fun

30 Things You Might Need When You Move into a New Place (List-Cember #1)

Hello and happy December!

Each year on my blog I like to dedicate all posts in December to lists, to celebrate what I call List-cember.

It’s a fun, easy way to recap the year and to share some things I’m hoping for in the new year.

As some of you may know, this past September I moved into a new apartment. The first time I’ve ever lived by myself. It was a big adjustment, but one that I think has served me very well.

One thing I learned pretty quickly was that all of the shopping is up to me and only me. I have to remember to buy everything. And I can’t even tell you how many times I opened a cabinet door to realize oh, I don’t have that yet.

Starting fresh in a new place requires you to truly, start fresh. My pantry was empty, my spice cabinet was empty, my refrigerator was empty. I had to start from ground zero.  Which was tough. But it was also kind of exciting to fill the cabinets with things that I want and need, and to see the apartment slowly transform into a place that is truly and uniquely mine.

Still, there were a lot of expensive trips to the grocery store. A lot of tedious purchases that allowed me to get to where I am now. So I thought I’d make a list of all the things I ran into needing in my first few months.

Maybe you’re in the middle of a move, or preparing for one. Maybe you just want advice on things to add to your cart while you’re at the grocery store. This list is not fancy, it is not the end all be all list, or the fancy lists you find at the front of cookbooks that recommend you keep a wheel of parmesan cheese in your refrigerator. These are simply the things I have collected in order to feel like I have a foundation.

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  1. Hand soap (for the kitchen and the bathroom)
  2. Dish soap
  3. Laundry soap
  4. A dish scrubber (be it a sponge, or the bristled kind with a rubber handle)
  5. A toilet scrubber and plunger (they sell them as a set now!)
  6. Clorox disinfecting wipes
  7. Trash bags
  8. A trash can—or maybe a couple (It is really something to sit down and eat amongst the chaos of your moving boxes, only to realize afterward that you have nowhere to put your trash)
  9. Batteries (a small pack of AA & AAA’s will come in handy when you are unpacking and putting stuff together)
  10. A broom and a dustpan
  11. A Brita (or whichever water filtering product you prefer if you don’t like/can’t drink the tap water)
  12. Toilet paper
  13. Paper towels (or dish towels)
  14. Garlic salt
  15. Table salt
  16. Black pepper
  17. The baking party pack (flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract)
  18. The medicine party pack (Advil, Benadryl, Tums)
  19. Olive oil
  20. Butter
  21. Pasta
  22. Rice (I like the “boil in a bag” variety because it gives you individual servings that you can make in 10 minutes)
  23. Your condiment of choice (It is SO SAD to make chicken and have absolutely nothing to put on it. So, pick your poison to have on hand. I will always choose Chick-fil-a sauce.)
  24. Kroger Sweet Chili Sauce (this is a wild card pick. It doesn’t have to be Kroger and it’s not *essential* but one of my favorite go-to meals is a stir fry and this sauce HITS on a stir fry. I prefer it over soy sauce.)
  25. Frozen vegetables (grab a couple bags of broccoli, peas, etc. and you can heat them up with any dish)
  26. Chicken breasts (I like to grab a four pack and then individually bag the chicken breasts before putting them in the freezer, that way I can defrost them one at a time)
  27. Frozen burger patties (You can throw the patty into a sauté pan frozen and it cooks in less then 10 minutes. Makes for a super easy dinner in a pinch)
  28. Hamburger buns (These are also super easy to freeze. If I’m going to make a burger for dinner, I defrost one bun. Easy peasy.)
  29. A loaf of bread (Toast never lets you down. At any meal, snack, or time of day.)
  30. Honey/Jam/Peanut Butter (whatever you want on your toast)

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Like I said, these are the basics.

Maybe these are just *my* basics.

But hey, they work for me. And now, when I’m putting together a lazy meal, I have the things I need.

Have anything you would recommend for this list? Feel free to share!

Have any harsh opinions or judgement of my list? Feel free not to share!

If you are preparing for, in the middle of, or in the aftermath of a move, I wish you luck, organization, sanity, peace and a solid foundation. It will all come your way in time.

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If you want to read more list-cember posts, you can check them out here.

September & October Favorites

Happy Halloween, y’all!

Fun (and at times controversial) fact: Halloween is not my favorite.

I’ve never been very into costumes, I absolutely hate being scared, and one year in middle school I got my braces tightened on Halloween morning and I couldn’t eat any candy. #trauma.

But while “spooky season” might not be for me, I have bunch of new favorites that might be for you!

Let’s dive in.

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Podcasts

Kelsey Kreppel is a Youtuber and former preschool teacher. During the pandemic, she discussed having daily “circle time” with her class on Zoom to keep them engaged and give them some structure. Now, her podcast Circle Time is like a weekly check-in for adults that is cozy, fun and nostalgic. The episodes are broken down into familiar sections: journal time, story time, show and tell, etc., and it feels like a conversation with a friend.

