blogging

30 Good Things that Happened in November

I have good news and good news. I have only good news!

As mentioned in this blog post, at the end of every month I’m going to highlight all the good things that happened in that 30-day (or so) span, to give ourselves a break from the well known bad.

You can find last month’s here.

Happy November to you!

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1) The Dodgers took out a full-page ad in the Houston newspaper to congratulate the Astros on their World Series win

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2) These childhood sweethearts got engaged

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3) Lin Manuel Miranda’s son saw the first act of Hamilton

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4) These sisters perfectly showcased what it’s like being sisters

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5) This dog liked his new carpet

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6) This stepson gave his stepdad an amazing surprise

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7) Actress Gabby Sidibe responded to a nasty Instagram comment in the best way

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8) This police trio got warmed up

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9) This homeless man got the ultimate payback after a helping a woman with his last $20

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10) This boy gave out some great encouragement at the New York Marathon

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11) These passengers turned a delayed flight into a party.

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12) This 102 year old man met the nephew he never knew he had

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13) This cartoonist created a series that reminds us to be thankful

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14) This boy saw clearly for the first time

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15) Australia voted YES

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16) This Australian man proposed to his boyfriend using his water polo team

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17) This mom wrote a beautiful letter to her nurse

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18) This cop went above and beyond the call of duty

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19) This man danced his heart out

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20) This chef offered some help to a customer

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21) The lead singer of Imagine Dragons posted this great reminder

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22) This boy got some camera time during his mom’s yoga video

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23) Thanksgiving

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24) After accidentally inviting the wrong teen to Thanksgiving last year, this grandma invited him—and he accepted—to spend the holiday with her family anyways. This year, she invited him again and he brought his girlfriend.

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25) This man spent his Black Friday paying it forward

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26) This puppy made a new best friend

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27) This girl got flowers from her dad

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28) These Indian women who are victims of acid attacks walked in a fashion show

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29) This woman became the first contest with Down Syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant

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30) This woman got an amazing surprise from her grandmother

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

I can’t wait to see what December brings!

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You’re Free to be Great, So Go for It

This past week I officially hit the 900 mile mark of my 1000 mile running goal for the year. It’s been a trying 11 months to get here, and I have a feeling this final month will take everything I have to finish. My body is tired. It’s been sore and achy and fatigued more days than it hasn’t. And yet, I still feel strong. I feel like I can do anything.

Over the course of this year, I’ve looked for and found a variety of different things to listen to/watch while I’m running, the most prominent being my ever changing playlist on my phone, aptly titled “Running.” Consistently among my favorites on the playlist is “The Greatest” by Sia.

The song starts as follows:

Uh-oh I’m running out of breath, but I’ve got stamina.

Uh-oh I’m running now I close my eyes, well I got stamina.

And uh-oh, I see another mountain to climb

But I got stamina

For obvious reasons, this first verse makes sense on a running playlist. I mean what else besides stamina—and the slightest bit of insanity—do you need to get yourself running? To add to that, in the next part she sings:

Don’t give up

I won’t give up

Don’t give up, no, no, no

Which again, is exactly the kind of mindset you need to have while running.

The part that really hooks me though, is the chorus:

I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive

I’m free to be the greatest here tonight, the greatest

The greatest, the greatest alive

The greatest, the greatest alive

I tell ya, whenever that chorus kicks in while I’m running, I break out into a sprint. Because aside from being the kind of inspirational “go team” type of sentiment that I need when I’m exercising, it fills me with motivation that I can take further.

I’m free to be the greatest, she says, I’m alive.

In other words: I’m free to be the greatest I can be, in anything I choose to try, because I have the great privilege of being alive. I firmly believe that the idea behind these words is what gets me out there running every day. It’s what put the idea in my head that I could run 1000 miles in the first place. For there’s truly nothing greater than making your dreams a reality and your doubts fiction.

So, I encourage you to chase them with everything you’ve got. Because as of today, as of this moment, you are completely free to be the greatest you can be, so you might as well go for it.

