baseball

An (Understandably) Interrupted Weekend at Spring Training

Last year my family and I took our first trip to Spring Training in Arizona. Almost immediately upon arriving home, we started researching details for our second (and hopefully yearly) trip. By July, we had our Airbnb booked, by January we had all of our game tickets purchased, and by February I had a countdown written on the refrigerator.

39 days to go!

And for 39 looong days, I counted down, one by one, erasing and rewriting until we were finally walking out the door to make our Wednesday night flight.

In our Uber ride to the airport, the conversation centered heavily on COVID-19, and the toll it was taking on both the health and sanity of the world at large. We told our driver we were happy to be getting away from the hysteria for a little while, and he nodded enthusiastically, saying that focusing on the people you love is important in times like these.

When we landed in Phoenix a few hours later, my sister, Natalee, and I could hardly contain our excitement. We walked into the doors of our AirBnb and hugged our parents, and our friends Darryl, DeeDee and Cody, each of us buzzing about finally making it back here, together, a year later.

The next morning, we all walked out in our gear—my family repping the Dodgers, and the Beliel’s repping the Mariners. Our initial fears were that it might rain, but when notifications started to come in about the NBA pausing their season, and then the NHL, there was an entirely new concern hovering over us.

Still, we piled into the car and drove to Surprise Stadium to watch the Mariners play the Royals. We arrived about a half hour early, which gave us some time to pace, and play a few rounds of Heads Up! before hearing the rumblings that the game was going to be cancelled. But then, at 11:30 a.m. the gates opened, we walked inside and immediately shifted our thoughts to lunch. Before we could all decide on anything however, an announcement came over the loud speaker to inform us that the game had been cancelled—along with the remainder of all Spring Training games.

Not fully accepting what that meant for us, we got back in the car and went to Top Golf to try and make something of the day. When we got there, it appeared that everyone in a 20-mile radius (and baseball gear) had had the same thought, making the wait time over two hours. So, we put our name in and went out to lunch, where we all took tequila shots, watched a basketball game from the 1996 March Madness tournament (because all current sports were cancelled) and I spilled most of my drink on me, Cody and our booth bench, making our day (which had started out as hopeful and exciting) go from sad to sticky (and cold).

Sorry.

Around 3 o’clock, our bay at Top Golf was ready, so we headed back to golf for a few hours, which was both fun and difficult, especially when we decided to each try and hit a few balls wearing my sister’s glasses, which could make anyone dizzy. For me personally, they made my left eye feel like it was in the center of my forehead, which made the waiting golf ball split into two. Miraculously, I still hit it, where it landed however, I couldn’t tell you.

On our way back to the Airbnb, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some supplies for dinner, and then settled in for the night. Aside from dinner, my sister had put together plans to celebrate the 30th wedding anniversary of both our parents and Darryl and DeeDee—we had even stopped at the airport gift shop to find the strangest most wonderful trinkets that could act as prizes for the winners.

During the three rounds of the game, Natalee acted as host, and Cody and I acted as her judges and color commentators. And though it wasn’t necessary,  we went by aliases—Laura, Lisa & Lance—which we decided on solely because we saw this Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial, and then took a hard tangent into researching the inventors of the first sports bra. (Fun fact: it was invented in 1977 by Lisa Lindahl—hence our “L” named alter egos—Polly Smith, and Hinda Miller, by sewing two jock straps together, and was initially called the “jogbra.”) It should also be noted that my parents won the game, though not before one question revealed that my mother would be the first to eat my dad in order to survive on a desert island. So there’s that.

On Friday, the group of us woke up with a noticeable weight on our shoulders. While it was clear we were all trying to make the best of the weekend, the widespread panic regarding COVID-19, and our mostly unspoken worries of what the situation would be like back home, were heavy in the air. Conversation was quiet at lunch, even as we sat in a BBQ restaurant that had a 60,000 gallon aquarium inside—though I did take a few moments to name one of the sharks “Luke.” To top it all off, it was a very rainy, dreary day, so after leaving the restaurant, we nixed our plans of visiting the zoo next door and instead went back home. After that, the day mostly consisted of lounging, napping, and quiet conversations. And while I think it made us all a little sad, frustrated even that the weekend wasn’t turning out quite how we hoped it would, I also think we knew were lucky to have each other.

