31 EVEN MORE things about Cliches & Coffee for my 31st birthday!

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31 and feeling..fun?

Friends, readers, countrymen–somehow tomorrow is my 31st birthday. Wasn’t I just turning 30, like, yesterday? I guess today I am truly 30 AF now since I have lived a whole year as a 30 year old. What have I learned in the first  year of my 30s? Well, mainly that I feel much older about to turn 31 than I did turning 30!

Suddenly I feel like days past too quickly and time is flying by. It’s time to go out and there and do what you want to do–no more waiting, no more “someday.” I want to try new things in my 31st year, and have lots more adventures–big ones, small ones, and in-between ones.

If I’ve learned anything in my first year of my third decade (that makes me feel younger actually, saying it that way), it’s that life is short and I want to make the most of it.

So let’s all do that. Have that be your birthday present to me–join me on some of my adventures this year and let’s make memories together!

  1. You already know about my love for coffee, but I’ve recently gotten really into tea! I attribute this to our electric tea kettle which allows me to make tea so quickly and easily. I especially love having tea after dinner, and I love trying interesting flavors and types of tea. My favorite is a sort of gingerbread-y lemon-y tea that I found at Christmastime, but I also love vanilla chai!
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    Showing off my ice skates on Christmas morning

    I got my first pair of ice skates ever just this past Christmas! They’re beautiful and it was my goal to skate outdoors but the weather this winter didn’t agree with me. Who wants to help me break them in at an indoor ice rink this spring or summer? Don’t feel like you have to be good: I’m not. I’m a barely-doesn’t-have-to-hold-on-to-the-ledge skater, at best.

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    Jeff and I at the Chicago ComicCon this year!

    I went to my first comic con this year and it was so much fun! It was bigger and more intense then I could have imagined, but it was also so cool to be surrounded by so many people who also liked so many different kinds of “nerdy” things–with zero judgement about what thing it is you liked, or how seriously you liked it. If you’re in costume? Awesome! If you’re just in a cool nerdy t-shirt? Neat! Into Harry Potter, or Game of Thrones? You’re in good company. Into some super obscure comic who’s creating custom art? Don’t worry, there’s 50 other people waiting in line for that, too. It was just super, super cool.

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    Oh Hi Dr. Sweets.

    Remember in my 29th birthday post I mentioned I loved the show Bones? Well this year I got to actually meet John Francis Daley at the Chicago Comic Con, and basically made my dreams come true! Did you know he’s actually from Wheeling, Illinois, and also helped write the Spiderman: homecoming movie, too?

  5. I started going to Planet Fitness in December and I absolutely love it there! I’ve gone to various gyms off and on most of my adult life, and so far this one has felt like the most “me.” I’m a big fan. I can take a guest any time, to any location if you ever want to come with! Let me know!
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    The authors of The Wife Between us and An Anonymous Girl–great books!

    I’ve gone to two author signings this year and I’m really into it! I’d like to do more. I think it’s such a fun and cool thing to do, and is a great way to get even more into 1) the book you’re reading and 2) the reading community in general. Plus, now I have autographed copies of books!  I feel so special and unique! (Along with the 20 other people who were there! Haha!)

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    My Disney pin collection

    I enjoy collecting pins and coffee mugs when I travel, or from specific events that are memorable. I have 8 of the “You are here” mugs from the Starbucks collection, including 2 from Disneyland, and I’d like to keep adding to that with each state we visit! I only collect the state versions, not the city ones, or else my collection will get seriously out of hand. I’m also okay with back-dating my collection to include states I’ve already been to but before I started collecting, so I may hit you up to help me grab a mug! 🙂

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    An action shot of some of the group!

    For our co-31st birthday party this year, Jeff and I decided we wanted to try Whirlyball, a place we drive by all the time but have never tried. Our party was last weekend and it was SO MUCH FUN. Who knew driving tiny cars around a court while bumping into each other and throwing a ball into a net could be so much actual fun? I have lots of bruises and sore muscles but would 100% do this again some day! I’m so happy we did something out-of-the-box for our party this year.

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    My standing desk, from UpLift!

    I recently got a standing desk for my home office and I love it! It’s convertible, so I can sit or stand, and the option is great to have when I’m feeling antsy and get tired of sitting. I try to stand for 10-15 minutes out of every hour, and after a few weeks I’ve been really enjoying it. It helps that it looks really classy in my office, too!

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    League board members unite!

    Did you know I am a member of the League of Women Voters? The League is a non-partisan political organization that educates and advocates for the public to be informed and active citizens. We host events on civics awareness, register people to vote, and help get out information about candidates in advance of the elections. I’ve been involved for about two years, and I’m currently the Communications Chair and a member of the board. I do all of our social media and PR for our events! It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to get involved in something that’s actually making a difference. Interested? There’s probably a league in your area!

  11. I almost failed my driving test because of parallel parking.  My dad taught me I could make as many adjustments as you need when parallel parking, so I didn’t know you get a point off for each adjustment you make on the actual test! I think that’s really unrealistic, but thank goodness my driving instruction was an actual angel and let me re-do that part. (Don’t worry, I got a perfect score on the actual driving portion of the test!)
  12. I have 20-20 vision and I’m the only one in my family to not need glasses. I did recently get computer glasses though, and they are a huge help! I get a lot less eye strain and headaches after working all day, so I highly recommend looking into computer glasses if you also stare at a screen all day.
  13. I’m contemplating getting a 5th tattoo that is Harry Potter related sometime in the near future (as in, the next 3-5 years).
  14. I currently only 9 pairs of Minnie Mouse ears. I have no shame and I can’t promise you I won’t buy at least 1 or 2 more in the next 6 months. I’d like a star wars themed one, for sure!
  15. I change my computer and laptop desktop backgrounds every month. It makes the first day of the month exciting! I always get mine from here.
  16. I’m completely obsessed with my Apple watch. I’ve always had trouble keeping the habit of wearing a watch consistently, but ever since I got the Apple watch last September, I’ve worn it every day! I love feeling motivated to complete my circles (Movement, exercise minutes, and standing hours), being able to change the bands, getting notifications, tracking my heart rate, and so much more. I really feel like it has made me more conscious about standing more, walking more, and also–using a watch to actual tell the time! It’s great. I highly recommend it.
  17. I’ve been working at my current copy-writing job for 3 years this month! Before that, I worked at a digital content strategist job for 9 months, which means I’ve been working as a writer, commuting into Chicago, for almost 4 years! What an accomplishment. I feel like my high school self who dreamed of working in the big city would be ridiculously proud of myself. My 31 year-old-self is pretty proud of me too. 
  18. The past 2 years I’ve taken my birthday as a PTO day from work, and I can’t recommend this practice enough! If you have the ability to use a PTO/personal day in this way, it’s such a nice way to treat yourself. Whether you spend the day reading or catching up on Netflix at home, or use it to treat yourself to brunch and a manicure (my preferred plan!), it’s a much nicer way to spend the day then at the office, agreed? Tomorrow I’m getting a massage, checking out a new coffee place, treating myself to a new phone case, and then getting ready for dinner out with Jeff at a Spanish tapas place! I can’t wait!
  19. I’ve been playing HQ trivia, a live trivia game show app, for over a year and it’s a really fun part of everyday! You can win money if you answer 12 questions correctly each game. I’ve only won twice, but it’s still fun to play each night (and some afternoons during the week). They have fun themes, and it’s become a part of our evening ritual every day!
  20. The past year I’ve gotten SUPER into podcasts (check out my blog post about my favorites!), and honestly it’s totally changed my life–is that cheesy to say? Maybe–but it’s true! I listen to them while working out, while driving, while at work, while cleaning and pretty much all the time.  Tasks that I used to dread I look forward to because it means I can listen to more podcasts! My favorites right now are true crime podcasts like Crime Junkies and Serial (yes I’m 100 years late on that one).
  21. I’ve been really into 2 new Netflix shows the past year that are on the spookier side: the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (so good! Such a dark twist on the sitcom version I loved growing up), and the Haunting of Hill House (so twisty and suspenseful, you can’t stop watching).
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    One of the best books I’ve read so far in 2019!

