fun

The Tuesdays of 2021 (List-cember #8)

At the beginning of this year, one of my goals was to take a picture on every Tuesday of 2021.

Now, I will admit right off the bat that I didn’t remember to take a photo every Tuesday, but of the 52, I only missed six. So I’d say that’s pretty good.

Looking back at them now, they give a funny documentation of the year. Tuesdays are consistently a work day for me, and as such, I often treat them as merely the day after Monday. So it was interesting to see how all of my “day after Monday’s” treated me.

I’m not going to include all 52 here, but I did pick a favorite (or two) from each month.

Here were my Tuesdays of 2021.

Note: Just so you don’t think that I’ve gone mad, each number corresponds to the number Tuesday of the year (i.e. 1-52) not the chronological order of the list.


1) January 5, 2021

I have to start with the first Tuesday of the year!

I bought this journal as part of my ~new year~ spending—the kind you do while you are determined to make this year the best. The funny thing is, after I took this picture, I opened the journal and found I was in the completely wrong headspace to start it. I audibly huffed when I found the introduction to be too long, thus making me wait TOO LONG to write out all the wonderful, inspiring things that were supposed to put me at ease. Needless to say, I did not start using this journal on this Tuesday.

2) January 12, 2021

One of my best friends and I took up pickleball last year and we made it a priority to keep meeting once a week (or so) in order to get better. Coincidentally, my mom’s best friend has a pickleball court in her backyard, so the four of us became a pickleball club and our meetings became one of the highlights of my week.

3) January 19, 2021

The third Tuesday of the year was my sister’s birthday, and what better way to start the celebrations than to stand in line and get a COVID test?! The rest of the day involved carne asada tacos and donuts, and we both received negative results from our tests, so it was a win, win, win.

6) February 9, 2021

This photo was taken on the side of the road as I figured out what to do. The morning started innocent enough. I made my lunch, buttered and (blueberry) jammed a toasted English muffin, and then set off to work. But on the way there, I took a sharp turn with my English muffin in hand and a blueberry rolled off the muffin, down my hand, under my sleeve, and up my forearm, leaving a trail of jelly in its wake. Having zero napkins, I then had to dunk my jelly-stained paper towel into my hydro flask full of water, so I could wipe down my arm and continue my drive. It was a hilarious story to share after the fact, but a disastrous thing to experience 7:30 a.m.

12) March 23, 2021

We can go out to dinner again! My sister and I met our old roommate and good friend Rachel at Granville.  We sat in their open-roofed back room, which was extra magical because it hid us from the wind and let us look up at the (albeit minimal) Southern California stars. We also ordered the “banana brulee’d brownie” which was bougie and delicious.

16) April 20, 2021

This was taken at our (now old) condo and would prove to be the last picture I took there. I drove by one day after work to take the barrels out and check the mail for a final time. Then I did a little walk around to say thank you for the five years we got to live there, and wish it well for the next tenants who were going to move in.

19) May 11, 2021

This Tuesday was unfortunately a smoggy day for me. It was one of those when I just felt sad and lonely and down. I was so desperate for it to be over, especially because we had tickets to the Dodger game the next day—the first time since October 2019—and I was borderline emotional about it.

Spoiler alert: it was worth the wait.

26) June 29, 2021 (no picture)

It’s never not going to be wonderful to hang out on my best friend’s couch, eat food and vent, so I’m glad this day fell on a Tuesday so I could write it down and remember it. On today’s menu, we had Trader Joe’s butternut squash ravioli & air fried cauliflower. Plus, we watched Tell Me Who I Am on Netflix which is an incredible (and heavy) documentary that should definitely be watched with a friend.

29) July 20, 2021

“I feel vacation hungover”

This message from my sister was the most accurate description of this Tuesday, as we’d just spent five days in beautiful Utah, and then used our Monday to make the 11 hour drive home. So my big plans after work this Tuesday was to sit down, pout about being home, and then go to bed early. With that being said, please enjoy this photo I took two days earlier, as I looked at it fondly, trying to rewind myself back into that moment rather than do work.

30) July 27, 2021

As you may or may not know, my family LOVES the Olympics. And every Olympic year (both summer and winter) I make a spreadsheet to track the events and the medal count. Yes, this is nerdy, and yes, it is wonderful. I will hear no other opinions at this time. Quickly after the start of the Tokyo Olympics, I realized the time difference would provide an extra degree of difficulty. Thus, while I watched events that took place on Tuesday in Tokyo they were already competing in events on Wednesday in Tokyo. It was tough, it was confusing, but it was worth absolutely every second.

31) August 3, 2021

The mask mandate is back in California. After spending most of 2020 avoiding the gym (even after it reopened, because doing cardio in a mask seemed impossible) I arrived to find those familiar signs posted back in the window. I tried to power through and did 20 minutes on the Stairmaster in a mask. It was awful.

37) September 14, 2021

The first week of September marked the first week of the Proverbs 31 bible study I signed up for. I was very hopeful that I would stay on task and complete it, as I have a tendency to go full boar into things and then fall behind. However, I was very excited to find myself here on week 2, caught up with the reading, and genuinely excited about the live group study that happens on Zoom at 5:00pm.

43) October 26, 2021

Tennessee was the third stop on our trip and we were staying at the DreamMore Dollywood Resort. Needless to say, it was a dream. On this Tuesday, we had massages in the morning, then went on a jeep tour of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the afternoon. It was easily one of, if not the, best Tuesday of the year.

48) November 30, 2021

Every year, my mom, sister and I (and sometimes my dad and brother) watch The Family Stone. It is our favorite Christmas movie and easily one of our favorite movies of all time. We can quote the entire thing, and often talk through most of it, laughing and crying at the same parts every year. It is one of our most cherished Christmas traditions, which is why we made a family calendar event to ensure we stuck to it. We also ordered California Chicken Café for dinner and it was amazing.

51) December 21, 2021

I donated blood today! After a pretty average day at work, I drove to the Red Cross donation center in Woodland Hills and donated blood with no problem. I even got a free t-shirt! Also, a nice man thanked me for donating, saying, “thank you for doing this. It is a very special thing to do.” Then I came home and Natalee and I watched Love Actually.

52) December 28, 2021

And now here we are! The final Tuesday of 2021. I am currently sitting on the couch, cozied up under a blanket, with the week off of work and no plans for the day. Our Christmas decorations are still up, our counter is stocked with delicious desserts, and I am feeling so incredibly blessed by the gracious gifts I received from friends and family, and the wonderful time I got to spend with those I love over the weekend. I have an optimistic spirit about the year to come and I hope it brings many more memorable Tuesdays both to me and you!


Only one list-cember post to go! See you on Thursday!

Check out more List-cember posts here.

