advice

Strain then Stir (Episode 5): Becoming a Member of the Squash Squad

Honest question: did you know there is more than one kind of squash?

Did you know there are more than ten different types of squash?

Yeah, well, I definitely DID NOT.

But I’m learning. And if I’m learning, than I think you should be learning—if only because squash is a delicious subject that you (and your taste buds) should know more about.

First off, let’s meet the squash family as a whole:

There’s:

  • Butternut Squash (a.k.a B’Nut)
  • Kabocha Squash (a.k.a Kabby)
  • Spaghetti Squash (a.k.a SpaSqua)
  • Acorn Squash (a.k.a Ace)
  • Sweet Dumpling Squash (a.k.a Sweetie D)
  • Sugar Pumpkin (a.k.a Sugar P)
  • Red Kuri Squash (a.k.a Big Red)
  • Delicata Squash (a.k.a DC)
  • Carnival Squash (a.k.a Carnee)
  • Buttercup Squash (a.k.a Baby B)
  • Blue Hubbard Squash (a.k.a Blubby)
  • Banana Squash (a.k.a Lil Nana)

I haven’t met the whole fam yet. In fact, I’ve really only dipped my toe into the squash squad. But if things keep going the way they’re going, I think I’m on track to be invited to Thanksgiving next year.

On that note, let me formally introduce you to the squash I already scheme with. The gourds I’m already getting down with. The—okay no, I think two was enough.

Note: All squash pictures (squash snapshots? squashots?) featured below belong to Food Network. I got them from this article, where you can find more recipes and information about the squash fam—though no cool nicknames!

.

First up, Spaghetti Squash.

x

SpaSqua was a love of my life I didn’t know existed for far too long. I’ve mentioned him in a previous post, but I feel it’s only fair to bring him back up—because WOW. I even have a folder on my computer marked “Spaghetti Squash recipes” that I fully intend on trying the minute I get my hands on another SpaSqua. In the meantime, here’s old faithful that first proved to me the spaghetti squash’s flavorful worth.

Spaghetti Squash

18967

On my to-do list:

.

Next, Acorn Squash

x (1)

Ace was a squash I never thought I’d ever meet, but now that I have, I hope we never grow apart. Like any squash, I had to research what Ace was all about. How do I cut her? How do I cook her? How do I help her reach her maximum YUM? Enter this recipe stage right, which made all of my dreams come true. I made it without ground beef—because I forgot to buy it—but it was still delicious and filling and hey I feel healthy and not gross after I finished it. And I mean, what else can you ask for?

Stuffed Acorn Squash

stuffed-squash_01-13-13_1_ca

On my to-do list:

.

And finally, Butternut Squash!

bnut

I think it’s safe to say B’nut got his name because of his similarity in shape to a p’nut peanut. It’s also safe to say their similarities stop there—except if you count that they both have a hard exterior and a delicious surprise in the center, but other than that, they’re really totally different. After sifting through a bunch of different B’nut recipes, I ended up deciding on this pancake recipe, because I was in a breakfast for dinner type of mood, and I was pleasantly surprised at how moist and delicious they were! The recipe was super easy to follow, especially after I followed this advice on how to get a quick and easy “butternut squash mash” for the batter, and I personally thought the pancakes were great with honey on top.

Butternut Squash Pancakes

Butternut-Squash-Pancakes-1

On my to-do list:

.

Y’all, just trust me on this: your world is better with squash in it. With allll the squash in it. And with fall officially here, it’s the perfect time to meet a squash you never met before. Tell them Kim sent you—some of them will know me.


 

Read the previous episode of Strain then Stir here.

Throw Away Your Old Car Keys

I recently listened to Bryan Cranston’s memoir, Life in Parts, on audiobook. Not only does he have an incredible reading voice, but his stories are fun and fascinating and consistently engaging. I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for an easy read (or listen).

One particular story that stuck out in my mind was that of the passing of his aunt Sunday and uncle Eddie, and the process of his family going through their belongings afterwards. He noted how they found a box marked “keys to the old cars”, which turned out to be exactly that: keys for cars they previously owned.

