january and february favorites

January/February Favorites

Hey y’all, it’s that time again!

I’ve had my hunting eyes extra open for the past few months because I’ve been really feeling the need to find more new in my life, you know?

Here’s what I’ve found:

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Podcasts

Kicking us off with a dark one, I found Truth and Lies: Jeffrey Epstein on the podcast charts and was equal parts curious and horrified, so I gave it a listen. It is a very well made show, and even though the subject matter is awful and skin crawling, I can’t stop listening and I look forward to a new episode each week.

One of my good friends turned me on to Pretty Big Deal with Ashley Graham and I’m so thankful that she did. (Thanks, Sam!) I didn’t know a lot about Ashley Graham before listening, but I’ve more or less fallen in love with her and most of her guests. Not only are the interviews fun, interesting, and inspiring, but they are all well under an hour which honestly sealed the deal for me.

And finally, Straight Up with Trent Shelton! I first heard about Trent Shelton through Rachel Hollis’ podcast, Rise. He is a very positive and inspirational guy so when he announced he was releasing a podcast of his own I knew I had to listen. The first episode alone was enough to get me hooked—especially when I found myself feverishly scribbling down notes on the advice he was giving. Highly recommend!

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Books

Reading has taken somewhat of a backseat in my life lately, as I’ve been too distracted to actually finish a book, making it hard to find a “favorite” or two. But in the month or so I was finally able to find a couple that I both loved and wanted to finish. The first is Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan. It is a memoir that follows the author (self-described as a shy introvert or “shintrovert”) as she goes on a year long quest to say “yes” to things that scare her but also have the potential to challenge and encourage her to grow. As an introvert myself, I related hard, and I laughed through the whole thing. (I also wrote this curse word filled blog post about it.)

On the sadder side of things, Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. This book follows the journey of 12 year old Edward, who is the sole survivor of a plane crash that kills 191 people, including his parents and 15 year old brother. A review of the book written by author J. Courtney Sullivan stated that the book “will break your heart and put it back together again” and I can honestly say that is exactly what it did.

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TV Shows

If you have been hearing any or all of the hype surrounding Cheer, know that it is for good reason and it is MORE than worth the watch. Having exactly zero experience in cheerleading other than watching Bring it On many times, I was unsure of whether the subject matter would catch my attention as much as it had everyone else’s. But over the six episode season, the conversations between me, my cousins and my sister grew so passionate that one might assume our souls had been dedicated to cheerleading at birth. Not only is it a fascinating and exciting sport, but the team the documentary follows is undeniably loveable, making the journey of the season both wonderful and incredibly stressful.

Speaking of wonderful, stressful and…murder. You. I didn’t jump on the train for this one until just before the premiere of season two, but let’s just say I quickly caught up. It is a very conflicting show, in that the bad guy is put in the shoes of what should be the protagonist, making his bad choices and horrifying actions confusing. But this confusion is actually what makes the show so good. You’re rooting for the guy, but you’re also hoping he gets what’s coming to him. I personally liked season two even better than season one, and it was just renewed for a season three so there is more to come! Can’t wait!

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Music

I have perhaps done the most newness hunting in music. After receiving my Spotify Wrapped for 2019, I was anxious to dive in and start my 2020 journey. Thus, diving I have done. Here are some of my favorite finds:

Rare by Selena Gomez

Ocean by Lady Antebellum

Blood Harmony by FINNEAS

Léon by Léon

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Downtime

In mid-January I decided to make an effort to stop looking at my phone before bed, both to fall asleep faster and sleep better. To help with that, I turned on the Downtime feature on my iPhone that allows you to lock your apps at the time of your choosing. You can customize which apps won’t lock (i.e. the phone & text apps in case of emergency) and how long you want to keep them locked. For me, every day at 10:20 p.m., all but a few apps (including phone, messages, notes, weather, and camera) lock, meaning all access (unless I physically choose to unlock it) and notifications from all other apps are unavailable until the next morning at 7:20 a.m. It sounds intense when I spell it out, but it has honestly been WONDERFUL.

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Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm

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For a long time my go-to makeup remover was First Aid Beauty’s Coconut Micellar Makeup Melter, but I was very sad to find out that it was recently discontinued. In my search to find a new staple, I came across Clinique’s Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, which came very highly reviewed, and even better, was trusted to do its job without causing acne prone skin to break out. I have been using it for a month now and can confirm it both works and is safe for sensitive skin! It is also very affordable and lasts a long time. (find it here)

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Powerbeats 3

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I don’t think there was any real doubt that these bad boys would live up to their hype. But when I got them for Christmas I did find myself the slightest bit nervous that I wouldn’t like them as much as my tried and true iPhone headphones. But having used these for both cardio and strength training, I can confidently say that they stay in place and give you great sound quality. Love them! (find them here)

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

See my previous favorites post here.

