Lifestyle, What I'm Reading

Book Club Crashers // Finding Mrs. Ford

Finding Mrs. Ford cover, marina
My copy of Finding Mrs. Ford on location at the Watch Hill marina.

Today’s post has two parts: first I’m going to set the scene (trust me this is a scene worth setting) and then we’ll get into the actual discussion.

How I ended up in Watch Hill.

About a week ago I saw a post on @sarahkjp‘s page about an event with the Newport Ladies Book Club in Watch Hill. I showed my mom and after realizing she had the day off we figured we would go. I have a book club on Instagram but I had never been to one in person and it sounded like an entertaining night.

Then Monday rolled around and my mom and I rolled up to the Ocean House and it was stunning. I’ve seen it so many times on Instagram, and mostly from Sarah’s page oops, but wow. We were a little early and were planning on walking around outside when one of the people who worked at the Ocean House asked us if we were here for the book club and took us to the Secret Garden Champagne Bar. As soon as we stepped onto the deck someone handed us drinks and we found somewhere to sit so we could listen to Deborah Royce (the author!!!) talk about her book. I thought it was a little bizarre that they were already deep in discussion because we were half an hour early but I was too busy living what I can only describe as truly, my best life to think about it. Until two women came in a little later and I realized it. We had unknowingly crashed the book club only discussion. Kylie, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry we crashed the group photo too!

The rest of the night was magical as well. We got to meet several of the ladies in the book club and talk to the author about her creative process. One question that had been in my head after reading this book was “where did she come up with the idea for the necklace?” To me it seemed like such a significant detail but I had never heard of a necklace like that before and it turns out, Royce had been given one by a former beau. Let’s just hope it wasn’t under the same circumstances!

It was such an unforgettable night discussing the book with the author, in a location that was central to the novel! I never knew such a thing could be on my book bucket list, but it has since been added and then crossed off.

veuve clicquot
A few moments before I realized we were book club crashers.

And now my thoughts on the book!

When I first read the book jacket I thought this was going to have a political plot but I was surprised to find out that it was more of political undertones and it focused on the idea of who a person is and more specifically what’s in a name.

I usually opt for historical fiction but this was a thriller through and through. I am not used to having such short chapters and the way Royce ends each chapter brought me back to when I used to read the Goosebumps books because each chapter had a cliff hanger than had me saying “oh just one more chapter”.

Mrs. Ford taught me a life lesson that I think may come in handy at some point in my life. While I never plan on having the FBI show up to my house, I may file away the “make them uncomfortable” tactic should I ever need it.

Royce is a very descriptive author. Prior to reading this book I had never been to Watch Hill, but when I arrived it was déjà vu. The same goes for her descriptions of Detroit. I felt immersed in the disco-era. One thing I didn’t pick up on until a woman in the book club brought it up was Royce’s skill in knowing when not to elaborate. There were a few scenes (the most poignant being the scene with the polaroid) where she had given just enough detail to get the point across.

This book also reminded me of a favorite that I read earlier this year. Like, Next Year in Havana, Finding Mrs. Ford tells a story by flipping back and forth between present and past. But there was one line that brought me back to Havana. Sammy, a Chaldean, is describing the political climate in the Middle East and mentions that Saddam Hussein may bring a good future. Which reminded me of all the discussions about Castro bringing good fortune to Cuba. It’s a comment that may go unnoticed but I think it hammers home the idea of choosing between the devil you know and the devil you don’t know.

This was a quick read so either run to the beach tomorrow or save it for next summer because it is the perfect beach day book!

At the end of our night Royce shared details of her next book with us and I can only say, Ruby Falls is already on my TBR list!

Happy reading!

xox,

Marissa

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Celebrating Two Years!

holding sunflowers
I was going to go to a local cupcake store for these photos but then I realized the sunflower festival was happening, so I grabbed my nearest seersucker dress and took my most “on brand” photos to date!