 

If the Timehop App Knew Too Much

Alongside hitting snooze upwards of three times, my morning routine usually consists of checking the Timehop app on my phone. For those of you unfamiliar, Timehop connects to your social media accounts and tells you what you have posted on that day, however many years ago. In my case, Timehop usually reminds me of bad jokes I’ve made—though to be fair, I usually still laugh at them.

Sometimes when I read through an old status or tweet or Instagram picture, I’m reminded of more than just the post itself. I have flashbacks of the days and moments surrounding the post, getting a little glimpse into where I was when I posted it. This got me thinking: wouldn’t it be something if Timehop somehow tapped into those moments in time, both the good and the bad?

It would probably look something like this:

6 years ago today you said “you too” when the theater ticket taker said, “enjoy the movie.”

4 years ago today you woke up and felt inexplicably different about the relationship you were in.

2 years ago today you spent the entire day on the couch for no reason.

1 year ago today you ate 15 Oreos for breakfast and couldn’t eat anything for the rest of the day.

7 years ago today you fell in surface love with a person you saw on the freeway and spent a solid 10 minutes picturing what your future together would be like.

3 years ago today you looked in the mirror and liked what you saw for the first time in a long time.

5 years ago today you ate expired food from your fridge.

5 seconds ago today you were still wondering if it had any lasting effects.

14 years ago today you saw your favorite movie for the first time.

10 years ago today you made awkward small talk with a person who would become your best friend.

 

To be honest, I’m not sure if I’d like a deeper digging Timehop. I like the freedom of being able to block things out here and there. But I suppose the important thing to remember, both about the real Timehop, and the nosy, fictional one I’ve imagined, is that it can remind us of all the moments that have lead us to where we are now, and the ones currently leading us somewhere in the future. Today will be full of those moments, as will tomorrow. They won’t all be easy, but they’ll be necessary to help us get where we’re destined to go.

Blogging Tips that Helped Me (& Can Hopefully Help You Too)

By no means do I consider myself a professional in any capacity when it comes to writing, however, I have done (at least one) lap around the block, as they say. 

This past month marked my 4-year blogging anniversary, which made me feel a lot of feels and sent me on one of those oh, how far I’ve come type mind rants. And while I’ll spare you the details of that I thought it might be nice to give a list of different tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

The way I see it, this is an ever evolving medium that will always have new things to learn, and it can never hurt to share!

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1) Beyond Your Blog

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If you’re a writer looking for places to submit your work this is essentially the MECCA of opportunities. I owe almost every publishing credit I have to this website, so I could never recommend it enough. Unfortunately, I think it is closing down soon, but before it does, do yourself a favor and take some notes!

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2) Submittable Newsletter

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When sending work to different publications, I often come into contact with Submittable as the platform used for submissions. And while I’m not sure when exactly I found out/signed up for their newsletter, I’m glad I did. Once a week the Submishmash Newsletter sends me two emails, the first of which gives a list of a bunch of publications and competitions that are open to submissions and the second gives you a list of top stories you can read for inspiration! It’s a win win!

You can sign up for the newsletter here.

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3) Unsplash

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This is my go-to place for all things pictures! When I’m writing a new blog I often try to find a nice/appropriate picture to go along with it and this website is stocked with absolutely GORGEOUS, free photos. You heard me right: FREE! Just type in a couple keywords and browse around the incredible gallery and voila your blog is looking professional.

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4) #MondayBlogs

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On the average week, I try to post two blogs, one on Mondays and one on Thursdays. (HEYOO, she’s on it this week!) In keeping to this schedule, I eventually came across #MondayBlogs on Twitter, which is a tag tracked by the account @MondayBlogs. They go through and retweet a ton of blogs posted on Mondays, which is great because it can both give your blog more publicity and give you access to a bunch of new reading material!

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5) Daily Post/Community Pool

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If you’re a WordPress blogger, you gotta jump on these trains!

The Daily Post publishes a prompt every single day to both give you inspiration and provide you a place to share your work! I love going through and reading the posts and have made more than a few blogging friends doing so.

The Community Pool is another place you can share your work with the WordPress community. It’s give you the opportunity to post a link to either a recent post or your blog as a whole and ask for feedback from your fellow bloggers!

