Reading List for Winter

On the something day of Blogmas my true love gave to me….a reading list! This time of year I love cozying up in my mom’s office reading a good book. I would say I love feeling the winter sun on me while I avoid the cold, but it’s not quite cold here in Texas. Also, my mom works from home, so I can keep her company while I’m home at break. Here’s some old reading recommendations. I made my way through this list already.
 Winter Reading List | paper + flame
If you haven’t read my podcast favorites, I love podcasts by Crooked Media. They often have Alyssa Mastromonaco on quite frequently. Her book is Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House.  On the same line, I feel like it’s time to read both What Happened and Promise Me Dad. I’m not going to lie, when the title to Joe Biden’s book was released, I started crying.
Bloodline is probably the nerdiest book on this list. It’s about an IRS agent who assisted in uncovering a drug cartel through tax fraud. I say this is nerdy because I’m a tax accountant. My favorite professor recommended this to me over drinks the other day, and I can’t wait to read it. On a similar note, The Rooster Bar is John Grisham’s new book about three law school friends who uncover the scam that is the law school they are attending. 
All the Light We Cannot See is an award-winning novel about a blind French girl and German boy. My best friend recommended this book to me, and she knows I’m all about the World War II historical fiction. I haven’t watched the movie Eat Pray Love, so I want to read the book before I read it. I’m in a weird transitional phase in my life, so I’m hoping for some guidance. Americanah, written by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie, follows a woman in journey to America for school. Not only is she featured in a Beyonce song, she’s such a badass. 
What are y’all reading? What are your favorite books? Have you read any awesome books recently?
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Hostess Gifts Under $20

This is my first holiday season as a real semi-adult. Despite being in grad school, all my friends are all young professionals with real jobs and beautiful apartments. They have been loving hosting dinner parties and game nights. Again as a grad student with grad student debt, I want to take them something to adorable to everyone’s home without going even further into debt. Here are some great options under $20 for that hostess that will pair perfectly with any bottle of wine or cheese you take.

This might as well be a things I want right now post. Oops. Grad school is weird because it’s only a year for me. I already have a job lined up and I feel like I’m waiting for my life start a bit. After graduation, I’ll be moving back home because it’s too convenient to pass up. I’m hesitant to buy cute home stuff as I don’t know when I’ll have a place of my own. Anyway, there’s my existential crisis over. Here’s some other stuff I want.

Housewarming Gifts Under $20 | paper+flame


First off, this metal cake stand is beautiful and even comes in silver. This makes a perfect centerpiece for a table or island, regardless of baking abilities. Going with the centerpiece vibe, I love this cool geometric candlestick. Although I don’t fully believe in not finishing the bottle of wine, this wine stopper is gorgeous. Also, the candle is not just a candle but also a holder. You can easily repurpose the candle holder around the house.

The mug is beautiful and a fun amount of festive. Something about it seems wintery and beautiful in a very Scandinavian way. I love small details and embossing on these two gifts. The mitt says “great things will be served,” and the leather tray says “simple things.” Both are beautiful and decorative in a simple Scandinavian way. This metal frame has a similar minimalist vibe and super on trend

Check out our other blogmas posts here.

What is your go-to gift for a hostess? What are your recent homeware favs?

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Places to Donate Your Time + Money

This time of the year people feel grateful for eveyrthing they have. Everyone wants to give back, but we just wanted to make it easier by compling a  list of charities to donate your time and money. We wanted to highlight meaningful causes to us and their impact. 

