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May/June Favorites

Everybodddayyyy

(Yeahhhh)

Rock your bodayyyy

(Yeahhh)

Everyboddayyy

Rock your bodayy right

Favorites are back ALRIGHT

So yeah, I saw the Backstreet Boys in Vegas this month, and yeah, it’s still on my mind, because yeah, it was INCREDIBLE. If there was a slot in the favorites for “favorite concert I saw that made me feel 13 again,” the BSB would definitely have nabbed that spot. Actually, let’s go ahead and make that a slot just this once. Consider yourselves “favorited” boys!

Now, on to the rest of the favorites:

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Modern Love Podcast

modern love podcastSince the quest to run 1000 miles rages on, I’m always looking for new listening material, and these past two months I’ve been loving the podcast-ed version of The New York Times column “Modern Love.” Each episode contains a previously published story, read aloud by a wide variety of personalities (one of my favorites was Titus Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and accented with sound effects and music, to really bring the words to life. I consistently find myself captivated by the stories, and look forward to the new episode each week.

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Think Thin Protein Bars

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Another side effect of running is being hungry ALL. THE. TIME. Honestly, I feel like an adolescent boy, minus the growth spurts and incredible metabolism. That being said, I’ve been on the lookout for healthy(ish) snacks that can tide me over between meals so I don’t eat my way through my entire budget. Enter these protein bars, which seem to do the trick in satisfying my hunger, without providing the lasting guilt or tasting like total garbage. So far, I’ve tried the Brownie Crunch, Cinnamon Bun White Chocolate, and Cupcake Batter flavors and I’ve liked them all!

 

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Stitch Fix

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Call me a sucker if you want, but Stitch Fix has been FLOODING my Facebook feed for months now with ads for their cute clothes, and after putting up a steady resistance, I finally caved. I clicked the link that had been shouting at me to “try now!” and I went through the comprehensive “style quiz” and I gave them all my info, then I waited pretty (im)patiently for my first box to arrive. I’m not going to lie to you, it was pretty exciting when it did. Unlike the sporadic string of Amazon packages that usually grace my porch, this was a mystery box of goodness! You see, the way it works is once you go through the “style quiz”, a stylist reviews your answers and then sends you 5 handpicked items they think you’ll like. You then try them on/do a quick fashion show, etc, and decide what you want to keep and what you want to return. For the things you want to return, they send you a prepaid envelope, so all you have to do is slide the clothes/accessories in, seal it and send it back. From my first box, I kept two shirts, one of which I never would have tried on in a store and one that looks like it could have been made especially for me.

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Harry Styles by Harry Styles & Evolve by Imagine Dragons

Both of these albums have had me feeling all the feels and frequently texting my sister “YES, ALL THE YES” at various times of the day. They are very different in sound but both more than worth the listen.

Let’s turn it over to iTune for bimonthly dose of adjectives:

Harry Styles by Harry Styles: “magisterial Bowie-meets-Elton calling card,” “swampy bass and carnal choruses”

Evolve by Imagine Dragons: “the band trades is signature angst for light rhythmic textures and fluid vocals about rebuilding.”

Yup, EXACTLY what I was thinking.

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Brain on Fire by Susannah Calahan & This is Really Happening by Erin Chack

download (3)Again, these two choices have vastly different vibes about them, but they are both phenomenal. I borrowed Brain on Fire from a friend and was addicted by about page 4. It’s a memoir written by a 20 something year old woman who, while living a perfectly normal, healthy life, finds herself slipping into complete psychosis for no understandable reason. I read the entire thing in one day and have recommended it to almost every human I’ve spoken to since.

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This is Really Happening is a collection of essays written by Buzzfeed writer, Erin Chack, who I hadn’t heard of until I saw her book announcement on Twitter. Needless to say, I fell in love with her instantly after that and put the book in my Amazon cart that afternoon. This is Really Happening is a super easy read that made me laugh and cry and want to get a book of my own on the market. So, fingers crossed you’ll find me emulated a book birth in the future.

 

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Kendall Jenner Ab Workout

Who even am I, right? I know. But I can’t help it! Ever since I saw the workout in this Cosmo article online, I’ve made it a part of my gym routine. Full disclosure: It’s hard as hell. BUT doing it has made me feel much stronger, and I’m pretty sure I have, like, 1 1/2 abs now, so, watch out world!