As someone who is very sentimental, I can understand the act of keeping things that hold a special place in your heart. But as Cranston went onto explain, this box was one of many. The couple were definitely hoarders, finding value in keeping absolutely everything. As someone who hates clutter, I can’t really relate to this notion.

Or at least I thought I couldn’t.

Cranston noted, “None of the keys fit the car in the garage or the abandoned vehicles parked on the dead grass in the backyard. So. They kept keys to cars they hadn’t owned in years.”

That’s when I thought to myself: isn’t that kind of like holding on to grudges/pain/anger/etc. from the past?

When I thought about it like that, I realized we all probably have a “keys to the old cars box.” We are all holding onto things that will never do us any good. We are all keeping keys that belong to cars we’ve long stopped driving.

For me personally, I know I tend to hold onto things because in a way it makes me feel safe. Tangible things, like pictures or ticket stubs or knick knacks, make me feel like I’m keeping good memories safe, preserving everything I loved about that day or days in a single object that I can always go back to. Going off of this, my mind likes to pretend that holding onto anger and sadness and pain has the same benefit. It promises that remembering these things, these moments that still sting, will help keep me safe in the future. They will keep me from getting hurt or from failing or from making a fool out of myself. They will help me trust the right people and love the right people and stay away from the wrong people.

While this is good, as it’s important to constantly learn and grow and mature, there comes a point when this “protection” becomes clutter. Learning from failures is different than holding onto them. And working through pain is different than pushing it aside. For Cranston’s aunt and uncle, they were always going to have the memories of those old cars, even after they left their driveway. So while those keys might have promised to further those memories, in reality they were just reminders of the past taking up space in the present. And the same goes for all that anger and pain and sadness that is bogging us down.

It’s never easy to let go, but it’s necessary. I know for me, it might take a while. It might even be a one key at a time process, but that’s okay. As the saying goes, “the first step is admitting you have a box of old car keys.” After that, it’s just making room for the good things.

Start with Sweeping the Floor

Lately I’ve been feeling a little disoriented. There are so many things on my mind that I’d like to get accomplished and so many steps forward that I’m feeling motivated to take, that my brain has become somewhat of a chaotic mess, wondering where to even start.

Amongst this chaos, even going so far as to walk hand in hand with it most of the time, is exhaustion and frustration. I’ll get home from work with a laundry list of to-dos and my mind spirals, convinced it can’t do any of it, so I’ll end up stressing the hours away until I fall into bed, incredibly disappointed that I didn’t get anything done.

“I didn’t even sweep the floor,” I’ll think.

For among all the big goals I have, there are also little chores around the house that I want to get done. I want to clean my bathroom and do my laundry. I want to organize my desk and change the batteries in my clock. I want to sweep the floor. Having these chores done puts my mind at ease and makes room for other problems to be solved. 

Yesterday, while feeling a particularly cloudy shade of bleh, I got home from work wanting to go for a run, but didn’t feel like I had it in me.

Then you should probably sit down and write, I thought.

Or finish that project siting on your desk.

Or run through the to-do list you have written in your notebook.

Or research future blog posts

Or!

Or!

Or!

 Instead, I took a nap. My head was pounding and with a busy few weeks ahead, it felt like the healthiest thing to do.

When I woke up, I didn’t feel like writing, or working on unfinished projects, or going through to-do lists. But after eating dinner I did have a burst of inspiration to sweep the floor. Which then led to me cleaning my bathroom, doing some laundry and organizing my desk.

I ended up having a very productive evening. And even though I might not have gotten to all (or most) of the things on my to-do list, I got to some, which sometimes is all you can ask for from yourself.

When given the chance, our minds will choose a path to weed through the chaos, and when they do, the best thing to do is follow it. Trying to swim against the current and force yourself to work on projects that your brain isn’t ready for will often result in more days filled with stilted productivity. So go with the flow, and take things one at a time. Get done what you can get done and don’t beat yourself up with timelines and expectations.