    I’ve been reading a lot of new releases lately, and my favorites that I’ve read in 2019 so far are: Educated, Hate U Give, The Wife Between Us, The Great Believers (this one I’m only halfway through, but it’s good enough already to include on this list.)

  23. I’m traveling to Las Vegas and Massachusetts (both Boston and Plymouth!) this year, and I’m so excited for both trips! One trip is with friends, and the other is for a wedding. I love traveling to new places and can’t wait to explore them both.
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    Low quality photo; high quality fun!

    I recently went to a trampoline park with my book club friends and it was SO MUCH FUN! There was so much to do there–diving into foam pits, jousting, dodge ball, rock climbing wall. But honestly, just bouncing around on the giant trampolines to fun music with my friends was the best. I was sore for about a week after, in places I didn’t even know I had muscles. But I loved it! I would 100% do this again!

  25.  I’m on the Wellness Committee at my work. We meet monthly and plan activities like healthy recipe potlucks in the office, or “Wear Red” days during American Heart Month. It’s like a healthier version of the party planning committee. It’s fun!
  26. I LOVE planning things, like parties and vacations. Maybe in my next career or life I’ll be a travel planner or party planner or something. I have several itineraries for imaginary trips ready to go complete with things to do, places to stay, restaurants to eat it, flights times, and everything. The planning is part of the fun for me!
  27. There’s a heron who spends the spring and summer at the pond by our house, and he’s so graceful and lovely! We spotted him for the first time a week or so ago, and he’s how I knew spring was truly here. His name is Harold.
  28. I also love Spring because of the baby geese that hang out at the park by our house. Is there anything cuter than baby geese? Eventually they grow up and become large, less friendly geese, but for these next few months they are yellow and fluffy and adorable!
  29. Combing my hair out after a shower is my least favorite activity, maybe of all time. It takes forever and is annoying and painful. My hair is long and thick so it gets tangling and basically I’d avoid washing my hair forever if I could! BUT! I recently found an amazing de-tangling spray that actually makes this somewhat less awful, so thank god for small miracles.
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    Sunbathing Watson

    My favorite thing is when my cats lay in the sun all stretched out. They look so happy and it makes me so happy. Our pets are a wonderful additions to our life!

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    Driving in New Hampshire last summer was beautiful!

    I love driving up a hill and seeing a vista spread out below–whether it’s mountains, or trees, or just rolling farmland and a blue sky dotted with clouds. It’s moments like these that make me feel like it’s a joy just to be alive ;-).

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning 31 MORE things about me on this eve of my 31st birthday! I’m looking forward to another year of learning more, traveling more, trying lots more new things, and trying to make the most of each day as it comes.

Cheers to the year ahead!

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Cheers to trying new things and making the most out of life!
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Check out my best poem ever!

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In honor of the start of National Poetry month, and the first day of April, I thought I would share with you all what is without a doubt my finest work of poetry–no, writing in general–that I’ve ever done.

In fact, it’s so great, that it was even published. That’s right, I’ve been holding out on you all, and I have a published work already. All this talk of my dream of publishing a book someday? What a waste, when I’ve already had a poem published in an anthology from the International Library of Poetry.

And, all of that happened when I was 12 years old.

You might call me a prodigy. 

You’re not wrong.

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The greatest honor to be published in this beautiful and prestigious work.

Even to to this day, nearly 19 years later, I feel so honored that for a mere $49.99 I was able to receive a beautiful hard-bound copy of “Chorus of the Soul” that contained my masterpiece, alongside hundreds of other brilliant works of poetry, of course.

 

This tome maintains a place of honor on the highest shelf in my closet where I can gaze upon it when I need a reminder of the pure, raw talent I surely have always possessed.

Enough beating around the bush–let’s get down to brass tacks and reveal to you all the best poem I’ve ever written.

Please enjoy. Gifts and compliments can be sent to my manager at poetry.com.

“A world of white”

By Mary Pritchard Continue reading “Check out my best poem ever!”

The path to success isn’t a straight line–but just keep walking anyway.

img_8465It may come as a surprise because of how much I love working from home, but I actually love working in the city too.

(In fact, I’ve written about both of these things before: Check out my blog posts on commuting and working from home!)

It was my dream since my high school days to work (and live, but we’ll call this close enough) in Chicago, and the fact that somehow my crazy path through life made that a reality is crazy and amazing to me!

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Why Chicago? Maybe because for kids in the Midwest, Chicago is our “big city,” and it seemed like a close-enough-yet-far-away goal that somehow embodied glitz, glamour, and the hope of something more. To me, it was liked the Emerald City that was promising heart, brains, and courage if I could just get there.

Getting there was a bit of a winding path on the yellow brick road.

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The day of Master’s Degree graduation at NIU!

I went from going to college in Michigan (in one of my favorite cities, Grand Rapids!), to an unpaid magazine internship in Seattle (and Starbucks barista! ), to fundraiser in middle of nowhere Illinois, to grad school, to where I am today—working as a (copy)writer in Chicago for almost FOUR years now.

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Visiting Grand Rapids, MI, where I went to college!

I can’t believe it’s already been four years. I still find myself referring to my time in Illinois as being “about 5 years,” but in fact I have lived now in Illinois for almost TEN years. This is…astonishing. Am I local yet? At what point does Illinois become more my home than Michigan? (Answer: never! Michigander for life!)

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Moments like this on Mackinac Island are why I love Michigan so much!

Sometimes I still feel in awe when I walk to get coffee at one of a dozen coffee shops nearby my work, or take amazing photos of the architecture, river, or skyline around me on my lunch walks. 

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Will it ever get old? Maybe. But for now I am still reminded daily that even though it took me a while to get here, with a few stops along the way, I am living the dream I had for myself “when I grow up.” I think it’s important to look around and realize–“I’m here, I did this,” and to feel proud of what you’ve accomplished. 

