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Book Reviews: Becoming Busy, Becoming Anonymous, Becoming More

Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty: I’ve read most of Liane Moriarty’s books and typically devour them. This one was thicker than most and took me a little longer to get into, but overall I really enjoyed it. She weaves the unique cast of characters and intriguing plot together well – this one focusing on nine strangers who go to a “health retreat” that ends up being quite a bit different than what they all signed up for.
Grade: B+

An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks + Sarah Pekkanen: I loved this duo’s first book The Wife Between Us so was excited to see what they could come up with next. Unfortunately for me this one fell kind of flat. It was a similar style of differing perspectives per chapter, of which you didn’t know which character to trust, but it didn’t have quite the same excitement or intrigue.
Grade: B-

This Will Only Hurt a Little – Busy Philipps: Y’all, I liked Busy Philipps before this autobiography, I love her now. That’s a good endorsement, yeah? Her childhood and story are so radically different from mine, and she tells it in such a distinct, funny voice. I laughed, I was shocked, and I learned some behind the scenes TV secrets about Freaks + Geeks, Dawson’s Creek and Cougar Town. By the end of it, she really feels like your crazy best friend.
Grade: A-

Becoming – Michelle Obama: I cannot recommend this book enough!!! I know it’s probably the most hyped book of the year, but it 100% lived up to the hype and more. I was fascinated by Michelle’s entire story, everything from her Chicago upbringing to falling in love with Barack to the intricacies of White House living. She makes you feel like an insider. She gives you hope. And she really makes you long for the Obama presidential era.
Grade: A+

xo xo
You can read all my book reviews here.

Picturebook: Napa + SF

 N A P A 
[play hard]

F R I D A Y 

[arrived at our SUPER ADORABLE boutique hotel, Rancho Caymus Inn
and yes, that is a hummingbird photobombing my picture!]

[no exaggeration, hands down one of the best meals of my life at michelin-star The Charter Oak]

S A T U R D A Y

[bouchon bakery + yountville = adorable pit-stop]

[obviously had to schedule in a stop at the napa sign]

[silver oak 2014 cabernet release day party – so many people, so much rain, so much fun!]

[photoshoot at robert mondavi – and of course, more wine]

[and then somehow we got in CARPOOL KARAOKE! this is the only pic I got (though plenty of ridiculous videos), but it was tricked out with lights, microphones and an iPad to choose a song. why is this not more of a thing?!]

[burger + french dip at Rutherford Grill was exactly what we needed]

[plus a hot tub night, ha!]

S U N D A Y 

[no better way to start Sunday than with a Mumm Napa tour]

[aaand more sparkling wine with our Gott’s, which was DELICIOUS]


[our favorite winery – Bremer! we even signed up for their wine club, and obviously had plenty of fun on our own private tour + tasting]

[well yes, it did rain ALL WEEKEND and we didn’t get to do our hot air balloon ride, but we had some of the most picturesque views and seriously the best 30th birthday celebration!]

S A N   F R A N C I S C O  
[work hard + some play]

[first can we talk about how gorgeous these views were from our hotel?!]


[wonderful dinner with some of my favorite people at Nopa]

[ate some new food + made some new friends at Burma Love]

[couldn’t have ended the week better than with the best team building at Slide Ranch – we worked, we hiked, we ate amazing farm-to-table food and we honored a lost team member. love this work family so much! <3]

xo xo

30 Before 30: Update

Update: I did not complete my 30 before 30 list.

And I’m okay with that.

Y’all, I was striving so hard to complete this list before turning 30 last weekend. But to what end? Because I promised myself I would complete it? Because I made a public promise to my fellow readers, friends and family?

But then I realized, is it worth it to knock things off the list purely for the sake of doing so, and not for the sake of really doing them?

I was discussing this recently with a friend and she called it the “girl scout mentality” – we were raised to stick to our commitments and never break them no matter what. But the older I get, the more I kind of think that’s BS. Sometimes you just can’t do it all, and THAT’S OKAY. This same friend also said, I think this is the lesson you were meant to learn from this list. 

Wow.

I literally sat speechless and we both literally got goosebumps because it was so evidently true. I then thought back to my #1 resolution for 2019 I had written in my journal several weeks ago: Remove perfection as a goal. 

Does anyone else need to hear that as much as me?

