Reviewing Restaurants In LA: Nimbus Coffee

Nimbus Coffee Los Angeles

History of Nimbus Cofffee

Nimbus Coffee just opened several months ago by two students of law who wanted to start their own business. The shop’s goal is to combine the worlds of Harry Potter and Hip-Hop to create a fun and unique coffee house in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. In order to get around the copyright, they dip their magic world in a batter of pop culture and chic aesthetic.

Experiencing Nimbus Coffee

Nimbus Coffee had plenty of seating in their coffee house, with soft, velvet chairs and booths. Along the walls were fun, Harry Potter themed knick-knacks. My favorite addition to the design, featured in the video below, was a giant poster with video to mimic the wizarding world’s Daily Prophet newspaper. Amazing. I am applauding for this. It was engaging and super fun to watch. Very impressive.

But remember, this is a coffee shop. And if a coffee shop doesn’t have good coffee, then what is it really worth?

Evaluation of Nimbus Coffee

Though Mitchell and I were planning on hanging out at the coffee shop and do some reading, we found that the blaring of constant Disney music was a little too distracting for us. Also, do they know that Disney music has nothing to do with Harry Potter or Hip-Hop?

While a music playlist like this might appeal to some visitors, it left me both confused and with a headache. Also, besides the portraits, we didn’t get much of a Hip-Hop vibe from the place at all. It would have been a much better (and coherent) idea to play some ambient Hip-Hop in the background.

Nimbus Coffee Menu

Their music wasn’t the only confusing part of the experience. The menu was also a bit hard to understand. While I enjoyed the sideways fonts and funky names, the descriptions were a little lacking. I went with the Mischief Macarooned, which was said to be made with almond milk and coconut cream. What the menu didn’t tell me was that there was going to be a cookie on top of my drink. It doesn’t mention this at all in the description.

Again, some may be pleasantly surprised by this addition, but I was just left double-taking at the menu as I tried to figure out if I had ordered the wrong drink. I didn’t eat the cookie which appeared to be just egg whites covered in sprinkles (no thanks). By the time I took the cookie out it was already melting on the bottom.

Nothing was labeled well in their bakery showcase. There weren’t clear markings on what might contain potential allergens. In this day and age, and especially in Los Angeles, this is crucial.

Our coffees from Nimbus Coffee

The actual drinks were good but not great. Mitchell ordered the house coffee. It was rich in flavor and not too bitter for a dark roast. It was also $3.50. My drink was over $6 and was alright. Not too sweet, but very rich because of the coconut milk. I could barely taste vanilla, though the cinnamon on top added a spicy touch.

Though the baristas were nice and very friendly, the whole place ended up just being an off-brand Harry Potter and Disney face-plant. The wall paper and furniture were very cool and created an antique, magic aesthetic. Other than that, we left feeling a little jipped. The menu was short and unfinished. The drinks were average. And the atmosphere was not conducive for what coffee shops are usually utilized for. If that’s what they were going for great. But for me, it’s a no.

  • Design 4 out of 5
  • Ambience 2 out of 5
  • Tidiness 4 out of 5
  • Value For Money 2 out of 5
  • Service 4 out of 5
  • Variety 2 out of 5
  • Quality 2 out of 5

Needless to say, I probably will not be back again. Which is so sad! I wish my wizarding coffee friends had not let my magical heart down.

More Nimbus Coffee Information

Store Location

1115 S Hope St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

Store Hours

Sun/Sat 8 am – 4 pm

Tues-Fri 7 am – 6 pm

Mon (closed)

**Bonus: If You Enjoyed This Post Check Out…

How to Go Vegan and Stay Vegan

Though I live in Los Angeles now — the Vegan Wonderland of the US — I didn’t always live in a place where Vegan food was abundant. In Indiana where I grew up, meat-eating was a staple for every meal. Vegetarians were few and far between, and most people didn’t even know what Vegan was, let alone how to pronounce it.

So when I decided to go Vegan, I knew that I was going to face my share of challenges. Between friends, relatives, social pressure, and culture — deciding to eat differently can be hard.

But if you’ve decided that this is the lifestyle for you, great! Let me share some advice to help you on your journey.

Self-Examine Motivations

Though my first exposure with Veganism was about weight-loss, I quickly learned that it was way more than that. Being Vegan meant that I needed to learn about animal and worker rights, the environment, and nutrition in ways that I never considered before.

All of this might seem overwhelming, but instead I was strangely comforted. I thought I had found a diet, but I had actually found a lifestyle and a cause to fight for.

What are your motivations for wanting to go Vegan? It’s a trendy thing to do right now, and there are more options now than ever before. Whether it’s to lose weight or join a global cause, consider looking deeper into the research that’s behind the word.

Do Your Research

Image by Claudio Schwarz

There are hundreds of resources online and in print to help you along the way. Two of my essential tools since going Vegan have been reading books and watching YouTube videos.

Below are the resources I’ve used in my research and motivation to continue this journey. There’s quiet a variety. Some are more focused on health, while others are focused on the environment or animal and people rights.

I encourage you to start with one from each category!

Helpful Book Resources

  • Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger by Sherry F. Colb
  • Proteinaholic by Dr. Garth Davis
  • How Not To Die by Gene Stone and Dr. Michael Greger
  • Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy
  • Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman

Helpful YouTube Resources

  • NutritionFacts.org
  • Mic the Vegan
  • Earthling Ed

Helpful Film Resources

  • Forks Over Knives
  • Earthlings
  • What the Health
  • The Game Changers

Take Your Time

Image by Scott Warman

I am an all-or-nothing person. I basically gave all of my non-Vegan things to my friends or family and went grocery shopping the same week I watched my first Vegan movie. I just couldn’t stomach eating meat, and dairy made me nauseous to even think about.

But it might be different for you. And that’s totally fine. Take your time. Take it one non-Vegan product at a time for as many weeks as you need. Just keep making progress.

Dairy is usually the last thing people give up when they go Vegan. There’s a reason for that. Dairy is straight-up addicting. It’s also one of the worst things for you. The good news is that there are more Vegan options and recipes that mimic what dairy does. You might have to take the time to experiment, but in the end it’s worth it.

Find Inspiration

I honestly believe that finding YouTubers who I could look up to helped me the most in this transition. If you want to find great recipes and great people, YouTube has amazing vloggers that are funny, sincere, and helpful for new Vegans. Here are just a couple that I watch regularly.

  • Sarah’s Vegan Kitchen
  • Cheap Lazy Vegan
  • Supreme Banana
  • High Carb Hannah
  • Simnett Nutrition
  • Happy Health Vegan

Each of them are quirky and live completely different lives, but if you want inspiration for food recipes and how to live life as a normal person who just happens to be Vegan, these are your people.

Pinterest is another great way to stay inspired. If you search “Vegan Recipe for *BLANK*” you’ll probably find at least ten different recipes.

There’s also online resources such as Happy Cow that help you find Vegan stores and restaurants wherever you go.

**Bonus: if you’d like to see a couple vegan restaurants I’ve visited in Los Angeles see below:

Click to see Au Lac review.

Click to see Donut Friend review.

Eat Abundantly — No Deprivation Necessary

Image by Alexandr Podvalny

In the first two weeks of being Vegan, I was struggling. It was weird to not have a piece of meat on my plate between my veggies and my carbs. I felt a little sluggish and tired. Then I started introducing more plant-based proteins to my meals. Like all different beans, tofu, seitan, and veggie burgers.

You see, the key isn’t to just ditch the meat and be left with a hole in your plate. It’s to replace what the meat was (protein) with something else that also has protein. If you’re worried about protein, I really suggest looking up some of those resources listed above.

According to the article “How To Become Vegan: 12 Tips From Experts” by Perri O. Blumberg, you don’t have to worry about protein, but on getting a variety of different fruits, vegetables, and grains in your diet. The best thing you can do is eat widely.