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I definitely have more dreams to fulfill down the road— writing a book, maybe freelancing, maybe opening a coffee shop someday— but isn’t it amazing to feel like your dreams are possible? That nothing is really out of reach, but maybe just a step or two away?

I hope you find the inspiration and motivation to keep going and working towards your dreams today. Just remember that maybe they are one or two jobs away from where you are at now, or a move or two in your future. But that doesn’t mean they can’t happen, or that you shouldn’t keep taking steps towards them, today.

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Cheers to making dreams come true–one step at a time!

 

2019 Oscar movie predictions and reviews!

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For the past few years it’s been a fun goal for my boyfriend and I to try and watch at least all of the Oscar nominated best picture movies between the time the nominations are announced and the night of the Oscars. If we are able to squeeze in some of the other nominated movies from categories like animated best picture, shorts, supporting actor/actress, etc.–even better. But the goal is always at least the 8-12 best picture movies. One year we successfully completed this goal, and it made watching the Oscars really riveting! You feel like you have some actual skin in the game ( I think that’s a sports metaphor?).

Last year we managed to watch all but one (sorry Phantom Thread!), and it looks like this year will be the same (Sorry Vice!).

This year, my initial impression was that the best picture category seemed a bit weak. With only 8 nominees in total, the crop of best pictures feels like there were some compromises made in order to include a few “popular” movies once the idea for a separate popular movie category was scrapped, and that the rest of the category seems to be peppered with some obscure choices, rather than a tight-neck race of strong contenders vying for the trophy, as it has been in years past.

Was 2018 a weak year for strong, dramatic, impressive movies? Frankly, the animated best picture category seems to be more of a stand-out race this year than motion picture. Spiderman Into the SpiderVerse should take the title, no contest, but it’s not against a bunch of obscure foreign films like some years when Pixar or Disney sweep this category. It’s in good company along with Wreck-it Ralph 2, which was arguably incredibly clever and entertaining, Incredible  2, which had an invigorating and empowering plot, Isle of Dogs, which was unique and visually stunning, and Mirai, which I did not see, but has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and is called “deeply  resonant.” It’s one of those categories where you could honestly see any of them winning in a normal year.

Some years, that’s how the best picture category feels. But this year? I don’t really feel that way. This year before we even finished watching all of the films I had more or less resigned myself to “voting” for Roma to sweep this and many other categories, simply on the hype alone. However, after we finished watching 7/8 of the nominees I think there are some definite strong contenders in the group, and some have just suffered from poor marketing that have left their name and reputation not as wide spread as others.

So, is Roma worth the hype? Who else might be a good bet for best picture? Read below for my thoughts on the 8 best picture nominees and my predictions for the other major Oscar categories!

Best picture nominee reviews

Bohemian Rhapsody: I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this movie. It felt like one of those big budget blockbusters that would be a lot of glitz and glamour but not a lot of impact. I also don’t know a lot about Queen, so would I even know what was going on, or care? The answer is yes, I in fact cared a lot! This movie does a great job of telling a story that spans man years in a way that doesn’t feel too long, or too broad. While you might not be personally invested in the characters in the same way you would in a smaller-scale biopic, you do learn about their lives and the stories behind their music in a way that provides insight and understanding. The music is fantastic to hear and see come to life, and the movie if packed with cinematic moments that make you appreciate why it is also nominated for film editing, sound editing and sound mixing. If nothing else, go see this movie for Rami Malek’s performance. He’s stunning.

Will it win best picture:  I don’t think so. While the movie is really good, I think Rami Malek is the highlight of the film, and the sound editing and mixing really take the spotlight too. It feels like this wouldn’t have gotten a best picture nomination in a year when there were stronger contenders.

Black Panther: It’s hard to even believe that Black Panther came out in 2018. This movie felt like it should have been part of last year’s Oscars because it was released in February. But now, a year later, we re-watched this to refresh out memories on why this movie is so great. Is it because it actually works as a completely stand-alone movie within the Marvel cinematic universe? I think partially, yes. So many of the Marvel movies depend upon each other to pack the biggest punch. Not so with Black Panther. It holds up all on its own and delivers hit after hit of emotional resonance and cinematic wonder. It could also be because this movie presents a whole new world to us by showing us Wakanda, and it is quite a world indeed. Not only is it visually stunning, but the themes of this movie really make you think about the parallels to our own world and the questions that arise about sharing resources and helping people from countries that aren’t you own. If you want to enjoy this movie for the eye candy, you can. If you want to enjoy this movie for the deeper connections and themes, you can do that too. And if you’re just a really big Marvel fan, you won’t be disappointed. It’s easy to see why this was one of the biggest movies of 2018.

Will it win best picture?: Man, I think the internet might explode if this wins best picture (in a good way). I’m not sure. I don’t think it will, but then again IT MIGHT. If it wins, I think it would be an upset for a “comic book movie” and a “popular movie” to win, but I also think it’s gotten so much positive attention and accolades that it wouldn’t be completely out of left field. I give this my long shot award for chance to win. Black Panther has 6 other nominations and I can see it winning 1 or more of those, especially production design.

BlacKkKlansman:  I wasn’t sure what to think about this movie at first, because I wasn’t too sure what exactly it was about (despite reading the summary about 10 times)– but I ended up loving it! It reminded me a little bit of having the same vibe/story-telling structure as Spotlight. Instead of journalists it is cops, but in terms of learning about a historical and true event and seeing it unfold through characters as they uncover facts and solve a “mystery” of sorts, it felt very similar. I thought this movie was done really well, and the film editing is something that stood out as well.  I definitely recommend checking this movie out. It’s got funny moments in equal parts to the serious, moving moments, and it’s incredibly well done.

Will it win best picture? This is definitely one of the strongest movies up for best picture in my opinion. However, since it is also up for Best Adapted Screenplay, I can see it winning for Adapted Screenplay instead. I think this is a strong contender for winning one of these 2 categories, if not both.

A Star is Born:   I saw this movie before the Oscar nominations were released and knew without a doubt it was going to be nominated for best picture. It has all of those best picture qualities you want: crowd pleasing musical numbers that you can’t help but want to sing along to; gut-wrenching emotional blows; memorable lines that are quote-worthy and stick with you days later; and great performances by the two leads who very much deserve their best actor and actress nominations. If the movie had flaws, it was a bit too long in the second half, that somehow didn’t match the fast paced feeling of Allie’s rise to stardom we see in the first 60 minutes. I thought for sure this movie would get Bradley Cooper a nomination for best director, so it is somewhat surprising that it did not.

Will it win best picture?  Despite this being a crowd-pleasing blockbuster, I think the fact that Bradley Cooper didn’t get a director nomination does not bode well for the film’s power to take the top award. I think best case scenario is that either Lady Gaga or Bradley Cooper will take best actor/actress for their undoubtedly strong performances here.

Roma: I went into this viewing knowing this film had a huge amount of hype, but also with a pretty big chip on my shoulder against foreign films AND black and white movies. I know, I know, I’m the worst film critic ever to admit that.  But, I’m happy to admit that I was proven so wrong, and this movie lives. up. to. the. hype!

