Books Worth Reading | In 5 Different Categories

I’ve been spending a bit too much time on Bookstagram recently. 

Oh? You’ve never heard of Bookstagram? Me neither, until a few weeks ago. Allow me to enlighten you.

Bookstagram is an area of Instagram where voracious readers create an account solely to post bookish content – their TBR lists, book categories, bookshelf tours, etc. It’s done two things for me.

First of all – it’s expanded my TBR SIGNIFICANTLY. I have so many more books I want to read now.

Secondly – it’s also made me want to turn my blog into a little more of a Bookstagram . . . er, book blog. 

Oh wait. There’s a third one.

I have bookshelf envy.

Anyway. I’ve taken inventory of my bookshelf (pitiful as it may be) and sorted fifteen of my favorite books into five categories, with three books in each. I’ve categorized them, and hopefully at least one of the them will spark your interest. 🙂

Three books that will make you believe in love.

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Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey. Ah. There is nothing better than boy-meets-girl and their instant chemistry leads them to uncover a deep, dark secret and, oh, they just might happen to fall in love in the process. 

The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar. Feminist literature? Kick-butt women who fly planes in World War II? Girl pilot meets soldier? YES PLEASE. 

Lovely War by Julie Berry. *sighs happily* A nurse falls for one of her soldiers. There’s even Greek mythology in this one too, guys.  And the cover. OMG. I couldn’t ask for any more. 

Coincidentally, all three of these books are historical romances as well, and all of them involve WWII. So, if you love adorable WWII historical romances, you will undoubtedly love all of these.

Three books that will make you want to put on your dancing slippers.

Continue reading “Books Worth Reading | In 5 Different Categories”

Reviewing My Fave Snacks of 2020

Hey friends. 🙂

2020 has been anything BUT ordinary – and these snacks are anything BUT ordinary, also! I discovered all of these in the last few months and let me tell you, they have made my grocery pickup orders a little extra flavorful. 😉

Except for the wontons, I believe all of the other snacks are vegetarian, so that’s a nice bonus for all of you non-meat eaters!

(I’m writing this whilst on hold with College Board, suffering through their 80’s elevator music, and I need something to do with myself.)

*none of these images are my own*

First up: Late July Jalapeño Chips

Y’all. I cannot even begin to describe the perfection of these crunchy, crispy, flavorful chips. They taste like Cool Ranch Doritos except they’re HEALTHY and ORGANIC. But seriously, I have never tasted anything more similar to those Doritos. They’re just a little spicy and bursting will flavor all around. Please note that Late July also offers a Jalapeño Lime TORTILLA chip – but these are not tortilla chips. They are corn chips, yes, but not tortilla chips.

Health rating: 7/10
Flavor rating: 10/10
Overall rating: 10/10

Next we’ve got: Late July Korean Barbecue Chips

Are you starting to notice a trend?

Like the jalapeño chips, these ones are Late July as well. They are also extremely delicious, though I would have to rank them just behind the “green chips” (I call them green and purple chips because of the bag color – they’re actually both a nice golden yellow color). These ones are a little less spicy than the lime ones and that may be better for some of you more picky eaters. Still bursing with flavor, though!

Health rating: 7/10
Flavor rating: 9/10
Overall rating: 8/10

Let’s change it up a bit: Simply Cheetos Puffs White Cheddar

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Cheetos have never been the most healthy snack, but the brand recently released a more natural snack line – Simply Cheetos. Be warned, though – this snack is highly addicting! Cheetos did not cheat with the amount of cheese on these puffs. And if you’re looking for a more spicy snack, you can try their White Cheddar Jalapeño Puffs.

Health rating: 5/10
Flavor rating: 10/10
Overall rating: 8/10

And now for a whole meal: Bibigo Mini Wontons Chicken & Cilantro

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These are included in my list of foods I discovered in 2020, and they’re super popular around my house! We actually wind up eating these as a whole meal, but if you cook only a few it could definitely be considered a snack. (They stick to the pan super easily, so while you’re cooking them make sure you have plenty of non-stick spray or oil around.) These can be found at Costco and probably other places, but I get them from Costco. They’re really savory and great to dip in soy sauce!