17 Goals for 2022 (List-cember #7)

I’m finding it harder and harder to believe that it is going to be 2022. Not because I want to stay in 2021—heavens no—but it just seems like it was 2019 yesterday and now it’s going to be 2022.

Like, what?

Time is flying, and I hope it’s flying towards something good. Something really good.

I feel like we could all use a dose of the really good this year, don’t you think?

I’m trying to set myself up for some really good with some *resists the urge to say really good again* goals.

If you’ve been here for a little while, you might recognize some of these goals. Sprinkled amongst the new ones are some classics, some spin offs, and some whose incomplete status has been haunting me for a while now.

So, with that being said, here are my 17 goals for 2022:

Also, if you happen to be new here, I set 17 because that’s my favorite number, not because I am a monster who avoids whole numbers.


1) 100 days of yoga

Kicking it off with a good old fashioned 100, I thought I’d set this yoga goal. I always feel better when I do yoga regularly. My body feels less stiff and my mind feels less jumbled and chaotic. So, I thought I’d add a little extra inspiration to stay consistent.


2) Celebrate lillördag (little Saturday)

Over the summer I came across this post, that asks the question are you celebrating lillördag yet? In case you are curious (like I immediately was), lillördag is Swedish for “little Saturday” and the celebration of lillördag is the practice of treating a weekday like you would a Saturday (i.e. going out to dinner, seeing a movie, splurging on dessert, etc.) I love this idea of bringing some weekend spirit into your weekdays, so I’m going to add this celebration to my weekly routine. Typically, lillördag is celebrated on Wednesdays, as it’s the halfway point, so I’ll use that as a guideline but not a hard boundary.


3) Donate blood once per season

I have really come a long way with this goal and I’m proud of that. In 2018, one of my goals was to try to donate blood once, and now I’m striving to do it four times in the same calendar year! Hopefully I can make it a seasonal tradition and donate many times in the future!


4) Volunteer somewhere new

For the past few years I’ve had “volunteer (at least) 5 times” as a recurring goal on this list. While I’ve been able to complete it each year, I have (mostly) done so with the same two organizations. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in the interest of learning and growing, I’m going to challenge myself to volunteer somewhere completely new this year! I am already anxious about it!


5) Visit a new city and/or state

I have had issues in the past setting goals to visit specific places, as plans can get crazy and schedules can get crazier. So rather than lock myself in to one specific destination, I just want to challenge myself to see a new place. I have a couple of plans that might help with this, but I’m excited to see what spontaneity the year holds!


6) Take two more writing classes

Due to lack of time and bigger commitments, I had to take a break from my UCLA Extension writing classes, which made me sad. But I’m hoping to get back in there this year. I only need a few more classes to earn my creative writing certificate, so hopefully by this time next year I’ll be (at least) two classes closer to that!


7) Read five more books on this list

I mentioned this list of inspirational books in my 2021 Goals Wrap Up post. The article it originated from has since been taken down, but I kept the list and want to keep working my way through it. Let’s read five more!


8) Wear everything in my closet

I feel like every time I clean out my closet I always leave things behind that I’m never going to wear. I will take my time and try things on to make sure they still fit, I will give everything the full Marie Kondo treatment and demand to know if each item still “sparks joy”—but there are always stowaways that continue to sit there, unworn. So this year I’m marking 12/31/22 as the deadline. If something in my closet has not been worn by then (give or take a snow jacket I have by necessity but rarely use in Southern California), I am giving it away to find a new home. 


9) Try a no-spend week

I like to think I’m pretty responsible with my money, but I also impulse buy sweatshirts in the middle of the summer, so I’m not perfect. I have seen the concept of a no-spend week around for a while now, but have never purposefully set out to do one. I think it should be relatively easy, but it also might be sneaky hard in ways I don’t anticipate. We’ll see.  


10) Find the best pizza in my neighborhood

A few years ago, I set a goal to the find the best pizza, ice cream, donuts, burgers and milkshakes in Los Angeles. It was a fun quest that my stomach greatly enjoyed, and so I’m calling it back this year but only in one category. My sister and I recently moved to a new city that has at least three pizza places within a mile, and many more within 5-10 miles, so I’m going to try and crown THE BEST pizza in my neighborhood. Stay tuned.


11) Open my Etsy shop

One of my quarantine projects (and goals for 2021) was to finish the Dodger Stadium cross-stitch that I designed. I have been making cross stitch patterns for a few years now, so I thought it might be fun to make them available on Etsy in case anyone is looking for some inspiration. 😊


12) Get published

This was on my list of goals for 2021, and while I didn’t complete it, I did get a lot of writing done. So, I’m adding it to this year’s list to encourage me to keep writing consistently, and to submit some of my already written pieces for publication. We’ll see what happens!


13) Go to one movie per month

This was on my list of goals for 2018 but I’m bringing it back because I want to support my local movie theater. The convenience of having movies released on streaming services that I already pay for is undeniable, but there is something so special about seeing a movie in theaters. So this year, I want to make it a point to see at least one movie in theaters per month.


14) Go to 5 museums

This is another throwback from my 2018 goals! (Can you tell that unresolved goals tend to haunt me?) In 2018, I set a goal to visit 20 museums in Los Angeles, but I only made it to eight. Throughout both 2020 and 2021, I think I went to one, which is ridiculous considering how much I enjoy them. So, for 2022, I’m hoping to inspire more museum trips. I’m aiming for five, but I’m hoping they will inspire even more!


15) Make a gift

For my Christmas shopping this year, I tried to shy away from Amazon as much as I could, opting instead for local businesses and artisans on Etsy. This year, I want one gift I give to be something that I make, be it a birthday gift, a Christmas present, or something just because.


16) Cook my way through a cookbook

This is my fourth and final throwback goal! This one comes from 2019, where I tried to cook my way through Chrissy Teigen’s “Cravings: Hungry for More” cookbook. In the end, I both fell out of consistently looking up recipes to make, and I ran into a bunch that I knew I never wanted to make. Still, I loved having a go-to guide for dinners and lunches, and I loved learning new recipes throughout the year. So, I want to try this one again. Cookbook TBD.


17) Places I Sat this Year Photo project

It has been a tradition in my goals to put some kind of creative project in the final spot. This year I’m going to play off of the “Pull Up a Seat” challenge and document “The Places I Sat this Year.” How often do we catch ourselves saying, “I just want to sit down”? When we are sitting down, we are giving our legs a rest, we are relaxing, we are eating, we are traveling, we are, at times, sleeping. We do so much sitting, but I feel like we often don’t pay real attention (or commit to memory) where we’ve spent time sitting. And I mean that both from the perspective of what kind of chair or “seat” you choose to sit in, or the view from said seat. I feel like this project can run in a handful of directions, so I’m excited to see how it turns out!


I’m excited for another year of goals, another year of possibilities, and another year of hard left turns (hopefully towards something *say it with me!!* really good) that I never saw coming.

