I turned 31 yesterday. I had an incredible weekend celebrating with my closest friends, but I came home to the news of Kobe Bryant’s death. At 41. Exactly 10 years older than I am now. I’m not a huge basketball or Kobe fan more so than the average person, but the news left me speechless. There are a few things I’ll never forget from my 31st birthday and this is one of them. In a way, it made my birthday a little sweeter. I’ve always been one to celebrate birthdays big, but I felt especially grateful yesterday to have made it another year.
In the spirit of living to our fullest every day since we don’t know when it’s our last, I wanted to share with my faithful readers that I’m retiring my blog indefinitely.
For a few years now, I’ve had a life goal of writing a novel. I loved creative writing as a kid and filled notebook upon notebook of stories and dreams. I shared them with my family, my teachers, my classmates, my friends. It was my biggest passion and I want to take that back. So I’ve decided to use the time I was spending on my blog instead to focus my efforts on writing my novel. We aren’t guaranteed another day, so why wait?
It’s actually very apt that I published my first blog post in 2010 – which at the time was called An Apple A Day (for my maiden name Appleton). I started out simply by sharing the uncomplicated musings of a college student and then it grew into book reviews and my favorite easy/delicious/somewhat healthy recipes (that I know a couple in Washington state will miss!) and travel picturebooks and life lately and being a safe space to be vulnerable about my grief when my dad passed away.
I will miss this blog so much and the joy of writing it and reading all of your comments and how it impacted you. I never once wanted this to become a “job” or a way for me to make money, and it never did. It was simply a scrapbook of my life from 2010-2020 that I can’t wait to look back on for years to come.
This isn’t to say the blog will never return. It’s just the right thing for now. Sometimes you have to leave things behind in order to make space for something new.
Still want to know what I’m reading, where I’m traveling + where I’m drinking wine next?! Follow me on instagram @milledavis.
Cheers to a new decade and new beginnings.
[terrific trip with our “central park” squad – perfect fall weather, tattoos, peloton, amazing food + drink, comedy club, broadway and more!]
H A L L O W E E N
[“why’s the carpet all wet, TODD?” “I don’t know, MARGO!”]
[annual hayes halloween party!]
T H A N K S G I V I N G
[smaller thanksgiving this year, but just as thankful for this family and those not here <3]
Three Women – Lisa Taddeo: If you want a book that will surprise you, punch you in the gut and make you think about it long after you’ve finished reading, this is it. The non-fiction work is derived from a journalist’s eight-year journey across the country to understand real women’s desires and their stories. The power in Taddeo’s storytelling is it reads like fiction, and all three women’s narratives will captivate you.
Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know – Malcolm Gladwell: Gladwell can do no wrong in my mind, and this book was just as fascinating as his others in a completely new way. He examines our interactions with strangers, through the lense of history, pop culture + psychology, to try and make sense of why and how we invite misunderstanding into our lives. Though not a “self-help” book to teach us how to talk to strangers it does give us unique perspectives, which we could all use a little more of.
Note: highly recommend this one on audiobook, you hear the actual interviews, media clips + historical re-enactments
What Happens in Paradise – Elin Hilderbrand: The second in Hilderbrand’s current series, this is such an easy, great read. There’s mystery, romance and it’s set in a tropical paradise. What more could you need?
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery – Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile: If you’re not sure what the enneagram is – pause, google it, then come back. If you’re new to this whole enneagram business and want to actually learn more (vs just following meme accounts on Instagram) this is a great book to get you started. It offers some history, a little depth on each number, details on wings and access, and provides great real-life analogies to help you understand yourself better as well as those around you.
The Dutch House – Ann Patchett: I’m obsessed with this book, and it will most likely be my book of the year (followed closely by Where the Crawdads Sing). The story seems so simple – it follows a brother and sister through the typical ebbs and flows of life across five decades, with the house they grew up in (The Dutch House) as an unsuspecting framework for their lives. I don’t want to say much more, just read it or listen to it …
Note: highly recommend this one on audiobook, Tom Hanks narrates and is just fantastic (because obviously, it’s Tom Hanks) Also, yes I’m getting into audiobooks lately!!
