How I Became a Reader

How I Became a Reader

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Hello and happy Tuesday. Let’s end the year with a happy story, okay? This is the story of how I became the reader that I am now, which I hope you enjoy and find interesting. I got this idea from Hailey in Bookland, whom I absolutely adore. Obviously, everyone’s story is different and that makes everything better in my opinion. Let’s get started, shall we?

As a toddler and then as a young child, my parents would tell me bedtime stories. I don’t think they read them from a book, but rather they made them up. I remember asking my dad to tell me the story of Pocahontas, but he did not retell the Disney version I knew: he made his own version in which Pocahontas lived in Bogota and I can only imagine the crazy urban adventures she had.

That nice period of bedtime stories did not last long because when I was six years old my parents got divorced, and my mom would get home from work when I was already asleep. Fortunately, by that time I was already at school, so I guess my teachers were the ones who made sure I was getting my literary fix. I don’t remember reading chapter books during my first years at school, but we did have one of those big textbooks with short stories in them.

Growing up, I was faced with really terrible required readings. I’m talking Bunnicula in fourth grade and other reads so mediocre I can’t recall. I do remember the books I read in middle school and high school, although “read” is a stretch. I just pretended to read and used my bullshitting skills for quizzes. Some of the titles I had to read from sixth through eighth grade were Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Stargirl, and My Fair Lady.

Now, that was my reading life at school, but at home, I was about to discover the book that I believe got me into reading for pleasure. You see, for Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year, my grandmother got me When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr. That book motivated me to read, yes, but for a few years, the main theme I would read about was World War II because I wanted to know about what my great-grandparents had gone through. I must clarify, too, that I am bilingual and Spanish is actually my first language, so I read Judith Kerr’s book in Spanish. I read or was supposed to read the other titles I’m mentioning in this post in English.

My newfound love for literature coincided with my best friends’ own obsession for reading, so we sort of created a three-person book club. We would just read the same book, at times having to wait for the owner to finish it and pass it along, and then talk about it. We read Searching for David’s Heart by Cherie Bennet, which is the first book that made me cry, as well as Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws by Janette Rallison, which was relatable because my name is Cami (duh) and my best friends used to play basketball.

Because I was more in touch with books I considered worthy of being read and I was still on my search for Holocaust novels, I was able to find a great book to read when in sixth grade our teacher let us pick. I chose Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, and my teacher loved it so much that the following year she made it an assigned novel for sixth grade. I am proud to be the reason why other students read it.

High school was the time of reading books by white old men whom I didn’t care about (and still don’t). I read none of the books I’ll list, but I pretended to and I think my teachers still believe I did. We were assigned The Importance of Being Ernest in eighth grade, Tortilla Flat in ninth grade, 1984 and Animal Farm in eleventh grade. In tenth grade, we had to read something by Agatha Christie, but it was so bad, I can’t remember the title. The only book I did read in eighth grade was Night by Ellie Wiesel.

I don’t remember reading a single book in English during my first year of university. I did read some awesome books in Spanish that I’ve reread since. My life as a reader as we know it now started in November 2013 when I traveled to New York with my mother and sister, walked into a Barnes and Noble and left with two treasures: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. It was because of Eleanor & Park and what it made me feel that I started my first blog.

Because Colombia is a bit behind on everything technological and advanced, I was your traditional reader. I slowly got into ebooks, which saved me a lot of money, but I was still just reading. I came into contact with audiobooks after I got surgery. Because of the anesthesia and also the bandages I had around my chest, I could not read books, at least for the first few days. I got The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins on audible for free (yay!) and listened to the entire trilogy.

In 2017 I deleted my first blogs and created this one, and now I’m constantly reading something. And now here I am, telling you this story. I’d love to know yours, so if you want to, kindly share it in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

thredUP Haul 2.3

thredUP Haul 2.3

Hello and happy Friday. This is the last thredUP haul in this three-part series. Today I’m going to show you clothes I bought for work. Like I’ve mentioned in past posts, navy is the “institutional” color, and we can pair it with white and ivory. This is why all the clothes you’ll see today are blue. If you don’t like this color, then maybe skip this post. I’ll include the estimated retail price, the original thredUP price and the discount price where applicable, as well as the status of each item when I got it.