This only became more apparent when we went back to the grocery store that night. We went thinking we could grab some wine and a few ingredients to make cookies for dessert, only to find that, on top of the now infamously empty toilet paper shelves, there was also no flour, and only a couple cartons of eggs—one of which we ended up taking, but only after discarding the broken eggs inside. In fact, many aisles lay bare, some hard to make sense of. Walking through the grocery store, it was obvious that the panic we had previously only heard about on the news, was now right in front of us, slowly surrounding us everywhere we went. I started to think about the supplies I had back home, and whether they would suffice for the coming weeks. I started texting friends, asking how they were, trying to squash the anxiety that started to flutter at the bottom of my stomach. We still had a couple days left in Arizona, but the discomfort that had dawned with the morning had only multiplied as the day went on.

As we stood in line at the grocery store, I noticed how everyone still remained in somewhat organized lines, no matter how long, and that we were still, for the most part, kind and polite. I hoped that we’d all remain aware and respectful of our fellow man in the weeks to come, and that we wouldn’t let this panic turn into chaos. Then, in the cart in front of us, a baby smiled at me and my mom, and for a moment I forgot about absolutely everything.

The next day, we got up bright and early to head back to the zoo. And while the grounds were still a little muddy from the day before, we got to take our time walking from exhibit to exhibit, soaking in some Vitamin D, and learning about the surprisingly diverse animal population at Litchfield Park’s Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium.

Afterward, we headed to lunch at the Arrogant Butcher, which would serve as our last sit down meal as a group. Later that afternoon, Cody would fly home, and the next morning, after dropping Darryl and DeeDee off at the airport to do the same, my family and I would make the six hour drive back to California in my dad’s truck.

By the time we all arrived home, it was obvious that the weekend was not quite what we had hoped. While there were some great parts, overall, we lacked the magic (and Mel) that had made the previous year so perfect. Going into it, we’d hoped to put the troubles of the world aside, but it quickly became clear that we couldn’t do that. Unlike most vacations, where the responsibilities of the world can fade into the background, this trip was riddled with calls (and texts and emails and news reports) from the real world, demanding we hear them no matter where we were. So as we all went our separate ways and tried prepare for the week ahead, we agreed that we would try again next year.

As I sit here, writing about the weekend, I have no idea what to expect going into this workweek. I don’t know what the state of the world will look like in a month, let alone next March when, if we’re lucky, we might find ourselves counting down for another trip to Spring Training. What I do know is that I am very fortunate.  Times like these make you realize how much you take for granted, and how much you already have, regardless of your dwindling supply of toilet paper. So let’s not lose sight of that as we step into these unknown few months.

Let us remember how lucky we are to have people who love us. Let us hold tight to the world we know, and fight not with each other but for each other, to get back to that world. Let us take it one day at a time, never allowing the fear to overshadow our innate human goodness.

We can get through this together if we go through it together. So let’s take a deep breath, take the necessary cautionary steps, help each other where we can, and get through it.

10 Things I Love About Baseball

We are about two weeks into Spring Training, and about two weeks away from the start of the regular season, which has my baseball loving heart soaring. I am once again approaching my happy place: when the notifications on my phone are primarily game scores and player updates, when evening plans can easily be made when my team has a home game, and when frustration with work, life, etc. can be expressed through angrily shouting at poor decisions made by a manager, and terrible calls made by an umpire.

Baseball is BACK, my friends, and since I wrote this post a couple years ago listing my favorite things about football, I thought it was about time I did the same for my favorite sport.

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1) The Season(s)

Since baseball starts in the spring and ends in the fall, the weather is usually pretty glorious, no matter where you might be watching. Sure, it rains sometimes and occasionally gets cold when the sun goes down, but for the better part of the season, baseball gives you the best weather, and calls for the most casual, comfortable clothes in your closet.

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2) The Environment

On average, a baseball game is a minimum of three hours. For some people, this is too long, but for me, it is perfect. Baseball gives you time to relax. To both watch and chat with friends. To eat and drink and laugh and sit in complete, unawkward silence as you listen the sounds of the game, as well as contribute a few of your own. Depending on your home stadium (and how often you go) you are likely to learn a series of “clapping cheers” that the sound booth will cue multiple times throughout the game. Having gone to games since I was little, I was unaware how brainwashed trained I was until I brought a friend to a game who was unfamiliar with baseball, and she asked how she was supposed to know when to clap. I looked at her, bewildered, unaware that it was something I had learned rather than something I was born knowing.