Speaking of friends, Elyse Meyers is someone who I immediately loved once I found her on Tik Tok. She is funny and sweet and undeniably herself. Her videos and stories are so funny and genuine, so I was thrilled to hear she was starting a podcast. Each episode of Funny Cuz it’s True starts with one of her trademark, fast paced stories, and then is followed up with an interview of a famous personality. Throughout the interview she pauses the segment and comes in with commentary, giving insight into what she was thinking, or how a particular piece of advice stood out to her. I love hearing her learn and grow in real time and I feel like I do the same.

And finally, The Best Advice Show. If you’re looking for something short (like less than 10 minutes) and sweet. This is the perfect show to boost you. Each week, two short episodes are released that detail pieces of advice people want to share. I am always up for some inspirational words, and love hearing them in the context that they were learned.

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Books

Over the past couple months, I’ve done a few different Bible studies that I have loved.

Fighting Words is a 100-day daily devotional that encourages you to memorize Bible verses in order to be better equipped to tackle the harder parts of life. Get Your Life Back discusses the chaos of our daily lives and offers simply practices to regain control—or rather relinquish that control and regain peace. My favorite practice so far is the “one minute pause.” I do it every morning when I get in my car. It settles me into the day rather than encouraging hurry from the start. I just sit quietly for an entire minute and center myself and my faith into the beginning of the day. If you are looking for a faith based book, I would recommend both of these.

Next, I loved My Oxford Year. I don’t know what it says about how often I listen to audiobooks that I have an absolute favorite audiobook narrator, but Julia Whelan is and forever will be my queen. So when my sister told me that Julia wrote a book AND narrates a new book, I was immediately IN. Bonus: I loved the book! It follows Ella from Ohio as she spends a year studying literature at Oxford University in England. It’s a fun—and unexpectedly stressful at times—read and it was an easy listen. (Thanks, Julia.)

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Movies

If you are a Pride and Prejudice or Emma fan, Persuasion is for you. It has been my go-to comfort movie. My favorite thing to wind down to at the end of a long day. It’s based off of Jane Austen’s book of the same name, and it is just as cozy as any other movie in this genre. Dakota Johnson is charming and funny and the story is unique and easy to follow. When I texted my sister about it, I described the movie as “glorious” and her response after watching it was, “truly, truly, glorious.” So, do with that what you will. (find it on Netflix)

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TV Shows

I have been in a little bit of a show rut lately, not knowing what I want to watch or where to start.

So if you have any show recommendations please let me know!

But there have been two that I have been loving.

Abbott Elementary is so fun and hilarious. It follows the teachers and students at an elementary school in Philadelphia, focusing mainly on second grade teacher Jeanine, who is upbeat and dedicated to her job—at times to a fault. It is clever and sweet, and has made me laugh out loud often. (find it on Hulu)

House of the Dragon is a prequel to Game of Thrones, set hundreds of years prior to the world we know so well. Regardless of your opinion on how Game of Thrones ended, this show is worth the watch. It has been so excited to fall back into that universe and see how the story unfolds. I never, repeat NEVER anticipate what is going to happen and gasp almost every episode. Not to mention, the theme song still pumps me UP and makes me feel nostalgic for the Game of Thrones watching days. (find it on HBO Max)

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Music

Subject to Change by Kelsea Ballerini

Good Person by Ingrid Andress

Midnights by Taylor Swift

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Misc

And finally, the 40oz Stanley Tumbler. When I tell you that this water bottle has taken my family by storm, I am not exaggerating in the SLIGHTEST. My sister ordered the highly sought after, often sold out tumbler, and after she got it we were all promptly raging with jealousy. When she got an email that they were restocked she ordered five more so we could join the Stanley party. It is a great size, it keeps water VERY cold, and the handle makes it easy to carry. Now we all have one and refer to our water bottles by the name “Stanley” and it turns quite a few heads.

“Have you seen Stanley?”

“Omg I left Stanley at home.”

“Yeah, the other day I was holding Stanley and then I dropped him.”

“Poor guy.”

(find it here)


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

See my previous favorites post here.

A Golden Gate Birthday (Part 2)

Saturday October 1, 2022

On Saturday we woke up with a renewed determination to see the bridge.

We’d been given advice: 11:00am – 2:00pm.

That was the window. The no Karl window.

So we took our time getting ready, popped into a café for a quick coffee and a pastry, then walked with new resolve through our already familiar neighborhood to the water.

I took this picture at 10:56 a.m.

It wasn’t the whole bridge. It wasn’t the bridge from the travel photo with the perfect lighting and a sky that had never even HEARD of Karl. But it was, like, 80% of the bridge. The most I’d ever seen.

I thought of eigth grade me. Her eyes squinting in the overcast lighting, her hair gelled back in a ponytail, her shoelaces tied too tight. Here we were again, 18 years later.

From the bridge, we walked back by the Palace of Fine Arts—because why wouldn’t you?—en route to the Lyon Street Steps.

Lyon Street on its own is a bit of a hill. It’s gradual but constant. So when the stairs came into view and my friends glanced at me as if to say, “is THAT where we’re going?” and I smiled my best smile as if to say, “SORRY BUT YES,” I felt that small fear of did I plan the worst trip ever shiver through my spine.

But it wasn’t as strong as before.