There are also tons of fun Vegan substitutes. Beyond Burgers, Daiya Cheese, Chao Cheese, Earth Balance, So Delicious, Oatly, etc. The list goes on. If you want to still eat junk food, trust me, there’s plenty.

Get Creative

Learn about new ingredients // Image by Toa Heftiba

While I would consider myself to be a foodie before I went Vegan, I would consider myself to be food obsessed now. There are so many fruits, vegetables, and grains that I never knew existed before I went Vegan.

My food became more colorful and exciting. My food knowledge doubled. Being Vegan can mean being creative with your spices and herbs if you want to mimic your favorite non-Vegan dish. It can also mean you can create something entirely different.

Know That Family and Friends Might Not Understand

Image by Doyoun Seo

When I first went Vegan, all my friends and family just kept asking me if I could eat ____ (insert random food here). For the most part, I could tell them that there was a substitution available or that you could actually find an abundance of breads, pastas, and cereal that were Vegan.

When some of my family felt like being Vegan meant that I was depriving myself of major food groups, I decided that the best way to show them what I eat was to make food for them.

So for Thanksgiving we made Vegan Mac and Cheese from Daisy cheese and Vegan butter (made from soybean and palm oil). I made rice and beans or Vegan Lasagna (with tofu ricotta — it’s amazing) once a week.

Slowly they began to see that what I was eating was not only delicious but super filling and nutritious as well. Sometimes they would still put butter on the bread I had made (and I internally fought to roll my eyes). Or sometimes they would see that I was experimenting with new ingredients and make a stink-face. But eventually most of them either came around or didn’t care.

Family Traditions

I know that it’s hard to imagine living without some of your family’s traditional non-Vegan foods. There are options. You can try to make a Vegan version (maybe with this relative so they don’t feel hurt). Or you can introduce new traditions to your family.

Our culture and many other cultures revolve around food for tradition. Really, the tradition is gathering together and eating with our family and friends. Be patient with them, as they might not understand at first or ever. Soon it will just be a part of who you are.

Know Mistakes Happen

It happens. You check the label three times, and when you get home you see it like a blinking red light. “Animal ingredient!” Instead of freaking out — especially if you’ve already taken a bite — take a breath and know that this happens to all of us.

For starters, now you know this product isn’t what you thought it was. Great. Now what do you do with it? You could give it to a friend, roommate, or family member. You can throw it away. You can try to return it.

Whatever you do, don’t throw in the towel. I’ve had drinks made at Starbucks with cow’s milk even though I asked for almond. I’ve had Indian dishes with cream when I thought they were Vegan. I haven’t died. And I’m also still Vegan.

Some Vegans in the community will make it a percentage game. “How Vegan are you when you still have that leather jacket you’ve had for ten years?” Don’t listen to that. In reality, we live in a non-Vegan world. We do the best we can, but at the end of the day there will still be issues with the products and produce we buy.

The best thing you can do is stay updated, keep on researching, and be open and flexible to learning every day. Just because you now know more about the environment and animal sentience, doesn’t mean there isn’t still more to learn.

Stay positive. Stay Vegan. You’re doing great!

Graphic Design Without Photoshop: Free or Cheap Design Tools to Help Artists

Let me start off by saying I am cheap and I can’t stand how much Adobe charges for their products. As a Freelance Graphic Designer and Illustrator trying to find her footing in Los Angeles, finding cheap tools to design is a must.

Not to mention that I used to have a downloaded version of Adobe Photoshop on my old laptop that broke. So that’s disappointing. On top of all of this depressing money talk, I was never really taught how to use Illustrator, InDesign, and the newest Photoshop in college. I know the basics of each one, and I could learn a lot easier if I had the programs. But I’ve found my way around them for so long that I find it easier to just work my own way.

So if you’re like me — in desperate need to find some other tools besides Adobe — or you just want to supplement your Adobe programs (no judgements), here are some tested tools I use to create my illustrations and graphic designs.

Autodesk Sketchbook (Free App)

Autodesk Sketchbook app logo

Autodesk is an absolutely amazing app. It’s free, and while you can buy some of the tools, you have so much to work with already that you don’t need to buy a thing. I’ve used this for four years now, and I’m very happy with the results I’ve gotten.

The only main issue I have with this program is putting in text. There’s not very many options with how to position text (such as centering or spacing). And once you click out of the box, you can’t edit it at all. I’ve run into problems with typos and aligning my text. This can become annoying when you have large chunks of writing to mess around with.

Character design on Autodesk Sketchbook
Character Design (2017) on Autodesk
Poster designed on Autodesk Sketchbook
Graphic Design Poster (2018) on Autodesk

Pros

  • Unlimited layers
  • Easy to work layers
  • Droplet color selection
  • Variety of brush sizes and styles
  • Able to import new fonts from online
  • Amazing capabilities for any software, especially a free one.

Cons

  • Saved files are stored locally (able to be stored in cloud)
  • Easy to accidentally delete files
  • Unable to vector a design easily
  • Saving as PDF is difficult

Canva (Free App)

Canva logo

This app is a literal lifesaver for bloggers and graphic designers. You can choose from a variety of different templates for social media and webpages. There are amazing templates to work with and adjust.

I know a lot of companies that actually expect people to know how to use Canva (take that Adobe). I create all of my blog’s Pinterest pins with this app, and I know a lot of other bloggers do the same.

Pinterest Pin design made on Canva
Pinterest Pin Design Made On Canva

Pros

  • Color matcher droplet
  • Amazing template choices for any kind of designing need
  • A great starting point for projects
  • Great for bloggers and Pinterest board makers

Cons

  • Can be frustrating to move content around
  • Limited choices for free fonts
  • Difficult to switch between templates

Photopea.com (Free!)

Photopea logo

I’m so glad someone told me about this website. It’s basically an older version of photoshop online for free. I’ve used it to make book covers, touch up photos, and design things I couldn’t on my iPad.

From my experience, you have to use a desktop or laptop computer. Mobile devices and even iPads do not like this website, and you’ll lose your work.

Cover Design made on Photopea.com
Cover Design Made On Photopea.com

Pros

  • Great for newbies in the photoshop world
  • Has all the basics of early photoshop
  • Easy to save files in multiple formats

Cons

  • Crashes on a lot on some computers without saving-while-working capabilities
  • Doesn’t work well on iPad/iPhone
  • Can lag sometimes

Procreate ($9.99 App)

Procreate logo

I actually first saw this program being used by one of the artists I follow on Instagram, Gal Shir (@thegalshir). He has amazing art videos with the app that make me drool with infatuation.

Graphic design by Gal Shir on Procreate
Artwork by Gal Shir on Procreate

It’s ten dollars, but honestly after buying it with a gift card earned from taking online surveys (could I get any cheaper??), I’ve found that I really like the software.

The undo button, a constant in my life, is a little slow sometimes, and the button placements seem to be a little strange in the layout department, but I’ve really grown to love the way the brushes look on on my illustrative work. My favorites are the hair paint brushes. Oh, they look so dang good. It’s been especially useful for getting rid of backgrounds.

I’m still experimenting with this app, but from what I’ve seen others do, I know it’s amazing.

Rough Sketch Made on Procreate
Rough Sketch Made On Procreate

Pros

  • Amazing selection of tools including funky shapes and patterns
  • Great saving capabilities in all formats
  • Endless possibilities for graphic and illustrative work

Cons

  • A little hard to navigate at first
  • Layout is a bit wonky especially for most frequently used buttons
  • Maybe not worth $10 for some

What are some of your favorite tools to create digital art? Comment below to tell others about your graphic designing or illustrating experiences. Let’s learn from each other!

How to Start Running for Beginners

Person running
Image by Zac Ong

If you’re thinking about becoming a runner, you’re not alone. I started running my freshman year of college, and I have never EVER been a runner. If you read my blogpost about what I’ve learned in twenty-three years, you’ll know that running was never something that came naturally to me.

Within four years I was able to run ten miles at a time. Crazy right? We all know running is incredible for our health, both mental and physical. What’s stopping you?

So if you’re like me five years ago and want to start running, let’s do this together.

