Author: Kimberlee Koehn

Hello, my name is Kimberlee. Yes, there are two E’s, let’s not get into it. I love traveling, writing, hiking and sweet potatoes. We can go ahead and be friends now.

2019 Goals Final Wrap Up

I mentioned this in my goals for 2020 post, but I was a little self-conscious/borderline ashamed at how unfinished my 2019 goals went last year. The first year I made a list of goals, in 2017, I went ALL OUT to finish by the time that clock struck midnight, and I felt bad for not having that kind of drive this past year. But then I remembered how busy the year was, and how it was good but utterly exhausting and I cut myself a little bit of a break.

I think the most important thing 2019 taught me is the value of figuring out the difference between what you want to do and what you think people want you to do. I like setting goals, but I also feel that I have previously chosen some solely to impress and/or (hopefully) inspire other people, even if it was something I didn’t necessarily want to do. And while I think there can be discovery in that, and even fun, for 2020 it is all about marking what is most important, what I feel will move me forward, and what will make me feel whole rather than just a box checker.

So for anyone who has set or is planning to set goals for 2020, let me encourage you to choose goals that will cause to reach, sometimes far, towards somewhere/something you haven’t been before–not somewhere you think people want you to go, but somewhere YOU want to go. This is your year, it is your decade, and you have a say in it.

With that being said, here is a quick look at how my goals for 2019 panned out:

 

1) Journal daily

COMPLETED

This was so surprisingly easy to work into my daily routine that I wondered what on earth I was doing before I started. I have already started writing in a new journal for 2020 and foresee myself continuing this habit for a long time.

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2) Take a cooking class

I never got around to doing this in 2019, but I actually received an apron and a date to take a cooking class with my best friend for Christmas, so it looks like I’ll complete this one in 2020!

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3) Cook my way through a cookbook

I kept up with this one very well for the first half of the year, but not so much the second half. The good news is that I got out of it exactly what I was hoping to: I learned new recipes, which in turn gave me a wider knowledge of the kind of recipes that are out there, as well as an understanding of what ingredients work well together when I have a hodgepodge of leftovers in the refrigerator.

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4) Try the best drink from every state

This was just a major fail. I tried all of ONE drink, mostly because I’m a creature of habit and stick to what I know, but also because I was too nervous to ask bartenders to make the drinks when I went out and too lazy to make the drinks when I stayed in so…this might be more of an ongoing goal, TBD.

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5) Watch a sunset & a sunrise at the beach

I wasn’t able to pull off a sunrise, but the sunset I saw was part of such a good day. It was a warm Saturday and my sister and I made a spontaneous trip to the beach, and we watched the sunset as we ate tacos and drank beer at a restaurant just off the coast. (This was also the day that spawned this post about me not being able to pee in the ocean)

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

COMPLETED

I was probably more diligent with this goal than I was with any other, and I’m proud of that. I love volunteering, I love feeling needed and knowing that something I’ve done has made a difference, and I can’t wait to continue to pursue opportunities where I can lend a hand in 2020.

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7) See three WRLA’s

I was only able to see two this year, but they were just as weird and wonderful as the rest. While visiting family in Arkansas we were able to see the World’s Largest Spinach Can (which unfortunately has been repainted and is just a giant green cylinder now) and the World’s Largest Razorback, which was as bizarrely fantastic as you might expect.

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8) Pay off 1 of my 2 remaining student loans

COMPLETED

There’s not much to say except HELL YEAH.

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9) Amazon wish list splurge

COMPLETED

Indeed there was a splurge! I wanted to treat myself after paying off my second to last loan and I did. It wasn’t all on Amazon and it wasn’t all at once, but these are some of my favorite things I bought: an Instant Pot, Birkenstocks, these shorts from American Eagle, and these boots from Old Navy.

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10) Go to a winery

COMPLETED

Midway through the year I changed this goal from “stomp grapes and make wine.” After putting it on my list of goals for the year, I realized that I didn’t have the desire or the drive to make it happen. While I still think it’s a fun idea and should I ever find the opportunity to do it I will, but I liked the goal change and had a great day of wine tasting with some friends.

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11) Make my family tree

There has been minimal progress on this one, but not zero progress. It is something I want to take my time on and so I’m doing just that.

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12) Hike the Narrows

Almost every year I’ve made a list of goals I’ve had one on the list that is a trip I want to take. One year I had Project Lightbulb (which is the nickname I gave a family trip to Iceland to see the Northern Lights), another I had the glass beach and then this one. I don’t think putting them on the list is a mistake, however, it has proven difficult to make a specific trip happen. In June of this year, my family had the wonderful opportunity to go to Europe, and so I deemed the “trip” box checked and gave myself a pass on this one.

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13) Do (at least) one unassisted pull up

I’ll admit, I didn’t exactly make this a priority, thus, as of now I still cannot do an unassisted pull up. However, after finishing the marathon, I moved away from cardio and got much more into strength training, and have felt myself get progressively stronger, which has been awesome. I also added this goal to my 2020 goals, so hopefully I can see even more progress throughout this year.

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14) Get 100 rejections

I probably finished the year with around 25 or so rejections, and it’s a very strange feeling to be disappointed I wasn’t rejected more. But I understand what I was going for with this goal and will continue to pursue rejection in the hopes that it eventually leads to success.

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15) Learn Spanish

This was another mid year goal swap that I kind of started pursuing out of nowhere. I had heard about the Duolingo app and was intrigued by it being easy and free, and so I gave it a go and have really loved it! I by no means consider myself someone who is even close to fluent in Spanish yet, but I am improving every day!

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16) Finish my museum goal

This one seemed simple enough at the beginning of the year, but then the year’s calendar laughed in my face. While yes, there were days that I could have gone, I just, well, didn’t. Oops.

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17) Run the LA marathon

COMPLETED

Can you even BELIEVE that of all the goals and of all the fails, passes and mishaps, I can actually put a check next to this guy?! I am forever floored.

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And there it is, the wonderfully weird, crazy, complicated wonder that was my 2019 goal list. I am very thankful for all it taught me and very excited for where my 2020 goals are taking me next.

I sincerely hope you find the courage and passion to pursue whatever it is that might be stirring in your heart.

It is never too late to try something new! ❤

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You can read about the goals I set for 2020 here.

31 Good Things that Happened in December

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, the final edition of 2019!

2019 was a year full of good things, even though sometimes the good seemed hard to find under the bad. I can only hope that 2020 is filled with just as much, if not more good, and that this upcoming decade magnifies that good to the highest degree.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and I wish you a very Happy New Year!

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1) After being unable to make her friends wedding because of a final exam, this woman showed up to her test in her bridesmaid dress

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2) This boy brought his entire Kindergarten class to see him get adopted

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3) This woman gave paintings to people who donated $25 or more to charity

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4) This girl collected books and donated them to jail inmates

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5) This veteran was surprised with a service dog

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6) This police officer donated part of her liver to a complete stranger, and then helped pay for the surgery.

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7) This giant 3D printer printed houses for the world’s first 3D-printed neighborhood.

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8) Joe Burrow’s Heisman acceptance speech sparked over $370,000 in donations for families below the poverty line in his hometown

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9) Newton High School won a state championship on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.

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10) This man got a Christmas surprise

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11) Fallon Sherlock became the first female darts player to beat a man at the PDC World Championship

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12) This boy sat and talked to a police officer he saw eating alone.

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13) To honor her years of constant giving, Bill Gates surprised this woman with a very special gift.

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14) This dog smiled for a picture

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15) At ages 88 and 102, these men just released their first album

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16) Mental Floss made this video full of fun facts:

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17) And The Ringer made a list of all the best sports moments in 2019

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18) A team of volunteers got this dog back home

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19) Scientists used speakers to make a dying coral reef sound healthy in order to attract fish and repopulate it.

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20) This 4 year old girl saved her mom’s life

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21) This plumber offered free work to elderly and disabled people

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22) This man paid off the power bills of 36 families who were in danger of losing their power during the holiday season

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23) This Christmas light display inspired a young, nonverbal, autistic girl to speak for the first time

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24) This man recycled old Christmas trees into canes for veterans

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25) This grandmother received an incredible gift

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26) This grandfather bought a bus so he can take all of his grandkids to school

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27) This man gave up his seat

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28) This 5 year old paid off her fellow classmates’ lunch debt by selling cookies and hot cocoa

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29) This man showed how he made the most of his decade

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30) This boy got a surprise visit from his best friend

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31) And finally We Rate Dogs gave us the best 2019 recap we could ever ask for

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Wanna know the best part? There is SO much I didn’t include.

I can’t wait to see what January (and 2020!) brings!

You can view the last edition of this series here.

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My Favorite Moments of 2019 (List-cember #9)

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it approximately 600,000 times: this year was busy!

But within the confines of our crazy calendar, there were so many good moments. And I don’t just mean big, fancy moments. Some of my favorite parts of this year were the small but meaningful bursts of joy. The cozy, perfect moments that I’ll undoubtedly be thinking about when that ball drops tomorrow at midnight.

For me, these were those moments:

1) Meeting Lyra

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I have long been afraid of holding babies. They are just so fragile and so perfect and so little, and the thought of holding something so important in my hands (especially when it is not even my something) has always terrified me. But in January of this year, one of my lifelong friends had a baby, and she encouraged me to overcome that fear when met her little one for the first time in the hospital. That moment inspired me to write this blog post and I will remember it forever.

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2) A Ball at Spring Training

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My family went to Spring Training in March for the first time this year (which you can read about here.) and easily one of my favorite parts of the trip and of the year was when my friend Mel, after trying for innings on end, got a baseball from one of the players. Not only was it a joyous celebration of perseverance, but the resulting footage includes a look of fuming jealousy from her neighboring fan, which makes for an all around perfect video.

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3) Finishing the Marathon

There are many moments of the marathon that I would deem “defining,” but perhaps my favorite was crossing that finish line and seeing my 6 foot 2 brother standing among the crowd. I was so proud and relieved to be finished, and seeing a familiar face to welcome me to the otherside of that journey was truly great.

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4) Mom Scores a Goal

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Some of the best memories I have of my family are the slow, ordinary days where we are just spending time together, which is why this moment from May stands out. My mom, sister and I had gone to visit my cousin Brittney and her family in Arkansas, and we spent one afternoon sitting outside, drawing in sidewalk chalk, and playing soccer. At one point we set up a challenge between my mom and my little cousin Landon. While Landon won in the end, the crowd (of me, Natalee, Brittney, and baby Nora) went wild for this goal scored by my mom.

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5) A Circular Celebration

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In June my family got the opportunity to go to Europe, and among the many jaw dropping, awe inspiring moments of that trip, was this one. My cousin Taryn (which, if you didn’t read the blog I wrote about our trip, is the whole reason we went) finished writing a long tedious essay that would complete her study abroad program, and we did what any family would do when they’re in England and about to head to dinner but need to take a moment or two to celebrate this accomplishment: we formed a circle around her and and jumped up and down, chanting, “We are proud of you, say we are proud of you! Hey! Hey! Hey!”