I was having the best time, and I was surrounded by my best friends. There was an ease that had overtaken the fear. I still wanted everyone to have a good time, but I felt less afraid that they weren’t. It was a good day, and even stairs couldn’t ruin it.

We walked up the first flight, and were already excited at the view to come. We played “The Distance” by CAKE on one of our phones to motivate us to keep going. A few people jogged right by us, and a woman walked up and down the stairs in metallic leggings, managing to talk on the phone while climbing. We remained unperturbed. Once we reached the top, we high fived, took a few photos and then went on our way.

“This way,” I said, pointing to an open gate in between two cement pillars, one of which had a plaque with The Presidio printed on it.

This is where extensive (obsessive?) online research can come in handy before a trip.

While looking up things to do in San Francisco, one fun and unique attraction that came up was Andy Goldsworthy’s Wood Line. It’s found inside the Presidio (which is basically a gigantic park full of all kinds of fun things), and is VERY close to the top of the Lyon Street Steps.

0.1 miles to be exact.

We walked in the gate, and then descended into the park. Within a few minutes (or, if you’re interested, just to the left of where Pacific Ave and Presidio Blvd meet) we found the Wood Line.

It was the perfect deep breath after all the stairs. Plus, it was nice and cool inside the canopy of the trees. We walked until the path met back up with the main road, then followed the road through the park.

While walking, I said, “hey, I heard there’s a Yoda statue in this park,” which everyone agreed to go see. We took pictures and then I pointed at a nearby building.

“There’s an R2-D2 in there!” I exclaimed.

We tried to get in but were surprised to find the door was locked. Upon further investigation, we found out this was Lucasfilm a.k.a. the studio that MAKES the Star Wars movies. So not only was the Yoda statue not as strange as we thought, but we had also tried to wander into a major movie studio, and then peered through their windows for a while.

Afterward, we had lunch at Sessions at the Presidio. If you ever go, order the beignets.

From lunch, we got on the bus and headed downtown to visit City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. It is a cool bookshop with multiple levels. All of us being book nerds, we spent a good chunk of time looking around before we each made a purchase and went on our merry way.

Once we got back to our hotel, we just *sat.*

Downtime is an underrated part of travelling. Especially when you are travelling with friends you love dearly, whom you can talk to about anything. We sat in chairs and on beds and talked for a few hours, recovering from the literal miles we had walked over the last two days. It felt like having my friends over for dinner or gossiping in a dorm room. I sat there wondering how I’d gotten so lucky to have these people as my people. To know that I could tell them anything and that they would be there for me. To know that I could text them out of the blue and ask them to go to San Francisco with me for my birthday. and they would all show up to make me feel loved and celebrated. I thought about saying something, but then I worried I might cry.

For dinner, we went to Ace Wasabi Rock-N-Roll Sushi, where we drank Sapporo, repeatedly said, “oh my gosh you have to try this” and then eventually said “I think I need to unzip my pants” before walking back to our hotel and knocking out.

Sunday October 2, 2022

On our last day in San Francisco, we went to breakfast at Home Plate, which again was just a short walk from our hotel. It was our last meal together, the big brunch to end the trip.  We had all booked early afternoon flights, both because they were cheap, and because it gave us the last half of our Sunday at home before we headed back to work.

To me, sitting at breakfast immediately felt like one of those “remember when” moments. The whole trip did, really. Though I’d given my friends a few months notice, it had still felt like a relatively spontaneous vacation. It seemed crazy that we were all able to squeeze in a weekend like this amongst our crazy schedules, and it seemed unlikely that we’d be able to do it again any time soon. So while I tried to be present, the whole trip took on a nostalgic feeling for me right from the beginning.

The next time we take a trip like this, our lives might look very different. And while a part of that is scary—because things are always changing and change is hard and chaotic and a lot to keep up with—it is also exciting. I’m excited to see where we go and how we grow. I’m excited for the future because I know I have a lot of good people in it, and I’m thankful for this trip because it reminded me of that.

Plus, like any good trip, this one was filled with its own one liners. Moments that made us laugh, that don’t make a lot of sense out of context, and that might lose meaning in the years to come. But in the Notes app on my phone, I jotted down a few.

“What is it with the eggs in this city?”

“She rose from the ashes of Georgie.”

“I will never get over seeing ravioli at a liquor store.”

“This is the picture of the century.”

These are their own kind of picture, their own kind of memory. I can still hear and feel the moment they existed in. They will always bring me back here, to San Francisco, where Karl reigned supreme, but we had fun anyway.

A Golden Gate Birthday (Part 1)

When I was in 8th grade, I went on a class trip to San Francisco.

I remember eating Ghirardelli chocolate, I remember getting a migraine on the bus, I remember listening to Hoobastank in the hotel room that I shared with four other girls, and I remember the fog.

En route to Seattle a few years later, my family stopped in San Francisco. I remember walking around Fisherman’s Wharf, I remember it raining, and I remember the fog.

This past spring, on a slow day at work, I was scrolling through a travel article that counted down beautiful places to visit, and San Francisco was on the list. I stared at a picture of the Golden Gate bridge, in perfect focus, enveloped in golden light.

