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30 Before 30

As I head into the last year of my 20s, I decided to create a list of things to do before I turn 30 in January. Thanks to literally everyone for helping me come up with this list. I think it’s realistic to accomplish in a year, yet will be challenging. I’ll provide a few updates throughout the year as I check things off. Starting with #1 …

[husband’s 30th]

    1. Start a new adventure. I’ve worked for Walmart for 6.5 years, as my first job out of college. I’ve officially accepted a position at Clorox, and couldn’t be more excited/anxious/thrilled to start this new adventure. 
    2. Make a complex meal 100% from scratch.
    3. Hike Pinnacle Mountain + eat a Hubcap burger at Cotham’s. This one stems back to my Arkansas Bucket List from a few years ago, and is one thing I really wanted to do that I never got to check off my list. This is the year!
    4. Successfully do a one-armed push-up.
    5. See a critically acclaimed show.
    6. Volunteer 30 hours.
    7. Buy all my friends a round, randomly.
    8. Play video games with husband for a night, complete with pizza + beer.
    9. Intentionally choose to stay by myself one night in a hotel. Obviously I’ve stayed by myself before, but for work or when husband was away – not intentionally.
    10. Learn a song on the guitar.
    11. Be in a play.
    12. Learn to play blackjack.
    13. Make a signature cocktail.
    14. Make a YouTube video that gets over 1k views.
    15. Start my book. This is one husband has been pushing me to do for years.
    16. Win at least 1 trivia night.
    17. Write 30 handwritten letters.
    18. Take a dance class.
    19. Go to a movie solo.
    20. Run 30 miles. I’m not a runner. So, no judgment please on “only 30?!”
    21. Die my hair pink. Again, something I’ve always wanted to do. It could just be a few strands, and it could wash out after a day. Either way, I think 29 is the best time to do it. 
    22. Do 5 things that truly scare me.
    23. Give an amount of money that is significant to me and is significant to someone in need, but do it in such a way no one would ever know it was me who gave it and expect nothing in return.
    24. Travel to state I’ve never been to.
    25. Take a personal day, for no reason at all.
    26. Challenge myself with a new hobby.
    27. See someone in concert I’ve been dying to see.
    28. Find an artist whose perspective of the world I appreciate and buy a piece of his or her work.
    29. Take a spontaneous trip.
    30. Plan a huge 30th birthday bash.

xo xo

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life lately

H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y   T O   M E 

{celebrating this || birthday, birthday, birthday! huge shoutout to my amazing family, friends + coworkers}

{eating this || two amazing meals in fayetteville – nomad’s + khana indian grill}

{relaxing like this || ahhhhh}

{enjoying this || a fun, freezing day drinking beer with friends}

xo xo

Book Reviews: The Best Ones + The Ones to Beat

Towards the end of last year, I took a little hiatus on my blog. I was getting overwhelmed with work + the holidays and was putting way too much pressure on myself to blog consistently, so I stopped. No harm, no foul. The great thing about this blog is I’m doing this for me so when it starts to be too much, there’s no reason why I can’t take a little break.

That being said, one my favorite things on my blog (and that friends tell me they love!) are my book reviews. I read quite a few books the last few months that I didn’t want to forget, so I added them to a list and here they are. A few of them made my top 5 books of the year list, and a few were duds, so we’ll quickly review these and get back on track for the new year.

GREAT books…

Lilac Girls – Martha Kelly Hall: (#1 book of the year) I have two typical genres of favorite books – thrillers with female leads + WWII historical fiction. This is the latter, following three very different women throughout the war and how their experiences shaped them for years to come. It’s unique in it’s perspectives (one a concentration camp doctor and one a prisoner) and is written in such beautiful detail, that you will be transported in time and come back remembering how very thankful you are.
Grade: A+

Sourdough – Robin Sloan: (#3 book of the year) This book is great and hilarious and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s such an easy read about a young woman developer who turns baker through a funny happenstance. I learned a lot about sourdough starters (of which I knew nothing), and genuinely enjoyed this quirky book all the way through.
Grade: A+

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng: (#4 book of the year) This book is very different than my typical reads, and I’m so glad I tried something new. Little Fires Everywhere is a slow burn. Literally. You see the ins and outs of two family dynamics and how they become intertwined. While there were several surprises throughout, the book mostly just leaves you contemplative.
Grade: A

The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen: Thriller with female lead – obviously knew I’d love it, and I did. There were several page-turning twists, that keeps you questioning everything. As the front cover of the book says, assume nothing.
Grade: A

Books not as great … 

Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen: I really liked this book, though think I would have enjoyed it more had I not seen the movie and knew what was coming. That being said, it’s a terrific story and gave me all the circus and animal and love story feels as it did via film.
Grade: B+