Two things: You have to go into this movie with the right mindset. It’s a “slice of life” movie, as one might say, so it’s not going to be action-packed or have your natural bell curve of rising action leading to a climax. The second thing is that while some movies have good cinematography, really this movie IS its cinematography. I felt like the way this movie was filmed is why it was so moving and impactful. Watching the camera pan across a scene and take in all the small details was fascinating and you couldn’t turn around. It made it feel like you were peering in through the window into someone else’s life, rather than watching a polished Hollywood blockbuster.

Watch this movie, and take it all in. Also, notice that there actually is no score. All of the sounds you here are made up of background sounds that are our real-life score: the sounds of rain falling, of dishes clattering in the sink, of a mop on the tile, of dogs barking. This just adds to the realistic feeling that this is almost like a documentary.

Will this win best picture?  It might. It certainly has the hype and the attention. Alfonso Curan could certainly grab Oscars for director and cinematography. Given that they re-created entire blocks of 1970’s Mexico City for the movie, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they took Production Design, too. If they don’t win best picture, they will surely win best foreign film. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for them to take both, though. I’ve got my money on them sweeping a lot of categories this year. Final answer: yes. 

The Green Book: I enjoyed this movie so much! Things that surprised me about this movie: how funny it was; that it was a Christmas movie. Things that did not surprise me about this movie: how amazing Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen are. They completely embody their characters in the way that makes you forget there is an actor behind the role–they become the people they are portraying. Considering how many roles Mahershala has been in lately that are memorable, and how many memorable roles Viggo has had in his career, too (sup, Aragorn!), this is all the more impressive to forget who they really are.

Will this win best picture?  This is my favorite movie we’ve watched so far in terms of total watch-ability and overall enjoyment. I don’t think it’s the best from a cinematography stand point or an overall film-making perspective, though, so I don’t think it will win best picture. I do think it’s the 2 strongest acting performances from best actor and supporting actor, and I wouldn’t be surprised if both men take those Oscar’s in their respective categories. This could take best original screenplay.

The Favorite: Ah, a period drama. I was worried this would be boring and predictable. Not so! This movie had witty dialogue and unexpected twists that kept me engaged the whole time. The costumes were also jaw dropping (although not entirely historically accurate, but I’m fine with it. Obsessed with the polka dots !), and the production design had me saying “omg look at that ceiling” once every five minutes. Definitely add this to your to watch list.

Will it win best picture? With a great script and three solid actresses working more as an ensemble then supporting / lead, this film is super strong but I don’t think it has enough oomph to overcome some of the other heavy hitter contenders in the category. I suspect it make take best original screenplay and production design, though!

Vice: Alas, we did not manage to see this one! It did not come out on digital before the Oscars, and we couldn’t squeeze in a movie theater viewing in time.

Will this win best picture?  My prediction is no, based only on what I’ve read about the odds, so if it does, I’ll definitely be sad we didn’t make time for it! I’ve heard Amy Adams carries this movie, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she won for supporting actress.

 

Bonus review:

Quiet place: This movie is only up for one award–Sound editing–but we decided to throw it into the mix because I’ve been wanting to see it, it had a lot of hype, and frankly it seemed like a better Friday night movie than some of the other Best Picture choices. Overall, I thought this was pretty good. I enjoyed the concept of this movie and the artistic direction of it maybe a little bit more than the experience of watching it, but it was still enjoyable. It was a good length–just about 1.5 hours. But frankly, I’m relieved we watched this in our home where we could talk through the silence and make comments about what was going on. If we really had to sit through 90 minutes of silence in a movie theater, I might have lost my mind a little bit. This movie feels a lot like a classic horror movie in the way that it is hyper-localized–one family, one monster, and a tight time frame (once you move past the set up of a year earlier). What made it less scary for me is that you see the monster in it’s entirety almost right away. That removed a lot of the scary unknown factor in my mind. Emily Blunt was wonderful, and the real standout for me was Millicent Simmonds, the young girl who played their deaf-since-birth daughter. I thought she stole the show, and was surprised to find out that the actress is also deaf, which I thought said a lot about their casting, and lent a lot of authenticity to the dynamics of the movie. This movie is definitely worth a watch!

14 things I love right now

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In honor of Valentine’s Day next week, let’s talk about the things I’m loving right now!

(Subtle reminder for the procrastinators out there:  yes, I did say Valentine’s Day is in one week! I assume you’ve already ordered your flowers and picked out a witty card, but if not–hop on it! Your mom would love a card too, while you’re at it. In fact, here’s a whole guide to the best Valentine’s gifts for everyone in your life if you need some inspiration!)

It can be easy to let the mid-winter gloom take over and think that there’s nothing good going on in the world right now. Snow everywhere! Cold forever! The world has so many problems! All of these things are true—and yet, we must carry on. I find it helps to remember the little things in life that I love, and that make me happy.  Those little things may seem insignificant in the big picture, but they add up to a better, happier life–and that’s something, right?

In that spirit, I thought it would be fun to take a look at 14 things I’m loving right now. This may be silly and little or big and meaningful. Either way, they help make my life better and remind me that my life is full and special, even on days when the most exciting thing that happens is getting my morning coffee.

14 things I love right now!

  1. Starbucks dark roast coffee:
    white cup filled by coffee
    Photo by Jonas Mohamadi on Pexels.com

    I love coffee, this is an established fact. And there’s nothing I like more then a freshly brewed cup of dark roast. I prefer the richer, bolder flavors of dark roast, and it really just makes me incredibly happy to swing by Starbucks as part of (almost daily) routine and get this delightfully-smelling and deliciously-tasting elixir. For $2.50, I can’t name anything else that makes me this happy!

  2. Nightly Tea time:
    adult beverage breakfast celebration
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    I’ve recently gotten pretty deep into tea. This is new for me because, well, see #1–I’m a coffee connoisseur. However, the recent purchase of an electric tea kettle has made tea time very convenient, and it’s become a bit of a nightly tradition for me. I’ve also started finding some really great tea flavors–Green Chai! Ginger lemon! Honey turmeric! My all-time favorite is a seasonal flavor called Ginger Snappish from Bigelow, and I swear it tastes like a vanilla gingerbread cookie. It’s phenomenal, and I can’t find it in the stores anymore, but they have it on Amazon! I might need to stock up. If you have any really amazing tea flavors, let me know!

  3. Quick-dry nail polish:
    red and white manicure with love print
    Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

    I love painting my nails. I do it almost every week, if I don’t have a no-chip manicure on already. But what I can’t honestly stand is how long it takes nail polish to dry. Between the 45 minutes it takes me to paint my nails, and the seemingly 1.5-2 hours it takes my nails to dry, it’s like I need to carve out 3 hours of my day just to paint my nails! Ridiculous! Okay, I don’t actually mind, because I usually watch a bunch of T.V. shows while I do this, so it’s not like the worst thing in the world. But, long story short, I don’t always have that kind of time, which is why Quick dry nail polish is amazing. I only just discovered this exists about a year ago, and I’m pretty sure my good friend Sandi is the one who tipped me off to it, so thanks Sandi! You changed my life! I really like Sally Hansen’s Insta-Dry brand, because it’s inexpensive (I think bottles at the drug store run about $3 or $4), and works really well! My nails are usually dry to the touch within minutes, and completely dry within 30-45 minutes. It’s great!