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3) The Food

Again, the specifics on what you will find depends on where you are and what stadium you are visiting, but no matter what, baseball brings out some of the best food in the world.

*pauses for backlash*

*pauses again to signify that I have no interest in arguing this point*

If you don’t believe me, believe Humphrey.

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4) Collective Cheering & Booing

One thing I think we can all agree on is that we, as a world, need to be more united. On grand scale issues, yes, on humanitarian issues, of course, but it can start with the small things. That being said, if you are looking for unity, you’d be hard pressed to find a greater display than that from passionate baseball fans disagreeing with a call that could cost their team the game, or rising to their feet in an effort to cheer their team to victory.

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5) Web Gems

During the season, many sports news outlets create weekly top 10 countdowns of amazing plays, called “web gems.” This is where you see the best of the best in catches, throws, and plays—where fans can agree that this is why they are paying them the big bucks. Do we drastically underestimate how hard the rest of the game is, and thus how impossible these web gems actually are? 100%. But do we give ourselves a break because we have high expectations and can barely afford to buy a second beer? Also, 100%.

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6) Bloopers

On the other side of things, there are also roundups of goofy mistakes made by the players, be it a fall, a drastic miscommunication, or a ball lost in the sun. Personally, I think these demonstrate what most of the population would look like if we tried to play baseball at a professional level, which is why we find these bloopers funny and even endearing, because it’s a reminder that these elite athletes are still human.

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7) Bottom of the 9th, reach for the stars, over the fence, World Series kind of thing

In the classic 1995 Olsen twin film, It Takes Two, this statement is used to describe the feeling of true love. While I adore and respect that usage, I also love its roots. Every baseball player dreams of the once in a lifetime opportunity to become a hero in the 9th inning of a World Series game. Whether that be hitting a home run, making a game winning catch/play, or striking out the last batter of the game. I love that baseball is a game that allows anyone on the team be a hero. Take Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, who hobbled to the plate—with two injured legs—to pinch hit, and ended up hitting the game winning home run.

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8) The Nicknames

Like any sport, when a player you like steps into the game, you want to cheer for them, and in cheering for them, you end up coming up with nicknames—sometimes multiple for each player. I would say, at minimum, my family and I have about three nicknames per player, which is useful, because it’s a long season, and sometimes you need to mix it up.

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9) Social Media

A newer addition to this list is the social media presence of teams—especially my team, but I realize I’m biased. I love getting a behind the scenes look at the team. It allows me to better get to know the players and borderline consider them my friends and/or family members. This does make my cheering for them and the outcome of their games much more influential on my overall happiness than it should be, but it’s fine. It’s fun. I love it. And it is glaringly obvious how attached I am to this content when the off-season comes around and my Instagram feed is a barren wasteland.

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10) Dodger Stadium

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Last and the furthest thing from least, Dodger Stadium. This is not only the home of my favorite team, but truly one of my favorite places in the world. I can’t definitively say that it is the best stadium in the world, because I haven’t been to all 30, but even if had/when I do, I know that Dodger Stadium will forever be my favorite because it is where I grew up and where my team plays.

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Go Dodgers!

A Weekend at Spring Training

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while, you probably know that I’m a big baseball fan. My whole life I’ve grown up watching the Dodgers and two years ago I crossed a major goal off my bucket list by attending my first ever World Series game at Dodger Stadium.

This year, my family and I decided it was time to cross another item off the list: Spring Training! And so this past weekend, we did just that.

On Friday morning, as my normal work alarm went off, I (for once) didn’t hit snooze. I popped out of bed and finished packing my suitcase, ready to be out the door as soon as possible. My sister Natalee and I had a quick flight to Phoenix , so naturally I slept through almost the entire thing, giving me a nap that would come in handy later.

Upon landing, we met up with our friend Cody, whose parents, Darryl and DeeDee, had spent the first half of the week in Arizona with our parents, and Mel, who’d flown in from Utah. While our parents looked relaxed, slightly sunburned and well slept, the four of us all looked a little worn out and so relieved to be on vacation we had no idea where to start. Lucky for us, our vacation didn’t waste any time. Once we were all unpacked at our Airbnb, we grabbed some jackets and headed to our first game of the weekend.