At the end of the day, the hardest thing to do is move forward, and sometimes taking the smallest steps to prove yourself wrong will make all the difference. Those steps will get you moving, giving you the momentum you need to take the big ones. Plus, at the end of a long day, when your mind starts to swirl its way into an insomniac stress ball, you can quiet it.

At least I swept the floor.

Stay at the Table, the Chips Will Come

While accepting the first award of the night this past Monday—and the first Primetime Emmy of his career—Henry Winkler quoted something he was once told by a friend in Hollywood:

“If you sit at the table long enough, the chips will come to you.”

I’ve never been much of a poker player myself, but I still liked this phrase. It’s both simple and complicated.

On the one hand, it’s saying that all you have to do is stay in the game and patience will pay off. But on the other hand, anyone who’s played or watched poker before knows that “staying in the game” isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes luck and risk, sometimes the blind and irresponsible kind, to save your spot at that table, and not every game guarantees the luck will eventually turn your way.

Sometimes it takes game after game, risk after risk, trip after trip to that table before those chips start to come your way. And even then, you’re always at the risk of losing what you won, right after you won it.

Looking up at the teleprompter, Henry Winkler said in regards to his speech, “I only have 37 seconds, but I wrote this 43 years ago.”

That’s a lot of games. A lot of lost hands. A lot of waiting and losing. A lot of unrewarded risk. And yet…

“If you stay at the table long enough, the chips come to you,” he said, “and tonight I got to clear the table.

Risk, patience, and perseverance will pay off.

Sometimes it might not be in the way you think/hope it will, and sometimes it will take way longer than you might like. But don’t let that scare or discourage you.

Stay at the table. Keep playing the game. Because those chips are most certainly coming your way.

Also, it should be noted that my very first thought after hearing Henry Winkler share this anecdote was of a kitchen table and tortilla chips…

I think the phrase works either way though, if you think about it.

It’s Not Time to Worry Yet

If you’re anything like me, you’re a worrier. And not just your average worrier.

A professional worrier.

But who could blame us?

There’s the past, the present, the future, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of variations of those three that feature the what if’s, the could be’s and the should have been’s.

Plus, our problems aren’t the only ones to worry about. There are our family’s problems, our friends’ problems, the problems of the person we happen to come into contact with at the grocery store, and the problems of fictional characters that make us wonder if we can relate…which spiral into a set of entirely new problems.

Worrying is great.

I mean, not really, but it disguises itself as a hobby sometimes.

And while I imagine people like us will constantly find ourselves worrying (and worrying about worrying) it’s important to remember that it’s not always necessary.

(I know, easier said than done, but hear me out.)

I recently read To Kill a Mockingbird and Atticus Finch, one of the main characters, had a signature phrase that really resonated with me. He repeated this phrase multiple times throughout the book, often to calm the worries of his children, Jem and Scout.

“It’s not time to worry yet,” he would say, and even though it wasn’t an answer, it was enough. Because as much as worrying likes to pretend it offers you a path to a solution, oftentimes it does little more than guide you towards further destruction.

Worrying adds to chaos, it doesn’t end it. It doesn’t give us control, it steals it. And as easy and fun (?) as it is to worry, it’s important to remember that it really doesn’t help.

So the next time you find yourself consumed by panic, remind yourself, it’s not time to worry yet.

When it comes to the what if’s, it’s not time to worry yet.

When it comes to the could be’s, it’s not time to worry yet.

And when it comes to the should have been’s, there’s no point in worrying now.

July/August 2018 Favorites

I feel like I’ve fallen in love with a million things since my last favorites post, so it’s hard to choose only a handful to share with you rather than write a five-page, thesis driven report on everything you should be checking out.

In lieu of that however, I’ve tried to narrow it down to some of my tippity top favorites—which is a thing, right?

.

The Mortified Podcast

avatars-000129189817-c27y6b-t500x500

This is a continuation of the “Mortified” series of both books and live events where people share their embarrassing childhood journals.  Each week, the podcast takes on a theme and stories that fit into that theme are shared. For example, this past week’s episode was called “International Affairs” which featured stories about experiences overseas. No matter which episode you watch or listen to, or which format you find them on, they are guaranteed to make you laugh and/or cringe and more than anything relate. (find it here)

.