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This Terrible Morning

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Oh, yes. This is a self plug and I’m not sorry about it. I recently announced a fun side project called “This Terrible Morning” which hopes to be a collaborative blog all about how terribly ridiculous mornings have a tendency to be. Fun fact: it officially launched TODAY! So make sure you go check out the first post. It’s a piece by me, written about the morning that gave me the idea for This Terrible Morning in the first place. Also, if you have a terrible morning you’d like to share in story/picture/poem/song/any form, please do! I’d love for you to join in on all the terrible fun.

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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.

Why the Internet Can Be Good (RE: Alex Rayfiel)

The other day as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a link a friend posted that caught my eye. It had a picture of a boy named Alex, who I’d gone to high school with, attached to an article whose title didn’t quite register until after I clicked it.

When the page loaded, my face went white. Alex was sick. Recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His family had created a donation page in the hope of raising money for a radical new treatment in Israel. I read through the story his wife posted, aching for the two of them and their newly born daughter. It all sounded so completely unfair.

Now, I’d never known this guy. We’d gone to high school together for four years, and I’d seen him around from time to time, but never got to know him. In fact, I only met him once in a brief introduction from a mutual friend at our shared college. But as I read the story about the turn his life has suddenly taken, I realized I remembered him, and how, even in our lack of interaction, he’d left a mark on me.

High school is tough for everyone, often in different ways, and while I wouldn’t say I had a terrible experience, I also wouldn’t volunteer to do it all over again. I was a quiet, reserved student who stuck to what she knew and rarely felt comfortable in her own skin. That being said, Alex made me laugh.

He and his friends had participated in the talent show as the “Finger Flippers” which became legendary amongst our senior class. And during our senior luncheon, they created a video that discussed which of our classmates had celebrity lookalikes. I remember sitting at the back table, nervous as always, counting down the days until I graduated. I hadn’t been sat next to any of my friends, and I was internally apologizing to the people around me for not being more interesting. But then the lights went down and the video started, and I laughed through the whole thing. It was a genuine laugh, the kind that makes you feel lighter, and as I looked around the room at my classmates who felt the same, I felt included. Afterwards, when Alex and his friends mentioned they had plans to post the video to YouTube I took note, excited to have something positive to look back on in the future. I’d forgotten about the video over all these years, and only found it when I searched his name. When I watched it again however, it still gave me that good feeling.

So as I read through his story and then through some of the comments, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to donate, not only because it was the right thing to do, but because it felt like a way I could say thank you for giving me those moments of freedom all those years ago. And even more, allow me the opportunity to be a part of offering him the chance to experience a moment of freedom in the future. Be it through minor progress, or radical recovery.

This is the good part about the Internet. For amongst all the drama and fake personas, there also lie small bursts of goodness. There are chances to read stories of hope and resilience, chances to reconnect with old friends and family, and sometimes, chances to lend a hand to a near stranger. And so, Alex Rayfiel, while we may remain essentially strangers, I hope you know I’m praying for you, and that I’m grateful for what you gave me all those years ago, even if you had no idea. I wish you and your family all the best, and I hope the next time I find you in my Facebook feed, it will be to inform me that you’re on the road to recovery.

If you want to help Alex, you can find his donation page here.

Congratulations & Thanks, Little Brother

Yesterday my little brother graduated high school.

*takes a moment to process this*

At 5 o’clock, the school staff ushered us in single file. I walked passed smiling siblings and proud fathers and anxious mothers; aunts and uncles and cousins and teachers; girlfriends and boyfriends and best friends. I knew almost none of them, and yet I knew how they felt when they woke up in the morning, and I knew how they felt walking in the school gates that afternoon. We all shared the same look in our eyes. We all had those smiles that were hard to suppress. We were all so proud.

For me, it was strange more than emotional. As the ceremony started and tissues were shuffled through the audience, I couldn’t help but sit silent, thinking. How is it, I thought, How is it that the infant who used to laugh when I tickled him, the toddler who used to call me “Supergirl”, the boy who used to wake up early to watch me play video games on Saturday mornings, and the teenager who used to ask me for a ride to karate class, how is it that they’d all grown up into this man that stood before me in a cap and gown? How had they become someone I look up to, that makes me laugh, that is my own personal superhero?

As the name of each student began to be called, cheers came in bursts around the audience. Families and friends stood and shouted, hoping to showcase their pride and spread it outward. We were no different. When my brother’s name was called we waved our fists and wooed our “woos”, hoping to let my brother know we were proud of him, and to let the crowd he was ours. And as dozens of other families followed suit, I began to realize why I didn’t feel sad so much as dizzy.

Yes, it was crazy to think that my baby brother, the boy who, over the years, has led people to believe he was my son (which we took advantage of and pulled pranks), my stepbrother (which made no sense because we are essentially the same human), and—after a colossal growth spurt—my boyfriend (which, ew), this boy was graduating high school and could now legally drive, vote, and serve jury duty. Yes, this was off-putting, but not sad. For I had known the baby who grew into a boy who grew into a teenager and then into a man, and seeing him take this next step forward was like accepting an invitation to meet the man he will soon become.

So as the caps began to fly, my heart began to swell. The dizziness had been overtaken by anticipation. I walked through the crowd to find my brother and gave him a big hug, anxious to tell him of all the things I know he’s yet to accomplish. I wished him “congratulations” but what I really meant was “thank you.” Thank you for letting me be a part of your world, and thank you for offering me a front row seat to watch you conquer it. May the future only hold good things for you, crazy things, preferably things that include pizza and In N Out Burger. May you always be brave enough to be yourself and kind enough to let others do the same. May you never stop letting me call you Bub, and may we never stop taking this picture.

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31 Good Things That Happened in May

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

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

You can find last month’s here.

Happy May to you!

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1) Since she couldn’t accept his invitation to prom, Emma Stone sent this teen and his date a corsage.

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2) This dad got an amazing birthday surprise

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3) This music video took us back to the 90s

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4) This author announced her new book in the best way

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5)  This guy made a fool of himself for a good cause

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6) Nicki Minaj helped a bunch of students pay for college

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7) This little girl had something to brag about

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8) After realizing he made a mistake, Chris Pratt made up for it in a great way

Instagram does this thing where it mutes all the videos it shows and forces you to turn on the volume in order to hear them. (maybe because most people are watching those videos at work when they should be working and don't want to get caught. I know that's when I do it. 😬) So when I made a video recently with subtitles, and requested that people turn up the volume and not just "read the subtitles" it was so people wouldn't scroll past the video on mute, thus watching and digesting the information in the video. HOWEVER, I realize now doing so was incredibly insensitive to the many folks out there who depend on subtitles. More than 38 million Americans live with some sort of hearing disability. So I want to apologize. I have people in my life who are hearing-impaired, and the last thing in the world I would want to do is offend them or anybody who suffers from hearing loss or any other disability. So truly from the bottom of my heart I apologize. Thanks for pointing this out to me. In the future I'll try to be a little less ignorant about it. Now… I know some of you are going to say, "Hey! Chris only apologized because his publicist made him!" Well. That is not the case. As always I control my social media. Nobody else. And I am doing this because I'm actually really sorry. Apologies are powerful. I don't dole them out Willy-Nilly. This is one of those moments where I screwed up and here's me begging your pardon. I hope you accept my apology. And on that note. Why doesn't Instagram have some kind of technology to automatically add subtitles to its videos? Or at least the option. I did a little exploring and it seems lacking in that area. Shouldn't there be an option for closed captioning or something? I've made them lord knows how much money with my videos and pictures. Essentially sharing myself for free. I know they profit. So… GET ON IT INSTAGRAM!!! Put closed captioning on your app. #CCinstaNow

A post shared by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

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9) This wedding photographer captured some real love

Tonight I was photographing Adrian & Roslyn at sunset. I was setting up those grand sunset scenes… you know the ones… the little people in a big scene… I love those kinda shots… but tonight that just didn't seem enough. Just as the light became amazing I scrapped everything I knew and I walked up to them and said, "guys, stop posing. Just enjoy your first sunset together as husband and wife". They then held each other in the most beautiful way… It was so much more beautiful than anything I could ever set up. Then I said to Adrian, "I have a question for you, but I want you to tell the answer to Roslyn and not me." I continued, "Out of the billions of people on the planet, you've chosen to spend the rest of your life with Roslyn. Can you tell her why?" In a matter of moments I could start seeing Roslyn's eyes glisten, then the most beautiful tears streamed down her face. Then I found myself crying. Oh Love, You are oh so precious.

A post shared by James Day (@jamesdayweddings) on

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10) This guy got into college!

