advice

Just a Little Valentine’s Day Reminder

Today is just a day.

And no matter if you love it, hate it, celebrate it, skip it, or just now remembered it’s anything more than a Thursday, I hope you know that you are loved.

You are loved.

You are important.

You are worth appreciating.

So no matter how you spend today, tomorrow, and every day after, if it makes you feel like the diamond crusted, chocolate covered, rose petaled, champagne fountained person you deserve to be, you’re doing it right.

Look Up and Look Around

I am currently training for the LA marathon. This means that three times a week I’m outside running, telling my body that all the pain and exhaustion will be worth it when we get that medal at the finish line—and the free banana shortly afterward.

This past Saturday I ran 17.5 miles, the second longest run in my entire training plan. (The longest being 20) For the first 13 miles or so, I was doing pretty well. My legs, while tired, still had some juice in them and I was determined to check this milestone off my list. But as I started those last four miles, it seemed like each step got harder and harder. My knees began to ache and my ankles threatened to quit on me. This was the longest I had ever run in my entire life, and to know that even when (or if) I finished, come marathon day I’d have to come up with the strength to run nine more miles—a marathon is 26.2 miles—my body was just about ready to call it.

Around mile 16 or so, my mind was really starting to get shaky and my legs were even worse. Continuing to run almost felt like punishment, but I knew quitting would feel far worse. That’s when I hit a red light and had to pace around the sidewalk—legs wobbly as ever—while I waited for my signal to continue. I put my hands on my head and took some deep breaths, hoping to relieve some of the stiffness in my back, and then I looked up. The sky was a piercing blue with big, beautiful, puffy clouds. I watched them swirl around above me, and it gave me a warm feeling in my stomach.

When the light turned green and I started running again, I focused on the clouds, and for a little while my knees didn’t ache as much and my feet didn’t sting; my back felt looser and my legs felt a tiny bit stronger.

By the time I made it back to my house however, I was sure my legs were going to fall right out from under me. I walked through the door like a baby giraffe and stumbled my way through a shower and the making of my usual after-run protein shake.

My body was spent.

But even as I limped around for the rest of that day and the next, I still thought about that patch of sky. While it hadn’t taken away the pain I was feeling, it reminded me that it wasn’t the only thing that day—that moment—had to offer.

There are many instances in which I’ve let a dark time or a difficult situation block out all the light around me. Sometimes it’s hard to remember there’s a blue sky up there. Especially when so many other days are grey, cloudy and rainy.

But alas, there are always good things. There is always something just out of your line of sight that is there to give you hope and inspiration. There is always something to push you that last mile.

In the next month, I’m sure I’ll spend more than a few days wondering, what the hell am I doing? Namely when I pass the 20-mile mark at the marathon and have to run SIX. MORE. MILES. But I’m going to take that patch of blue sky with me through the whole race and the days, months and years that follow. I’m going to look up, even when my head wants to hang down, and I’m going to look around, even when it seems safer to keep my eyes forward. Because as sure as there will be dark, there will also be light, and I’m going to try harder to find it. Even when it feels like my knees might spontaneously combust—or you know, the day to day life equivalent to that feeling.

The Spicy Chip Chronicles (Which Ones Stand Out Among the Rest?)

Have you ever had a craving for Hot Cheetos (or their spicy chip counterparts)?

Have you ever had this craving late at night?

Have you ever had this craving and made the trip to the grocery store, only to get there and be completely overwhelmed with options?

Unless you are like me—who only likes regular Cheetos so none of this is an issue—or you hate Cheetos all together—in which case, how dare you—you probably answered yes to at least one of these questions.

Don’t worry, we are here to help you. And by “we”, I mostly mean my roommates, Natalee and Rachel, who have “sacrificed” their time, energy and tastebuds to help you make one of life’s toughest choices.

They have taken this task seriously. Approaching each bag with as little bias as possible, and soaking in not only the taste, but the experience each chip provides its eater. For they know that the spice inclined snacker is not the average snacker.  They are a specific brand of snacking prowess, strict with their expectations and frank with their opinions.

So, without further ado, here are some opinions on the spicy chips of the world, to give you an idea of what you can expect from them, and whether or not they can cure your hangry helplessness on those late night (or early morning or whenever) snack runs.

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Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Puffs

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Rachel: I don’t think the spicyness is meant for this kind of chip. Do you know what I mean?

Natalee: *crunches and nods*

Rachel: Although they do take a little more work. It’s a crunch you can kind of…shovel.

Natalee: I agree. Not the best but puffs = portion control. So there’s that.

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flaminhotlimonCrunchy Flamin’ Hot Limon Cheetos

Rachel: I’ve tried these before and they are are probably my favorite, but they definitely make me feel the worst.