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6) The Paper Kites

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Feel free to disagree with me on this one, but I have yet to find an artist that gets my creative juices flowing like The Paper Kites. I don’t know what it is, they just get me in the zone, you know? I’ve probably listened to their album twelvefour over one hundred times, so if you’re looking for some high quality writing music, I recommend it!

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That’s all I have for now, I hope that any/all of these can be of some assistance!

Have any tips/tricks/go-to writing music of your own you are willing to share? Please do!

Ideas that Never Became Blog Posts (For Good Reason)

Even though it may be IMPOSSIBLE to imagine, sometimes I have bad ideas for blog posts.

What? You mean you’re not always a genius lyrical angel?!

At the risk of shattering your universe…no.

But while we all occasionally have bad ideas or plans that don’t work out quite how we imagined, I feel that as a writer—who writes every idea/random thought/passing emotion downI’m often subjected to physical evidence of these plans and ideas, and the results consistently leave me scratching my head.

So, in the hopes of garnering a few smiles and giving a few shout outs to the crazies like me, I’d like to share some of these failed ideas with you. These are notes I’ve written on my phone, on post-it’s, in the moleskin notebooks I carry around in my purse, these are even ideas I tried to flesh out in a Word document on my computer, only to come across it months later and think: Where the hell was I going with this?

Enjoy!

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“Balloon: blowing it up, leaving you light headed?”

Yes, blowing balloons up does leave you lightheaded…and? What’s the metaphor here, Kim? Why did you feel the need to write down something you’ve known since you were 5? And why is it a question rather than a statement?


 

“2 grey jackets”

Am I buying the jackets? Are the jackets a code word for human beings I admired/hated? Am I one of the jackets? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?! 


 

“0 –> velociraptor REAL QUICK”

This, of course, is a parody of Drake’s lyrics: “Zero to one hundred, real quick”, though I’m not sure what my rewording is in response to, or the party involved. Had I met someone whose persona switches from zero (a.k.a normal) to velociraptor (a.k.a ???) at an expedited speed? Was I the person that did this? Did I write this whilst in velociraptor mode?


 

“Life is like a puzzle. We are the piece among thousands that make up the world and we collect pieces to complete our own. Some pieces are easy to find. The edges make sense and the patterns match—

Okay I’m not even going to finish that one. Stop it, Kim. Just stop it. You’ve taken this metaphor too far. You’re trying to be too deep. This was clearly written on an iPhone note at 2 a.m. You should have just rolled over and went to sleep. 


 

This next one was found in a document entitled “The Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Trust Issue.” Again, this was CLEARLY written late at night, when thoughts really shouldn’t be written down for the morning brain to find. This one, however, is too funny not to share in its entirety.

Pigs don’t need houses: Farmer john is the one taking all the shit, seeing and shielding all the bad

Pigs get threatened (we get hurt)

Our house is blown down. We’re a little shaken up, we go out and find sticks, we’ll obviously need something stronger to protect us, not as easy to break down but also not as easy to get inside

House blows down. Now we are thoroughly convinced of the impending bad. We expect it, and refuse to be surprised, so we build a home of bricks. One sure to keep us safe. The only people worth trusting are those already inside. A knock at the door means danger, so it’s best to shake off any new introductions.

It’s just like the story, except there’s only one pig, and we keep getting tricked.

Please do yourself a favor and read that last line a few times and have a good laugh. “It’s just like the story, except there’s only one pig, and we keep getting tricked.” So, yeah. In case you were a little confused about the way life works, I pretty much spelled it out for you there. We are (apparently) all naïve pigs, the end.


 

And for the grand finale, here are a bunch of snippets from a long winded metaphor I typed up about…SANDWICHES.

I wish I was kidding.

A sandwich is a small part of the food chain we’ve grown familiar with, but then again so are we.

I make myself a sandwich every morning. The ingredients are basic, safe. I don’t venture far into creative combinations. The innovation isn’t appealing enough to risk the stomach ache or the bad taste.

Like any good food metaphor, this one takes a moment of self-reflection. Are you the sandwich, hoping to satisfy? Or are you an ingredient, hoping to be made into something bigger and better? Are you the butter knife? The bread? The extra avocado?