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6) That Eiffel Tower Sparkle

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Upon arriving in Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, my most prominent and low key embarrassing thought was, “oh my gosh, the Eiffel Tower is actually real.” It’s not that I thought we’d been lied to all this time, but the realization that I was really, truly seeing it in person was so unbelievable that I was having trouble accepting it all as reality. This shock and awe only multiplied as we sat on the grass in front of the tower and watched as the sun set, the tower glowed gold, and then started to sparkle.

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7) Axe throwing in Vegas

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For my brother’s 21st birthday, a group of us went to Vegas with a list of things we were looking to accomplish in order to properly celebrate his milestone. Among the items on that list was throwing axes. After almost an hour of learning and practicing, we decided  to document our newfound skills, and showcase our ability to hit the target. What makes this moment one of my favorites, is that the video recording is almost four minutes long, (three of which we fail miserably) but when we finally do all hit the target at once, we all threw our arms up and yelled, “first try!”

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8) You’ve Got Ice Cream

About two years ago, on a visit to Arkansas with my mom and sister, I discovered the magic of Blue Bell ice cream. Upon arriving home however, I was very disappointed to discover that it is not sold in California. But for my 29th birthday, I was floored to find a box from Blue Bell waiting for me. My parents had all of my favorite flavors (including the holy grail, Salted Caramel Cookie) shipped to me and it. was. EPIC.

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9) Pop the champagne

Last year my cousin Cory married my now cousin Amanda, and this year they were able to purchase their first house! I was so happy and honored to be there when they popped champagne in their living room, that at the time had little more than a table and some folding chairs, but is now a beautiful, cozy home.

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10) The Dodgers Take Game 3

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For a Dodger fan, the 2019 playoffs were rough to say the least. But before we had our hearts broken, we had our hopes up, and on the night of Game 3, me, my sister, my cousin Taryn, and my best friend Allison were walking into a concert at the Honda Center as the Dodgers entered the 7th inning. As we made our way to our seats, I was streaming the game through the TBS app on my phone, which I’d downloaded while waiting in line, and we asked multiple employees if they could turn on the game, all of whom turned us down. So as we went to the 8th inning and then the 9th, the four of us stood out in the hallway, crowded around my phone to watch us close out a victory.

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11) The Frozen North Lake

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In November, my family made one of our annual trips to Bishop to squeeze in a weekend of fishing before the season closed. On the Saturday of the weekend we were there, we parked our car and hiked in to one of our favorite fishing spots, only to find the lake frozen solid. While this obviously prevented us from fishing, it did little to deter our fun. We spent a solid half hour throwing loose pieces of ice onto the lake and watching them shatter and glide across its surface.

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12) Sending “The Hulk”

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On the same trip to Bishop, my brother, who is an avid rock climber, had his sights on a boulder at Happy Boulders known as “The Hulk.” After spending a few hours attempting the climb on Friday, he was determined to return, so on Sunday afternoon, me, him and my sister headed back to Happy Boulders on our way home, where we watched him try time and time again until he finally reached the top!

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13) Eli’s Last Game

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To cap off the year, at the beginning of this month my family took a whirlwind trip to New York to see our favorite football team (the New York Giants) play for the very first time at their home stadium. We went the week they played the Dolphins, which wound up being one of only 4 games we won this season, and on top of that, it was our longtime quarterback, Eli Manning’s, probable last game with the team. We couldn’t have picked a better game!

Note: Please leave all Giants hate at the door, thank you.

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14) Coming June 2020

At our annual family Cookie Baking day, my cousins Spenser and Ashlynn gave my grandpa (and all of us, really) a very special gift: the news that we have a new member coming in June 2020! On Christmas Day we found out that the little one is a boy, and while we already know his name, I’ve taken to calling him Meatball for now.

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15) Meeting Luca

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Since I started this list with a baby, it seems only logical for me to end this list with a baby! And in true bookend fashion, I got to meet one of my best friends’ new baby, Luca, just this past week, and even though he is handsome and perfect and practically impossible not to want to hold, it was still a big deal for me to do so without fear. And as I looked down at him and his big curious eyes, I couldn’t help but feel every good moment of the year capsize in this one moment. It was a busy year, but it was a good one. I got to do so many great things and love and be loved on by so many great people. I’m very thankful for the life I live and I feel so honored for the opportunity to live it.

Here’s to 2020, I hope it’s full of wonderful moments, big, small and everything in between. Happy New Year!

17 Goals for 2020 (List-cember #8)

It’s that time of year again, y’all.

I’m going to be honest, this list was not easy to make this year.

My 2019 was absolutely CRAZY in terms of busyness, so a lot of my goals were left unattended and it made me very discouraged. For a hot second I thought about not setting any goals at all, but then I was tempted by the mistress of a new decade and here we are.

In the past, I’ve picked goals based on their grandeur and their promise of a big, impressive challenge, however, I’ve worked hard on learning to pick things that I like, that I want to do, and that can challenge me in ways I want to be challenged.

So, with that being said, I am very excited to share my goals for the new year, the new decade! May we all make 2020 our bitch.

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1) Kick a field goal

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I have exactly zero talent in anything relating to football (except watching it) but I’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to kick a field goal. So, this year, I plan on 1) buying a football, and 2) trying my hand foot at field goals.

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2) Learn Spanish

I replaced one of my original goals for 2019 mid year with “learn Spanish,” and since I am in no way a linguistic prodigy, I am not yet fluent in the language, thus I’m keeping it on here. And since there’s no way to really gage how far along in a language you are, I’m going to base my progress on the app I’ve been using to learn it. Duolingo divides languages into sections and as of now I’m at the end of Section 1, so my goal by the end of 2020 is to finish Section 3. Deséame suerte!

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3) Do a pull up

This is another repeat from last year because damn it, I’ve made progress but not enough. Upper body strength has just never been my strong suit, but I’m working on it!

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4) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

This is a regular on my list of goals and it never fails to be one of my favorites.

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5) Write positive Yelp reviews

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I didn’t put a concrete number on this one like I usually do, but that’s only because it’s hard to know how many new places you’ll visit in a year, you know? But I wanted to put in on this list because I feel like there aren’t enough good reviews on the internet. People are quick to log on and write horrible, scathing reviews, but often forget to share their positive experiences. So I’m hoping to find good things and write good reviews about those good things, so that other people can find those good things.

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6) Donate plasma

A couple years ago I made it a goal of mine to donate blood, and while it took me two tries to do it, I was so glad I did! This year, I’m hoping to donate plasma, which can be in just as high of demand as blood. Check out where you can donate plasma here.

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7) 30 Cleaning Challenge

I have been in desperate need of a deep clean in my life, and I think this challenge is just the place to start. I don’t plan on doing the challenge in order or all at once, I’m just using it as a checklist/baseline for the massive clean I’m going to do around my house. Call me a nerd, but I am PUMPED.

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You can download the PDF here.

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8) Savings Challenge

This one makes me a little less pumped, only because it’s been pretty fun spending money I don’t have for the last couple years. But I would really love to get back into the habit of saving, and build up an account that I can use for splurging, rather than just closing my eyes, hitting purchase and crossing my fingers that the stars align and all my bills get paid. I’ve seen a bunch of different challenges out there, and while I don’t think I’m going to stick to any by the letter, I’m going to use this one as a baseline.

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9) Purchase one charity t-shirt per month

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A few years ago I wrote a blog post all about t-shirts you can buy that will benefit great charities. I love a t-shirt with a cause, and so I decided a cool way to donate money to charity each month would be to buy a t-shirt from a specific charity. The way I see it, you donate money to a charity, you get a great t-shirt, which then gives visibility to that charity! It’s a win win win. I can’t wait! (Find this t-shirt here)

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10) Pay it forward

Have you ever had someone in front of you pay for your food/coffee/etc? I have had someone do it for me once, but I have never done it myself. So this year I’m hoping to give it a try. Personally I don’t think I’d be brave enough to do it in front of anyone, but I’d love to hop in a drive thru, pay for the person behind me, and then sneak away so the receiving party could be surprised.

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11) Take a self defense class

I think this is important for anyone, but I feel particularly drawn to it as a woman. What can I say, I want to feel safe, I want to feel tough(er), and I want to give off that BDE. You know, badass defense energy.

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12) Go to (at least) 5 concerts

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Last year I was lucky enough to go to a handful of amazing concerts and it reminded me why I love them so much. There are few things better than live music, and so I want to make it more of a priority to see it. As of now, I’m happy to report I already have 3 on the calendar! 🙂

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13) Take a writing class

I love blogging and it has always been my dream to write a book, but since it was a passion I found after college, I never took a class that might help hone my skills and better my ability to express myself through writing. So I’m hoping to find a class online that is both fun and challenging—something that can move me forward in this field of mine.

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14) Go to 5 breweries

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Being a beer drinker, raised by a beer drinker, who loves trying and drinking new beer, I find it surprising how few breweries I’ve been to in my lifetime. This year I’m hoping to change that, both by visiting breweries in my state, and possibly a few others. We’ll see what we find.

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15) Go to a comedy show

This is another one that seems crazy to be so inexperienced in when I live in a state that is home to so many great comedy houses. There’s something special about setting out on your evening with the intention of laughing. And with so many great comedians out there right now, I’d love to spend a good amount of time doing just that.

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16) The Emotion Scrapbook  

I feel like every year I have that one goal where my inner art major shines through, and this year, it’s this one. I have always loved pictures and the way they can capture parts of a moment or experience that you can revisit even years later. And so, to make a unique kind of scrapbook for this year, I made a list of 20 different feelings/emotions that I’m looking to capture in 2020. The idea is that when I find myself feeling one of those feelings, I want to take a picture of whatever can capture it best, so I can have a memento of it. Not all of these emotions are happy ones, but I think the list as a whole can give me a good idea of where the year took me and what it taught me, so I’m excited.

In case you’re interested, the list I’m going to work off of is as follows:

Take a picture when you’re feeling…

  1. Happy
  2. Sad
  3. Angry
  4. Peaceful
  5. Free
  6. Afraid
  7. Confident
  8. Love
  9. Relaxed
  10. Thankful
  11. Nostalgic
  12. Inspired
  13. Adventurous
  14. Stressed
  15. Bored
  16. Important
  17. Brave
  18. Optimistic
  19. Curious
  20. Determined

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17) Make a time capsule

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Since 2020 is going to be the beginning of a new decade, I thought it would be cool to make something to commemorate this decade. The last 10 years of my life have brought about a lot of change, and I would have loved to see a collection of things I valued at the beginning of 2010 compared to now. So, I’m going to find myself a box, gather up some things that I think best represent who I am and where the world is at the beginning of 2020, and then seal it, stash it, and open it at the end of 2029.

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And there they are in all their glory!

This might be the first year that I’m more excited than terrified. That has to be a good sign, right?

Don’t tell me if it’s not, I don’t need that kind of energy going into a new decade.

I hope you feel as optimistic and excited as I do about this new year, and I wish you luck on any goals you might be setting!

My Decade Recap (As Told by Old Facebook Statuses) (List-cember #7)

I have seen a bunch of posts in the last month where people recap their decade, going through the highlights of each year to cringe, reminisce, feel nostalgic and propel themselves forward into this new decade.

When I sat down to do a post of my own, I struggled with what I wanted to share/not share and how I wanted to share it. Then I saw an update from my Facebook page. “On this day 6 years ago…”

That’s when I realized that if there’s anything that can accurately recap the last 10 years, it is my Facebook statuses. 10 years ago, I was ALL ABOUT Facebook statuses. I liked trying to be witty and clever, I liked updating the Facebook universe on things they probably didn’t need to be updated on, and I often posted quotes from my favorite movies and television shows, or just funny one liners from my family and friends.

So, as we close in on 2020, on the 20’s, let’s see what my Facebook has to say about the 10’s.

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2010

I experienced loss.

2010 blue pen

And triumph.

2010 donkey kong

I set goals.

2010 goals

I had road rage.

2010 peds

And I made myself laugh.

2010 witty

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2011

I made a wish

2011 accent 1

I started my first blog when I studied abroad in Australia…

2011 first blog

…where I was able to manifest my wish.

2011 accent 2

I made important cuts

2011 ipod

I asked important questions

2011 robert pins

And I continued to have road rage.

2011 road rage

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2012

I graduated from college

2012 college

I was grateful

2012 camel

I got into hockey

2012 hockey

Like really into hockey

2012 hockey 2

I took my stance on soul patches

2012 soul patches

And yes, I continued to have road rage

2012 driving

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2013

I met Bobby

2013 bobby

I charted a new career path

2013 career

I found a new motto

2013 motto

I questioned my brother’s plan for the zombie apocalypse

2013 zombie

And I got into puns

2013 hammer

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2014

I started this blog

2014 blog

I started my presidential campaign

2014 president

2014 president 2

I beat sinus congestion

2014 sandra

And I climbed Mt. Whitney.

2014 whitney 2

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2015

I decided to start eating healthier

2015 fealth

I stood up to the man

2015 time warner

I got published

2015 writing

And I continued my relationship with puns

2015 whoop ass

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2016

I became a meme

2016 meme

I cooked

2016 dinner

I questioned parenthood

2016 siri

And I lost control

2016 target

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2017

I earned my black belt

2017 karate kim

I splurged

2017 ice cream

I introduced the world to Kevin

2017 kevin

And I got better at laundry

2017 laundry

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2018

I started exercising

2018 gym

I embraced my true self

2018 old lady

And I expressed my true fears

2018 sneeze

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2019

I let everyone know I ran the marathon…

2019 marathon

…and then did nothing else except share my blog posts and spy on people.

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Overall, I’m happy with where I came from and how I used that to get where I am now.

And even though my Facebook statuses are slim, if not completely nonexistent these days, at least I have this blog where I can do everything I was trying to do in those three sentence updates—including make myself laugh. Here’s to another 10 years.

 

A Christmas Quiz (List-cember #6)

We are less than a week away from Christmas, which means that most schools are closing for winter break.To celebrate that, I thought I’d take us back to school for a minute for a little Christmas quiz.

I invited/politely forced my sister and two cousins to participate in a friendly Christmas themed quiz in order to win bragging rights and familial pride. What started as a cordial match quickly became a heated quest for Christmas glory.

Here were the results:

1) What kind of Christmas does Elvis Presley sing about?

Answer: Blue

Natalee: (singing) Bluuuuuuuee…Christmas without you….

Amanda: Wait, should I give a different kind of answer? I’m going to say he’s devastated by the thought of his loved one not going to be with him on Christmas. So that’s my word. Devastated.

Cory: Maybe he just likes blue Christmas lights.

Point awarded to Natalee. 

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2) What is the name of the Grinch’s dog in the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

Answer: Max

Amanda: I know! I know!! MAX!

Point awarded to Amanda.

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3) In which century was the Christmas tree first used?

Answer: 16th century

Natalee: The 1300’s! So, the 14th century.

Cory: 16th.

Amanda: I’m going to say the 18th century.

Me: It’s the 16th.

Cory: HA HA.

Amanda: Okay, now it’s on.

Point awarded to Cory.

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4) What is the name of Rudolph’s dad?

Answer: Donner

Natalee: Ugh, I know his girlfriend’s name.

Amanda: Oh my gosh. You can totally–

Natalee: –Prancer! Wait, no.

Amanda: No, they said it in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer when they introduce the mom and dad.

Natalee: He’s one of the reindeer.

Cory: I feel like it’s something really bland like…Steve.

Me: Yes, Steve the reindeer.

Amanda: I’m gonna say Donner.

Natalee: Damnit, that’s right.

Cory: Dancer, Prancer, Donner, Comet? Is Comet the father?

Me: It’s Donner.

Amanda: YESSS!!!!

Natalee: I knew it right after you said it.

Point awarded to Amanda

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5) What is the best selling Christmas song ever? 

Answer: “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

Natalee: Mariah Carey, All I Want for Christmas is You.

Amanda: *shakes head* I’ve heard this before. I heard it on KOST 103.5. It’s not Mariah and it’s not White Christmas, but that was everyone’s guess.

Cory: (singing) Feliz Navidad.

Amanda: I’m gonna go with Jingle Bells. 

Me: It was White Christmas.

Amanda: Damnit! You know, maybe that’s why I immediately thought of White Christmas…because it was the right guess.

No point awarded. 

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6) In Home Alone, where are the McCallister’s going on vacation when they leave Kevin behind?

Answer: Paris. 

Natalee, Cory & Amanda: In which one?

Me: The first one.

Natalee: Europe! Um….we just watched this. France?

Cory: Where did they go in the first one? I know in the second one they go to Florida.

Amanda: Dangit, I was thinking Florida.

Cory: Well she takes the bus with that guy to find him and they’re in the snow…Canada?

Amanda: Niagara Falls?

Me: It was Paris.

Natalee: YES!!!

Point awarded to Natalee.

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7) What well-known Christmas carol became the first song ever broadcast from space in 1965?

Answer: Jingle Bells

Natalee: (singing) Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus right down Santa Clause Lane.

Cory: It’s Jingle Bells.

Amanda: Oh Holy Night.

Point awarded to Cory. 

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8) What Christmas beverage is also known as “milk punch”?

Answer: Eggnog.

Cory (before I even finish the question): Eggnog.

Me: That’s correct.

Natalee: Hey! Wait until the question is complete.

Cory: I’m sorry, there’s just no other Christmas beverage.

Amanda: Yeah there is. There’s cider.

Natalee: There’s peppermint shit.

Cory: It’s eggnog.

Point awarded to Cory. 

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9) In the early 1800’s, the first gingerbread houses were reportedly inspired by what famous fairy tale?

Answer: Hansel & Gretel

Natalee: Shrek! I mean, no.

Amanda: She said Shrek. She commits to Shrek!

Natalee: I was thinking of the gingerbread man!

Amanda: I’m gonna go with Hansel & Gretel.

Cory: Alice in Wonderland.

Natalee: Goldilocks & the Three Bears.

Point awarded to Amanda.

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10) Which one of Santa’s reindeer has the same name as another holiday mascot?

Answer: Cupid

Cory: Cupid.

Me: That’s correct.

Natalee: That was so fast. I was only on Vixen in the song.

Point awarded to Cory. 

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11) In the movie Elf, what was the first rule of The Code of Elves?

Answer: Treat every day like Christmas

Cory: Treat every day as Christmas.

Me: *nods*

Amanda: DAMNIT CORY.

Natalee: OH MY GOSH.

Me: Cory is coming in and slaughtering you guys.

Point awarded to Cory.

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12) How many gifts in total were given in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song?

Answer: 364

Natalee: Ugh, this is math.

Me: NO CALCULATORS.

*Amanda, Cory & Natalee start mumbling as they do mental math*

Natalee: 76!

Cory: 78.

Amanda: I think…120?

Me: Amanda is the closest. Remember each day they get all the gifts from the previous days as well.

*a collective nod*

Me: So Amanda gets the point.

*Amanda smiles while Natalee and Cory nod a little bitterly*

Point awarded to Amanda.

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13) In the movie A Christmas Story, what was the name of the neighbors’ whose dog ate the Christmas turkey?

Answer: The Bumpuses

Natalee: Oh shit.

Amanda: I’m going to go with a classic…

Natalee: The Chungs.

Amanda: A classic…Max.

Cory: Steve.

Me: It was the Bumpuses.

Natalee: So I was the closest.

Me: Absolutely not.

No point awarded.

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14) On average, what day do most Americans put up their Christmas trees?

Answer: The weekend after Thanksgiving

Natalee: The day after Thanksgiving.

Amanda: The Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Me: You guys can both be right.

Point awarded to Amanda & Natalee.

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15) On average, what day do most Europeans put up their Christmas trees?

Answer: Christmas Eve.

Natalee: Christmas Eve.

Cory: First week of December.

Amanda: Two weeks before.

Point awarded to Natalee. 

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16) What does Clarence get for accomplishing his task in It’s a Wonderful Life?

Answer: Wings

Cory: A new show.

Natalee: His life back.

Amanda: He becomes a better person.

Me: He gets his wings, y’all. Clarence is the angel.

Amanda: And with his wings he becomes a better person.

Natalee: Well I was right about the actual man, he does get his life back.

No point awarded.

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17) Which company was the first to use Santa in an advertisement?

Answer: Coca Cola

Amanda: COCA COLA!!!

Natalee: Oh my gosh. That came out of nowhere.

Amanda: I know this, well, because I just do.

Point awarded to Amanda. 

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Final Score

Amanda: 6

Cory: 5

Natalee: 4

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Congratulations to Amanda for being crowned this year’s Christmas Quiz winner!

If you are interested in Christmas trivia, I found these questions (and more) here, here and here. 


 

Check out more List-cember posts here. 

My 2019 Rec Roundup (List-cember #5)

Nothing has ever qualified me to tell you what the best books, movies, music, etc., of the year are, but that has never stopped me from giving you what I believe to be a highly educated opinion.

I mean, who needs all the fancy words and validating credentials when I can just tell you, hey, this didn’t suck and I think you should check it out. 

So that’s what I’m here to do today.

Here are all of my top recommendations from 2019, just in case you’re looking for something good to kickoff your 2020.

Books

  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (Historical Fiction)
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Fiction)
  • For One More Day by Mitch Albom (Fiction)
  • Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis (Self Help)
  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Mystery/Thriller)
  • Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Historical Fiction)
  • My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (Mystery/Thriller)
  • Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens (Fiction)
  • Beautiful on the Outside by Adam Rippon (Memoir)
  • Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness (Memoir)

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Podcasts

  • ESPN 30 for 30
  • Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet
  • Dr. Death
  • Duolingo Spanish Podcast
  • The Trypod
  • The Clearing
  • My Dad Wrote a Porno
  • The Dropout
  • How I Built This
  • Homecoming

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Movies

  • Free Solo
  • The Dawn Wall
  • Booksmart
  • Unicorn Store
  • Someone Great
  • Frozen 2
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

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TV Shows

  • Fleabag (Amazon Prime)
  • Single Parents (ABC)
  • The Politician (Netflix)
  • The Act (Hulu)
  • Killing Eve (AMC)
  • Modern Love (Amazon Prime)
  • Dead to Me (Netflix)
  • Euphoria (HBO)
  • Four Weddings & a Funeral (Hulu)
  • When They See Us (Netflix)

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Music

  • Heard it in a Past Life by Maggie Rogers
  • GIRL by Maren Morris
  • When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go by Billie Eilish
  • Daylight by Grace Potter
  • Lover by Taylor Swift
  • Cheap Queen by King Princess
  • The Highwomen by The Highwomen
  • Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent by Lewis Capaldi
  • Free Yourself Up by Lake Street Dive
  • Happiness Begins by Jonas Brothers

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Misc

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Hippeas:  THESE. ARE. SO. GOOD. I truly cannot stress this enough. Their one and only flaw is that they come in relatively small bags UNLESS you want to brave Costco for the monster bags. I personally am not always in the mood to brave Costco, which is why I found…

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…White Cheddar Cheetos Puffs! These are the perfect sister snack to Hippeas and are also delicious. Who knew I had such a thing for white cheddar this year?

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Duolingo: I downloaded this app to learn Spanish and have genuinely loved using it! They are always adding new challenges and new ways to learn and I look forward to going on each day.

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Birkenstocks: I waited a long time and listened to a lot of hype about these before I finally pulled the trigger but I am so glad I did. Believe everything you hear. These are wonderful and I will miss wearing them in the winter months. (find this pair here)

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Old Navy Leggings: I am constantly on the hunt for good leggings that aren’t one million dollars, which according to most retailers, is a big ask. But I bought a pair of leggings from Old Navy early in the year and loved them so much that I bought 4 more pairs. They are so comfortable and just the right amount of thick, AND, most importantly, they have side pockets, which is the real game changer. (find this pair here)


Check out more List-cember posts here. 

A Passive Aggressive List of All the Bad Driving Habits We Should Leave in 2019 (List-cember #4)

We are nearing the end of a decade.

Thus, when the ball drops this New Years Eve, that feeling of potential and newness will undoubtedly be a little magnified. We might be inspired to try new things, make big changes, and find exciting ways to kickstart 2020.

In that spirit, I thought I would mention something we should leave in 2019. It’s something that I think has scarred this decade (and many before it), and something I believe we can only benefit from eradicating, both from our year, our decade, and ultimately, our world.

I am of course referring to bad driving.

I personally do a lot of driving, so it could be argued that I’m hyper-sensitive/completely fed up/a borderline road rage-aholic, but I also think there are things that simply need to stop.

Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll feel personally attacked, I don’t know. Regardless, let us all take a deep, cleansing breath and DO BETTER.

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1) When changing lanes or making a turn, turn on your damn blinkers.

2) When you’ve completed said turn or lane change, turn OFF your damn blinkers.

3) Also, in regards to said turn—JUST TURN. You can do it. Just crank that wheel and step on that gas. Go!

4) Stop texting and driving. Seriously. It’s dumb, you’re not “better” at it than other people, and there is absolutely nothing important enough to put every single driver, including yourself, at risk.

5) When the light turns green, GO. As in NOW.

6) ESPECIALLY on green arrows. If you are the first car in a line of cars waiting to turn on a green arrow, the moment that light turns green I need you to drive as if the car behind you is on fire.

7) Stop at stop signs. This one seems pretty obvious but, you know, APPARENTLY IT’S NOT.

8) Merge like a gentleman. I get it. Merging sucks. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk. Just wait your turn, take your turn, and then we can all move on.

9) Drive faster. I understand there is a speed limit. I respect the speed limit. I don’t always obey it, but I respect it. You should too. And by that I mean, at least drive the speed limit. I’ve got things to do, I’m sure you’ve got things to do, so why not drive faster than the powerwalking senior who just passed us?

10) Drive slower. I get it, time is money and traffic is awful. But weaving in and out, speeding down the shoulder or a bike lane, or just driving 30 or 40 miles an hour over the speed limit does not make you cool, or in any way make me feel like you are more important than me. Again, just respect the speed limit, and maybe the lives of your fellow drivers (and peds!)

11) Do not slam on your breaks unless it is absolutely necessary. Examples of things that are not absolutely necessary: being nosy about an accident on the side of the road, realizing you just passed a cop, seeing a billboard, trying to wake up your friend in the passenger’s seat, dropping a french fry.

12) Get over for service vehicles. When an ambulance, firetruck or police car has their sirens on, pull over. As in alllll the way over.

13) Park in between the lines. They are not suggestions, they are requirements, y’all.

14) Turn your lights on. The sun is down, you are now a ghost death machine, take a second and turn your lights on, please.

15) This might be specific to Southern California drivers, but rain is NOT a sign of the apocalypse. So while caution is recommended, a complete and total forfeit of all driving abilities is not.

16) Don’t litter. Or, written another way, stop throwing shit out the window of your car.

17) Say thank you. A wave, a nod, a grateful burst of eye contact is all I ask. Something that says, “hey, I noticed you were a decent human who let me make the driving maneuver I was hoping to make, may we both live out the rest of our day peacefully!”

18) Approach the limit line. Hey, it’s me, behind you. This light is never going to change unless you pull forward and activate the sensor. So please, for the love of everything, pull up.

19) Speaking of pulling up, if you are making a left hand turn, PULL OUT INTO THE INTERSECTION. DO NOT. I repeat. DO NOT WAIT BEHIND THE LINE UNTIL THE LIGHT TURNS RED AND THEN TURN, LEAVING THE REST OF US STUCK AT THE LIGHT.

20) Speaking of speaking of pulling up, when parallel parking, PULL. THE. HELL. UP. There is no reason for there to be half a car length in front and/or behind you. Pull up close to that car and leave room for, I don’t know, EVERYONE ELSE, who might want to park on this street.

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Wow. That felt good.

I think I just added a year or two to my life (and saved money on therapy) by getting that off my chest.


 

Check out more List-cember posts here.

17 (More) Things that Inspired Me This Year (List-Cember #3)

Last year I decided to make this a bi-annual post, so I can have two editions of all the happy, cozy things that made me smile, cry, laugh, etc. throughout the year.

In case you are new here and a stickler for clean numbered lists (i.e. lists that are multiples of 5 or 10) and are wondering why on earth I would choose 17 of all things. 17 is my favorite number and my family kind of goes hard in the favorite number department.

With that being said, you can check out the first 17 here. 

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1) This quote:

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2) Ashlyn Sailsbury

I found Ashlyn through Kristin Johns who I mentioned in a previous version of this post, and she has quickly become one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram. She is so funny and sassy and genuine and she shares the adventures of her adorable, fun family in Copenhagen. 10/10.

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3) This song by Ella Henderson

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8) Daisy Jones & the Six

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This was such a great book! Even though it was fiction, it read like a Rolling Stone interview and I was hooked the whole time. Plus the writing was absolutely brilliant. Here are some of my favorite lines:

“Don’t count yourself out this early, Daisy. You’re all sorts of things you don’t even know yet.”

“Life is about who is holding your hand and, I think, whose hand you commit to holding.”

“Acceptance is a powerful drug.”

 

 

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9) A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I mean, Mr. Rogers played by Tom Hanks? I loved it before I even stepped foot in the theater. It’s such a good tribute to a wonderful man and a great reminder of how much we can do for someone simply by being kind.

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10) This writer who gets it

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11) The Try Guys

I have been following the Try Guys for a while now but this year I really dove head first into their content. I started listening to their podcast The Trypod which always makes me laugh, and I kept up with their YouTube videos which always brighten my day.

Here is one of my favorites:

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12) My sister

Raise your hand if you’ve been going to school for 600 years and have spent that time working your ass off, borderline losing your mind, and definitely questioning if any of it was worth it. Now raise your hand if you overcame every obstacle that was put in front of you, grown into an incredibly smart, well spoken, badass Speech Language Pathologist that will undoubtedly go on to do great things.

Natalee, please raise your hand.

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13) The Grapes of Wrath, which inspired me to write this blog post.

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14) Mitch Albom

I read my first Mitch Albom book last year and immediately fell in love with his style of writing, so this year I read three more of his books and they continue to make me feel all the feels. One day I hope to write something that moves people the way his books move me.

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15) Glamour Friendship Test

This is such a sweet, hilarious series and this episode is absolutely one of my favorites.

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16) Iliza Shlesinger

I first found Iliza last year when a friend highly recommended her Netflix special, Elder Millennial. After watching and loving it, I was very excited to see that she released a new special in November of this year called Unveiled. Spoiler alert: it is just as good. Not only is it hilarious, but she is so well spoken and has so many good messages within her comedy, she is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

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17) Food Forward

This is one of my favorite local nonprofits to volunteer for. It benefits such a great cause and is run by such lovely people, so if you live in Southern California I would highly recommend checking them out!

 


 

Check out previous versions of this post here, here and here.

Check out more List-cember posts here.

10 Places to Buy Winter Clothes that Will Give Back (List-cember #2)

It’s safe to say fall is in full swing, which means the temperatures have dropped, and getting dressed in the morning now consists of tucking and buttoning and layering—and for some, layering and layering and layering.

The cool thing is, there are tons of places you can find those layers, plus accessories, shoes, and other winter survival gear that not only keep you warm, but helps those in need. And is there anything better than finding something cozy and knowing that buying it can help someone else feel cozy too? I think not.

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1) Toms

If you’ve heard of Toms, you might be most familiar with their slip on shoes, but they actually have a great selection of winter boots as well! Each pair you buy donates a pair to someone in need.

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Find this pair here.

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2) Love Your Melon

Initially started solely to provide hats for children with cancer, Love Your Melon now gives 50% of their net profits to support the Love Your Melon Fund, and the nonprofits they support in order to help children and families battling cancer.

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Find this beanie here.

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3) Twice As Warm 

Selling a range of hats, scarves, and gloves, Twice as Warm donates one winter clothing item for each item you purchase.

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Find this scarf here.

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4) Done Good

Done Good is home to tons of companies and products that support a wide variety of causes and charities. You can even search products based on the causes you are passionate about!

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Find this jacket here.

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5) Amazon Smile

We’ve all heard of Amazon and know you can find practically anything you can think of if you scroll long enough, but did you know that if you go to smile.amazon.com you can select a charity and have a portion of every purchase support that charity? You can either browse charities based on specific causes, or search for a specific charity you are passionate about. I currently have the Justin Turner Foundation selected which supports homeless veterans and children battling life-altering illnesses and diseases.

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Find this pair of gloves here.

 

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6) H&M Conscious Collection

H&M guarantees all clothing within the “Conscious Collection” are made of at least 50% sustainable materials. So if you are someone who is passionate about sustainable fashion, a.k.a fashion that is healthier and kinder to the earth, this collection is for you!

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Find this sweater here.

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7) Roma

Roma’s mission is to “give poverty the boot” and so with every purchase of a pair of boots, they donate a pair to a child in need.

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Find this pair of boots here.

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8) FAZL

FAZL sells tons of cozy socks, hats, mittens and bags, and each purchase helps provide food, shelter, education, and clothing to orphaned children in India.

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Find this pair of socks here.

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9) Happy Blankie

Not only does Happy Blankie match each purchase of a blanket by donating a second one to someone in need, they let you choose who you want that blanket to be donated to. You can choose a sick child in the hospital, a battered women’s shelter, or the child of first responder or military family.

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Find this blanket here.

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10) Tentree

Tentree’s mottos is “buy one, plant ten”, meaning for each item you buy from the Tentree store, ten trees will be planted!

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Find this pair of mittens here.


Check out more List-cember posts here.