If you remember, I spent April participating in National Poetry Month by writing a poem EVERY SINGLE DAY! I thought it was going to be hard, but I quickly found an easy way to keep up with the challenge–I used Twitter to post my poems! I found this to be a super simple way to stay on track because I use Twitter every day anyway, and it forced me to keep my poems short and sweet.
What did I learn from this challenge?
I really like writing poems! I enjoyed this challenge so much I didn’t want it to end. I guess technically it doesn’t have to and I could continue to post poems on Twitter! But, it was nice to have a reason and a community of people following along the #NationalPoetryMonth hashtag who were checking out my poems.
It actually really helps to have a structure and some guidelines for the poems. I usually prefer free verse because I like to just let my thoughts flow. But when you have a strict character count on Twitter, free verse isn’t really the best option. I found myself looking up types of poems as a reminder so I had some rhyme schemes to utilize. You’ll see examples of haiku (my fav!), quatrains, limericks(so silly!), Odes, and even Acrostic (spelling a word with the first letter of each line).
I wrote about nature and everyday objects a lot more than I thought I would. Historically, my poems have been more about emotions and feelings (cue tiny violin), but again, with short poems and on SUCH a public place like Twitter, I found myself turning to the everyday things around me more and more. I was inspired by nature a LOT, my pets, things in my every day life ( I think coffee makes more than one appearance), and sometimes, what I could see directly in front of me at the time (not super creative, I know). One or two touch on deeper topics, which you’ll see, but it was an interesting change of pace for me to delve into the more mundane.
Let’s get to the poems!
A garden sheep
While flowers peep
And dot the yard
Day 25 (A haiku!)
Make tiny stitches
Slowly becoming a shape
A patient art form
Day 24 (an Acrostic!)
Oh, you bring me such peace with this
First sip bliss
Finally, a moment of silence to pause
Energy will come, but first, reflection
Each cup a chance to restart.
Coughing, sneezing, nose run amuck
eyes teary, bleary, oh, what luck!
I’m not upset, it’s not a cold
It’s pollen, dust, grass and mold
But I don’t mind, I swear, it’s fine
If allergies are here once more
It means it’s finally here, the season I adore!
Day 18 ( A quatrain!)
I look out the window and see a fat grey bunny in the yard
He’s wishing it felt more like Spring, too
He’s munching on grass, but wishing it was swiss chard
Don’t worry bunny, stealing from my garden will come soon.
There once was a girl named Mary
In the morning she knew not to tarry
On the 6:50 train she must hop
At her desk she’ll finally stop
A few sips of coffee will make the rest of the day much less scary!
not the craggy peaks
but across the interstate
you traverse through valleys
and see vistas
that surprise me every time
foggy tree-topped hills
and low grey skies
my ears pop
and the views make me smile
Road trips across the states
But better together then apart
Ode to llamas
Sassy, confident beasts
Sure-footed, long necked friends
Jaunty smirks and sarcastic remarks
If llamas could talk, of course
Fuzzy coats and soft wool
They’ll carry your packs
They look good in hats
They’re trendy, they’re friendly
Llamas for Prez.
Hey blog family! It’s been awhile, I know. I’ve been off the blog-o-sphere radar, because to be perfectly honest, the past month was absolutely bananas. April is always a little on the insane side because for some reason, everyone I know has a birthday in April (including myself), and this year, we all decided to turn 30. On top of that, we had Easter, two weekend trips to see family, and very sadly, my grandfather passed away. April was a month of ups and downs, to say the least.
At the end of each week, the last thing I even wanted to think about was going to the grocery store–especially on the days we were travelling 7+ hours, or cleaning up after a party, or just plain exhausted from the week’s events.
I’ve never been more grateful for a newfangled piece of internet technology. Enter Amazon Fresh. If you’ve never heard of Amazon Fresh, it is essentially another grocery delivery service. There are many of these now a days, and I’ve heard great things about them before from my friends with children (and friends who hate grocery shopping).
The idea behind all grocery delivery services is basically the same–you order your groceries online through a website, or app on your phone, and they’re either delivered to your house, or you can choose to pick them up at a car-side delivery location, in some cases. Not all grocery stores have the option for online delivery, but more and more are trying it out. Unfortunately, we live in somewhat of a grocery delivery dessert. None of the stores near us offer this, so we hadn’t had a chance to try it out.