So okay, I’m not perfect and I didn’t complete the list, but that’s okay. As husband said, you just add them to your life list and do them when the time is right.

All that to say, I did knock a few more off the list these past few months (and actually ended up crossing off 23/30!), so here’s a complete update on my 30 before 30.

    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. This one might have been my favorite one to check off the list thus far. I knew the meal I wanted to make was Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and knew it would be more fun with help from my mom! It actually wasn’t as difficult as we thought it would be, just verryyy time consuming, but TOTALLY WORTH IT. Oh my gosh this was delicious. 
    3. Hike Pinnacle Mountain + eat a Hubcap burger at Cotham’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat at Cotham’s since the original location burned down last year. However, I did hike Pinnacle – and it was a doozy! The challenge was worth it, as the views were stunning, and we’re already planning another hike up in the Fall.
    4. Successfully do a one-armed push-up.
    5. See a critically acclaimed show. This one makes me so happy because I’ve been dying to see Hamilton and Mom got me tickets for my 29th birthday for our trip to Chicago. It was AMAZING. Absolutely go see it if you get the chance.
    6. Volunteer 30 hours. (17 hours complete!) 
    7. Buy all my friends a round, randomly. I really loved doing this one, and it was the perfect occasion – Thanksgiving Eve at Club Frisco.
    8. Play video games with Husband for a night, complete with pizza + beer. This was so fun! We played Mario Kart (he schooled me), tennis (both won) and a fighting game (which we also both won, to Husband’s chagrin). I definitely need to get in Husband’s world and do this more often!
    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. Nephew Jack taught me this one over Christmas. I learned the basics and now we just need to head to Downstream (or Vegas!) to really play!
    13. Make a signature cocktail. Another Christmas check – the most delicious drink with prosecco, vodka and raspberry sorbet aka The Raspberry Millay! 
    14. Make a YouTube video that gets over 1k views.
    15. Start my book. Yay I’ve FINALLY started it, and no I won’t share any details yet! 
    16. Win at least 1 trivia night. This one was totally out of the blue, but glad it happened the way it did. We won the poolside Hollywood Trivia on our family vacation in Mexico. Go Team Guacamole!
    17. Write 30 handwritten letters. This has also been one of my favorite ones to check off the list and I’m planning to set a goal for myself to write letters every year!
    18. Take a dance class.
    19. Go to a movie solo. I went to see Crazy, Rich Asians (which was THE BEST) and it was so liberating to go to a movie solo. I also happened to be the only person in the theater, so it was extra solo! Ha!
    20. Ride 300 miles. Maybe this one didn’t take as along as anticipated, but it’s still checked off the list and I’m proud!
    21. Dye my hair pink. So this one, I can at least say I tried. I covered my hair (twice!) with pink hair dye from the grocery store to no avail. I’ll try again or just clip some in!
    22. Do 5 things that scare me. (1. Leave my comfortable job of 6.5 years. 2. Ride a snowmobile 3. Therapods aka Sensory Deprivation Tank – ask me about it and I’ll tell ya more. 4. Seriously discuss having kids. 5. We’re booked for a hot air balloon ride next week in Napa, something that’s been on my bucket list for years!)
    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. I won’t share details, but this was so rewarding and definitely something we will continue to do, and probably my favorite on the list.
    24. Travel to a state I’ve never been to.  This one actually happened without me even realizing it. I thought I’d been to North Carolina, but hadn’t – and now I’ve been twice for work this year. Check! 
    25. Take a personal day, for no reason at all.
    26. Challenge myself with a new hobby. I didn’t realize it at first, but this is totally the Peloton! Since I didn’t grow up in sports or really sticking with an exercise routine, riding consistently has been a huge challenge for me and totally feels like a new hobby! We even chose to ride while on vacation – something I never thought I’d do, ha!
    27. See someone in concert I’ve been dying to see. Taylor Swift – check. Taking Back Sunday (our favorite band from high school) – check AND Beyonce/Jay-Z coming up next month. I think I can officially check this one off the list.
    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. Someone could probably fight me on this, but it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want – our NYC trip was totally spontaneous for me. No, it wasn’t a pick-up-and-go trip, but our friend Mark called, said he was having his 30th birthday party in NYC and did we want to go? I never turn down a trip to New York, so we said yes, but not planning something like that several months out is my kind of spontaneity!!
    30. Plan a huge 30th birthday bash.

