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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Books I Read in November (& Whether or Not You Should Read Them).

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza 

Plot: "An outrageously funny novel about one woman's attempt--through clay diets, naked yoga, green juice, and cultish workout classes--to win back her career, save her best friend, and lose thirty pounds.

When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin--the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin--her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don't fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues. 

At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman's tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can't help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place? 

A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture." 

Favorite quote: “Have we all become so desperate to share everything that we’ve stopped enjoying our lives?”

My thoughts: I love when a book is lighthearted and fun but still manages to cover some serious topics. This one fit the bill perfectly. I laughed out loud several times but also nodded along thinking ugh yes, that's so true. 
Should you read it? YES.
Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

Plot: "For Mike Muñoz, a young Chicano living in Washington State, life has been a whole lot of waiting for something to happen. Not too many years out of high school and still doing menial work - and just fired from his latest gig as a lawn boy on a landscaping crew - he knows that he's got to be the one to shake things up if he's ever going to change his life. But how?

In this funny, angry, touching, and ultimately deeply inspiring novel, best-selling author Jonathan Evison takes the reader into the heart and mind of a young man on a journey to discover himself, a search to find the secret to achieving the American dream of happiness and prosperity. That's the birthright for all Americans, isn't it? If so, then what is Mike Muñoz's problem? Though he tries time and again to get his foot on the first rung of that ladder to success, he can't seem to get a break. But then things start to change for Mike, and after a raucous, jarring, and challenging trip, he finds he can finally see the future and his place in it. And it's looking really good.
Lawn Boy is an important, entertaining, and completely winning novel about social class distinctions, about overcoming cultural discrimination, and about standing up for oneself."

Favorite quote: “Friends,” Andrew says, the candlelight hitting his braces just so. “It’s true, we all rage. We all hate. We all fail. But . . .” And here, he raises a finger, pausing for dramatic effect, something he learned at his Toastmasters group. “That rage and contempt, that disappointment, that’s what makes us yearn so hard. Those deficits, they make us reach, they stretch us. They make us fight back when it matters.” 

My thoughts: This is a tough one. Sometimes when books cover important topics, I feel weird saying I didn't love them. This is one of those. It covered important topics, pulled at my heart, but as a book, I didn't love it. It jumped around too much for my taste and was reallllly slow in a lot of places. 

Should you read it? Meh. Not sad I read it, but also didn't love it. 
All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson

Plot: "In the hours after a bridge collapse rocks their city, a group of Boston teenagers meet in the waiting room of Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Siblings Jason and Alexa have already experienced enough grief for a lifetime, so in this moment of confusion and despair, Alexa hopes that she can look to her brother for support. But a secret Jason has been keeping from his sister threatens to tear the siblings apart...right when they need each other most. 
Scott is waiting to hear about his girlfriend, Aimee, who was on a bus with her theater group when the bridge went down. Their relationship has been rocky, but Scott knows that if he can just see Aimee one more time, if she can just make it through this ordeal and he can tell her he loves her, everything will be all right. 
And then there's Skyler, whose sister Kate - the sister who is more like a mother, the sister who is basically Skyler's everything - was crossing the bridge when it collapsed. As the minutes tick by without a word from the hospital staff, Skyler is left to wonder how she can possibly move through life without the one person who makes her feel strong when she's at her weakest. 
In his riveting, achingly beautiful debut, Richard Lawson guides listeners through an emotional and life-changing night as these teens are forced to face the reality of their pasts...and the prospect of very different futures."

My thoughts: It was a solid, angsty YA book (which I just crave every now and then, ya know?). A beautiful story with entirely too many characters and too much backstory on all eighty three of those main characters. I think it'd be a great movie, but trying to keep up with everything through the book was too distracting.

Should you read it? I'd pass. 

What did you read in November?!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

My Favorite Things I Discovered in November.

My favorite coffee maker. || This isn't a new discovery, but the price is. This coffee pot has been used daily (sometimes several times a day) for SEVEN YEARS. It was time to get a new one, and I was so happy to see that 1) They still make it! And 2) It's dropped from the $230 price tag it was seven years ago to under $100. If you're in the market for a new coffee maker, I love this one.

This beanie with a SPACE FOR YOUR BUN. WHAT. || I loooove beanie season. I also have a strong love affair with messy buns. This is the best of both worlds and it's so. stinking. cute. Also, I've worn it with my hair down, and the hole in the top of it isn't noticeable at all. 

