Four other blogs I love

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If you take the time to read my blog regularly, or even–ever–I’m very grateful. I try to make my posts interesting and relevant, while also being fun to write and occasionally insightful about my life.

These are the qualities I also prize in the blogs I read, too! I want to read content I relate to. I don’t want to be talked down to, or lectured, or made to feel like my life isn’t enough. I want to be inspired, lifted up, and encouraged that I’m enough.

These blogs I’m recommending below do all of that, and more! They provide daily life inspiration on how to navigate the sometime “WTF” moments that come with, well, being human. They are true to life in a way that’s real, and honest. Some of them focus on niche areas that may speak to you–like Disney! But even if that’s not you’re thing, I think you’ll enjoy their real voices and honest way of writing.

4 blogs to check out today

1. Yes and Yes: You need to start reading this blog right now! I’ve been following this blog for probably close to 10 years, and the content continues to be as relevant to be now as it did when I was 20. The author, Sarah, has the perfect writing style voice that is like talking to your best friend. Sometimes she gives you hard truths, when necessary, and sometimes she lets you know you’re not alone about this maybe weird or scary thing you think you feel, like how to figure out what makes you happy. And all the time she gives you helpful tips, like how to make friends as an adult.

I found her most post on how Everything is Socially Contagious, and What you can do about it extremely relatable.

I highly recommend just diving right in to Yes and Yes’s most recent posts, but also dive deep–she has so many good articles and posts in her archive, too.

2.  The Bucketlist Narratives: This blog is the joint effort of Laura and David, a couple who write about their travel adventures, which heavily lean towards Disney–but not always! You can find a post on 6 tips to Vancouver B.C., their guide to Savannah and Hilton Head, or even advice on how to travel affordably. Posts by Laura also include home and style tips, like how to Host a Friendsgiving, and they also write about blogging and general life advice as well.

Their style is photo heavy, as they are both photographer, and the pictures are gorgeous and worth skimming blogs just for the visual eye candy! Their writing style is punny and full of pop-culture references, so you can get a chuckle in as well.

3.  Fairytale Foodie:  This blog is written by a self-described “Disney Kid and Gluten-Free Foodie” named Katie. Katie’s blog posts are VERY photo heavy because, once again, her and her husband are both photographers. This is an added bonus, not a downside, because their photos of all things Disney lets me live vicariously through them and their weekly adventures as Disney World locals and Annual Pass holders. Their latest post on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Disney World has me feeling very festive indeed!

Katie writes a lot about her Gluten-Free experiences with all of the Disney restaurants, like this Gluten-free review of Napa Rose in Disneyland, so if you have similar gluten-free needs, this could be a great resource for you. I still enjoy reading her reviews even though I don’t need to be concerned about gluten-free. She is a good writer and as I mentioned, the photos are beautiful!

Katie and her husband also recently announced they are expecting a baby, so she has recently expanded her blog topics to include more content on how to experience Disney while pregnant, so those posts may be of interest to you as well.

Katie’s style is very much friendly, but written as a resource and a guide to Disney, so they are great to get more information and as a planning tool. If you are a Disney fan, I definitely recommend checking her out both for the tips and the photos.

4. Wish Upon a Starry Night:  This blog is written by Kaitlin, a fellow Chicago suburbanite and Disney-lover. Kaitlin’s blog is a fun mix of lifestyle content with a hearty dash of Disney, and I like it a lot because she writes about local things and places that I recognize, being from same area! For some fun seasonal content, check out her Holiday Gift Guide or her tips on how to style Disney into your everyday outfits. 


Learning after school is over: Tips to keep your education going!

This post is a part of the #30daysofblogging series. To learn more about this challenge, or for links to the other days in this series, click here!

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
― Margaret Mead

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
― Maya Angelou

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
― Oscar Wilde

When I searched for quotes on Education, these three stood out to me as being the essence of what I believe in too. 