BONUS: Read 30 books. 

Here’s to 30 more years!
xo xo

life lately

img_7669[getting excited about this || early saturday morning planning session for our upcoming napa trip!]

img_7672

[LOVING this || 60 degree day + impromptu patio beers]

img_7737img_7729
[celebrating this || our favorite 33-year-old’s birthdays with a blind wine tasting party]

img_7766

[eating this || delicious brisket chili from wright’s barbecue]

img_7790

[obsessing over this || $10 lilies from sam’s club!]

img_7747

[trying out this || rent the runway unlimited – ask me about it! loving it so far]

screen shot 2019-01-19 at 11.29.18 am

[enjoying this || cozy snowy saturday with magazines + coffee]

xo xo

2018: My Top 5 Movies, TV Shows + Books

M O V I E S 

5. Mary Poppins Returns: You just can’t leave this movie without a smile on your face and a hop in your step. Pardon the cliché, but Emily Blunt is practically perfect in every way. The magic of the original movie was not only captured, but enhanced for another generation to love this enchanting story.

4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Netflix): Okay, this is probably the cheesiest movie on my list and I’m sure to get some eye rolls, but guys, I LOVED this movie. Like, seriously, cheesy, rom-com loved this movie. The story is adorable, the acting is surprisingly good and we were all introduced to Noah Centineo, so there’s that.

3. A Star Is Born: You might be surprised this isn’t #1, but regardless this was a fantastic movie. I mean, Bradley Cooper as actor, director, writer, producer – can that man do any wrong? And Lady Gaga, OH MY GOSH Lady Gaga – I have an entirely new respect for her now. Also, how many times have we all collectively listened to “Shallow”?!

2. A Quiet Place: This is shockingly in the #2 spot, probably shockingly because I typically dislike scary movies. This one is SO unique though. Pre-Birdbox mania, this post-apocalyptic movie without sound keeps you holding your breath literally the entire movie. Also, can we give it up for cutest ever husband-wife duo John Krasinski + Emily Blunt (again!)!!

1. Bohemian Rhapsody: I LOVE LOVE LOVED this movie! The story, the music, the acting – Rami Malek is phenomenal. I’ve loved him since Mr. Robot, but I’m so glad he got to show the world how amazing he is. I couldn’t stop singing Queen for days and the movie just made me so very happy.

T V   S H O W S

Y’all, if you don’t know this about me – I watch a lot of TV, like A LOT. And I love it and am not ashamed by it. This list is always the hardest for me to write every year, but when it comes down to it – I just try and think about what shows I’m most excited to watch every week, so here it is:

5. Outlander – Starz: This was #2 on the list last year (when I binged the entire series), so it’s not quite as high up there this year and this season has been a little slower, but I still adore this show so freaking much and it’s one of my favorite love stories of all time.

4. The Assassination of Gianni Versace – FX: This show captivated me. I was fascinated by Andrew Cunanan (the assassin) and obviously the portrayal by Darren Criss – who deserves ALL the awards. It’s honestly less about the assassination of Gianni Versace and more a mental psych study of Cunanan.

3. You – Lifetime: Okay y’all, this one shocked me how much I loved it. I noted it as a new show to watch early in the season because it’s a psychological thriller with Penn Badgley (aka gossip girl) and my favorite pretty little liar Shay Mitchell. But, this show. THIS. SHOW. Watch it on Netflix now. This role was MADE for Badgley, and you’ll be thoroughly creeped out, but loving it by the finale.

2. Younger – TV Land: Looking for a show that’s funny and heartwarming and has the best wardrobe and the best girlfriends and the best love triangle? (Oh and Lizzie McGuire all grown up!?) This is it. Please watch it now, and text me when you love it as much as I do. #TeamJosh

1. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Amazon: Can Amy Sherman-Palladino do no wrong?! Also … can Rachel Brosnahan do no wrong?! This show continues to top my list thanks to the phenomenal acting, gorgeous set and costume design, and exciting plot. Give them all the awards, please and thank you.

