List-cember

December…but with lists!

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 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.

17 Goals for 2017 (List-Cember #9)

For as long as I can remember, my favorite number has been 17. I don’t know why or when it started, it’s just always been that way. Over the years however, it proved again and again be a perfect fit. For example: there are 17 letters in my full name.

As you can imagine, the prospect of becoming 17 was a big deal to me. For years leading up to the event I constantly told everyone that it was destined to be the “best. year. ever.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say it was a very hard year. One I would never wish to repeat and one I don’t often talk about.

BUT, seeing as the New Year is almost upon us and it just so happens to be 2017, I’m hoping it will be redemption for the disaster that was 2007. And to aid the cause, I’m making a point to set fun, challenging and achievable goals for myself. How many goals you might ask?

You didn’t really have to ask, did you?

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1) See Star Wars

I’m putting this first so it is read for what it is: a confession. I admit it, I HAVEN’T SEE STAR WARS! None of them. Zero. Zilch. All I know is that Luke meets his dad and Hayden Christensen has a ponytail. So, this year I’m finally going to do it. I’m going to watch them all, straight up through Rogue One, and then I will finally feel like an accepted member of society (and hopefully receive less dirty looks.)

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2) See 5 WLRA’s

If you’ll recall this post from September, I recently became obsessed with the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions, and set a goal for myself to see every single one in the USA. For this year, I’m shooting for five. I don’t know which ones they’ll be or if I’ll be able to see more than that, but I’m setting five as my minimum. One for each finger.

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3) Try this jean rug DIYdiy-rug-with-upcycled-old-denim-ohohblog-17

I’m big into crafts (a huge understatement) and I tend to have the “I could just make that” mentality whenever I think something is too expensive. Does this often go wrong? Yes. But that didn’t stop me from bookmarking this DIY rug whilst I was searching around for a cheap one on Amazon.

Note: the key word in this one is try. I’m not going to win any awards, but damn if I’m not going to go as Project Runway as possible on this bad boy.

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4) Run 1,000 miles

WOAH. I know, it sounds like a lot. But if I was ever going to set a goal like this, 2017 is the year to do it. I have it in my plans to run a couple half marathons, as well as a 2 day, 12 person relay race this year, and in order to survive any and all of these, I’m going to need to train. I figure adding this extra goal will only make training that more enticing.

Fun fact: I already started this one last week. You can call this cheating if you want, actually no, no you can’t. See Rule 5 for why.  

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5) Complete The Ultimate Fit Bit Week

To the best of my knowledge, this isn’t actually a thing. If it is, correct me, but if it isn’t, I will now explain the parameters of The Ultimate Fit Bit Week a.k.a TUFBW (obviously pronounced, “tuff-boo”). Essentially, a TUFBW is reaching nearly every goal Fit Bit sets for you in a day, for an entire 7 days. (I don’t count getting a star in sleep because for the most part that’s out of your control.)

I’m talking all these guys are green every day: fullsizerender-8

The steps per hour rainbow is filled every day:

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And by the end of the week this man is running inside a blue pentagon of victory:

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I’ve never even come close to doing this, and aside from running 1000 miles, this will probably be the hardest goal I’ve set. What can I say? TUFBW’s are tough, Boo.

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6) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

I absolutely love volunteering but am ashamed to say I did so exactly zero times in 2016! Yikes! This must change immediately. Let’s stick with 5 again as a minimum. One for each finger on the other hand.

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7) Go to a sporting event of every kind

Well, probably not every kind. That would prove to be impossible. I’m thinking more of the top five: Baseball, Football, Hockey, Basketball & Soccer. One for each toe.

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8) Try every class at the gym

I don’t do nearly enough to take advantage of my gym membership, which constantly leaves me rolling my eyes when the monthly payment charges my card. So, this year I aim to participate in such grand fashion that I can call the guy at the desk Bob, even though that’s not his name, but it will be an inside joke between us because we see each other so often.

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9) Do The Princess Diaries painting

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Need I say more? I think we can collectively agree we’ve all wanted to do this for 15 years now and it’s about time we took the plunge. Also, I may or may not wear a tiara while doing it.

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10) Find and try the “Best of” restaurants in LA

It is so often that I see Los Angeles in the “best of” talks when it comes to eateries. And while I’m not one to try the “experimental” restaurants, I can’t help but have an appetite for something labeled “the best.” That being said, I’m going to stick to the five most important food groups: Pizza, Burgers, Ice Cream, Donuts, and Sandwiches.  I’m going to scour the Internet and find what LA (or surrounding area) restaurant is considered “the best” in each of these categories and pay them a visit.