So, how is Amazon Fresh different?
Amazon Fresh lets you use your existing Amazon account to order groceries. If you’re familiar with using Amazon, then you already know how to search and shop for groceries. There’s no new website or app to learn how to use. Just type “tomatoes” or “french bread” into the search bar and results will appear with the “Amazon fresh” label in bright green.
Amazon uses groceries from Whole Foods to help supply its Amazon Fresh selection. You’ll see Whole Foods’ generic brand “365” show up in the search results, along with plenty of name brand options.
You can add items directly to your cart if you’re ready to shop, or you can save them to a grocery list if you’re just browsing.
When you’re ready to check out, you get to pick a two hour delivery window for Amazon to drop off your groceries. In most cases, you can get them delivered next day, provided all the items you’ve selected are available.
How much does it cost?
The cost of using Amazon Fresh is $15 a month, if you’re already an Amazon Prime member. If you don’t want to pay the monthly fee, there’s a $9.99 service fee.
You can see how the monthly fee is easily a better deal—if you buy groceries, on average, once a week, you would be paying $40 a month as a non-subscription member, compared to $15 a month.
Whether you are paying monthly or per-shopping trip, delivery is fee over $50. If you spend under $50, delivery costs $9.99.
It’s clear the best ways to maximize Amazon Fresh is to subscribe monthly, and purchase at least $50 each trip so you don’t incur any extra fees.
During my month using Amazon Fresh, I was able to use a free trial that made my subscription fee $0 for the month, and I always spent more than $50 each week, so I never paid more than the cost of my actual groceries.
I found the cost of the groceries to be comparable to what I would spend in an actual store–and in some cases, much cheaper! There were often coupons for extreme deals, like 25 cent cases of sparkling water, or cinnamon rolls for one penny.
Pros and Cons of Amazon Fresh
The pros of Amazon Fresh are pretty great, and somewhat obvious, but worth stating:
Convenience, convenience, convenience. There was nothing so great, and so relieving as coming home from a weekend away and having our groceries waiting for us on our doorstep. Taking away this stress and being prepared for the week ahead without having to do the shopping myself was like a month-long gift from the universe (or Jeff Bezos, as the case may be).
Helps limit your splurge shopping. I don’t know about you but one of the parts I actually like about grocery stores is wandering around through the gourmet food areas (hello artisan cheeses!) and finding fun little treats and bonus items. Well, it’s a lot harder to do that online. Shopping for groceries the past month, I’ve noticed that we’ve spent a lot less, and I’ve stuck to our list pretty exclusively. Sometimes we’ve bought a random item here or there that had an extreme sale (see previously mentioned 1 cent cinnamon rolls!), but for the most part, it’s a lot easier to curb extraneous spending with online grocery shopping.
You can plan ahead. If you know me, you know I love planning (hi, fellow type A’s!). So the fact that I can buy my groceries for Sunday, TODAY is ah-ma-zing! What’s great about Amazon Fresh, too, is that you have until about 6 hours before your groceries are delivered to make changes to your order, too, so if you already “checked out” but realized you forgot paper towels or extra limes, you can go ahead and add that to your order, too.
They have a pretty great selection. I’ve been able to find just about everything I need for our weekly meals on Amazon Fresh. Fresh basil, fresh lettuce, ground turkey, bananas, pasta sauce, noodles, fresh baked bread from Whole foods bakery–check, check, check, check! I was very dubious about how the quality of the produce would be, but it’s been GREAT! Seriously, the vegetables have been better quality then I would pick out for my self. I ordered an avacado and it was perfect. I had one week where my head of lettuce had a brown spot, and I mentioned it to them in my review, and they refunded me my $1.30!
It’s all through your Amazon account, so it’s seamlessly easily. Maybe I’m just a part of the Amazon generation, or have drunk the Amazon Kool-aid, but I can’t help but love how easy things are when they are integrated with a platform I’m already familiar with. Not having to set up another account, or add another payment method, is a HUGE perk for me. Plus, I know and trust Amazon with my information and payment methods, so I don’t feel any issues here in ordering through them for my groceries, either. One day we’ll be paying our utility bills through Amazon, and I’ll probably be okay with that. Just sayin’.