This brie recipe. || This was technically an October discovery, but it's worth putting here. My girl Kait told me about this recipe (I trust everything she says, but especially when it comes to food). I made it for Halloween and it was such a hit that my best friends then all made it for their Thanksgivings and loved it! If you want something that's easy but also impressive for a holiday party, this is a winner.

Spanx leggings. || After wanting to try these forever and then removing them from my cart because of the price, I finally caved and had a "treat yo'self" moment and OH MY GOODNESS, they're worth every penny. If you wear leggings at all, you need these. They look fancy (I would totally wear them to work), they feel like butter, and they're fitted and suck everything in/smooth everything over without feeling uncomfortably tight. 10/10 would recommend. 

What new things did you discover this month?!
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Monday, November 26, 2018

What November is Teaching Me.

Good morning! How was Thanksgiving? Black Friday? The weekend? I hope you got to spend it doing exactly whatever the heck you wanted to do. I got to spend it with my family and it was so much fun. 

This month is drawing to a close (howwwww?) so as always, I'm looking at what I learned this month. Just gonna level with you here - this month was a doozy. So much so that I kinda wanted to skip the whole "what I learned this month" post for November, not because I didn't want to write it, but because I didn't necessarily want to look back on the month yet. But hey, that's part of being alive, right? Learning and growing and stretching and becoming better for it. 

SO. November. Here are the cliff notes: 

There are times to push through and there are times to pull back and rest. || I am of the *hustle* mentality. Work hard, get it done, stay up late and get up early if you have to, hard work pays off, yada yada. HOWEVER. While there are times when that is admirable and often necessary, there are definitely times to pull back and rest. 

There were quite a few days this month where I did the bare minimum. Dishes stayed in the sink, laundry stayed in the hamper, emails went unanswered, and you know what? Everyone survived. 

Sometimes the thing you need to do to heal and refresh and take care of yourself is nothing.  

That good can come out of just about anything. || I am very sad about a lot of November's events. I am very amazed at the good things I've seen come out of the bad things. Those two feelings can exist at the same time. 

That any day you are lucky enough to wake up is a perfect day for a fresh start. || Fall off the healthy eating wagon and feeling like crap? Guess what! You can start over today. Feel like a loser because you basically just set every goal you've had for yourself on fire and walked away? Good news - you can start working on them today. Been a giant jerk and need to reevaluate the way you treat people? Awesome, you can do that today! 

You don't need a new month or a new year or a Facebook group or anything to start. If you woke up on a day, it's a good day for a fresh start. 

That you do not have to explain your choices to anyone. || If you have chosen something that is best for you, congratulations and I'm proud of you. And I just want to remind you that you are not obligated to explain those choices to a single soul. Having a rough day and need to let your kid watch TV the whole dang day long? Cool! You don't need to justify that. Spent all your spending money on takeout this month because you don't wanna cook? You do you, my friend. Need to delete social media for a minute? Want to post seventeen pictures a day? Want to skip buying Christmas presents this year? Want to celebrate to the fullest and spend all your money on gifts? 

Whatever you want do or need to do, DO it. And don't worry about explaining it to anyone else. 

What is November teaching you?
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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

Is anyone else just mildly confused about how tomorrow is already Thanksgiving? And that we're just weeks away from 2019? Because same. 

I've gotta say, I do love when Thanksgiving is on the earlier side, because that means more time for the Christmas season. I'm one of those who doesn't decorate or listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, so I love when there's an extra week of that. I'm so looking forward to Thanksgiving celebrations, but I'm also super looking forward to Christmas music and trees and everything that comes with it! 

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing tomorrow, I hope you have the best Thanksgiving. Eat whatever you want (count ya blessings, not ya calories). If you go Black Friday shopping, I hope you have the most fun and find the best deals. I'm hoping to get a new Christmas tree this year, but we'll see what happens! (PS: My best Black Friday Advice: Get a peppermint mocha, blare the Christmas music, and don't have your heart set on anything...view it like a treasure hunt. Whatever you find is awesome, but you're not gonna let your night get ruined because something you wanted is sold out.)

If you're headed out on the road, be safe! Hug your loved ones, or call them if you won't be with them. Tell your friends you love them and you're thankful for them. 'Tis the season for all that mushy stuff, ya know? 