On both visits to San Francisco, I hadn’t seen the bridge like this. I’d seen its feet, hints of the deep red color, and glimpses of the swooping curves. On one day of my class trip, we’d even walked across the bridge, making it visible close up. But for the most part the fog sat right on top, hiding it, keeping its full glory a secret.

As I sat in my desk chair, staring at that perfect picture of the bridge, reading through the gushing comments from people who loved the city, or who dreamed of it but lived too far to visit, I decided I needed to go back.

When is the best time to visit San Francisco? I Googled.

September to November, it answered.

I bookmarked the page.

In light of my 32nd birthday at the beginning of September, I decided to make the trip a birthday celebration. I invited my three closest friends, and I planned the whole thing.

The day before we left, I completely panicked, wondering if everything I planned—everything I knew I would love—was a terrible idea. Maybe my ideal trip was only ideal for me. Maybe everyone would have an awful time and wish they never came and wonder why we were even friends.

You know, just a cute, fun anxiety spiral that concluded this was the trip I lose all my friends. Thanks, brain!

Nevertheless, I boarded the plane with my sister on Friday morning, happy to be playing hooky from work, and texted Allison and Nicole, who were flying out separately, that we’d see them in the city.

Friday September 30th, 2022

“Where are we headed?” our Lyft driver asked as we got in the car.

Marina Motel,” I answered.

“Oooh!” he said as he zoomed in on his map. “That’s a cool area.”

The smallest weight fell off my shoulders.

My first fear: did I book us two nights at a murder hotel? had immediately been quashed.

After he dropped us off, we left our bags at the hotel and then headed out for lunch.

The hotel concierge told us: “right, right” as our directions to find everything we might need.

And she was right.

We walked down Chestnut St. and found tons of bars, restaurants and cafes. As we narrowed down what sounded good for lunch, we also pointed out possible spots for dinner, and for breakfast the next morning.

It was 70 degrees. A perfect, sunny day. The slightest breeze made us shiver, but it made the sun feel all the more welcoming.

We settled on Bonita Taqueria Rotisse, and I ordered a quesadilla that was almost the size of my forearm. We talked, settling into the weekend. My toes wiggled in my shoes, nervous and excited.

“Which way to the bridge?” Nicole asked.

I held up a pointed finger as I looked down at the map on my phone.

“That way.”

The homes in the Marina District are gorgeous. Big and colorful, they look nothing like the buildings we are acquainted with in Southern California. There are no backyards, the small garages act as the bottom floors of the building, and cars are required to drive over the sidewalk to get inside. We pulled up Zillow, curious and nosey, and we all gasped. Then we pointed, picking which houses we liked most, all while trying to pretend we lived there when another pedestrian walked by.

“Hello!” we would say with our best neighborly wave. “Just out for our daily walk.”

En route to the bridge, we walked by and through the Palace of Fine Arts.

It is so grand and unexpected. The kind of building you don’t expect to see in an American city. The kind that makes you stand underneath it and just look UP. Everyone walked by with a camera, taking in the architecture and showcasing its grandiosity in comparison to the average human.

A girl took pictures in her quinceañera dress, a family smiled for a potential Christmas card, a bride and groom took pictures with a small bridal party which included a cat in a tuxedo. 

We kept walking, closing in on the water up ahead. As we walked, we pulled our sleeves up and fanned our faces. I bounced in excitement, thinking I’d outsmarted the fog—which is known in the city as “Karl”—elated to have arrived on such a sunny, hot day. But when we came around the corner and crooned our heads to find the bridge, Karl laughed in our face.

Not an INCH of the bridge was visible. We squinted our eyes at an island in the distance, assuming it might be Alcatraz but unable to tell for sure from the faint, blurry blob we could see.

We laughed, because it was the only thing we could do, and then we started walking again.

We went east, towards the Fisherman’s Wharf, with no real destination in mind. We blended into the pack of runners, bikers, and skateboarders that cruised down Marina Boulevard with their own plans. I began to relax, knowing this is exactly what I wanted to do. I just wanted to walk. To be a part of the city, allowing myself to fantasize that I lived there, the same way I had when I was in eighth grade.

It’s my favorite way to see a city. Slow and deliberate.

We ended up at Great Meadow Park at Fort Mason, and stopped at the top of the hill to take a few pictures.

An older man whizzed by us on an electric scooter, singing the Speed Racer theme song to himself and we all giggled. We sat down on a half wall, looking at the people picnicking, reading and sleeping on the grass. San Francisco seemed to know how to relax on a Friday afternoon.

With a quick stop for coffee, we walked back to the Palace of Fine Arts to watch the sunset. Clouds began to roll in, making it a lot colder. We shivered and ate Madeline cookies. We pleaded with the sun, begging for it to slice through, to give us that multicolor sunset behind the Palace, but it never did. We stayed for as long as our light jackets could stand it, and then we headed back to the hotel.

For dinner, we went to Na’Pizza, which not only had heat lamps, but BLANKETS on every chair.

You do not know cozy until you know a dinner blanket.

We ordered the Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, the arugula salad and the Margherita pizza to split between the four of us, along with a bottle of wine.

“Thank you for coming,” I said to the table of ladies, raising my wine glass. “You guys are my best.”