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11) This man embodied perseverance

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12) These moms wrote encouraging letters to other moms

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13) This little girl snuck her pet cow inside the house

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14) This little girl took a picture with a potato

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15) Mother’s Day b1923d25f9b3a9e78692230f1935b976

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16) This mom and son inspired everyone with their graduation photo

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17) Oreo opened the best contest EVER

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18) This deployed soldier got to be a part of his wife’s pregnancy shoot

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19) In the wake of something unimaginably terrible, kindness, love and bravery showed up again

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20) …and again

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21) …and again

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22) This little boy wrote a touching letter to Nintendo about his favorite game

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23) This dog taught his brother how to sit.

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24) This guy continued to make progress

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25) This service dog snagged a spot in his owner’s school yearbook

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26) This guy showed off his talent

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27) Kaley Cuoco adopted a dwarf mini horse named Shmushy

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28) Memorial Day honored life’s true superheroes

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29) This 92 year old Marine Corp sergeant achieved one of his biggest goals

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30) This girl got an amazing surprise

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31) Jennifer Lopez & James Corden took some dance lessons

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

I can’t wait to see what June brings!

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Music Can Still Heal, Love Can Still Prevail

In yesterday’s blog post I talked about KROQ’s Weenie Roast & Fiesta, the concert I attended over the weekend. I talked about all of the different aspects of a concert or music festival and some tips on how to maximize your experience. Then, last night, I got word of the horrific attack in Manchester at an Ariana Grande concert, which killed 22 people and injured over 50. I had no words.

This morning, as I pored over a number of news articles and blog posts responding to the attack, I couldn’t help but tear up. I had just been a concert goer. I had just spent an evening with my own favorite artists, singing and dancing and being carefree. There was an eerie air above my head. I felt almost guilty.

Then, I remembered something.

At Weenie Roast on Saturday, in the 8 o’clock hour, Imagine Dragons was onstage, performing my favorite set of the day. After about their 3rd song Dan Reynolds, the lead singer, took a few moments to speak on hate. He mentioned a problem one of his young daughters was having at school with another student. She’d been pushed down and told her pigtails were stupid and came home crying. He was heartbroken and angry that she had experienced hate for the first time, and was solemn knowing she’d only experience more as her life went on. But then, he shifted gears. He looked out at the crowd and smiled. We were all quiet and flushed from the long, hot day, and he told us we were beautiful. That we were every color and size and shape and ethnicity. And we were all there, together, letting music heal us.

“Because that’s what music does,” he said, “music heals us. It saves us from ourselves and from the world. It brings us together.”

We all applauded, but not the kind that feels obligated or appropriate, the kind that happens naturally, because we understand, because we agreed. He then bowed his head and thanked us all for being there and encouraged us to take the love and acceptance we shared in the space of music and spread it out amongst the world.

This tragedy in Manchester is unfathomable. It has harmed the world and its people in more ways than one. But one thing it didn’t do, it couldn’t do; one thing that terrorism can never accomplish, is destroying our ability to heal. To love. To persevere.

So, as we walk slowly in the wake of such darkness, we must remember that we are all carrying light, and as we continue to let it shine, we are winning. As we continue to let ourselves heal and be healed, we are winning. And if continue to fight hate with love, we will win.

30 Good Things That Happened in April

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

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

You can find last month’s here.

Happy April to you!

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1) Pink posted this reminder about weight, especially post-baby weight

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2) This article was posted about the proven benefits of baking for others

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3) This otter learned to swim

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4) National Burrito Day

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5) This girl got into all 8 Ivy League schools

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6) Pioneer Woman (a.k.a Rae Drummond) released this recipe for Triple Layer Confetti Cake

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7) This puppy got moving

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8) This girl celebrated Crazy Hair Day in the best way

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9) Chrissy Teigen paid this woman’s tuition for esthetician school

cruzanchoklate: “Something absolutely amazing happened last night. Many of you know how much I love skin care and my plans to attend esthetician school next month. Last night I posted my tuition fundraiser on twitter and something I never in my wildest dreams happened. My paypal alert went off, and as I looked at my phone, there was amount of $5605. I thought it was a glitch. I then look at my email and realized it came from my fundraiser. @chrissyteigen donated my entire tuition money for school. I have been crying all night and I cried in the office this morning as I paid my down payment for esthetician school. I haven’t been this happy in a very long time. Thank you Chrissy and thank you to everyone else who voted or rtd my link or have supported me this entire time. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.”

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10) This dad finally got to meet his son

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11) After his daughter had an accident at school, this dad picked up her in the best way.

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12) This baby had a bunch of great mornings

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13) This boy became the first person with his type of heart condition to complete a marathon.