I was bread. Lying in a pile of others just like me, wondering when I’d get my chance to make something of myself.

All I’m certain of, is he is the cheese. Of his own sandwich or mine, I’m not sure.


 

Honestly, why do you even listen to a word I say?

I mean, I’d like to blame all of these on staying up too late, but some of these ideas float by during working hours. Should we be worried? Should I be worried? Maybe I am just a naïve pig after all.

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, Ilene, 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 and 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, 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 Favorites

I always have trouble knowing exactly how to start these blog posts because I feel like the meat of the post is in the favorites, you know? So if I spend all this time in the intro trying to get you excited for the favorites, I’m just wasting your time because every single extra word I type with my unpainted fingernailed fingertips is one extra word you have to read before you can get to the part of this post that actually matters. So really, the introduction is just rude. Because a part of you feels like you should read it, just in case you miss something wildly important, but then the other part of you just wants to skip it and read on, because clearly nothing important is going to be said in this intro, is it? But the curiosity still lingers, so you read the whole thing, and then you get to the end and realize you totally could have skipped it.

Sorry.


 

Insanely Chill w/ Cody Ko Podcast

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Unlike some of the other podcasts I’ve recommended in previous favorites posts, this one doesn’t necessarily have a specific theme. Cody Ko started on Vine and then shifted over to YouTube and in the last year made his way into the world of podcasting. Insanely Chill is essentially a space where he just talks about whatever is on his mind. I like it because each episode is like one long conversation with a friend, except that friend is doing all the talking, but somehow it’s okay because that friend is pretty funny and clearly needs to vent about a few things. So you listen, and even though you don’t get a single word in edgewise, you enjoy yourself and then sign yourself up to have these conversations once a week.  (Find it here)


 

The Hollars

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Have you ever watched a movie and had it be exactly what you needed to watch in that moment of your life? Well in the middle of September, while my best friend and I were on vacation in Denver, we turned on The Hollars in our hotel room after a long day of exploring and it could not have been a more perfect choice. It is John Krasinski’s directorial debut and it makes me hope with all my heart he has more projects in the works. It makes you feel all the feels and I can’t recommend it enough. (Find it here)


 

Gaga: Five Foot Two

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I’ve always been a Lady Gaga fan, but after watching her Netflix documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two, that respect and admiration tripled. It follows her journey to record her fifth studio album, Joanne, her struggles with fibromyalgia, and her performance at the 2016 Super Bowl Halftime show. My favorite line from the documentary is said in regards to Lady Gaga’s newfound maturity as an artist, but I think can relate to everyone: “I’m a woman struggling now,” she says, “rather than a girl.” (Find it on Netflix)

 


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The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wells

Throughout this entire book I was torn between wanting to binge it and needing to put it down. Written by Jeannette Wells, it is the story of her unorthodox (to say the least) upbringing. It is a hard story, but an important one. It’s a good reminder of how many different lives are being lived around you. (Find it here)

 

 

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky9780147515995

Watsky is one of those people who I’ve seen around but never really known a lot about. Thankfully I picked up How to Ruin Everything at a bookstore in Colorado, thus introducing me to the world of Watsky. The bio on his website describes him as “a rapper, writer and performer from San Francisco now living in Los Angeles. A versatile lyricist who switches between silly and serious, technically complex and simply heartfelt,” which I think is a completely accurate description of his book as well. How to Ruin Everything had me laughing out loud, contemplating life and underlining phrases I hope I’m clever enough to emulate in my future writing. I’d recommend looking into all of his projects, including this book. (Find it here)

 

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The Sun & Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

I read Rupi’s first book, Milk and Honey, last year and was instantly hooked and The Sun & Her Flowers continues with that addicting, must read quality. So, if you’re in the market for some poetry, I’d recommend Rupi one thousand times over. She is one of those people who can find words to express emotions, leaving you feeling like there is someone out there in the world who gets it, you know?  (Find it here)

 

 


 

Music

I’ve have been absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of good music the last two months have brought. It seems like every week there has been a new song or album that I am playing on repeat.