  4. Writing letters:
    person holding handwritten letter
    Photo by Bryan Schneider on Pexels.com

    Guys, this is one of my 2019 “new things goals”, aka New Year’s resolutions, and I’ve ACTUALLY BEEN DOING IT! I’ve been writing one letter a week so far this year, and it’s been so much fun! I’ve gotten 2 letters in return (and one Facebook message!), which honestly I didn’t even expect at all, so that’s been a fun bonus. So far my major takeaways are: 1) It’s fun to write by hand. I almost never write by hand anymore! I feel like it uses a different part of my brain. and 2) It makes me feel good to be engaging in a form of communication that is literally the opposite of instant gratification. I wrote my room mate from college a letter and asked her questions. Two weeks later, I got a letter back AND SHE ANSWERED THEM. This is insane. People used to do this all the time. Now we just text each other, and find things out immediately. It’s honestly refreshing to have to wait (my questions weren’t pressing, obviously.) This is good for me because frankly, patience is not one of my strongest virtues. If you haven’t written a letter (by hand!) in a while, I highly encourage you to do so! I bet your grandma/mom/sister/BFF in another state would really love it.

  5.  Buying magazines at the grocery store:
    close up of coffee cup on table
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    This is a weird one, I guess, but buying a magazine at the checkout lane at the grocery store is one of my simple pleasures in life. I love it! I feel a rush of adrenaline when I impulsively grab one and throw it on the conveyor belt that seems equivalent to trying to sneak a full size Snickers into the cart when your mom isn’t looking. I know I don’t NEED another Cooking Light magazine, but I WANT one. I love getting home and sitting on the couch and ripping out the recipes I want to try. It feels inspirational, and wholesome. I could subscribe and save money, I know, but honestly then it becomes an obligation where you have to read it each month. Choosing to pick one up now and then feels much more like a treat. In any case, I’ve been cooking from these recipes a lot more lately, and that’s been fun too!

  6. My cats! img_1969Obviously I always love my cats, so saying I love them RIGHT NOW is a little bit of a cheat, but I couldn’t not include them here! If you don’t have pets, then it may be hard to explain, but pets truly make your life roughly 1 million times better.  If you feel lonely–they are there for you. If you are having a bad day–they can jump up on your lap and soon all you’re focused on is their purring and adorable face. If you need something to talk about–you can invent approximately 500 weird nicknames for them, and invent elaborate stories about what they do during the day when you’re gone (see my post on weird things cat owners do for more on this!) Pets are the best and provide so much love!

7. Listening to podcasts while working out, cooking, cleaning and commuting:

app earbuds earphones google play music
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you saw my post a couple of months ago on 5 podcasts I recommend, you know that 2018 was the year of podcasts for me–and 2019 has proved to be no different so far! I feel like my listening habits lately have been 80 percent podcasts and 20 percent music, so I have been consuming a LOT of podcast content lately! Listening to podcasts while doing tasks that are maybe less than enjoyable (see above: cleaning, working out, etc), makes the time SO MUCH BETTER. It engages my mind in a way that music doesn’t. In fact, sometimes I even find myself actually looking forward to those activities so I can keep listening.

8. Playing Super Mario Party on Nintento Switch:

macro photography of mario and luigi plastic toy
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Mario Party is the besssst! We recently got this game for the Switch and it is my current favorite thing to play when we want to “do” something but also, not leave the couch. Win-Win.

9. Cheese!

sliced cheese and knife
Photo by Monserrat Solis on Pexels.com

I have two fun facts for you about cheese that will convince you to grab some cheese and crackers as your afternoon snack today! 1): “Cheese contains an amino acid called tyrosine that, when broken down in our bodies, makes us feel content. The fats in cheese also encourage our brains to produce dopamine, a natural feel-good chemical released in our brains’ “reward centres”. AKA, cheese makes you happy! It’s science! 2) ” The combination of protein and fat is incredibly satiating and will help to keep your appetite at bay for hours; once you’ve gobbled it all up, the protein in cheese can also slow down the absorption of carbs eaten at the same meal (or snack), making for a slower energy release.” And cheese is good for you! More science! (Read all 7 reasons why cheese is good for you on Hello Giggles )

10. Afternoon walks: I love going for an afternoon walk before or after lunch. I try to do this every day–at work, at home, wherever. Even if it’s only 5-10 minutes. The fresh air perks me up, the exercise clears my head, and the break from work/life gives me a chance to do things like call my mom, listen to music, or just let my mind wander. I highly recommend this habit! It’s truly part of my day I LOVE!

11. Tinted chap stick:

Here’s a picture of me wearing said tinted chapstick. Plus, a llama!

I’m obsessed with my tinted chap stick because it let’s me look more put together than I actually am when I’m bopping around town running errands. Somehow a swipe of color on your lips makes you look like you’re trying? Magical! More casual than actual lipstick? Even better! I like the Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer which isn’t too intense and only $3!

12. Trader Joe’s: I know I’m way behind the times on TJ’s here, but we recently started working this into our regular grocery store rotation, and it really has brought life into our meal and grocery routine. Some key favorites 1) Mandarin orange chicken, frozen pot stickers, frozen fried rice–where have you been all my life? This is now a favorite “oh crap what do we have for dinner?” meal, and is amazing to pull out of the freezer. Honestly, just as good as takeout. 2) Peanut butter granola: this is amazing as cereal and in yogurt, and is my new favorite thing. I did just find a giant bag of similar product at Costco, so we’ll see how it compares. 3) Rye pretzel rods– YUM. Rye bread but as a pretzel! 4) Dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Enough said.

13. My apple watch:I love my apple watch. I love telling time with it ( who knew?) I love that it monitors my heart rate. I love that I can see notifications without having to have my phone near by. I love planning what color band I’m going to buy next for it.  (Hibiscus, in case you were wondering.) I feel totally naked without it!)

14. Planet fitness: I just joined in December and this place is GREAT. Here’s what I LOVE about it: They are massive. Huge. 30 treadmills. 30 elliptical. no need to ever stand or sit or be near anyone. (Anyone else feel like they just wish they could work out at a gym, but like, alone? This is almost as good). Their color scheme is purple, which I’m really into. They actually seem to live up their no judgement philosophy. Everyone comes here. Old, young, fit, not so fit, trendy, not trendy, average and everything in between. I’ve never been around a group of such normal looking people. It feels relaxing and yet motivating, and I’m a big fan. Plus, they are open 24/7, which means I don’t have to work around their schedule to find time to work out.  I also like that as a Black Card member (not an ad but if you’re curious here’s a link), I can go to any location! Super convenient. Also, I can bring a guest anytime, so if you want to be my workout buddy or just come check it out for yourself, let me know and feel free to tag along.