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14) This pilot went above and beyond the call of duty.

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15) This girl’s whole family showed up for her game

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16) This easter egg hunt ended with one student learning he received a scholarship

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17) This husband found a way to keep his wife company during her isolation cancer treatment

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18) This grandpa saw color for the first time

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19) This girl found a really great stick she wanted to share with the world

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20) This guy set a new World Record by bowling the fastest 300 game ever

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21) This three year old packed the lunch of his dreams

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22) This marathon runner gave up his own race to help a fellow athlete finish

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23) This little girl tried whipped cream for the first time

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24) This brother put together a surprise princess photoshoot for his 5-year-old sister

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25) This little boy was mesmerized by his mommy

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26) These dogs hugged it out.

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27) This little boy gave his Nintendo Wii to the officers at his local police station

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28) Johnny Depp, dressed as Jack Sparrow, surprised Pirates of Caribbean riders at Disneyland

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29) This boy got to meet his hero, John Cena

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30) April the giraffe had her baby! (which you can vote to name here!)

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

I can’t wait to see what May brings!

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March/April Favorites

It’s that time again folks! And since it’s that time, let’s not waste any more! Let’s just cut straight to the goods.

Here are a few of my favorite things from March & April:

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The Serial Podcastenhanced-9178-1415226062-4

Part of my ongoing quest to run 1000 miles this year includes finding new and exciting things to listen to so I can stay motivated to keep running. And while I’m usually a strictly music type of person, this podcast HOOKED me. It investigates the 1999 murder of a girl in Baltimore and oh. my. gosh. good luck not thinking about it every second of the day. It came out about 3 years ago, so it’s possible I’m the last person to find it, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s damn good.

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This is A Book & How to be a Bawse

I found Demetri Martin’s debut book while browsing through an actual, physical bookstore (because yes, they still exist and are still wonderful). And while his name alone would have sold me on the buy as he’s one of my favorite comedians, the title signed, sealed and delivered the sale with no questions asked. This is a Book made me laugh out loud and gave me all kinds of inspiration for comedic writing.

Speaking of inspiration, can we talk about Lilly Singh’s How to be a Bawse?! Never have I ever highlighted, underlined and post-it noted a book so much. If you’re someone looking to level up in any department of your life, I highly recommend this book. It gives you all the feels, especially the ones that make you feel like you can Kool-Aid man your way through any obstacle standing in your way.

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Moana & Beauty & the Beast

I know I’m late to the Moana-is-absolutely-amazing party, but…better late than never, right? I got here eventually! And now that I’m here, I never want to leave! There are just so many good things to say about this movie (some of which I already said here) and I just can’t wait to watch it again, to be honest. Same goes for Beauty & the Beast. That was one party I wasn’t late for. I saw it the weekend it came out and instantly fell in love with it. Emma Watson is incredible and the entire production is just beautiful. It left me with that “I wanna do something that amazing!” feeling in my stomach and goosebumps all down my arms.

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÷ by Ed Sheeran & The Breaker by Little Big Town

I’ve had both of these albums on repeat for the last two months. And while I could describe them myself, I’m again going to turn it over to the lovely people at iTunes because they drop adjectives in reviews like I do parmesan cheese on pasta. Also, you gotta love a review that leaves you wondering what it even means.

÷ by Ed Sheeran: “a ruthlessly melodic run through a staggering array of styles”

The Breaker by Little Big Town: “the four piece’s most urbane, widescreen record [that] refuses to relinquish their down home charm.”

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Piggy backing off those albums, I also subscribed to Spotify this month, which has proven to be worth the $8. Initially, my biggest draw to subscribe was finally getting to hear Chance the Rapper’s Grammy winning album, Coloring Book (which is great by the way), but I have also been pleasantly surprised with the wide variety of curated playlists available. A few of my favorites include: Lighten Up, Man! for when I’m at work, Totally Stress Free for when I’m writing, and Songs to Sing in the Shower for when I’m just in the mood to dance.

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Halo Top Ice Cream

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I actually saw this ice cream on an Instagram ad and made a mental note to try it if I ever found it in a store. It boasts a high protein, low sugar ice cream that is only about 300 calories per pint. And while I know this suggests it probably tastes like milky garbage, it actually doesn’t! I’ve tried the birthday cake and cookie dough flavors and they are both really good. (Especially the cookie dough!) So if you’re in the market for a new dessert, give it a try.

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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.