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for two years now! It feels like I’ve been at this forever but it also feels like I just started yesterday. In this post I’m going to share a little bit about why I started blogging as well as answering questions that you guys had for me, so let’s get started!

Why I Started Blogging

Here’s a little known fun fact: this is actually my second blog! I was inspired to start one because I used to read a blog about physical therapy school and I tried to start one about being a pre-PT but it didn’t last. I wish I could remember what the name of it was but those posts have been deleted and I transformed that blog into Sunflowers and Seersucker.

I started this blog because I was inspired by bloggers like Kate from Lonestar Southern and Lucy from Daily Dose of Prep. I wanted a place to document my style and share my thoughts and I’m so glad I started! Blogging has become such a fun part of my life and I’m glad I have a space where I can document what I’m doing so I can look back on it later!

walking with sunflowers
Probably checking to see if I have any bugs on me.

The Lessons

Something you may realize is that all of these lessons are centered around a common theme. I apologize if you end up thinking it’s repetitive but here we go:

Be authentic.

All of my favorite bloggers show their day to day life alongside the “highlight reel” that is Instagram. From sharing her hair loss and wig wearing journeys to showing viewers her husband’s broken toe, Dani (@daniaustin on Instagram) is the queen of keeping it real.

I personally believe that everyone who blogs should incorporate lifestyle into their pages if you blog/post on Instagram. I think keeps things interesting while also showing people that life isn’t meant to be perfect. We’ve let social media take over so much of our daily lives that it’s time to learn to laugh at ourselves.

Don’t niche down.

If you’re trying to make it big blogging, you probably shouldn’t listen to this piece of advice because every podcast I listen to tells you to find a niche and they have at least 10x the amount of followers that I have, BUT, if you’re blogging as a hobby write about everything that interests you!

People aren’t one-dimensional, so play to all of your interests. I love picking out cute outfits so I started this blog to share my closet, but I also love reading. So once I found out there were book blogs and #bookstagram I wanted to share my reading list too. It’s easy to get caught up in making things fit your niche but you’re still sharing something valuable it just might not be what someone was expecting. For example, I don’t follow any instagram accounts dedicated to making smoothies (although I do love looking at smoothie bowls) but when someone shares a good looking smoothie I usually screenshot it.

The numbers don’t matter.

This is such a hard one! For the past few weeks I’ve been staring at my follower count on Instagram just willing it to hit 1000. But so much of Instagram just isn’t real!

Real talk: when I first started trying to grow my Instagram I joined a Facebook “likes” group. You could comment on a daily likes thread and you and 99 other people would go like each other’s pictures. Sure my likes went up but I didn’t have anything in common with these people, they weren’t interested in my posts and I wasn’t interested in theirs except for the extra like. Not to mention it was stressful. I was always checking to see if a thread had been posted because I wanted to keep up my number of likes. And you had 12-24 hours to complete all the likes. I can’t even tell you how many times I wrote “oops sorry Instagram won’t let me like anymore posts right now” just because I didn’t have the time/energy to go down the list even though it’s a pretty mindless activity.

So next time you find yourself playing the comparing game, tell yourself that whoever you’re comparing yourself to may be using other sources. It wasn’t just small bloggers who are in those groups, some bigger accounts are there boosting engagement too!

Focus on the people.

This is social media we’re talking about. Not thing I want to focus on going forward is making real connections. I’m going to comment on more posts that I find interesting and ask people questions about how they’re doing. I want to find authentic engagement, I want people to comment on my posts because they think it’s interesting or they’re giving recommendations.

I recently joined @bloggersliveboston and I can’t wait to start meeting some New England bloggers! I haven’t been able to make it to an event yet but I’m looking forward to making connections really soon!

girl with her back to camera holding sunflowers, in front of sunflower field
They don’t even look real!

Answering Your Questions

And now to your questions! I had a lot of similar themes so I tried to tie them together but if I missed your question, comment below/send my a DM and I’ll answer it!