Figure Out Why You Want To Run

I started running because I knew that I should exercise, and I loved the idea of being able to workout basically anywhere. Running is a great way to get fit because it works out your whole body and requires very little equipment.

Which is great, because I’m broke out of my mind right now. And you might be too. Even if you have the money to spend on a gym membership, running lets you explore your area, get some fresh air, and feel the breeze of stinky fish hit your face if you run by Echo Park in Los Angeles like I do.

The first step to becoming a runner is to figure out your motivation. Do you want to get fit? Do you want to run for a charity event? Are you tired of being passed by old ladies with walkers? Whatever your reason, remind yourself everyday.

Make a fun graphic or poster next to your bathroom mirror. Make a mantra and repeat it to yourself every morning.

Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra Running Guide
Finding Ultra by Rich Roll // Image from Amazon

A great resource for getting motivated to run is Rich Roll’s book Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself. He’s a student athlete turned middle-aged dad bod turned incredibly fit, crazy-distance runner.

Find your reason to run and make it the reason you DO run.

Find a Good App

Apps are a great way to stay on track and build routines. Below is a list of apps I’ve used at some point in my running career. All of them have helped me go from not doing any exercise at all to being able to run 5-6 times a week.

  • Couch to 5k (C25K) – beginning runner to 5K runner
  • Couch to 10k (C210K) – beginning runner to 10K runner
  • Map My Run by Underarmor – GPS tracks calories and distance
  • Charity Miles – earns your favorite charity money for each mile
  • RockMyRun – matches specific music to a running speed

I’ve also heard great things about Strava, which basically builds a community of other runners around you and tracks your data with precision and detail.

There are tons of great running apps out there. All you have to do is pick one and give it a try. Don’t give up. You can do it!

Dress In Your Running Clothes

This might seem silly, but one of the best ways to make sure you go on a run is to dress in your running clothes. Even if you end up sitting on the couch for another fifteen minutes scrolling through social media, in the back of your mind will be a little voice calling out, “Hey you look like you’re going to go running, are you gonna? Hey! HEY! Go running! You look like you’re going to exercise!”

On days when I really don’t want to run — and yes those days still come to me, I put on my running gear, including shoes and armband, and just wait for that voice to push me out the door.

Go First Thing In the Morning

Runners in  the morning
Run first thing in the morning // Image by Tomasz Wozniak

We have busy lives, and I often tell myself that I don’t have time to run. But running three miles, as I’m currently doing, can take only an extra thirty minutes of my time. So, in order to convince myself that I do have the time, I often go right in the morning.

Going right in the morning has a lot of benefits, the best one being it’s done with right away. It’s also great for boosting your metabolism, waking you up, and getting a morning meditation.

If your schedule is too crazy to run in the morning, or you’d have to wake up at 4 a.m. to run (it’s not fun, I know), don’t sweat it. The important thing is to pick a time and be consistent. Like having to take a medication at the same time every day, by setting a running schedule, you ensure that you have it down as part of your routine.

Remind Yourself How Good You’ll Feel After

One way to get me to go on a run is to remind myself about how great I feel after. I feel accomplished. I feel like I started my day off right. I feel like I can get on with my day without a constant nagging voice in my head telling me to get off my lazy butt.

Instead of telling yourself negative parts about your run, only remind yourself about the good parts. Have you been doing great with your goal hitting? Don’t stop now! Did you just hit your personal record (PR)? Keep running, and it might get even better.

A positive attitude is key with running, as starting off can be pretty discouraging. Keep your chin up and remind yourself that each day you’re improving a little more.

Make It Non-negotiable: Running Schedules

A running schedule is key to ensure you stay on track. Whether you run every other day or certain days like Monday-Wednesday, it’s important to actually nail down when you’re going to run.

If your schedule is all loosely-goosey, you run the risk of a cop-out. I’m sure you’ve said, “Oh, I’ll run tomorrow.” And then tomorrow comes, and you end up saying the same thing. I’ve done it more often than I care to admit.

Schedule it on your phone or write it on a physical calendar. Tell yourself that you have an important meeting that can’t be missed between you, your running shoes, and the rest of the world.

Set Small, Achievable Goals

Starting out with the goal of running ten miles after a month or running seven days a week is probably not going to work for you. Most apps will have programs with stepping-stone goals. Usually it’s around three times a week with increases in the amount you run each day.

Person taking steps while running
Take steps to achieve your running goals // Image by Bruno Nascimento

It’s good to have your own goals too. Add a couple lines to your reason to run or mantra. What do you want to do this week? This month?

Another great way to add practical goals is to sign up for a 5K or 10K pretty far in advance. Consider signing up for a run that’s relaxed, themed, or for a charity you love. There’s color runs, zombie runs, Batman runs. Google charity runs in your area or in a city nearby. Just make sure you have enough time to train, and make sure you stay on track with your training.

Signing up for an official run can push your motivation. Most people don’t need to be 100% ready for the race either, because the race-day jitters carry them the rest of the way. I’ve found it’s usually good to be at least 70% ready for the race.

Once you hit your goal, make more goals. Push yourself to see how far you can actually go. I never thought I would be able to run 10-milers, but with consistent training I was able to make it happen.

Make a Bomb Playlist

Music is a great way to take your runs to the next level. I’m sure you have a couple (or a lot) of songs that just make you want to dance. Those are the songs that will get you the best results on your run.

Song remixes are also a great thing to add to your running playlist as they’re usually faster and have harder beats.

Make a special playlist on Spotify with all of your favorite music so running is actually a fun jam session. Make a bunch of different playlists for each day you plan on running. Make stylized playlists based off different genres for each run. Just don’t get carried away and forget the actual running part!

My friend Caitlyn and I used to go running together when we were in college. We would listen to our own playlists, but I loved to look over and see her basically dancing as she ran. Of course, then I started laughing and couldn’t breath — so don’t do that.

If you’d like to just listen to a pre-made playlist, I’ve created a great, upbeat Indie setlist for running. It includes tons of Pop artists, remixes, and Indie Rock musicians too.

Take Rest Days

Resting in the forests
Take a rest day // Image by Spring Fed Images

When I was in my third year of running, I started to get really crazy. I was doing seven days a week, 5 mile runs while I was still in college and working thirty hours a week. You might be like me and want to keep training and running all week long. Let me tell you why I stopped. One word: injuries.

Luckily, I didn’t get injured to the point of no return, which a lot of runners face after a lifelong career of running. I also introduced Yoga to my schedule which helped stretch out my weary legs and work out kinks I didn’t even realize were there.

Rest days don’t mean you have to sit on the couch all day. They just mean you take a break from running. Try doing some Yoga, going on a hike or walk. Spend the time you would be running on a new experience.

Take rest days. Even if it feels like you can’t. Even if it feels weird or wrong. Take. Rest. Days. Your body will thank you. And your mind will thank you too. You don’t have to become a crazy adrenaline addict to become a great runner. You just have to be consistent and keep going.

Rest days don’t have to mean lazy days.

You CAN Do It

Just remember that many people — me included — have been where you are now. Find a community of runners or a friend to tag along. Read books on other runners. Follow some running blogs or podcasts.

Tell yourself each day that you are a runner.

10 Reasons You Need to Read Young Adult Fiction NOW (Even If You’re an Adult)

As someone who both loves to write and read YA literature, I thought it might be fun to explain the reason why as adult I still love the genre. There may be a lot more reasons to check out the section than you originally thought!

YA Fiction Helps You Understand the YA Generation

Whether you’re a teenager or an adult, reading YA Fiction can help us understand each other better. YA Fiction usually revolves around issues that today’s teenagers are facing. Relationships, friendships, coming-of-age stories, family issues. All of these topics are saturating YA Fiction in all genres, making it a great read if you want to see someone else’s perspective on some of these issues.

The great thing about really good writers is that they not only know their audience, but they know what their audience needs. Many teens who read YA literature do so to see themselves reflected in the characters. Many authors, who are now putting in a diverse cast of characters and complex issues, are also introducing readers to people who might be different than their current perspective.

