List-cember

December…but with lists!

17 Goals for 2018 (List-cember #9)

If you followed along with my blog this past year, you’ll know that I set 17 goals for 2017.  A brief summary of the experience would be: it almost brought me to my death, but a more in depth summary can be found in my final goal update which I will be posting next week.

Even though this year’s goals proved to be tough however, that didn’t stop me from creating 17 more goals for myself for 2018. (Note: I know 18 for 2018 would have rolled off the tongue better, but 17 is still my lucky number and I don’t want to be on the hook for 45 in 2045, you know?)

I’d like to think these goals are a little less intense, though somehow, I also thought the list I made last December wasn’t totally ulcer inducing, so I’m thinking maybe I just shouldn’t be trusted. Regardless, I am back with a new list of goals for a brand new year.

Let’s dive right in!

1) Do a handstand in yoga

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When we were little, my sister and I both took dance lessons. I took tap, she took jazz/hip hop. As a result, I got really good with my feet and she got good at everything else. She could do the splits, she could do cartwheels, she could do handstands, she could even do these things called coffee grinders, which you’ll have to Google because I can’t demonstrate. Years later, when we both got into yoga and saw people doing headstands and handstands and a numerous other “stands” that seemed physically impossible, my sister was much more of a go-getter. In her mind, she figured she’d get it eventually. In my mind, I figured I’d eventually break in half.  However, in the spirit of doing things I never thought I could do (like run 1000 miles in one year, which I did this year and you can read about here) I’ve decided to get back into yoga (which I’m not mad about) and finally go for a handstand. I’m not talking up for two seconds and then falling over. I want an arms extended, blood rushing to the brain, awkwardly long high five to the ground type of handstand.

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2) Take a kickboxing class

In a similar pursuit of strength and overall badassery, I want to take a kickboxing class this year. Because as much as I love yoga, and will love getting back into it, sometimes I just want a workout that involves hitting things, you know?

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3) Visit (at least) 20 museums in Los Angeles

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So my original goal here was going to be “visit ALL the museums in Los Angeles” but that was before I found out there are 50! I’m not saying it would be impossible to visit all 50, but you figure, that’s about four museums per month and that’s only if I stuck to it, which let’s face it, I’d more than likely fall behind and wind up in November with 45 museums left to see and no time to see them. So, in the spirit of setting obtainable goals, I’m shooting for 20.

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4) Get CPR Certified

For a long time my mom, aunt and sister worked at a preschool which required them to be CPR certified. Every two years they would take a class to get educated on the newest skills/tactics associated with CPR so they would be best prepared in case an emergency situation came about. Since I never went with them, we always decided that should any combination of us be together in an emergency situation, they would do all the hard work and I’d call 911. They even taught me the script associated with the person who calls 911, because yes, that’s a thing. (MY JOB IS IMPORTANT TOO, OKAY?) But while having this “job” gave me a small sense of purpose, it also left me feeling helpless and overall useless should I not be with them in the case of a CPR emergency. So, this year I’m upping my usefulness. Watch out world, a double threat is headed your way. (In case you’re interested, you can find information on how you can get CPR certified here)

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5) Shoot (at least) one roll of film per month

Another thing you might not know about me is I love taking pictures. I actually majored in photography in college and probably spent 80% of my time in the photo lab developing film and printing pictures. It was my happy place. Since then however, I’ve shot almost zero film. With all the advances in the iPhone cameras and the implied need for instant results, I’ve been more or less consumed by all things digital. So this year I’m hoping to go back to my roots a little bit. I want to shoot at least one roll of film per month. I have a collection of old cameras I want to shoot them on and then hopefully develop and share the results. I’m also not barring the possibility of shooting with a disposable camera. I just want to get back to appreciating picture taking and not caring about getting a perfect result right away.

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6) Complete the 104 things to Photograph book

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On the same token as shooting with film, I thought this book would be a really cool way to get my creative juices flowing. Similar to an outline of an assignment I might have gotten back in college, I’m hoping the freedom to photograph the listed image in my own way will give me all those inspirational feels. (If you’re interested, you can find the book here)

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7) Visit the sea glass beach in Fort Bragg, CA

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I’ve always wanted to visit a sea glass beach and I’m lucky to live relatively close to one. This year I’m hoping to finally pay it a visit and hopefully take home a souvenir or two. Stay tuned. (Find other sea glass beaches here)

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8) Go to the dentist

I’m almost ashamed of this one, but I figure this is the best way to hold myself accountable. Let’s just say it’s been a while since I paid my neighborhood dentist a visit and I feel like I should probably get over there before my teeth start falling out.

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9) Watch 20 documentaries on Netflix

If there’s one thing I consistently miss the mark on, it’s keeping up with new additions to Netflix. Granted, they seemingly add about 300 things every month, but I still manage to be a solid two or three months (MINIMUM) behind even the most popular contributions. Among those I am always behind on are documentaries, which are arguably the most beneficial pieces of work available. Not only do they educate you, but they expand your mind and help you get to know yourself and your opinions a little bit better. This past year I watched a grand total of two documentaries: Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two and Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, both of which I loved. I’m hoping that this coming year I’ll find some more good ones based on all kinds of subject matter. If you have any suggestions, let me know!