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Natalee, Mel, Cody and I had tickets on the outfield grass, so once we got to Camelback Ranch, we just had to pick a plot and roll out our towels. Next, we raided the food court, where we were reminded that hot dogs at a baseball game, no matter where you are, will always be delicious, while Shocktop in a can is not. shrug_emoji-modifier-fitzpatrick-type-4_1f937-1f3fd_1f3fd

Natalee and Mel both brought their gloves with them, and Mel had her eye on getting a ball from one of the players. At the start of every inning, she stood up against the outfield fence, waiting patiently for the outfielders to finish warming up before she waved her glove in the air. This proved to be no easy task however, as each inning she was forced to field off crazed children who were willing to go full Lord of the Flies for these balls, often climbing the chain link, body sliding across the grass, and literally putting their glove inside your glove in order to catch a ball.

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But while most kids went home with nothing more than grass stains and a little bit of shame, Mel persevered, catching a ball from an outfielder on the opposing team (shout out to Heath) causing our entire group to erupt in cheers even though the Dodgers were only a few outs from losing the game.

The next morning, after unexpectedly staying up until two in the morning talking, playing card games, and laughing so hard I woke up with an ab, our group pulled back on our hats and made an early start back to Camelback Ranch.

While the game wasn’t until 1:05 p.m., we wanted to try and see the Dodgers (and the Mariners, Darryl, DeeDee, and Cody are from Seattle) practice before the game. We also wanted to get a chance to fully explore our culinary options. The night before, Mel and I had browsed the Food Map (the best kind of map) provided in the program, and all but drooled when we read about the BBQ Macaroni and Cheese helmets.

Wow.

Even now, just typing it out. Reliving it. What an absolute blessing.

I promise you it was as good as it sounds.

Our group also tried the bacon wrapped sausages from the right field grill, and just about every beer available at the park. My favorite was the Four Peaks Peach Ale.

After the game (which the Dodger’s won smiling-face-with-open-mouth-and-smiling-eyes_1f604) we headed to dinner at Salt. As it happened, the Los Angeles Kings, our favorite hockey team, were in town to play the Arizona Coyotes, and being the sports fans we are, we decided to go FULL SPORTS—this may not be the ideal vacation for some, but for us, it was heaven.

PSA: if you commit to a FULL SPORTS vacation, you may or may not find yourself staying up until three o’clock in the morning dancing, practicing proper diving form, doing yoga and attempting other various athletic feats—be sure to properly stretch.

The next day we had tickets to a Mariners game at the Peoria Sports Complex. And while my loyalty to the Dodgers will never falter, I’ve got to say: Peoria might have a slight edge on Camelback.

DON’T COME FOR ME.

Not only are the food options off the charts (loaded tots, funnel cakes, deep fried Oreos!!) the outfield has tons of kid friendly activities (meaning less Lord of the Flies antics in the outfield), and down the first baseline there is a “Craft Beer Courtyard” (which is actually just a booth) where for $20 you receive four tickets that you can cash in for beer, wine or liquor. Between Mel, Natalee, Cody and I, we bought two entry tickets, giving us eight drinks to split, which was essentially my dream because I got to try a little bit of everything.

As beautiful as the day was however, and as delicious as all the beer we drank and all the food we ate was, we couldn’t quite transfer all that goodness to the Mariners (we were fans for the day against the Indians) who ended up losing the game 16-3. Sorry, M’s.

From the game we headed somewhere completely random, somewhere you’d never expect us to go when you consider the weekend we’d had thus far. That’s right folks, we went to Top Golf, where we added our final explanation point in SPORTS!!!

Pro Tip: order (at least) one of the big sweet drinks in the souvenir cups, it only makes golfing more fun. 

Once we got back home, we did what anyone does when they realize a good trip is coming to an end: we found excuses to stay up late, even though we had early wake up calls, because it seemed like the only way to make the trip last a little bit longer. But even when mine and Natalee’s alarms went off a mere three hours after our heads hit our pillows and we knew we officially had to say goodbye to this one, as we walked down the jet bridge to our plane home, we already started counting down the days until our next one.

Stay Loyal to Your Team, Stay Loyal to Your Dream

On this blog I often talk a lot about dreams. I wonder and I hope and I try to be honest about what I’m doing to try and make mine come true, in the hopes that it can inspire you to do the same. Sometimes I talk about baseball, and my boys in blue, and how their dreams tend to mix with some of my dreams, especially in October.