The phrase felt the slightest bit unnatural on my tongue. I’d only just heard it used a day or two before. But I liked the way it left the compliment open. Because they weren’t just my best friends, they were the best of many things I’d found so far in this life. The best listeners, the best advice givers, the best people to talk to on the phone, or to eat takeout with on the couch, or to ask for help when you’re falling into a thought spiral. They had each gone beyond the bounds of friendship for me, and were more than I could explain. They were just the best, and I was glad I had them with me.

Lake Hair

“Hold on to your hats,” Natalee says as we float past the no wake zone.

Will revs the engine and then punches forward. The boat shoots across the water, the wind beating at our faces. At first, it’s hard to keep my eyes open. I feel like I’m swallowing too much air. I hold onto my (literal) hat, nervous a gust of wind might swipe it off the top of my head.

We ride around the lake looking at the hills, at the pops of green trees, at the cars driving by on the freeway above us. We curve into alcoves, looking for a place to beach the boat, all while listening to country music at full blast, nodding our heads, smiling to each other, looking forward to the day.

A half hour later, we’re in beach chairs, freshly sunscreened up, eating burgers and fruit and cheers-ing canned drinks, settling into the unplugged, independent nature of a lake day. I wade into the water on my tiptoes, flapping my arms.

“It’s cold!”

But only for a minute.

We talk about everything and nothing, and the hours melt away.

We get back on the boat and then glide out onto the water.

It’s 85 degrees, the sky is a solid blue, there is not even one cloud. My bathing suit is red, my shoulders are pink, and my hair is flying in all directions.

The boat turns and wind whips at my face. When I lift up my arms, they fly, weightless. The music blares through the speakers. I bob my head and sing loudly, knowing the sounds of the boat will drown out my voice.

We skim over wakes and spray lake water to either side as we turn. We wave to other boats and we yell as loud as we can. We are free on the water, in the sunshine, on our Saturday. The wind blows the burdens off our shoulders, allowing us to just exist in the moment, on this boat, on this day.

We are alive, and light, and happy. We are together. It’s a hard feeling to describe in words, but it is easily shared in the excited whoops and hollers. We smile and we take pictures. We record as much footage as we can. But we know it’s not something other people will be able to see or feel, not unless they were here. Not unless they understood the heaviness that was being turned into lightness. Not unless they felt the sun warm them and the water cool them, over and over and over. Not unless they felt the wind lift their arms up into the air and hold them there, taking the weight, taking the pressure.

We cruise back into the no wake zone and our hair settles on our shoulders. It’s knotted and slimy from the lake water, it’s going to hurt to brush. But when I wash it, the hot water doesn’t take the day with it. It does little to wash away the feeling on the boat, at the lake, on that Saturday. Somehow I think it just scrubs it deeper.

A Five Sense Check-In (Getty Edition)

About six months ago, I spent a Saturday at the Getty Museum.

After walking around the various exhibits on display, I sat out in the garden for a little while, and before I left I did a five senses check-in and wrote the details in my notebook.

I forgot about it for a little while, but recently found it and wanted to share. I love the way these check-ins can fully capture a moment. I remember everything about sitting there writing this, and it made me want to go back!

5 Things I See

1) The garden, made up of all kinds of colors. There are purples, oranges, and yellows. Flashes of red, hints of blue and never-ending variations of green.

2) People. There are families, couples, individuals, photographers, and friends.

3) Clothes. Alongside the smiling faces and posing people, I see so many unique outfits. Some are casual, comfortable, made for walking around the museum. Some are trendy, fashion forward, an expression of style and color much like the art you’d see inside. And others are bordering on fancy, as if they were going or coming from church. They dressed up for the occasion—for the art and the artists.

4) Levels of people and plants. The garden is set in three different levels, giving people a few paths to take around the garden. I’m on the second level, sitting on a bench, and people move both in front of me and behind me. Off in the distance is a big grassy hill where people walk or sit down, taking a break, and enjoying the outside, even if it’s a little chilly today.

5) The Getty. Beyond the garden and beyond the hill is the Getty itself. Tall and beautiful. It is relaxing to look at, and can be viewed as a background to the garden or an element of the foreground with the sky behind it.

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4 Things I Hear

1) Footsteps in the dirt path. Both slow scraping steps from tennis shoes or flats, and quick clicking steps from heels or wedges.

2) Mumbles of multiple conversations taking place around me. Most prominently “did I get it?” or, “do you want me to take another one?” in regards to the series of photographs being taken all around the garden.

3) The water from the fountain. It is a steady stream of water but it is not too loud or overpowering to the rest of the natural noise. It acts like background music, cutting through the silence but not in a distracting way.

4) Children laughing in the distance as they roll down the tall grassy hill. Their laughs echo off the building and travel across the water to me. They are having a good day.

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3 Things I Feel

1) The wood bench beneath me. It is hard but supportive. When a couple sits down next to me, a single plank pushes a little harder into my back. But they quickly decide to move on and the plank relaxes behind me.

2) Tickles of a plant beside me. When I move my head, the leaves casually brush against the back of my neck, flicking my pony tail, causing it to wobble.