M-W Word of the Day

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 7.30.43 AM

While I like to consider myself as someone with a relatively high vocabulary, I’m always anxious to improve. The way I see it, the more words I know, the more easily I’ll be able to convey exactly what I’m trying to say. So, every day, as part of my morning routine, I check my email and read the word of the day, its definition and its usage in a sentence. Is this a little nerdy? Yes, and I love it.  (find it here)

.

Movies

Eighth Grade

As far as I’m concerned, absolutely everyone should see this movie. It is so honest and beautiful and hilarious and sad. It’s about a time in all of our lives that was so awkward and important, and it offers a rare look back to see how far we’ve come since then. (find it here)

Three Identical Strangers

This movie had a pretty limited release which is absolutely heartbreaking because it is one of the most mind-blowing things I’ve ever seen. And while I’d like to tell you all about it, it is truly one of those films that you have to watch without any prior information. So please, do yourself a favor and don’t do any research on this film other than how you can get your eyes on it as soon as possible! (find it here)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

This movie is absolutely adorable. It’s the romcom we’ve all needed for a long time. I watched it one night when I was feeling a little down and it gave me so many warm fuzzies,  I watched it again the very next night without even an ounce of shame. (find it on Netflix)

.

TV

The Sinner71HSFu3M7zL._RI_

Before watching last year’s award show circuit and seeing Jessica Biel nominated left and right for her performance on this show, I hadn’t really heard anything about it. Needless to say, the minute it was released on Netflix, I went into full blown FOMO mode and made myself sit down and watch the first season. Being the scaredy cat that I have always been, I only watched one or two episodes at a time because I was so nervous about what was going to happen, but when I got close to the end I gave into the binge and let me tell you, it was worth it! I haven’t got a chance to watch any of the second season yet, but it’s definitely on my list! (find it Netflix)

.

Red Oaks

A1bchCANwlL._RI_

Taking the hardest of left turns, I bring you Red Oaks, a show I found completely by accident on Amazon Prime. It follows a cast of characters that work at a tennis club in the 80’s. One thing that particularly drew me to this show was Craig Roberts, who I loved in The Fundamentals of Caring. While set in a completely different pair of shoes, you again find yourself rooting for him, which is kind of the theme of the show in my opinion. Over the course of the three seasons, there’s never really any cliffhangers or monumental events that make you gasp, but you still find yourself gripped to the characters who are easily tangible and relatable people who you just want to succeed and be happy. (find it on Amazon Prime)

.

Making It

Making It - Season 1

This show is honestly my dream come true. A DIY competition show—which alone would’ve stolen my heart—that is hosted by Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler!! It is the greatest gift my DVR could have ever been given. (find it on Hulu, or Tuesdays at 10 p.m. PST on NBC)

.

Books

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This was released as a movie in March, but I waited to read the book first and I was so glad I did. Not only do you get a lot more detail, but in many ways (in my opinion) you get a better story.  While I enjoyed both adaptations, the movie and the book are drastically different in terms of minor plot points. I feel like the movie focuses more on video game references while the book’s major focus is the 80’s generation as a whole. (find it here)

Strange Fire by Tommy Wallach

In a recent conversation with my sister I made a comment that I thought Tommy Wallach might be my favorite author, which made me wonder why he hadn’t released any new books lately. This sent me on a Google hunt which informed me that not only had he released this book last October, but that it was the first in a trilogy, the second of which is coming out this November. Cue the happy dancing. This book was much more sci-fi than his first two (both of which you should read, by the way, they are: We All Looked Up and Thanks for the Trouble) but the characters were just as rich and the story was equally gripping. I can’t wait for book #2! (find it here)

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Seeing as it won a Pulitzer Prize and all, I realize it wouldn’t be new information for me to say, “hey, this is a great book!” But I never read this book in school and really only did so now because it’s on the list of Time’s Best 100 Books that I’m working my way through, and I’m SO glad I did! I listened to the audiobook read by Sissy Spacek and she was fantastic. Highly recommend! (find it here)

.