(Any and all suggestions are welcome)

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11) Watch every film that has ever won Best Picture

A few years ago I made a list of every film that has ever been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, in the hopes that one day I’d eventually have a proper movie education or, what Jesse from Pitch Perfect would define as a proper “movie-cation.” Mind you, as of 2016, that list is 528 films deep, so that goal is no joke. For this year, I’m just aiming to see those that won. So far, of the 88 (soon to be 89), I’ve already seen 7! So uhh…yeah, almost there.

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12) Learn to Longboard

This year on Christmas morning, after my family had finished opening all of our presents, my dad pulled an A Christmas Story and said, “I think there’s one more gift for you, Kim, over in the corner there.” “Is it a rifle?” I asked, referencing the movie. “No, but I think it’s something on your bucket list.” I furrowed my brow in confusion, tiptoed over to the corner of the room, lifted the beach towel as instructed, and then screamed in excitement. Because yes, learning to skateboard has always been on my bucket list, and now suddenly there was a longboard in my house with my name (figuratively) on it. Cue goal 12*.

*Let it be noted that I will unabashedly wear a helmet and elbow pads throughout the learning process, and will undoubtedly bruise my entire body. However, it will all be worth it. Look for me on the beach boardwalk, hair blowing in the wind, or at the grocery store on a milk run, no bag required.

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13) Learn how to do a headband braid

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I suck at doing my hair. My friend and old roommate Kristine, however, is AMAZING at hair. And when we lived together I’d often turn to her to braid my hair when it was lashing out at me. My favorite was the headband braid. It got my hair out of my face and overall made me look pretty put together (I think). This year I’ll learn to do it on my own.

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14) Reach the 100,000-mile mark on my car

I would like to think this is an inevitable achievement this year because I’m already at 96,950, but I’m sticking it on here because it just wouldn’t be my lucky year if me and Jeffrey (my car) couldn’t celebrate 100,000 miles together.

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15) Do a bar/pub crawl

I’ve never actually done one and I just think that walking, talking, and drinking beer with good people sounds like a grand old time.

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16) Sing Karaoke

This could probably go hand in hand with the last one, especially since I’d have a little extra courage to do so. Now all I have to do is figure out what my go-to song will be.

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17) Complete Project Lightbulb

For my dad’s birthday in November, my family and I typed up a mock itinerary of a trip we hope to take to Iceland—the codename for which was “Project Lightbulb”. My dad has always wanted to see the Northern Lights, so we finally took those first steps towards making it happen. And since life often tries to get in the way of plans like these, I’m making it a priority to take this trip, or at least have it completely planned and booked, this year!

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So yeah, 2017 is going to be no joke. I can’t wait!

If you’re interested in following along, I’m going to post my progress here as well as on my Instagram. With any luck, a year from now I’ll be writing about what a badass I was during 2017. I’ll have showered my list with checkmarks and will be typing with that proud, sassy tone I usually get when I do my laundry before running out of underwear. Here’s hoping!

Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.

5 Steps to Setting Goals for the New Year (List-cember #8)

Can you believe we’re already in the last week of December?! Every year it seems like the day after Thanksgiving we start powering forward towards Christmas, putting every drop of our energy into all that it entails, and then suddenly it’s over and we’re sitting on December 26th like, “what do you mean the year is over in 5 days?”

To make matters more stressful, with the end of one year comes the beginning of a new year, and all the pressure associated with that. How can I make the coming year better than the last? What can I change? What can I cut out? What dance move do I need to learn?

It’s a lot to think about.

So, for this second to last installment of List-cember, I give you the 5 steps to setting goals for the New Year.

 

1) Set Goals, Not Resolutions

At the beginning of this year, I wrote this post after being inspired by another blogger to no longer make New Years Resolutions. In her post, she explained why it is important to instead set goals, as they are specific and concrete (i.e. read 30 books) while resolutions are much more vague (i.e. read more). The article really struck a chord in me and immediately after reading it, I wrote a list of goals for the year. As it turned out, the blogger was right. Having my goals spelled out in front of me made it easier to achieve them. I had numbers and dates involved and that gave me much-needed deadlines. It also prevented me from finding loopholes. With “read more” I could have rationalized any number as the “more”, while “read 30 books” (which by the way was actually on my list) is pretty bulletproof. (Ps- I did end up reading 30 books)

 

2) Pick absolutely anything

Your goals are just that, your goals. Don’t let anyone else tell you what they should be and don’t be ashamed of anything you want to throw on that list.

 

3) Don’t be so serious

Piggy backing off of #2, goals don’t always have to be these deep, philosophical creatures. When I was trying to get ideas for my list, I started sifting around for inspiration and kept finding these vague, heavy statements like “love more” or “attract more positivity”. And while those are great, and in some cases very necessary for someone looking for a fresh start, I didn’t feel like I really connected to any of them. At first this worried me. Does this mean my list is stupid? No! It just means the list is mine.