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10) Perfect an omelet

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You know that whole cooking initiative I started a few months back where I decided that I wanted to make myself a better cook/overall human being? Do you remember episode two where I talked about learning how to best utilize leftovers? (If you do, great! If not, you can check it out here.)  Well, of all the 2nd or 3rd day uses for leftovers, omelets are probably one of my favorites. Similar to pizza, you can pretty much throw anything inside an omelet. The only problem I have is I SUCK at making omelets. I never get the flip right and it always tears apart and so my “kitchen sink omelets” are always more of a “leftover ingredient smorgasbord with a side of ripped eggs.” Let’s improve that.

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11) See (at least) one movie in theaters per month

One of my goals for 2017 was to watch every movie that won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and while I could go on and on about those movies, I could sum up the experience simply by saying that I LOVE movies. This isn’t necessarily a new discovery about myself, however, in watching all of those amazing films, I realized how many I let slip through my fingers while they were in theaters. So, in an attempt to stay more in the know, I’m making it a goal to see at least one movie in theaters per month, because other than lying in bed on a Saturday morning, there’s really no better way to see them.

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12) Read 20 books off the Time’s 100 List

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As you may recall, on my 27th birthday I posted a list of 30 things I want to accomplish before I’m 30—because yes, I’m a crazy person with multiple to-do lists. On that list was “read every book on Time’s 100 List.” This goal is kind of already a stretch to begin with, but in the interest of trying, I’m breaking it up into segments. We’ll see how far I get.

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13) Pay off my credit card

Another goal on my 30 Before 30 list is to pay off my current credit card and open a new one that can start earning me airline miles. So I figure I might as well get a jump start on that goal and get this thing good and paid.

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14) See 3 WRLA’s

Ah yes, an old friend! As mentioned in this post a while back, a WRLA (pronounced wool-rha) is short for “World’s Largest Roadside Attraction” and I hope to one day see them all. Last year I made it a goal to see five on the list, and this year I’m shooting for three. I figure since I’ve already seen most of the WRLA’s closest to me, I’m going to have to do a little traveling to find the others which might be a little more difficult. (You can find a complete list WRLA’s here)

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15) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

Another old friend! This exact goal was on the list last year and I’m planning to keep it on my list every year! It just feels so good to donate your time to something that matters and I think we could all stand to lend a helping hand these days. (Find places you can volunteer here)

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16) Donate Blood

This has been on my to-do list for a very long time, but has always been put on hold due to fear. I’m not the best with needles, so the prospect of signing up for a voluntary appointment with one isn’t exactly at the top of my list. This year, however, I’m going to give it a shot. (HA) Worst case scenario: I pass out and embarrass myself in front of a few overworked nurses and then never have to do it again. Best case scenario: everything goes smoothly and I can start donating on a regular basis. (For information on how you can donate blood here)

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17) Do the 1 second per day video challenge

Being an avid watcher of YouTube, I’ve seen a handful of people make these videos where they record snippets of their day, every day, for an entire year, then compile it into a video at the end, showing one second from every day. They always make me smile and I think it will be a good challenge! Here is an example of one:

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There you have it! 17 new goals for a new year. I’m already excited and nervous!

Do you have any specific goals for the upcoming year? Let me know! We’re all in this together!

How I Ran 1000 Miles in One Year (List-cember #8)

Of all the goals I set for 2017, the one that most worried me—both in questioning my sanity for setting it, and questioning my ability to complete it—was to run 1000 miles.

As someone who has hated running for the majority of her life, it was definitely what you would call a wild card. Most people I told thought I was crazy and the rest thought I was actually insane. I would have been right there with them if I hadn’t climbed Mt. Whitney a few years ago and gotten a big ole’ taste of “I CAN.” That experience inspired me to run my first 5k, two 10k’s and three half marathons, and ultimately led me to setting this goal for this year.

So, with the BIFC door wide open, I laced up my shoes and went on my first run. It was only three miles, but it was hard and I had to stop multiple times to catch my breath. Fast forward 369 days and 226 runs later, I finished my 1000th mile, winded only from all the celebratory screams I made throughout the final five miles.

Now that I’m finished, I’ve had multiple people ask me how I did it. And while a truthful summary would be: “I have no idea,” I broke it down to a few key aids. So, in case you’re among the curious or perhaps inspired to try this goal yourself, here are seven things that helped me run 1000 miles:

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1) Be Crazy

I’ve kind of already said this, but it’s worth mentioning twice that to achieve a goal like this, you need to become slightly insane. You have to be willing to put yourself out of your comfort zone over and over and make sacrifices over and over. Over the course of this year, I ran on almost every surface: asphalt, grass, dirt and concrete; I ran indoors, outdoors, and sometimes a combination of both in one day; I ran early in the morning and late at night, wearing jackets in 40 degrees, wearing shorts in 90 degrees and wearing hoods and hats in the wind and rain. My schedule was dictated by running, whether it was an average workday, a weekend or even a vacation day, and I had absolutely no time to get sick. When I look back at it now, I want to laugh because I really was, by all accounts, crazy. But then again, I know if I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have finished.

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2) Listen to Those Around You

After the first few months of running, my friends and family started to realize that I was actually serious about this goal. As a result, it became a very popular topic of conversation. When we would get together, they would always check in on my progress. Near the end of the year, when I reached the 900 mile mark, I started posting Instagram videos to track my last 100 miles and a number of people messaged me with both encouragement and graciousness, saying that my quest for crazy was inspiring them. It was an important reminder of how my actions, even though they felt small and meaningless in the grand scheme of things, could not only affect but also inspire others. This was a huge motivating factor for me. I wanted to inspire them as much as I wanted to inspire myself.