Wishing you luck with any and all goals and/or resolutions you might be setting for the new year!


Check out more List-cember posts here.

Tiny Perfect Moments of 2021 (List-cember #4)

In February of this year, the movie The Map of Tiny Perfect Things was released on Amazon Prime.

I mentioned it in my January & February favorites and I have watched it a handful of times since.

While the concept is similar to that of Groundhog Day, it takes special care to highlight the small, special moments that happen each day but often go unnoticed.

After watching the movie, I started to look for the tiny perfect moments happening around me, whether they involved me or not, and I wrote them down. Now they stick out in my memory, reminding me of those little bursts of happy rather than letting them fade into the background. And I think it’s a habit I’m going to continue.

To give you an idea of what I mean, here are some of the tiny, perfect moments I found in 2021 and here’s to many more in 2022!

1) Sitting at a red light, I saw a man standing on the corner waiting for the go ahead to cross the street. He was wearing headphones and bobbing his head to whatever he was listening to, not a care in the world. When his light turned green, he popped his hip to the left, on what I assume was a specific beat in the song, and then he started walking, continuing to bob his head and enjoy the music.

2) While on a run in my neighborhood, I saw a girl walking up ahead of me. We were on opposite sides of the street, but we were both heading in the same direction. As I moved out and around a parked car, grateful that my final turn towards home was approaching, she slowed to a stop next to a tree that had long drooping branches with yellow flowers on the ends. She took one flower gently in her hand and lifted her nose to smell it. Then she kept moving and the branch slowly bounced behind her, casting a shadow that looked like a waving arm onto the asphalt.

3) As I hurriedly got off the freeway in an attempt to get to a store before it closed, I drove past a park that has hugely tall trees. One of which has a long, thick branch that reaches across the grass, leaving a path of shade. It was a summer afternoon and the temperatures were barely out of the triple digits, but a woman had set up a folding chair in that lane of shade. Her legs were crossed, hair up in a bun, and she was reclining comfortably, reading. She looked as content as could be.

4) One morning, just after eight o’clock, I was en route to pick up an order for work. The freeways were congested, as always, so I was cutting down side streets, hoping to catch as many green lights as I could. At one red light, as I broke off a piece of my apple cinnamon breakfast bar, I saw a man walk out onto his balcony with a cup of coffee. The morning air was a little crisp, so I was wearing a jacket, but he was in a t-shirt and sweats. He put one hand on the banister and used the other to lift his coffee cup to his lips. He took a long sip and then just looked out at the day, thinking peacefully.

5) The apartment I live in has underground parking and a slow moving gate that you have to open with a remote. More often than not, as the gate opens, someone walks or runs by, usually with a dog in tow, so I always drive out in a slow roll, looking both ways multiple times. One morning, as I sat back waiting for the gate to peel open, a man walked by, a leash in one hand, his phone in the other. A small, happy dog, padded in front of him. He glanced over at me and then slowed almost to a stop once he’d cleared the gate. Looking down at his phone, his eyes concentrated, reading, and then a smile spread across his face like it was being unzipped. He closed his eyes, excited, and then put the phone in his pocket and kept walking.

6) One Saturday morning in October my best friend and I decided to get up and drive to Santa Barbara to have brunch and shop around. It was the perfect day and we were walking up and down State St. when we heard someone singing. We looked across the street and a girl was standing, all on her own, singing opera to a gathering crowd of people. She had a beautiful voice and we were taken aback by her courage to stand out there alone and sing. We stopped to watch for a little while, and then when we turned to leave, we saw a man walk out of a store in front of us. We saw him notice her. He turned toward her voice and then just stopped, right there in the middle of the sidewalk, completely in awe, and listened.

7) At gas station downtown, I leaned against my car, waiting for my tank to fill up. Two cars sat on the opposite side of the divider as me, both belonging to men who were pushing buttons on their respective machines. After a minute or two, they started talking. There had clearly been some kind of altercation that I’d missed, but in my book, I’d showed up just in time. Their conversation went like this:

“Hey, I’m sorry about before. I’m just going through some stuff, but that’s not your fault.”

“Don’t worry about it, we all have our moments.”

“Yeah, but I’m still very sorry.”

“Don’t give it another thought, truly.”

“Thank you.”

Keep your eye out for those tiny, perfect moments. They are everywhere! And they will only make your days brighter 🙂


Check out more List-cember posts here.

The Best Things I Bought This Year (List-cember #3)

Since we are in the spirit of recommendations this week, and because I never get tired of reading lists of random things people like/bought/just thought were cool, I thought I’d share a handful of things I’m glad I bought this year. It’s a little bit of everything, which I personally find to be the most dangerous kind of list, because you can’t immediately convince yourself you won’t be tempted to buy anything because you don’t know what’s coming next.

In other words, this list is my (wallet’s) worst nightmare. So I apologize in advance if you find yourself *adding to cart* but just know that I love everything on this list so actually that apology was fake and I think you should do it.

1) Third Love Bras

These were mentioned on an early favorites post and they hold up. They are the first bras that have ever really fit me and they are SO comfortable. I will recommend them until my dying day. (find them here)

2) Ray-Ban sunglasses (Erika Classic)

For years I bought $10 sunglasses that I would throw in my purse and wear until they were too scratched to see out of, thinking I was a bargain shopper. But then I bought these and realized I was just being cheap and more or less going blind because none of those glasses were polarized and how was I even driving while wearing them? Things are better now. (find them here)

3) Aerie no-show underwear

I don’t know how to recommend underwear other than by saying, BUY THIS UNDERWEAR, because that’s the kind of customer review that really drives home a sale for me. So just, like, buy them. (find them here)

4) Free to Grow Tote bag from The Tote Project

I love this company and the causes it supports, and so I was happy to purchase a tote. I did not plan on falling in love with this tote, but I did. I take it on every grocery shopping trip. We have bought so much ice cream together. (find it here)

5) Lounge shorts from Old Navy

In the dead of summer, we all need a pair of shorts we can put on after we get home from work and rip our professional pants off. These were my go-to shorts. They are comfortable and just the right amount of high waisted. (find them here)

6) Big bottle of First Aid Beauty moisturizer

I feel like I could go on and on about this moisturizer as a moisturizer, but I also feel like that’s been said and done on many a beauty review. So instead I’m just here to tell you to buy the big bottle. It has lasted me almost the entire year, which is magical for any skincare product. So if/when (and it should be when) you buy this, go BIG. It’s worth it. (find it here)

7) Bralettes from Forever 21

I love doing yoga, but it is hard to find good shirts to do yoga in. Sometimes tank tops are too tight, other times t-shirts are too baggy and you wind up borderline suffocating while trying to hold downward dog. So, I started wearing these bralettes that are both cheap, comfortable, and not in danger of having a boob pop out. They check all of my boxes. (find them here)