Last night, I watched Game 5 of the World Series, and unfortunately saw the Dodgers lose to the Boston Red Sox. It was hard, the way it always is when you know the season is officially over, but also in that deeper, tougher way that you can only experience when your season ends in the World Series and it’s not with a trophy in your hands. My mom, sister and I watched from home and my dad watched from a seat in the stands, and we all slumped our shoulders and sighed when the last out was made.

Not this year.

It’s a phrase I’ve become rather familiar with, both in baseball, since the Dodgers haven’t won the World Series since 1988—two years before I was born—and in life, because there are a number of dreams that haven’t necessarily come true yet.

Not this year. Not this job. Not this time. I’m sorry, but no.

The difference is, it’s easy to take the loss in baseball. Well, not easy, but easier. When the game ends and you watch the other team run into each others arms and hold the trophy up  over their heads, you sulk and you sigh and you wish things were different, but eventually you move on. And as the months go by and April comes into focus, you put on your hat and your jersey and you show up to your first game with a new attitude, a new set of possibilities and a new determination to win.

You stay loyal, no matter what. No matter how bad last season was. No matter how far from the finish line you stood when the last out was made. You take a seat in the stands and you say, “let’s try again.”

But how often do we bring that same positive mindset into our own lives? How loyal are we to our own reset buttons? How quick are we to bounce back and try again after our own losses and failures?

At the beginning of every season, every team in the MLB has a 1/30 chance to win the World Series. And after 175 (or so) games, that crazy, farfetched whisper of a possibility becomes a reality for one team.

The dream you’re striving for, the dream that I’m striving for, while they might have better or worse odds, still have that one chance. And unlike being a fan, we have the power to take it. We’re not sitting in the stands, complaining about what we would have done different, we’re in the game, responsible for our own successes and failures, and even more, responsible for gathering up the nerve to come back and say, “let’s try again.”

I’ll always root (root root) for the Dodgers. I’ll always show up in April, no matter how heartbreaking October was, and I assume you’d do the same for your team. But we need to start employing that loyalty in our own lives, for our own dreams. We need to take all that passion and frustration and undeniable determination and make things happen.

I’m looking at you, and I’m looking at me, and I’m looking at you, Dodgers. We may not have won this round, but there’s always a new one on the horizon. Maybe it’s in April, maybe it’s tomorrow, maybe it’s in a few years from now. We just have to keep working, keep trying, keep putting ourselves in the game, and one day, that trophy will be ours.

Thank You, Dodgers. Thank You, Baseball.

When I was little my grandparents had season tickets to Dodger Stadium. There were four tickets, two for my grandma and grandpa, and then two for the lucky duo they brought with them. Oftentimes I went with my cousin, Spenser, or my sister, Natalee. Other times the tickets were given to my parents and my whole family would go.

We’d always get there early to watch batting practice, and then we’d grab a Dodger Dog right before game time so it could digest before we got chocolate malts in the 6th inning. I loved sitting next to my grandma and keeping score inside the program, and always tried to catch the beach balls bouncing around the crowd so I could hand them off to our favorite usher, Irene, to make her job a little easier. The sounds of the stadium, of Vinny, of Nancy Bea on the organ, all became lyrics to a song I could sing in my sleep.

As I grew up, my grandparents eventually gave up the season tickets, but this did little to lessen my passion for the game or the team I grew up watching. If anything, it deepened. With a better sense of baseball and all it entailed, I started to really get to know the boys in blue, no matter what variety a season would present them in. I began keeping track of stats, giving commentary on recommended lineups, and most importantly, dreaming of the World Series.

In my 27 years as a Dodger fan, there have been many seasons when I’ve had that feeling. The one that keeps quiet in public, but at home whispers, maybe. Maybe this is the year. Maybe this is the team. But year after year, at some point that maybe would turn into a no. It always hurt, but come April, the hurt was always replaced by possibility, by a new maybe.

This year, I got that feeling. Even at the first night game I attended in April, I felt like there was something special about this team. That night I scanned my ticket and grabbed a Dodger Dog and a beer and took my seat, anxious for another April, hopeful for another October. Six months later, I was scanning another ticket, taking another seat, and ordering another Dodger Dog, but this time it was Game 6 of the World Series.