Education is not a goal, like finishing high school, or earning your college degree. Education is a way of life; it’s a mindset. Education is a sort of never-ending quest for wanting to know how the world works, what’s coming next, and what role you play in those two things. 

I have the word “Evolve” tattooed on my wrist, and I think this relates a lot to education, too. When I think about your personal evolution as being a process of identity management that never ends, and is on-going throughout your whole life, I feel like education is a very similar process.

You are always learning, just as you are always evolving and growing as a person. In fact, one might say that learning and growing are intrinsically tied to one another and that they even depend on one another to achieve the best results.

In order to evolve into the best version of yourselves ( at any given moment), you need to be open to learning and understanding the world around you.

This is why I think it’s important to continuing your education, always.

This doesn’t have to mean a higher education path, necessarily, if that isn’t your preferred means of learning. ( But if you are inspired to continue in academia this way, by all means! I found it enriching and a wonderful experience.)

Education and learning can happen in so many places.

Autumn Leaves on the ground

Tips for continuing your education:

  • Read always. Read things outside of your comfort zone. Read things that other people recommend to you. Read things from different points of view than your own.
  • Take a class at the library, community college, or parks district. So many of these places offer really great and affordable one time, or even multi-week courses on everything from pottery to history to card making to the life and times of Eleanor Roosevelt. You can learn so much from just an hour spent at your local library, so why not take the time?
  • Admit you don’t know something and ask for help. When you ask for help, you’ll learn something. There are so many people in our lives who have areas of expertise that are different from ours. We can learn from each other! Why don’t we do this more?
  • Travel as much as you can. Even different cities and states have different ways of life and viewpoints than your own, and you can learn so much from the cultures and perspectives of these people and their cities. Try and visit a historic or cultural site when you travel–you might think, or this random town in Iowa I’m going to visit my Grandma in doesn’t have anything like that. Check again–I’m sure it does! Even small town’s have town museums, local historical sites for things like the first train depot in the region, or even a house that may have been on the underground rail road (both actual historical sites near where I live!).
  • Ask questions and question what you learn. Just because you read something doesn’t mean it’s right, or true. Form your own opinions; get second opinions, third opinions. Find multiple sources to verify claims. Be Socratic and ask questions when you’re learning something new. 

We have all the information we need at our finger tips to keep learning throughout our lives and stay educated. Let’s use it!

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

Where will I be in 5 years?

This is another post in my #30daysofblogging series of posts. If you’re looking for the original post with information about the challenge and links to all of the posts from this month, click here!

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There was a point in my life where looking 4-5 years ahead was my permanent frame of mind. First, you entered high school and your goal was 4 years ahead–graduation! You were laser-focused on achieving that one goal so you could start the next 4 year cycle: college. The traditional college path also takes about 4-5 years, depending on what your degree path is, but whatever the time frame is specifically, it provides you with another logical chunking device. Once college is over, then real life begins. Then you choose your  next goal: Your career.

So what happens, then? Does your life abruptly stop cycling in 4 year rotations? For while, I found that mine continued in this pattern. I found a job I liked and I stayed there for 5 years. I got a Master’s degree that took me about 4 years at a part-time pace. And then I found a new job. I started to wonder if everything in my life would happen in 5 year increments.

Are we conditioned to think like this? New things need to occur after 4 or 5 years? Is this why we feel restless when we don’t have any more milestones to hit? We think, gee, I’ve been at my job four years now and…things are kind of the same. Should I stay? What happens next? Should I make a big dramatic change in my life? Maybe I need to move to Asia, or buy a condo!

I’m just thinking out loud here, but I do feel like my brain operates a little bit like this, and it seems like maybe that is true for some people I know, too. We want some sort of finish line to work towards,  and we seek new goals when our current situation does not provide them for us.