The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewel: Such a strange, twisted, dark story about an orphan who inherits a house when she turns 25, which leads her to a horrifying discovery about her birth parents. It’s a little slow to start and the characters lacked depth, but the story was so bizarre and surprising it kept me reading.
You can read all my book reviews here.
[celebrated this || a gorgeous wedding with gorgeous friends!]
[cheered on this || tailgating szn has officially begun]
[hosted this || 4th annual fall party with the best cheese + charcuterie board ever]
[enjoyed this || work travel from Florida to Canada!
You know what they say – Work Hard, Play Hard ❤️]
J U L Y
- Pedialyte popsicles are game changers.
- Even if you like Black Box wine, don’t even think about trying the whiskey.
- Bottomless mimosa brunch is always/never a good idea.
- 13 years later, Veronica Mars has still got it. #TrueLoVeForever
- People are legitimately divided on the purpose of a koozie.
- Find someone to take on their first 2am Waffle House experience.
- Have a beer with your parents’ childhood friends.
- You can do yoga poses while holding wine.
- Take your birthday off work.
- Jump in the pool.
A U G U S T
- It doesn’t matter if it’s “dry heat”, 105 degrees is too.freaking.hot.
- Traveling hungover is the absolute worst.
- 3-year-olds will ask you questions you’ve never even considered before.
- Be bold and take yourself out of a situation you don’t want to be in.
- Sometimes an ice luge is purely for show.
- Meet your significant other in another city.
- Be EXTREMELY clear to said significant other about what flight you’re on.
- Go see an Illusionist and allow your belief to be suspended, if only for 1 night.
- Don’t let the tiniest thing ruin your evening.
- Be patient; it is a virtue after all.
- PSL Cold Brew is the best drink Starbucks has ever created.
- Never let me eat Taco Bell in the car.
- Buy a newly engaged couple a bottle of wine – even when you don’t know them.
- Let celebrities enjoy time with their families.
- Trust, but verify.
- Key lime pie is always better in Florida.
- 75% of adults are magnesium deficient.
- Mix prints and just go with it.
- Open the Veuve on a random night.
- The bigger the charcuterie board = the better.
The blog is back from summer hiatus! Here’s a snapshot of our summer – from NYC to LA to everything in between. ❤
[the best live DJ ride with robin + DJ john michael
350 rides for me + 400 rides for husband!!]
[mind seriously BLOWN by Dan White, the Magician – highly recommend]
[sunset sails are my absolutely favorite]
[greenwich village: dinner at palma + snuck in to smalls jazz club]
[labor day weekend]
[soaking up the sun in manhattan beach]
[room views + hotel pools]
[ended the trip at my favorite places with my favorite people]
E V E R Y T H I N G. I N. B E T W E E N.
[LE event of the SUMMER – Stephen and Jaimie get MARRIED!!!]
[celebrated my favorite guy’s birthday with concert, cake + daquiris]
[hosted family + showed them some of our fave spots around town]
[dinner + a show with the fam]
[sunset sails, whether on the hudson river or beaver lake, never disappoint]
Summer was delightful, but now on to my favorite season of all – F A L L !
[enjoying this || a perfect summer evening with tap dance, tacos + beer]
[soaking in this || the start of summer fridays]
[dancing to this || girls night out to see our favorite 90s cover band]
[relaxing like this || the most chill 4th of july weekend with my favorite people]
Alright friends, I’m signing off for the summer!
Enjoy the longer days, the extra time with family + friends and take some time just for YOU (preferably with rosé).
I’ll be back in September with life lately summer edition, alllll the book reviews + more travel adventures! ❤
I’m so happy with how much I’ve been able to read this summer – 10 books in 2 months. Check out my reviews below and let me know what you’re favorite book has been this summer!