3) A small breeze that, when combined with the cloudy sky that the sun can’t quite break through, can be cold. I’m glad I wore a jacket, but I have a bit of a chill! I think I might pick up ramen for dinner on my way home. (And I did!)

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2 Things I Smell

1&2) The flowers. It is amazing to me how their scents can combine and compete, but not in the way that candles and colognes would. They blend and compliment one another, waiting patiently to take their turn as you shift your head or walk around the garden. Each spot on the path has a different scent, and even that can change based on how close you stand to the flowers.

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1 Thing I Taste

1) Perhaps the briefest memory of the jolly rancher I had earlier. That reminds me—I’m hungry.


You can find more Five Sense Check-Ins here.

July & August Favorites

We are back with another edition of Favorites, where I tell you all the things that I’ve loved over the last two months. You know the drill. Let’s get right into it.

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Podcasts

First up, Workin On It, a podcast put on by Meghan Trainor and her brother Ryan. I love podcasts that make you feel like you’re sitting in a room talking with (or eavesdropping on) some friends and this is one of those podcasts. Plus, it’s based around the concept that we are all works in progress, always “working on” something, and so it’s given me some great advice and encouragement along the way!

I fell in love with Toni Collier and the Still Coloring podcast pretty much instantly. The name comes from the idea that “broken crayons still color”, and so the podcast is all about finding beauty in brokenness. I am consistently encouraged and inspired by the honest, faith based conversations that take place, and the space that Toni creates for her guests.

I have no shame in admitting that I was a diehard Laguna Beach fan back in the day. So when I heard that Kristin and Stephen (if you know, you know) were doing a rewatch podcast, I was all in. Back to the Beach is fun and nostalgic, and also gives a lot of behind the scenes information. I’ve had so much fun rewatching the show and then listening to the recaps episode by episode. It’s hilarious to see the show with my 30 year old eyes, compared to my 14 year old eyes—they see a bit differently.

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Books

I’ve been on a bit of a memoir binge lately. They have been my go-to audiobook that I like to listen to in the mornings while I get ready for work, and in the afternoon on my drive home. I like memoirs in general, but I especially like hearing them read by the author because I feel like it lets you in on their emotions, and you can hear the exact intonation they wrote in.

My number one recommend would be I’m Glad that My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy, which I thought was incredibly well written and so gripping. I also loved Happy People are Annoying by Josh Peck, and No Happy Endings by Nora McInerny.

And if you’re not interested in memoirs, two other favorites from this month would be Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman and One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle.

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Movies

I saw Where the Crawdads Sing in theaters and loved it. I was so excited to see the story brought to life because I was such a big fan of the book, and I thought it was adapted really well. I’d recommend both the book and the movie!

I also liked Purple Hearts on Netflix, which tells the story of a singer/songwriter and a marine, who get married solely for the military benefits, not really taking into account all of the potential consequences. It was sweet, the perfect watch for a movie night at home.  (find it on Netflix)

And finally, it is both easy and hard to recommend Thirteen Lives. It’s easy because it’s an INCREDIBLE story. It follows the rescue of the Thai soccer team that got trapped in a cave in 2018. But it’s hard because, at least for me, it was almost overwhelming to watch. The trauma of being trapped in that cave for WEEKS, and the miraculous nature of the rescue. It was a tense watch. SO good. But tense. I knew what was going to happen and I still felt nauseous for almost the entire thing. (find it on Amazon Prime)

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TV Shows

I’m a big fan of Sally Rooney and I loved Hulu’s adaption of Normal People, so I was very excited to watch their adaption of Conversations with Friends. You definitely have to go in ready for a slower pace, because so much of Sally Rooney’s work is dialogue and complicated human emotions. It’s a quiet show, if that makes sense, but it was a comforting watch. Comforting in the way that it shows how flawed and complicated people are—how no one really has everything figured out and how everyone has a lot going on. I loved it. (find it on Hulu)

I heard about Claim to Fame and was not convinced it would be my style, but it has absolutely sucked me in and I look forward to it every week. The show started with twelve contestants, all of whom are related to someone famous, and the goal is to figure out who each celebrity relative is. There are challenges every week that give clues and then at the end of every episode there is a “guesser” who tries to reveal the identity of one of the other contestants. It’s fun and easy to watch and has had me saying, “oh my gosh WHO DOES SHE LOOK LIKE?” over and over and over. (find it on ABC or Hulu)

The Bear was a show that I didn’t hear anything about until suddenly it was the ONLY thing I was hearing about. It follows a chef who has to leave his prestigious restaurant to take over his brother’s sandwich shop in Chicago. It was unique and stressful and gave a cool look at the inner workings of a kitchen. (find it on Hulu)

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Music

Firstborn by Nicolle Galyon

Bad Together by Rozzi

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Misc

I read an article (that I can no longer find) that ranked the best ice cream sandwiches. It put FatBoy Ice Cream Sandwiches at the top of the list, so I immediately decided this is something that I needed to confirm or deny. I wanted to know what earned this sandwich the top spot, but I also wanted an excuse to try a bunch of ice cream sandwiches. So my mom and I have set out on a quest to find “the best” in our opinion. Though I’ll admit, these are the best so far…


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

See my previous favorites post here.