January/February 2019 Favorites

Have we finally made it to March?!

Didn’t it seem like February lasted forever?

Or is it just me?

Either way, I’m excited we’re finally here. It means we’re one step closer to spring, baseball season, a general thawing of my limbs. Let’s just say, I’ve been looking forward to March and it has taken its sweet time to get here. However, there have been a handful of things that made the wait a little more bearable:

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Podcasts

Y’ALL. Whether you are a regular podcast listener or have never listened to a single minute of one, I promise you will get sucked into the chaos of Dr. Death. While I’ve recommended it to pretty much everyone, I consistently have a hard time truly explaining it. To give you the bullet points: it follows the story of a man who may or may not be IS DEFINITELY a sociopath, and also happens to be the worst neurosurgeon ever. The. Things. That. He. Did. Oh. My. Gosh. Listen. (find it here)

On completely different level, Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet just makes me laugh. In each episode the brother and sister duo pick a theme such as “libraries in Los Angeles” and then do dramatic readings of the most ridiculous one-star reviews they can find. I laugh every episode. (find it here)

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Movies

If you watched the Oscars, you might have seen Free Solo win Best Documentary which, after seeing it, I can officially say it 1000% deserved. It follows professional climber Alex Honnold as he sets out to free solo (a.k.a climb with no ropes) El Capitan. You know, the casual 3,000 foot rock in the heart of Yosemite Valley. The cinematography is just out of this world, as is the stress you feel while watching. (find it here)

Since my brother is a rock climber, both Free Solo and The Dawn Wall are high on his recommended list, so the other night he came over and we watched both. I’d like to say this one is less stressful, but it’s not. You are immediately captivated by the spirit of climber Tommy Caldwell as he sets out to climb “The Dawn Wall” a section of El Capitan that has never been climbed before. I tell ya, these guys will inspire the heck out of you, but they also might very well give you an ulcer. (find it on here)

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GU Energy Gels

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For the past few months I’ve been training for the LA Marathon and I have absolutely no idea what I would do without these on my longer runs. They are super lightweight so I can keep them in my pockets, and they give me just the energy boost I need to keep running. Not to mention, every flavor I’ve tried is delicious! Highly recommend! (find them here)

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Books

Little Fires Everywhere follows a mother, Mia, and her daughter, Pearl, in their move to Shaker Heights, Ohio, and their introduction to the Richardson family, which has a whole series of repercussions. It’s the kind of story that moves slow but has you hooked the whole time. I loved it! (find it here)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz gives such a unique perspective of real life Holocaust survivor Lale Sokolov, who spent most of his time in the concentration camps working as a tattooist, giving other prisoners their identification numbers upon entering. Lale falls in love with a fellow prisoner and the book follows their journey throughout their imprisonment and afterward. (find it here)

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Music

In the music world, it has been a series of badass ladies that have stolen my heart over the last couple of months. These are a few of my favorites, with the ever colorful adjectives iTunes uses to describe them

thank u, next by Ariana Grande: “This album doesn’t arrive a minute too soon. As Grande wrestles with what she wants—distance and affection, anonymity and star power, and sex without strings attached—we learn more and more about the woman she’s becoming: complex, independent, tenacious, flawed.”

Heard it in a Past Life by Maggie Rogers: “A thoughtfully sewn patchwork of anthemic synth-pop, brooding acoustic folk, and soft-lit electronica.

Inner Monologue Pt. 1 – EP by Julia Michaels: “In her second solo EP, Julia Michaels dives further into the messy space between logic and love. By tangling clashing emotions together, she captures the profound thing that’s so perplexing about being in love: it’s complicated.”

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

See my previous favorites post here.

January/February 2018 Favorites

It has been a minute since I did my last favorites post! 126 minutes to be exact. That is, if we count “minutes” as days. A lot has happened since October and as such, a lot of new favorites have been made! So, in the interest of saving time, let’s dive right into these new favorites so you can start making them some of your new favorites.


 

Apps

While I wouldn’t consider myself someone who is glued to her phone, in the last few months I’ve found a few things that make it a little more addicting.