For these reasons (and more), I think it is healthy to create your own finish lines. When we leave the protective bubble of academia, we need to give ourselves homework. Don’t be scared of the H word, friends. I know we felt like we hated it at the time, but it gave us structure and purpose. And we actually need that in life to move forward and know what we’re supposed to do each day.

So here’s our homework: let’s figure out what we want in the next 5 years. Let’s right it down somewhere–grab a notebook, a post it note, or you know, blog about it publicly. Then let’s figure out how to get there. Ready? Let’s go!

My 5 year plan:

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  • Go on a Disney Cruise. I told myself by the time I’m 35, I want to go on a Disney Cruise. let’s make it happen!
  • Go on a European vacation( does not have to be the same year/time as cruise, obviously! Just two big travel goals for me.)
  • Be at a job I can see myself at for 10+ years, OR WORKING FOR MYSELF?!
  • Be working on a book to be published!
  • Maybe  be teaching a class at a community college one night a week on technical writing


I hope I can be at least working towards these goals in the next 5 years! Cheers to goals, setting constructive deadlines for ourselves, and feeling like our lives have purpose!

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?




3 Healthy habits anyone can do right now

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This is another installment in my #30DaysofBlogging challenge for November! If you’re looking for the rest of the posts for the month, or more about this challenge, go here.

We’re almost to that time of year where healthy living takes front and center in many people’s lives. Gym attendance increases; pinterest recipes for healthy meals get shared on Facebook with increasing vigour; and all over the world people promise that THIS YEAR IT’S GOING to BE DIFFERENT.

These are all great ambitions! And i’ll probably make those promises too (I’m only human after all). But I thought I’d share 3 easy healthy habits that you don’t have to wait until the New Year to implement, and that are virtually painless. I swear.

3 Healthy Habits you can start today

  1. Take a probiotic. My GP tipped me off to this at my last annual visit. She said taking a daily probiotic actual can help you modulate your weight because it keeps your healthy bacteria in your gut balanced so you feel full when you’re supposed and of course does all sorts of other good things for your digestion. Why not add a probiotic to your daily vitamin routine?
  2. IMG_8135
    Convince your boyfriend to go on a walk by telling him he can play Pokemon Go!

    Take a walk every day. Ten minutes at lunch. Ten minutes after dinner. It adds up! You don’t have to think of this as a work out, but it all counts, right? Just get your self up and moving every day so that it becomes a habit. Use this time to call your mom, listen to your favorite podcast, or go take pretty pictures in the park so it’s something you want to do and look forward to ( I do all of these things!). At work, use this time to get up and away from your desk so you rest your eyes from the computer and get some fresh air. It’s amazing how much I love and look forward to these short walks!

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    Not an Ad, I just really like my new Apple Watch!

    Stand up every hour. You’ve all heard that sitting is bad for us. But so many of us work jobs that require us to sit at a desk all day. So let’s try and fight back by remembering to stand up every hour and move around a bit. If you have a smart watch or a fitness tracker, many of them have built in reminders for this. If not, set a timer on your watch or phone so you remember to get up, stretch, and go get a glass of water every hour (a fourth bonus tip: drink more water! I know I need to.) Ever since I got my Apple Watch (not an ad!), I’ve really appreciated these reminders to stand up, and I think it makes a big difference in the amount of movement and steps I get in during the day.


There you have it–three easy things you can start doing today to make your life a little healthier. Little steps can add up, so let’s not wait until January 1–let’s start now!
What are your easy healthy habits that work for you? Share them with me in the comments!

What’s inside my fridge?

This is another installment in my #30DaysofBlogging challenge for November! If you’re looking for the rest of the posts for the month, or more about this challenge, go here.


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If you came over to my house today and looked inside my fridge, you’d see a fairly well-stocked assortment of items, since we have recently been to both Costco and Trader Joe’s! Because we usually meal plan, most of what we keep on hand are grocery staples, and then the items we need for that week’s meals.