Music

As always, here’s a few iTunes adjectives to peak your interest

Don’t Smile at Me by Billie Eilish: “nudges things along nicely with its minimalist beats and lifting-yet-sinister lyricism.”

Greetings from the Neon Frontier by The Wild Feathers: “full of wistful highway anthems built on breezy three part harmonies.”

Sweetner by Ariana Grande: “a gorgeous pastel album about love, happiness, strength and womanhood.”

.

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

See my previous favorites post here.

 

A Bummer of a Step in the Right Direction

A few weeks ago I applied to a job that sounded like it would be the perfect fit for me. Not only was the company one that I’d volunteered for in the past, but the job itself was one I believed I was completely qualified for and could offer a lot to.

It had been a while since I applied to a job. And even though my current job was not unsatisfying—I have both friendly coworkers, generous bosses and a healthy work environment as a whole—I’ve long dreamed about finding a new home. Somewhere that I can grow and learn and be challenged in new and exciting ways.

Patience was all it was supposed to take. Patience and hard work and determination. And after years of feeling as if I’d done just that, I found this job opportunity and hit apply.

A week later, I got an email asking to set up a phone interview. My stomach turned and turned, wondering if perhaps this was actually it. Maybe this was what I’d been patient for. Maybe this was what I’d been working towards.

The night before the interview, I warned my roommates I would be going into work late the next morning, asking them to send their thoughts and prayers, and not to judge if they heard me pacing back and forth on the phone.

After the interview, I went to work as usual. I pulled into my parking spot and clocked in at the time clock and sat behind my desk. My stomach was no longer in knots, and my confidence was through the roof. I nailed that, I thought, and instantly my mind began to picture me in a new parking spot and behind a new desk.

In the days that followed, my confidence waned. It wasn’t that anything had changed; I still believed I’d given a good interview, and even if it wasn’t perfect, it was honest and a good representation of who I was and what I can do.

Prideful thoughts told me they’d be crazy not to hire me, that there wasn’t a chance they’d interviewed a candidate as good as me. But realistic thoughts countered back with humbling doses of doubt.

What if they don’t hire me? I began to worry. What if this is just another blip on the failure radar? What if in a few weeks, this will be nothing more than a jaunt of unrewarded risk?

Tears flooded my eyes as I sat at my desk. What if this wasn’t it? Could I really continue being patient? And if this seemingly perfect opportunity wasn’t going to work out, then what was I even being patient for?

Over the next few days I felt nauseous with worry. I checked my email obsessively, hoping the next refresh would prove my doubts wrong. But nothing came.

Then, in a seemingly ordinary moment, when neither acceptance nor rejection was particularly weighing on my mind, I felt a sudden feeling of peace. It wasn’t a confidence that things were going to go my way, and it wasn’t a guarantee that I wouldn’t be crushed if they didn’t, but rather a reassurance that whatever happened was exactly what was supposed to happen.

So often I’m someone who’s making plans, setting goals and checking items off lists to ensure that I’m setting myself up for a happy and successful future. I’m always trying to do more, to be more and I assure myself that eventually what I do will lead me where I need to go.

But therein lies the problem.

So often I forget that I’m part of a plan much bigger than me. That what I’m working towards, even on the most mundane of days, and what I’m being patient for, even when it seems hopeless, is something greater than I could ever imagine.

Almost exactly a week after my phone interview, I received an email that the company had decided to go in a “different direction”. And even with that feeling of peace sitting in the back of my mind, I was still bummed. It was still a no, and now that it was a real no rather than one fabricated in my head, it stung—bad. So I took that day and I let all the sad and the disappointed move through me. Rather than go out with my friends, I stayed home and watched a sad movie and let myself be bummed.

As it turned out, this wasn’t it. But even though it felt like a step I didn’t get to take, it was actually a step forward in a new direction. A step towards something else.