Brand: Splendor!

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $30

Original price: $13.99

Discounted price: $11.90

Status: Like new

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: Stephanie Rogers

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $30

Original price: $14.99

Discounted price: $12.75

Status: Gently used

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: Tempo Paris

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $27

Original price: $10.99

Discounted price: $9.35

Status: Like new

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: D&Co.

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $24

Original price: $12.99

Discounted price: $11.05

Status: Gently used

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: Lily

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $71

Original price: $19.99

Discounted price: $17.00

Status: Like new

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: Forever 21

Size: Large

Estimated retail: $20

Original price: $11.99

Discounted price: $10.13

Status: Gently used

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brand: Nautica

Size: 8 1/2

Estimated retail: $60

Original price: $14.99

Discounted price: $12.75

Status: Gently used

Which of these items would you wear for work and how would you style it? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Friday!

Love, Miss Camila

December 2019 Thankful Thursday

December 2019 Thankful Thursday

Copy of THROWBACK THURSDAY.pngHello and happy Thursday. I’d been postponing this for weeks, but now I can’t anymore because I don’t want to get super behind in my schedule and also because these happy thoughts might be just what I need. I’m thinking about continuing with Thankful Thursday next year because there are still many happy thoughts to share, and now I feel like I’m repeating myself, so let’s just get started, shall we?

December 4th, 2017

#1803: Chocolate pencils

What do you give to a teacher who loves candy more than anything? You give them chocolates shaped like pencils, of course. And because you want to make her extra happy, you get her a box in which each pencil is a different color. Sadly, the chocolate lasted for about ten seconds because I clearly needed to consume it immediately.

December 8th, 2017

#1824: Being close to finishing a process with Teaching Fellows

Reading this right now and having to type it is bittersweet because we all know how that process went. Yes, I got selected in the program and yes, I got to travel to the States to complete it, but while I was there my mental health was pretty much at its worst and I came back to Colombia. I am happy, though, that those times are now in the past and that I can move forward.

December 13th, 2017

#1846: Being officially on Holiday

I don’t know at what point I became British, but I think we can all agree that being on vacation makes us happy. Now, I say “officially” because I had to take a few days off work to travel with my family and let me tell you, the school’s principal wasn’t happy. He still gave me permission though, so at least there’s that.

December 17th, 2017 

#1866: Cracker Barrel

Look, anywhere that has pecan pancakes, biscuits, and a gift shop is my happy place. I’ve eaten my fair share of pancakes in my life and nothing tops Cracker Barrel. It is also a staple when I go to Florida with my family. Usually, the last thing we do before traveling back home is have breakfast at Cracker Barrel and eat so much we end up not wanting to eat junk food in a while.

December 21st, 2017

#1889: Selling my old books

There’s this store in Bogota that only a person who’s lived in a third world country can truly appreciate. They sell everything from books to makeup to appliances, and they also buy used books. Granted, they buy them for a little over $3 each, but money is money, baby, and making it makes me happy.

What has made you happy during this wonderful month? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Thursday!

Love, Miss Camila

I’m Sorry, Sarah Dessen

I’m Sorry, Sarah Dessen

Hello and happy Wednesday. I’m very excited to be writing this post today because I feel like I haven’t reviewed a good book in a while. I’ve been telling you what not to read and some alternatives to shitty books, but I haven’t recommended a straight-up good book in a while. Well, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen is beyond good and might be one of my favorite YA contemporary novels of 2019, probably ever.

I’d been reading a couple of ARCs and wasn’t really able to get into them, so I sort of felt the beginnings of a slump and I just couldn’t afford to lose the reading rhythm I’d been on. To clarify, I wasn’t forcing myself to read, I just wanted to look for something more appropriate for my mood than what I was reading. I basically needed a pick-me-up, so I consulted my TBR jar and it gave me two wise words: Saint Anything. Now, when I’m in a slump I’ve noticed that reading physical books helps me, so I thought “this is it.” In my mind, a novel by Sarah Dessen would be full of fluff, which was just what I needed, and it was what I needed alright, but there was not an ounce of fluff.