Here are a few grocery staples that are almost always in our fridge:

  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Water bottles
  • Wine and beer
  • Sparkling water and diet coke
  • Shredded cheese, sliced cheese, string cheese
  • Deli meat or pepperoni
  • Tortilla shells or wraps of some kind
  • Hummus or Salsa
  • Yogurt, possible expired
  • Baby carrots
  • Lettuce or spinach
  • Cucumber or baby peppers
  • Cilantro or Basil, possibly wilted
  • Light ranch dressing, avocado mayo, ketchup, and at least 1-3 bottles of Italian or Caesar dressing that I bought for a recipe and used once, only to sit in our fridge forever until we throw it out.

Here are some unique items we have in our fridge right now that are fun or different!

  • Hard boiled eggs from Costco: these are soooo good. I was skeptical, but they taste legit, and are so convenient. Obsessed.
  • Chicken breakfast sausages from Costco: Again, these are amazing. Pop a couple in the microwave for breakfast and it’s healthy and delicious. Thanks Costco
  • Pizza dough and sauce from Trader Joe’s: We’re making home made pizza this week! How festive!
  • A can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls: These were on sale last week at Mariano’s. Not sure when we’ll make them, but it’s exciting to know cinnamon rolls are in our future.
  • Panera at home chicken tortilla soup (also from Costco): this stuff is great! Really tasty and you can freeze it if you need to.

Well, friends, that’s about it for the tour of my fridge! I’m not even going to dive into the freezer, because that’s a whole other post worth of mysteries to unpack!

What fun items do you have in your fridge this week?


My favorite childhood book

This is another installment in my #30DaysofBlogging challenge for November! If you’re looking for the rest of the posts for the month, or more about this challenge, go here.

If you were to ask me what my favorite childhood book is, I’m sure you expect me to answer Harry Potter. And in fact, I could. But to be honest, I associate Harry Potter more with my pre-teen and teenage years, because I started reading at age 11 and didn’t really fall in love until the 2nd and 3rd book came out when I was 12-13, so for me, that is starting to climb out of childhood.

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For me, when I thought of this prompt the very first book that came to mind (of the hundreds I read as a child–thanks Mom and Dad!), was a book called “Monster Mary, Mischief Maker,” by Kazuko Taniguchi.  This book was first published in September 1976 and is out of print now. I have no idea where or how it came into my hands as a child, but I can see the book clearly. It’s a thin, hardback volume with a sky blue cover and a dinosaur on the front. The illustrations are simple and (if I recall correctly) used mostly black and white with occasional red or blue to highlight certain objects, and the story appealed to my instantly because the main character shared my name.

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Here’s the short summary from WorldCat:
Monster Mary discovers she feels much better when she does helpful things than when she is mischievous.
Monster Mary is quite the mischief maker in the first half of the book, but learns through trial and error that she likes doing favors for people instead. It’s a lot like the story of the Grinch, actually, now that I think about it.
I liked this book a lot as a child because I thought it was fun to see my name in print, and the simple story and illustrations were appealing. I also really liked the redemption of the mischief making dinosaur in the end.
What’s interesting to me now is that I cannot locate this book online anywhere. Its not on Amazon, Ebay, or anywhere else. The only mention of I can find is the record on Goodreads, which does not include the cover art, and a listing on There’s a listing on Amazon for a book by the same name, but it’s selling for $900 and the cover art is generic and I suspect it is not the real book.
I am sure my copy of this book is at my parent’s house and now I’m interested to find it and read it again!
What book has stuck with you from your child hood?

My top 10 favorite foods

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This is another installment in my #30DaysofBlogging challenge for November! If you’re looking for the rest of the posts for the month, or more about this challenge, go here.

Choosing a favorite of anything is hard for me. I’m the same way with rating things–is anything really worth 5 stars? What if something else better comes along that’s MORE deserving of 5 stars? I know, this isn’t how rating scales work–but somehow that’s how my brain thinks of it! I think it’s the same with favorites. How can I pick just one when there are so many, and so many more good things to experience yet to come?