So even as I drive to work today and park in my same parking spot and clock in at the same time clock and sit behind my same desk, I can take a deep breath knowing that right now, I’m exactly where I need to be. And that as the days go by and I keep moving forward, my patience will pay off, and where I end up will be far greater than any place I could have ever imagined.

I’m Still Trying to Land My Own Jump

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across a video of a skateboarder trying to land a super complicated trick. Massively complicated for someone like me. Impossible, really. But for this guy, it was something he knew he could do eventually. It was something he could work towards little by little.

The caption of the video described the trick as a “triple set with a massive laser flip,” which undoubtedly means…something.

The video fades in on the guy, Christian Flores, standing on his skateboard, his voice coming through the speakers saying, “Everyone has their own project that they’re doing mostly for themselves, you know?” He’s standing next to a double door entrance of a medical building, on a small patch of cement that leads down three small sets of stairs. The camera is pointed straight at the building and Christian is in the far left corner of the frame. With a quick pump of the leg, he rolls towards the edge of the stairs and comes to a quick stop so he can look down at the jump he’s going to make, visualizing every movement required in landing the trick successfully. He then goes off camera to give himself more room to pick up speed, before soaring back into frame and hurling himself into the air. When he lands, the board is upside down under his feet and he rolls on his back across the asphalt. It looks like it hurts, like maybe he should be broken in more ways than one, but he pops right up, grabs his board and runs back up the stairs.

For the next few minutes, the video shows a montage of what should have been (at least I think) the last day of Christian’s life. He skids and slides and crashes and rolls and booms and bangs and oww and how much milk did this kid drink that his bones are not in a pile right now?

The caption of the video states that throughout the trying process—which took over two years—Christian did endure a few broken ribs, but that’s a laughable amount of damage compared to what should have happened. If I tried a trick like this, I think the acting doctor would end up laughing, but in more of a, “great news, you didn’t break this rib!” type of way. But as much as I’d like to go on and on about how broken this guy should be, how beaten down and discouraged and exhausted, there comes a time when you have to respect that the guy just knew how to fall. Being a skateboarder, he was used to it. And being a good skateboarder, he didn’t let it bother him. With each crash he popped right back up and ran up the stairs. Again. And again. And again.

Not being a skateboarder myself, it’s hard to understand how he kept getting up. But I suppose his wanting to land that trick (regardless of the consequences that came with it) is just a physical representation of any of us being knocked down en route to accomplishing something we’re passionate about.

There are clips of him rolling around in obvious pain, tears rolling down his face, and anger radiating out of his bones. There are countless moments when you almost want him to stop, for fear he really might hurt himself. But there’s no stopping him. He keeps getting up.

The funny part about the whole thing is that it’s just a trick. All of this falling and nearly dying and hours of frustration, it’s all for a silly skateboarding trick. But then again, is that really all it is?

Like any muscle, perseverance takes time to build up and make strong. We’re not born with blind determination, we have to work for it. We have to want it. And so even though this want of his may have seemed like small potatoes to someone trying to start their own company or run a marathon or write a book, the drive to do any and all of these starts in the same place. Who knows where his determination could take him after this trick? Who knows what his mind would set itself on next? What counts is that he knows he can get himself anywhere he needs to be, because he knows he’s willing to put himself through hell to get there.

At about the four minute mark, we see him propel himself into the air for what seems to be the hundredth time. He floats up off the stairs and his feet leave the board. His arms go up in the air to keep his balance and his eyes focus down on where he needs to land—which he does. With both feet cleanly on the board, he rolls down the asphalt for a few dozen feet, then comes to a stop, throws his skateboard and shirt into the air, and walks over to hug his friends.

As the video closes, Christian says he is proud to have accomplished his goal and happy that it is done, but even so, he is already looking for something bigger. My response to this was a solid two minutes of letting my jaw hang open, and then I wrote this blog. It’s just a short, silly blog, nothing more. But then again, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s part of something bigger.

May/June 2018 Favorites

Hello and welcome to another favorites post, where I hand out real life “like” buttons to things I’ve fallen in love with over the last couple months.

Let’s jump right in.

.