Both of these approaches can provide interest and relatability for all kinds of readers. Because publishers are looking for more diversity, you might be able to find a YA Fiction book relatable to you in a way that wasn’t available a few years ago.

For more information on the #ownvoices movement, check out this website explaining it a little more.

It’s an Easy, Enjoyable Read

Image by Kourosh Qaffari

We work really hard. Whether you’re in school reading classics and doing Pre-Calculus homework or you’re an “adult” working an 8-4 office job, we all need a little time to escape from this world we live in.

One great thing about YA lit is that it provides the perfect getaway. It’s easy to slip into, because it’s often in first person and gets right into the action. The plots are simple, the characters relatable. In just a few chapters you can become emotionally invested even if there’s a 20-year age gap between you and the main character.

I personally switch back and forth between a YA book and another book such as Self-help or Nonfiction. Rotating between these genres gives me more time to digest the denser reads as my mind relaxes with a nice, overly dramatic story with out-of-control magic and talking dogs. (Please someone make this?)

Way Less Stuffy Language and Overly Drawn-out Plots

I’m currently working my way through the Wheel of Time series, hoping to finish the fourteen books before the show comes out. But there’s like a million characters and sub-plots, sometimes the description of a single room rivals Hawthorne himself, and I just want more character drama dang it!

These complaints aren’t just for my current Adult Fantasy reads, but for most “Adult” books I’ve read. Sometimes adult writing just takes the fun out of everything in pursuit of sounding sophisticated. The writers sacrifice fun for fluff.

If you’ve ever felt this way about Adult lit, I encourage you to try Young Adult books. Reading is not always meant to be a chore, and you deserve to read something that makes you laugh until you cry, weep like you’ve lost your best friend, and feel like you’ve just fallen in love for the first time. I know there are adult books that can do this too, but YA books are basically this concept on DRUGS. Don’t tell the kids.

You’ll Be Prepared for the Next Blockbuster

Image by Road Trip with Raj

Using YA Lit in Hollywood is huge right now. Thinking over the past few years, I’m pretty sure that at least 75% of all the movies including teens were based off a book. Here’s just a few, and I’m sure you recognize some.

  • The Hunger Games
  • Everything, Everything
  • I Am Number Four
  • Vampire Academy
  • Divergent
  • The Fifth Wave
  • Chaos Walking: The Knife of Never Letting Go
  • Twilight
  • The Giver
  • The Mortal Instruments
  • Artemis Fowl
  • The Mortal Engines
  • The Sun Is Also a Star
  • Five Feet Apart
  • The Maze Runner

So, if you’re a big movie goer or watcher, you might want to check out some of these books before or after you watch the movie. You might be surprised at what the adaptations changed! For even more books to read that were made into films and TV shows, check out this list.

It’s Good for Your…Health?

Image by Nicole Honeywill

According to a Standford University study, reading YA literature might help you relax before bed more easily, which is beneficial for your health in the long run. It’s a bit of a stretch, but any excuse to binge read the latest Mortal Instruments book is good enough for me.

It’s been long known that reading helps Alzheimer’s. And going to sleep by playing on our phone has worked when? Reading an easy-breezy YA book can be exactly what you need to relax before bedtime. So after picking up the latest YA book from your library or bookstore, get in the jammies and hit the hay!

You’ll Be on Top of the Latest Trends

Have you ever noticed on a trip to the bookstore that all the shelves are suddenly full of magic boarding school books or post-apocalyptic warriors? It seems like writers all get together and talk about what the next big thing will be for YA Fiction, especially in the Fantasy/Paranormal genre.

Whether there is a secret dark web page for the “in” writers to conspire against all other writers, YA literature trends take over the bookstores, movies, TV shows, and leak into all other age-groups. If you want to be on top of knowing what’s the latest monster of the week, you better stay on top of your YA Fiction game.

You Might Find Your Next Favorite Author

You may have been told that YA literature is full of bad writers who only want to take advantage of this generation. In all honesty, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While there is a lot of bad writing out there, there are also some amazing YA writers. You would be surprised at how many authors start out writing Adult literature and switch to Young Adult or vice versa.

One author that does this is James Patterson with his Maximum Ride series. Gosh these books were fun. Sassy, mutant angelic beings escaping mutant werewolf creatures? Heck yeah.

Some authors (me included) just love writing for the younger generation. That doesn’t mean that YA literature is lesser by any means. I’ve read some pretty awful “Adult” books in my lifetime. You might find yourself surprised at the complexity and yummy-language-poetry found in some YA books.

The Covers and Designs Are Always Better

We all judge books by their cover, and the publishing industry knows young adults are the worst culprits of this. But the result are amazing covers that cast shade on every other section in the bookstore. They’ve gotten pretty ingenious about the book designs, between coloring the edges of pages for a cool effect, shimmering covers that change with different folds, and crazy graphic design work.

Six of Crows Book Covers
Six of Crows // Image from Amazon
Dealing in Dreams Book Cover
Dealing in Dreams // Image from Simon Teen

For even more gorgeous covers, check out this list of 2019 YA Fiction covers. It’s like looking at a youth-centered art gallery. Ugh, so gorgeous and I want every last one.

There Are Way More Genres to Choose From

YA Fiction is just an overhead genre of a million different sub-genres you can choose from. Here are just a couple that are trendy and super fun to read.

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-fi
  • Paranormal Romance
  • Magical Realism
  • Romance
  • Urban
  • Mystery

Basically any genre you could ever want — there’s a section in YA for it. The best part is that a lot of YA books have cross-overs between genres. So you might have an Urban Paranormal Mystery. (Let me get on that right now). There’s something for everyone, which can’t be said about just any section in bookstores. There’s also something new for you to try, if you’re feeling brave enough. *Wink*

YA Fiction Is Not Just For Young Adults

In summary, YA Fiction is not just for people under the age of twenty. It’s for everyone. What separates a YA book from an Adult book is simply that the book contains young adult characters. But at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to live vicarious as a teenager in a magical or idealistic world? YA Fiction is pure fun, pure energy, and pure excitement. Think about it. This genre has to capture the attention of technology-driven teenagers. There has to be something to it. And there is.

Just give it a try.

What are some of your favorite YA books? Comment below to share!

Game Corner: 5 Reasons to Play Escaped Chasm Today (and One Reason You Shouldn’t)

After my second run of Undertale, I was searching for a new RPG-style game, which are few and far between these days. That’s when I came across Escaped Chasm. After spending an afternoon playing the game, I realized more people needed to experience it for themselves.

Escaped Chasm Logo
Escaped Chasm by Temmie

1. Temmie Helped Create the Amazing Game Undertale

If you’ve ever played Undertale, whose main creator is Toby Fox, you may remember the adorable monster named Temmie.

Toby Fox’s “Temmie” from Undertale

Temmie is actually one of the people who created some of the monsters throughout Undertale. She’s credited as the main artistic assistant and made the heart-wrenching sepia-tone prologue that plays whenever you start the game.

Now Temmie has made her first RPG-maker game. If you ever played Undertale and fell in love with the Temmie monsters, you should definitely check out her game.

2. It’s Free

How can you not give this game a try when it’s free?

The game can be downloaded by following this link to her website. It’s available for Mac and PC. There’s still a couple kinks that are being worked out, but for being free the game is very well-polished.

Before downloading, you have the option to donate $2 to her for creating the game, but this is optional.

3. The Multiple Art Styles Are Visually Stimulating

Dream Sequence, Escaped Chasm

If you ever played the Professor Layton series, you’ll be familiar with the concept of using different art styles throughout a game. Similarly, Escaped Chasm has video clips, still-image drawings, and a retro-style game world where you can interact with your environment. Certain events will trigger the video clips, some of which are in full color and others (like above) are in a stylistic, sketchy black and white.

These different styles lend themselves well to the game, adding extra interest and motivating me to find all of the secrets to trigger them. Even though the game takes place in a single setting, it feels larger and more impactful from these art styles.