Natalee: Yeah, but the lime elevates it.

Rachel: It gives it depth.

Natalee: It’s not your average spice or crunch.

*both nod and crunch, satisfied*

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Crunchy Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos

Natalee: *embodying the heart eye emoji* We all know how I feel about jalapeño.

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Rachel: *takes a bite* Mmm! I like these better than regular Cheetos.

Natalee: They’re not all that spicy though. Kind of misleading.

Rachel: It kind of tastes like Lawry’s Seasoning Salt on Cheetos. I like them!

Natalee: I would consistently choose Hot Cheetos over these, but in a time of need I could still pound this bag.

Rachel: And always these over regular.

Natalee: Puffs or these?

Rachel: These.

Natalee: Yeah, crunch is really an important factor. So yeah, those weren’t bad.

Rachel: I enjoyed those.

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Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Note: the bag we purchased featured a promotion for the Cheetos “Win What You See” competition which encouraged customers to send in pictures and descriptions of their oddest shaped Cheetos in order to win prizes inspired by what they see.cheetos-crunchy-flamin-hot

Natalee: Ah, old faithful.

*both grab large handfuls and begin holding individual Cheetos up at eye level to examine their shape*

Natalee: I just love hot Cheetos. Oh! I found a bird.

Rachel: Would you really want to win a vacation based on the shape of your Cheeto?

Natalee: Absolutely not. Honestly, just give me a free bag of Cheetos. *eats bird*

Rachel: I don’t think we really said anything about these but these are just my favorite.

Natalee: Yup.

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Lays Chile Limonimage

Rachel: Ew. I don’t like the taste. It’s acidic but not in a good, vinegary way. It tastes like it’s sour.

*Natalee twists her face, nodding.*

Rachel: It tastes like the smell of something bad in fridge

Natalee: Yeah, it’s the flavor of staleness. Just plain bottom of the barrel.

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XXXTRA flamin Hot

cheetos-crunchy-xxtra-flamin-hot

Note: Our friend Will, a fellow spicy snack connoisseur, was in attendance for this tasting.

Rachel: Oh, these definitely smell much hotter than the original.

*walks into kitchen to grab bag of original Flamin’ Hot Cheetos*

*Natalee, Rachel, and Will each take turns smelling the different bags*

Will: They do smell hotter.

*collectively agree to taste the original to remember the “spice level.”*

Natalee: *crunching* You have to eat at least 10 regular hot Cheetos before they start to live up to their name.

*everyone nods in agreement*

Rachel: Okay, now for these ones. Grab a real chunky one.

Natalee: Let’s all take two.

Rachel: Oh, it’s spicy at the end!

Will: I think it’s more flavorful.

Natalee: Yeah, it’s more flavorful than it is spicy. *exhales* Woah, it is spicy at the end though.

*group applauds*

Natalee: Can you imagine these with lime?

Will: Holy shit, yeah, with lime. Talk about bang for your buck.

Natalee: It’s also another good one for portion control. If I needed something spicy I’d probably eat only, like, seven of these instead of 25 original ones.

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Since there is no shortage of spicy chips hitting shelves these days, you can consider this episode one of an ongoing snack series. If you have any suggestions for the tasters, please pass them along, their taste buds are always willing and ready!

10 Instagram Accounts that Brighten My Day

Social media can be a scary place. Mean things are said, misunderstandings are had, and entire concerts are documented with scratchy, unpleasing footage.

Sometimes we compare ourselves to those we see online and sink into wormholes of frustration, shame, and disappointment. And other times we laugh at pictures of dogs wearing hats.

For me, it’s all about finding a balance. Some days I need to see that person striving higher because it makes me want to do the same. Some days I want to read posts that make me cry because it reminds me there is goodness and hope in the world. And some days I just like to spy on people and look at pictures of food and crafts.

Over the years I’ve gone through phases of following and unfollowing different accounts trying to find this balance, and as of right now, I think I’m really nailing it.

So you if you’re looking for new accounts to make you smile, or if you’re just curious/nosy (I am both) here are ten Instagram accounts that brighten my day.

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1) @foodnetwork

I mean, pictures of beautiful, delectable food throughout the day? Is there a downside**?

**Possible downside: hanger (anger induced by hunger)

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2) @jennifer.garner

I’ll be honest, I’m not always up to sitting still and watching videos when I’m scrolling through Instagram. Sometimes I just want to take a quick trip, you know? But whenever Jennifer Garner posts a video, I. Strap. In. She is so adorable and hilarious and real, and I wish she would invite me over to make brownies on a Saturday morning.