Ear Hustle & S-Town

After catching up with almost all the podcasts I listen to regularly, I did some research to find some new ones. Among the many articles I read, these two podcasts were constantly among the top recommended, and after listening to them, I can understand why!

Ear Hustle is all about San Quentin state prison. It goes through different stories and struggles associated with people inside. I was pretty much hooked from the first episode and binged the entire series until I was caught up.

S-Town is about a mysterious man named John B McLemore, who sends an email to a journalist at This American Life, the company responsible for the widely popular Serial podcast, requesting he look into a murder that was swept under the rug in his hometown in Alabama. This journalist is then immersed into the very strange and secretive life of John B McLemore, and ultimately discovers that no murder ever took place. My sister and I binged the entire podcast during our drive to and from the mountains over Memorial Day weekend, and were left completely baffled. (find Ear Hustle here, and S-Town here)

.

Love

netflix-love-season-two

I’ll admit, I’m not all that great at keeping up with/finishing must watch shows, both on TV and on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. As a result, I tend to try and watch them all at once, and then never finish any. However, there are some that particularly hook me, causing me to sit down and watch them in their entirety without cheating on them with another show. Love is one of those exceptions. It is such a funny, relatable, different show that I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with lately. And since it’s third (and final) season only just came out in March, I like to think I’m not too out of the loop on this one. (find it on Netflix)

.

James Bay & Shawn Mendes

In the music department, I have these two gentlemen to recommend to you. They are both ridiculously talented, and recently released albums that I’ve been listening to on repeat. And since I can never quite do the description justice, here’s how iTunes describes them:

Shawn Mendes by Shawn Mendes: “an adventurous voyage of texture and tempo”

Electric Light by James Bay: “a questing set of songs that crosses into simmering funk pop, taut alt-pop, and folky electro R&B”

.

Left Neglected51IB8yjROpL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

I would not even be slightly exaggerating if I said that I told everybody I know about this book. Okay, well not everyone I know, but mostly certainly everyone I came into contact with while I was reading it. It just blew my mind! The story follows a woman who, after getting in a nasty car accident, wakes up to find that her brain has completely lost contact with the left side of her body. She can’t move her left arm or left leg, she can’t see anything to the left of her center line of vision. As far as her brain is concerned, left doesn’t exist. I mean, just try not to constantly talk about it. (find it here)

.

Pores No More

porenomore

I am honestly shocked that in back to back favorites posts I have a beauty product to recommend to you, but here I am. I got this guy from Ulta a little while back, and as I do with almost every new makeup product I buy, I put in my bag and never used it because I was afraid my skin would rebel/catch on fire/etc. Luckily, when I finally worked up the courage to try this bad boy, I absolutely loved it! It didn’t irritate my skin, it helped with my oily complexion and it served as a great base for my makeup. Consider me a lifelong fan! (find it here)

.

White Chocolate Dipped Animal Crackers

A few weeks back my family and I drove up to spend Memorial Day weekend in the mountains. While we were there, we stopped by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. My mom and my sister were eyeing the candied apples, but not being a fan of them myself, I perused the outskirts of the store, trying to find something that suited my fancy. Enter these bad boys, stage right. They might be one of the greatest treats I have ever tried, one which I’ll never be able to deny should I find myself in the vicinity of a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. (Unfortunately they don’t list these on the website, so in order to find/try them, you’ll have to go into a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store. BUMMER.)

.

Imperfect Produceblack_logo

After seeing this constantly advertised across my social media platforms, I finally decided to look this company up and see what it’s all about. For those of you also wondering: much like the company name suggests, this company sends you produce that is imperfect, or in other words, isn’t pretty enough to be sold in stores. So, they sell it to you at a discounted rate. You have a few different options regarding both box size (I do the smallest box), and shipment frequency (I do every other week), and on the weekend before your box is delivered, you can log in and customize it, adding or removing fruits and veggies you want/don’t want in your box. For example, I usually leave my box the way they have it, only removing produce I know I don’t like/won’t use like lettuce or cilantro. (Note: if you want to try it, you can click here. Full disclosure: this is a referral link from my account, but if you sign up with it, we both get a credit of $10! It’s a win win!)