The use recyclable brown paper bags for delivery, and frozen water bottles for ice packs! I just love this, because both are reusable and don’t force you to deal with large plastic crates or large ice packs that you have to store. It’s almost like Amazon is giving us free water every time we order, because we definitely keep and drink those frozen water bottles.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the cons of Amazon Fresh. I imagine these are the cons of using other deliver services, too. But they are worth mentioning.
You do have to be an Amazon Prime member to take advantage of Amazon Fresh. This could be a deal breaker for you if you’re not already an Amazon Prime member. However, keep in mind that Amazon does offer monthly rates for Amazon Prime +Amazon Fresh together, so if the yearly rate seems too much, this might be a better option, or a way to try them both out. If the idea of a grocery service seems beneficial, though, there may be others that work for you that aren’t connected to Amazon.
There are SOME limits to what you can order. For some reason, I have a hard time getting ground beef. Ground turkey and ground chicken are plentiful, as are chicken breasts and even pork tenderloin–all of which I’ve ordered with success. But the one time I wanted to order ground beef, my only option was a very expensive organic option. The only thing I can think of here is that ground beef doesn’t have a “mass marketed” option, like Perdue, so they don’t have a good way to offer this, without going to a butcher. If you want super fresh meats or sea food, for example, I would still prefer to swing by the grocery store.
No option to peruse for random items. Even though I used this as a Pro, I’m going to list this as a Con, too. Like I said, sometimes this is part of the fun of grocery shopping, and I do miss the option to get fun olives, or cheese, or a random cookie from the bakery! Again, sometimes you need just a quick trip to the store to get those gourmet extras.
The delivery limit can be cost prohibitive if you just need a few items. If you only need milk, bread, and eggs, obviously going to the store yourself is the better option here. Amazon Fresh is better served for your larger grocery store trips when you can’t make it out yourself, not the little in-between trips when you just need an item or two.
If you’re super particular about a brand, you might not be able to find it. I’ve been really impressed with the selection, and haven’t had any major issues with the items we want, but if you’re dedicated to a specific type of salad dressing, or pasta sauce, they might not have it. There might only be 3 or 4 options to choose from on Amazon Fresh, rather than rows and rows of selections at the grocery store. If this is important to, then shopping in person is probably better for you.
The Final Verdict
Overall, we really enjoyed our month trial of Amazon Fresh, and honestly I can’t imagine how much more hectic and crazy the past few weeks would have been without it. If you have a busy schedule with work, school, kids, or other extra-curricular activities, I think Amazon Fresh would definitely help make your life easier, too.
We did decide to keep our Amazon Fresh subscription active, and figure that if we use it at least twice a month, it will be worth the $15 a month. I think as we enter the busy summer months, we we definitely take advantage of this convenient service and be grateful when we don’t have to take time out of our weekends to go to the store!
What do you think–would you use a grocery delivery service like Amazon Fresh?
Poor selfie sticks. Is there another USEFUL gadget that has gotten as bad of a rep as you? Sure, fidget spinners got a lot of bad press, but those little toys only had a slightly veiled purpose of keeping kids focused in schools (which I’m sure teachers would be glad to debate you on the validity of in the first place). But selfie sticks, for some reason, have been ridiculed and mocked from very beginning.
Maybe it’s because they were popular too fast, too soon, with their popularity explosion leading to people abusing them. Selfie sticks on roller coasters? Come on. Let’s be sensible. Walking around the city with selfie sticks? Is that really necessary unless you’re a YouTube blogger, perhaps? Probably not. Maybe people just got over excited and it was too easy to make fun of this cell phone accessory.
Meanwhile, the casual users of selfie sticks discretely purchased them on Amazon and brought them out at parties as a joke, laughing and shrugging them off as a joke.
But I’m here to stand up for selfie sticks. Yes, you can use them obnoxiously, of course. Like any piece of technology. But when used correctly, and in the right situation, selfie sticks can be downright helpful, handy, and entertaining.