BONUS number 15: Couldn’t be a list of things I love or that make my life better and happier without mentioning Jeff! My partner in all the great adventures of life, and even the totally everyday adventures of life, too. We make a great team, and I love you!

Okay, enough cheese (except for you know, actual cheese. In which case, revisit #9 on my list!)

I highly encourage you to come up with your own list of things you love! It’s a useful exercise, and you may realize you have a lot more to love than you thought. Let me know in the comments what things YOU are loving right now!

 

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for everyone!

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. When I was a little kid in elementary school I loved picking JUST THE RIGHT box of perforated valentine’s day cards to pass out to my classmates (obviously they had to be funny and cute but not TOO romantic, right? It was a fine balance each year to find.) In high school and college, I loved wearing pink to class and making cupcakes and swapping candy and cards with my best friends. Even when I was single, I loved Valentine’s Day because I’ve always LOVED LOVE! I love an excuse to tell my friends how much they mean to me, and frankly any holiday I can send cards or buy gifts makes me happy.

If you’re in the camp that thinks Valentine’s Day is only for couples, think again, my friend!  I think it’s fun to use this day to tell the people in your life how much they matter to you! Whether that’s your best friend, the coworker who makes your days brighter, or your mom–they will be so happy you thought of them! I’ve got some fun gift ideas to help make this the best Valentine’s Day ever for everyone in life.

And if you are in the paired-off romantic bliss side of V-Day, I’ve got some gift ideas for you, too. You don’t always have to give each other chocolates and flowers–although those are nice standbys, too.

Oh, and if you just want to show yourself some love–I’m on board with that, too. Treat yo self!

vday gift guide _2Here are my unique and fun Valentine’s Day gift ideas for everyone in your life!

 

1.)cat pin This literary cat pin is made for your book club besties. Who doesn’t love cats and books, and better yet, collectible pins? Didn’t you hear that collecting pins is cool again?

2.) very busy plannerThis sassy planner that is perfect for your work friend. It’s pink, it gives off just the right vibe, and it will help them stay on top of all of your upcoming coffee dates. Win-Win, right?

3.)bracelet This rose gold knotted bracelet is the perfect simple gift for your best friend or the special woman in your life to symbolize their ties to you and how strong your bond is! Plus, it’s super cute and affordable.

4.) lego picnicThis Lego Valentine’s Day bee is the perfect interaction gift for the little loves in your life–whether that’s your own kids, your nieces and nephew, or the kid you nanny! Or, if you’re a kid at heart, this Valentine’s Day Picnic set is a fun gift to do together.

5.)kate spade scarf This Kate Spade heart scarf will make you the best dressed one at the Valentine’s Day party! Perfect for a little treat for yourself, or surprise your mom. She’ll be so happy you remembered her on Valentine’s Day!

6.)kate spade earringsSince we’re already adding things to our Kate Spade shopping cart, these Romantic Rock Studs are gorgeous, affordable, and would make the perfect gift for the woman in your life this Valentine’s Day.

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(Unless you should be buying her a different kind of rock, of course, in which case I’d recommend this store for gorgeous rings, and this article for tips on what to buy!)

7.) heart shaped pastaThis heart shaped pasta would make a fun low-key gift for a new boyfriend or girlfriend–bonus, you can cook it together! throw in a bottle of wine or, yes, some chocolate or flowers, and you get bonus for creative and thoughtfulness. You’re welcome.

8.) pun spoonsIn a more serious relationship? Pair #7 with these adorable love punny serving spoons for a cute cooking themed gift that your S.O will be so happy with they won’t even mind cooking you dinner!

9) question cardsThese conversation cards make a fun and silly gift for newlyweds or even couples that have been together awhile and want to spice up the dinner conversations a bit!

10.)date nights Or, use these Date Cards as the perfect gift so you never have to ask each other what you want to do on a Friday night again!

10.) wine vdaySingle and ready to mingle with a bottle of Merlot? This wine glass is the perfect gift from you to you this year. Better yet, get one for each of your single gal pals and make it a wine and Netflix night together.

11.) parks and recThis Parks & Rec-inspired framed print is perfect when there’s nothing else to say but “I love you and I like you.”

 

I hope these fun and silly gift ideas helped inspire you this Valentine’s Day to show love to everyone in your life that’s important to you! Hopefully I made your shopping a little easier, too.

Let me know how you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, too. Will you be going out somewhere nice, or celebrating at home with Pizza + Netflix? Both sound great to me!

 

Costco shopping tips & tricks!

636158851650940288419774780_15235Recently we renewed our Costco membership after officially being members for a whole year! It’s flown by, and we still somewhat feel like newbies, but we’ve learned a lot in the past year, and I think it’s safe to say we know the lay of the land enough now that we have our favorite items, and maybe even a piece of advice or two to share.

If you’ve never been to Costco, or even if you’re an avid fan, hopefully you can learn a thing or two from my observations, tips and tricks after my first year as a Costco shopper!

My Costco Trips & Tricks

  1. Start at the food court.
    the-price-has-never-changed-1514996325
    Classic Costco Hot dog makes a great pre-shopping dinner!

    Our favorite plan is to go to Costco around dinner time and start at the food court to have a $1.50 hot dog (a classic), or my latest favorite–a cup of chili! The pizza is also good, and they even have salads, frozen yogurt, and seasonal items, too! You can’t beat dinner for $1.50, honestly. Plus. then you aren’t shopping hungry and are less likely to lose steam wandering through this giant warehouse. Don’t forget that Costco is a literal warehouse! You need to keep your stamina up.

  2. Bring a water bottle, coffee, or some other beverage to bring with you in your cart.
    woman holding blue plastic bottle
    How you’ll feel when you remember to bring water with you.  Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

    See my previous point about Costco being huge. You’re going to be in there for an hour, or more. Not to mention all of the samples you’ll probably be trying. You’re going to get thirsty, and you’ll be very grateful for that water bottle when the only other beverage options are the muscle milk they’re sampling in Aisle 10.

  3. Check the hours.
    selective focus photography of closed signage
    Don’t get caught unaware when Costco closes early! Check those hours! Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

    One of our first trips to Costco, we didn’t realize they close early (REALLY early) on Fridays, and we were wandering around, taking our sweet time, rather than actually getting what we needed right away. We got gently escorted to the check out lanes before we had time to finish shopping because we wasted so much time looking at stuff we didn’t even need. Don’t make this rookie move! Make sure you know how much time you have before you start shopping!