Love you guys, truly. Have the best weekend ever. xo 
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Monday, November 19, 2018

Hello, hello.

Good morning! Just gonna jump right in here: Since my last post, some ish has hit the fan. That day and the last week have consisted of some incredibly hard days. It's been a rough week. 

This is the longest I've gone without blogging in quite a bit, and while it wasn't on purpose, I just couldn't bring myself to hop back on here and post a Christmas list or Amazon haul or a weekend update when it felt like the world was on fire around me, you know? I couldn't bring myself to write a pep talk about how gratitude can change our perspective when I just felt like crying. It felt inauthentic. 

I always strive to be authentic around here, and while I'm not going to air all sorts of details that have no business floating around the internet, I want to be real and say hey, I've had a really bad week. Things have sucked. I've been really tired and really sad and really angry and all sorts of emotions over the last week and a half. 

So on the off chance that you've had a hard week, or you've been walking through some tough stuff, you're not alone. That feels good to know sometimes. 

The last twelve days have taught me an immense amount about two big things, and I just wanted to share those. 

First, I've learned this: It does not matter how happy you are striving to be, or how much you practice gratitude, or how hard you are working at seeing the good in everything...sometimes you are going to be sad. And that is okay. 

I talk so much about perspective and gratitude and how life is short so we should be happy. And while I truly believe all of that, there are also going to be times where life happens without your consent, where things get hard no matter how thankful you are, where no matter how much happiness you've been working towards, you're just gonna be sad. And that. is. okay. 

It's okay to be sad. It's okay to just let yourself feel a little bit broken and hurt and overwhelmed. You can't stay there forever, of course, but it's okay to let yourself feel what you're feeling for a little while. You don't have to hop right up and make the best of it every single day. 

This has also taught me an immense amount about friendships and the people you let in your life. 
A friend texted me this last week: "I'm not with you, I'm in front of you. I'm gonna catch as much of this for you as I can. I'm going to take whatever hits I can to make sure they don't get to you."

I'm going to make a bold statement, and maybe it's just because of the emotion of the last few days, but I stand by it: If your friends would not immediately jump to be on your side during a crisis, you do not need to be sharing your life with them. 

There's a difference between casual friendship and sharing your life with someone. If you wanna be casual friends with someone who keeps you at an arm's length and avoids your texts for a few days because it's less awkward for them, well, you do you. But the ones who answer their phone when you forget the time difference and accidentally call them at 3:00AM, the ones who are texting you hourly checking in even though you're not texting back, the ones who send you expensive flowers even though they can't afford them...those are the ones who deserve to be sharing your life. 

Choose well. I certainly have. 

Happy Monday. Thanks for caring enough to read my words and notice when they're missing. That means a lot a lot. Now, let's all please have such a good week, okay? Okay.

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Big Little Things.

It's no secret that I talk about gratitude a lot. I truly believe a little bit thankfulness can completely change your attitude. 

This year, I've really been focusing on being thankful for the little things. And not just being thankful for them, but really calling them out and talking about them. Reason being, we complain about the little things. And that's okay! But my thought is if you're gonna complain about the bad little things, you better be ready to give the good little things just as much brain space and airtime. 

If you're gonna complain about a few red lights in a row, you best be ready to talk about how good your luck is when you get a few green ones in a row. If you're gonna say, UGH ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME about how long your order is taking in the drive-thru, you better be ranting and raving about how dang good those fries tasted. You see what I'm saying? 

Anyway, point of the story is this year, I've been trying to be thankful for the little things, to notice them, to talk about them out loud. And by doing that, they really do become big things. This week, I'm thankful for: 

Sunrises and sunsets. || I read a quote one time that said something like, "If the stars only came out once every hundred years, imagine how people would stop and marvel." And that's exactly how I feel about sunrises and sunsets. They happen every single day, so it can be easy to take for granted the fact that there is literally an explosion of beauty happening in the sky. It can feel like such a little, normal thing. But when you stop and look...goodness GRACIOUS, there's literally an explosion of beauty happening in the sky! 

Sunrises and sunsets always make me pause and just breathe, they make everything else seem small, and they make me happy to be alive. They remind me that I got to live another day, and that's worth being thankful for. 

Coffee brewing in the morning (and also the afternoon, because, Daylight Savings). || Forever and ever gonna be thankful for coffee, but somehow I'm just more thankful for it in the fall. Waking up to the sound of it brewing in the morning, making my house smell like coffee just makes me happy. 