 

4) Find a balance between challenging and achievable

To give you a sports metaphor: think of Michael Phelps, a.k.a the greatest Olympian of all time. He set incredible goals for himself, many of which he appeared to achieve. This is because he found that balance. He was always pushing himself to do more, while still respecting what was possible. Imagine if his goal would have merely been to “make the swim team” or if it was to “win gold in every single swimming event at the Olympics.” He would have never become the champion he is today. This is why that balance is so important, it gets you in tune with what you are capable of, and even more, what you can be capable of if you put in the work.

 

5) Go for it

Once you set your goals, get after them! Don’t feel like you have to wait for anyone’s permission. Don’t even make yourself wait for January 1st! Just go for it. Achieve achieve achieve and then set more goals and start all over.just-do-it

 

What’s on your list this year?

 

Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.

Last Minute Christmas Shopping Tips (List-cember #7)

I have always loved Christmas shopping. I love the paper, I love the bows, I even love the ribbons that take me 15 times to curl. And since it is less than 4 days until Christmas, a.k.a CRUNCH TIME, I thought it would be helpful to give you some tips on finding the best gifts.

Not to brag (and by that I mean, listen up, I’m about to brag) but I’ve finished my Christmas shopping. My presents are already wrapped and under my tree! (Brag over) I was way ahead of the game this year! (Woops, sorry, now the brag is over) But that doesn’t mean I can’t relate to the struggle and panic associated with the week of.

In years past, I’ve often found myself in the 20’s of December, pacing around the mall and/or my living room, very calmly asking myself, “WHAT THE &*%# AM I GOING TO DO?!?!?”

As fun as it is to send yourself on a downward spiral of worry and panic however, it kind of ruins the magic of the gift giving season. So whenever I reach that point in my shopping experience, I return to these steps:

 

1) Relax

Seriously, start by just breathing in and out, for as long as you like. (Or until you pass out, but that’s not recommended) Then, remember that there is no “perfect gift.” There is no be-all end-all present you have to find amongst the thousands of red tags in order to retain a healthy relationship with whomever you’re shopping for. Take careful note of the cliché, “it’s the thought that counts”, and then move to step 2.

 

2) Reminisce

I often like to shop for people one at a time. So once I’ve picked a victim loved one to start with, I’ll open up an imaginary slide projector in my mind and scroll through all of the memories and conversations I’ve shared with them over the past year, to see if anything stands out. Even if I can’t come up with anything specific, I’ll take concepts and inside jokes and look for gift ideas that relate.

 

3) Visualize

When I get an idea of something I might want to buy for that person, I visualize what their reaction will be like. Will they laugh? Will they cry? Will they roll their eyes (in a good way)? How do I hope they’ll react?

 

4) Add to Cart

I’ll admit it, I’m a big online shopper, but this step can apply to both web and in-store searching. After I find what I want, I’ll stick it in my cart and just let it rest there for a little while, giving me time to repeat steps 1-3. Now, I realize this is more difficult when you’re shopping on the last few days before Christmas or, say, Black Friday, because there are hundreds of other hungry shoppers willing to fight you for whatever the item(s) in question may be. But it’s a general rule (and by general rule I mean, THIS SHOULD BE OBVIOUS YOU CRAZED ANIMALS) that once something is in your cart, it’s yours. So for the most part, you shouldn’t have any prying hands. Just stick it in the cart, let the prospect of the purchase marinate, and do a lap.

 

5) It’s okay to crunch numbers

Anyone worth giving a gift to will not care how much you spend on it. Take note of where you are financially and don’t put yourself out just because you think you have to. If times are tough, sometimes the best gift is company. Just take the time to go see them, give them a call, write them a letter, anything that says, “I appreciate you,” because in the end, that’s the core of gift-giving.

 

6) Be proud of your gift

There have been so many times when immediately after I’ve bought something, I convince myself it’s the stupidest idea ever, especially once I see or hear about a gift being given by someone else. That’s way better than mine. It’s way more expensive. It’s way more adorable. It sparkles. Etc. Etc. Etc. But then I think about how, no matter what gift I am given, I’m always filled with gratitude, and gratitude is one of the greatest feelings in the world. So be proud of the fact that you’ve put in the time and effort to help someone you love feel it.

 

6) Go ham on wrapping

I’m a perfectionist, so I often spend a lot of time trying to make a gift look as clean and nice as possible. However, sometimes it’s best to just kitchen sink it and wrap it with whatever you can find, in any way you can muster. Some of my favorite materials I’ve used in a pinch are aluminum foil, paper towels and staples.

 

7) Be thankful for their “thank you” and don’t expect anything in return

It’s extremely easy to walk into a gift-giving situation with your ego high and your expectations higher. You are proud of the gift you’ve bought and are expecting something good in return. Truth is, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Take time to appreciate the gratitude they have for you and learn to love that more than anything they may give you in return.

 

I wish you all the luck in your last minute shopping endeavors, and more importantly, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

 

Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.

10 Christmas Gifts I Loved/Hated (As Told by Old Photos) (List-Cember #6)

We all know that it is incredible to receive a gift, of any shape or size, from anyone. And while oftentimes that gift is marvelous, we’re all occasionally going to get pink bunny pajamas (or the figurative equivalent.)

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Regardless, there will always be a family member close by waiting to take your picture, and asking you to show off said marvel and/or bunny pajamas.

For me, my dad is always that family member. And it turns out that when you take my general disdain for having my picture taken and mix in the pressure of having to instantly love a gift that’s been given to me, it makes for some pretty amazing photos.

Here are 10 of my favorites:
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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: HECK YES, Mom & Dad! An Abu stuffed animal AND an Aladdin book?!? I’m so happy I might…well…actually, can we take a bathroom break?

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Honestly, has anyone ever seen me wear yellow? Soooo not in my color wheel, y’all.

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 What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Do any of these amazing ladies have bangs quite like mine?

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: OH NOW THIS IS A COMFY CHAIR. Dad, I know you like your recliner, but this makes my butt feel like it just won the Superbowl and is now going to Disneyland. Seriously, you should get one of these for yourself.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Awww yeah, baby. One step closer to completing my collection, which will no doubt be valuable FOREVER.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Does this jacket make my hips look big?

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: At what point did I grow a beard and start taming reindeer? What in the ho ho ho am I supposed to do with a plate?

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Woody!! Buzz!! Forget “Andy’s coming!” because Kim. Has. Arrived. and I will totally accept you for the talking toys you are.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Mom, Dad, you get me. You really, truly get..zzzzzzz

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This next one isn’t a post-gift reaction, but more of a strategy to make sure the photo of which will have no reason not to be outstanding.

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What I’m (Probably) Thinking Here: Ignore her big guy, I’ve been good and I’ve got a long list for you. You might want to grab a pen…

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Here’s to another wonderful season of gift giving and incredibly unflattering photos taken way too early!

Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.

10 Great Things That Happened While I Wrote This Blog Post (List-Cember #5)

There is no question in my mind that I am blessed. I have a great family, great friends, food to eat, a roof over my head, a job, a passion, this pair of bear slippers:img_0314

By all accounts, I am extremely lucky. And while I should take note of this year round, I find it’s always easier and more often done during the holidays. With my entire family getting together week after week, I can’t help but look around and be thankful.

That being said however, I know there are some people who are not as lucky as me. For some, the holidays bring a lot of loneliness and pain. Bad memories, sad memories, harsh reminders of things they wish they had, things they lost or things they wonder if they’ll ever have again.

So for this list, I’m hoping to bring some light to your world, no matter how dark or light it already may be. Because while I know this time of year can be hard, there are still some great things happening all around us, and sometimes the first step to finding joy in our own lives is spotting it somewhere else.

Here are 10 great things that happened while I wrote this blog post:

1) 3,880 babies were born.wbc9xilqb4k-tim-bish

2) 730 puppies and kittens were born (and that’s in the US alone)t8sxccv0agw-freestocks-org

3) 71 new books were publishedslitfwbhijc-syd-wachs

4) The number of malnourished people in the world decreased by 772

5) 1145 people gained access to clean watero-CLEAN-WATER-facebook

6) 313 people fell in lovetp0otafbzp0-william-stitt

7) 65 people got marriedyb-fv93yl54-scott-webb

8) 45,662 trees were planted*b82r8cnxfzg-annette-beetge

*Bonus Note: Hundreds of trees were accidentally planted by squirrels that hid their nuts and will forget where they are.

9) Someone somewhere said, “This is the greatest day EVER!”r_blogxpsog-leo-rivas-micoud

10) 1,556,501,521 people smiled7omhughhmz0-aatik-tasneem

Scratch that, make it 1,556,501,522 because I just caught the bug.

So this year, even though the holidays may tend to bring you grief, know that joy is out there and it will find you. And in the coming weeks, let’s make every effort to help it find those around us as well. Let’s drive that #10 count way up!

Miss a List-cember post? Find them here.

Data gathered over a 15 minute period, partially from http://www.worldometers.info/ and partially from a hearty combination of research and badass high school math skills.