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3) @alexameadeart

I LOVE this girl’s art. She paints onto her subjects and the setting around them to create the illusion of a painting on an easel.  I think it is absolutely amazing and every time she posts a new photo I just stare at it in amazement. Fun fact: she did the artwork for the ~pool~ scene in Ariana Grande’s “God is a Woman” music video.

View this post on Instagram

Life turned art @rosaacosta

A post shared by Alexa Meade (@alexameadeart) on

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4) @tanksgoodnews

In my opinion, this is a must follow. It is an account dedicated entirely sharing good news, some of which I’ve highlighted in my All the Good Things posts, and it never fails to makes me smile/openly sob in the middle of the day.

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5) @junkbanter

Is this the second account I’m recommending that focuses on food? Yes. But this one is all about junk food, so it’s different and still very important. I will often screenshot pictures of the newest treats hitting the shelves and send them to my roommates so that we can keep an eye out the next time we’re at the grocery store.

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6) @historyphotographed

I’ve always been a bit of a history buff and this account constantly provides me with doses of nostalgia…even though many of the pictures were taken before I was born. Does that make sense?

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7) @kristinmadeinc

This is a company run by Kristin Johns, a YouTuber I’ve long loved and admired. She is so upbeat and inspiring and is honestly what the social media world needs more of. On this account she posts recipes, lifestyle tips, and a plethora of photos that make me sigh the man I wish I could do that sigh. But in a positive way…you know?

PS- I made these cookies and they are INCREDIBLE. Highly recommend.

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8) @ashlynsailsbury

Similar to Jennifer Garner, I always sit back and absorb whatever Ashlyn (who is Kristin Johns’ sister) has to say because she and her family—which includes Owen the Baby, a three year old who will melt your heart—are incredibly adorable and charming, but also because they live in Copenhagen and I just genuinely love learning about their life there.

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9) @alpacasofinstagram

Need. I. Say. More?!?!

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10) @unspirational

I love me a good inspirational quote, but these anti-quotes just make me laugh. And sometimes sarcasm and dark humor does more for me than uplifting words after a long day of work, you know?

View this post on Instagram

SHRUG EMOJI

A post shared by Unspirational (@unspirational) on

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Have any Instagram accounts you love and would recommend?

10 Mottos I Live By

At the beginning of a new year it’s easy to catch the inspirational bug and set goals, make changes, book vacations—anything that can help you make the next 12 months bigger and better than the last.

I jump on this train. Come January I always make a list of goals I hope to accomplish in the next year and I’m usually on the hunt for upcoming concerts and weekend getaways I can add to my calendar before the days start filling up and flying by.

For me, when the holidays are long over and I’m back in the regular swing of things, I tend to let the inspiration fade and the stress, discouragement and exhaustion of the day to day take over.

One thing that helps me combat that however, is latching onto mottos and inspirational words that I can use as weapons, shields, and fuel to propel me forward.

So, if you’re someone like me who sometimes needs that extra something to lean on, I collected a few of my favorite mottos, all of which I’ve reached for at one time or another. I hope they can give you the boost of inspiration or comfort or whatever you might be needing, and that they can encourage you to always strive for the bigger and better, no matter what time of year it is.

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1) “Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.” – Rachel Hollis

What it means to me: Stop wasting time worrying about what other people will think of you and everything you might do or think about doing. People are going to judge you whether you live your life your way or their way, so you might as well live it your way.

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2) “Have courage and be kind.” – Cinderella

What it means to me: When things get overwhelming, go back to the basics. Be brave and be nice and something good will form on the horizon.

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3) “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

What it means to me: There is always going to be goodness in the world, so no matter how dark things look, if you keep moving forward, you will find the light again.

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4) “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

What it means to me: You are important. You matter. And while sometimes people won’t see that, won’t appreciate that and will hurt you, it is your choice what to do with that hurt. You do not have to dim yourself because someone else can’t see your light.

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5) “It’s not time to worry yet.” – To Kill a Mockingbird

What it means to me: I wrote a whole blog post on this one.

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6) “Today is the only day. Yesterday is gone.” – John Wooden

What it means to me: Your past shaped you, but it is not where you are. Be here, in the day you have been given today, because all the days before this one are already over and you can’t change them.

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7) “Do no harm, take no shit.” – Yoga Girl

What it means to me: Don’t walk on people and don’t let them walk on you.

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8) “You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

What it means to me: It is never too late to try something new. You are allowed to dream more than one dream, and you’re allowed to dream a dream completely and totally different than everyone else’s.

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9) “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton

What it means to me: Don’t wait for someone to tell you who you are, or keep your fingers crossed that the answer might fall into your lap. Learn about yourself. Passionately. Figure out who you are, what you love, what you hope to do with your life and do it without regret.

