midnights taylor swift

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.

This is What it’s Like to Listen to a Taylor Swift Album for the First Time

In August of 2017, my sister and I leaned into one another, a headphone in each of our ears.

We were sitting in a high section of the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA, waiting for Dierks Bentley to go on stage. The room was echoing with people going to and from their seats.

The clock hit 9:00pm. It was a Thursday. Spotify unveiled their new releases of the week. But we only cared about one.

It had been almost three years since Taylor Swift released 1989, and we were desperate for new music. And now, the first single off of the upcoming reputation had finally been released.

“Look What You Made Me Do” came in firing. We bounced our feet around, listening to every word. We gasped, we shrieked, we opened our eyes wide and let out an “OH MY GOSH.”

A few months later, at 9:00pm (midnight for the east coast) on another Thursday, we sat in our favorite chairs in the living room and streamed the entire album.

Unable to fully understand each lyric the first time it hit us, we listened to the attitude, we bobbed to the beat, we sighed, we laughed, we clapped, we screamed.

In a matter of weeks, we knew the whole album by heart.

For some reason, this is the first Taylor Swift album I remember listening to for the first time. Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red and 1989 all had their first listens, and I now know every word to every song, but for some reason it’s the reputation release that sticks out. Maybe it’s because it’s the first album she released after my sister and I moved out of our parents’ house and into a place of our own. It was the first album we could play at full volume and stay up late talking about without having to worry about keeping anyone else up.

After reputation, it became our tradition to listen to the albums together. To experience them for the first time, together. 

In August of 2019, we heard Lover for the first time.

In July of 2020, as “stay at home” orders remained in effect, folklore became our biggest and brightest calendar event. And in December of 2020, evermore sent similar shockwaves throughout our very abnormal world.

In April and November of 2021, we sat in a new living room in a new apartment, listening to the new recording of the Fearless and Red albums, singing along to songs we already knew and learning the ones we didn’t.

On this past Thursday, my cousin Taryn and I stood in the audience of a concert in West Hollywood. My sister, now married and living with her husband, was unfortunately home with the flu. The concert started an hour late. By the end, even though the show had been great and the artist even more talented than we thought, we were tapping our toes, anxious to get out of the venue, into the car, and into the world of Midnights.

It was 10:30pm. We were an hour and a half behind the rest of the world who had stayed up to listen. We still had no idea what to expect. For half of our drive downtown we had theorized. Had tried to pick our favorite songs based solely on their names. We tried to know the album before it introduced itself, because we were desperate for the familiarity it would bring once it did.

Once I got on the freeway, we hit play. It was pitch black outside, with only spurts of traffic to brighten the road. “Lavender Haze” started playing through the speakers.

We swayed and then we flung our hands around. I smacked the steering wheel over and over, my excitement needing to escape somewhere.  We drove home, listening to the album in sequential order, one after the other, making only occasional comments, often just sounds. When we got back to my apartment, we hustled in and took our spots on the couch and recliner, and then played the rest of the album.

All 20 songs.

I listened the way I always do, in the same shape. I melted into the couch, my legs tucked under me, and I sat still. I listened, still. I let the album pour over the top of my head like water, absorbing each song in its entirety.

At the end, I couldn’t pick a favorite, couldn’t say much of anything. I was just shocked, quiet, and contemplative.

It felt like the day after Christmas. The end of a book or a movie.

The tension and anticipation, that thing that pulled you through each waiting day, the moment you had been waiting for, had passed. But it was not over. Because now it was time to look.

The first listen of the album lays down the pieces of the puzzle, and in every listen after you search for yourself. For the words that make things make sense. Because that’s why you’re here, that’s why you showed up. To see if she wrote a song that gives you language you didn’t have before. To see if she found a way to speak a feeling you’d only been able to hold.  

It might not be a feeling unique to a Taylor Swift album. I think it’s more a feeling consistent with art. But over the years, for those who listen, Taylor Swift’s music has become a reliable source of discovery. Of validation. Of the truth. And not just the capital “tea” truth that allegedly spills the secrets of this celebrity or that, but the truth about the feelings we all carry around with us. The truths about life we don’t always have the ability to talk about.

When I listen to a Taylor Swift album, I find, more often than anywhere else, the urge to point and say, “that. I feel like that.” And she makes talking about those feelings feel good, feel normal, feel uniting where it was previously isolating.

After I listen to a new Taylor Swift album, I often lie awake wondering if I could do that. Create. Be honest. Write something that makes people say, “that!” And knowing I’m not the only one that feels that way, listening to a new Taylor Swift album gives me hope that there are people all around the world starting the projects that will make it better.

So you’ll always find me on that couch, on a Thursday, at 9:00pm or quickly after. I will always show up to listen to a new album, because I always have more to say. And Taylor helps me say it.