June 2017 Wrap Up

If you don't want to hear about my holidays or how terrorists made me lose followers, you should probably skip this one. It will be a little shorter than usual because, even though I had great intentions to continue posting and uploading, it seems they hopped a flight about the same time I did.

​(This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them, I'll make a small commission. They're for The Happiness Planner and books from Amazon, and they're clearly marked. Thanks for feeding my book and stationery addictions. For more info, read my disclosure.)

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June 2017 wrap-up post from HowToGYST.com

On The Site — June 2017

{As usual, pinks are links, and click the pics to be taken to the post.​}

Just one post for the entire month of June, which is pretty pitiful. Having said that... #noregrets. 😉 Between the holiday and our impending emigration, our savings are taking a serious hit. In fact, I think it's safe to say they'll soon be all but wiped out. While I do think it's important to have a rainy day fund, and I'm certainly not of the belief that money can't buy you happiness (books and stationery make me positively giddy, thank you very much), it got me thinking about all the things I'll still be able to do. Lack of money doesn't mean the quality of your life has to suffer. There are so many things you can do that don't cost a dime.

On YouTube — June 2017

First up was a review of The Happiness Planner. I was ridiculously excited when their team agreed to send me one (if you don't ask, you don't get, folks), and even more delighted when the package arrived just a few days later. What I wasn't expecting, though, were the goodies that came with it! Oodles and oodles of worksheets and rose gold goodness! See for yourself:

If you'd like to get your hands on your own, or just check out their gorgeous selection of stationery, hop on over to The Happiness Planner shop. (That's an affiliate link, folks. For every purchase made through it, I'll earn $2... and immediately invest it in more stationery. Here's another:) They also have a beautiful monthly subscription box, cleverly called "A Box of Happiness".

Then, once I came back from holidays, I wanted to share some travel hacks with you. It's no secret that I'm a home bird and generally don't enjoy travel of any kind, so over the years I've learned a few tips and tricks to make the process a little less traumatic. ​If you have any great travel tips of your own, I'd love it if you shared them in the comments below. With the move coming up in just a few weeks, and then regular return trips to visit family and friends, I'll need all the help I can get!

And did you hear I'm aiming for 50,000 subscribers by the end of 2017? Help me make it happen by clicking that big ol' subscribe button below!

August 2016

Social Media Stats — June 2017

  • Facebook: over 3,050 'likes'. Consistent growth, which is great.
  • Twitter: over 975 followers. So close to breaking into 4 figures!
  • Instagram: over 1,400 followers. I gained a lot of new Cincinnati-based followers after posting about our move. Hi future friends!
  • Pinterest: almost 5,100 followers.
  • Newsletter: over 2,800 lovelies on the list.

HowToGYST HQ (AKA home) — June 2017

I'm not sure if you heard, but I was on holiday. 😉 We started off with a weekend stay in London, the main aim being to bring Scout to Legoland (though also because there are no direct flights between Dublin and Kos, our main destination). Our very first night there, terrorists attacked the city. Thankfully, we were staying out near the amusement park so were tucked up safe and sound in our hotel beds, but we received several worried calls and messages from friends and family. It was a bit surreal being so close and yet so far from all that horror. I can't even imagine how awful it must have been. My heart goes out to everyone affected.

I posted a "Fuck terrorism" status update on the Facebook page and, bewilderingly, lost a handful of followers because of it. I guess if you can't get on board with a message like that, my page isn't the best place for you.​

June 2017 wrap-up post from HowToGYST.com | Legoland, London, UK

Next stop was the Greek island of Kos where we spent 9 glorious nights soaking up the sunshine and stuffing our faces. It's the first time we've gone all-inclusive and I think I can say with some certainty that it won't be the last. While I generally prefer a city break over a resort, it was nice to completely unwind for a while. The appallingly poor wifi meant that the workaholic in me was forced to put her feet up, which isn't something she does very often. 🙂

June 2017 wrap-up post from HowToGYST.com | Kos, Greece

From there we headed to Athens for 2 days. (Again, it was because there are no direct flights between Kos and Dublin.) We were hoping to spend the entire time soaking up as many of the sights as we could, but poor Scout fell ill with a bad stomach bug and basically alternated between sleeping and vomiting the entire time. So from the minute we checked in until the morning we checked out, I literally didn't leave the hotel room. Not even once in 48 hours.

I sent Sam out to do some sight-seeing on the second afternoon, because it didn't make sense for both of us to be cooped up inside, so he got to play tourist and I got to read more of my book. (See below for everything I read in June.)

June 2017 wrap-up post from HowToGYST.com | Athens, Greece

After that it was back home. (We were all more than ready for our own beds!) By that time, Scout had perked up but we still popped along to the doctor to make sure there was no underlying infection. I don't know if she passed it to me or mine was merely coincidental, but I ended up succumbing to a stomach bug myself just a few days later. So, while I had planned to dive into prep work for the move, I ended up propped up in bed for a few days instead.

Then, to wrap up the month, Scout finished her last day of pre-school on the 30th. ​We were given a scrapbook full of photos and artwork and I'll treasure it forever. 🙂 She'll be returning to the school next week for their summer camp, though, so there weren't many goodbyes. If we were staying in Ireland she'd be starting her formal schooling in September but, because we're moving and the education system is different in the States, she'll basically have to attend pre-school all over again. *sigh*

June 2017 wrap-up post from HowToGYST.com | Scout pre-school before & after

​BUT we both managed to "graduate" on the same day because, that evening, I finally passed my diploma in photography. Whoop! I now have a vague idea how to operate a DSLR camera. Ha ha.