My music library has been looking like this:

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(the hamburgers, of course, being high quality musack)

I could recommend so much, but here are a few of my favorites:

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Kesha, Rainbow

For the most part I’m hit and miss with Kesha’s music, but this album got me! It’s such a good combination of mature and silly and it does a great job at showcasing how talented she’s always been behind all the glitter. (Find it here)

 

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Jessie Ware, Glasshouse

A few years ago I was obsessed with Jessie Ware’s album, Tough Love, so when I saw she had a new album coming out I was pumped and immediately preordered it. It did not disappoint. (Find it here)

 

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JP Cooper, Raised Under Grey Skies

I was first introduced to JP Cooper when he was featured on The Shed Sessions, a series on the Jacksgap Youtube channel. Since then I’ve checked in with him over the years, and was excited to see him release his first full length album. It’s absolutely beautiful. (Find it here)

 

268x0wDemi Lovato, Tell Me You Love Me

I’ve been waiting patiently for an album of Demi’s to perfectly showcase her voice and DAMN, if this doesn’t do it. I’ve been playing this album on repeat, loud, so I can pretend I’m hitting all the notes she does. (Find it here)

 

download (4)Hoodie Allen, The Hype

Similar to Watsky, Hoodie Allen is someone that I’ve always heard about but never really dove into. That being said, I decided to shuffle his Spotify station while I was on a run one day and immediately came home and snatched up some music, including his brand new album, The Hype(Find it here)

 


 

Pecans

If you’ll recall from my last favorites post, I introduced my new obsession with Honey Vanilla Bourbon Pecans. Well let me tell you, these past two months, I have dove head first into the world of pecans. I’m serious. For the longest time I just assumed I didn’t like them and then I actually tried them this year and spoiler alert: pecans are freaking delicious. Everywhere I go I try pecan flavored things because I feel like I’ve wasted so much time eating non-pecan flavored things. Among everything I’ve tried while out and about, these are two of my favorite pecan flavored products I’ve found in the grocery store.

I’m in so deep guys. If things carry on this way, come 6 months from now I’m going to be that person on social media using tags like #justpecanthings or #allpecansallday. Pray for me.


 

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.

How Your Kids Awakened the Future Mom in Me

I’m not a parent, but I used to play one in the morning. Five days a week I would drive over to a family friend’s house to pick up their 10-year-old twins and take them to school.

I didn’t do any of the hard work. When I showed up the kids were awake and dressed and fed. Their parents greeted me kindly and I did the same, well aware I wasn’t the one tired from staying up late doing homework, wishing away bad dreams, or calming down a tantrum whose root is unidentifiable. No, I was just the one who asked the kids to put their shoes on, and reminded them to grab their backpacks and a jacket, and led us on our merry way.

The car ride was short. 10-15 minutes tops. Some drives were filled with jokes and comments and stories, some were quiet, and some were a mix of both. The front seat, back seat and trunk donned different props depending on the day. Be it a science fair presentation, a flower for the teacher, a still wet art project, birthday desserts or a bag of canned goods for donation. We tried to organize them neatly so we could all be comfortable, then we worked together to give the right what to the right who, so all of it could get to the right where.

When we got to the front of the carline, the teacher said hello and the kids said goodbye and I said I’d see them tomorrow and then I drove to work.

The next morning, we’d start all over again.

As I sat at the dining room table, keeping an eye on when the clock hit 7:35—our time to leave—I smiled at the things the twins brought to show me. They walked up and took a seat, opened a book and read me a chapter or showed off a drawing that lent itself to a lazy weekend afternoon. “You have to check this out,” they’d say, and no part of me was capable of saying “no”.

At 7:30, I’d give them their warning. “Okay guys,” I’d say, trying to find a balance between serious and calm, “we’re going to leave in about five minutes.” This usually provoked some sort of response, be it a nod, a groan, or, on good days, a fully formed, “okay.” I’d pack up my purse and walk around the house switching off lights, and they’d gather their last minute needs, which ranged anywhere from a book for the car ride to a hand-knitted scarf they just realized would make the perfect accessory.