4. The Story Is Unique and Captivating

Characters interact in a bedroom.
Fourth Day, Escaped Chasm

Escaped Chasm is about an artistic girl who finds herself alone in her house, abandoned by her parents. As the days go by, stranger events start happening, and only you can decide what her fate will be.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I played this game, but I was very surprised at where the story ended up going. If you like fantasy, dreamscape games, you’ll definitely love this one.

My first run through the game left me wanting more, so I kept exploring the environment and tried to find all the secrets. The story is fully embedded in everything you interact with, so it’s great to try to piece things together for yourself.

5. It’s Super Short But Has Multiple Endings

Third Day, Escaped Chasm

One of my most disappointing moments with this game is realizing I chose the happiest ending first. Then when I went back to find the other endings, they just got more and more depressing. Even so, each ending is warranted, and they all come with their own special scene or animation.

The mood is pretty grim, and the main character kind of reminds me of Sadness from Inside Out. But if you find the right ending, it actually goes pretty well for our glasses-wearing protagonist.


Bonus (Why You Shouldn’t): The Same Song Plays Over and Over

As much as I enjoyed this game, there was one thing that drove me absolutely crazy. It plays the same song continuously. There are small scenes where variations of the song play — which is great and very smart to do. But each day starts with a song that drills itself into my brain.

The only way to stop from going completely insane is to sing along with it. And boy, I could do that after about five minutes of listening to it. Because it starts from the beginning after entering each room. And each day. And after each different sequence.

If you think you can handle that, I would definitely give this game a go. It’s unique and thought-provoking, and it’s great to support independent artists.

Reviewing Restaurants in LA: Âu Lac

Âu Lac in Downtown Los Angles
Âu Lac in DTLA

History of Âu Lac in LA

Âu Lac is a plant-based Vietnamese restaurant originally starting Fountain Valley, CA in 1997 by Mai Nguyen. After overcoming serious illnesses by adopting a plant-based diet, Nguyen decided to spread awareness for healthy food in the community.

Chef Ito joined the team in 2001, and many more dishes were added to the menu to include gluten-free, raw, and nut-free options as well. In 2015, Mai’s daughter Linh Nguyen opened up a branch of the restaurant in the Downtown LA area, where I went last night.

They offer a wide variety of different dishes of rice, wraps and noodles, with very realistic plant-based meats and fish. From sushi to rainbow flan, their menu offers something for everyone’s taste palettes.

Experiencing Âu Lac

Downtown LA’s Âu Lac
Inside Âu Lac in DTLA

There’s a small amount of parking available for those visiting Âu Lac, but Mitchell and I walked since we’re only about a mile away. The restaurant is set in a cute plaza with some artsy fountain statues and some other coffee shops and restaurants nearby. Their sign and glass walls really attract the eye, and the name of the restaurant itself also sets it apart.

Through our dinner, the speakers played 80s love ballads, including the main song from Titanic. It was hard not to sing along, but for Mitchell’s sake, I held it in. The lighting is low and ambient, and the waiters and waitresses were super friendly when we got in and when we left. Our waiter was kind of a hoot, obviously liking a lot on the menu and wanting us to try all that we could.

Evaluation of DTLA’s Âu Lac

Eggrolls Âu Lac  DTLA
Eggless Eggrolls from Âu Lac DTLA

We started out with the Eggrolls, stuffed with vermicelli noodles, mushrooms, carrots, taro, jicama, and almond filling. On the side were lettuce and mint, while the sauce was like a clarified sweet and sour sauce.

The sauce was a little too thin for the rolls, and we had a lot left over, but the Eggrolls were hot, savory, and satisfying. The flaky, crispy shell had the perfect consistency paired with the mixture of soft filling. I only wish we had gotten four, so we didn’t have to split the last one.

Also, yes we ate the lettuce like the monsters we are.

Garlic Basil Noodles Âu Lac DTLA
Garlic Basil Noodles, Âu Lac DTLA

For one of our entrees, we got the Garlic Basil Noodles. The red sauce swirled around the plate is a non-GMO sriracha sauce. The noodles themselves were a combination of pine nuts, apple sage sausage, spiced olive oil, nutritional yeast, lacinato kale, and Thai basil. All mixed into perfectly cooked rice noodles. The spices were wonderful and there were full cloves of roasted garlic throughout the dish that bursted sweet and savory flavor with each bite.

Though the garlic and sausage were very flavorful, maybe it was just the combination of the two entrees, but this one felt a little one-dimensional to me. Mitchell really seemed to enjoy it though. We’re both big garlic fiends.

Yellow Noodle Soup, Âu Lac DTLA

The second dish we got was a hot ramen noodle soup made with slices of plant-based chicken and shrimp so real you wouldn’t believe it was somehow made from plants. It also had thick pieces of baby bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, Chinese chives, and a fat mushroom-stuffed wanton.

The broth in this dish was absolutely incredible. It reminded me of a upscale onion soup, but full of savory fishy undertones. I was kind of disappointed that I only got one wanton in the entire soup. But I left pleasantly full and satisfied.

  • Design 4 out of 5
  • Ambience 4 out 5
  • Tidiness 3 out of 5
  • Value for Money 3 out of 5
  • Service 3 out of 5
  • Variety 5 out of 5
  • Quality 4 out of 5

It takes a lot to impress me at upscale restaurants that serve entrees I’ve gotten for a lot cheaper at other places. But I was very surprised at the good potions and the great tasting faux meats.

Though our waiter was quirky and nice, he wasn’t super attentive, and we lacked water for most of our meal. The prices are moderately high at this restaurant with entrees ranging from 13-17 dollars for medium-sized portions. Our three Eggrolls were $6 dollars. But the place is very upscale and the experience is meant to be an elevated take on Vietnamese cuisine, so the prices match this business model pretty well.

The bench we sat in was a very “couple-y” booth, with a long pillow for lumbar support and the experience to sit next to each other and watch the restaurant without looking weird.

We didn’t end up having dessert, but they have a lot of options ranging from Baklava to Rainbow Flan. The desserts are also a decent price, and I would consider going back and trying them sometime.

Also a dog randomly got in the restaurant from the patio area and was running around the place for several minutes before his owner came in to grab him. Not really anything to do with the restaurant itself, but just a fun experience.

All in all, I wouldn’t come here all the time, but it was a nice experience and I’ll definitely be back.

More Âu Lac Information

Link to their website: http://www.aulac.com.

Store Location:

DTLA: 710 West 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

Fountain Valley: 16563 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Store Hours:

DTLA: Monday – Friday 12 pm-3 pm, 5 pm-10 pm
Saturday – Sunday 12 pm-10 pm

Fountain Valley: Tuesday – Sunday
Lunch 11:33 am-3:33 pm
Dinner 5:33 pm-9:33 pm
Closed Monday

23 Things to Know Before You’re Twenty-three

Wow, can I believe I’m twenty-three? Not really. And no, I don’t feel any older. But I DO feel like there’s been a lot to learn in my life. There’s so many things I wish I could have taught my younger self. Words of guidance from someone who made it through the school years, heartbreaks, loss of friendships, triumphs, and failures. Here are twenty-three things I’ve learned throughout my twenty-three years. Hopefully you can find encouragement from them!

Image by Sagar Patil

1. You Will Fit Into Yourself Someday

Throughout my public school years, I was the tallest, most developed girl. I literally stood at 4’8” in fourth grade, making all the other kids look like my minions. Except I wasn’t in charge of anyone. I was socially awkward and gangly. I wore oversized t-shirts to hide my chest until everyone else started to go through puberty too.

I wish I had believed that I would grow into myself. That someday I would feel short compared to some people — a thought I couldn’t even imagine. As I experimented with hair and fashion, I developed my own way of dressing. People noticed me not because I was tall, but because I wore what I wanted and totally rocked wearing two patterns at once.