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10) “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” – George Addair

What it means to me: Fear is a door, not a wall. If you have the courage to push through it, it is an opportunity to take you somewhere and give you something you’ve never had before.

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Do you have any mottos you live by?

Playlist of My Life

Hello and welcome back to another edition of: Kim turns her favorite YouTube videos into blogs but she always credits back the original creators so please don’t be mad at me I love you, bye. (Title Pending)

During one YouTube deep dive or another I came across a series on Teen Vogue’s channel called “Playlist of My Life”, where different people list songs that hold specific significance in their lives. I was instantly hooked. A series that lets you learn about people you admire and gives you music recommendations at the same time? Count me in!

After watching a good handful of the videos, I decided I wanted to come up with my own list—which was a lot harder than I thought it would be. But alas, after an intense session of analyzing both my iTunes and Spotify accounts, I got a list of about 40 songs, which I then widdled down to my traditional 17 which I want to share with you today:

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1) Audience of One by Big Daddy Weave

This is my favorite worship song of all time. It is one of the first songs I felt I really understood and so it holds a special place in my heart.

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2) I Was Here by Lady Antebellum

This song more or less describes what I hope to do with my life. The first time I heard it, I just remember nodding, thinking, “Yeah! Me too!” in the most gloriously corny way possible.

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3) Roses by The Chainsmokers

This song reminds me of my sister and always makes me feel happy inside. The simplest kind of happy. Which I wrote about in this blog post a couple years back.

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4) Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton

This is one of my favorite songs of all time that just knocks me to my knees because DAMN. I mean…DAMN. The way he sings the line “I’ve looked for love in all the same old places, found the bottom of the bottle’s always drYYYyyy” might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.

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5) I Hope by The Dixie Chicks

When my mom, sister and I discovered this song a while back, we kind of took to using it as our collective therapy song. We’ve played it many a time when we (or someone we know) need to take a breath, and though I can’t really explain why it works, it just does.

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6) All Over Now by Eric Hutchinson

This is another one that I turn to almost every time I need a song to help me out. Which is kind of funny because it’s definitely not an uplifting song, but for whatever reason it calms me down and gives me that little nudge I need to keep pushing forward.

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7) Sugar We’re Going Down by Fall Out Boy

Ahhh, 9th grade. This was the very first song I ever put on my blue iPod Mini and boy did I think I was the coolest. This song also makes me think of my Papa who, alongside my Grammie, gave me the iPod mini for my birthday, and a few weeks afterward called my house (my landline!) to ask me if I liked my “new blue radio.” This song always brings that memory to mind and puts a smile on my face.

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8) Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand

The very first time I heard this song I was in 8th grade, riding in a car with some of my classmates. It came on the radio and the girl next to me said, “Who is this?” I had absolutely no idea, but the girl in the front seat knew immediately. For whatever reason, this sparked an interest in me to be “the knower” from then on, a mission I still carry out to this day.

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9) More than Anyone by Gavin DeGraw

This has long been one of my favorite songs of all time. It’s just such a beautiful and romantic song and I can’t help it, I’m a sucker. Also, I first heard it on One Tree Hill, one of my favorite TV shows growing up and it had a special meaning for a few of the characters so…I’m a sucker x2.

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10) Poprocks & Coke by Green Day

This song reminds me of my best friend in high school who first pulled me out of my shell and introduced me to what I thought at the time was “edgy music.” I remember being the textbook 2000’s teenager with my headphones on listening to Green Day, Simple Plan and every other emo-centric band at the time, internally insisting that no one knew what it was like to be me.

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11) Growing Up by The Maine

The Maine was one of my favorite bands in both high school and college and me and my best friend at the time probably saw them in concert upwards of eight times. This song sticks out to me because I think it kind of encapsulates their music and how it made me feel at the time.

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12) Electric Feel by MGMT

This song makes me think of my first car, Jeffrey. Growing up I was always the one driving my friends and I around and this song reminds me of late summer nights, with the volume up and us laughing and dancing our hearts out.

*flute solo*

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13) Washed by the Water by Needtobreathe

Needtobreathe is my favorite band of all time and I found their music by accident one day when I was on iTunes. This was the first song I ever heard of theirs and I immediately fell in love. 10 or so years later, it’s still my favorite song of theirs, and one of the best things you can ever hear live, if I do say so myself.

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14) Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones

I’m starting to notice that I have a habit of using terribly sad songs to make me feel better… Is that weird? I feel like it’s weird. This song, to me, is like butter. It instantly relaxes me and makes me feel like everything is going to be okay. Maybe it’s the piano, maybe it’s Norah Jones’ voice, maybe it’s just remnant angst I’m still harboring, whatever the reason, this song just does it all for me.