I feel like I owe Sarah Dessen an apology, although I doubt she will read this because I totally underestimated her book without even having read a page. I thought that as a YA queen, which is pretty much what she is, she would write shallow, fluffy, cutesy romances, and that I would be faced with one of those in Saint Anything. That, again, wasn’t the case in the slightest. I read this book between May 15th and May 20th, 2019 and gave it five stars.

The first thing I would tell you, besides not underestimating this book before reading it, would be not to get intimidated by its size. I think that a book over four hundred pages can be considered a big book by some, but I assure you, it is going to be a fast read and its size is the last thing you’ll be thinking about. Add to that the fact that chapters are fairly short, which helps you keep a nice pace when reading.

This story is about Syndey, a teenager whose brother is in jail for injuring a kid while drunk driving. You see what I told you about the fluff? Nonexistent. Now, I like that we get the sister’s perspective because I think oftentimes books that are about tragedy do not address the family and its suffering in any way. In Saint Anything, you feel the guilt Sydney is feeling and you are as conflicted towards her brother and what he did as she is.

Character-wise, I love how Sydney flourishes throughout the book. At first, it seems like she’s telling everything from an outsider’s point of view, like Nick from the Great Gatsby, or like things happened to her but she didn’t have an active role in the plot. This begins to change with time, but in a way that makes sense and that seems completely natural given the events that take place in the story.

I also loved the fact that there was a back story to almost every character. You knew why they acted in a certain way. They were three-dimensional and that added a lot to the plot. Now, not all characters were likable, but even in their cases, you got to see the reasons why they weren’t likable. There is romance, yes, but it is not the center of the story and it develops slowly, just how I like it.

This is an amazing novel, but I must warn you about an attempt of sexual assault. This is also not just an isolated scene, but throughout the novel, we can sense some events building up to it. If this is something that upsets you or that you feel like it might affect you, don’t read this book.

Have you read any other novels by Sarah Dessen? Tell me about them in the comments.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

thredUP Haul 2.2

thredUP Haul 2.2

Hello and happy Tuesday. It’s officially Christmas in Colombia, so here’s a present for you. I bring you a short and sweet haul with three items that I got from thredUP and that are perfect for warm weather because for me December equals traveling somewhere nice and sunny. I’m going to share with you details about each item related to estimated price if it wasn’t on clearance, plus the original thredUP price and the discounted price I paid, as well as the status of each item when I got it. Let’s get started, shall we?

I really don’t know what to think regarding this H&M dress. It’s a large, which means that even if the style is bodycon-ish, it’s comfortable. The fabric is stretchy but the texture is sort of weird, at least to me. I like the print and the length, but I’m not sure about the neckline. I’m just over showing my boobs to everyone.

Estimated retail: $12

Original price: $7.99

Sale price: $6.40

Status: New with tags

 

 

 

We’re looking at the cute floral skirt that is stuck to my legs because it was super windy. Yes, I know that my outfit shouts “preppy,” but just so you know, that was the whole point. This skirt is from Polo by Ralph Lauren, and I got it in a large. It was a struggle to get it in, let me tell you that, but that’s because my belly grew a bit over the months (it’s food, not a baby, okay).

Estimated retail: $78

Original price: $12.99

Sale price: $11.05

Status: Like new

I haven’t worn this skirt yet because it’s way too short and I haven’t been to a place where this could be an acceptable piece of clothing. I like the print and the bold colors, so I think it would look great paired with the right top. This skirt is from Forever 21 and I got it in a large.

Estimated retail: $20

Original price: $7.99

Sale price: $6.40

Status: Like new

 

 

Because it’s tradition to travel around this time, I’d like you to tell me where you’d sport any of these items and why.

Happy Tuesday!