Fridays. || Fridays have always been my day off, and I looooove them. They've always been my favorite day. When I was 21 it was the day spent by the pool and spending way too long getting ready and texting everyone to decide where we were going out that night. Now, it's like "YES a day to run errands and read books LET'S GOOOO." Both have been fun, but I'll take the errands and lazy days now, please thank you. 

Pajamas. || For the majority of my life, I've slept in big t-shirts and gym shorts. No more, my friends. Lately, I have become a pajama person. And all I have to say about it is, get yo'self to TJ Maxx, buy some cheap pjs, and let the coziness commence. Having a bad day? Put pajamas on when you get home. Cook dinner in your pjs. It's a game changer. 

Living somewhere I can take Jack for a walk every day. || I don't ever want to take for granted that we live in a beautiful and safe neighborhood. Almost every single day, we go for a walk and it's the best for both of us. Nothing clears my head like fresh air. Getting outside never fails to make even the biggest problems seem a lot smaller. 

What are you thankful for this week? 
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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Letters to Jack: Your Third Fall.

Life with you is so slow and so fast. How are you almost three, how has that time passed so quickly? But how have you only been around for such a short time? How has time gone so slow that I feel like I've had you for always? How is it already your third fall? How is it only your third fall? 

This fall has been so full. First of all, you say all of the things! You learned what a pumpkin was, and after a trip to the pumpkin patch where you picked out "Jack's pumpkin," you deem every pumpkin you see "Jack's pumpkin." You painted a pumpkin this year and were a huge fan of that. 

It's crazy to look back and see how far you've come since last fall. How much you've changed, how many new things you can say and do. It's so much fun. 
You said a big  H E C K  N O  to every Halloween costume we tried this year, but that's okay. You had fun anyway. I taught you the words "trick-or-treat" by standing in the kitchen and dropping candy in your bucket every time you said it. You only said it a few times while actually trick-or-treating, but every single day since you've brought me candy and said, "Jack's trick-or-treat, pleaseeeeee!" It is precious and it melts me and you've eaten entirely too much chocolate. I guess I kind of set myself up for that one.

I hope that the love of fall I'm trying to teach you is something you keep your whole life. I hope when the weather starts cooling down and the air turns chilly in the mornings, it makes you happy to be alive, always. I hope you always laugh your way through pumpkin patches and eat way too much Halloween candy. I hope the words "Trick-or-treat!" always bring a smile to your face. 

I hope that when you look back at pictures of this fall, even if you might not remember it, that you feel overwhelming love. Because you are so overwhelmingly loved. 

It's the most wonderful season, and you make it so much more so. 

I love you. 


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Monday, November 5, 2018

November Coffee Date.

I always write, "If we were having coffee right now..." But, I am having coffee right now. And, I'm assuming that if you're sitting at your computer reading this, there's a 50/50 chance you are also having coffee right now. So basically, we really are having coffee together. Isn't the internet just so weird and also wonderful?

So, while we're having coffee, I'll tell you...

...The time change never fails to COMPLETELY  throw me off. Like, how is it possible that one tiny hour can change so much?! Yesterday it felt like it was time to go to bed by 4:30. And I did go to bed at 8:30, which felt like the middle of the night. I'll be confused about what time it is for a solid two weeks. Anybody else?

...That after declaring victory over that dang stomach flu, I got food poisoning this weekend. AKA, I cannot catch a break. I have thrown up more in the last month than any normal person should. I've decided that because of this, I will not be participating in any sickness in 2019. Thank you for understanding. 

...I'd update you on Poshmark. I'm still LOVING it. It's so much fun going hunting for good deals and trying to sell those. I've also started turning to Poshmark when I need to buy something, and I've got the best stuff off of there. For example, I love Lulu's, but I love Lulu's even more when I can get it well over half-off just because someone else wore it a few times before me, ya feel?

...That I made this bourbon walnut crusted brie on Halloween and it was DELICIOUS. My friend Kait sent me the recipe and I knew I had to make it. I took it to my friend's Halloween party and it was a hit. If you like brie, you neeeeeed to make it. I'm for real already looking for an excuse to make it again. 

...That I am BEYOND excited at the news that Looking For Alaska is going to be made into a mini-series. John Green is my favorite, his books are incredible, and I cannot wait to see this one come to life on Hulu. 