Where to donate your Time and Money | paper + flame

The World Central Kitchen with ChefJ osé Andrés have provided over 3 million meal to the people of Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico at the end of September and only 70% of the electricity is back on. Everyone on the island doesn’t have running water. The World Central Kitchen has helped out bring fresh food to the island. On the same line as Puerto Rico, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in the end of August. Kaylee and I are both from Houston and Kaylee currently lives in Houston. We have first hand seen the devastation that occurred and is still present. The Houston Food Bank always does amazing things, but especially this year when so many more people are in need. We recommend donating to the Houston Food Bank because it will directly help this community. Having volunteered there many times, I know that everyone that works there cares so much about the people they serve.
The Human Rights Campaign advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and could use support
Malala Fund aspires to ensure that every girl receives at least secondary school education. They work in countries where a lot of the stigma against girl’s education is cultural along with countries housing refugees. As I will graduate with my master’s in May, I can’t imagine anyone questioning my educational ambitions. If that isn’t inspiring enough, I highly recommend reading her Malala’s book because you will be moved to absolute tears.
More so than money, your time is valuable. Volunteering your time is beneficial in two way. Not only do you get to help with the task at hand, you connect with the people and community you are serving to fully understand their lives. Kaylee and I went to high school together; our community service was called social awareness because you become aware of issues that you would never actually understand existed otherwise. You can always donate to your local food bank. Whether that calls for you starting a food drive or going and sorting boxes. They can always use help. Similarly, Angel Tree donates gifts to children in need. You receive their list of items which, sadly, usually has absolute basics like socks and underwear. I recommend having party with your friends and encourage everyone to bring one thing on the kids list to donate. Meals on Wheels has recently faced a budget decrease. Meals on Wheels provides meals to the elderly and people with disabilities. For a lot of people, it’s not only the food, but also the company that helps them. Give some on your four-legged friend’s behalf and volunteer at an animal shelter. Animal shelters prepare to receive many animals in January and February when family’s realize that their child/parent are allergic to their new fluffy friend.
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Podcast Recommendations

As the holidays are upon us, a lot of will be traveling. Whether you’re traveling far or stuck in traffic parking at the mall, podcasts can help you pass the time. I love podcasts and wanted to share my favorite picks! Podcasts help pass the time and teach something in the mean time. If you find podcasts too slow or a bit boring, I highly recommend listening at a faster speed!
Podcast Recommendations | paper + flame


I start every morning with Up First, by NPR, and The Daily, New York Times. Both podcasts condense current events into a small (and digestible) amount of information. Despite being constantly bombarded by news, these podcasts ensure that I know the most important news bits from reliable sources. If you’re looking for some comedic discussion of the news, I highly recommend The Bugle, formerly co-hosted by John Oliver, and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, an NPR news quiz show.


News Discussion
These podcasts are talk radio in podcast form. Crooked Media, a media company started by ex-Obama staffers, has Pod Save America  and Lovett or Leave It. They relate and compare their experiences working closely with a president. Pod Save America biweekly discusses the news and Lovett or Leave it is a game show filled with all your favorite comedians. Stay Tuned with Preet is hosted by the ex-State Attorney for New York. If you are looking for a discussion from both sides of the political spectrum, I highly recommend The 45th, which has two of the hosts from Undisclosed, including the woman that brought Serial season 1’s case to Sarah Koenig.
Pod Save the World,another Crooked Media podcast, discusses foreign policy with career diplomats. Can He Do That? and What Trump Can Teach us About Con Law review the constitution and constitutionality and regularity of the president’s actions. The New Washington, another New York Times podcast, interviews the biggest names in politics. Freakonomics Radio isn’t necessary political but talks about practical application of economics in answering daily questions. Steve Levitt, who coauthored the coordinating book, hosts the show.

True Crime

So, my fascination with podcasts started off with Serial like many people. If you haven’t listened to it, you’re really missing out. S-Town doesn’t really fall in this category, but it’s from the offices of Serial. All I can say is that it’s an extremely interesting story.  The Hae Min Lee case was brought to Sarah Koenig by Rabia Chaudry who started her own podcast called Undisclosed. This dives into the legal investigation of the case in which they uncovered new evidence that helped his appeal. They have had multiple seasons investigating different cases, following the case of Hae Min Lee. If you’re a fan of 20/20, ABC has produced two documentaries that go along with the podcasts A Killing on the Cape and A Murder on Orchard StreetAccused and Breakdown are my favorite true crime podcasts after Serial and feature newspaper-style journalism.
If murder isn’t your vibe, I recommend Dirty John and Crimetown, which investigate a con-man and organized crime in Rhode Island. Deadly Manners and Homecoming are fictional crime shows. Deadly Manners is a story of dinner party gone wrong with Kristen Bell, and Homecoming is about a secret military branch. Up and Vanished and Truth and Justice are for everyone who likes to get involved in a case. They crowd source investigations, which some people do find controversial. If you liked American Vandal on Netflix, I highly recommend Done Disappeared. If you listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, you will understand the subtle references.
Sometimes, instead of drawn out investigations, I prefer stand-alone podcasts. Crime Writers On is a discussion of true crime media, including podcasts and tv shows, by four true crime writers. My Favorite Murder is the most famous of the chatty true crime podcasts. These two comedians tell each other about different murders weekly the way that you would talk to your friends about something interesting. Ear Hustle isn’t chatty per se but is hosted and produced out of San Quentin State Penitentiary and describes aspects of life in prison. Criminal has a similar vibe and describes interesting stories of different kinds of crimes.