Love, Miss Camila

thredUP Haul 2.1

thredUP Haul 2.1

Hello and happy Friday. We all know that one of my favorite hobbies is online shopping, and one of my favorite sites to do so is thredUP. I love it because I can get new clothes at super low prices that nobody around me is going to own. Today’s haul features pieces I’d probably wear on the weekends or on Fridays, when I can wear black or gray bottoms to work. These items weren’t all new, so I’ll let you know which were. Also, I had a discount on the already discounted items, so I’ll show you what the item usually cost on thredUP and what I got it for.

Where I work, we have to wear navy clothes. We can pair them up with ivory or white, but blue is the most predominant color, so I obviously had to get these cute dolphin earrings from Aldo.

Original  price: $4.99

Sale price: $3.93

Status: Like new

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know I don’t really like jeans, but this shirt felt like it was made to be worn with jeans and Converse. It’s a Sunday shirt for me; a piece I’d wear to go to the countryside to spend the day and chill. This is from Shein and it’s a large.

Original  price: $7.99

Sale price: $6.40

Status: Like new

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know you can see my belly and I’m not sure how I feel about that. This is super sheer and I just gave away all my black bodysuits and tank tops which I used for underneath items like this. Besides the gorgeous print, there are some areas that have this lace/mesh kinda situation going on. I think it can work for a casual weekend thing, maybe for a dinner date or something, but I don’t think I’ll be wearing it for work. I paired this Angie blouse, which is a large, with a green sports bra from Adore Me.

Estimated retail: $12

Original  price: $10.99

Sale price: $8.99

Status: New with tags

 

I’m showing the skirt here, just so you know. I think this is an interesting piece in terms of construction, fabric, and length. Let me explain: the slit is on the front, but it’s classy, the fabric is kinda stretchy, which I’m all for, and it reaches the calf. I wore it to work on Friday and I felt super comfortable. This cutie is from American Apparel and it’s a large.

Estimated retail: $36

Original  price: $17.99

Sale price: $8.99

Status: New with tags

 

 

 

 

Again, I’m showing a skirt, which I already wore once to work on a “casual/formal” day, meaning that we had to look professional but didn’t have to wear the required colors. This skirt is from Old Navy and it’s a large. I love that it’s knee-length because now I’m steering towards longer skirts than the ones I used to wear once upon a time.

Estimated retail: $27

Original  price: $999

Sale price: $8.99

Status: New with tags

That’s it for this haul. Again, these clothes are more on the casual/weekend side. I have two more thredUP hauls coming up, so stay tuned. In the comments below tell me which item of clothing or even which outfit you liked the most and why.

Happy Friday!

Love, Miss Camila

Dear Freelancer: Download the App

Dear Freelancer: Download the App

Dear FreelancerHello and happy Thursday. I hope you’re enjoying this series and that you’re finding it useful. For me, these pieces of advice I’m giving you were things I learned as I went, and I would’ve loved for someone to explain them to me before I ventured in the freelancing world.

Even now that I’ve gone back to a traditional job, I access the platform and work on some orders so that I can have a little side income since I’ve decided I’m on money-saving mode. Of course, I do everything online. I can see the available orders through a website, upload the finished product and get paid through Paypal. I know that for other freelancing jobs, not everything is online-based, and if that’s your case, then probably this advice won’t work on you.

If like me you depend on the Internet to do your job, my suggestion is simple: download the app. As far as I know, all online freelancing companies have a mobile app that you can download. Granted, you probably won’t have all the features that the website offers when you access it from a computer, but the basic functions should be enough. For me, having the app means that I can see orders as they become available. I can reserve, accept or reject them even if I’m not at home in front of my screen.

Another suggestion is to turn on your email notifications for the website. Yes, you’ll probably get tons of emails and yes, out of those, you might consider a vast majority useless, but again, think about the times when you are not in front of your computer. If you work at an online teaching company, you might get an email notification every time a student books a class with you and you can manage your schedule on the go instead of having to wait until you get home.

Freelancing for me has meant relying a lot more on technology than I used to, so basically in this post, I’m telling you to make the full switch, and embrace all the tools that you’re provided.  What other technological resources help you as a freelancer? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Thursday!