Here are 5 reasons you might actually want a selfie stick
You take most of your photos with your cell phone, and you don’t own a tripod. Most of the benefits of a selfie stick are tripod replacements, but I’d argue that even with a tripod, a selfie stick can be more convenient in the quicker to use/easier to transport categories.
Take attractive photos of more than just your face!
You like to take portrait style photos of you and your significant other when there might not be anyone else around to take the picture for you. Selfie stick to the rescue! Now all your pictures don’t have to be face-only selfies. You can take pictures that look like full-body shots taken by someone else.
2. Make special family photo memories possible with little or no set up.
When you have large family gatherings and want to get everyone in the picture, you’ll be glad you have a selfie stick on hand. Yes, your mom could lug out the tripod, or you could mess with the timer setting on your phone and try to balance it on the entertainment center. Or you could get a fun group shot with a selfie stick.
3. Low-cost photo booth option at parties, weddings, or social gatherings!
When you have parties with friends or special occasions, a selfie stick can add an extra element of fun. Having a birthday party? Set up a photo booth corner! Bachelorette party? Get some feather boas and silly signs and take fun pictures with your selfie stick! These pictures will add an extra element to your night that you’ll enjoy looking back on.
4. Makes solo travel photos possible!
For traveling when you want to get more of the background in the picture, selfie sticks are a useful tool. This might be the most ridiculed use of the selfie stick, but it really does make a difference. Yes, you can of course get a stranger to take your picture. But if you’re in a secluded place without a lot of other people, or would prefer not handing your phone over to a stranger, then a selfie stick can help get a much nicer picture of you and your environment than a traditional selfie would.
5.) Use them for video creation (also known as VLOG-ing).
If you don’t have any fancy video equipment, or a spare cameraman on hand, a selfie stick can help you out a lot when you’re making a vlog. I recently made a house tour video to show my Grandpa, and I used my selfie stick so I could walk through my house and narrate the video at the same time. It worked great, and it was much easier than holding out my phone, or switching perspectives multiple times.
So there you have it! Now, if you happen to get a selfie stick at the office white elephant exchange, you won’t think it’s the worst gift ever. Enjoy your silly phone accessory and take some great photos!
That’s right, folks. I’m about to hit the big 3-0 milestone over here. Honestly, I’m thrilled! I am ready to reach a new decade and wave goodbye happily to the 20s. They were a fun decade, for sure, with many good life lessons learned and memories made. But, let’s be real here–the twenties are a long decade and they can’t help but feel like a 10 year long phase where you’re not quite an adult yet. Even after you’re out of college and presumably on your way to being a “grown up,” you still get those looks and remarks like “Oh, she’s just a 20something, she doesn’t know what she wants,” and things like that. At a certain point, I feel like you’re ready to shed that identity and embrace your thirties.
Of course, I’m sure once I’m in my thirties, I’ll still wonder when exactly I’ll feel like an adult. But for now, I’m looking forward to the new decade and the fresh start it offers.
In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I thought I’d do another round of fun facts and MORE new things about me, the author of Cliches and Coffee! I had fun sharing more about myself last year before my 29th birthday, so we’ll see how long I can keep up this tradition before I simply run out of things to say.
It’s almost April! Besides being my birthday month (woo!) and a month full of spring bursting into bloom, April is also home to National Poetry Month! This month-long celebration began in 1996 by the American Society of Poets to help mark poetry’s important place in our culture and our life.
There are many ways to celebrate poetry every day, such as honoring poets and authors, buying poetry, reading poetry throughout the month, learning about and teaching poetry in the classroom, and many more suggestions. Read some other suggestions for how to celebrate National Poetry Month here.
Poetry doesn’t have to be stilted, or old. There is so much great modern poetry that is really relatable and accessible. This article features 16 modern poets that write about topics that are a lot easier to approach then the things you remember reading about in British Lit. I also really recommend poetry collections, like this book of poems written by musicians and songwriters called Revolution on Canvas. I remember reading this in high school and feeling so inspired that the line between lyrics and poetry could be so blurred.
For me, I’ve decided to celebrate this April by writing a poem every day! After my National Novel Writing Month Success of managing to write 50,000 words in November, I think I should be able to accomplish the task of writing one poem each day in April.
Here are the rules of the Poem A Day Challenge!