  4. Start with somewhat of a game plan.
    person holding pen point on blueprint
    I’m not saying you have to memorize the floor plan But it might help? Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

    This goes back to meal planning 101, but Costco shopping is a little bit different–at least for us! We don’t typically shop at Costco for specific meal items, but rather for the items we want to stock up on that we use a lot in our weekly meals, and want to have on hand.  It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the scope and size of the store, so it’s good to have some guidance as you walk through the aisles. Here are some of the staples we tend to pick up regularly:

    • Spaghetti sauce: Get yourself a three pack and be set for a month’s worth of spaghetti night!
    • Noodles: These come in big packs of individually wrapped packages or boxes, so you can put 1 or 2 in your pantry or cupboard and stick the rest in the basement, or wherever you store your bulk items. Really convenient!
    • Sauces and condiments: Get your mayo, ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard, salsa or any other pantry stable condiments and buy one for now and one for later. Next time you’re in the middle of cooking or about to sit down to eat and you realize you’re out of mustard, you can just grab one from the pantry and keep on movin’.
    • Chips, crackers and other snacks: Most of these do come in big bags that might seem more apt for parties (which they are definitely great for), but a big bag of tortilla chips will keep in your pantry for 2+ weeks if you seal it up tight, and the big bags of chips or popcorn are great for portioning out for lunches, too. Costco also has great big boxes of individually wrapped bags perfect for lunches if you’re into snack-sized options.
    • Canned chicken, canned soup, or other canned goods:  Costco canned chicken was such a surprise winner for us. They sampled it one day as a dip with salsa and shredded cheddar cheese, and that is now one of our go to party dips! We also like to use the canned chicken as a fast cheat for any meal using shredded chicken. Definitely good to have around.
    • Zip lock bags, aluminum foil, parchment paper: These are things you always need, so might as well stock up.
  5. Don’t skip the wine aisle!
    photo of wine bottles in a row
    Costco’s wine aisle might not look this fancy, but they’ve got hidden gems, for sure. Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

    Costco wines are a great buy. We like to pick out 1 or 2 bottles each trip that just look fun and are under $10. Sometimes they have a real steal for $4.99 that has a wine advocate rating of 95 or higher! What a deal! We’ve also found wines we love for $4-5 cheaper at Costco than at regular grocery stores or liquor stores.

  6. If you see something cool that you want, just buy it.
    img_2450
    This gingerbread house kit we found at Costco shortly after Halloween, but I knew I wanted it and it might not be there long, so I bought it! I’m so glad I did. Look how…totally average it turned out?

    While Costco has their main products all the time (canned chicken probably isn’t going anywhere), their featured items or seasonal products don’t stick around. If you like something, it may not be there next month, or even next week. Hesitation is not the name of the game. We’ve made this mistake several times.

  7. Don’t neglect the fresh produce! While you may not think of Costco as being the place you want to buy your fresh produce, or you think to yourself ” I don’t need 500 cucumbers,” you will be pleasantly surprised. I have found that their fresh produce is good quality, and not as BULK as you might think. Their bags of lettuce mix are large, but not excessive. You can get fresh fruit and veggies for your weekly groceries here and won’t be left with excess as long as you plan ahead to incorporate them into your daily meal plans ( or if you have a large family).
  8. Get fresh bread and pastries and freeze the extras! Costco french bread is one of our favorite items that we consistently buy every single time. They come packages with 2 loaves together, and they are usually still warm when you pick them up (insert heart eye emoji here).  I slice both loaves up as soon as we get home and freeze them in zip lock bags. Any time we want fresh bread or garlic bread, I just pull out some pieces and voila! It’s so nice always have bread around, and never having to worry about it going stale or moldy. I do the same thing with their croissants, as well. I wrap them up individually and freeze them so I can pull one out whenever I want. Don’t forget to explore the rest of the bakery section, too. Costco cakes are amazing and great for parties!
  9. Check out their prepared food section. Costco has a pretty impressive prepared food section in both small and large quantities. So whether you’re feeding your family for dinner or feeding a large crowd, check out their options like mac and cheese, chicken salad, or fajitas! Recently we got the chicken street taco kit and it was so delicious. Not having to do any of the prep work for dinner was pretty great, too.
  10. Try the spinach and artichoke dip. It’s amazing. 
  11. You can get stamps at the cashier. Very convenient! I bought all of my Christmas Card stamps here.
  12. Explore the Costco Print Center.
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    The back of our Christmas card this year, featuring our cats!

    Speaking of Christmas cards, we had ours printed using the Costco Print Center, and I can’t say enough good things about it! It was super affordable (1/3 the cost of what I was going to pay from a comparable online printing website), and came out beautifully! They offer all kinds of printing services, so definitely check them out if you need to print pictures, calendars, invitations, etc.

  13. Check out Costco Travel when you’re planning a vacation.
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    Our rental car in New Hampshire, thanks to Costco Travel!

    We’ve used their car rental services twice and it’s really nice. We’ve gotten good deals, and they let you change your reservation or cancel with no ramifications.

Those are my tips, tricks, and recommendations about shopping at Costco after my first year of being a member. We’ve really enjoyed shopping their and would love to hear if you have any other tips for us!

Do you shop at Costco? What’s your favorite thing to buy there? Let me know in the comments!

 

11 weird things cat owners do

Happy 2019, dear readers! I hope the first part of your year is starting off right. Whether that means doubling up your efforts to eat more bananas and squeeze an extra walk in before dinner, or work really hard to binge watch all of Game of Thrones before the new (and final!) season airs in April–I commend you for your efforts and wish you the best of luck on your journey!

For me, I had a whirlwind holiday season hosting my family for Christmas, followed almost immediately by a jam-packed vacation to California at the happiest place on Earth–Disneyland! It has been a fun and magical couple of weeks, but I am exhausted already, and it’s only 9 days into the new year. Phew.

I thought we’d ease our way back into the year with a nice, light post. No hard-hitting or emotional content today. Just a fun, frivolous post full of cat pictures. That’s what you came here for, right?

If you’re a pet owner and anything like me, 75 percent of the photos on your phone or camera are probably of your pets something cute—am I right?

Of course I am. Because our pets are adorable, perfect creatures.  (Except, of course, when they are total pests. But we love them anyway.)

But taking 100 photos of our cats each day is not the only weird habit we have as a cat owner, is it?

NOPE. Not by a long shot.

Here are 11 weird things cat owners do!

1.Make them wear silly hats for festive occasions.

2. Catch them in the act of stretching and make a really big deal out of it. “AREN’T YOU SO CUTE! Look at you! I’ve got to take a picture! Don’t move!”

 

 

3. Get them weird cat toys shaped like dead animals and then strategically place them around the house until they show interest. Get sad when they don’t really care about the fake dead weasel. 

4. But get SO EXCITED when they love the fish taco cat nip toy! Seriously, they make the weirdest/most fun cat toys.

 

 

5. Sneak around and discretely snap a photo when the cats do something cute so they don’t get startled and run away.

6. Insist on selfie time every time a cat is on your lap.

 

7. Make your cat be a part of your fancy family photos. Obviously. 

8. Try and get your cat to be in your Instagram stories/videos/pictures because let’s be honest they’re more interesting than anything I’m saying, right?

9. Put your cats on your Christmas card. Not once. Not twice. But THREE times!

10. Get really excited when your cats want to hang out with each other. Tell them they are SO CUTE and SO COZY!

11. Be so excited for life and make your boyfriend take your picture when you cat honors you with his presence by sitting on you. Honestly, life complete.