You too will develop your own style that compliments who you are. Whether it’s fake leather jackets or kitten t-shirts, we start to grow comfortable in our own skin someday. Maybe it won’t be at 23, but I promise it will happen. Trust your passions and your style will show through.

2. Stick with Your Passions

I’ve always wanted to be a writer and illustrator. I know a lot of people say this phrase “I’ve always…” But I mean since elementary school I’ve been writing and drawing with the intention of becoming established in these fields. While I never stopped pursuing this passion, there were plenty of times when other people quit something they loved because other people told them to or they didn’t think they had a future in it.

Passion Led Us Here // Image by Ian Schneider

You may be born with a passion and some natural talent for a sport or an artistic area, but there will be a time where you hit a wall. People will tell you to quit. You can’t progress any further. You’re struggling to find your love of the game anymore.

It’s natural to hit walls, but it’s also important to remember why you love this sport, art, or topic in the first place. Maybe take a break and come back, but always come back. People will tell you that you won’t make money in x, y, z, and beyond. They don’t know what you’re truly capable of. And you’ll only find out if you keep digging deeper.

3. Friends Will Come and Go

Finding friends is hard, but keeping them is even harder. Whether they or you move away, you graduate from high school, or you just don’t have the same classes anymore, it’s bound to happen sometimes.

They hardest thing about having and making friends is worrying if you’ll lose them. You might think, Why am I investing my time in someone I might not even talk to in four years? The answer is, because you need someone to talk to now.

Friends come in two kinds: crossing of paths and railroad tracks. Those that cross your path will be in your life for a short amount of time, but will help you figure out life in that moment. They might show you new activities or tag along to sports events and dances. But then you graduate and you just don’t talk that much. The railroad tracks friends travel in parallel lines with you for the rest of your life. They’re the ones who will go deeper with you and keep in touch even when you’re miles apart.

An important thing to remember is that you don’t know which of these friends will end up being which type. So in the end, it’s important to hang tight to all your buddies and remember that no matter what happens, it was good to have them in your life.

4. Staying in Touch Is Your Job Too

There’s been plenty of times when I don’t text a friend because I feel like I initiated the conversation last time, so maybe this time they should text me first. Guess what? Sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. If you want to text your old friend from high school, just do it! If you want to invite a friend over for the third time this week to play Mario Kart, just do it.

Chances are your friend is either thinking the same thing or just used to you being the one to contact them first. If you really struggle with unreciprocated communication, you could always just try to casually talk about it. No one wants to feel like a burden, and if your friend is really your friend, they’ll understand.

On the other hand, if your friend is ghosting you, you really have to consider if they’re worth your time. It doesn’t matter how popular or great they are. If you put in the effort to hang out and talk, they should put in at least a little effort too. There are plenty of other people out there who would love to spend time with you.

5. Keep Learning New (and Different) Things

One of my favorite things to do when I start to get bored is just try something entirely different. I started learning different languages through websites like Duolingo. I started to learn coding through websites such as Code Academy. I started running and practicing Yoga. There are so many things to try in life, so why just pick one? It’s fun to dabble in a variety of different areas. You never know what you might find you’re really good at.

Keep Learning // Image by Marvin Meyer

The important thing is widen your horizon. Are you already super musical? Try hiking. Are you involved in three sports? Maybe explore your city and take fun photos. Here are some things you can try whenever you are super bored. Feel free to come up with your own too!

  • Learn astrology
  • Become a tea expert
  • Yoga
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Learn an instrument
  • Hiking
  • Try making your own video game
  • Design clothes for your favorite company
  • Find a social justice organization to join
  • Write a book of poems
  • Knitting
  • Sketching from nature
  • Volunteer at pet shelters or soup kitchens
  • Write songs
  • Explore your local area and take photos

6. Don’t Ever Say You Can’t Do Something

In my first year of college I started to become a runner. I was so nervous to run outside at first because I didn’t want people to see me jiggle or fall or run out breath. Yes, that was my actual thought process. It’s been a long process of ups and downs, but at my peak performance I was able to run 10 miles in less than two hours. Not Olympic times by any means. But I was never an athlete in high school.

You are only limited by your own determination. Why not try to become a runner or painter? It may take a long time (usually people say 10,000 hours of practice makes a master), but if you really want to do something, the only thing that’s stopping you is you!

7. Food Is So Important for Your Health

I wish people had actually taught me how important it was to eat healthy during the most stressful years of school. Even though I was never a huge junk food eater, and I ate plenty of vegetables, I never really learned what healthy eating actually is until the last few years. I never used to look at the ingredient or nutrition labels on anything. But it’s super helpful to see what’s actually going in your mouth. You may be surprised when your favorite snack has twenty ingredients you don’t even know.

Food Is Important for Your Health // Image by Dan Gold

This isn’t partially our fault. Maybe you grew up in a home where veggies weren’t served with any meal. Maybe it was just easier to pick up fast food for dinner every night. Not to mention the hundreds of food companies that are more focused on getting your money than improving your health. The point is, what we eat is often how we feel. If you want to start working on self-care and improving your mental health, I would suggest just keeping a small notepad on what you eat for a week. Was there a lot of sugar, junk food, tons of meat and no veggies?

By no means do you have to change your whole diet, but sometimes knowing what we eat can help us understand how we feel. Try cooking a meal at home. Or exploring your grocery store’s produce department and pick out the craziest fruits and veggies and try to make a meal. Look on Pinterest and Google for recipes from different cultures. Food can be both healthy and delicious. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

8. How You See Yourself Impacts Others

I can’t tell you how many times I believed I was a giant oaf who wasn’t smart enough to do anything. And by believing these things, I became aggressive, defensive, and reclusive. How I saw myself impacted how I treated other people.

Going through school can be a wild ride. No matter what group you belong to, we all have doubts about ourselves and our place in this world. People can also be incredibly cruel and know exactly what to say to cut us down.

The good news is, we don’t have to believe lies. The things we tell ourselves matter. That means no more body-shaming in the mirror. No more telling yourself that you aren’t good enough for _____. Because we are all uniquely designed with different passions, body-types, and visions.

Here are some fun things to tell yourself in the mirror. Just trust me. It may feel like lying at first. But they are absolutely true.

  • You are created just the way you were supposed to be.
  • You are so loved by so many people.
  • You are going to rock this world with all your talents.
  • You are beautiful. Really. You. Are. Beautiful.
  • You are going to kick today in the tushy.
  • No one is going to stop you from having a great day.
  • You are kind and helpful and brave.

9. And There’s More to Life Than How People See YOU

On a similar note, believing what people think about you, even the good stuff can limit who you really are meant to be. Maybe your aunts always wanted you to be in the fashion industry but you actually want to work in a Zoo. Or maybe you’ve been known as the jock, but you really do love math and want to pursue that field.

It’s definitely hard to fight the waves of other people’s expectations, but just know that you have the ability to find your own path in life. Each day is a new day to start over and take a step towards the kind of person you want to be.

10. Playing Games Isn’t a Waste of Time

Playing Games // Image by Hannah Rodrigo

I’ve been known to be one of those people who can’t focus on anything until I get my work done. But in reality, the work really isn’t ever done. This might not be the best tip for my procrastinator friends, but if you’re a school-or-workaholic like I am, it’s important to make time for play time.

Play time is so important. Whether it’s just relaxing online with the newest video game or having a game night with your friends, taking a break each week or a little bit each day can help you take your mind off the hard things in life. Take an hour and color in a coloring book. Play online scrabble. Form a DnD group. Whatever you’re interested in, take a break and have fun.

11. People Are Not Just Potential Romantic Partners

I can’t stress how important this one is. So many times in my life, I’ve caught myself developing a friendship for the intention of hopefully becoming their girlfriend. I’ve also had so many situations where someone stops being friends with me after they realize I don’t want to date them.

Starting friendships with the mindset of dating can ruin your relationship. A lot of relationships start as friendships. And that’s totally fine. My partner Mitchell was my best friend for a long time. But I didn’t become friends with him so I could date him.