Poems can be any length
Poems can be any style or type
Poems can be on any subject matter
Poems do NOT have to rhyme
By the end of April, 30 poems must be written. However, if more than 1 poem is written in one day to “catch up” or “work ahead”, this will be allowed.
That’s it! I think this should be a fun challenge for me. I love poetry, and it has always been my favorite form of writing, every since I was little.
I won’t post each day of poetry in this blog, but I may post a few selections at the end of the month to wrap up!
I encourage you all to celebrate National Poetry Month in your own way—post your favorite poem on Facebook to share with your friends, or write a short haiku on a post it for your boyfriend to see when he wakes up! Do something small and simple to see how much poetry can influence your life for the better.
Did you know March is National Nutrition Month? I work at a health insurance company, so word has gotten around that this is apparently a thing. In fact, I even somehow ended up on the planning committee to host a healthy potluck in honor of National Nutrition Month. I guess eventually some of the topics I write about all day would eventually slip into my every day life.
But I thought this would be a good chance to talk about one of my favorite topics: snacks! Snacks are the best. Everyone loves snacks. Grumpy? Maybe you need a snack. Going through the 3 pm slump at work? Perhaps you need a snack. Have a headache? Are you sure you don’t need a snack?
But of course, what you snack on is important. Having potato chip snacks 4 times a day isn’t going to help your headache or energy levels. So, in honor of National Nutrition Month, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite healthy snacks that will help keep you full, fueled up and satisfied.
I read. A lot. And the two questions I get asked a lot are
How do you read so much?
How do you pick what books to read?
The answer to #1 isn’t that interesting or crazy–I commute 2 hours round trip to work, so that’s a lot of reading time! That’s pretty much all there is to it. Also, audio books while you walk, drive or work out is another great way to “read.”
BUT, the answer to #2 is something I never really thought about until I was asked the question. So I thought I’d break it down for you all here and give you some helpful (maybe) tips on how to find your next good read. Continue reading “How to: Choose your next good read”→
It’s Oscars season, folks! You know what that means, of course. Time to round up your favorite movie-themed appetizers and snacks, don your most glamorous pajamas, grab your Oscar bingo card, and settle in the for the ride. Will there be political speeches? Protests? Gaudy outfits? Ridiculous stunts? Better follow along on Twitter and see what the world is saying.
Or is this just my tradition for Oscar night?
Well, whether you like to sit through the probably too-long ceremony, or prefer to catch the highlights the next morning at work (no judgement here); I’m here to help you out. I’ve taken the liberty of watching 8/9 of the best picture nominees so you don’t have to (you’re welcome).
Here are my brief and hopefully entertaining reviews of each of these flicks, and my pick for best picture of the year!
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about love languages. Now, love languages are a communication and relationship theory created by Gary Chapman in his 1995 book, “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.” You can read more about this here.
But basically, he breaks down the way your S.O. can show love to you (and the way you most appreciate/recognize acts of love) into 5 categories:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Everyone has a category they feel most strongly that says “I love you!”, according to Chapman’s theory. There are quiz’s in his book to help you identify which one suits you best, and doing so can help improve your relationships. That’s the gist of it anyway.
BUT—I kind of think that most people probably fall into several categories, like so many things in life, right? We want love shown to us in more than one way, and sometimes, very specific ways. I think it’s important to know what those things are about yourself, so you can share them with your S.O’s (or even your friends, or any relationship in your life, really. Let’s not discount showing love to your besties, or your mom!)
So, with that being said, I’ve puzzled over this a bit, and here are the oddly specific things that are MY love languages! I think they fall into a little bit of all of the categories above, and if you do any of these things for me, I’m sure to send plenty of heart eye emojis at you!
I think most people have a mental list of the places they would like to visit in their life. In fact, it tends to be a popular question to ask when you’re getting to know someone new—“Where do you want to travel most in the world?” I have a hard time picking ONE place I want to travel most in the world, because there’s so many places I still want to check off of my list!
I’ve been very lucky to have traveled to many wonderful places already in my life, but I think that only opens your eyes wider to all the possibilities that are waiting for you beyond your daily life. I know there’s so many coffee shops to explore, mountains to see, historical houses to tour, breweries to visit, fields to tromp through, and amazing photos to take all over the world, I can hardly stand it to stay in one place!