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15) It’s Gonna Be Me by *NSYNC

I mean, I couldn’t be born in the 90’s and not have an *NSYNC song, right?

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16) Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

Great news! This song is as happy and carefree as it seems! I’m not all sad!

Get it?

Like I’m not all bad but with…sad…

Okay, maybe I am a little sad.

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17) I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston

If you know me, you know that I love this song with my whole heart. If you ever invite me to your wedding or any party that involves a DJ and dancing of any kind, I will request this song and I will find my way to the center of the dance floor and sing it at the top of my lungs.

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So that’s me in 17 songs. At least so far.

What songs would make up a playlist of your life?

My 2018 Rec Roundup (List-cember #6)

One of my favorite end of the year posts to come across is roundups of recommendations.

Rec Roundups, if you will.

I just like to know what everyone loved throughout the year.

It’s the same reason I do my favorites posts every two months, just with the added excitement and pressure of it being the last month of the year, making them essentially the Academy Awards of favorites. And since I’m a huge fan of awards season, I’ll take any relation to it I can get.

SO, consider these my nominees for my favorite things I saw, read, listened to, wore on my face, etc, throughout 2018. I didn’t pick any winners because, well, I didn’t want to/didn’t have time to make formal envelopes, but I did give my top 10 favorites in every category, with a few bonuses thrown in at the end.

I just wanted to give you my Rec Roundup, in case you’re looking for recs to round up, you know?

Here we go.

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Books

  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (Nonfiction/Biography)
  • In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham (Nonfiction)
  • You’re Not That Great by Elon Gale (Humor/Self-help)
  • Left Neglected by Lisa Genova (Fiction/Medical)
  • Strange Fire by Tommy Wallach (Young Adult/Science Fiction)
  • Wildflower by Drew Barrymore (Memoir/Nonfiction)
  • One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus (Young Adult/Mystery)
  • Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis (Nonfiction/Self Help)
  • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (Memoir/Nonfiction)
  • The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhymes (Memoir/Nonfiction)

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Podcasts

  • Heavyweight
  • VIEWS with David Dobrik
  • Modern Love
  • The Tiny Meat Gang Podcast
  • The Mortified Podcast
  • School of Greatness
  • Ear Hustle
  • Dirty John
  • The Rise Podcast
  • Sandra

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Movies/Documentaries

  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor (Amazon)
  • Three Identical Strangers (Amazon)
  • Becoming Bond (Hulu)
  • Red Sparrow
  • A Quiet Place
  • Eighth Grade
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Netflix)
  • To All the Boys I Loved Before (Netflix)
  • A Star is Born

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TV Shows

  • The Office (Netflix)
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
  • American Vandal (Netflix)
  • Atypical (Netflix)
  • Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix)
  • The Sinner (Netflix)
  • Queer Eye (Netflix)
  • Love (Netflix)
  • The End of the F***ing World (Netflix)
  • A Million Little Things (Hulu or ABC)

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Music

  • Sweetner by Ariana Grande
  • Dan + Shay by Dan + Shay
  • Own it by Francesca Battistelli
  • Swimming by Mac Miller
  • Don’t Smile at Me by Billie Eilish
  • Reputation by Taylor Swift
  • Bloom by Troye Sivan
  • Golden Hour by Kasey Musgraves
  • Electric Light by James Bay
  • Shawn Mendes by Shawn Mendes

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Misc

These are the only ones that I figured needed a little commentary just so you know what the heck I’m talking about.

glassesComputer glasses: I talked about these in my most recent favorites post. They block the blue light from your computer, so if you are someone like me who spends most of their work day looking at a screen, they help A LOT with headaches and make my eyes feel less like they’re being sucked out of my head.

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Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder: I tend to have oily skin and so far this is one of the only powders that has truly helped me combat it! Plus, it’s cheap! (find it here)

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Wear Me Pro Sunglasses: These were an impulse buy on Amazon that I figured couldn’t hurt because it was only putting me out about $10. But I ended up truly LOVING these glasses and wore them almost every single day. (find them here)

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Screen Shot 2018-12-20 at 12.29.44 AM

Uline Blanket: I got this as a free gift from a purchase we made at work and OH. MY. GOSH. It is the greatest blanket I have ever owned and am willing to fight to the (near) death with anyone who tries to take it from me. (find it here)

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Google-Wifi-second-unit

Google Wifi: My parents bought this for their house and loved it so much that they gifted a set to my roommates and I. Now, I’m not the techie that can explain exactly how they work, but let’s just say if you are having trouble getting your Wifi to reach certain rooms of the house, these bad boys extend that reach. They have worked great for us! (find it here)

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Check out more List-cember posts here

10 Goals to Give Yourself in 2019 (List-cember #5)

I am currently in the process of making my list of goals for next year. I always like to make 17, and I always like them to be different (with a few exceptions) than the year before. I want to keep challenging myself and getting out of my comfort zone, and I try to set goals that will allow/force me to do that.