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3) Don’t Listen to Those Around You

Amongst all the encouragement, there was also a lot of implied doubt and protective paranoia. My friends and family didn’t want to see me fail. They didn’t want to find me at the end of the year burdened with discouragement. Not to mention, this year happened to be a very busy one for me, so there were many points when I found myself far behind the pace I needed to finish on time. At one point in August, I was almost 60 miles behind, which equates to almost 22 days off pace. “Are you—do you think you’ll be able to finish?” people would say. And while I knew it was rooted in genuine worry, there were parts of me that absorbed the negative connotations—They don’t think you can do it. You’re way too far behind. You should just quit—so I had to learn to block that out. Because in the end I was the one who knew if I could do it. I was the one who had to decide if I could make up the ground I had lost. I was the one who knew I wouldn’t and couldn’t quit.

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4) Be Consistently Patient

Before I started this goal, I had this vision that once I made it through the first month I’d be in incredible shape and I’d never get winded or have leg cramps or feel like I was going to pass out—which is how I’ve felt for most of my running career. To my unfortunate surprise however, even in these last few months I still had days when I’d leave my house to run a route I’d run countless times before, only to find myself so short of breath I thought I might pass out. “HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING?!” I would think as I slowed myself to a walk. On these days I’d get so down on myself, and I’d wonder why I ever thought I could do something like this. But then I’d wake up the next day and feel so good on my run that I’d go two or three miles more than I intended. Thus, I had to learn that running will always be a learning curve, and I can’t let a few bad days get me down.

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5) Expect Injuries and Work Through Them

I have never been someone you would consider “injury prone.” I’d like to say it’s because I’m lucky/indestructible, but the truth is, I’ve never really pushed my body to its limits before. And while I have a high tolerance for pain, I just wasn’t a “work through the pain” type of person. For this goal however, “if it hurts, stop” wasn’t really an option. I strained the Iliotibial Band in my left leg, I got shin splints in my left leg, I had two toes on my right foot split open, and I worked through sore muscles in seemingly every part of my body. And while every single one of these SUCKED, none of them took me out of the game. I iced when I needed to, I took days off when I needed to, and most importantly, I got right back out there.

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6) Feed Your Senses

Before the start of the year, I spent a lot of time formulating the perfect running playlist. I scrolled through my entire iTunes library and I did a good amount of Googling to find songs that would (ideally) make me forget how hard running is. A few months into the goal however, I was already sick of this playlist. And not only that, I was sick of the routes I was running. I was getting bored of the songs and the scenery, which made it exponentially harder to motivate myself to run. So, I spiced up my routes. I took turns I never made before, and ran familiar routes backwards. As for ear food, I started alternating in podcasts. It was a nice break from hearing the same songs over and over, and I was surprised how easy it was to get sucked into other people’s conversations. If you’re looking for suggestions, some of my favorite podcasts were: Serial, Happy Sad Confused and Modern Love. Also, during the summer, I spent an entire month on the treadmill, binge watching Prison Break, so if you’re an indoor runner looking for some eye candy, Wentworth Miller is there for you. As far as songs go, I made this playlist, aptly titled, “These Songs Helped Me Run 1000 Miles” which you are welcome to listen to whether you’re running 1000 miles, 1 mile, or are just needing some pumped up tunes to drive to.

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7) Keep Track

As some of you may know already, I’m an avid spreadsheet maker. Thus, when the opportunity arose to track my running progress, I went all out. Here is a screen shot of my year of running, the yellow being days I went on a run, the blue being days I went on two runs—one outside in the early morning and one on the treadmill in the afternoon to try and work around the triple digit degree days in the summer.

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This spreadsheet proved to be both motivated and discouraging as it showed me both my progress and how far behind I was. In the end however, it gave me one less stress, as I never had to worry about losing track of where I was on this quest.

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There are probably a bunch of other things that helped me, both big and small, some I might not even realize. For example, to everyone that ever asked me, “How’s your running going,” you are one of those things! As of now, I’m very proud of myself, and even more, I’m excited to see what the future holds. Inspiration and adrenaline are as addicting as they come, and now that I’ve unlocked another level of “I can” in myself, I’m already craving what’s next.

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A mantra I gave myself this year was, “if it’s still only a daydream, the answer is no, but if you’re out there trying and failing, the answer is not yet.” I’ve wanted to be a runner for a long time, but until this year, was never able to break the barriers that surrounded that goal. Now I’m ready to see what else I’m capable of, and turn another “no” into a “not yet.”

How to Keep Your Christmas Decorations Up All Year Round (List-cember #7)

My least favorite part of Christmas is the moment it ends. Right after that clock strikes midnight, everything is over. All the planning, all the stress and anxiety, (probably) all the Christmas cookies. Like the day itself, they vanish into thin air, leaving only the memories behind.

Tonight, as I wrapped presents for my family and friends, I sat on my couch, basking in the season. I took a good look around my house, marveling at all the decorations we’ve hung up, dreading the day we’ll have to take them down and leave the walls plain again.

Decorations have always been one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love the lights and the sparkles and all the red. I love the pride people take in filling their houses/cars/desks/etc. with Christmas spirit and the tradition of strangers coming together to marvel at that pride. It makes me wish Christmas lasted all year long. Though I suppose that would take away the novelty of it all, wouldn’t it? Then again, should we really need to consider pride, spirit and community a novelty? Shouldn’t these actually last all year long?