Maybe you feel the same way sometimes, especially in the winter when we’re all stuck inside a lot binge-watching Netflix shows and dreaming about warmer weather and landscapes in shades other than brown and dirty-snow grey.
You too? Great! Let’s take a mental vacation together as we look at the places on my travel bucket list. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to create a list of your own!
What’s on my travel bucket list (in no particular order):
Tour of the Pacific Northwest: Now, I’ve been to the Pacific Northwest before, thanks to my time living in Seattle and exploring the city, as well as a visit to Portland. However, I was somewhat limited in where I traveled due to my lack of a vehicle, and for whatever reason, my total lack of interest in beer at the time. I would love to go back and do a proper tour of the Pacific Northwest that includes more nature attractions that I didn’t get a chance to get out to, as well as visit some of the amazing breweries that call that region their home. It would also be so fun to re-visit some of my favorite haunts from my time living in Seattle.
2. Wine country and Northern California:
I spent a brief long weekend visiting a friend in San Francisco five or so years ago, and it was one of my favorite vacations! We took a single day trip on an organized tour into wine country, and it was the literal highlight of the trip for me. I would love to go back and do a proper wine country trip, either on one of those fun wine trains that takes you to multiple wineries, or on another organized bus tour where you get to visit multiple wineries, vineyards over a day or two, and perhaps stay a night in the region. Also, I know that Jeff will never do this with me , but god help me I want to go on a hot air balloon ride here! I’ll just have to go with the toothless hot air balloon operator while he waves from down below, I suppose. *sigh* Life is hard.
Now here is a city that is NOT THAT FAR AWAY but I have never been to! Boston appeals to me because there is so much history there, and I think I would love tromping about the city, coffee in hand, exploring the cultural and historical sites while surrounded by urban splendor. It just sounds lovely. Maybe we need to make this our next vacation, eh Jeff?
4. A national parks tour out west:
There are so many amazing and breathtaking national parks in the Western part of the U.S. that I want to see! Zion national park! Arches National Park! Glacier National Park! Yellowstone! I could name more! I’d love to plan a trip that loops through the biggest and best and gives you the highlights.
5. Disney world: I’ve been to Disney world as a child and to Animal King more recently a few years ago as an adult, but I’m talking a proper long-haul trip where you hit up all the parks and do it right. Maybe in a year or two this will happen .
6. A Disney cruise:
Disney owns its own private island in the Bahamas and I think it sounds pretty fantastic to spend a few days cruising around with the best customer service and the happiest place on the seas.
7. Greece: Now we’re getting into the heavy hitters and travelling overseas. Here we go. I feel this intense longing to go to Greece ever since we were supposed to go on a family trip there in 2001 and canceled it due to the political climate and travelling concerns after 9/11. All things considered, I’m sure I would not have fully appreciated a trip to Greece as a 13 year old as I would now as an adult. Greece is another one of those places that seems to have that perfect combination of natural beauty, endless pictorial vistas, delicious food (feta for daysss), and enough historical sites and culture to fill up your tourist quotas while you’re there. I think it would be lovely and so unique!
I think of Germany and I think of mountains, and castles, and bratwurst,and beer! I want to all of these things! I think there are a lot of great urban and small town cities to visit in Germany with well-known and off the beaten path attractions to keep you occupied. Prost!
9. Italy and Paris: I’m lumping these two together because I know they are a cliché, and also because I have been to both countries before, so I feel like they should get less of a priority somehow? But at the same time, whatever, no. I was 16 when I was in Paris, and I want to go back and do it properly! There is so much more to the city of love and lights and I’d love to go back and see it all through my more seasoned and appreciative eyes. In Italy, I have been to a few port towns but not the big-hitters of Rome or Venice or Pisa, so you know those are on my list. It is even conceivable you could do these two countries in one trip if you had like two weeks of vacation time to really do it right.
So there you have it my travel-bug friends–my top 9 must-do travel destinations! I’m sure this list will grow and evolve and hopefully change as I cross items off, or find new places to add!
What’s on your travel bucket list? Share it with me in the comments!