As we walked side by side to the car, the questions began. Sometimes they were simple. A basic “would you rather” or “have you ever” or “did you know?” While other times they were harder, heavier, and more complicated. On these days I’d slow my pace, hoping age and experience would take the real answer and simplify it. Purify it. Maintain its truth while avoiding as many associated evils as possible. “Well…” I’d start, and they’d go silent, waiting for an explanation.

When we got in the car, one, two, three of us were seated, and then one, two, three of us were buckled. I’d start the engine, put us in drive and pull away from the curb. The radio is a messy combination in the morning. Loose conversation threatens to spill information not suitable for young ears, so I’d fervently skim, my own ears analyzing like a central intelligence agent.

“I like this one,” I’d hear from the backseat. I’d let go of the knob, lean back in my seat and in my rearview mirror, I’d see a head begin to bob. A small high-pitched voice would fill the air of the car and I’d smile.

One winter day, I noticed one of the twins take her jacket off in the car. This puzzled me, as I was sitting far closer to the heater and yet still shivering. But even after removing her jacket, she rolled up her sleeves.

“It’s hot in here,” she said casually, then continued telling me a story about some girls from school. When we pulled into the carline, she put her jacket back on, preparing for the cold air that waited on the other side of the door. We pulled up to the curb and the woman opened the door with a smile. A breeze seeped in, sending a shiver down my spine. “See you tomorrow,” they both said, and I smiled and waved goodbye.

The next day, I decided not to turn on the heater. When we got in and got buckled, I turned on the ignition and shivered at the cold air that snuck through the vents. I pulled my sleeves down and tucked my hands inside, gripping the cold leather steering wheel through the cotton, surprised I couldn’t see my breath.

“Did I tell you about the park we went to over the weekend?” she said from the backseat. I looked in the mirror to meet her gaze and found her sitting there, comfortable. Her jacket was still buttoned and she was leaning into the window, fogging up the surface with her breath.

By the time we got to school, I was convinced my fingers must be blue. I pulled into the carline and let the teacher open the door. The kids waved to me and I waved back with a sleeved fist. Once they were inside the gate, I pulled away and immediately cranked up the heat. After a minute or so, my fingers twitched back to life and my body relaxed.

In this renewed state of comfort, I awaited the train of thought that promised I wouldn’t put myself through that again the next day. I was miserable, wasn’t I? I was freezing. I couldn’t let this happen again. I waited patiently for the survivalist game plan to formulate, but it never came. Instead, I heard their voices echoing in my head.

“Would you rather,” they said. There was a single giggle that always came before the question and then a pair that came after. “Would you rather be so cold you froze your fingers off, or so hot you melted?” A smile formed on my lips. “Both,” I thought to myself, “as long as it meant you were comfortable.”

On the last day I took them to school, we went through our usual routine. I sat at the kitchen table and rounded us up at 7:30, we buckled our seatbelts and found a good song on the radio, we asked questions and answered questions and we waved goodbye. But this time there was no “see you tomorrow.” I knew that I’d go to work that day and I’d come home and I’d officially retire from being a mom in the mornings. What I didn’t know is that I’d start to dream about the days I’d be a mom in the afternoons and the evenings too. I dreamed about the days I’d be the one tired from staying up late doing homework or wishing away a bad dream or calming down a tantrum with an unidentifiable root. I dreamed about being lucky enough to have kids like yours one day, and oh what a dream that would be.

How to be Me for Halloween

With only about two weeks left until Halloween we’ve officially reached that point where you’re either going to have to suck it up and overspend on a costume at an outlet, pull a clever one together at a thrift shop, or cut holes in a trusty white sheet.

I personally am not a huge Halloween person, but I also refuse to be the party pooper in the corner that came as a disgruntled version of myself. So, I’ve got something in the works that hopefully doesn’t turn out terrible. (That’s the spirit!)

When I was brainstorming my costume this year, I scrolled through a bunch of articles online and saw a variety of clever ideas. Television characters and famous personalities, punny collaborations and comically literal depictions of pop culture. In looking through the costumes of athletes and movie stars and TV characters, I started thinking about how funny it is that we love to dress up in “costumes” that depict the casual dress of a character or real-life person. In doing so, I thought about what someone might use to fashion a costume representative of me.