Now, I don’t know where you’re at in your life. If you’re someone that pops out of bed in the morning ready to take on the day or if you’re someone (like me) who moves a little slower and needs to muster up the energy—and oftentimes courage—to do something out of the ordinary.

It is so easy to fall into a routine.  But I know from experience how great it feels to stray from it, even if it’s for something simple like exercising or going to a museum.

So, if you’re someone who is looking for a few ideas to stray from the blah of the day to day but aren’t necessarily interested in a cold hard list of goals—because I also know those can be more stressful than exciting sometimes. Or if you’re someone who is just looking for ideas of things to challenge yourself with in the upcoming year, I’ve made a list to start you off.

Feel free to take them and manipulate them, make them simpler or harder or more geared toward your lifestyle. I’m not looking to make you feel guilty for not having a list of goals and a spreadsheet to track your progress throughout the year—because you know, only crazy people do that. I just want to encourage you to try something new. Get out there and see things that have always been around you that you never had the time to notice. Get to know your likes and dislikes that fall outside of both your comfort zone and your routine, because if there’s one thing these last few years of goal setting have taught me, it’s that I am more than my comfort zone and my routine. And you are too.

So try something new.

You don’t have to go crazy. Just work through this list. Do everything at least once and take pride in your accomplishments. After that, let the inspiration guide you onward and upward! 😊

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1) Try a new fitness class

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Like I said, you don’t have to get crazy with it. There’s no need to sign up for the monthly pass or promise to go every single week. Just try something new. Once. Then go from there. Check out Groupon to see if there are any deals going on at gyms or studios near you. A lot of places offer free first classes. Or, if classes just aren’t your thing or you can’t find one in your price range, go for a run, or a walk, or follow a workout video on YouTube, there are tons of great videos on this channel.

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2) Volunteer

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I know, I know, everyone says this. And when I see it on a list I throw my hands up and I say I KNOW. But trust me on this. It lives up to the hype. Start by looking into your local food back. Or check out VolunteerMatch.com

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3) Go to the doctor AND the dentist

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Do they both suck? Yes. Do I love going to either? No. But chances are you are overdue for a cleaning and/or a physical. So go fulfill your adult duties, it gives you a surprising feeling of accomplishment, like you’re truly adulting.

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4) Give blood

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This was one of my goals this year. I had never given blood before and was scared to try it, but I felt like it was a super easy way to help out and, you know, I do have some blood to spare, so I might as well share the wealth. That being said, the first time I tried to give blood, my iron was too low. So, if you’re someone who is unable to give blood, look into donating your hair, or donating money to your favorite charity.

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5) Meditate

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This is another thing that I’m not super well versed in, but I gave it a try for this first time this past year and can confidently say that it did not kill me. I rolled out my yoga mat, put on a face mask and tried this 10-minute guided meditation. And while I thought it would feel like I was laying there for six days (or that I would fall asleep) the time sped by and before I knew it the 10 minutes were up, my face was moisturized, and I genuinely felt a lot calmer. I highly recommend giving it a try. Also, just something to consider for those of us who “don’t have time” to meditate (something that more or less convinced me to try it in the first place): a podcast I listen to said that if you truly believe you don’t have time for 10 minutes of meditation, than you’re probably someone who needs an hour of meditation. (I know, I felt attacked by this too.)

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6) Read a book

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If you’re like my dad, you have every intention to read more, but by the time you get home from work and relax on the couch, reading is more of lullaby than a pastime. That’s okay. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re working hard and that’s not something you should beat yourself up about. That being said however, there are so many books out there. Books to make you laugh, make you cry, make you think. Books that take you out of your head for a little while and put you somewhere totally different. So I encourage you to find a book by someone or about something that’s always interested you. (Or take this “What Book Should I Read Next?” quiz that will give you some suggestions) Read it slow. (Or listen to it on audiobook.) One day at a time. However long it takes. But finish it.

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7) Bake something

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Don’t even try and tell me that you’ve never seen something on television or Facebook or Instagram or your friend’s blog that didn’t make you think, damn, I wish I could make that. Spoiler alert: you can! Will it look like the pictures? Probably not. I can’t think of a single time I’ve cooked something that looked picture perfect. But who cares? It’s all about it tasting delicious and you taking pride in the fact you made that delicious thing. So find yourself a recipe, for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, or whatever dessert you’d like to have in your kitchen for the next few days—or hours, depending how good they are/how little self-control you have—and give it a try.