Overall, June 2017 was all about best laid plans... and how they can go to pot. But how you can still have a pretty great time regardless. :)​

What I read in June 2017:

(Contains Amazon affiliate links which means that if you buy through my link, I'll earn a small commission on the sale... and use it to buy more books. Hurray! For more info, read my disclosure.)

Oh, oodles. (Another hurray for holidays.) Just a quick FYI that I'll probably be retiring the book reviews from these wrap-up posts. If so, they'll most likely be moving to a new home (not on this site), but I'd love to hear what you think of them. Let me know in the comments.

But without further ado, here they are:

  • "Jab Jab Jab Right Hook" by Gary Vaynerchuk. A reasonably quick read on what makes a great social post. If you run a blog or business and you're interested in growing your social reach, or you just have a thing for digital marketing, this is a worthwhile read. It's not going to set your world on fire or reveal any deep secrets, but it's a good outline of common sense stuff that all businesses should know. Personally I'd love to see an updated version -- the book is now several years old so some of the information is a little out of date -- but presumably the output wouldn't be enough to justify the immense input it would require.
  • "The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck" by Mark Manson. I so badly wanted to like this. It had been recommended to me by a lot of people, and the title suggested that it would be right up my street. But no. In its defence, I did read it on the plane on the way to Kos so it didn't have my undivided attention and I wasn't exactly curled up on a comfy couch, but it still did nothing for me. I dunno, I found it a bit rambly. It's a standard "I was a bit of a waster and then I managed to turn my life around to be somewhat respectable" tale. If that's your sort of thing, go for it. It didn't become a bestseller for no reason, I guess. But if you're looking for an infinitely better read with actual practical advice on how to do it rather than just vaguely motivational phrases, then I still think Sarah Knight's "The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A Fuck" is the superior choice.
  • "A Spring Affair" by Milly Johnson. This novel about a woman who finds that decluttering completely changes her life is recommended a lot in KonMari circles. I knew it was going to be a bit of fluff, which is why I saved it for the holiday. Sadly, it wasn't nearly as quick a read as I would have liked, and it was about as unpredictable as water's wetness [end sarcasm], but I'm not going to totally rag on it. Books like this don't make themselves out to be stunning literary works. If you like the topic of decluttering, and you don't mind formulaic characters or seeing an ending coming a mile off, you'll get a few hours of harmless fun out of this one.
  • "The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo" by Amy Schumer. In my experience, celebrity autobiographies fall into two categories: the "these are all the outrageous things I've done because I'm so cool" category, and the "I know I'm rich but I'm also so relatable" category. This is the latter. I found the stories about her family to make for uncomfortable reading, and often wondered how her parents felt about having their most embarrassing moments shared with the world at large. Honestly, unless you're a big Amy fan, I'd probably give this one a miss.
  • "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty. I don't know why Liane Moriarty keeps sucking me back in with her books but she does. I've never found any of them to be amazing, but she has a knack for weaving an intricate and surprising story, so I'm just gonna go ahead and call myself a fan. Grudgingly. Having said that, this isn't her best offering (that's still "The Husband's Secret" as far as I'm concerned) and if this was the first book of hers I'd read, it would've been the last. It tells the story of Alice who, after a bump on the head, forgets the previous decade of her life and has to re-adjust to her new situation and the fact that, frankly, she's a completely different person than she was in her 20s. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Liane Moriarty's books is that I never have any great sympathy for the protagonists. All of them have flaws, and Alice is no exception. It was clear throughout the book that whatever strengths and experience she gained in "the missing decade", she did so at great expense to her character. It was very hard to find her likeable, but maybe that's part of the charm. There's no shiny coating or glossy exterior, and even the inside is a bit shabby, but there's just something you can't quite put your finger on that makes you keep reading. Still, though, skip this one and go for "The Husband's Secret" or, at the very least, "Big Little Lies".
  • "Anne of Green Gables" by L.M. Montgomery. It's like an extended version of "Pollyanna". (That's not a good thing.)
  • "If I Did It" by O.J. Simpson. True crime stories fascinate me, particularly when they're high profile. (Fun fact for you: the Charles Manson murders and, more specifically, one of the books written about them, "Helter Skelter", played a pivotal role when I decided to apply to law school. It's still one of my favourite books, and my husband bought me a special edition copy a few years ago.) I'll admit I didn't really know all that much about the O.J. Simpson case before I read this, but was hooked from just a few lines in. Unusually, because the book was released by the family of one of the victims, the "confession" is followed by an incredibly lengthy justification for its publication. (They faced a huge backlash, having come out initially in vehement opposition to its publication, given that O.J. himself was due to profit from it.) I completely understand why they felt it was necessary but, if I were to give you one piece of advice, it would be to put the book down as soon as you get to the end of O.J.'s story. After all, if we're honest with ourselves, that's the only reason we're reading.
  • "The Run Of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson" by Jeffrey Toobin. Yup, I needed another fix. I won't say for a second that I feel any sympathy for O.J. Simpson, but I did find that parts of this book were a little skewed against him (for example, it's seen as preposterous that one of the victims could ever have assaulted or defended herself against O.J., purely because she was slighter and lighter than he) and I sometimes felt that the author was so busy trying to read between the lines that he completely dismissed what was on those lines. Nonetheless, it was a reasonably detailed account of one of the biggest trials of the 20th century, and contained a lot of behind-the-scenes details. In other words, a fascinating feast for someone hungry for more information on the case. (And yes, I would recommend reading O.J.'s "confession" first.)


And thus completes the first half of 2017. What a whirlwind it's been! We've only a few more weeks left in Ireland before we say our goodbyes  -- July will be our last full month here -- and finish out the rest of the year across the ocean.

What was the highlight of June 2017 for you?​

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