People are real humans with feelings and emotions. When we treat other people like living love machines, we don’t really try to get to know them. Plus friendships are way more chill than dating can be, especially in high school and college.

Falling for your best friend is super common. But dating all of your friends can create rifts in your group and make everyone uncomfortable. Proceed with extreme caution.

12. It’s Okay to Be Alone Sometimes

It’s Okay to Be Alone Sometimes // Image by Denys Nevozhai

Sometimes I think society confuses alone time with being a loner. Spending time by yourself is a necessary part of life. You’re not a loser for eating alone by yourself at lunch if you want to. You’re not a loner for spending Friday night binging Netflix.

A lot of people need alone time to recharge after a stressful day. Maybe take a walk by yourself in a safe neighborhood. Maybe spend some time listening to music. If spending time by yourself makes you feel good, then it’s important for you to have that time.

There were plenty of times in college I just sat by myself and ate lunch. A lot of people do it, and no one thinks any differently of you. Sometimes our schedules are crazy and we need to cram in some extra homework. There will be plenty of time to be social. Don’t worry. Breathe. You’re fine, social butterfly.

13. Comparing Is Poison

I’m sure you’ve either seen or been a part of a talent show at a school or camp. Usually, there are multiple people showcasing the same talent. Like singing. Everyone kind of nods along as singers perform, but there’s always that one person who just completely steals the show. Now imagine you’re performing right after that person. Do you feel the anxiety rising yet?

Or maybe you’re in art class and you look over and see that the guy next to you is also drawing a portrait. But you think his is way better at using of different shades of blue. How did he even get the colored pencils to shade so smoothly?

Listen, we all have different talents, and we’re all at different stages. We also have our own way of doing things. The worst thing we can do to stifle our creativity and progress is compare ourselves to others. Now there’s looking up to people like your favorite singer you aspire to sound like or your favorite football player you examine each day before the big game. But regarding peers, it only hurts you to compare yourself to them.

Being in Honors classes throughout High School ruined me in this area. It’s a constant competition between GPAs and who is in the most clubs. But honestly, I just wanted to do the best that I knew I could do. Just remember to practice and continue to grow. It’s hard not to get discouraged sometimes, but don’t let comparing yourself to others destroy something you love.

14. Your Time Will Come

When I was in high school, and even in college, I felt like I had to make it big before I graduated. You know, publish more books, get Instagram famous, etc. My reasoning is that I knew other people younger than me that were already famous and doing the things I wanted to do. But the reality is, I wasn’t ready, and it’s a very small percentage of people who make it big at a young age.

I know it seems appealing to be famous as a teenager, but what does peaking in high school actually prove? Rather, I want to continue to grow and become seasoned in my chosen fields.

Keep doing what you love, even if it seems like nothing is actually happening. Because it is. You are growing, you are changing. And that’s step one.

My time will come. And so will yours.

15. It’s Okay to Lose It Sometimes

In a world where you’re getting conflicting messages about whether or not you should bottle your emotions or let them reign 100% of the time, from experience let me tell you it’s going to cause a lot more harm to hold it in. While there is a time and place for every emotion, letting yourself grieve or throw a temper-tantrum like you’re three again can sometimes be the most healing experience.

No one really has to be around for this unless you want them to. I wouldn’t recommend having this personal moment in public places, but it’s perfectly acceptable to curl up with your pillow and let it all out. I don’t care who you are, what gender you identify with, and what you’ve been told. Emotions are important to feel and understand. When you’re done you can pick yourself up, tell yourself that you’re strong, and keep moving forward. Giving yourself time is key here.

16. Thank Your Parents and Relatives Whenever You Can

This is one point that I’m still working on. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like my family is going to be there no matter what, just because they’re my family. But the reality is, I have no idea the amount of money and comfort they’ve given up by having me. So I know I need to thank them for all they’ve done.

Your home situation might not be the same as mine. Whoever takes care of you and makes sure you’re alright, make sure you thank them. Buy them flowers or a gift card. Write them a note — like an actual handwritten note. Bake them cookies. Or just say, “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”

We have no idea what this will mean for them, but it can only be good.

17. Your Siblings Might Become Your Best Friend

Your Sibling Might Be Your Best Friend // Image by Caroline Hernadez

My sister and I used to fight so often that our mom would get in the mix too. The reality is, we’re six years apart, and until we were closer to having the same amount of development and experiences, we couldn’t connect with each other. Now she’s someone I know I can talk to about anything because she just gets it. She also has a budding life of her own that’s very different than mine, so it’s fun to hear about the adventures she’s getting up to.

Siblings can be the worst and best at the same time. The older you get, the more you can relate and connect, or so I’ve been told and experienced for myself. What are your siblings like? Do they call you names and bite you? We used to. But now we have nicknames for each other and trust each other with the deepest darkest of secrets.

18. Work Hard in Every Job (Especially the Bad Ones)

I’ve worked terrible jobs. I’ve worked in a smoldering warehouse in the middle of summer, I’ve worked happy hour at a big-name coffee shop, and I’ve been the lowest-of-the-totem-pole sales associate.

Look, I get it. It’s hard to be enthusiastic when people are mean, you haven’t had a break, and your manager just quit. But when you’re the one who shows up on time every day and gets work done plus extra, people notice. It might not be your boss or your coworkers who will thank you, but you’d be surprised at what working hard can actually get you.

Also, burning bridges is a dangerous game to play. You might not think your coworker at the local thrift store will ever see you again when you leave and trash the place in your wake. But a couple years down the road it turns out that the dream job you’ve always wanted just hired a new HR. Guess who?

Anyways, that’s theoretical. It’s just good to be nice and work hard, because when you’re in a job you don’t like and work your butt off, imagine how great it will feel when you finally get that job you like, and you know how to manage your time well.

19. Taking Risks Is Scary and Good

Take Risks // Image by Peter Colan

I don’t like taking risks. I like being comfortable and being in consistent routines. But taking risks has also proven to be beneficial to me. I’m talking about those risks like, should you go to the dance this Friday? Should you try that new food? Should you buy that daring dress? The answer is always yes to these things. Dare to challenge yourself to be a stronger version of yourself every day. You don’t have to go bungee jumping, but you shouldn’t hide under your bed either.

20. Find Someone to Mentor

I met with a girl who was about six years younger than me for coffee about twice a month for three years. I loved just chatting with her, getting to know about her crazy life and friends, and being able to let her know that someone (besides family obviously) deeply cared about her.

Finding someone to be a mentor to can be so enriching. The process doesn’t have to be complicated. I wasn’t her therapist, and I wasn’t trying to fix her life. I was just a listening ear as someone who just went through what she was going through and was going through what she would be going through soon.

It could be a best friend’s little sister or brother that you take out for ice cream. Or a neighbor kid you’re family friends with. Usually it’s best to keep to the same genders, but hey, that’s up to your discretion. They’ll be so happy that some cool person is showing interest in them, and you’ll get to make a huge difference in someone’s life.

21. And Find Someone to Mentor You

I also had mentors myself, who would be just a phone call away. I still contact several of them whenever life gets really tough, and I need to just know that I’m not alone. These women were people I met through life that just ended up taking me under their wings. Sometime we would read books together, get coffee or dinner. Sometimes we would just drive around for a while.

Having someone older than you to talk to is such a great blessing during this time in your life. You’ll find out that adults don’t really have it all together. That we’re all just taking it one step at a time. It’s strangely reassuring. They also might be able to help you with tricky situations if they have had any similar experiences.

22. Always Be a Part of a Community

With or without a mentor, it’s important to find a community to be a part of. Whether a club, church group, or sport, finding people who share common ideas and goals in life can help you stay on track and form great relationships.

A major part of my life was my Sunday night youth group. While our leader was kind and a great speaker, we also formed great bonds as students from all different schools and backgrounds. We stuck together during rough times and supported each other during tragedies. I still talk to a lot of these people today.