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8) Go to a concert, sporting event or show

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Isn’t it crazy how you can get so sucked into a routine that you forget you can go places other than work and home? Sometimes I genuinely forget things like concerts and plays exist. But then, when I make time to go to a Dodger game or a spontaneous concert, I remember how happy they make me and how they make everything else melt away for a little while. So pick your poison: music, sports, theater, the movies. Go see one in person, it’s way better than watching it on television.

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9) Get your picture taken

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I realize this sounds ridiculous in the age of iPhones and social media as we are all taking pictures all the time. But as someone who doesn’t necessarily like having her picture taken, I can say that there have been so many times lately when I wished I would have taken my picture at a specific event. Not so I could post it on social media, but just so I could have it to better remember the day. The way I see it, in 20 years from now, I’m not going to love a picture of a mountain as much as I’m going to love the reminder that I was standing next to the mountain in my favorite jeans and that backpack that I lost somewhere along the line. So get your picture taken. Either with friends or alone. Document this year and the way you lived it, so you can relive it years from now.

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10) Splurge

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This past year I bought myself a new desk for my room, something I’d been wanting for years. I decided that I’d had enough of my whining that it was too expensive. I mean, it was too expensive for me to buy outright, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t save up for it. And so I did, I put aside a small amount each week until I had enough and then I bought that damn desk and it. is. beautiful. It felt so good to buy myself something fancy. (Or at least something I consider fancy) So this year, buy yourself something you consider fancy. Something that you’ve been wanting for a while, that you’ve been working towards and would brighten your day. If you can’t afford it now, save up for it— sometimes that makes it all the more exciting. Treat yo’self in 2019. You deserve it.

6 New Things I Tried this Year that You Should Try Too (List-cember #4)

Alongside my list of goals this year, I really tried to let my curious eyes wander. Over the last few years there have been things that I thought, “I’ll try that one of these days” but never did, and so I decided this year was as good as any to finally change that.

They are mostly small things. I didn’t jump out of any planes or shave my head or anything. But I made small little discoveries that made my day to day a little brighter and I’m hoping they can do the same for you! 🙂

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1) E-Library Card

Are you one of those people who can drop money on books even though you’re pinching pennies to make rent and pay other bills? I know you can’t see it, but my hand is raised—HIGH. Thankfully, the library is here to help. I mean, it’s always been here, but I had no idea there was an online library that will lend you books straight to your Kindle.  It’s so easy! It’s so wonderful! It’s so free! I highly recommend looking into it.

If you’re in the LA area, you can get your own e-library card here!

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2) Audiobooks

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I never thought I’d be someone who could listen to a book rather than read it, but this year I decided to try them. Turns out, they’re the perfect driving companion, and getting ready in the morning companion, and during the slow hours of the work day companion. All I’m saying is, audiobooks are your friend and you should give them a shot. If you’re into classics, I recommend To Kill a Mockingbird read by Sissy Spacek, and if you’re into memoirs, I recommend Drew Barrymore’s Wildflower.

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3) Spiffing up my Inbox

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My email inbox goes through phases of being organized and a complete disaster, but this year I noticed how unexciting it was regardless. I was never excited to get any emails because they were always work related, bill related, or complete spam. SO, this year I decided to spiff it up a bit.

I subscribed to newsletters:

  • The Skimm: A daily newsletter that gives you the bullet points of important events happening around the world.
  • Goodnewsletter: A weekly newsletter full of only good news, and you know I’m all about good news!
  • The Rise Newsletter: Another weekly newsletter run by Rachel Hollis (author of Girl, Wash Your Face) that gives you little doses of inspiration to help you to take on the week!

And some weekly devotionals:

  •  The Monday Club: Probably my favorite find of this year. It arrives every Monday morning with some encouraging words to help start your week off right.
  • The Cathe Laurie Devotional: A weekly Bible study that gives you a specific goal to focus on for the week.

I would recommend any and all of these. They brightened up my inbox throughout the year with doses of inspiration and positivity.

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4) Birchbox

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I would definitely consider myself to be an amateur in the makeup department, but like any other department of my life, I’m curious and anxious to be better. So, I enlisted Birchbox to help me level up. I was probably subscribed for about six months, and while it was very exciting to get a package—that only cost me $10!—every month with new things to try, I just couldn’t keep up. I ended up having a big pile of samples sitting on my bathroom counter that made me anxious and sad and annoyed whenever I looked at it. I might pop back in once in a while to get a few more things to try—or just to get another one of their incredible boxes, which I plan on using to wrap gifts this holiday season—but for now I’m on pause.

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5) Imperfect Produce

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This is probably my favorite thing that I found this year. I’ll be honest, I was definitely a victim of consistent marketing on this one. THE FACEBOOK ADS GOT TO ME. But hey, it’s a super easy (and cheap) way to get fresh produce, and I’ve used each box I’ve gotten to inspire to look up new recipes with food I might not otherwise have tried. I highly recommend giving it a shot if they deliver in your area!

If you are interested in trying it, you can sign up here and get $10 of your first box—which is amazing because an average box for me costs about $12.

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6) Rev Captioning

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With student loan payments, bills, rent, and my failure to win the lottery this year, there were definitely times when I was sweating my finances. I thought about getting a second job, but was struggling with having to give up my free time. When I get home from my current job, I like to relax, but I also like to exercise, write and work on my goals for the year. So, I started looking around for options that could fit in to my schedule, which led me to Rev. It is a captioning service that pays you to either transcribe or caption videos. The application process is a little tough (I went through it twice before being hired) but once you’re in, you get to make your own schedule and work as much or as little as you like. You don’t necessarily rake in the money, but if you are consistent about it, you can give your bank account at least a little buffer.

Check it out here

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Overall, I’d definitely say that my curiosity paid off this year and I’m excited to see where it takes me next year! Do you have anything you tried this year that you loved?

 

Embrace the Change, Even if it’s a Rental

For the past week or so I’ve been driving a rental car. I was in a minor accident at the end of October and so my car—who some of you might know I call Jeffrey—is currently in the shop getting himself a new passenger’s side door and an overall spiff up.

In the meantime, I’m driving a white Kia which, when it’s parked in the garage next to my roommate’s white Acura, has officially been dubbed half of the “white car crew”—because we try to make everything a little exciting.

The Kia, which I’ve named “Ren” (for rental) is vastly different than Jeff, and in the last week of driving him around, I’ve really been able to pinpoint the distinctions.

For starters, Ren is a 2017 Kia Optima while Jeff is a 2007 Saturn Ion, so obviously I’ve taken a huge jump forward in terms of technology. There’s Bluetooth, a backup camera, automatic headlights, shortcut buttons on the steering wheel, and automatic windows. (Swoon)

But even with all of these positives, I spend most of my time picking out things I don’t like about the car. Things I’ve grown comfortable with in my own car, that I miss and would rather not lose, even if it’s only for a few weeks.

The other day, as I was sitting at a stoplight, I was turning my steering wheel back and forth, a habit I’d picked up while driving Jeff because the steering wheel squeaks. Ren’s steering wheel however, does not. It’s silent and smooth and doesn’t have the cracked exterior I pick at when I’m nervous.

This got me thinking.

We’re always looking for the bigger and the better, right? We dream and we look forward, craving the possibilities of the future, rarely looking back at the comforts of the past. I likely wouldn’t have noticed many of the oddities I’ve found that I like about Jeff until I was put in a situation like this where I’m in a completely new car with completely new oddities. The same goes for a new job, a new house, a new relationship, etc.

No matter how much we might be looking for a change in a particular situation, we are always going to have parts of our old situation that we will miss if/when we finally do make that change.

One day I’ll get a new car and all the things I love about Jeff will be gone. I’ll have to break in the driver’s seat and get the mirrors right. I’ll have to find the perfect air temperature and restock the backseat and the trunk with the odds and ends I always like to keep with me.

When that day comes, I will undoubtedly be sad. Sure, I’ll be excited to have a new car, but I’m sure I’ll spend many an afternoon drive thinking about things I liked about my old car. But just as I’ve tried to tell myself now, in the wake of this rental: I can’t dwell on it.

When we make these big changes, either by our choice or by the choices of those around us, we are forced to deal with the ripples. Maybe that new job won’t have your favorite restaurant next door or that tradition you have with your coworkers. Maybe your new relationship won’t have the same dynamic or will take longer to find a new normal. Maybe your new car won’t have a squeaky (yet weirdly comforting) steering wheel.

We are always going to find things to miss about what we had, and that’s okay. At the end of the day, there is a reason you wanted to make this change or why this change found you. And even if the change is only temporary, like this rental car, it would be a waste to spend our days comparing and complaining.

Embrace where you are, what you have and who you’re with right now. Find out what you like and don’t like about what’s right in front of you, not in comparison to what’s behind you.

For me, I can’t wait to get my car back, but I’m thankful I’ve been provided a car to drive in the meantime. And as long as I have it, I solemnly swear to cherish these automatic windows.