 

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Plant Nanny

It wouldn’t be the slightest exaggeration when I say that I tell almost everyone I come into contact with about this app. Honestly, the people at Plant Nanny should be sponsoring me at this point. But I can’t help it! This app is so adorable! Similar in nature to other apps that help you drink more water, this app steps it up by using your water drinking efforts grow digital plants. When you drink water, the plant grows and eventually moves into the “garden” to live out the remainder of its life in sunny glory. When you don’t drink enough water however, the plant DIES. I’m talking x’s over the eyes, withered in its pot type of death, and let me tell you, it is AWFUL. The threat of death however, is far outweighed by the adorable plants you can grow. I mean, look at my little collection. This is the nicest garden I will ever have. (Find it here)

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hq-trivia-appHQ

If you haven’t heard of this one, I apologize in advanced for introducing it to you. HQ is a live trivia game that runs twice a day at 12pm and 6pm (PST). Each game consists of 12 multiple choice questions and if you get through all 12 questions, you win the prize money, or split it with the other winners. On weekdays the prize is about $2,500, while on weekends it tends to be higher. Yesterday, in honor of the Oscars, the prize was $50,000! If you do end up winning, feel free to send me some money in thanks. (Find it here)

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Do you remember the computer game Spider Solitaire? Yeah, well, this app is the exact same thing, and has become somewhat of a point of contention between my sister and I. We’re constantly competing to see who can win a game in the least amount of moves—which is currently me, by the way, with 108—and can spend a good amount of time procrastinating side by side in the chairs in our living room. It’s a good time waster as well as—at least I like to tell myself—a good brain exerciser. Plus, I’m a fan of any app that can make my sister yell “YOU’RE A MONSTER” from the upstairs bedroom. (Find it here)

 


 

MoviePass

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I know this might sound dramatic, but THIS IS THE GREATEST INVENTION OF ALL TIME. As someone who loves seeing movies in theaters but can’t really afford to do so on a regular basis, discovering this was a true gold mine. MoviePass lets you see as many movies as you want (the only rule being you can only see one per day) for a monthly payment of only $10. (There is actually a promotion going on right now for $7.95/month!) Once you sign up, they mail you a card that is connected to your account and then whenever you want to see a movie, you drive to a participating theater, check in to the movie you want to see using the app, and then swipe your MoviePass card and get a ticket. With the prices of movie tickets being what they are these days, as long as you see one movie per month, you save money. I’ve seen three movies so far—I,Tonya, Call Me By Your Name and Maze Runner: The Death Cure (all of which I’d recommend)—and each time the process was a smooth as can be. (Find it here)

 


 

The Dollop Podcast

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If you are in the market for a new podcast, may I suggest that you add this to the top of your list immediately. Not only is it hilarious, but it’s unique and oftentimes extremely educational. Hosted by comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds, each episode consists of Dave finding a relatively unknown story in American history and then telling it to Gareth, who has absolutely no idea what the story is about or how it ends. Throughout the telling of the story, both Dave and Gareth give commentary on it, the result of which has left me laughing out loud during my morning commute on more than one occasion. (Find it here)

 


 

Roman Holiday

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One of my goals last year was to watch every movie that has won the Academy Award for Best Picture. In the process of doing so, I shamelessly fell in love with Gregory Peck, who starred in Gentleman’s Agreement as well as Audrey Hepburn who—well, DUH. After completing my goal, I sought out both of their filmographies which led me to Roman Holiday. Before you say anything, I KNOW I’m way behind the times on this one, but that was kind of the whole point of watching the Best Pictures in the first place. So if you happen to be someone who, like me, is looking to be with the times, or if you’re someone just looking for a feel good, classic film with a handsome man and an iconic lady, this is your movie. (Find it here)

 


 

Godless

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In perhaps the starkest contrast of genres, I recently watched the Netflix western miniseries, Godless. And since I can’t give a better summary than IMDB, this is how they describe it: Frank Griffin, an outlaw terrorizing the 1880s American West, hunts down Roy Goode, his partner turned enemy. Roy hides out at a ranch as Frank’s chase leads him to La Belle, New Mexico – a town mysteriously made up almost entirely of women.  The funny thing is, that’s only the skeleton of the show. There are so many good characters and intersecting storylines that hook you. I finished the series in two days, but spent a good handful more thinking about it afterwards. (Find it here)


 

BoomChickaPop

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I’ve heard about this popcorn for a while now, but never had the chance to try it until I recently developed an addiction to kettle corn. To make matters worse/better, upon finding this brand at Target, I discovered it has a bunch of different flavors! So far I’ve only tried the purple (Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn) and green (Light Kettle Corn) but I can almost guarantee I’ll be making my rounds. I’ll report back with the best flavor! (Find it here)


 

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

See my previous favorites post here.

January/February 2017 Favorites

Do wappa do wappa do wappa do wappa

DUN

DUNDUNDUN

DUNDUNDUN

DUNDUNDUNNNNN

Wait, wait, wait, pause.

Okay, I thought I would be kind of epic if I started off this Favorites post with an Eye of the Tiger type vibe, but I can see now that it looks more like a post-wisdom teeth slur/stroke hybrid type of situation.

Apologies.

But hey, now that you know the intention behind the introductory gibberish, you can totally start this post over and get the full effect of the do wappa’s…

No? Well okay then, let’s just get started, here are a few of my favorite things from January and February:

 

Running!

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Go ahead, roll your eyes. I deserve and accept the gesture. I mean, who wants to hear about someone that loves running, right? Running sucks! Except, well, I don’t think it does…at least not anymore. Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing it consistently for over two months now so my body no longer feels like it’s going to spontaneously combust (as it has done every other time I’ve ever decided to “become a runner”) or maybe it’s because one of my goals for 2017 is to run 1000 miles, so I feel like in a way I have to love it. Regardless, I’ve recently discovered that I do. Oops.


 

Nerd Wax

Speaking of running, have you ever noticed how completely annoying it is to run with glasses/sunglasses? There you are trying to get in the zone and there your glasses are, bouncing around your face like a drunk guy at a nightclub, causing you to break your focus and, depending on whether the glasses are prescription, sending you in and out of ranging levels of blindness. Enter Nerd Wax, stage right. Put a little on the bridge of your nose and your glasses will hang on tighter than a drunk guy at a nightclub, but unlike him, you’ll definitely want to take Nerd Wax home. (Find it here)


 

Books

When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading, (or running, or eating, or sleeping or asking my brother to clarify popular teenage slang terms or looking up new quesadilla recipes) but mostly reading, and so more often than not, when a favorites post comes around, I have multiple books that I’ve recently enjoyed, making the selection of just one, HARD. So, I’m just going to start recommending two. It’s a safe median, I think. It lets me give you a little variety without writing you a book…about books. So yeah, two. And I’ll do the same for movies and music. Onward!

Here are this months’ recommendations:

Nicola Yoon is quickly becoming one of my favorite new writers. I read her first book Everything, Everything (which is now a motion picture!) and loved it with my whole heart, and The Sun is Also a Star was no different. She just knows how to make your heart swell, and she tends to do so without your permission. (Find it here)

Anna Kendrick is arguably one of my favorite HBINM’s (Human Beings I’ve Never Met) (pronounced, hib-i-nims) and I was so excited to finally get to read her debut book, Scrappy Little Nobody. Long story short: I LOVED it. Throughout the process of reading it I was the physical embodiment of a LOL and I would highly recommend it. (Find it here)

 

 


 

La La Land & The Submarine Kid

As an artist, La La Land was an absolute dream to watch. As a lover of movies, La La Land was an absolute dream to watch. As a human being, La La Land was an absolute dream to watch. Honestly, there’s not much else I can say. (Find it here)

On a completely different token, The Submarine Kid is a story about a soldier suffering from PTSD. It’s told in an incredibly unique way, while still remaining honest, and is extremely well done, well acted and well, just go watch it! (You can find it on Netflix.)


 

James Arthur & Lauren Alaina

One of my favorite things about iTunes is the expressive language used by the reviewers to describe albums. Those people bring out alllll the adjectives, let me tell you. So I would feel rather unworthy trying to describe anything about these two albums. That being said, let me just leave with you with the names and a few words iTunes uses to describe them:

Back from the Edge by James Arthur: “energetically soulful”, “lusty neo-R&B”, & “gospel-tinged behemoth” (Find it here)

Road Less Traveled by Lauren Alaina: Hmm…the adjective guy keeps it brief here with simply: “crossover gold”, but it should also be noted that an iTunes user rated it as “the best thing that has ever happened”, so there’s that. (Find it here)


 

Cinnamon Bun Oreos

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I mean, this shouldn’t be that surprising, as this cookie was essentially my muse this month. But seeing as it’s still an incredible cookie that I have yet to go a full week without consuming, I thought it deserved another round of recognition. (Find it here)


 

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

See my previous favorites post here.