8) Plain white Vans

For a long time I’ve wanted a pair of plain white sneakers because they go with everything and, if you can keep them relatively clean, I feel like they make you look like you’re put together. These were the perfect pair for me. (find them here)

9) Amazon Smart Plug

I never foresaw myself being one of the those people who has a “smart house.” I thought I might get a clap-on light—maybe. But I didn’t think I’d dip my toe into the world of Alexa being my appliance secretary. However, when my sister and I moved into our new apartment at the beginning of this year and the plug for my lamp was in seemingly the most inconvenient place, I decided to try an Amazon Smart Plug so that Alexa could do the footwork for me. Now I ask her to turn on my light every night and I say thank you as if she is a real person. (find it here)

10) Candles

In the last place my sister and I lived, it was part of our lease that we weren’t allowed to have candles in the house. This was devastating to me because I love candles and there are few things I enjoy more than standing in the candle aisle at the store sniffing. In our new place however, candles are fair game and I have been taking FULL advantage. Life is better and our apartment smells like heaven. (I like this one from Trader Joe’s and this one from Target)

11) Kate Spade purse

This is easily the most expensive thing on this list but not nearly expensive as it could have been because I bought it on super sale and felt like I was getting away with murder. For anyone out there wondering if they should get a new purse, this is your sign. Check out surprise.katespade.com. I won’t tell anyone. (find it here)

12) Small crossbody purse

Speaking of purses, shortly after I bought my Kate Spade bag, I realized that there are probably going to be a lot of occasions when I don’t need my Mary Poppins purse. Say, when I’m traveling, or going to the beach. So I grabbed this guy at Target that gives me just enough room to carry my phone, a small wallet and some chapstick and it has been perfect. (find it here)

13) Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Cream

I’ve had some troubles with eye allergies for the last couple years and at times it’s felt like I was Ryan Gosling, standing in front of Rachel McAdams in The Notebook, asking my eyes, “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!” Because it felt like everything I tried made things worse. But, with the help of these eye drops that I mentioned in a past favorites post, and this eye cream, I feel like me and my eyes are finally friends again. (find them at Target)

14) Pill case

This is the cutest little guy that I like to fill with varying assortments of (non prescription) pills in order to be the person that says, “yes! I have that” whenever someone should need an Advil, Benadryl, iron supplement, lactaid, etc. (find it here)

15) Floral Laptop case

I started a big writing project this summer and decided I wanted to buy a new laptop case to celebrate. It was kind of like buying a new outfit for the first day of school and I loved it. (find it here)

16) Amazon Utility hooks

I bought these when we moved into our new apartment on the off chance I might use them to hang things. And let me tell you, I hung EVERYTHING. These are so easy to install and can hold a good amount of weight. At this point they are like hidden Mickeys in our apartment. (find them here)

17) Foam Roller

I started going to the chiropractor this year and she recommended I buy one of these to do back stretches at home in between sessions. For me, it is a night and day difference. Plus, I learned to roll out my legs and my IT band has never been so happy with me.  (find it here)

18) Chick-fil-a Sauce

One day I was at the grocery store and I saw a two-for-one deal on full size Chick-fil-a sauces, so naturally I partook. I assumed I’d use it every once in a while, but I ended up putting it on practically everything. I was completely devastated when I ran out and I bought more the minute I went back to the store—it wasn’t on sale anymore but I didn’t even hesitate. That’s true love. (I found it at Ralph’s but check your local grocery store sauce aisle or probably Chick-fil-a…)

19) Olive & June Dry Drops

Let me start by saying, I have no idea how these work. All I know is: they do. If you do (or at least attempt) home manicures, you have to try these. I am the queen of smudging my thumb the minute after I paint it, and then proceeding to hate-remove the polish on every single nail as a result. But these babies dry your nails almost instantly, leaving little room for even me to mess them up. They are magic! (find them here)

20) Target blankets

At the start of fall, my sister and I decided to clean out our blanket stash. Some, of course, are sacred and irreplaceable, even when they’re shredded and old and barely alive. But others simply sit at the bottom of the pile, unused and unpicked, still in great shape but very much not the favorite. So, we separated out the ones we never use and donated them, and then bought two new ones from Target. Cozy doesn’t even begin to describe them.  (find them here and here)


Did you buy anything especially great this year? My wallet is both scared and curious to know.

Check out more List-cember posts here.

My 2021 Rec Roundup (List-cember #2)

“Best of” lists at the end of the year are some of my favorite things to read. So I always like to include my Rec Roundup in List-cember as my way of contributing to those.

If I were tougher, I’d rank the items in each category from 1 to 10, but honestly, narrowing myself down to 10 choices is hard enough.

So, these are my favorite favorites from this year. I hope you enjoy!

Note: these aren’t necessarily things that came out in 2021, but they are things that I found this year and loved.

Books

  • Survive the Night by Riley Sager
  • The Noticer by Andy Andrews
  • The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
  • Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Guest List by Lucy Foley
  • Educated by Tara Westover
  • Live in Love by Lauren Akins
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Podcasts

  • CounterClock (especially season three!)
  • My Unsung Hero
  • Live in Love Podcast
  • A Slight Change of Plans
  • The Happiness Lab
  • The Basement Yard
  • Anatomy of Murder
  • The Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast
  • Bouncing Forward with Amy Purdy
  • Other People’s Lives

Movies

  • Coda
  • The Last Letter from Your Lover
  • Tell Me Who I Am
  • The Broken Hearts Gallery
  • INSIDE
  • The Year Earth Changed
  • Promising Young Woman
  • Sound of Metal
  • The Dig
  • The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

TV Shows

  • Panic (Amazon Prime)
  • Love Life (HBO Max)
  • Bridgerton (Netflix)
  • The White Lotus (HBO Max)
  • Mare of Easttown (HBO Max)
  • Starstruck (HBO Max)
  • Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
  • Barry (HBO Max)
  • The Wilds (Prime Video)
  • The Morning Show (Apple TV+)

Music

  • Obviously by Lake Street Dive
  • All In by John Splithoff
  • Songs to Break Up To by Wild Rivers
  • Godsend by Riley Clemmons
  • One Foot in Front of the Other by Griff
  • SOUR by Olivia Rodrigo
  • star-crossed by Kacey Musgraves
  • Into the Mystery by Needtobreathe
  • Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift
  • 30 by Adele

Misc

Modern Different Newsletter: I’ll admit, I went in hard on newsletters this year. I subscribed to many—some might say too many—and as a result, I often fell behind on reading them. Never this one though. I always liked seeing a new issue in my inbox and I loved the unique product recommendations that were always inside. (find it here.)

Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi: This was easily my most made recipe of the year. It’s easy, it’s delicious and it makes a lot. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a quick weeknight dinner! (find the recipe here)

KIND Bar Subscription: I never would have imagined I’d be a loyal subscriber to KIND bar content, but here we are. After trying and loving their Breakfast Protein Bars at the beginning of the year, I subscribed to their delivery service, that gives you x number of bars (you choose) per month/every other month/etc. I love having a variety of different choices to grab on the go for breakfast, and in doing the math, I’m saving money in the long run by ordering them in bulk straight from the source! I’d love to say this is sponsored, but it is isn’t—though it could be, Mrs. KIND. (find it here.)

Do you have any favorites from this year?

Let me know!


Check out more List-cember posts here.

And you can check out last year’s Rec Roundup here.

5 Things I Tried this Year (List-cember #1)

Hello and happy December List-cember to you! I have made it a tradition on my blog that in December every post is centered around lists, and here we are again, in year six! (That almost rhymed.)

You can check out some of the previous List-cember posts here, otherwise let’s get started!


By nature I am very curious, and this bleeds into many areas of my life.

I am constantly Googling things, asking “I wonder if” questions, and taking different routes on drives, walks and runs, just to see where certain streets go.

I also love trying things. I love the feeling of dipping my toe into something new and loving it. To me, finding new hobbies feels like finding new parts of myself. So I’m always excited to look back at the end of a year and see all the parts of me I’ve found over the last 365 days.


1) Becoming a Backyard Harvest Leader

I have long been volunteering for Food Forward, an organization that fights food waste in California, but at the beginning of this year, as my community (and many parts of the world) remained shut down or at limited capacity, I was given the opportunity to try something new. A call for “Backyard Harvest Leaders” was sent out, asking willing individuals to sign up to “solo harvest” properties with full fruit trees and bushes. After some minor training, I was able to harvest hundreds of pounds of fruit and deliver them to local food shelters. While at first I was a little nervous to work on my own, without the guidance of a leader, I soon grew confident and excited to sign up for new harvests, and always looked forward to the Saturday mornings I spent picking.

2) Writing “More Love Letters”

I fell in love with this idea the moment that I saw it. More Love Letters was created to send encouragement, support and love to people who are going through challenging seasons. Each month, a handful of “requests” come in, telling the story of those who need letters.

I have tried to send at least one or two letters a month and sometimes I feel like I get more out of writing the letters than the recipient might. It’s just a wonderful thing to send someone love, because it always comes back to you.

Note: you don’t have to be eloquent or wordy or to say the exact right thing, you are simply given the opportunity to send someone hope and love, and a reminder that they are not alone and that you are rooting for them.

3) A Proverbs 31 Bible Study

A little while back, I started listening to the Proverbs 31 (P31) podcast, and in one episode this summer, they mentioned an upcoming women’s bible study that would follow the book The Dream of You by Jo Saxton. I had never done a bible study outside of my own church, but I liked the idea of connecting with women all over the world that might be going through similar walks of life as me. I’ll admit, finding out there were thousands of people doing this study made me both intimidated and—at least initially—disappointed. I thought I’d get lost in the shuffle or would be too shy to say anything. But in doing the six week study, I found that in seeing the thousands of comments flooding in during each session, I saw so many thoughts and fears that mirrored my own, and it made me feel incredibly seen. And even though I was sitting at home, listening to the online studies in my headphones rather than a room full of people, I didn’t feel alone. In fact, during that study, I felt less alone than I had in a long time. Needless to say, I will definitely be doing another P31 bible study and would recommend it to anyone who might be curious!

4) Using both a Planner and a List Making App

In previous favorites posts, I have recommended both this planner and this to-do list app.  This year, as things got busy again, and I took on many—sometimes *too many*—projects, I decided to use them together. Each Monday morning, I would open up a new sheet on my planner and map out my week, including events, meals, chores, goals, etc. Then I would open up my to-do list app and input everything as individual entries to help me stay on task throughout the week. That way, if I was ever wondering should I be doing anything besides scrolling through Instagram right now? I could open up the app on my phone and attempt to be productive. Overall, it worked pretty well, and it made me feel more organized. Sure, some things stayed on both lists for weeks even though I knew said thing would take me five minutes to accomplish, but nobody’s perfect. And it got done in the end. Mostly.

5) Showering in the morning

This one kind of seems like small potatoes compared to the others, but I have to mention it, if only for myself, because it was an out of left field change for me. I am not a morning person. I always snooze my alarm. I enjoy rolling out of bed, going through my routine at a brisk pace and barely getting to work on time. So to add a shower into that mix has always been a hard no for me. For literally 30 years. But one day I just decided to stop taking showers at night. At first it was to test out to see if my hair would stay fresher (i.e. less greasy) by showering in the morning rather than at night—which it did—and then I just liked the feeling of giving myself a true fresh start to a day. Forgive me if this is all obvious news that you have known your entire life. Also, to those who have suggested I take showers in the morning in the past, whom I laughed at and said NEVER, please accept this admission of defeat. Privately. Not to my face. Especially not in the mornings.

Did you try anything new this year?

Our Epic October Trip (Part 3: North Carolina)

On Thursday we were prepping for our third and final state hop—until our flight home of course—but we (intentionally) did not have an early flight. So, we took the morning slow, said goodbye to the DreamMore Resort sorrowfully, and then visited this Dolly Parton statue in Sevierville before sitting down at the local Cracker Barrel for breakfast.

Afterward, with a little bit of time left before our flight, we drove around the University of Tennessee. It was Homecoming weekend, so there were a few tours going on with families and prospective students, and I tried to do that thing where you pretend to look knowingly out the window, as if you go to that school and you want people to be envious of your vast wisdom of the campus. But we were trying to find the football stadium and drove by the same tour four times, so I think they might have been on to me.

Our final destination of the trip was North Carolina, where we were visiting our cousins, Spenser and Ashlynn, who moved there from California a few years back. We were headed into Halloween weekend and, not being much of a Halloween person myself, I was delighted for the spectacularly mellow version I would be experiencing. Not to mention the fact that we were teaching my cousins’ one and half year old son, Easton, how to trick or treat.

After a late night arrival on Thursday, we woke up on Friday morning relaxed and happy to be there. The fall colors were in full bloom—or as my cousin Spenser put it, “the trees had their best clothes on”—and the view out our window was dreamy.

We drove down to Franklin Street for lunch, where I tried my first ever acai bowl, which seemed wild since I’m from Los Angeles. And while I loved it, I ate it somberly, knowing that if I bought the same one in California, it would probably cost me about $45. So I tried not to get too attached for fear of getting hurt in the long run.

That night, as part of our group went to the UNC soccer game, my mom and I stayed back with Ashlynn and Easton. As Easton and I hung out in the playroom, reading books and building towers solely so we could knock them over, Ashlynn and my mom got to work on dinner, making one of my favorites, chicken pot pie. Then, as if he knew what time it was, Easton stood up and pointed at the door, as if to say, “if we head down now, mom will probably feed me dinner.”