By Creators
 At Home With…,by Anna and Lily, interviews established people in the beauty world in their homes. They perfectly blend audio and visual elements. Don’t Blame Me,by Meghan Rienks, gives candid advice that I think I would give people. The Heart of It , with Estee Lalonde takes a deep dive into themes of her life. She talked about strength, feminism, and her mom. Lastly, Filler interviews various creatives in London. It’s beautiful and really captures the #struggle.
One of the hosts of Crime Writers On also hosts a podcast called HGTV and Me. They discuss all the important things HGTV-related things, like how tiny houses suck. If you love TV and talking about TV, The West Wing Weekly discusses the West Wing on an episode by episode basis. The West Wing Weekly has a cast member as a co-host and have interviewed the entire famous cast and crew for their relevant episodes. Missing Richard Simmons is a news reporters quest to find out about the whereabouts of Richard Simmons. Lastly, I recommend My Dad Wrote a Porno, in which a guy and his friends discuss a porno his dad wrote. This host’s dad saw the success of Fifty Shades of Grey and decided that he can do it too. Although it’s the least sexy thing in the world, it’ll have you cracking up for days.
Do you listen to podcasts? What are y’all’s favorite podcasts?
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Birthday Wishlist

Long time no see! We are back with with Blogmas. I’m planning on posting every other day so we have at least 12 days of Christmas. My birthday is November 30th and kicks off the holiday season. I love being able to spend time with my friends and family before the stress and business of the holidays kicks in. This year, I’ve been extra blessed to be surrounded by so much love from friends. I had a birthday dinner on my actual birthday followed by a fun potluck, which y’all will hear all about soon. I feel particularly “adult” this year as all my friends are working and brought amazing thoughtful gifts and food.

Birthday Wishlist | paper + flame


  1. I was helping my friend find some boots two weeks ago and saw a friend in one of my classes wearing these gorgeous boots. They luckily have been on sale at Nordstrom. My friends ending up getting me similar (but cooler) boots. I love Chelsea boots, and these are fun and heeled upgrade.
  2. This necklace from Mejuri is gorgeous. It is the matching necklace to these earrings that Oliver gave me for our anniversary. He ended up getting me this equally as gorgeous necklace that I love. Honestly, he’s not helping with my Mejuri obsession that is 100% Allana’s fault.
  3. Admittedly, I’m not a big perfume person, but recently, I’ve been dabbling in perfume. This perfume set is small and not too scent specific making it a great gift.
  4. As a perpetually dehydrated person, I always want a new fun water bottle to help me drink more water. I definitely don’t need new water bottles, but this Hydroflask comes with a straw!!
  5. This dry shampoo set is great because I’m a disgusting person and definitely don’t wash my hair enough. Enough said lol.
  6. I recently got a new phone and am trying to go away from my phone wallet. This key pouch from Madewell is adorable, monogrammable, and will hopefully stop me from leaving my house with the required items. I ended up buying myself a similar key pouch from Target in black.
  7. I’m obsessed with the Great British Bake Off (Baking Show in the US). If you’ve ever watched an episode, you know exactly why it’s  so great. This bread book is amazing, and my amazing friends bought me two different books by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the judges.
  8. So, I’ve had a phone wallet for four years and I’m trying to transition away from the phone wallet. Now that I have an iPhone 8 Plus, a large phone wallet would be too bulky. This is a slimmer option that one with a flap. I ended up getting a similar case from Amazon.