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For weeks I had rushed home from work and drove over to my parents’ house to watch the Dodgers climb their way to the Fall Classic, and suddenly I was there, in the flesh. My sister and I walked up the stairs in a sea of blue. Friends and family hugged and strangers high fived and everyone smiled in anxious anticipation.

When we won the game 4 hours later, the stadium erupted. Friends and family and neighbors and strangers hugged and high-fived and cheered and teared up. The crowd moved in waves of blue and white, singing and chanting and smiling. I thought of my grandma and grandpa and the first game I could remember attending and I felt that same feeling of pure magic.

The next day, as I sat on my parents’ couch, watching the last few outs of Game 7 tick off the scoreboard, and submitting my Dodgers to a season just shy of the ultimate finish line, I tried my best to remain solely heartbroken. The loss hurt, but there was something else stirring inside me that I couldn’t quite shake.

As I watched the sea of blue and white (and orange) file up the rows and out to the parking lot, I saw families and friends like mine feeling the same heartbreak we felt in our living room. And suddenly I realized how many other living rooms and bars and hotel lobbies and restaurants held other families and friends either mourning or celebrating. This game, these teams, my team, had brought us all together. And with all the bad going on in the world, we were able to find something to root for.

When my sister and I stepped inside the gates for Game 6, I felt the weight of where we were, but in many ways felt the same way I always do when I walk up the stairs to Blue Heaven: at home. I heard the same sounds, smelled the same smells and looked down at the same view.

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After Game 7, when the confetti started flying and it wasn’t the color I was hoping for, my stomach sank. After the most exciting season of my life, this year’s maybe had officially turned into a no.

When I got home that night, I got a text from a friend, “see you next season.” And even though the wound was still fresh, I couldn’t help but smile. “Always,” I thought, “there’s always next season.” And I know come April I’ll be there, with a ticket, a Dodger Dog, and a maybe.

September/October 2016 Favorites

It’s that time again folks.

The time when I share a few of my favorite things from the past two months, even though you didn’t ask.

Let’s dive right in.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

These past two months have been extremely busy, making it harder for me to cook new/healthy/not impossible meals for myself on a regular basis. That being said however, I did manage to squeeze in this recipe I found in Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, Cravings.

To be honest I’d recommend the whole book, both to those of you looking for another source of new/delicious recipes, and those that just want to see a bunch of flawless pictures of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend. The book has both, making it a mouthwatering creation in more ways than one.

As of now, the Sweet Potato Gnocchi is the only recipe I’ve tried, so I know it’s probably biased to say it’s my favorite, but I don’t care, IT’S MY FAVORITE. The portion I made fed me for 3 days and that still didn’t seem like long enough. I never wanted it to end. (Find the recipe here)


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When it comes to new fall TV shows, I’m very hesitant to get attached because I have a long history of falling in love with the ones cancelled after only a few episodes, thus leaving me depressed, without answers, and an ever growing amount of trust issues.

However, sometimes there are shows that stick around (is it weird how much I’m making TV shows sound like a boyfriend?) and I think This is Us is going to be one of them.

To put it bluntly: I cry every episode…in a good way…I think.

I don’t know how to explain it; the show is just…real in every way, which makes it both fun and hard to watch.

Plus, any show that essentially leads with Milo Ventimiglia’s butt in its pilot episode is almost guaranteed to obtain my loyalty. (Find the first season here)


 

Easy Street by Eric Hutchinson

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In a marvelous turn of events, one of my favorite artists of all time, Eric Hutchinson, released an unexpected (at least to me) new album at the end of August, and it has been on repeat in my car for the last two months. And even though no one’s asked me to give it a formal review, I give it all the thumbs up. All the stars. All the tomatoes. Everything. I love it.

I dare you to buy it—no wait, I take that back—I ORDER you to buy it and I dare you not to enjoy your life more while listening to it. (Find it here)

Extra note: “Dear Me” is my favorite.


Kindle First

As some of you may know, I’m currently in the middle of a quest to read 30 books in 2016. And while I had a great start, the last few months have slowed me down a bit, landing me in the middle of book 24 with only two months left in the year…but I digress.

One of the things that initially slowed me down was the budget I put myself on, which made me very wary of the cost of everything, especially books, which I used just buy without a second thought. That being said however, in the middle of September, while in the midst of trying to find a book I both wanted to read and didn’t cost more than I make in an hour, I accidentally came across Kindle First.