And he was right.

Ashlynn got him all set up in his highchair and I took a seat next to him to cut up his dinner while Ashlynn kept cooking. Then, in arguably the cutest thing that has ever happened to me, Easton began to hold my hand as he ate. As in, he gave up an essential eating utensil—or rather, five—in order to hold my hand. And he continued to hold my hand all through dinner.

As it was happening, I felt like it was one of those moments that you’ll remember forever; one of those things that I’ll probably end up telling Easton 50,000 times as he grows up, always making sure to mime the way his little hand held on tightly to my middle and index fingers, making me feel like the most special person in the world. Sorry in advanced, little man.

The next day, we went curling.

Now, you may remember (or not) that wayyy back in this post, where I listed 30 things I wanted to do before I turned 30—some of which I’ve abandoned, others I’ve done, and still others I’ve added to my lifelong bucket list because time limits prove to be difficult—I put “go curling” as #26.

I’m 31 now, but like I said, we try not to be boxed in by time limits anymore, so I like to think that I manifested this at just the right time.

Spoiler alert: curling is way harder than it looks, but it is just as fun. I learned so many components that you wouldn’t know just by watching it on TV—which we do, every winter Olympics, and I will not accept slander for this.

Our coach for the day told us we were better than average for beginners. We won’t discuss whether he said that before or after we bought him a beer, we will merely take the compliment and assume he means we are approaching Olympic caliber. In telling my grandpa about our curling experience, he made sure to point out that he had been training us to do this our whole lives, as he had taught us how to sweep at a very young age. So make sure you do your chores kids, you never know where they’ll lead you.

Sunday was Halloween, which I completely forgot as we spent the morning at the lake, fishing. It was the most relaxed I’d been on Halloween in a while, as I didn’t have a single party to worry about attending, or the nagging decision on what costume to wear—should it be the one I’ve worn for the last four years, or should I branch out, be fun, and hate it?—and I was just happy to be looking at the water, watching everyone reel in fish, and wondering if the swimmers that we saw swim at least a mile’s distance across the lake were okay and/or Olympians.

That night, I will admit, my Halloween spirit did flicker on, but only because Easton was wearing a doctor costume and I thought I might explode over the cuteness. Plus, I was awarded the prestigious honor to carry our bright purple candy bag, which I would hold open for him to throw each piece of candy into, and then we would all cheer for him, which he loved.

Once we got home, we went into full middle school candy swap mode, and dumped our spoils out on the table before methodically picking our pieces one by one. My adult teeth were wondering what on earth was going on as I stuffed Laffy Taffy’s into my mouth for the first time since high school, but my tastebuds were like, “FINALLY, we’ve missed you! This b*tch eats too many vegetables now.”

On Monday morning, as my dad and my sister’s boyfriend (who had met us in North Carolina for the last leg of our trip) flew home, my mom, sister and I hopped in the car with Spenser to check off one of my 2020 goals.

In doing some research for our trip, I found that one of the World’s Largest Roadside Attractions (which I commonly refer to as WLRA’s) was not only in North Carolina, but within an hour from my cousins’ house.

If you’re ever in High Point, NC, also known as the “furniture capital of the world”—which we quickly understood when we saw approximately 100 furniture stores, including one called “Furniture Land” that had north and south wings—check out the world’s largest chest of drawers. It is wonderful and strange and worth every minute of the drive. Plus, I hear they paint the socks different colors every once in a while—which might only be exciting and interesting to me and I accept that.

On Tuesday, November 2nd, almost two full weeks since we left home, we boarded our final flight (second to last if you want to get technical and count the connection), bidding our adventure farewell.

I waited until we landed in Burbank and got our luggage to say, “that was perfect!” because we truly had about as few missteps as you can have on a vacation, with no missed flight, lost luggage, wrong turn, or disagreement. We’d taken a clean break from everything back home and it felt nearly impossible to go back.

I’ll admit though, there were parts of me that were ready to return to my routine. Sometimes I find certain parts of vacation stressful because I don’t know what to expect, which in turn leads to anxiety regarding the expectations of how I think people want me to react to whatever is coming next. There was also a part of me that was relieved to spend time alone, because when you are on vacation, it is all about socialization and going with the flow of the crowd, as you don’t want to hold anyone back from doing anything they might not have the opportunity to do again.

But as I sat on the plane home, letting the vacation marinate in my mind, I felt incredibly grateful for each and every day of the trip, and nostalgic for it, even though we hadn’t yet left its orbit.

I missed waking up, excited that we weren’t going home the next day (or the next day, or the next.) I missed just existing in each day, knowing I had no responsibilities, no chores, and none of my normal worries. I even missed the unfamiliarity of driving through each new place, never knowing what was going to be on the other side of a particular hill, or around a certain street corner. I liked being able to peek into neighboring car windows, knowing it was going to be someone I’d never seen before, or to look over at families and couples at restaurants, wondering if they were visiting too, or if they’d been born here, grew up here, and were now building their own lives here. I liked noticing what was around me, because at home it is so easy to become numb and overexposed to my normal streets and crowds.

It was hard going back to work, and stressful to jump back into a routine that I’d abandoned for what felt like forever. But now, each day I wake up, each day I go through the comforts and stresses of normal, I know I’m one day closer my next adventure, and I can’t wait to see where that takes me.

Our Epic October Trip (Part 2: Arkansas & Tennessee)

On Friday, we had an early flight to Arkansas, where we planned to spend the weekend with my cousin Brittney and her family. On our agenda was nothing and everything, all of which was made ten times better because we were finally back in Arkansas, where we always dipped a little bit into a southern accent and felt like we belonged.

Plus, since we were visiting family, there was no awkward warm up. Once we arrived at Brittney and Scott (her husband’s) house, we just sat down on the couch and started talking. Nora (their six-year-old daughter) showed us a fun package she’d gotten in the mail, and Landon (their nine-year-old son) told us all about his birthday party that happened the weekend before.

On Saturday morning, we went to Landon and Nora’s soccer games, where we weaved into the crowd and sat on the sidelines, cheering them on as if we’d always been there, and on Saturday night we made chicken tacos a la a delicious rotisserie chicken from the store—making sure to take time to snap the wishbone to see who got a wish (Nora)—and chocolate chip cookies for dinner. Then we sat outside and carved pumpkins as the sun went down.

On Sunday, the boys got up and headed out to another soccer game, while the girls stayed in our pajamas, taking our morning slooow. We sipped coffee, read picture books, and attempted a very complicated Frozen themed Lego castle, before heading out to a local bookfair, getting manicures, having lunch, and then coming home and watching The Aristocats on the couch—all the makings of a perfect girl’s day.

On Sunday night, as bedtime loomed for Nora and our noon flight the next day ticked closer to take off, I found myself looking around the room the same way I’d done in Texas. Though Grammie wasn’t necessarily a taboo topic at home, sitting with Brittney, who’d known her as well as we did, we often found ourselves telling stories and cracking up laughing as we remembered her. It made her feel alive again. And it made me feel closer to Brittney, Nora, and my mom and sister, as she was a part of all of us. It made me feel more like myself.

It was then that I realized this trip was about so much more than escape or adventure—it wasn’t about running away, it was about coming home. And all the many kinds of homes that there are to come home to.

On Monday October 25th, we said our goodbyes first thing in the morning, as the kids went off to school and Scott went to work, and then we headed to the airport for our mid-day flight.

Our next stop was, at first, one that had only been sent in what if type text messages. It was a dream pit stop. One we assumed would stay in the “one day” category for a long time. But when we landed in Knoxville, Tennessee and picked up our rental car; when we put the directions into the GPS and drove the hour south to Pigeon Forge; when we came up over the hill and saw the sign accented with butterflies; and when we were given our room keys and a menu for an in-room breakfast that included coffee and homemade cinnamon bread—we knew we were really going to Dollywood.

Staying at the DreamMore Resort was leaps and bounds more than we could have anticipated. It was extra in the classiest way—with the toiler paper being pressed with the hotel logo, the hallways being decked out with Dolly Parton album covers, the floor being covered in butterflies, and the gift shop stocked with (affordable!) Dolly Parton merchandise.

On our first night, we cozied up on the couch to watch a Hallmark movie while we decided whether to order one loaf of cinnamon bread or two. Then we collapsed into sleep until we were pleasantly and politely woken up the next morning by the delivery of said cinnamon bread—hot and fresh from the oven.

The first thing on our agenda for the day was to get massages. Because if we were going to do Dollywood, we were going to do it right. We each booked a 50-minute Himalayan Salt Stone Massage, which, even to this day I’m not sure exactly what that meant, except that it was magical and I almost got emotional when my masseuse told me she was finished, because I could have easily laid there for an additional hour without flinching.

Then, after a quick bite to eat, we returned to our room, where we layered up and grabbed the car keys before heading out the door again.

Booked for 3:00 p.m. that day, was our Pink Jeep Adventure Tour. We booked the Newfound Gap tour, but there are five total options that can give you different sites and viewpoints, depending on what you’re looking for.

For our tour, we started in Pigeon Forge and then headed towards Gatlinburg and into Smoky Mountains National Park. Then we drove up to Newfound Gap where we saw a piece of the Appalachian trail, the Tennessee/North Carolina border, and some absolutely incredible views! Along the way, our tour guide made a couple of stops and let us get out to walk around and take pictures, and when we made it to the top, we had a half hour to take in the majestic beauty we were surrounded with.

On our way back to the depot, we put our jeep to the test on a brief but exciting 4×4 off-road experience, that included a sheer drop off that was known as “pucker hill” for reasons that I will not disclose here, but that you can perhaps use your imagination to figure out.

After we got back, we went to dinner at the restaurant inside the DreamMore Resort called Song & Hearth. It was a southern, buffet style restaurant where we ate entirely too much but that I will talk of fondly for a long time. Then we took piping hot showers to defrost from the jeep tour (even though it’s of note that the jeeps are heated, so we weren’t as cold as we could have been, but being from Southern California, we were still more or less popsicles) and got in our pajamas.

The next morning, we woke up bright and (not too) early and headed down to the Dollywood tram, because as part of our stay we were given early access into the theme park. The theme park itself had been our initial draw in coming to Tennessee, as Dolly Parton is one of my sister’s all-time favorites. Needless to say, we were ready to go hard in the theme park. We wanted to see every inch of it, try all of the food, and practically throw our credit cards at people to buy all of the things.

So, we started with pastries.

At a bakery just inside the entrance, a small line had already formed (and would only get longer as the day went on) as people picked up coffees and pastries. One such option was 25 POUND apple pie. You could either buy it by the slice or the whole toddler sized pie, and I’ll tell you, even at 9:30 in the morning, that cashier was cranking out slices. We opted for a cinnamon roll and a pumpkin muffin, both of which were delicious and the perfect way to start our day.

It was a brisk morning. The kind where you know you’ll feel better once the sun gets right above you, but for some reason it seems to be taking its time. At certain points, as we did our initial walk through the park, we would race into patches of sun to warm our bones. Next to the exit of one of the rollercoasters, we found a wooden fence that was in direct sunlight and we placed our frozen hands on the smooth, warm surface—an act that might have been embarrassing if a handful of people didn’t watch and then do the exact same thing.

I am not really a rollercoaster person, as I get motion sick very easily, but there were a good handful of rides inside Dollywood, which kind of surprised me. I opted to try one called Blazing Fury, which was fun and relatively mellow (and inside where it was warm), and while I enjoyed it, my hands shook for about an hour afterward, because I am very cool and brave.

Later on, my mom and sister rode both the Dragonflier and the Tennessee Tornado, the latter of which had three loops (because they actually are very cool and brave), and I contently sat on a bench reading the map and drinking my water—my happy place.

Throughout the day, we tried to hit everything. We toured the Chasing Rainbows museum, which paid homage to Dolly’s entire career thus far; we walked around on her tour bus, which was beautiful and roomy; we rode the coal fired train; we awed at the model of her tiny, Tennessee mountain home, where she grew up with her parents and eleven siblings; and we perused the rows of artisans participating in the annual harvest festival, which had the entire park decked out in fall and Halloween décor. Once the sun went down, we took a final walk through the beautifully lit decorations that now came to life with new character and attitude, and then we got back on the tram and headed back to the hotel for some dinner, another hot shower, and a cozy night in.  

July & August Favorites

Hello and welcome to September!

Can I just say that I am done with the summer heat.

Every day, I look at my sweatshirts longingly, desperate to be reunited.

And although I live in Southern California and I’m well aware that “fall” weather won’t arrive until, like, Thanksgiving, I’m pretending like it’s only a few days away. Please don’t burst this naïve bubble.

Let’s talk about some favorites.

I went on a true binge of new things these last few months and I could easily recommend 10 in every category, but I thought that might be a little bit intense. So I narrowed it down as best I could.

Podcasts

I found Blind Landing while I was in full Olympics mode and listened with absolute shock and horror. It follows a *huge* mistake made at the gymnastics competition during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and if you haven’t heard the story, you should listen.

A friend recommended The Happiness Lab to me and I love it! It dives into the science of happiness and the different ways the mind works both to find happiness and to keep it. I’ve really loved the scientific approach and I feel like I learn something valuable in every episode.