200 Time Time Capsule Blog #9

Has it really been 200 days already!?

In one sense, I feel like YES, January was 45 years ago, so much has happened since then, omg.

But in another sense I’m like, WOAH, it feels like yesterday.

Either way, we are back for another time capsule.

I always love getting these ~letters from the past~.

At the beginning of this one, I wrote, “Wishing you well on these next 200 days. Do your best and give yourself grace.”

That’s so nice, past me. I think I’ve done that, but there’s always room to do better. In these next 200 days, may we all strive for better.

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1) What day is it?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): January 5th, 2022

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2) Describe yourself today

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): I feel calm. Which is kind of funny because looking at my crazy schedule for the next 6 months, there is NO reason to be calm. But I have been really prioritizing doing things that make me feel good (going on walks, doing yoga, cooking dinner, reading my Bible, working on my counted cross stitch, calling friends on the phone, going to bed early, etc.) and it has made me feel really good. It makes me excited for the year to come because I feel like I can always come back to this place if I get stressed. Aside from that, I’m in jeans and a sweater, in full New Year mode, wanting to learn and achieve everything all at once and practically bursting at the seams from the anticipation of what might come next. And yet, calm.

The funny thing about this is that around this same time, I was talking to my friend Nicole on the phone and I said, “I feel like everything is about to change. I don’t know in what way but I just feel like a lot of change is coming.” A few weeks later, our apartment flooded, and then over the next couple months we moved out, my sister got engaged and then married, and now I’m living with my parents while I look for a place of my own. So while I can’t say I’m still completely holding on to that “calm” I am optimistic about what’s coming next.

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3) What did you do today?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): I feel like I always start these with “I worked.” She is so brave and hardworking, folks. But alas, I did work today, and I have plans of going for a run in this strangely wonderful 70 degree weather, then I’m going to do some writing, have some leftover roasted cauliflower tacos (yum!) and hangout (from afar) with my sister, who currently has COVID and is locked in her room, so we text and play iPhone games throughout the day. I might encourage us to get ice cream too since that is an *obvious* COVID cure.

Cannot confirm whether or not I went for that run, but a week later, once my sister was COVID free, we went out for ice cream. Two days later, I tested positive and was down for a week. I lost all of my running stamina and haven’t found the motivation to get it back. 🤷

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4) What’s your favorite song right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): Oooh. This is usually an easy one for me, because I’m almost always in the process of overplaying a song, but I don’t have a particular favorite right now. Maybe “Oh My God” by Adele, or one of Leon’s new songs like “Soaked” or “Fade into a Dream.”

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5) What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): I just watched Red Notice on Netflix last night, which was pretty good. I’m excited about so many movies coming out this year!! This month alone I’m hoping to see West Side StoryLicorice Pizza, Redeeming Love and Belfast in theaters. 

I saw all but Belfast in theaters (and have yet to see it now that I think about it!) and have been so excited to see a bunch more movies in theaters since. I missed the movies so much during lockdown and I’m trying my best to get there as often as possible.

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6) Who did you last text and what did you say?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): I texted my sister “Omg SO close to a bullseye” because we’re playing darts on iPhone games. Haha!

These proved to be a lifesaver, both when she had COVID and when I did. I think we tried every game there was, and we weren’t all that good at them lol.

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7) What is your biggest goal right now?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): Hmm, I don’t know if there is one that stands out above the others. I have my usual list of 17, and then I’ve created a small list of side goals for myself that are just self-care items that I’ve wanted to make habits of for a while, but nothing stands out as “THE ONE.” So maybe I’d just say that my biggest goal is to continue pursuing my best self. My most honest, genuine, and happy self. 

I think I’ve done pretty well at continuing to pursue this. And I think part of living a good life is always pursuing this, as our “best” self will look and feel different as we grow and change. My best self now is probably already different than my best self then.

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8) What are you most excited about?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): There is a TON to be excited about this year. Some friends are getting married, some trips and concerts are on the calendar. But I think the thing I’m MOST excited about would probably be our trip to Nashville coming up in March!

Spoiler alert: Nashville was incredible!

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9) What are you most worried about?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): That we’ll find ourselves in the same place come this next time capsule (or even next January). I am just so tired of seeing the same arguments, the same news headlines, the same negative, fear based announcements that send the public into a constant tailspin. I really want to have hope that we are headed towards something better and brighter, but a part of me is afraid we won’t make any progress any time soon. 

I’m keeping this worry in my prayers. I like to believe we’re always making progress somewhere, but in some cases I think it’s a one step forward, two steps back type of deal. Nonetheless, I do believe there always room for progress, and there are always people working to make it happen.

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10) What’s the best thing you’ve eaten in the last 200 days?

My answer from the last time capsule (1/5/22): My mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing and/or the 5000 Christmas desserts that I ate for the entire month of December (and most of January).

The summer months in Southern California have not packed their usual grueling, boiling, sweaty punch this year, but I’m already craving those cool(ish) fall months that lead into the holiday season and the DESSERTS. Or maybe I’m just craving a cookie. I can’t be sure.