Now, it’s possible I’ve been out of the loop on this one. Maybe everyone has been using this for years and I’ve been wasting my Kindle’s full potential. But if you happen to be someone like me who had no idea about this section of the Kindle store, THIS IS GROUNDBREAKING STUFF.

Kindle First is essentially a freebie you get each month where you can read a book for free before it even comes out. That’s right, we’re saving money and staying in the loop. Hell, we’re creating the loop. (Find it here)

Extra Note: For my October freebie, I read Evelyn, After: A Novel by Victoria Helen Stone.


 

Dodger Baseball

USP MLB: COLORADO ROCKIES AT LOS ANGELES DODGERS S BBN USA CA

I’m an avid sports fan and can hold my own in a variety of related conversations, however my first love will always be baseball. And while my team (the Dodgers) didn’t win this year, and kind of went out in less than spectacular fashion, this season was a crazy fun ride, one which I will willingly board each and every year no matter the outcome. See you in April boys! (Also, congratulations to the other boys in blue, the Cubs, on their spectacular World Series win)


 

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

See the previous favorites post here.

Always October

We have reached one of most magical times of the year, people.

Yes, I know summer is over and school is back in full swing. Sucks, sorry.

Yes, I know that Southern California is clutching on to the temperatures of hell regardless of the calendar’s announcement of the start of fall, and that we are probably all going to die in a fiery heat wave of death. Keep recycling.

Yes, department stores have started shoving Halloween and Christmas decorations in your face and you can feel a wave of anxiety building in the bottom of your stomach. Keep breathing.

Finding the negatives in life takes little skill and gives you nothing in return, which is why I must remind you what makes this seemingly suckish time of year so special.

IT’S OCTOBER. A.k.a. the time of year when baseball reaches its post season, football reaches its midseason and hockey reaches its preseason. It’s sports haven my friends.

This past weekend I was lucky to attend not 1 but 2 of the Dodgers’ NLDS (National League Division Series) games. As a lifelong, diehard Dodger fan, this was essentially a dream come true.

If you’ve never been to a baseball playoff game, heck, if you’ve never been to a baseball game (which is a crime in 12 states) (not really) (but it should be) (maybe) (just go see a baseball game) I’m going to give you an idea what you might find, at least at Dodger Stadium.

The stadium is located off the 5 freeway. Meaning that seemingly every human in Los Angeles will escort you to the stadium on their way home from work, honking and flipping you off all the while.

Once inside the lot, you will park roughly 400 miles from the stadium. You will tell every member of your group the landmarks around your car (i.e. the shapes of the trees, the storage units, the car you parked next to, and how many spots you are to the left of the light pole) which, when you exit the stadium after the game, will be as useful as a match in a rainstorm.

In your walk to the stadium, you will admire the tall blue walls surrounding it, learning the faces and names of the team’s top players and legends, printed in vibrant color near the field level entrance.

Off to the right of that entrance, you will see the stairs leading up to the higher levels and you will either laugh at the sorry suckers having to climb them and enter field level entrance, or groan at the stairs ahead of you, both telling yourself that you’re earning your Dodger Dog and mentally punching those you saw entering at field level.

Once in your seats, whether yellow (field level), orange (lodge level), blue (reserve or top deck), or the outfield pavilions, you will immediately give into the temptation of the smells infecting the air and get in line at the nearest concession stand.

Looking that the menu you will contemplate the different between a Dodger Dog and a Super Dog, picturing one as a normal hotdog with Matt Kemp’s face on it and the other as a Matt Kemp hotdog wearing a cape. You will then consider getting one of each with a side of French fries, some helmet nachos, a pretzel, peanuts, a water, and a beer, but you will decide against it 1) because you’ve somehow already begun to feel bloated, but more importantly 2) you only have 2 hands.

Retaking your seat, the pregame festivities will start. Music will pump through the speakers and you will find yourself singing and sit-dancing (so much neck and torso wiggling) to a song you thought you hated and will spill mustard on your shirt. (Keep rubbing it with the damp napkin. Even though the dime stain has now become quarter size, if you keep rubbing, it will magically disappear.) (This is a lie)

Then suddenly,

“IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII”

What is that?!

“IIIIIIIIIIIIITSSSS”

What. Is. happening?!

“SSSS TIIIMME FOR THE STARTING LINE UP OF YOUR LOS ANGELES DODGERS!”

No need to panic, it’s just the burly man on the loud speaker telling you which 9 Dodgers are playing today.