The Late Show – Michael Connelly: I honestly can’t remember now how I came across this book, but it’s a departure for me, as I don’t typically read established authors/series (such as a Michael Connelly, John Grisham, etc.). While this book wasn’t earth-shattering, it was a solid, easy-read, Detective novel.
Grade: B

Of Mess and Moxie – Jen Hatmaker: Sadly, this book disappointed me. I adore Jen Hatmaker, but this book was too hit or miss with no cohesive binding throughout. One chapter would be hilarious (as Jen is), then one would seem completely random and I couldn’t relate. 7 is still her best book I’ve read to date.
Grade: B-

The Unspeakable – Meghan Daum: This book was okay. It was a collection of personal essays/short stories that were billed as funny and deep and vulnerable. Some of the stories were a little funny or a little relatable, but mostly I was not impressed.
Grade: C

I’ve already read 2 terrific books this year and look forward to many more. What’s on your reading list for the year?

xo xo

[You can read all my book reviews here.]

 

Weekend Picturebook: Lake Tahoe

The BEST weekend with LITERALLY everyone.

T H U R S D A Y 

[first stop: truckee! the cutest little town ever.
lunch: bar of america with the best jalapeño poppers on the planet, wine: pour house wine shop]

[first night in the hot tub – complete with snow angels…]

 F R I D A Y 
[my birthday!]

[could we have asked for better views to wake up to?! all the heart eyes.] [snowmobiling with these two was so fun! it was seriously a winter wonderland]

[and here’s the rest of our crew skiing/snowboarding at squaw valley!]

[post-snowmobiling bloody mary]


[birthday dinner at bridgetender tavern + a robust discussion on my 30 before 30 (another blog post to come soon)]

S A T U R D A Y 

[shopping in truckee – yes, I came home with both of these purchases (and more!!)]

[met the crew for lunch at Squaw – ate some of the best pizza + tried on literally a million hats][final night – dancing + drinks on the patio!]

[sunset in the hot tub …
and not thinking about how rough it will be to come home!]

xo xo

You might also enjoy: Weekend Picturebook: NYC

Crustless Quiche + Homemade Salad Dressing {recipe}

I’ve been trying very hard not to write the cliche post about New Year’s Resolutions and eating healthier, yada yada yada. So I won’t. Instead, I’ll just give you two really great recipes that COULD help with such a resolution IF you had one.

I’ve shared previously about how meal planning can change your life, and I truly stand by that statement today. When I meal plan for the week, everything just seems so much easier and healthier and less stressful. Yes, it is definitely harder on the front-end and does take time, but it is worth it. Trust me.

One of my key tips is using Walmart Grocery Pickup – you place your order online, you drive to the store and they load it into your car for you. In this ridiculous weather we’ve been having, I don’t know how it gets much better than that. You know you want to try it, so take the first step – use this link to sign up for your first order and get $10 off. You’re welcome.

After engorging ourselves in December, we’ve gone back to the everyday mason jar salads for lunch, and are really a hit. I’ve even started making my own salad dressing. It is divine and so much better than that store-made stuff. I’ve made a few varieties, but this one has been our favorite.

A P P L E   C I D E R   V I N E G A R   D R E S S I N G 

1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/2c olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced garlic
sea salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake to combine! It’s as simple as that.

The next easy, life-changing recipe I want to share is crustless quiche. I first learned about it from my Mom early last year, and it is now a staple in our house. If we’re being good, we make some every Sunday for the week ahead.

To be honest, I’ve never been much of a breakfast person, but since I’ve started eating this in the morning I’ve noticed I’m not starving at lunch (which makes eating a salad easier) and I have more energy. The best thing about this recipe is you can change it up with whatever you want or have left over in your fridge. Here’s how we’ve been doing it lately –

A L D E R M A N S ‘   F A V O R I T E   C R U S T L E S S   Q U I C H E 1 lb hot sausage
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4c sliced cherry tomatoes
3/4c spinach
8 eggs
splash of milk
sea salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste

directions:

  1. Turn oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the sausage, adding garlic when its almost/basically done.
  3. Whisk eggs with milk and S&P.
  4. Spray pan – we use 9.5″ circular glass pan.
  5. Spread sausage, spinach + tomatoes, then cover with egg mixture.
  6. Bake for approx. 30 minutes, until set.