This got me thinking. What if when we took down our decorations, we took what they represent with us? For example:

1) Christmas Lights

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These quite simply make people look and awe. Whether it be with their colors, their arrangement, or their uniqueness. In many ways, even though we look at Christmas lights our whole lives, every year it feels like we’re seeing them for the first time. This is the same way I feel about people when they show unwarranted kindness or unthinkable bravery. It’s not that I forget these qualities exist, it’s just a pleasant and inspiring surprise when I come across them. So in this upcoming year, what if we made an effort to be these displays of light? I think it’s safe to say, especially in today’s society, the world could always use some more light.

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2) Ornaments

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I love ornaments. (So much so that I hand out superlatives every year.) I love that—at least the way my family does it—they are all unique and have a different story and memory associated with them, and that after all this time we still tell them. Pictures have this same quality. Unfortunately in this digital age we so often exile photos to the Internet and never think of them again. We need to print more pictures. We need to put them on display and remember the memories they capture. That way, in the moments we’re feeling low or nostalgic, we don’t have to scroll through our phones and try to dodge the pressures of comparison, we can simply look up at our wall or on our desk or bedside table and remember a moment that meant a lot to us.

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3) Paper Chains

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By now this might be a rather outdated decoration, but I still love me some paper chains. More than anything, they remind me that I can make things with my hands and they don’t have to be perfect. These days with the constant access to websites and services that will do practically everything for you, it’s easy to forget that we have hands of our own built for crafting. Then again, with all the Pinterest wizards dominating the Internet, it’s easy to get discouraged when we try. But, like a paper chain, things we make by hand, whether it be home improvement projects, gifts, or a hot meal from scratch, it feels good to sit back and realize that you made it; that you put in the time and did it yourself.

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4) Snow Globes

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My sister collects Christmas snow globes and is always one to walk over and shake them in a store. I think they give her, and me, and most of the general population a minute or two just to breathe. With a few shakes we stand and watch the snow or glitter fall, listening to the song that winds down, and for a moment we’re transported somewhere far away. While this might be harder to do in the general chaos of life, we can always take a second to stop and breathe; to take in the sights and sounds and smells around us and just be in that moment, completely as it is, just as we would until the song ended and we put the snow globe back on the shelf.

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5) Christmas Music

I know, I know, this isn’t technically a decoration. But when you consider that Christmas music is playing from every speaker, everywhere you go, for almost two straight months, it kind of turns into one. Call it an atmosphere decoration if you will. Granted, this “atmosphere decoration” technically exists all year round, chameleoning to fit the designated atmosphere (i.e. “elevator music”). But there seems to be this general agreement that in November and December you only listen to Christmas music and in January-October you listen to everything but. As I elaborated in this post however, I say listen to whatever you want, whenever you want. Decorate your atmosphere with music that makes you feel good no matter what time of year it is and no matter what anyone else thinks.

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So, as you start to de-decorate your house in the coming weeks, try to remember what it is about the decorations that draw you to them. Is it the light? Is it the color? Is it the associated memories? Then go out and find it in the confines of an average day, or create it yourself. Magic is not dictated by a calendar, and neither is goodness or glitter for that matter. So spread it around and soak it in, no matter the season.

How to Start Your 2018 Off Right (Before it Starts) (List-cember #6)

With the New Year RAPIDLY approaching I have been going through my usual routine—which mostly consists of muted panicking. January 1st comes with a lot of nerves and pressure, as well as excitement and freedom. And while it’s important and fun to embrace the New Year after the clock strikes midnight, there are also a few things things you can do beforehand that can make that tick tock more relaxing than taxing. Wink_Emoji_grande

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1) Unsubscribe

If you spend a lot of time online, whether it be for work or leisure, or if you’ve done a lot of your Christmas shopping from the comfort of an internet window, chances are you’ve found yourself subscribed to a lot of newsletters/company coupon strands that you have no interest in. And while it’s easy to just delete these and move on with your day, there is real benefit in taking a few extra seconds and unsubscribing. Not only will it declutter your email, but it will also remove the temptation that comes with all those FLASH SALE emails. Trust me on this one, just scroll to the bottom of the email, click unsubscribe and regain some of your freedom.

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2) Clean!

I am very much like my mom in that few things leave me quite as satisfied as a clean house. And with the holidays in full swing I have some upcoming days off, so I’ll most likely spend a good chunk of those days doing all the cleaning I’ve been procrastinating on. But what if I did it early? What if I put aside some extra time on these days leading up to the off days, so that when the off days arrive I can spend far more time sitting on the couch in my sweatpants? Call me crazy but more time in sweatpants = a more satisfying holiday = a better attitude upon returning to work after the holidays = a better employee = endless raises, etc. etc. I’m just spitballing here.

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3) Trash/Donate

This can more or less go alongside cleaning, as it’s possible it might happen organically if you get into one of those intense cleaning modes. But don’t just clean everything, go through it. Go through your closet and your bookshelves and your desk. Clean out your refrigerator and your garage and your car. Then trash the broken and old and donate what’s ready to be loved by someone else.

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4) Change Your Alarm

I admit it. I am a huge “hit snooze-er” when it comes to my alarm in the mornings. Over the last few months, I don’t think there’s been a single day that I didn’t do it at least once. That being said however, it has been brought to my attention that you actually wake up more tired when you hit snooze. Not to mention you (or maybe just I) usually end up hitting snooze a few more times than you (I) should, so you (I) end up rushing around the house trying to get to work on time. SO, in the interest of being honest with myself (i.e. accepting the fact that I’ll probably never kick the habit of hitting snooze) but still hoping to make an improvement, I am going to set a second, different, alarm that gives a “HEY KIM, YOU CAN’T CLICK SNOOZE ANYMORE” type of signal. That way I can at least keep track of where I am in snooze time, and will have to try a little harder to oversleep.

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5) Stock Up

You know how lines at department stores and grocery stores tend to grow at the speed of Pinnocchio’s nose around the holidays? You know how spending time in those lines is arguably one of the worst ways to spend your holidays? Right, so let’s do our best to avoid that. Let’s stock up on the necessities: toilet paper, laundry soap, Oreos, etc. This will save us from the early morning/late night “can you go to the store real quick, pleeeeease” arguments and include us in more of the “how many marshmallows should we put in our hot chocolate?” debates.

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6) Set Goals

More than anything, a new year gives us a fresh start. We get a new calendar year, with holidays waiting to be celebrated and seasons to waiting to take shape. It’s hard not to feel inspired to make some changes. So I encourage you, go with that inspiration! Make a list! Be daring, be creative and be specific. It’s so easy to make vague resolutions that are ultimately unsatisfying because they have no framework. Use numbers, details, and blueprints. Give your self time limits and then go for it!

(Also, if you’re interested, you can check out this post for some tips on setting goals, and this post to see the 17 goals I set for myself this year)

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I wish you a wonderful end to your 2017 and an inspirational start to your 2018!

10 Christmas Gifts I Loved/Hated (As Told By Photos) (List-cember #5)

If you count today, there are officially 11 shopping days left until Christmas! Isn’t that crazy? Isn’t that disgusting? Isn’t that reason enough to start panicking?! Sharpen your pencils ladies and gents, because the answer is D: ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Yes, we are closing in on that day which—along with school picture day—we put away our pride and let a camera snap unflattering photos of us because we know it will make our parents happy. Is there a more awkward brand of picture than a gift opening picture? I think not. Is there a more honest picture than a gift opening picture taken early on Christmas morning? Again, I think NOT.

So, in the spirit of “can you just look at me and smile PLEASE,” let’s dive into a second edition of: Christmas Gifts I Loved/Hated (As Told By Photos)…hopefully by next year I’ll have a catchier title.

You can read last year’s here

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Okay now THIS—THIS RIGHT HERE IS AN OUTFIT. Listen Mom and Dad, I know it’s Christmas morning and all, but I can’t just sit around in this outfit at home. I have to get out there and start a dance crew. I’m gonna call up that guy Vanilla Ice Cream and see if he wants to collab.

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What (Probably) Happened Here:

Dad: I’m going to take a picture of the tree.

Me: Did you want a picture of my bracelet?

Dad: In a minute.

Me: Here it is.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: I’m not ready to be a mother.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Eat your heart out, Laura Ingalls. I’m about to sport the HECK out of this denim.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: HELP! HELP ME. SOS. FLARE GUN FLARE GUN FLARE GUN. THIS BABY IS A DEMON AND IT HAS TAKEN MY MIND HOSTAGE. CALL THE POLICE. THE FIRE MARSHALL. THE PARK RANGERS. EVERYONE.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: HEY, SLEEPYHEADS! I got myself out of bed. I dressed myself. I sat myself nicely on this wooden stool so you can photograph me. I even set the camera up on a tripod because this is my best angle. The LEAST you can do is get up so we can open some of these presents.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: What? Like you’ve never slept in a stocking to try and get a peak at the big man.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Okay so the little hand counts minutes? No. Wait. The little hand counts hours. So if the little hand is pointing at 12, it’s 12 o’clock. Wait, but it seems like the big hand is also pointing at 12 when it’s 12 o’clock. So does the big hand count hours? I’m screwed.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: This is a cool bike. I can totally ride this bike, right? This is a great gift. An amazing gift. A gift for the ages. And I’m excited, right? I’m totally excited.

What My Sister is (Probably) Thinking Here: She’s scared sh*tless of that thing.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: I’m super stoked about this jump rope I just got, but to be honest, I’m still raving about these sick pajamas I got for my birthday. Why is no one talking about The Lion King II? I thought it was a high quality film. And don’t even get me started on the music, I mean “One of Us?” “He Lives in You?” Talk about chills. But yeah, this jump rope is also pretty cool.

25 Things that Inspired Me this Year (List-cember #4)

You know those moments when you hear/read/see/taste/experience something that gives you butterflies and fills you up with something you can’t quite explain, except for the fact that you not only want to feel more of it, but you want to pass that feeling on to others?

One of the greatest gifts in life is that you can experience these moments, even in the darkest of times in the most unexpected of places. What’s even better is that we all have the opportunity to encompass that light, even if this simply means passing on the light given to you by someone (or something) else. So, in the spirit of passing the torch, here are 25 things that inspired me this year. From quotes to songs to photos to videos to small ideas to big accomplishments and the like. Anything that gave me that light or opened that new door in my mind.

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1) All the Good Things

This is a segment on my blog that I do at the end of each month, highlighting the good things that happened amongst the easier to find/well known bad. I am proud of this segment, but the reason I’m including it on this list is because of all the brave, kindhearted individuals that keep it going each month. Thank you for your continuing kindness and love, the world always needs it!

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2) This moment:IMG_3084

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3) Hard Love by Needtobreathe

“There’s a reason why the road is long, it takes some time to make your courage strong.”

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4) “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

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5) Booksgiving

This an event held in February by The Bloggess, which encourages readers to gift each other books. This year I received When Breathe Becomes Air, which ended up being one of my favorite books of the year.

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6) “You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.” – Paul Kalanithi, When Breathe Becomes Air

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7) Eva Igo on World of Dance 

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8) We Are the Kingdom by Francesca Battistelli

“Not to gain the world but make a difference.”

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9) How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh

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Honestly, I could probably just say ALL OF IT, but here are some of my favorite reasons why:

Take the first page, for example:

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And then insights like THESE:

  • “Not being able to control people and situations doesn’t make you powerless; it just means you have to exercise your power in a different way.”
  • “Think of discomfort as currency—it’s the price you pay to learn some pretty crucial things.”
  • “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs. An escalator can go out of service at any time, but the stairs are always there.”
  • “Don’t let disappointment blind you to potential.”
  • “You are a product of your environment, so decide wisely what kind of factory you want to be built in.”
  • “If you stay true to your values only when things are going well, then those aren’t values; they’re hobbies.”

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10) The #MeToo movement and it’s recognition by TIME

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11) This artist who utilized ripped paper as a medium:

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12) And this artist who did the same with legos

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13) “We can be truly successful only at something we’re willing to fail at. If we’re unwilling to fail, then we’re unwilling to succeed.” – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

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14) Happy People by Little Big Town

“If you wanna know the secret, can’t buy it gotta make it. You ain’t ever gonna be it by taking someone else’s away.”

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15) Will Darbyshire

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16) “Don’t fear being afraid.” – Connor Franta, Note to Self

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17) My adventure with Alison Teal

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It put me wayyy out of my comfort zone, but I’m thankful for every second of it. You can read about it here.

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17) This piece of advice:

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18) Which goes right alongside this one:

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19) Rudy Mancuso

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20) “Sometimes you just have to pick a direction and make mistakes. Then you use what you learn from your failure to pick new, better directions so you can make more mistakes and keep learning.” – Matthew Quick, Every Exquisite Thing

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21) Whatever it Takes by Imagine Dragons

“I do whatever it takes, ’cause I love how it feels when I break the chains”

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22) Move Beyond Tour

In June of this year, my mom, sister and I attended Move Beyond, a show put on by Julianne and Derek Hough, and I was absolutely floored. I actually wrote a blog post about it that I never published, but to give you an idea of how much the inspiration was bubbling inside me after seeing the show, here’s an excerpt:

When the three of us walked out of the theater that night, I had no doubts of what Move Beyond meant, and understood it was different for everyone. For me, it was a request—or rather, a demand—to move beyond the walls of the day to day. To move beyond the bounds of my limits. To move beyond the minimum, the maximum and the unthinkable. To become someone beyond who I’d imagined. To love, and create and discover beyond the realm of possibility. It was an encouragement to do more, to be more. It was proof that you can move beyond anything, if only you have the courage.

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23) This:IMG_3067

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24) Seeing this dream be manifested*:

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*Note: the first tweet was posted in January of 2014. This year he’s nominated for five Grammy’s. 

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25) And finally this:

Which quite honestly, still leaves me speechless.

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There is always inspiration to be found, and I’m thankful for the bright lights that have proven that to me this year and in years’ past. Thank you for filling me up when I’m feeling empty and opening doors I didn’t even realize were there. Here’s to a continuing cycle of inspiration, kindness and love!

 

 

 

Books I Read This Year (List-cember #3)

In 2016 I set a goal to read 30 books and while it was challenging, I succeeded and commemorated the victory with this book tower:

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It was a cool way to physically showcase the feat, though, I wouldn’t exactly recommend it as it was much heavier than I anticipated. I’m pretty sure I almost pulled a muscle and I’m entirely sure I committed brief verbal assault on my sister for not taking the picture fast enough. (Sorry, Natalee.)

This year, I had no set goal for how many books I wanted to read, but that didn’t stop me from reading incessantly. There are just too many good books out there these days, it’s overwhelming! As of now I’ve finished 22 books and am about halfway through John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down, which, due to the crazy schedule December holds for me, will probably be my last book of the year.

Overall, I was very satisfied with the selection of books I read this year. I dipped my toe into a variety of different genres and experienced an endless array of emotions, which is really all you can ask for. If I were to pick a favorite or a top 3 or a you should 100% buy these as Christmas presents type list, I think I’d go with:

  1. How to be a Bawse by Lilly Singh
  2. Brain on Fire by Susannah Calahan
  3. The Sun is Also a Star by Niccola Yoon

They are three very different books in three very different genres but they all had me glued to their pages and recommending them to everyone. With that being said however, I think I’d recommend just about every book on this list.  I actually considered ranking them from best to “worst” but couldn’t bring myself to do it, so instead I just listed them in the order I read them. So, in case you’re a bookworm like me or just looking for a suggestion or two, here are the books I read this year:

Note: I considered writing a brief bio to go with each book, but it turns out “brief bio” is an oxymoron to me. So, I’ve instead provided an Amazon link where you can find descriptions written by paid professionals and given you the genre to help you better sort out which ones you might be drawn to. Enjoy!

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  1. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)
  2. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick: Biography/Humor (find it here)
  3. The Sun is Also a Star by Niccola Yoon: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)
  4. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanthi: Memoir/Social Sciences(find it here)
  5. OCD, the Dude & Me by Lauren Roedy: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)
  6. This is a Book by Demetri Martin: Humor/Entertainment (find it here)
  7. How to be a Bawse by Lilly Singh: Biography/Self-Help (find it here)
  8. Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)
  9. Brain on Fire by Susannah Calahan: Memoir/Medicine (find it here)
  10. The Great Passage by Shion Miura: Fiction/Japanese Culture (find it here)
  11. This is Really Happening by Erin Chack: Nonfiction/Humor (find it here)
  12. Crank by Ellen Hopkins: Poetry/Young Adult (find it here)
  13. Glass by Ellen Hopkins: Poetry/Young Adult (find it here)
  14. Note to Self by Connor Franta: Nonfiction/Poetry (find it here)
  15. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)
  16. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson: Self-Help (find it here)
  17. Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy by Jane Leavy: Baseball/Biography (find it here)
  18. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: Biography/Memoir (find it here)
  19. How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky: Essays/Humor (find it here)
  20. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut: Fiction/Science Fiction (find it here)
  21. The Sun & Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur: Poetry (find it here)
  22. Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by JK Rowling: Fantasy/Fiction (find it here)
  23. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green: Teen/Young Adult (find it here)

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Did you have any books you were particularly drawn to/borderline obsessed with this year? Let me know! I’m always looking for suggestions 🙂

2017 Ornament Superlatives (List-cember #2)

Last year I introduced you to a few of my family’s noteworthy Christmas ornaments by handing out superlatives reminiscent of a high school yearbook. And since I went over to decorate my parents’ house last night, I thought it was only fitting to introduce you to a few more.

Thus, here is the second installment of Ornament Superlatives, enjoy!

(Also, in case you missed it, you can check out the first installment here.)

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Most Likely to be Missing a Piece

(or be some sort of break dancing angel baby)

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Most Likely to Have Eaten a Compromised Cookie

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Most Likely to Peek-At-Choo Gifts Under the Tree

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Most Likely to Have Just Found Out it’s an Ornament

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Most Likely to Have Glued a Beard on His Face to Try and Blend In

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Most Likely to be an Extra from Santa’s Vogue Photoshoot

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Most Likely to be Santa’s Mode of Travel When the Reindeer Get Old and Tired

(Hint: Foot Propeller)

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Most Likely to Give You Nightmares

(Note: This dethrones last year’s previous winner)

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Most Likely to Have Previously Topped a Cupcake

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ALSO: Most Likely to Make You Want a Cupcake

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Most Likely to Make You Wonder What a Llama Has to do with Christmas, then Make You Wish You Had a Christmas Llama of Your Own

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My Top 10 Christmas Movies (List-cember #1)

Hello and welcome back to the second annual List-cember!

In case you missed it last year, I dedicated my December to posts centered around lists. Some were Christmas themed, some weren’t, some will be returning for a second edition this year, some won’t. Regardless, I’m excited to bring you the second installment! I hope you enjoy and I hope you give me opinions on things you’d include if you wrote one of these lists. I’m all about the input, people, give it to me!

To kick us off, I’ve got somewhat of a controversial topic: Christmas movies. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about people during Christmas time, it’s their devotion to watching what they consider THE BEST Christmas movies. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about these kind of movie watchers it’s their tendency to debate over why they think their Christmas movies are THE BEST. Now, I’m not here to debate, really, I’m more just standing here with my list and a white flag saying, “these are my opinions, and I totally respect yours.” But if you have a Christmas movie you love that I didn’t include, please let me know. Because if there’s one undeniable fact about Christmas movies, it’s that you can never watch too many.

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10) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

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I’ve really only seen this movie a handful of times, but it’s one of those that I constantly forget how funny it is until I watch it again. It’s Chevy Chase in his prime and it’s one of my dad’s favorite movies, which makes it that much better.

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9) The Year Without a Santa Clause

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This is a classic from the 70s where Santa wakes up with a cold after Thanksgiving and decides not to deliver presents that Christmas. Instead he sends out two of his elves to figure out if anyone still cares about Christmas or even believes in Santa anymore. I realize that the way I’m describing it makes it sound totally depressing but it’s not. (At least not all of it.) It’s got cute characters and catchy songs that I’ve been singing my entire life, so if you haven’t seen this one, I highly recommend you check it out!

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8) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

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This is another classic that’s undeniably adorable. We all know the story of Rudolph and how he saved the day—or rather, Christmas Eve night—but this gives us some backstory on the little guy, including his friendship with an elf named Hermey and his run in with the Abominable Snow Monster of the North (no relation to King of the North, Jon Snow.) Fun fact: There is a point in the movie when Rudolph yells, “I’m cuuuuuute!” and my family quotes this approximately 30 times a year.

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7) To Grandmother’s House We Go

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If you were anything like me as a kid, you were OBSESSED with the Olsen twins, so it’s really no surprise that the girls’ Christmas film holds a firm place in my top 10. In this story, the girls overhear their mom saying she needs a vacation, so they sneak onto a UPS truck in the hopes it will take them to their grandmother’s house. Mind you, the girls are only about six years old, so this causes some panic among multiple parties, but it’s undeniably cute and makes me smile every time.

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6) The Grinch

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I can already cross this one off my “to-watch” list this year because my roommates and I watched it while decorating our house the other day. It had actually been a few years since I watched it and I forgot how good Jim Carrey is in it.

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5) It’s a Wonderful Life

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This is one of those movies that always makes you think a little bit more about how lucky you are to have what you have, especially during the holiday season when the general mindset is focused what you want. I think it’s an important one to watch each year, if only to hear Jimmy Stewart yell, “MARRRYY.”

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4) A Christmas Story

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I take it back, this is probably my dad’s favorite Christmas movie. We’ve undoubtedly watched this movie upwards of 20 times in my life and we still laugh at all the same parts. Recently, I got a flat tire and I thought of the scene when Ralphie drops his infamous F-bomb, and while I’ve never had much of a dirty mouth, it still made me very grateful my mom rarely bought bars of soap. Fun fact: my family actually owns two bb-guns like the one shown in the movie and we break them out every Christmas to shoot old ornaments. Additional fun fact: no eyes have been shot out…so far.

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3) Love Actually

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I’ve been trying to stop myself from getting cheesy and saying I actually love this movie, but, well, anyways. I do love this movie and I watch it every year while I wrap presents. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry and it gives me all the warm fuzzies. Also, Hugh Grant’s dancing scene is one of my favorite things that’s ever happened in a movie.

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2) Elf

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At this point, it has to be almost impossible to make a Christmas movie that can hold up among the oldies, but Will Ferrell managed to do it a few years back—woah, I just googled it, and this actually came out 14 years ago, yikes—and I think it will forever be regarded as one of the best Christmas movies ever made.

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1) The Family Stone

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I know, I know, this one has got to be a little bit of a surprise for most people. As far as I know, my family is the only one that consistently watches this EVERY year, sometimes more than once during the Christmas season alone. But it is undeniably my favorite Christmas movie and probably one of my favorite movies of all time. I don’t even know what it is about it, maybe it’s just the place it holds in my family’s heart. But we laugh and laugh and cry and cry every year as if we’ve never seen it before and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

November/December 2016 Favorites (List-cember #10)

So yes, technically December is over, which suggests that List-Cember should follow suit. But, alas, I bring you another list.

How could I not though? This one is a tradition! Plus, this will put List-Cember at an even 10 posts, which is incredibly satisfying.

Let’s begin.

 

Elevate

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My cousins can vouch for me on this one, this app is AWESOME. It’s a brain training app made up of a bunch of little mini games that test your grammar, math, and writing. Or, you know, the catchier version of that: your reading, writing and arithmetic. Each game gives you a score and then shows you where you rank among the other users, and the hope is, after some practice, you can…elevate your mind…get it? Long story short, it’s essentially the love child of Candy Crush and School House Rock and you should download it immediately. (Find it here)


 

Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate

If you’re a winter wimp like I am, once the temperature drops below 55 degrees it’s officially freezing. And while jackets and blankets can help, there’s nothing quite like a steaming cup of hot chocolate. It doesn’t only warm your hands when you hold it, it also warms your bones as you drink it! This brand has been my favorite over the last two months, the Dark Chocolate holding the biggest piece of my heart, though it also comes in Milk Chocolate, French Vanilla, and Caramel Cream, which are also delicious. (Find it here)


 

Snickerdoodle Mug Cake

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Sticking with the theme of staying warm and satisfying your taste buds, this mug cake is THE BUSINESS. There’s no other way to say it. Well, I mean, besides THE BOMB DOT COM, or the GMCOAT (greatest mug cake of all time), but I digress. You can find the recipe here.


 

Bruno Mars – 24k Magic

If by chance you’ve seen a girl driving up and down the California highways constantly putting her pinky ring up to the mooooon, it was probably me listening to Bruno Mars’ newest album, 24k Magic. There have been times when I’ve actively had to tell myself to stop listening to it. Not because I didn’t want to hear it, but because I don’t ever want to get sick of it. Thankfully, that seems highly unlikely, if not almost completely impossible at this point. (Find it here)


 

All things Lauren Graham


It’s kind of impossible not to love Lauren Graham, and this year was resounding proof of that. With the return of Gilmore Girls making me feel all the feels I’ve missed feeling, and the release of her book Talking As Fast As I Can making me smile all the smiles I can’t help but smiling, I’ve gotten a healthy dose of LG and I ain’t complainin’ about it. (Find it here)


 

List-cember

Sorry, not sorry on this one. I just had so much fun writing these and I’m genuinely sad they’re over. Good news is, I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of List-cember. Consider this the preview at the end of the credits that kind of hints at something, but for the most part keeps the sequel pretty vague, leaving you with a kind of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ expression as you leave the theater. So um, you’re welcome.

This year’s List-cember featured:

  1. My Top 5 Christmas Playlist Staples
  2. Top 10 Christmas Seasonal ProductsTop 10 Christmas Seasonal Products
  3. 2016 Ornament Superlatives
  4. Cool Things My Friends Did This Year
  5. 10 Great Things That Happened While I Wrote This Blog Post
  6. 10 Christmas Gifts I Loved/Hated (As Told by Old Photos)
  7. Last Minute Christmas Shopping Tips
  8. 5 Steps to Setting Goals for the New Year
  9. 17 Goals for 2017

 

2017

In case you missed my last post, I’m extremely excited about 2017, for a variety of different reasons, and November and December have acted as somewhat of a curtain slowly opening to its premiere. Here’s hoping it’s the best year yet!


 

Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know! My Amazon cart is always open…

See the previous favorites post here.