How I grew my followers?

I’ve tried a few different ways to grow my followers so here’s the rundown:

  • In the Facebook groups I was talking about earlier I have also participated in follow for follow threads. So I would put my link down and then you would either have to follow everyone or pick a certain number of people per thread and follow them. If this is the route you’re going to try to grow followers I would definitely recommend the latter. While following everyone will get you more followers, it’s better long term wise to pick people that have similar interests to you!
  • I’ve also done a few loop giveaways. I did find these to be beneficial as I always gained a ton of followers and only lost a few in the days after the prize was announced. My advice if you’re trying this method: find giveaways that match your/your followers’ interests and make sure the giveaway account unfollows you before the prize is announced. Matching interests is important with the authenticity factor, for example I don’t think too many of my followers would want to win a gift card to Game Stop but they may want to try to win a gift card to Lilly, especially when After Party Sale season comes around (if anyone wants to do this as a giveaway hit me up it sounds like a good idea!). And as for the unfollowing factor, it’s easier for people to unfollow you if all they have to do is go down a list of everyone that participated in a giveaway 😉
  • I have had some luck recently with my new and improved authentic engagement strategy. It is a slower process than the methods above but I’m okay with that! All that’s required for this one: comment on people’s photos! People that you follow and people that you don’t! Think like Oprah: you get a comment, you get a comment, everyone gets a comment. The important thing here is don’t just say “cute” make it meaningful, make it something you would want someone to comment on your page. Although I’m definitely guilty of throwing some “so cute girl”‘s around too.

Advice for new bloggers?

Have fun with it! This is your corner of the internet so share whatever makes you happy! Think of what interests you and share that. I am a firm believer in “your vibe attracts your tribe” so share what makes you smile and you’ll find people with common interests.

Biggest thing I’ve learned?

The biggest thing I’ve learned is definitely apparent throughout this whole article but it’s important so I’ll say it again: stay true to yourself! At the end of the day if you’re happy that’s all that matters! I actually just finished a book that is about social media and staying true to yourself and while the post is still being typed up, it was a good reminder that sometimes social media doesn’t feel social at all.

girl in sunflower field
Cheers to 2 years!

And so you have it! What have you learned from having a blog?

This dress is from Banana a few summers ago so here is a similar style from Tommy Bahama! Unlike mine, it has pockets which always seem like the best thing when it comes to dresses. I tried to find cheaper alternatives but it’s the end of the season so you’re best bet is looking on Poshmark!

xox,

Marissa

Lifestyle, wellness

Wellness Wednesday: Plant Based PVD

Happy Wednesday!

Today’s Wellness Wednesday is going to be all about a really cool restaurant I went to a few weeks ago: Plant City PVD. I recently became a vegetarian (I gave up meat for Lent and then just never went back) and so I’m always looking for new alternatives. While a plant-based diet is not for everyone, there are definitely some health benefits to eating less meat when it comes to heart disease and diabetes. Just being conscious of how much or what kind of meat you have can improve your risk of certain diseases. Click here to learn about a flexitarian diet.

I saw Plant City PVD while I was looking around the Providence Flea and I was intrigued. I was even a little confused on whether “plant-based” meant the whole place was vegetarian. They have a market, a coffee counter, a burger restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, and an Italian restaurant all wrapped into one. We decided on Italian and I really wanted to get the meatballs but I still had no idea if plant-based meant plants-only. When the waitress came back she told us everything in the building was vegan! Can you imagine?!

So good!

And so I ordered the meatballs! I will definitely be heading back to Providence to get it again, although next time I’m trying the pepperoni pizza! So if you’re in the Ocean State and looking to try something new you need to try Plant City.

You have my word, even though they don’t use quotes on the menu, everything is vegan!

Bonus points for any place that has cute signs in the bathroom!

xox,

Marissa