You can check out this page to see the growing archive of all of my time capsule answers. And don’t forget to check out this post to find out how you can create your own time capsule.

Our next delivery date is: Tuesday, February 14, 2023!!

As usual, I will excitedly await the arrival of this next time capsule and the future it lives in, but I won’t rush towards it. Here’s hoping there’s lots to enjoy between now and then.

Sending you well wishes. Do your best and give yourself grace ❤️

A Denim Eulogy

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the loss of a dear friend.

Finding friendship is special, but experiencing true friendship is rare. I feel thankful to have experienced both.

A true friend is someone who is there for you on your good days and bad days. Someone that makes you feel like yourself, even when the rest of your world might be up in flames. A true friend asks nothing more from you than who you are—who you REALLY are—and tells you that person is more than enough.

I hope that many of you know (and have) the kind of friend I’m talking about. I hope that you are keeping them close, appreciating each and every day that you have with them while you still can. Because time moves fast. And you never know when life is going to throw you a curveball you didn’t expect. You never know when your favorite jeans are going to rip.

Yes. That’s right. I stand here today, emotional and broken, knowing that no matter what I do, no matter what I say, my favorite jeans are gone. They have ripped. Not just your innocent, across the knee but we can make it trendy kind of rip. But the terminal, upper thigh, if I stretch or bend with too much enthusiasm things could get *spicy* kind of rip.

One morning on my drive to work I felt an unfamiliar breeze, so I looked down and there she was. A patch of my bare thigh. Pale and heartbroken. Knowing full well we should not be making eye contact. She knew what it meant. We both knew.

Which is why, even though the risk was high, even though my job requires me to sit and stand frequently, climb stairs, and often squat down to reach drawers of various file cabinets; even though my outfit could become one which made me skitter away to my car and drive home, perhaps with one butt cheek singing in the wind; EVEN THOUGH I am lucky enough to own other pairs of jeans that are not ripped and, perhaps more importantly, not six years old, and thus not as thin as a piece of paper, I continued my drive to work. I let my jeans have one last ride. I let them see the world one last time.

Now, it would be easy to say that I could just throw these jeans away and move on. They were cheap, they were not made to last, they arguably should have been thrown away two years ago when I realized they provided little to no warmth during the winter months. But, as many women might know, buying jeans is a nightmare. If you were to ask me what size jeans I wear, firstly I would slap you in the face, but then I would tell you I didn’t know. Because who could know when every single store tells you different?

But in a world full of uncertainty, inconsistency and injustice, THESE JEANS WERE THERE FOR ME. They protected me—not from the cold, or really from the sun, as I received many a splotchy sunburn on my knees during our friendship—but from shame and discomfort. These jeans welcomed me every time I put them on, with the waistband landing at exactly the right spot on my hips, and the length neither being too long or too short. These jeans worked with boots, sandals, heels, and the occasional UGG. These jeans took me to work and to nights out on the town. These jeans never judged me, never reminded me that I had eaten a cookie every day of the holiday season, and never went rogue in the washer and came out a different color, size or shape.

These jeans were reliable, they were comfortable, and they were loyal.

So thank you, jeans, for being you, and for letting me be me. Thank you for holding on as long as you could, and thank you for not splitting down the middle at work and making my shift R-rated.  You will be greatly missed, always remembered, and forever loved. RIP.

Merry (Half) Christmas!

Every year, come December, a large portion of the world is set ablaze by the joy and terror of Christmas shopping.

We make our lists, we check them 45 times, and then we often procrastinate until the last minute.

Christmas shopping is about finding special gifts for special someones, or perhaps buying gifts for people who you had no idea were going to buy you a gift, and now you feel like a jerk.

Ahhhhh, the magic of Christmas.

All that being said, you may have noticed that today is NOT Christmas. It’s not even almost Christmas—which department stores start to celebrate about mid-September these days.

BUT, it is almost half Christmas.

That’s right folks, this Saturday, June 25th, is indeed half Christmas, which is a very special holiday in my house.

Half Christmas, as we celebrate it, is when you buy a few gifts for yourself.  

Christmas shopping can be stressful. It’s hard to find the perfect gift and it’s even harder to find it on sale, in stock, and available within an appropriate shipping window. And even when we find the right gift, it’s hard to know if it fully expresses how special someone is to us or how thankful we are to have them in our lives.

Half Christmas shopping is the opposite.

It is never hard for me to pick out a few gifts for myself. I know what I like, I know what I’ve had my eye on, and I know I can return something *without* guilt if it doesn’t turn out the way I hoped.

Half Christmas is about me. It’s about you. It’s about thanking yourself, treating yourself, and celebrating yourself for all the hard work you do.

So it is my hope that you celebrate this year.

Buy that thing you’ve been wanting. Splurge a little. Get yourself something shiny or soft or pretty or powerful. Buy something that makes you want to call your friends and family and say, “look what I got!”

In case you are curious, here are a few things I’ve been considering for my half Christmas.

These shoes from Adidas (which are on major sale!)

These sunglasses from Sunski.

This book about Lost Objects.

And this shear bag (since they are required now at many sports stadiums and concert arenas).

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I am wishing you a very merry half Christmas!

Get something fun! You deserve it 😎