I then pre-cut slices of quiche, cover with foil and pop in the refrigerator. In the mornings, we take a piece, microwave it for about 35 seconds and top with some salsa verde. Yum!

xo xo

You might also enjoy: 9 easy recipes you’ll want to make for dinner again and again

2017: my year in pictures

J A N U A R Y 
birthday celebrations in Vegas

F E B R U A R Y 
the best tour guides + the best pizza in Chicago

M A R C H 
feeling fancy at NWA fashion week + the first of many trips to minneapolis

A P R I L 
the month of amazing concerts – radiohead + blink 182

M A Y 
always one of my favorite months of the year – mother’s day + weddings + anniversaries + beer festivals

J U N E
BEST VACATION EVER #HotarmansItalianCahoots, Part 1 + Part 2

J U L Y 
someone turned 30 (not me) + fun family reunion in portland

 A U G U S T
a mother-daughter trip to pioneer woman’s ranch + my favorite puppy turned 5

S E P T E M B E R 
labor day weekend NYC fun + polo in the ozarks

O C T O B E R 
a work trip to virginia with some pretty sweet views + won halloween (again)

N O V E M B E R
the best girls weekend in LA

D E C E M B E R 
celebrating the season’s best with my favorite people

xo xo

 

[a catalog – my year in pictures] 2016201520142013201220112010

2017: My Top 5 TV Shows + Books

T V   S H O W S 

While I’ve done this annual post 6 years running now, this year was by far the hardest to narrow down to my top 5 favorite shows. TV is KING, and I hardly have enough time to watch everything on my list. I’m sure you will all disagree with my picks …  I’m okay with that, and would love to hear your thoughts. I’m even faltering at the last minute on my top 5 as I post this, but here we go.

5. Stranger Things – Netflix: Last year, this was #1 on my list and while it has moved to #5 it is still a fantastic show we binged over one weekend, and is the only returning show from my list last year. Though the novelty might have worn off just a little, the second season came back with the perfect amount of mystery, intrigue, hilarity and post-show memes as the first. Move over #RIPBarb, we can all agree #DadSteve is way better.

4. This Is Us – NBC: I’m sure some of you will think I’m such a sucker, but this show has me wrapped around its little finger. I cry every single episode – to which Husband asks me why I watch, and I have no answer. I cry and laugh and am inspired and cry some more. Everyone can find something to relate to in the show, and it only keeps getting better. Lord help us all when we finally find out how Jack dies.

3. Master of None – Netflix: Another show that will make you laugh and cry and laugh some more. It starts out in the Italian countryside with all the pasta and wine, so maybe I was partially bias watching before our Italian adventure, but this show is just incredible. Aziz has created something so unique and heartwarming that it’s truly hard to put in to words. Just watch.

2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Amazon: This show was hyped so much as “a new favorite for Gilmore Girls fans” that I was seriously skeptical. Well, look where it is on the list. It cannot be hyped enough! Set in 1950s NYC, it’s about a witty, newly single woman trying to make it as a comedian. The writing is outstanding and you will fall in love with Midge Maisel, played by Rachel Brosnahan, and want to watch it again and again. A new favorite it is.

1. Game of Thrones – HBO: Trust me, I’m as shocked as anyone that this is my number 1 … a show that has never been on my list before! We tried it when it first started, and I didn’t think I liked it. Then we re-started it and binged 4 seasons last year leading up to the latest, and holy cow, I couldn’t believe how hooked I was. This show has everything you could ever want in a show – and ended with a sultry/scandalous love story that left me breathless for the final season.

Honorable Mentions: The Handmaid’s Tale, Younger (still one of my favorite comedies!), The Good Place (give this show a chance – I promise you won’t regret it)

 

B O O K S 

5. Option B – Sheryl Sandberg: I’ve already written an entire blog post about this book, so I’ll keep this short. This book rips you apart, then helps put you back together again. I want everyone to read it – especially if you’re grieving or if you’re close to someone who is.

4. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng: This book and the next are very different than my typical reads, and I’m so glad I tried something new. Little Fires Everywhere is a slow burn. Literally. You see the ins and outs of two family dynamics and how they become intertwined. While there were several surprises throughout, the book mostly just leaves you contemplative.

3. Sourdough – Robin Sloan: This book is great and hilarious and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s such an easy read about a young woman developer who turns baker through a funny happenstance. I learned a lot about sourdough starters (of which I knew nothing), and genuinely enjoyed this quirky book all the way through.

2. The Girls – Emma Cline: This book has been on my list for forever, finally became available at the library, and oh my gosh I devoured it! Set in 1960s California, the book follows a teenage girl who gets caught up in a cult that ends very very badly. I was fascinated not only with the cult, but also the transformation of the main character. If you’re interested in cults at all or just want a unique read that will pull you in, this is for you.

1. Lilac Girls – Martha Hall Kelly: I have two typical genres of favorite books – thrillers with female leads + WWII historical fiction. This is the latter, following three very different women throughout the war and how their experiences shaped them for years to come. It’s unique in it’s perspectives (one a concentration camp doctor and one a prisoner) and is written in such beautiful detail, that you will be transported in time and come back remembering how very thankful you are.

[You can read all my book reviews here.]

Previously, I have also shared my top movies of the year. However, I’ve stopped watching as many movies and focused on TV shows. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two top movies – Dunkirk and Wonder Woman. Both amazing in very different ways.

What were your top TV Shows, Books + Movies of the year? I’d love to know!
xo xo

[Catalog – 20162015201420132012]