Health rating: 7/10
Flavor rating: 7/10
Overall rating: 7/10

Lastly: Quaker Rice Crisps!

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Compared to the last few snacks I’ve listed, Quaker Rice Crisps are super healthy. They come in a variety of flavors, but my favorites are cheddar and buttermilk ranch. (I’ve never actually tried the sweet & spicy chily or the sour cream & onion, to be totally honest.) I get these in a box at Costco but I know you can get them from Walmart or basically any other supermarket as well. To me, biting into these can feel like nails on a chalkboard, but in a really yummy way. Which kind of makes it worth it. 😂

Health rating: 9/10
Flavor rating: 9/10
Overall rating: 8/10

I might come out with a part two of this next year, this was a fun post to do!

Have you tried any of these snacks? Do you think you will after reading this post? Let me know in the comments below!

XOXO,

Morgan

Answering YOUR Questions About Alaska! | Response Time!

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions! I’m excited for y’all to get to learn more about my beautiful state. (All pictures are my own.) 🙂

Do you prefer summer or winter? Winter is my favorite, because I love cross-country skiing, ice skating, and snow! But our summers are absolutely gorgeous here as well.

Kachemak Bay, Homer, Alaska


How hot does it get in Alaska? It really depends on the year, but we had a crazy summer this year and our temps were 20-30 degrees above average. I think the hottest it got was 95 degrees fahreneheit.

If you had to move to a different state, which one would you chose? So I have actually lived in southern California and I absolutely love it there. However, as soon as I finish a year of college in Alaska, I’m planning on moving to Minnesota or Colorado.

Ceremonial start of the Iditarod, Anchorage, Alaska, 2017

What are some foods Alaska is famous for? Alaska is famous for everything related to seafood – that’s Alaskan King Crab and salmon, plus moose and caribou meat. We also love Native Alaskan food as well!

Lost Lake Trail, Seward, Alaska


What’s the weather like in the spring and summer? The spring is “Breakup Season,” which all states with snow have. It gets very slushy and rainy. Summers are also rainy and never get super warm. They are absolutely beautiful, however. Contrary to popular opinion, it is NOT always winter here!

Fireweed in Homer, Alaska, early August

What’s the coldest temp you’ve experienced? Around -20 Fahreneheit or so. Pretty chilly!

Victory Bible Camp, Sutton, Alaska in October 2019


What’s it like to have it dark/light most of the time, depending on the season? Very different experiences – when it’s dark in the winter, a lot of Alaskans have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s weird that it gets dark around 3:30 PM. In the summer, I love the light! Being outside in the warm at midnight is so amazing.

Rabbit Lake, Anchorage, Alaska


Biggest fear living in Alaska? I don’t have any really bad fears living here, fortunately. We don’t have poisonous spiders, which are my worst fear. Sometimes, when I read about bear maulings in the news, I get freaked out, but I just have to travel in a group, make a lot of noise, and carry bear spray. Also, I hate sliding around on the ice in the winter, but I just got my snow tires on my car today so hopefully I won’t get into any accidents this winter!

Nikiski, Alaska


Favorite thing about living in Alaska? I have the great outdoors so, so CLOSE to my house! Seriously, just a five minute drive and I can have miles and miles of skiing, biking, and hiking trails right there! Out of all 50 states, we have the lowest population density AND the greatest acreage of wilderness area, which is pretty amazing if you ask me.

Port of Homer, Alaska

Does it snow all the time in Alaska? Haha, no it does not. (It’s snowing right now, though!) It snows from late October at the earliest to mid-March at the latest (where I live, though AK is very spread out) although I remember one year we had a massive snowstorm in April. That’s super rare, though.

Sutton, Alaska

What are some unique cultural aspects of Alaska? Great question! Alaska’s culture is very unique from other states. We have a lot of Native Alaskan culture here, which includes traditional Native clothing and Native subsistence methods (fishing, hunting, etc), just to name a couple. Alaskans are very used to being “different” from the rest of the US, and we pride ourselves on our determination and “traditional Alaskan grit.” We like to be tough and work together to get throught the long, frigid winters. Alaskans are also known for being very friendly and cooperative. We really do love our neighbors. In Alaska, you can find a lot of dog mushing, gold panning, traditional basket weaving and animal bone carving, and Alaskan spirit!

