OBSESSED with this one because it’s so well priced. I used oils such as Vitamin E and Rosehip Seed Oil and I like to mix this serum into that concoction. Did I mention it’s cruelty free?!

$38.00 on LULUCLOTH

 

The Luxe Lover

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This is by far my favorite candle brand ever! Voluspa always smells good, comes in the cutest containers, and they last for ages. Because it’s Valentine’s Day, make it pink with the smells of Prosecco Rose which is perfect for the girl that’s luxury obsessed.

$26.00 on Amazon

 

The Makeup Obsessed

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Have you been struggling to find an eyeshadow palette that has every neutral you could dream of? Well, I’ve found it conveniently on Amazon. This Tarte palette has perfect shadows for creases, lids, and blending. Plus, there’s a little bit of shimmer in there too!

$36.00 on Amazon

 

The Blogger

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This Fujifilm Instant Camera comes with rainbow film so you don’t have to buy them separately! Your blogger babe friends can go around and document their lives in the cutest way possible.

$57.66 on Amazon

 

The Trend Setter

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Wicker purses have been HUGE as of late, but also really expensive. I found this really cute round one for a great price! The strap is vegan leather and they’re all handmade.  Because we’re going into festival season and warmer weather it’s the perfect gift for the trendy friend.

$33.99 on Amazon

 

The Homebody

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Did you know I knit chunky blankets because they’re usually super expensive? For those who can’t knit, a chunky throw is perfect for the babes who love spending Friday nights at home. This specific one is 32″ x  40″ so it’s great for a cute accent over the couch. They do have other colors and sizes!

$69.99 on Amazon

 

Happy Shopping!