 

In retrospect, most of these weird things do in fact involve taking weird pictures of my cats. But when you have cats this cute, how can you not?

What silly or weird things do you do as a pet owner? If you make your own homemade dog biscuits, or buy you and your cat matching vests—I love it. Please let me know in the comments below so we can share our favorite cat vest stores on Etsy.

Until next time, friends.

2019 new things! (and 2018 recap)

 

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

It’s time again to reflect on the past 365 days and plan ahead for the next cycle around the sun. Readers of this blog know I like to frame my New Year’s Resolutions as a list of new things to try, because this invites more adventure and excitement instead of a list of obligations.  I encourage you to try this approach if you don’t like resolutions, or haven’t had any luck with them in the past! It’s a fun way to take on the year with goals in mind.

Before we dive in to our list of 2019 new things, let’s take a quick look at how we did in 2018!

  1. Try to live more in the here and now.  This is a hard one to judge, as it involves a lot of self introspection. I’d say it’s still a work in progress, so we won’t count this as a completed item. 
  2. To cook more with ingredients I don’t use that often. I definitely think I kicked of 2018 with a bang in this regard! I tried several shrimp recipes that have become favorites (pesto shrimp! yum!), and even some tofu  stir-fry recipes, and other fish recipes. Still some room for improvement here, but we’ve made a good start. 
    Baked fish and chips I made the first week of January in 2018. Kicked the year off right!

    Tofu stir fry I made the second week of January in 2018.
  3. To look into self-publishing. Haven’t done much with this, and frankly it hasn’t been much of a priority. We’ll shelve this for the future. 
  4. Buy a pair of ice skates (moderately priced, nothing crazy), and go ice skating!  I got a pair of iced skates for Christmas, so this goal is in reach! I just need to get the skates sharpened and have the weather actually get a bit colder so I can take them for a spin outside! If this doesn’t happen in the next week, it will soon. 

    Showing off my fancy new skates on Christmas Day 2018!
  5. Explore more of Winfield of the Winfield parks We’ve definitely done this! One park is very close to us and has a great hill for sledding, too! 
  6. Take a class at the Winfield park district, fitness or otherwise. I did not take a class at the park district, but I did take a succulent design class at the Arboretum in February with Sarah, and a pizza making class in May with Jeff, so I’m going to count this as a win!

    Sarah and I showing off our succulents!
  7. Travel somewhere new. Yes! We traveled to New Hampshire over the summer and it was marvelous

    New Hampshire was so scenic!
  8. Drink more water!  I’ve been trying hard to do this, especially at work. Let’s keep this up in 2019. 
  9. Go to these restaurants that I’ve been wanting to try: I’m giving myself this one because I did pretty good with going to new restaurants this year. Here are the restaurants I wanted to try in 2018: Flight 112 in Elmhurst: Sadly this restaurant closed before I had the chance to go, which makes me very sad!  The rooftop bar at Craftsman in Naperville:— we’ve been here a few times now and I love it! We’re actually going here for New Year’s Eve, too., Maciano’s for a sit down dinner :Yes! We’ve been here twice and it is super delicious. Definitely a favorite cozy dinner place., Mason Sebika– this is still an outstanding one, but overall I’d say I did good on this goal. 

    The view from the rooftop of the Craftsman in Naperville.
  10. Write a poem a day in April for national poetry month.  I did this! It was so much fun! I completed this challenge via Twitter and blogged some of the highlights here if you want to check it out. It was maybe one of the most fun things I did this year in terms of writing. 

Total: 8/10! Hey that’s pretty good! How did you do on your 2018 goals or lists of new things to try?

2019 List of New Things

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  1. Write a letter every week. I recently picked up this great book that is on Oprah’s list of her favorite things, and it includes 52 letters with a different prompt for each week. The goal is to write a letter each week to a different person (I guess duplicate recipients could be allowed, too) to help stay connected, and really just inspire you to write and send letters! I LOVE this idea. I bought the book. I’m going to send the letters! So get ready, friends and family, 52 of you are getting a letter from me in 2019!
  2.  Read 50 books. I’m setting my Good Reads goal at 50 books this year, and hoping I can meet this. I used some gift cards I got for Christmas to purchase a handful of books that have been on my wish list for a while, so I’m very excited to dive in right away!
  3. Watch all of the academy award nominated best picture films. We get pretty close each year so I’m adding it to the list so I can check this off, and blog about it!
  4. Bake tiramisu. A favorite dessert around here, so why not try baking it? This Betty Crocker recipe seems simple enough to try, and it even includes a couple of suggestions to lighten up the recipe, if that’s your thing.
  5. Visit the writer’s museum in Chicago. I’ve been wanting to visit this museum so by putting it on the list let’s make it happen!
  6. Have a phone-free day. I admit I’m a little too connected. This seems like a good challenge to take. ( I think the hardest part of this for me would be not taking pictures, so it would be fun to combine this with a fun challenge of using a disposable camera, or actually buying this Polaroid camera and taking old school photos for a day!) These are two interesting articles about a day without a cell phone from two very different sources that inspired me: Living one day without a phone | Benefits of Not Using a Cell Phone
  7. Try whirly ball. This looks so fun! We drive by a Whirly Ball place all the time, so this just needs to happen. This could be a fun birthday party activity!
  8. Go to a trampoline park. Again, this just looks too fun to not try. I need to find a Groupon and make this a girl’s night activity. There’s a bunch of local locations, and most are open late and fun themes like “neon night”, too! Who’s down?
  9. Go camping. I haven’t been camping in years, and I think an overnight camping trip would be a lot of fun. Somewhere nearby with good places to hike, and see stars, and have a campfire–like Starved Rock, Indiana Dunes, or even somewhere near New Buffalo, Michigan. Nothing too fancy, or too rustic! Sounds like a good late summer plan.
  10. Try a new craft. I like crafts, and I’ve tried a few new ones over the past few years (cross-stitch, pottery, the paint-and-drink craze), but there are so many other types of crafts and craft kits you can get at places like Joanne’s and Michael’s, and it seems like a great activity to grow some new brain cells. I love this blog post of One Afternoon Craft Ideas!

 

Other things I’m looking forward to in 2019:

  • Traveling to Las Vegas! I haven’t been since I was a kid, and there’s so much more to explore and experience!
  • Visiting Boston and Massachusetts. I’ve never been, and I’m so excited to see the culture, the food, the beer and more of the east coast!
  • Disneyland at Christmas-time! This trip is happening NEXT week, but it’s in 2019 so it counts! I can’t wait to experience this magical place in all it’s Christmassy glory.
  • So many good movies and TV shows coming out in 2019! Toy story 4! Game of Thrones! The finale of Avengers! Frozen 2! See even more exciting things coming out here.
  • We’re planning on attending at least one day of Chicago’s Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) this March and I’m so excited! There’s so many fun people already on tap to attend, and I’m looking forward to seeing what panels and events will be on the schedule.

 

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions or a list of new things to try each year? Let me know in the comments what’s on your list, or what you’re excited for in 2019!

Happy New Year to you all and see you in 2019!

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