Love, Miss Camila

Don’t Read Forever…, Read This Instead

Don’t Read Forever…, Read This Instead

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Hello and happy Wednesday. I hope you’re having a great day. There are some books that become cult favorites and some authors that everyone knows about. I’m not talking about classics or anything like that, but middle grade or young adult books and authors that are very well known.

One of these icons when it comes to children’s/middle grade/ young adult literature is Judy Blume. I’d never read anything by her growing up, but I was always fascinated by this book by her that was in my best friend’s bookshelves. I’m talking about Forever…this book about a girl’s “first time” that was super revolutionary when it was first published and even decades later. Seriously, I didn’t get what the fuss was all about. In my opinion, it was poorly written and there wasn’t really a storyline to follow other than a teenager’s mediocre sex adventures. I think the underlying message of “don’t have sex, our you’ll cheat on your boyfriend with some random dude” is straight up problematic.

Now, I get it, maybe the author wanted to make readers aware of the indirect consequences of having sex or whatever. That could have been handled better and indeed it was in Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover. This book is part of a series, but it is actually a spin-off novella, so you don’t need to have read the other books to understand or enjoy this one. Like Forever… it deals with sex and the consequences it might bring, but there is so much more to the story that I think you’ll end up loving it.

Honestly, virginity and the loss of it are not topics I’m drawn to in literature, and I’d prefer them to be handled in a more natural way. What is your take on this topic? Do you like it? Do you hate it? Are you indifferent? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

L’Occitane Gift Guide

L’Occitane Gift Guide

Hello and happy Tuesday. If you’ve followed my December posts for these past years, then you’ll probably already know that each year I sort of have a “theme” when it comes to giving presents. Last year it was all DIY with lots of mini-goodies, and this year I’m all about L’Occitane. Today I want to walk you through the sets you can usually find in the stores, not only during the holiday season but year round. Let’s get started, shall we?

I am the kind of person who loves samplers, especially perfume ones because I feel like I can try many new things without having to “commit” to one, and then decide if I’ll buy them in full size. There are people, like me, who collect things that smell nice, and this trio is great for them. They get three completely unique fragrances they can sample and enjoy, which to me is better than getting a full-size bottle of a fragrance I don’t know if I’ll like. This set was $9.85.

 

 

 

Following the previous idea of having stuff to sample is this set of hand lotion. This, too, comes in three different fragrances and I’m sure the formulations vary as well. I think hand lotion is a more “gender-neutral” kind of gift because let’s be honest, the fragrances are targeted for women, and I haven’t seen a fragrance-only kit for men as of yet. This set was $6.66 and it came in a cute tin box, which adds to the value of the gift if you ask me.

 

 

 

L’Occitane always has awesome gift sets with different minis. This one was a “solidarity kit,” which meant that half of the proceedings would go to a foundation that works towards eye health. From what I can see it includes almond oil and shower oil, a moisturizing cream, a verveine perfume, a mysterious jar, and a tube of hand lotion. You have all your travel essentials there. This was $14.65, which is a great prize for such a complete gift.

 

 

 

This is a stocking-stuffer/ secret Santa idea, at least in my opinion. If there’s a verveine lover in your life you’d like to spoil, give them this. It is a tin star-shaped box that has a mini verveine body lotion, a hand lotion, and soap. I got this for $10.39.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From time to time, L’Occitane releases “favorites” kits, like this one. Let me tell you, these products are all amazing. You get a hand lotion, a Terre de Lumiere perfume, an almond shower oil, and a serum from the Immortelle line. This was $13.05.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For men, you can get a set like this one. There are three fragrances you can choose from, if I’m not mistaken. This one has a verveine shampoo, a soap bar, an after shave and a shaving gel, all minis, which are perfect for traveling. This kit was $16.51.

We have reached the end of this gift guide. Which of this sets are you most tempted to get for yourself or someone you love? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Tuesday!