Your turn! What's going on with you? 

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Spending November: A To-Do List For Adventuring Through The Month.

HAPPY NOVEMBER YOU BEAUTIFUL HUMANS! Howwwww is it November, I don't know. But here we are!  

I love November. And whether you're team ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS AT MIDNIGHT or team MIDNIGHT ON THANKSGIVING AS THE GOOD LORD INTENDED, I think we can all agree November has a special kind of magic. 

Of course, I've got some suggestions for how you should spend your magical November. 

1. Try your hand at NaNoWriMo. If you're a writer of any kind, google this! 

2. Write thankful cards. Everyone loves getting mail. Get into the spirit of the season and send some "I'm thankful for you" notes. It'll make someone's day. 

3. Drink hot apple cider. 'Tis the season! 

4. Get your pumpkin fix. Christmas is coming with its peppermint. Eat allll the pumpkin things while you can!

5. Make those Christmas lists. It's early but do you want to be stressed out over Christmas shopping? No, you do not.

6. VOTE. For the love of goodness. 

7. Have a bonfire. There's seriously something magical about fires in November. Cozy up and make some s'mores! 

8. Get a pumpkin peanut brittle candle from Bath & Body Works. It's the best smelling candle I've had this season! 

9. Make an Autumn in New York radio station. It's magical. Perfect working or cleaning with the windows open music. Also perfect background music for a dinner party. 

10. Invite someone over for dinner. If you are like me, maybe you get a little anxious about having new people over for dinner. Or the thought of cleaning and cooking and entertaining someone exhausts you. I get it. But, last night, I had dinner over at one of my best friends' houses where she made us pumpkin chili for the 3rd Halloween in a row. This Halloween, Jack and her little babe played while we ate. Do you know how I met her? Had her over for dinner when she moved in the neighborhood. I was anxious about it, I was not looking forward to it, but I truly cannot imagine life without her. So hey - have someone over for dinner. 

11. Make pumpkin chili. Speaking of the above, I know it sounds like a weird combo, but it's freaking delicious. 

12. Take some time to reflect on the year. It's almost over! What have you learned? What do you want to do different your next go around? What are you thankful for?

13. Start drinking sleepytime tea to wind down for the night. There's something so cozy about curling up with a warm mug, and it's GOOD to force your brain to slow down before going to bed. 

14. Have a Thanksgiving test-run. Making something new for Thanksgiving this year? Practice it for dinner one night. 1) Less chance of ruining it on actual Thanksgiving and 2) You get to eat a delicious appetizer or meal or dessert TWICE. Winning. 

15. Go find some pretty fall foliage. Take all the pictures for me! 

16. Donate to a food drive or a shelter that offers Thanksgiving food to families in need. Whether you can spare some money or just some extra food, share the wealth this year. You won't miss it, and it will mean the world to someone. 
17. Do something outside your comfort zone. Maybe this is trying a new food or going to a movie alone or planning some big adventure. Whatever it is, it's good to leave your comfort zone every now and then. 

18. Have Friendsgiving. This can be as extravagant as an actual Thanksgiving feast or as casual as ordering takeout and eating it in your pajamas with your best friend. Just celebrate those friendships you have to be thankful for!
19. Make a Black Friday list. 

20. Surprise someone. With flowers, with their favorite candy, with a dinner out. Surprises are fun.
21. Have a good, old-fashioned game night. These are always so much fun! 

22. Celebrate Thanksgiving! Here's a gentle reminder that wherever you're celebrating, and whoever you're celebrating with, it's perfect. And here's a less-gentle reminder to not get so caught up in the pinterest-perfect Thanksgiving or wishing you had thanksgiving somewhere else that you miss out on the beautiful day that's in front of you. 

23. Go Black Friday shopping! Whether you're hardcore and map out your whole night, or your like me and just go to Target for fun, HAVE A BLAST! Listen to Christmas music, drink peppermint mochas, enjoy! 

24. Make a note - mental or physical or whatever you have to do - to savor the season. Less stressing, more savoring. 

25. Make the perfect Christmas music playlist. 'TIS THE SEASON LET'S GOOOOO.

26. Take more walks. Breathe in some of that magical air!   
27. Make sure you're taking care of yourself. Whatever that looks like. Yoga or meal prep or naps or saying no. It's a busy season, but you need to be at the top of whatever to-do list you've got. 

How will you be spending your November?

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