That’s why today we’re going to talk about my top TEN favorite foods! They’re all special, delicious or unique in their own ways. So let’s dive in–hope you’re hungry!

Continue reading “My top 10 favorite foods”

The best trip(s) of my life

This is another installment in my #30DaysofBlogging challenge for November! If you’re looking for the rest of the posts for the month, or more about this challenge, go here.

What was the best trip of your life? Was it a trip to Europe with your friends in college? Or maybe a romantic getaway to a resort in Mexico? Or maybe it’s not even something glamorous and it’s just any weekend you spend at your family’s cabin the woods. All of those are totally acceptable answers! Or maybe you haven’t even taken “the best trip of your life” yet. I think that’s okay too. I want for you to have the an amazing, life-altering trip ahead of you still. I hope we all have that waiting for us.

It’s hard to categorize one trip as THE BEST in my life. I’ve been a lot of really wonderful places, and I’m grateful and amazed by all of them. I’m not sure any of them are the “best in my life,” though. That label feels so heavy to me–so final! I want to leave that #1 spot open for what’s to come. So instead, let’s talk about a few of the highlights from the trips I’ve had so far in both my childhood and adult life.

Best trip (highlights) of my life (so far):

  • Taking a river cruise on the Thames in London with my parents on a family trip to England when I was 11. I remember mostly blurred recollections and snapshots from this trip—my feet hurting so badly at Westminster Alley that I sat down on one of the graves (internal face palms); deciding NOT to buy the first Harry Potter book at a bookstore for some reason (!?!); that our tour guide’s name was Graham and I wanted to call him Graham Cracker, really badly; and that it was Easter and my parents somehow gave me a Furby while we were on this trip and I kept in the hotel safe because it sort of also scared me. But I remember that ride down the Thames when we were still jet lagged and all of the city lights were shimmering. It was beautiful.
  • Using our “free afternoon” on a high school trip to France to run around the city and drink cheap red wine at a cafe because it felt illicit (though, totally legal in France) and marvelous.  
  • Swimming with the dolphins in Hawaii on a family vacation.

    This is the view at Sea Life Park in Hawaii. Wild, right?

    Everything about this trip was special and amazing, but I remember this activity specifically because I had always wanted to swim with dolphins. Of course, being in Hawaii, this activity took place with one of the most beautiful views, so it was an incredibly memorable experience.

  • Taking a Mediterranean cruise with my room mate in college.

    One of my many uncaptioned photos I took during my cruise. Is this France? Spain? Italy? No one knows.

    Because we completely misread the date we needed to arrive at our study abroad school and had 10 days to kill in Europe. Maybe the best mistake ever. The cruise( and actually, all of study abroad) was one of those experiences that I half look back and wonder how we managed, without smart phones, without gps, with language barriers, without anyone to tell us how to do anything. Somehow we survived and actually had a pretty good time. Highlights from this cruise were seeing Pompeii, eating the best pizza and pasta in my life, and the views every day going in and out of port as the different countries came into view.

  • Hiking to the Hollywood sign while visiting a friend in Los Angeles.

    This is as close as you can get to the sign when you hike up to it. This is my photo from my hike. So cool!

    This was quite the hike, and I remember thinking how COOL it was that were so close to this famous sign! I loved that were doing something sort “off the beaten path” on my vacation, and just felt very proud of the hike in general. I highly recommend this experience if you’re visiting L.A.!

  • Seeing the fireworks at Disneyland for the first time.

    The happy face of a girl at Disneyland for the first time! (From 2015)

    Everything about my first trip to Disneyland was magical, but I still remember how I felt during the first (and currently ONLY time, due to a serious of unfortunate events) time I saw the magical fireworks at Disneyland. There’s something about the combination of being their in front of the castle, with the music, the lights, the excitement, and the fireworks overhead–it felt like i was going to laugh and cry all at the same time. It was truly magical and I can’t wait to see them again!