Love, Miss Camila

Teacher “Never Have I Ever” pt. 1

Teacher “Never Have I Ever” pt. 1

100th day (3).pngHello and happy Saturday. Going back to school has been a wild ride, and not just because of work-related stuff. I feel like there’s someone looking at me from up there and saying “well, she’s finally stable again, let’s shake things up a bit,” because man, I can’t seem to get a break. Work is awesome, just so you know, but I feel like I need something to lighten up my mood and give my little brain a little break. This is why today I bring you a very fluffy and light-hearted post in which I’ll tell you what I’ve done and I haven’t done based on this post. Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Never have I ever… cleaned out my classroom in under 12 minutes on the last day of school. It’s summer, baby!

I don’t have a classroom yet. I mean, technically, I do, but my students are still on vacation, so this is a NEVER for me. I will experience the bliss of having to clean my classroom a lot throughout this year, but that’s going to happen later on.

2. Never have I ever…had a student bring me bouquets of dandelions after recess. So sweet!

I have. I worked at a school where I had to wear a coat, so I’d thread the flowers in the button-holes (that doesn’t sound right, someone help me) or put them on my ear so that they’d look like they were a part of my hair. That being said, I don’t like when kids take the flowers to give them to me.

3. Never have I ever …felt pure joy and giddiness over my own new school supplies. Flair Pens! Sharpies! Highlighters! Post-Its! Swoon!

Hello, my name is Camila and I’m addicted to school supplies. In fact, I have previously posted about them and I have some other great posts about teacher essentials coming up.

4. Never have I ever… had to use the EpiPen. Teachers are trained to use it, and every one of them hopes they never need to.

No. I was going through some of this questions with my man, who is going to become a teacher soon, and I told him that in Colombia the situation when handling medicine is very strict. Only the nurse can administer drugs to students and only when parents have authorized. I have not been trained to use it, and as far as I know, my students don’t carry one. When it comes to allergies, we are informed of them, but they are mostly food allergies, which are handled by the school’s nutritionist.

5. Never have I ever… stood by an open window or doorway in my classroom to get a break from the aroma of 20+ sets of armpits and feet. And let’s not even get into the farts.

I have worked with young boys and with teenagers, so you can imagine the amount of smells that can get trapped in a single classroom. This year, I bought a “home perfume” from L’Occitane, which I hope helps to have the classroom smelling as fresh and clean as possible.

6. Never have I ever…been slightly freaked out by a student based on the personal items they brought to school.

I have been blessed when it comes to my students and how normal they are. I’m sure the teenagers brought all sorts of stuff, but they didn’t show them to me (thankfully). As for the little kids, no, never.

7. Never have I ever… spent an inordinate amount of time on classroom decorations.

I actually haven’t started decorating my classroom and I’m kind of freaking out about it. I will have time next week, but seriously, there are four bags full of stuff sitting down on my bedroom floor, looking all sad because I haven’t been able to put them to use. I can’t go into my classroom on a weekend to decorate my classroom or stay after hours like teachers in the States do, so I have to be super efficient with the little time I’ll be given.

8. Never have I ever…tried to come up with a way to work movies or outdoor play into a day’s lesson plans because all the brains in the room need a break, mine included.

Obviously, and whoever says otherwise is lying. I love playing movies in the classroom and there are times when movie time is needed because kids are exhausted, or we’re done with the topic and it’s not worth to start a new one when we only have a few days before going on vacation. I actually used to schedule a movie-viewing time with my kids for Christmas. And yes, they all celebrated Christmas because it was a Catholic school.

9. Never have I ever …wished I could bring the laminating machine home with me.

I laminate by hand, even though in this new school I work at we can get things laminated. The truth is, I don’t know how often I’ll be using this service because those things take time. I would rather use my roll of contact paper and do it myself.

10. Never have I ever… totally killed it without a lesson plan.

No. I am still a pretty newbie teacher to get to that level. I also deal with anxiety, so I just can’t walk into a classroom without a plan and try to wing it. In the cases where I’ve had to cover for a teacher, I’ve just tried to use something I’d already planned. Sometimes I also give the students the class to do their own thing.

 

 That’s the end of part one, so stay tuned for the rest. In the comments below, answer some of these based on your own experience.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila