30 Good Things that Happened in April

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, a monthly series where I highlight all the good things (get it?) that happen in each 30-day (or so) span. I hope it can be a reminder that amongst all the well known bad, there is a lot of undercover good happening in our world.

Let’s dive right in!

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1) Officer Oliver reported for duty

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2) This Humboldt hockey player showed incredible bravery in the wake of a tragedy

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3) These dog nannies took care of their kids

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4) This 108 year old man met his great-great grandchild and namesake

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5) This incredible joke was made

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6) This girl’s video about bullying received a big response from the Yankees

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7) This boy got the photoshoot of a lifetime

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8) This woman tried to water her plants

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9) This man’s picture ended up being worth more than 1000 words

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10) This photographer went the extra mile to get the perfect shot

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11) The co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge got his voice back

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12) The police identified this missing dog by singing its favorite song

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13) This boy saw color for the first time

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14) Chuck E Cheese made this announcement

Considerate Chuck E. Cheese

A post shared by Tank.Sinatra (@tanksgoodnews) on

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15) This woman made geode art

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16) Google honored Maya Angelou for her 90th birthday

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17) This woman gave us an important reminder

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18) This family found their daughter after a 24-year search

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19) This girl tried her hand at captioning New Yorker cartoons

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20) The Rock surprised this girl over her school’s PA system

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21) This man got a nearly drowned prairie dog back on its feet

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22) Melissa McCarthy gave some inspirational words about finding success

“When you spend 20 years working your butt off, you know yourself better. If you’re handed everything you want at 19 or 20, you may actually believe all of the people who are like, ‘You’re amazing.’ I think I would have been probably cuckoo [if I’d been successful] at 18. I think the best thing I could have done was struggle until I was 30. I always assume every job is my last. Twenty years of desperately trying to get a single job gets deep in your DNA.”

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23) This dog taught his brother how to “sit”

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24) Model Nyles DeMarco politely called out this woman for creeping pictures of him

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25) The royal baby was born

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26) And so were a bunch of others whose parents didn’t expect to find paparazzi waiting for them outside the hospital.

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27) These truck drivers joined together to save a man’s life

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28) This girl surprised her prom date

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29) This woman drank alcohol for the first time since giving birth

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30) This boy ran home

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

I can’t wait to see what May brings!

You can view last month’s post here.

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You Keep Following Your Dreams & I’ll Keep Following Mine

In August of 2016, me, my sister, and my best friend Allison (except I spell it Alleeson because of a whole Kimberlee double-e solidarity thing) went to dinner at Islands. As we sat laboring over which hamburger to choose from the menu, Alleeson put her hands on the table and took a deep breath.

“I have news,” she said.

I put my menu down and looked across the table at her, trying to gage whether this was good news or bad news based on the tone of her voice.

“I got a job.”

“That’s great!” I said, relieved.

“It’s for a news station in Oregon.”

Not even a month later, she was moving into a house 12 hours away and I was both heartbroken for me and unfathomably excited for her. She was nervous, I could tell. But she was also excited and curious and determined to give herself the big break she’d been waiting for.

In November of that year, I was able to visit her. She took me on a tour around her studio and showed me where they filmed the show and the things she was in charge of. I even got to watch a live taping of the evening show and witness her talent in action.

Back home, I was trying to catch some of the fire Alleeson had left behind. I was in awe of her bravery and her ability to just go for it. She made it look easy, even though I know almost no part of it was. She made me want to fight the battles that had long been easier to stay out of.

As the months went on, even though we were now hundreds of miles apart, I noticed how we still managed to mirror each other. Since we both come from creative backgrounds, we are constantly looking to do more, make more, be more, and so we both have our ups filled with confidence and our downs filled with doubt.

One night, as we were both lamenting over where we were and where we wanted to be, we made a pact. We decided that since the paths to our ultimate dreams were somewhat blurry, the best first step would be to hone in the destination.

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In the last year, I’ve seen Alleeson dive even deeper into her work. Putting in day after day, constantly pushing herself and trying new things, trying to be more. And yesterday, just as I was getting home from work, I got a message.

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She called me and I screamed into the phone. I tried to tell her how proud I was, how excited I was, how much she deserved it. Because she did. She does. She took that big risk; she’s put in all that work. She’s carving that path towards her dream no matter what anyone has to say about it.

It would be easy to be jealous, but that would be a waste of time. Instead, I’m going to take this as a reminder of what we set out to. What we intend to do, no matter how hard it is or how long it takes.

So as I celebrate this huge step she’s made, I’m going to take a few more of my own. For we started this together and always planned to kick ass side by side from there.

Congratulations Alleeson! (And good luck at the 2018 Regional Emmy’s!) Keep following your dream and I’ll keep following mine, and may we continue to follow each other’s fire.

Some Thoughts on Hug Protocol

I like hugs, I really do, but I’m also very confused by them.

See, I understand there are times when it’s obvious to hug and times when it’s obvious not to hug. But then there’s all this middle ground that is hard to read and makes my stomach hurt.

Take for example the “to hug” situations:

Hi, hello, it’s nice to meet you, let’s hug.

I’m so sorry your bird died, let’s hug.

I love you! I missed you! I just want an excuse to touch you! Let’s. Freaking. HUG.

Sometimes our bodies have no idea what else to do except hug, and so without even thinking twice we’re walking in for the kill with our arms wide whether the receiving party is ready or not.

Wait, stop right there. This is where a grey area comes in.

See, my sister is a BIG hugger. She’s all about showing love with a body glove. So much so that I sometimes refer to her as an “attack hugger,” which she—unsurprisingly—does not care for. She believes hugs are always important and will benefit all parties involved.

They break the ice. They show affection. They often provide you the opportunity to not-so-casually sniff someone’s hair. I get it. But am I the only one that wakes up on some mornings with zero hug toleration?

As in, Do. Not. Touch. Me.

I mean, is it so much to ask to let me dude it up from time to time and shake your hand or maybe just wave to you from across the room?

I don’t know, maybe this makes me antisocial. Or emotionally distant. Or some other string of big words that a psychologist would use to overanalyze me, relating it all back to the moment I realized my parents put me down and never picked back me up again.

But anyways, back to the grey area.

Say you walk into a room of 20 people you know, 15 of whom you genuinely like, and you start your circuit of “hello hugs” even though you know that your relationship with a few of these people is very “non-huggy”, either because you barely know each other or because you know each other too well and have too much of a wonky past. Do you still hug them?

Or what about when you’re talking to a friend whose kids are standing nearby and even though you know of all of them, you’ve really only gotten to know the oldest one through sports or church or something, so when you are getting ready to leave you only hug your friend and their oldest kid. Should you hug the rest of the children knowing they’d probably feel just as weird as you do about it, making the hug they actually do give you this weird hand pat on the back thing, which tempts you to make some sort of joke about how they should really hug people, even though you don’t want to hug them and they don’t want to hug you and now you’ve made quite a show about what type of hug you expect from them, even though you didn’t want one in the first place? Should you still hug them?

Lastly, say you arrive late to a family dinner so you walk in quickly, waving to everyone and apologizing for your tardiness, anxious to get to your seat so your family can order because they’re already complaining about how hungry they are. But when you get to your seat, you notice that your sister, who walked in behind you, stopped at each individual seat to hug everyone over-the-shoulder style—the act of which you hate because of that one time you accidentally put your hand in someone’s arm pit—and you wonder if you should have done the same thing. But now you’re already sitting down and you’ve taken your jacket off to try and cool yourself off, and you know that if you got up to hug everyone now someone would almost certainly put their hand in your arm pit by accident, which by this point is flooded with stress sweat. Do you still get up and hug them?

Jeopary-style answer: What is, I have absolutely no idea.

Can someone just invent an app I can sync with my Fit Bit that will make it vibrate once whenever I should hug someone and twice whenever I shouldn’t?

Yeah?

Good. Great. I would so appreciate that. Honestly. I mean, if you could really figure that out I’d be so thankful. No, you know what, I’m already thankful just because you’re considering this. Thank you, you are such a gem. Really, you are. Bring it in, let’s hug.

(Your) Kids Say the Darndest Things

I don’t have any kids yet. (Thank goodness.)

I love them, and want them someday, but right now I survive primarily off of pasta and granola bars and I recently lost my favorite pair of pants inside my dresser drawer, so it’s safe to I need some time to, you know, grow.

When the time comes, you can pretty much guarantee I will be one of those people constantly posting about every single thing my kids say and do, because to me it will be HILARIOUS and life changing, where in reality it will just be burping into a spoon. Until that time however, I’ve decided to take note of the hilarious things that other peoples’ kids have said to me. I’ve also thrown in a few of my favorites from when my brother was little, enjoy!

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Kid: “When I bump my head, my brain gets hypnotized.”

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Kid: At my house, I saw a rainbow with only 2 colors

Me: Well that doesn’t seem right, how many colors should a rainbow have?

Kid: 400 or 10 or 9

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Kid: They’re making a new Star Wars movie!

Me: Cool! When will it be out?

Kid: In about 13 minutes

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Kid: The new me is going to be a Ghostbuster

Me: When is the new you arriving?

Kid: 13 days

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Kid: On Saturdays when I grow up, I’m going to be a dentist

Me: Only on Saturdays?

Kid: Yeah cuz on Sundays I’m going to be a scientist, and I’m going to work with you Monday through Friday

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Kid: Hey can we shoot this pomegranate with a bb gun?

Me: No, I don’t think so.

Kid: hmmm, okay, I think I’ll just throw it across the yard then.

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Me: Hey look, this cheeto looks like the letter “F”

Kid: Yeah! *pulls another cheeto out of bag* hey look, this cheeto looks like my grandpa wearing a hat!

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Kid: “Did you know that when people die they can still fart for a few hours?”

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Kid: Hmmm, that’s funny, this gutter smells like chicken.

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Sometimes I wish my brain still worked like theirs. Though, honestly, sometimes it still does.

Strain then Stir (Episode 3): How to be Ingredient Conscious (Part 2)

Hello and welcome back to another episode of Strain Then Stir, a no-cameras, diary-esque cooking show blog where I attempt to transform myself from a two-meal Tina into a full course Frank…or at the very least, be capable of feeding myself more than cereal and pasta.

It has been quite a while since our last episode, though I suppose I have the holidays (and blunt procrastination) to blame for that. It always seems like the beginning of November turns into the beginning of January in the blink of an eye, doesn’t it?

If you remember last episode at all—don’t feel bad if you don’t, I had to go back and look because I had absolutely no idea—you’ll recall I talked about being ingredient conscious, which was essentially just me learning to better utilize leftover ingredients rather than letting them go to waste. Going back and reading it, I was a little disappointed in myself for not including some actual recipes I was using. So in the hopes of making up for that, I’ve brought some today!

In these last few months, I again noticed that my pantry and refrigerator were starting to pile up with ingredients that weren’t being used and were just sitting there taking up space. Eventually I got tired of looking at them and I went on a mission to start using them all.

Here are some recipes I found to help:

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Leftover Ingredient: Bananas

Recipe: Banana Bread

Have you ever bought bananas, brought them home, eaten 1 or 2 and then totally forgotten about them until they are brown and gross? Yeah, that’s me almost 100% of the time I buy bananas. Luckily, banana bread thrives on overripe bananas, and acts as a haven for your forgetfulness. I came across this recipe about a month ago when I was on the verge of throwing my bananas away, and it was so delicious, I will never again commit such a crime! (Find the recipe here!)

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HT_Chrissy_Teigen5_cf_160226_4x3t_384Leftover Ingredient: Sweet Potatoes

Recipe: Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I also happen to be guilty of buying sweet potatoes and forgetting about them until they’ve grown vines and look more like a monster than a food. In my last post, I talked about using sweet potatoes in an omelet, which was great, but this recipe from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook is to die for. (Find the recipe here, find her cookbook here)

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Leftover Ingredient: Brown Rice & Frozen Veggies

Recipe: Rice Bowls

Whenever I go grocery shopping I like to buy brown rice and frozen vegetables in bulk, figuring the combination of the two is always an easy and healthy option. The only problem is, after a while rice and vegetables can get a little bland. An easy solution I’ve found for this however, is to:

a) Get more creative with my rice bowls, for example, you can check out a bunch of recipes here and here.

b) Add more flavor to my rice bowls. Growing up I was never much of a spice person. I’ve always been super sensitive to spicy foods and as a result tend to shy away from almost all spices. Recently however, I’ve been trying to ease in different herbs and spices to—wait for it—spice up my life a little bit, and let me tell you, it’s been life changing! (Check out this article for 15 easy ways to spice up brown rice) 

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p_R103186Leftover Ingredient: Cannellini Beans

Recipe: White Bean & Tuna Wraps

When I was working my way through Kayla Itsines’ book in the first episode, I bought a couple cans of cannellini beans for one recipe or another but then completely forgot about them. As a result, they were sitting in my pantry for months! My biggest issue with finding a recipe home for these guys was that I wasn’t exactly sure what they were or what they tasted like, and oftentimes when I’m making dinner, I’m too hungry or lazy to do that kind of research. But in the spirit of cleaning out my pantry, I finally took the 2 minutes to google “cannellini bean recipes” and I came across this bad boy. Honestly, I’m mad it took me this long to find it. (Find the recipe here)

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Over the next month or two I’m hoping to dive into another cookbook and find some new recipes to learn. If I were to sum up what I’ve learned so far in only two words, I’d say, who knew?! because it seems like the farther I go into this journey, the more I’m finding that is always something else to know.

You Won’t Win Unless You’re Willing to Lose

In October of 2017, as he was training for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Shaun White had a horrible crash that resulted in 62 stitches in his face. In an interview a few months later, he was asked whether the crash gave him doubts about his ability or willingness to continue, especially in pursuit of a spot on the Olympic team. He nodded his head, saying that while he looked in the mirror at his nearly unrecognizable face, he realized that by agreeing to continue, agreeing to step back out there and try again, he was more or less accepting that this could happen all over again.

At first, this statement seemed obvious to me. Being a complete outsider to the sport, the corresponding danger is constantly at the forefront of my attention. I mean, they are literally throwing themselves through the air, flipping and spinning and twisting at high speeds, all the while hoping they’ll land flat on a thin piece of fiberglass. With that in mind, of course it could happen again, Shaun! Honestly it seems like it should happen more.

But as the weeks went on and the Olympics came and went, the quote sat with me, churning around in my brain the way all lessons waiting to be learned tend to. Eventually I started thinking about the risks I take in my own life. Both small and big. I thought about my writing, both on this blog and outside it in pursuit of other projects, accolades, etc. Every time I write a blog post, I accept the fact that people might not like it, or that it might not do well. Every time I submit a piece to a contest or a magazine or a publisher, I accept the fact that it might lose or get rejected. Every time I try to succeed, I accept the fact I can fail.

After a while, I realized this mindset can apply to almost every aspect of our lives.

In relationships, every time you make yourself vulnerable you accept the fact that you could get hurt.

In finances, every time you make an investment you accept the fact that it could fall through.

Plans can fail. Accidents can happen. Hearts can break.

In this world, there is a lot to be afraid of, there is a lot that can go wrong, and there are a lot of opportunities to fail. But every day we get up, every day we step outside, every time we accept those fears and try again, we give ourselves the change to succeed, to win.

On February 14th, after spending months both recovering from his injury and working his way back into the physical and mental shape needed to make the Olympic team, Shaun White won the gold medal in the Snowboard Halfpipe event, making him the most decorated snowboarder of all time.

In many ways it was expected, hoped for, anticipated, both by Shaun White and the millions of people tuning in to the competition. But the only guarantee would have come from him not trying, not taking that risk, not stepping back into the sport all those months ago. The same goes for anything you hope for, I dream of, we all aim to accomplish. So even though failure is hard, vulnerability is terrifying and losing sucks, it’s worth the risk. Not only because it brings you one step closer to success, but because it makes you stronger, braver and smarter than you were before. And although it might not feel like it, trying and failing will always show more courage than avoiding failure all together. So take the risk, make the try and see where it takes you.

2018 Goals Check-in

Can you believe we’re already 3 months into this year? I seriously can’t get over how fast everything is moving! And with the end of March officially marking the end of the first quarter of the year, it’s time to check in on how I’m doing with the goals I set for 2018.

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1) Do a handstand in yoga

Progress: 33.33%

So I have to admit, I haven’t been doing great at going to yoga. I started strong at the beginning of the year, but that petered out fast. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy yoga, I just didn’t particularly care for the class I was going to and haven’t been that motivated to find a new one. HOWEVER, I have been doing some at-home yoga using Yoga Girl’s program and have been very diligent about going to the gym. Thus, I am getting stronger, which was the ultimate plan in working myself up to do a handstand. Stay tuned!

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2) Take a kickboxing class

Progress: 0%

I have not got around to signing up for a kickboxing class. However, I’ve done a bunch of research on where I can take them. In doing so I found a bunch of promotional deals on sites like Groupon, as well as a number of gyms and classes near me that offer a free class for beginners. So I will definitely be taking advantage of those opportunities in the near future.

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

Progress: 1/20 (5%)

This was another one that had a great start but has been in a solid lull since then. However, I’m not too worried as I love museums and I think it will take just getting back to one for me to fall into a rhythm and go consistently. As of now, I’ve only gone to is The Getty, but I’ll keep a running list in case you’re interested!

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4) Get CPR certified

Progress: 0%

This one is on hold until the fall because my aunt offered to take me with her when she gets re-certified before the coming school year. That being said, please hold all emergencies until September.

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5) Shoot (at least) 1 roll of film per month

Progress: 3/12 (25%)

It’s funny, I never realized just how long it had been since I photographed with my film camera or how out of practice I was until I shot my first roll. At the beginning of this year, I was feeling pretty confident and decided to ignore my instincts to re-read the directions on how to work my camera, and I moved through the roll of film pretty quickly, thinking, “I still got it!” This overconfidence however, came back to bite me when I finished the roll, tried to unload the film—while STILL not looking at the directions—and ultimately ruined the film all together. Since then however, I’ve got my groove back (and I’ve read the directions) and am currently on target.