This is what I came up with:

What You’ll Need

  • Black leggings
  • A t-shirt and a maroon zip up hoodie OR a crewneck sweatshirt
  • No-show socks
  • Black converse
  • A birthmark on the middle finger of your left hand
  • A Fitbit
  • A broken-in hair tie on your left wrist
  • A hydroflask water bottle
  • A medium sized purse containing a Mary Poppins assortment of practical things
  • A casual blend of awkward, anxious, and confident
  • Well timed bad jokes
  • Well timed laughter to back up the jokes

How to Pull Off the Character

  • Be nice to most everyone, but don’t be afraid to give the occasional dirty look and/or refusal of laughter to a clear cut asshole
  • Whenever there is an awkward silence, look at your nails
  • Whenever you’re trying to fill an awkward silence, overuse finger guns for no reason and then regret it for hours afterwards.
  • Try to work Chopped into almost every conversation
  • Squirm around desperately whenever given a compliment
  • Consistently be cold, regardless of the weather.
  • Constantly mention how much you’re craving ice cream
  • Cry after almost every commercial
  • Resist making any decisions regarding dinner choices
  • Follow all the rules without shame

Key Vocabulary Words/Phrases

  • “Dude”
  • “Oh my gosh!”
  • “What a day”
  • “Shitty”
  • “I’m about it”
  • “Truth”
  • “Honestly, though!”

Did I just invent some sort of psychological “know thyself” exercise? Because I feel like I just explored the inner depths of my psyche. Credit me in the textbooks, folks.

In the meantime, what would a Halloween costume of you look like? I might need some backup ideas…

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

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

On our last episode, I dove into the depths of Kayla Itsines’ cookbook The 28-Day Bikini Body Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Guide. I learned how to bring toast to the next level, how yogurt and sweet potatoes can make sweet sweet food children, and how to better utilize my Panini maker to its full potential. If you haven’t already, read all about those adventures here, then come back and dive in for episode two!

Coming off last month’s installment I have been an overwhelming amount of B-U-S-Y. Most prominently, I went on a weeklong trip with my best friend at the end of September. Since I knew I’d be away, I was less than motivated to go to the grocery store, so I decided that since I did a little bit of an overbuy on my last shopping trip, I’d make it last. I scrounged and got creative, using as much as I could with what I had leftover. Let’s just say I had a lot of cheese and crackers for lunch and I made a lot of rice and pasta for dinner.

Once I got back from my trip, I went grocery shopping again. And with all the recipes I recently learned swirling around in my head, I felt much better equipped to buy things that went together rather than a bunch of things that looked good. I quickly came to learn however, that this knowledge is only half the battle when it comes to being both a good cook and a responsible eater.

As a single person mostly making meals for one, I’ve become well acquainted with having leftover meals. However, in going through Kayla Itsines’ book, I also became familiar with leftover ingredients. Oftentimes a recipe only called for half a can of diced tomatoes or 1/3 of a sliced zucchini, etc. etc. As a result, I would store the extra ingredients in the refrigerator and then try to find a recipe for the next night that would put them to use.

This past month, I tried to utilize that same mindset. Even though I wasn’t following a specific cookbook, I tried to my best to be ingredient conscious and would do everything I could to incorporate last night’s leftovers into tomorrow’s recipes. As a result, almost nothing went to waste!

So for this month, even though I didn’t learn any new recipes per say I did discover some creative twists on recipes I already knew. For example, after remaking the sweet potato pizza recipe I learned last month, I threw the leftover sweet potato and red onions in an omelet which, spoiler alert: was DELICIOUS!

I also learned that our tendency to look around our kitchen and say, “I have nothing to make,” is often as truthful as a bad morning’s proclamation of “I have nothing to wear!” Oftentimes there is something to make, you just have to look a little closer and get a little more creative. These two lessons, I believe, are key to becoming any sort of cook. And so as I continue to improve my cooking skills, I too will further my practice of using what I’ve got and ensuring as little as possible goes to waste.

Here’s to next month’s cooking adventures!