What’s your favorite part of your birthday? Do you have any fun birthday traditions? What are you excited for this Christmas?

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Wishlist | Halloween Decor

It’s October 1st, so I think it’s absolutely appropriate to start talking about Halloween Decor. Until college, I wasn’t a big Halloween girl, but, somehow, all my friends in college are big fans. They have officially converted me to a fan of the festivities. First of all, I can get behind anyway holiday that is essentially a big celebration of the color black. Second, I love Halloween movies. I can’t watch any form of horror or suspense movies, but kids Halloween movies are my favorite.
You’ll see a bit of theme in this decor wishlist. All of these are affordable and most of them are dark colors. You can definitely go a bunch of different ways with your decorations, but my roommate goes very dark and spooooooky. Black accents are perfect for any design scheme, and keep the decor chic. All these items are extremely affordable and are from Target and H&M. I tried my best to keep all the decor not cheesy and functional otherwise.
Affordable Halloween Decor | paper + flame
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Ipsy | July

Hey guys! We’re back with a new start to the new year. Today is the start of a new series. Every month, around the 15th, I get my Ipsy bags, and I want to share with you the things I get. So, the following month, I’ll share my opinions on the products after a month of use. If you don’t know, Ipsy is a subscription service that is $10 a month and they send you a mix of makeup, skincare, and haircare products. I’ve found some of my favorite things in the world through Ipsy and realized that some fan-favs are not made for me. Every month, you get five products in a small bag that comes packaged in the cutest pink bubble wrap envelope. It makes every month like Christmas all over again.

July Ipsy Review | paper + flame

Besides foundation, I feel like I never need to buy new products again. Mostly, you get sample-sized items, but many eyeliners are full-sized. Also, I’m not sure how they do this, but they deliver exactly what I need when I need it. For example, for the month of July, I needed a new face wash and BAM. I consider myself a “conscious consumer.” Before I buy any skincare or makeup products, I usually conduct extensive research, so this really saves me some time. Also, I’m not really a hair care gal, and their small samples have allowed me to branch out. Also, you can buy your Ipsy products and other high and low-end beauty products at a discount on the website.

July Ipsy Review | paper + flame

This month’s bag was Gudetama themed. Gudetama is this adorable depressed egg. He’s just adorable, I promise. My five products are

Beau Gâchis Illuminator Brush is weirdly what my brush collection was missing. I usually wear either no makeup or a full face of makeup. Due to a recent stress induced breakout, I have some acne scars that I want to cover up on a daily basis. To not look weird with just one cheek concealed, I usually pop on some concealer under my eye and some mascara as well. This brush is perfect for any concealing. Before using it as a concealing brush, I used it for highlighter and an all-over-the-lid brush. It worked pretty well for both.

Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet was the disappointing to the say the least. As a moisturizer, it was insufficient. As an oily skin girl, I use pretty stripping face washes to get my face feeling clean. Afterwards, I like to rehydrate my skin in the mornings with moisturizer and in the evening with night cream. This product goes on my skin and feels just kinda eh. It feels like I put a bad serum on. Also, this must be personally preference, but I hate how this smells. It smells like raw calabash, or bottle gourd.

July Ipsy Review | paper + flame

When I first received the Ciate London Wondewarnd Gel-Kohl Hybrid Liner in Black, I fully intended on giving it to my mom. I haven’t worn eyeliner in about four years when I realized that heavy eyeliner all around my eyes wasn’t the look for me. However, this eyeliner is double ended with eyeliner on one side and a smudging brush on another. The eyeliner is dark if you build it up and perfectly smudge-y if you want a smokey look.

Nomad Cosmetics Illuminating Highlighter in Midnight Sun is the next level highlighter. I have two other highlighters I use. One is more subtle and every day but can be considered more glam if I apply it with a wet or dense brush. The other highlighter I use is one I discovered from Ipsy, and it’s a natural gel based highlighter. Both are gorgeous and serve a purpose, but this one is really my more glam highlighter. I feel like taking approximately 15 billion selfies while wearing this highlighter. To be fair, for me, this is not the best highlighter. I have this thing called a natural glow, oily skin and sweaty face, but I’m excited to use this when it won’t melt off of my face. Together, the highlighter on my lids and the smudgy liner give me my best Delia Banai from Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce.

Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Deep Dive Cleaning Gel is a really interesting product. It was perfecting timing because I wanted a new cleanser. My face was clean but not tight after washing. The gel is a liquid-y consistency and does a decent job cleansing my face. It doesn’t work too well for removing any eye makeup, and I don’t wearing anything waterproof. I don’t think I would repurchase this, but it did a decent job.

Overall, I liked 4/5 products, and I loved the physical bag. I think this is the usual split for most of Ipsy bags. I just got this month’s bag today, and I can’t wait to chat with y’all about it.

Do y’all get Ipsy? Do y’all use Birchbox? Have you used both? Which one do you prefer?

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Father’s Day Gift Guide Under $50

Aaaaand we are back. After a hiatus from blogging, we are back! It was our last semester’s of our senior year of college and, boy, did they become hectic. I actually did a minimester from January to the middle of February and interned the rest of the semester. It’s almost Father’s Day and in true millennial fashion, I’ve made sure all these picks are on Amazon and prime-able. Especially when you graduate, you look back and see all the support (and money) your parents have invested in you. To thank your dad, we’ve got some fun picks together.

To be fair, none of these are particularly “Dad,” but I tried my best. My family buys my dad the same three things (two polos and a white dress shirt) for every occasion, so this is really switching it up on my end. Also, I bought the dopp kit for my boyfriend for Christmas and he loves it. Honestly, it’s way bigger than I can imagine any guy will ever need, so a personally thumbs up for that product.
Father's Day Gift Guide Under $50 | paper + flame
If you need additionally ideas, we have a general gift guide for men from earlier.

Have you bought your dad a present? What’s your go-to gift for your dad or the men in your life?
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Beauty | Hair Routine ft. Hask

This post contains sponsored products. 
Low Maintenance Hair Routine for Wavy Hair | gold&hearts

New Year New Hair! Today, I have a slightly different post for y’all about my haircare routine. As a person with wavy/curly hair that never does what I want it to do, I struggle to be able to leave the house without styling my hair. As a lazy person, I usually just throw it up in a half up half down or ponytail. With my internship coming up, I wanted to really dig deep into my haircare, so I wouldn’t be heat damaging my hair.

Low Maintenance Hair Routine for Wavy Hair | gold&hearts

Today, I’m working with HASK Chia Seed Oil Volumizing Collection, which has a shampoo and conditioner. Hask is great because all of their products are free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, gluten, drying alcohol and artificial colors. Okay, first note, this shampoo conditioner set smells amazing. Even my older brother thought our shared bathroom smelled good. Weirdly, despite having absolutely huge hair, my volume stays at the bottom giving me the dreaded triangle hair. Usually, on the first day, my roots stay volumized. but it ends there. This collection really helped keep my hair volumized in the roots to the next day. I apply conditioner only to the bottom half of my hair to weigh them down and make sure they are curls and not waves. My roots stayed super soft despite not applying conditioner. Also, the weight of the conditioner is perfect to actually curl up my hair. #bless

Low Maintenance Hair Routine for Wavy Hair | gold&hearts

After showering, I put the Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Spray in. Not only is this much cheaper than the Bumble and Bumble alternative, it doesn’t have the same amount of salt and doesn’t dry your hair out. I then brush my hair out with a wide tooth comb. I, then, use the Aussie Mousse to scrunch my hair gently. I was always scared of mousse because of the hard wet-look mousse people used in early high school with the super straightened  bangs. However, this just keeps my hair from getting big and preventing frizz. Additionally, if I ever need additional hold for any hair style, I use a little bit of the Not Your Mother’s Volumizing Hairspray.

If I had told myself a year ago that I would spend this much time or effort on my hair, I would have laughed. Honestly, this takes about 2 minutes and the results are visible! The best part is that all these products are super affordable and I don’t have to choose between a $20 bottle of shampoo or going out to dinner that week when I have to restock on products. All products are under $10 and go on sale often!

What’s your hair routine? How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
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