.

The Skimm

skimmlogo-fbshare

And finally, I bring you The Skimm. I’m not even sure where/how I found out about this, but I’m very glad I did! It’s a roundup of the day’s top news stories that gets sent to your email every weekday morning. After signing up at the beginning of May, it’s quickly become part of my morning routine. Once I get to work, I read through my email from The Skimm, clicking on any links that I want further information on, and then I officially start my day, feeling well informed on what’s happening in the world. (find it here)

.

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

See my previous favorites post here.

A Quick (Life) Driving Lesson

Hello and welcome to your driving lesson. Please take a seat and buckle up.

There is a lot to learn, but don’t be afraid. Like anything else, driving just takes practice and patience.

Firstly, let’s start the car.

Excellent. How did that feel? I really want you to soak it in because while it’s a simple skill, it’s also very important. On any drive you might make, it is both your responsibility and your freedom to start the car. Sometimes it may be difficult. Some days, perhaps due to factors out of your control, it might even seem impossible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is always a friendly face close by that can give you a jump-start, should you ever need one.

Now, with the car still in park, I want you to lightly step on the gas. Do you hear that? The rev of the engine? That is a reminder that you are in control of your own speed. You determine how fast or slow you go. You.

You see the brake pedal along side it? That is also at your disposal. Learning to take control of and responsibility for these two pedals is one of the most important parts of both becoming a good driver and enjoying your drive.

Good. Now, let’s put our foot on the brake and put the car in drive. Good. Now let’s ease on the gas pedal. Excellent.

On any given day, when and if you should you choose to start the car, you are in charge of your own destination. Granted, there are times when there are going to be specific places you have to be and specific times you have to be there. However, you should never forget that the way to get there has always and will always be up to you.

On days when you do not have a required destination on your agenda, know that the roads, no matter how open or congested they may be, have a place for you. If you want to get somewhere, you can, it might just take some patience. It may even take so much patience that you’ll try a few alternate routes along the way, just for a change of pace. You might even like one of those alternate routes so much you’ll change your destination all together! And that’s okay! Like I said, it’s up to you. You are the driver, don’t forget that.

Now, you might be thinking about passengers. While driving, it is crucial to surround yourself with beneficial passengers. People who will help make your drive more pleasant. Whether that be by giving advice when you come to a crossroads, enduring bumpy roads with you, or discovering new places neither of you ever expected.

Some passengers, even though they seem valuable based on their knowledge of certain terrain or experience in different traffic jams, will not provide you the assistance you need, and can often lead you down the wrong path. Understand that you do not have to keep anyone in your car that makes you feel uncomfortable or underappreciated. Simply pull over and let them out, you can continue your drive without them.

Okay, go ahead and move into the left lane here. Good.

While driving, you will consistently be given options as to which lane you’d like to drive in. You may start in one lane, find yourself unsatisfied, and then try another. This is totally normal. It is also possible that while you are perfectly comfortable in one lane, another driver will abruptly enter that lane, almost without warning. This may interrupt plans you had regarding speed, destination, timing, etc., and at times may even result in a harmful collision. Understand that surrounding drivers all have their own trips in progress, and while it may seem as though they intentionally throw off yours, that is not always the case. Sometimes your sudden presence is just as surprising to them as they are to you. Other times however, it does appear as though surrounding drivers control their cars recklessly and often leave a trail of destruction, be it actual, physical collisions, or residual emotional distress, in their wake. It is crucial to your driving experience that you absorb these experiences, allow them to teach you something, and then move on. Do not let the driving habits of others prevent you from continuing your drive all together.

Alright, pull over up here. Excellent. I believe that is all the time we have for today, but know that there are many lessons to be learned behind the wheel. And just when you think you’ve learned them all, you’ll make a turn down a road you’ve never been down before and find it has something entirely new to teach you. Don’t get discouraged. Embrace every turn and every lesson. For there is always something incredible just over the next hill or right behind the next building. There are always new tricks and new treats. You simply must be patient and keep driving.