23. You Don’t Know It All — I Sure Don’t

We Don’t Know It All // Image by Hans-Peter Gauster

I’m still learning how to do this thing called life, and I can’t wait to see what lessons the world has in store for me. It’s not always going to be peaches and cream oatmeal, but sometimes that’s the best way to learn.

Let’s challenge ourselves to learn from other people around us, both younger and older. We all have different life stories and experiences, and the more we share our struggles and triumphs with others, the more we can grow closer together and help the world become a better place. A little cheesy, but hey. Why not?

Short Story Press Release: “Red”

Short story “Red” is now available on amazon
“Red” is now available on Amazon

The second installment of the Nightmare Series is now available for Amazon Kindle. If you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s also available for free!

Background for “Red”

“Red” takes place entirely on the train commute to work. Though originating from a dream, this story is told from a male first-perceptive.

If I was to analyze this dream, I would say that it probably stemmed from my fascination with Greek and Roman mythology. Anyone familiar with the story of Sisyphus and Prometheus might recognize a similar theme throughout this story.

“Red” cover design, train surrounded by red foliage
“Red” cover design by me

“Even through the blur, I could already tell that traffic in the streets below had come to a standstill. The coldness was seeping through the poorly bolted window, and a sharp hiss verified that air was coming through.”

Kristen Kois, “Red”

Designing the Cover for “Red”

For the cover design, I wanted to use the natural red lighting from a train at night, since that’s where the story takes place. The train is also shrouded in misty, red foliage that directly contrasts with the cityscape of the background.

Maybe things are not always as they seem?

You can buy a copy for yourself by following this link to Amazon. Feel free to leave a review or comments in this blog if you read it! And don’t forget to share it with your friends and family.

Book Review: You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was overwhelmed by how my financial situation was not going to keep me alive for very long if I didn’t get my butt into gear and start working on finding jobs. When the job search turned into mass chaos and confusion, and I felt doubtful I even deserved to follow my passions and get a job that I actually enjoyed, I started searching for self-help books to get advice and motivate myself.

That’s when I came across the book, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth (2017) by Jen Sincero. Promised as a guide to get you in the mindset of making money, I was immediately interested. This book might not have made me rich, but it definitely changed how I view wealth and money. And that’s not an easy feat to accomplish.

Book Review Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Image from urban outfitters.com

Background

“If my broke ass can get rich, you can too.”

Jen Sincero

Jen Sincero is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, whose book You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life has sold more than 3 million copies since its release in 2013. It’s easy to be skeptical of self-help books, especially ones promising they’ll help you become rich. But Sincero didn’t start out rich. She started out with very little money, living in a garage for a house.

Now Sincero works her own business, travels the globe, and speaks on how her life flipped upside-down through the power of changing how you see your reality. Yes, this book primary focuses on the Law of Attraction and Manifestation.

Summary

If you’re someone who’s had never been exposed to the Law of Attraction or Manifestation, the first encounter may leave an odd taste of skepticism in your mouth. How can just changing how you think really have an impact on your reality?

These two separate yet complimentary meditations are watered down into the belief in a higher force (God, the Universe, etc.) that wants to work with you and see you succeed. The key is to put as much positivity back out towards that force and back in towards yourself to open your life to the possibilities that you might have been blind to before.

There are some coincidences (if you believe in those) that may happen if you do this. Money appearing out of nowhere, job opportunity that connect with you as soon as you change your perspective on life. But the main ideas are to: radiate positivity (especially being kind to yourself), change your perspective on what money actually is (a tool, helpful, useful, NOT evil), giving back, taking risks, and practicing self-care.

“A healthy desire for wealth is not greed, it’s a desire for life.”

Jen Sincero

Critique

Full of jargon, profanity, and jokes, this book is highly entertaining to read. It’s also a great book to read if you were as down-in-the-dumps as I was when I read it. Sincero is genuine, funny, and sharp. She’s not the stuffy grandpa who wrote the last generation’s “Get Rich Quick” books, and she wants the people who succeed in life to be the people who will make the world a better place.

One of the most assuring things about the book is that Sincero doesn’t leave a reader convinced that if they just believe hard enough, they don’t have to put in any physical work. The reason why I could actually enjoy and trust this book was because it focuses on the first step: working on yourself. Work on how you see things. Sometimes this is what’s getting in your way.

From Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass at Making Money

This idea actually makes a lot of sense. Have you ever started to have a bad day, and then you tell yourself how that day is going to be awful and how you deserve it? Then at the end of the day, you ended up having one of the worst days and believing you earned it too? The idea that Sincero proposes is beyond staying positive. It’s believing you deserve a life that fulfills you and includes all of your passions. Because if we believe we are deserving of such a position, we’ll try harder to get it. Or even try to get it in the first place.

Before reading this book, I had applied to over fifty jobs and not heard back from a single one in over three weeks. I was so discouraged. I saw people with money, people going out to eat, people wearing nice clothes, and I felt so angry because I couldn’t do that. Because of the mantras and guides at the end of each chapter, I began to reevaluate my mindset on money. Yes, I felt like money was evil. I felt like money ran from me, like it always was given to people who used it poorly.

So when I was challenged to continue to tell myself, “Money is a great tool. Money finds my easily. Money helps me achieve my goals and dreams,” I felt silly and like a down-right liar. Because I was. But I continue to tell myself these things almost every day. And the day I decided to be more positive, I got three interviews. Coincidence? Maybe. Definitely weird. Sincero’s book is full of stories like this though, and it makes me wonder if it isn’t just fantasy.

Changing my perspective on money changed my motivations for finding jobs and following my passions.

Is the Book a Story of Privilege and Entitlement?

It’s really easy to think to yourself while reading this book, Wait how come there are so many poor people in the world if all they had to do was think that they could overcome their circumstances for God/the Universe to make them rich?

To be honest, I don’t really have an answer to that, and Sincero doesn’t either. I think what’s more important about this book is recognizing that we all do have opportunities to change the way we live and see the world. And if we get the opportunity for wealth, it then becomes our responsibility to care for those that don’t. This is a major point in Sincero’s writing.

To this point she writes, “One of the best things you can do is get rich. Because of the way our world is structured, money and power are intertwined, so if you want to help make a positive change, money is one of the most effective tools you can use to do it. Yes, you can donate your time, organize, protest, lobby, alert the masses, post incensed rants on Facebook, but you will be much more effective if you have the energy, options, and freedom that come with not being in financial struggle, not to mention the resources to spend however you see fit.” So according to Sincero, yes, it’s possible to be a good person, be religious, be humble, and still become wealthy.

The negative aspect of this idea is that some people might still be unable to break out of systematic poverty or break into the cycle of wealth. It’s never a bad idea to gain more self-confidence, but it’s also irresponsible to spend every last dime of your rent money because you think you need an acting coach this very minute. Sincero luckily is smart in this particular area. While she encourages people to take risks, she doesn’t explicitly tell people to blow all their money on coaches if they really, honestly can’t. Though she did end up hiring a coach for thousands of dollars during a time of extreme credit card debt.

The problem I have with this book is mostly the notion that of course someone is going to make it out of their poverty, but how many more will do the same by following what that one person did? We all have different stories, different struggles. Hiring a life coach when we have credit card debt might not save our own lives, but there are plenty of other take-aways from the book that are helpful, encouraging, and paradigm-shifting. All things considered, it’s definitely worth the read.

Conclusions

The jury is still out on whether I’m a fool for following my dreams, but I’m much happier in pursuit of my writing and art than I would be in an office cube. I believe that I have the ability and skills necessary for making enough money to thrive.

Do you?

The Positives

  • Changed my harmful mindset on money
  • Was full of laughs and entertainment
  • Challenged me in ways I had never been before
  • A money-guide like I’ve never read
  • A great analysis on having faith

The Negatives

  • Some entitlement and privilege
  • Profanity and dialects (could be a positive — I didn’t mind)
  • A good first step, but won’t work for some

Further Information

Jen Sincero playing with dog
Jen Sincero and puppy // Image from jensincero.com

You can visit Jen Sincero’s website by following this link. Her books are available in over 25 different languages.