Honorable mentions:
Riverdale – The CW, Dirty John – Bravo, The Crown – Netflix, The Good Place – NBC

 

B O O K S

5. Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis: Y’all know I love a good self-help book (Carry On, Warrior, Lean In) and this one was no exception. What I loved about this one though, is how structured and specific it was. Each chapter is about a lie we tell ourselves. For example, “I’m defined by my weight” or “I can’t get past this”. Rachel does a fantastic job of breaking down the lie, giving a personal anecdote and sharing 3 specific ideas on how to combat these lies in our lives. Highly, highly recommend. You should also follow her on Instagram because she’s awesome.

4. The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang: This book was so stinkin’ adorable! I would characterize it as Eleanor Oliphant (another favorite) meets 50 Shades of Gray – yes, it’s steamier than you’re expecting, but has such a great story about a 30-year-old woman with Asperger’s who just wants to learn how to date. I don’t want to say much else, just read and fall in love with this fun, original, sexy book.

3. The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager: It’s been a while since a thriller has kept me in suspense the ENTIRE BOOK. And a while since I’ve stayed up late (1am!) finishing a book because I had to know what happened. It’s basically Pretty Little Liars goes to summer camp, so I was obviously interested from the get go, but the storytelling is just fantastic without a single dull moment.

2. Women in Sunlight – Frances Mayes: From the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, this book did everything I wanted it to and more. The story follows four older women whose children want to put them in a retirement home, but instead become quick friends and decide to move to Tuscany. I laughed, I cried and I was transported back to Italy with every single page. The writing is terrific, changing with the character’s perspectives, and the story will give you passion to do something radical.

1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman: This book. Oh my goodness, this book. As a friend said, “YOU ARE IN FOR A DELIGHTFUL TREAT.” It’s so charming, yet so unexpected. You fall in love with the main character by the end, despite thinking you’re not sure how you can possibly relate to her at the beginning. It’s an uplifting, feel-good book, but with serious substance.

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

[Catalog – 201720162015201420132012]

 

2018: my year in pictures


J A N U A R Y
birthday celebrations in lake tahoe with literally everyone

F E B R U A R Y
started a new job at the clorox company and haven’t looked back!

M A R C H
amazing family vacation in mexico

A P R I L 
little rock trip to hike pinnacle mountain + brunch at lost forty

M A Y 
fayetteville foamfest – our favorite event of the year

J U N E
TAYLOR SWIFT in chicago + deck warming party

J U L Y 
trip to NYC (including live peloton ride, obviously) + the best 90s night for husband’s birthday


A U G U S T
palm springs for kira’s 30th!


S E P T E M B E R
beyonce + jay-z in dallas

O C T O B E R 
the national in kc + 3rd annual fall party


N O V E M B E R 
two terrific thanksgivings then a detoxing weekend getaway

D E C E M B E R 
girls weekend in nyc + got some very important people engaged + amazing family time + ending the year with the best nye bash

Cheers to 2019!

xo xo

[a catalog – my year in pictures] 20172016201520142013201220112010

5 years later.

5 years later I still miss you.

5 years later I want to tell you about how kyle and I are super into vinyls now – old and new, always growing our collection, because I know you’d just love that.

5 years later I still remember the worst phone call of my life and the longest, loneliest flight from arkansas to ohio.

5 years later I hold on to the few months leading up to this day that were full of memories – taking funny pictures while passing out candy at halloween, enjoying a gorgeous fall day tailgating, thanksgiving at home with the family and christmas together before we parted ways, us to vacation in seattle/vancouver and you back to ohio for work.

5 years later I still remember the last text you sent me – making sure we got home from our vacation okay and that you were watching Cash Cab, our favorite, and we’d talk tomorrow.

5 years later I still think of you every time I pass a woodie station wagon or finish a crossword puzzle or hear “classic rock”.

5 years later the holidays are still hard.

5 years later I want to tell you about my new job – about my amazing coworkers and how I’m doing something I love and how I’m happy, because I know you’d be so proud.

5 years later I want you to take me deep sea fishing in key west – because you talked about it all the time and we never got to go.

5 years later I want to sit on our back porch and drink a beer together.

5 years later I want to tell you we saw Ben Bailey from Cash Cab in NYC this summer.

5 years later I want you to know we’re happy, we’re all happy – but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten you or love you any less.

xo xo
Love, your little darlin’

A Tribute: Wonderful Father, Loving Husband of 40 Years, Loyal Friend aka Donny “Rooster”