  • Exploring New Orleans on a somewhat rainy day.

    St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans

    This day ended up being one of m favorites! We visited one of my favorite breweries so far on our travels–Shouts to NOLA Brewery--and stayed a lot longer than we would have because it was raining out. Luckily, they had great BBQ and an extensive lineup of beers. We also explored the Mardi Gras Parade Warehouse that day, which was a really cool and unique experience I definitely recommend. One of my favorite parts of New Orleans was that even though we had several things planned each day, some of the best things were the unplanned things that we ended up doing–like taking of the carriage rides that were lined up outside of Cafe Du Monde, or doing a ghost tour of the city on our last full day. Everything in New Orleans was a blast and I would definitely suggest this for a 3-4 getaway if you haven’t been yet!

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    Hanging out in Grand Rapids during Art Prize in 2017!

    Every weekend spent in Grand Rapids exploring breweries, new places to eat, revisiting old haunts, and making new memories. I love Grand Rapids as the anchor city to my college undergrad experience, and every time we make a weekend getaway here it makes me happy to be back on what I feel is partially my “home turf.” Every trip here is on my list of best trips, because they are filled with things I love and like to. Shouts to Founders, and Shouts to Grand Rapids!

  • Exploring Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves on our trip to Lincoln, New Hampshire.

    Doesn’t this view make you want to never leave?

    New Hampshire was beautiful, and I was honestly so surprised by home much I loved everything we did there! I loved the mountains and the valleys even just driving around was like an activity. We did a lot of fun things while we were there for a wedding, but exploring Lost River Gorge was definitely my favorite. It was a fun activity of exploring caves, on top of amazing views each time we ascended a staircase or reached the top of a hill. I can’t ever get enough of these mountain views! Thanks for these great memories, New Hampshire!

There are so many more great memories, and I’m so grateful I’ve gone on so many meaningful and memorable trips throughout my childhood and now my adult life. I love traveling and I think seeking out new places to explore and new adventures to have with each other is the best kind of life to lead. I can’t wait for what new trips and adventures are on the horizon!


What’s in my bag?

This is another installment in my #30DaysofBlogging challenge for November! If you’re looking for the rest of the posts for the month, or more about this challenge, go here.

Asking me what’s in my bag feels like we’re playing a shower game. Do I get points or pieces of candy for each item I have in my purse? (If you’ve never played the “What’s in your bag?” game at a shower, it’s like a bingo type game where you earn points for each item you have in your bag). (You’re not missing out on anything if you haven’t played.)

In any case, let’s check and see what I’ve got in my LITERAL Mary Poppins bag!

Continue reading “What’s in my bag?”

My 5 current goals

This is another installment in my #30DaysofBlogging challenge for November! If you’re looking for the rest of the posts for the month, or more about this challenge, go here.

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It’s good to have goals in life that help guide your overall behaviors and motivations. But it’s also good to have daily goals that keep you pluggin’ along. Let’s focus on some more of those daily tasks and goals.

Here are my current goals:

  1. Finish this 30 day blogging challenge. It’s harder than I thought it would be! I am consistently about half a day behind schedule.
  2. Make an apple crumble this weekend. I have like 6 apples and I really want to make something fall festive with them. This seems doable. And delicious!
  3. Organize my office closet and the family room cupboards. I’ve been on an organizational kick lately and these are still 2 areas that I have yet to tackle.
  4. Get an oil change next weekend. Is this a mundane goal? Maybe. But it needs to be done!
  5. Ice skate outside this winter! I’m doing this. This is happening. Hopefully Santa gets me the ice skates on my wish list. 🙂

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Okay friends, thanks for helping me make my to do  list for the near future. If you want to know some more ambitious goals, I suggest you check out my recent post on my dream jobs!