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6) Complete the 104 things to Photograph book

Progress: 10/104 (9.62%)

I made a spreadsheet to track this (which surprises no one) but I’m actually not 100% sure where I’m at, as I haven’t developed the film I’ve shot over the last few months. There might be some surprises that can apply to the book, we’ll see!

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

Progress: 0%

I haven’t had any time to do research on this one, so no progress yet.

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8) Go to the dentist

Progress: 0%

I’m going to make myself an appointment today. I (probably) promise!

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9) Watch 20 documentaries on Netflix

Progress: 4/20 (20%)

Before starting this goal I was a little nervous I wouldn’t find documentaries I liked or enjoyed and instead would feel like I was back in school trying not to fall asleep during an educational video. To my pleasant surprise however, I’ve found that documentaries come in a variety of flavors, at least one of which everyone is bound to like. Here are the ones I’ve watched so far:

  1. Happy
  2. The Mortified Guide
  3. The Mortified Sessions
  4. Minimalism

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10) Perfect an omelet

Progress: 0%

For this one, I’ve both received tips and invitations for in-person lessons from friends, but the biggest thing holding me back is getting a good pan. So, once I find some extra room in my budget to grab one, I will take everyone up on their advice/help/etc.

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

Progress: 3/12 (25%)

If you read my January & February favorites, I mentioned MoviePass, which has essentially been the key for keeping up with this goal. After seeing two movies in January for a total of only $10, I quickly convinced my sister and my roommate, Rachel, to sign up and I hope we take wild advantage of it for the rest of the year. Also, in case your curious, I’ll keep a running tally of the movies I see, so far that includes:

  1. I, Tonya
  2. Call Me By Your Name
  3. Maze Runner: The Death Cure
  4. 50 Shades Freed
  5. Red Sparrow
  6. I Can Only Imagine

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

Progress: 2/20 (10%)

I fell a little off track on this goal after getting sucked into a couple books (Into the Wild & Into Thin Air, both of which I’d highly recommend!) by Jon Krakauer at the beginning of this year. In addition, once I was ready to start checking books off the list, I realized I either had to ask if people I knew had these books, or start working a second job to start buying them all. Luckily, my roommate Rachel discovered something MAGICAL, a.k.a the digital library. It works exactly like a physical library: you check out books and get them for 21 days. However, with the digital option now available, you can rent the books and have them sent directly to your Kindle! What a time to be alive, people! If you are in the LA area, you can check it out here, or if you’re not, I’d recommend researching whether your local library has an online database. It’s a real game changer.

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13) Pay off credit card

Progress: 6.40%

So the whole point of this goal was to pay off my current credit card so I can open up a new one. Specifically one that gains your airline miles because flights are ridiculously expensive. That being said, the start of this year brought a lot of reasons for me to use my current credit card, so I fell a little behind. Good news is, I caught back up and am now in the green in terms of repayment, so hopefully I can keep trucking along throughout the year.

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14) See 3 WRLA’s – COMPLETED!

Progress: 3/3 (100%)

While on a trip to Seattle and Canada this past month, I was unexpectedly able to complete this goal, seeing the World’s Largest Cowboy Hat & Boots in Seattle, WA, the World’s Largest Paper Airplane in Mukilteo, WA, and the World’s Largest Tin Solider in New Westminster, BC, Canada!

 

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15) Volunteer (at least) 5 times

Progress: 0/5 (0%)

I admit it, I’m totally slacking on this one and I need to get on it.

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16) Donate Blood

Progress: 0%

The day I started this progress report my church announced it is holding a blood drive at the end of this month. So, while I’m still slightly terrified, I feel like that’s kind of a sign to suck it up and go for it. Stay tuned for the next update to see if 1) I chickened out, 2) I went for it and passed out or 3) I went for it and handled it like a champ. #3 seems farfetched at this point, but you never know.

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17) Do the 1 second/day video challenge

Progress: 95/365 (26.03%)

This has actually been more fun than I expected. While it is a little stressful to find something unique to record every day—especially when I forget and it’s already 11pm—I ’ve been very pleased with the results so far. My favorite part is knowing I’m the only person that knows what all the clips relate to, as some of them come off pretty obscure. When I watch them back however, they all awaken a specific memory from that particular day.  On March 1st, the 60th day of the year, I compiled all the clips I had so far in order to see what my first “minute” of the year looked like.

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When we add that all together, my total progress is about 15%. So I’ve got a little ground to make up, but it looks like a lot of it will be covered by the end of this month!  If you set goals this year, I hope things are going well for you, and if you didn’t, it’s never too late to start! 🙂

31 Good Things that Happened in March

Hello and welcome back to another edition of All the Good Things, a monthly series where I highlight all the good things (get it?) that happen in each 30-day (or so) span. I hope it can be a reminder that amongst all the well known bad, there is a lot of undercover good happening in our world.

Let’s dive right in!

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1) World Book Day brought out some amazing costumes

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2) These students recreated the iconic scene from Mulan

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3) History was made at the Oscars

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4) Jordan Peele’s Key & Peele comedy partner, Keegan Michael Key, celebrated his friend’s Oscar win

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5) This pizza delivery driver received a huge tip from a church

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6) Donald Glover met the girl scout who used his song to sell girl scout cookies

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7) International Women’s Day highlighted a bunch of badass ladies

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8) This penguin carved his own path

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9) Ariana Grande gave her fans a sweet reminder

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10) This mom wrote her kids a letter

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11) This nurse helped her patient live out one of his dreams

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12) Loyola Chicago chaplain, Sister Jean, took the basketball world by storm

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13) This grandma got the 90th birthday party she deserved

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14) This man dressed as Elsa from Frozen helped move a police car during a blizzard

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15) After going through chemo, this little girl made it her mission to help other kids going through the same thing

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16) BJ Novak congratulated his longtime friend Mindy Kaling

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17) This girl finished her novel at a tires store

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18) This baby was the miracle a family needed in the wake of the California fires

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19) This boy tried to answer the age-old question

Multitasking is hard @podfathersshow

A post shared by Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) on

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20)  Camila Cabello beat the paparazzi at their own game

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21) This duck got a new pair of feet

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22) This woman became a doctor at the same hospital she was treated at

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23) The Vegas Golden Knights retired the number 58 to honor the victims of the Vegas shooting

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24) This man went back to work after the generosity of his colleagues allowed him to take a year off to care for his son

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25) This couple cheered up their daughter with chocolate

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26) This “unadoptable” dog became Washington’s first ever deaf K-9

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27) This 36 year old accountant got his first shot in the NHL

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28) This woman cut her hair for a very important reason

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29) This minor league baseball player was reunited with his childhood hero who he first met during chemotherapy

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30) This wrong number text turned into something much bigger

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31) This dog covered up his mischief

 

 

 

 

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

I can’t wait to see what April brings!

You can view last month’s post here.

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It’s Always Sunny in Seattle & Canada (At Least When We’re There): Spring Break Day 5&6

Day 5

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I’d like to consider me, Natalee and Mel pretty similar. For example, when we come across a highly recommended restaurant online and its menu includes things like “homemade biscuits” and “chocolate fudge waffles,” we’ll all agree it is a must taste. That being said, it wasn’t really a question whether we’d wait out the line in front of Jam Café on Wednesday morning.

It was our first stop of what was sure to be a full day, so after spending a solid 40 minutes waiting in the crisp Vancouver air, we sat down and ordered exactly what our hearts desired. For me, that included a chocolate milk and this masterpiece known as the “biscuit breakfast.”

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Animated GIF-downsized_largeFrom there we made our way up the highway to the Capilano Suspension Park, which was one of our most anticipated sights.

First order of business: crossing the bridge.

While none of us are afraid of heights, it is impossible not to wobble on this bridge, as the entire thing literally wobbles as you cross. To be honest, it kind of feels like standing up from a stool at a bar and realizing you’ve had too much to drink but are determined not to show it, so you try your best to walk straight, only to zig zag your way straight into a stranger.

Once we were in the middle of the bridge, we made sure to take a bunch of photos and videos, both to commemorate the experience, and to deviously show to my dad later who is terrified of heights. #sorrydad

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Awaiting us on the other side of the bridge was a series of paths that led us up amongst the trees and offered us views of the river down below. We walked slow, looking up and down and all around, trying to soak in as much as possible, knowing any pictures we took could never completely showcase the beauty of what we were seeing.

Back on the other side of the bridge, we took a final turn that looped us around on an even thinner path—again, sorry dad!—and then we made our way back to the car. Seeing as we’d soaked in a heavy dose of nature, we thought it was only fitting to head into…more nature!

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So, we drove back into town and rented a few bikes (we used Yes Cycle) to take a personal tour of Stanley Park. The loop around the park was about 5 miles, and we did it in an hour, which included stops to take pictures, say hello to Canadian geese, etc.

By the time we returned our bikes, it was about 3:30 p.m., and since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, we thought the perfect spot for dinner would be Granville Island. So, after dropping our car back at our hotel, we walked the whopping 5 blocks to the dock and took an Aquabus across the water.

OriginalPhoto-543368639.672033Once inside the market, we had a few things we wanted to accomplish. First, we did a quick lap, taking in all the options both for dinner, dessert, and everything in between. Our waiter at the Jam Café had told us to “follow our nose.” But with the amount of sugary, salty and sweet smells, blindly following that advice would have left us running in circles for the rest of the day. So, after eating everything we possibly could with our eyes, we sat down for dinner on the top floor. From there we did a second lap around the market, this time making stops for a honey dip donut from Lee’s Donuts (a personal recommendation from our waiter), some caramel corn (which I’m currently munching on as I write this), and some red velvet cake (which Mel said was DELICIOUS.)

On our ferry ride back, we were all beginning to fade, but after a solid hour-long veg session, we rallied and made our way to the Shameful Tiki Room, another recommendation from our waiter at Jam Café.

As he promised, the outside of the restaurant was completely blank and easily missable for the average passerby. Once we walked inside however, we were transported into a zombie-fied tiki haven that was as dark and foggy as it was vaguely Hawaiian. The three of us opted to split “the mystery bowl,” a drink served in a large shell that was lit on fire and delivered in precession with the ringing of a gong.

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Note: it was far less poisonous and far more delicious than this picture might suggest. These reactions were primarily provoked by the flash, which in the moment felt like a direct attack on our corneas.

After we finished our drink (which was approximately 4 minutes later) we talked about our favorite parts of the trip, each of us remembering different moments than the other. And as we made our way back to the hotel, there was again a bittersweet air that hung around us, except this time it was mostly bitter.


 

Day 6

On our last day in Vancouver, we were in a bit of a time crunch. Since we were all flying out around 3:00pm and wanted to have ample time to return our rental car, we knew that any last minute adventures had to be timely and organized.

So, with Mel fully loaded with Wi-Fi researched and copied down directions, we pulled away from our hotel for the last time and made our first (very Canadian) stop at Tim Horton’s for breakfast.

Now, it should be noted that of the 5 days we’d been gone, this was the first and only day it rained. But when I say it rained, I mean it rained. Clearly Vancouver was as upset at our leaving as we were. Nevertheless, we proceeded with our sightseeing marathon, never hesitating to run out into the rain and take a picture.

First on the list: the Gastown Steam Clock.

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Next was the Olympic Village, though after following an address to a town square that had street names like “Athletes Way,” we didn’t find much else that memorialized the 2010 Olympics. (Note: we later found out the Olympic Rings are actually in Whistler)

IMG_3853Our final stop was the World’s Largest Tin Soldier. A delightfully tall and unexpected international WRLA! He stood overlooking the Fraser River, both welcoming us and wishing us well as we made our way back to airport.

Once we were on the plane—Natalee and I on one and Mel on another—I took my seat and looked out the window, wondering if I could see any of the sights one last time before we took off. A few minutes later, a family boarded and took a seat in front of us. It was a husband and wife and their three children. They were all on their way to Disneyland for the first time. The kids excitedly looked out the window, amazed at the prospect of flying and propelled by the promise of their first big adventure. It made the sting our adventure ending a little dimmer, as it reminded me of the promise that new adventures are always around the corner.

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It’s Always Sunny in Seattle & Canada (At Least When We’re There): Spring Break Day 4

Tuesday morning had a bittersweet taste to it. We were sad to leave Seattle, but we were excited for part 2 of our adventure: Vancouver!

Around 10:00 a.m. we made our way to the airport to return our rental car and rent a second one that would take us across the border. About two hours before we reached the border however, we made our first pit stop: The World’s Largest Paper Airplane!

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Similar to a few of the other WRLA’s we’ve found over the last couple years, this one was in quite an ordinary place. We spent a solid 10 minutes standing on the lawn in front of an office building, each of us taking a turn in posing with the airplane, until suddenly a woman from inside the office came out and offered to take a group shot.

“Do people come by often?” we asked, slightly embarrassed.

“All the time,” she said with a smile.

With another WRLA crossed off the list, we piled back into our car and headed for the border. Once successfully across—and only minorly traumatized by the border patrol agent—we headed to the Vancouver airport to return our rental car and rent, you guessed it, ANOTHER rental car. This would be our third and final one and would provide us with the perfect disguise (i.e. a BC license plate) to blend in with the locals.

Cut to a half hour later: we realized we didn’t have any service in Canada, meaning we couldn’t use Google maps, so we had to rely solely on the paper map we were given at the rental desk. Now, I understand this is how people have traveled for hundreds of years, thus it should not be terrifying, but it was. Thankfully Mel is a directionally gifted map whiz (a.k.a the ideal Amazing Race partner) and she was able to get us to our hotel (and around the city for our entire stay, thanks Mel!).

First order of business in Vancouver: dinner.

We were staying at the Holiday Inn-Downtown—which I’d highly recommend if you’re ever in the Vancouver area!—so we had access to a wide variety of shops and restaurants. Just a block down from us was Firecrust Neopolitan Pizzeria, which we all collectively agreed was the obvious choice.

From there we walked to our hotel to regroup—and to get Wi-Fi to figure out where everything else was. We skimmed the list of things we wanted to do in Vancouver and came across Lighthouse Park.

“Do you think we could make it there to see the sunset?” Mel asked.

We all looked at our watches: 6:45. Then looked up the time for sunset: 7:25. In unison, we stood from our beds.

“We could try!”

Grabbing our jackets, we ran downstairs to the car and immediately jumped on the road.

“Okay,” Mel said from the backseat holding the map in both hands. “You’re going to make a right and then a left to go over that bridge up there, then you’re going to take another left and that should eventually loop us around to the park.”

“Sounds good, let’s do it!”

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So, we oohed and ahh-ed our way through Stanley Park and across the Lions Gate Bridge, then we hung a left on Marine Drive and drove up the coast until we saw a sign for Lighthouse Park.

By the time we parked the car, it was 7:15.

Knowing we were short on time, we looked quickly at the information kiosk. Comparing her finger length to the distance scale at the bottom—I’m telling you, she’s an icon—Mel estimated we were about a half mile away from the point.

“I think we can make it!”

We started powerwalking, but when the road sloped downward, we took off running, desperate to catch the sunset in time. To fully immerse you in this moment, let me remind you that 1) we were all horrendously full of pizza and 2) we were not dressed for strenuous physical activity. For example, Natalee was in a jacket with a faux fur hood and I was in leather boots. Nevertheless, we made it! And as we stood looking out at the Strait of Georgia (panting) it began to sink in that we were actually in Vancouver!

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Walking back to the car—which was not nearly as fun, especially going up all the hills we ran down—we looked up at the trees and laughed at ourselves, wondering what we might have looked like to the people we ran past on our way in.

Spoiler alert, we looked like this:

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Worth it.

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Back in the city, we stopped at the Yaletown Distillery for a drink. Immediately after walking in, I thought about making it my permanent address, as it played classic movies on repeat and was directly adjacent to an ice cream shop. Mel and I ordered the Caipiroska, which neither of us could say correctly, even after the bartender repeated it to us, and Natalee ordered a Johnny Walker Red. As we sipped our drinks, we looked through the pictures from the first half of our trip and we laughed at all the inside jokes we’d already formed.

Once we were finished, we paid a visit to Mister, the ice cream shop next door (a.k.a my new neighbors) where Mel and I both ordered life-changing desserts. Mel ordered the S’mores bar, which is chocolate ice cream dipped in magic shell chocolate, rolled in graham crackers, coated in marshmallow fluff and then torched, and I ordered the “double Oreo” which is chocolate ice cream with Oreo chunks inside, stuffed into a chocolate waffle cone.

Yes, friends, these creations do exist right here on earth.

Observe:

 

It took me about three seconds to be transported to absolute bliss. While I know that sounds dramatic, it’s true. Case in point being that when we arrived back at our car and found a parking ticket on the dash, I practically laughed it off and threw it in the back seat.

“I can’t even be mad about the ticket,” I said as we pulled back into the driveway of our hotel. I rolled down the window to scan our room key and as I waited for the gate to the parking garage to open I turned to Mel and Natalee, ice cream in hand. “What can I say, life is just better when you have ice cream in your—”

It was at this point that my affection for the ice cream cone became so great that I squeezed it too hard and it cracked in my hand. In the seconds that followed, I was overcome with feelings of panic, protectiveness and sheer instinct. With my window down and our car a mere 20 feet from the lobby doors, I dropped a giant f’bomb and contorted my body into an ice cream catching shield. Having finished her s’mores bar, Mel handed me her empty cup and I scooped my ice cream pile inside just as the gate completely opened.

All in all, the death toll was low. And once we parked our car, three good things happened.

  1. Despite some minor cone loss, I was able to again reach peak bliss with my ice cream as we made our way back up to our hotel room.
  2. After doing some research into why we got our ticket, Mel was able to call and get us out of the ticket
  3. We laid out our plans for the next day, which was bound to be incredible.