You will finish your dinner—immediately wanting to move on to dessert—and for the few moments you have between the lineup announcement and the throwing of the first pitch, you will people watch and this is what you’ll find:

-Faces, arms, legs, chests, and hopefully nothing else, painted blue and white.

-Blue wigs, blur hair extensions and blue facial hair.

-Foam Fingers (none of which are being violated by Miley Cyrus)

-Dodger jerseys, shirts, and jackets.

-Knockoff Dodger jerseys, shirts, and jackets.

-Homemade Dodger jerseys, shirts and jackets.

-Some unnecessary cleavage from the girls who only came to drink and check out baseball butts.

-A group of guys already being warned by security on their alcohol induced rowdiness.

-A fan of the opposing team quietly walking to their seat amongst the boos from home fans.

-A fan of the opposing team sauntering to their seat, waving, bowing and blowing kisses amongst the boos from home fans.

-A guy having a pensive, selfie marathon in front of the field, accessorized with beard strokes and crooked peace signs.

-Teenage girls organizing a group Instagram post.

-An older man with headphones and a radio, ready to watch the game live while listening to Vin Scully’s commentary.

-Adorable little nuggets dancing in their tiny Dodger jerseys and tiny Dodger shoes that will make you momentarily contemplate kidnapping.

And, if you’re at playoff game, lots and lots of rally towels.

 

Ideally, the first 6 ½ inning of the game will go like this:

Number of Dodger hits: >10

Number of Dodger runs: >5

Number of opposing team hits: 0

 

While you simultaneously experience this:

Number of claps: 5,002

Number of times you’ve said “CHARGE!”:  51

Number of times you’ve said “Let’s go dodgers!”:  67

Number of hot dogs you’ve eaten: 1-2

Number of hot dogs you’ve considered eating: >3

Number of times you’ve complained about the prices of snacks being sold: <10

Number of times you’ve given into the inflation: 2

In the middle of the 7th inning, you will rise to participate in the 7th inning stretch and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” It’s sung twice. The first time you might feel embarrassed. If you don’t know the words you’ll find yourself looking up at the screen, reading the lyrics, praying with everything inside of you that they don’t put you on camera. The second time ‘round, you’re warmed up. You’ll sway a little, even smile, until the crowd has completely overtaken you and you find yourself screaming the last

“FOR IT’S 1, 2, 3 STRIKES YOU’RE OUT AT THE OLD BALLGAAAAAAME.”

You will then sit down, re-energized, and ready to reach an even 6,000 clap total for the game.

Usually after the 7th inning stretch—but sometimes before, depending on the crowd—you will start to see movement in the outfield. A guy, usually wearing a Dodger cape of some sort, will start from the foul pole side of the right field pavilion and start sprinting through the middle aisle towards center field. The crowd he passes will stand, arms up, in response, starting a well-known tradition in the baseball community known as, “the wave.”  Exciting and uniting, the wave is a guaranteed source of fun for 3 rounds and a sure fire annoyance for all rounds after that.

Come 9th inning, if all has gone as planned, the Dodger’s closer will take the mound to miscellaneous instrumentals heavy with drums and guitar that has been decided will intimidate the opposing team before their last at bat. A close up of the closer’s poker face will be plastered up on Diamond Vision and he will immediately start popping the glove of the catcher with his pitches made for victory.

Then, with 2 outs, with all the fans on their feet screaming their last 20 “Let’s go Dodgers,” a final pitch will bring the Dodgers a win and Randy Newman will start blasting through the speakers singing “I Love LA.”

We won’t talk about the walk back to the car, when you go out a different exit than you went in and you find yourself walking aimlessly around the parking lot, arguing that the car is “just a few rows back” when you know that it’s completely across the lot. We also won’t talk about the task it is to get out of the parking lot, or the aggression it takes to squeeze your way into the lane corresponding to the freeway you need to take home.

No, we won’t talk about those because once you find yourself on the freeway, cruising at a totally non-ticket worthy speed—even though you slammed on your brakes when you saw that cop, which actually turned out to be a tree—you can only find yourself smiling at the night (or hell fiery day) that you just had.

In my case, I went home Saturday night beaming, knowing that my team is one step closer to the ultimate goal in October. But we don’t talk about it, because aside from clapping and hot dogs, superstition is one of the biggest parts of baseball.