No Exit – Taylor Adams: This was a perfect vacation read – quick and suspenseful with twists and turns until the very end. The premise is ridiculously creepy. A girl gets stuck in a snowstorm and has to wait it out at a remote highway rest stop. She makes a horrifying discovery – in the back of the van parked next to her car is a little girl locked in an animal crate. With no cell service and no exit, she has to unmask and unwit the captor inside.
Why We Sleep, Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams – Matthew Walker: I’m already fascinated by sleep and dreams, and this book gave me everything I wanted and more. If you’re not already as interested as me, it might feel a little repetitive, but the author says in the beginning to jump around, read the chapters that interest you, and even (you guessed it) fall asleep reading! Ha. Read this book and you will never think about sleep the same way again … and you’ll become a sleep nazi to everyone around you!
Summer of ’69 – Elin Hilderbrand: I’ve only started reading Hilderbrand’s novels in the last year, and I’m ready to go to the library and check them all out for my summer reading list. Her latest follows her typical formula, and draws you in to the stories of every member in the family – their secrets, their love interests and their personal struggles while also intertwining the national climate (Vietnam War, Woodstock, Apollo 11) during the summer of ’69.
Lock Every Door – Riley Sager: I devoured this book in 2 days. Set in a mysterious, famous residence in the Upper West Side of NYC, I was immediately drawn in. Sager’s writing is efficient yet captivating, and has the right amount of twists and turns to haunt you throughout. Want a quick beach read that will keep you guessing? This is it.
Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens: This was the first audio book I’ve ever listened to as an adult (Mom and I used to listen to them all the time growing up – picked them up at Cracker Barrel on road trips, ha!). I felt like I was late to the party on this Reese Witherspoon pick, but I’m so glad I joined. This book has the most fascinating main character and an intriguing plot. While there’s an underlying mystery, I found myself not as concerned with solving that and more interested in life in the marsh. A very unique book that I think will soon become a high school reading list staple.
The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living – Meik Wiking: Hygge n.(pronounced HOOH-GA) – a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
I am currently all in on living my best hygge life. This book is part self-help, part Danish culture and part happiness psychology. Not only did I learn a lot, but it provoked a lot of introspective thinking. This is a perfect little gift for someone, and a perfect side table book to pick up when you’re feeling down and want to learn how to be happier.
The Golden Hour – Beatriz Williams: My least favorite book of the summer – it starts out a little slow, but picks up as the character’s stories across countries and decades start to weave together. I was hoping for another Along the Infinite Sea (one of my favorite books of 2016), and though it felt similar in ways, this didn’t have the same intrigue and sparkle. Historical fiction set in WWII era-Nassau, it follows a love story, the glamorous Duke and Duchess of Windsor and a mysterious crime.
When Life Gives You Lululemons – Lauren Weisberger: The quote-unquote sequel to The Devil Wears Prada, this is a quintessential summer pick. Though I never read the former, I obviously know and love the movie. In the book, you’re immediately entertained by Emily’s new job post-Miranda Priestly, and you quickly get swept away in the drama of the housewives of Greenwich, CT with their neighborhood gossip and never-ending happy hours, all while wearing lululemon.
Final Girls – Riley Sager: I’m now officially a Riley Sager fangirl and have read all of his books (yes it’s a him, under a pseudonym), this one being his first. Three girls are part of three separate unthinkable tragedies and are the only ones left behind. This thriller is about how they cope separately, until another tragedy hits close to home. It’s full of so many twists, is seriously creepy and a terrific debut.
My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress – Rachel Deloache Williams: I can’t say this book was written well, or didn’t get a little lengthy about mid-way through, but I can say the story is FASCINATING and I can’t wait for HBO show (it’s already in the works.) The true story of a Russian girl who conned New York City’s wealthy, you’ll be questioning how she did it the entire way through.
You can read all my book reviews here.
M A Y
- Celebrate anniversaries, even if it’s just with champagne on the patio.
- Something you loved last year might not be something you love this year.
- Celebrities – they’re just like us.
- Put your mozzarella in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes before eating it (trust me).
- Watching series finales is more fun with friends.
- A themed party is a better party.
- Sunscreen DOES expire.