Flightseeing over Anchorage, Alaska

What kinds of clothes do you wear in Alaska? I love this question! I’ll be very honest – Alaskans are known for not being super fashionable people. I mean, here in AK we truly prefer function over fashion. Shipping is crazy expensive, so we like wearing clothes we bought at Costco. A couple very Alaskan kinds of clothes are XTRATUF boots and parkas, but we also love wearing name brands, such as Arc’teryx, Patagonia, North Face, Eddie Bauer, etc. Alaska also has SO MANY unique Alaskan brands, such as AK Starfish Co., Alaska Chicks Co., and Happy AK. What we lack in fashion, we make up in durable, warm, and ridiculously expensive nice winter gear, haha!

Denali (AKA Mt. McKinley), Fairbanks, Alaska

You truly have to come to Alaska to get the full experience. And as always, if you’re planning on coming up, please visit me! I’m pretty far from most of y’all. 😉

If you have more questions, drop them below!

XOXO,

Morgan 🙂

Answering YOUR Questions About Alaska! | It’s Q&A Time Again

Happy Saturday guys!

As you all know, where I live is a big part of my blog. Alaska is unique, it’s unknown to many people, and that’s what sparks curiosity in many people. When I travel out of state – or even out of country – seeing people’s reaction when they find out I’m from Alaska is always one of my favorite things.

So, do you have questions? (They can be literally anything, guys.) Drop them below, and I’ll answer them next weekend!

XOXO,

Morgan

Life: July 2020

Life_ July 2020

Soooooo July happened.

Straight up though, I really do feel like all of my Life posts are blending together. I’m trying my best to make sure I post about something other than my increasingly-boring corona summer life. (IDK guys, is it boring? Should I stop doing these posts?)

– Friends

I spent a lot of time this July going on big mountain bike trips with my dad and brother and also with my guy friend D. We did a 50 kilometer (that’s 32 miles) bike trip in early July:

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in black and white so you can’t see our faces 🙂

And here’s another one where I went with my dad and brother:

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Alaska: the most gorgeous place you could ever live

Hammocking is kinda like a sport here, and we did a lot of that too.

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look at my tie-dye hammock ahhhhh it’s so aesthetically pleasing :))

Oh wait, here’s a picture from yet another bike trip:

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hehehe D is a good photographer

Anyway, I’m going biking with D again tonight.

While we’re on the subject of friends, I had a few rough experiences with a specific friend this summer and I realized it was too unhealthy for us to continue to have a relationship and I’m no longer talking to her. If you’ve had to let go of friends recently to protect your mental health, just remember that you’re not alone! A lot of people have had to do that, unfortunately. The pandemic has caused huge divides that extend beyond our communities and states . . . they reach other states and countries. Sometimes you have to let go of people, but remember to extend grace and ask what YOU could be doing for others.

– Family

For Independence Day I cooked a huge dinner for everybody. We didn’t go to any barbecues but unfortunately a lot of other people did and we wound up with a HUGE Covid spike in Alaska. Our restrictions got a lot worse because people are *cough cough* having a veryyyyyy difficult time following rules. Oh yeah, my brother also had to get tested for Covid because he has some medical issues and was having a hard time breathing one day (and had low oxygen levels as well) so my mom took him to the doctor and he was tested. It took about ten days to get results back and it was negative, fortunately, but we had to quarantine better that week just in case.

– School

Ahaha, we’re back to having school be a part of my Life posts . . . school is starting in just a few weeks. Our district is going back online-only after an original plan of going three days a week. That’s kinda a bummer but I totally respect and understand why they made that decision. This school year is going to be a lot of work and I’m going to have to make a lot of big decisions and really stay on top of stuff. Even though I’m not happy about the prospect of online school, I cheered myself up by getting a cute new binder and decorated it with stickers. I also ordered my planner for the year, which I always do to stay on top of things. 🙂

– Skiing

I’ve sort of neglected ski training a little bit and switched to mountain biking more frequently. Skiing was kind of stressing me out and I lacked a lot of motivation, so my decision to cut back on training was a good thing for me. I still rollerski all the time and do strength training, but biking brings me a lot of joy and I’m really glad I’m making more time for that as well.

– The good stuff

  • I made these really cool Spotify-inspired decorations for my room (tutorial coming soon, guys!)
  • My mom and I FINALLY painted my trim and y’all it literally looks soooooo good, I’m so happy with it
  • I got a drinkbelt for rollerskiing (it’s like a fanny pack for skiing) so now I can stay hydrated on long skis – I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s hard to keep up the pace when you’re dying of thirst
  • Our library opened for curbside pickup so I’ve been doing a lot of really good reading!
  • Our yard has looked so nice and we’ve had a lot of really great sunny days, like this one:

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look at my handsome boy, y’all

– July favorites

What I’ve been listening to:

  • Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” album
  • Gabby’s Barrett’s “Goldmine” album (review here)
  • “Send Me on My Way” by Boy Meets Girl
  • “Budapest” by George Ezra
  • “Buttercup” by Jack Stauber
  • “the 1” by Taylor Swift (did you guys even know she released an album? no one talked about it because corona-related news took over the media)
  • the “Watermelon Sugar” cover by Avenue Beat and Maddie & Tae
  • “Everywhere I’m Goin’ by Avenue Beat and Maddie & Tae

Shows I’ve been binging:

  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine (I finally finished it last night, all seven seasons!)
  • Atypical

Books I’ve been reading:

  • the System Divine series by Joanne Rendell & Jessica Brody (10/10 RECOMMEND Y’ALL)
  • Again Again by E. Lockhart
  • Brave Enough, Olympic Nordic skier Jessie Diggins’ autobiography (lol I read an autobiography guys, it was really good though)
  • the Glittering Court series by Richelle Mead

Haha this post was sort of short but like I said, the days really blend together. Catch you next week!

How was your July?

XOXO,

Morgan

everyone has a story to tell.

Guys, check out Emmie’s new blog! Blog tour post to come tomorrow.

Diary of a Daydreamer

Hi, I’m Emmie, and welcome to Diary of a Daydreamer.

I can’t believe I’m finally writing those words. After months of planning, designing, organizing, emailing, writing, creating, I can finally show this blog to the world.

Like I said before, I’m Emmie – it’s not my real name, but I’ve been blogging for so long that I actually answer to Emmie. 😂 By the way, I’ve had my blog American Girl World since I was nine and Standing Firm In My Faith since I was ten! Blogging has absolutely changed my life. I don’t know where I would be without it. (P.S. You can learn more about me here!)

Ever since I started American Girl World, I wanted a personal blog where I could share my thoughts, dreams, tips, advice, stories, art, creativity, and more. But I was waiting and waiting – for the right time, the right name…

View original post 400 more words

Welcome, friends!

Hey guys! My name is Morgan McCartie, and I’m the author of Swingsets & Snapshots. Many of you may know me already for my American Girl doll blog, American Girls in Alaska, but if not, hi, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. If you know me in real life, hey there, friend. Since you’re one of the few readers who has the privilege of knowing my real name, I’m trusting YOU to keep it a secret. Morgan McCartie is an alias that I use because many of you already know where I live, and that’s enough personal information for right now. 🙂

Swingsets & Snapshots is yet another of the many, many, MANY personal/lifestyle blog out there in cyberspace, and I really appreciate you stopping by. Here, you’ll find posts about reading, writing, traveling, photography, Alaskan lifestyle, animals, family adventures, and so much more. (Oh yeah, did I mention I live in Alaska?)

If this sounds like something you’re into, and I hope it is, hit the “Follow” button on the sidebar to get notifications every time I post. Then, drop a comment down below so we can get to know each other!

This blog is still in the process of being set up, so I hope you’ll be patient with me as I make changes over the next couple of weeks.

I’m really looking forward to the adventures I’ll be documenting on my blog (like my upcoming trip to Europe!), and I hope you’ll have fun reading about them!

Your friend,

Morgan