Funnily enough, when I was looking up The Happiness Lab, the most recent episode recommended a sister podcast called A Slight Change of Plans, so I started listening to both. A Slight Change of Plans discusses major changes that can take place in our lives and, while traumatic, frustrating, and/or confusing at the time, can lead us to where we’re meant to go. It’s hosted by cognitive scientist Dr. Maya Shankar who I think adds great commentary to each guest’s story, and can even contextualize why we might make the decisions we make.


Books

In the last year I have become a big fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid, so I was very excited for her to release Malibu Rising. It follows the Riva family, comprised of four closely knit siblings who are gearing up for their annual party in Malibu. The book jumps from present to past, introducing you to each of the siblings and explaining how they became who they are—not to mention why they are all fiercely loyal to one another. It was a great read!

Both my mom and sister recommended Lauren Akins’ (wife to country singer Thomas Rhett) Live in Love and I’m so glad they did. It was a very honest, heartwarming read, and I admired her willingness to share her life. I was never under the impression that being married to a superstar would be easy, but she does well to show how important it is to stay true to yourself and to fight for your dreams alongside those of your partner.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn was another one that gripped me! I got the audiobook on loan from the library and started it a little bit late, but once I was in it, I was in it, and hustled to finish before my 21-day loan ended—which I did, with 45 minutes to spare. The story follows two women whose stories collide in Europe just after the end of World War II. Eve, an English spy in both wars and Charlie, a pregnant college student who is looking for her cousin, join forces, both with their own demons fueling them forward. It was great!


Movies

Bo Burnham has long been one of my favorite comedians. So when he released his newest special INSIDE on Netflix, I was beyond thrilled. And while I expected an honest, educated commentary on 2020, I still got way more than I could have imagined. Definitely a must watch! (find it on Netflix)

The Last Letter from Your Lover is exactly the romantic drama I was in the mood for. Stick me in 1960’s England with a scandalous love affair documented by love letters and I am in. (find it on Netflix)

Warning: Tell Me Who I Am is not for the faint of heart. And by faint of heart, I especially mean parents. This documentary tells the story of a man who wakes up in the hospital after a car accident with no memory of his life except his twin brother. I don’t want to say more because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that it. gets. dark. That said, it is fantastically filmed and edited and is an overall masterpiece.  (find it on Netflix)


TV Shows

We Are the Champions covers all kinds of “championships” around the world, starting with a race in England where people literally fall down a steep heel in pursuit of a wheel of cheese. It is marvelous. (find it on Netflix)

The White Lotus is so many things and I can’t really describe any of them. The bones of the story are that multiple groups of people cross paths at a Hawaiian hotel called The White Lotus and chaos ensues everywhere. It’s one of those shows that you need to talk about with other people because so much happens and you just want someone to confirm you saw the same thing. (find it on HBO Max)

Cruel Summer is a fun teen mystery that leaves you guessing after every episode. It’s set in the aftermath of a kidnapped girl being found and who might be to blame. I texted my cousin after multiple episodes, mostly to say, WHO IS THE GOOD GUY?! and she always replied with a noncommittal shrug because you just never know. (find it on Hulu)

Bake Squad has helped fill the void of my no longer having Food Network (or cable). It’s hosted by the founder of Milk Bar and brings together four master bakers who specialize in chocolate, sugar, flavor and cakes, respectively.  Each episode, a guest presents a party or event they are hosting, and the bakers compete to have their dessert chosen to star at the event. It’s super fun! (find it on Netflix)


Music

The Grapefruit Skies by TEEKS

Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish

Into the Mystery by Needtobreathe


KIND Subscription Box

If you’ll recall from my last favorites post, I mentioned the KIND breakfast bars that I had recently fallen in love with. Well, that love affair has continued, so much so that I discovered that KIND offers a subscription box that you can customize and get delivered monthly, bimonthly, etc., full of yummy snacks! In my 20-piece box I of course added my breakfast bars (blueberry almond and honey oat are my favorite!) but I also like the dark chocolate nut bars and these salted caramel healthy grains bars. I am officially a KIND fan. (find it here)


Have anything you’ve been loving over these last couple months? Let me know!

See my previous favorites post here.

The One Question I Keep Asking Myself

When I was little, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.

When I was in high school, I was often asked what I was going to study in college.

When I was in college, I was often asked what my plans were after graduation.

When I reached my mid-twenties, I was often asked when I was going to get married.

And now that I sit at almost 31, unmarried and with no kids, I know I still have a lot of questions to come.

I used to believe that once I got the answer to these questions, I would have lived (or be living) a successful life. But then, as each question slowly got answered, I was disappointed to find that another one was always waiting right behind it. And each one got bigger and scarier and more life defining.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the intention behind these questions. They are shortcuts into getting to know someone. They are milestones that connect people. But I have also felt the pressure of these questions. Of entering a conversation and immediately feeling uncomfortable, praying that I won’t be asked the questions I don’t have an answer to yet, because they make me feel like less of an adult, or even, less of a person. I feel like a failure for not having reached some of the major milestones that my friends, family or some random stranger has, and I spiral into self-doubt and self-hatred, wishing I could change parts of my life that have made me intrinsically me.

And so, I have tried to start asking myself better questions. Mainly one in particular.

For me, right now, I am single and entering into the second year of my thirties. I am a rarity among my friend group, with no boyfriend, fiancé or husband, and no kids. I have worked the same job for over a decade that is not related to the field I studied in college, and I don’t really have a long term “career” path in mind. But that doesn’t make me a failure. It doesn’t make me less of an adult or less of a woman or less of a person. It just makes my path different than theirs.

So, a question I’ve tried to start asking myself is: what can I learn here?

Because one day, I won’t be single. One day I will have kids. One day I will have a new job. One day I will live in a new place. One day my life will look completely different than it does today, and yet, people will still have their questions, I will still have my fears, and there will still be reasons for me to wonder if I’m doing any of this right.

But right now, I’m here. And I believe I’m here for a reason. There are still things for me to learn, people for me to meet, ideas to form, conversations to be had, moments to be experienced and choices to be made. And so I focus on the question that has to do with where I am, not where people want me to go, or where everyone else seems to be.

What can I learn here? I ask.

And in asking, I find myself trying. I find myself searching my surroundings, noticing slow magic, and finding joy in small things that otherwise would have been missed.

What can I learn here? I ask.

And in asking I find potential. I learn more about myself, about what I like to do, what I want to do, and what I’m capable of doing.

What can I learn here? I ask.

And in asking I find peace. Memories long buried turn over in my head, unfelt feelings rise to the surface and new understandings dawn.

When I ask myself what more there is for me to find and learn exactly where I am, I better appreciate that place—this place—rather than wish it into the past in favor of checking off an item on a list, or staying on track with lives and paths that aren’t mine.

There will always be questions, and that’s okay. If there are more questions to ask, that means there is more life to live. But I’m trying to stay focused on one question, as it’s the only one that keeps me present and moves me forward at the same time.

What can I learn here? I ask, and the answers abound.