- Wine hack: never order the 2nd cheapest wine on the menu.
- Add coffee grounds to your hydrangeas to turn them blue.
- There’s no place like home.
J U N E
- Visit/call/send postcards to your grandparents.
- Las Vegas sun is different than Arkansas sun.
- Wash your hair immediately after smoking a cigar.
- Don’t let your husband go to the dealership to just “test drive”.
- Long weekends are not the same as a week-long vacation.
- Sports can actually be fun if you have money riding on the game.
- You can make a delicious drink out of (accidental) frozen wine aka breakfast sangria slushie.
- If it feels like fate, take the leap and go for it.
- Don’t break in new shoes in Las Vegas.
- Take the bet; you have to risk to get the reward.
We had the best start to our vacation visiting Kyle’s grandparents in Reno! They took us to Virginia City (old western town), we explored downtown Reno, and we had lots of late night wine in grandma’s gorgeous garden.
Then we took an amazing day trip to Lake Tahoe – one of my favorite places of ever!
L A S V E G A S
Night 1: We love the Cosmopolitan + Absinthe!! If you haven’t seen the show, we highly recommend, but warning it is VERY raunchy.
Pool days are the best days!
Night 2: We still love the Cosmopolitan and didn’t leave – found amazing live music + food at Rose. Rabbit.Lie, the coolest speakeasy behind a barbershop + late night milk bar cake (and secret pizza, obviously).
Another pool day and the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had in my life … also won $$ on my first ever sports bet. Yay Toronto!
Fun last night at Container Park + Fremont Street
We had the best vacation spending time with family, and can’t wait to go back! ❤
In May, we celebrated 5 years in our very first home. I’m amazed by how quickly the time has gone and how much we still love it just as much as that first year. If there’s anything that could make me feel like a legit adult, this is it!
In honor of the anniversary, I wanted to capture 5 favorite memories in our home + a few things we’ve learned along the way …
- I’ll never forget our very first night in our first home. It genuinely feels just like one of those highlight reels in a move. We bought our favorite wine + beer, ordered pizza and sat cross-legged on the floor giddily talking about the future.
2. I love hosting and entertaining people, and we’ve had a lot of incredible parties at our house (My Golden Birthday, Annual Fall Parties, South by South Mouth NYE bashes, Game of Thrones finale, etc.) It’s really hard to choose just one, but I think our #WarmThisHouse party stands out the most probably because it was the very first. We hosted family + friends, ate macarons + took shots, turned our patio into a cocktail hour, and ended the night with costumes and jumping photoshoots. I love this pin board of our polaroid pics from the night that I keep in our bedroom. It reminds me of the simple things in life.
3. Here’s a life lesson: A house is hard work, but a yard is HARDER work. Boy, have we learned this. I’ll never forget the first summer in our house when I spent hours pulling freaking dandelions from the front yard. Then hours pruning our rose bushes. Then hours at the doctor with my infected hand thanks to the rose bushes. Another lesson – sometimes just spend the money to have someone help you.
4. We’ve made several updates to our home – changing light fixtures, patching holes in the wall thanks to dear ol’ Olli, but none so big as deciding to add on a deck, and husband’s only request: a hammock. It’s been some of the best money spent + best decision ever made.
5. Truly my favorite memory of all though in the 5 years of our home has been enjoying time on our front porch. There’s something so special about that white wrap-around beauty. I feel so much peace on that porch, especially in early morning and early evening. (especially in fall with a blanket, coffee + book!) I’ve planned international trips out there, had countless deep conversations with friends + intimate conversations with God, and most recently enjoyed a nice bottle of rosé to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. A lot of life has happened on this porch.
I’m so thankful to have such an amazing home to share with my family, and just as thankful to have some of our best friends living in our neighborhood. Aren’t neighbor friends so special?
I truly can’t wait to see what the next 5 years brings. ❤
Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid: This is one of the most uniquely written, and captivating books I’ve read in a very long time. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story of the whirlwind rise and fall of a rock’n roll group in the ’70s is hauntingly beautiful, fascinating and kept me turning the page for more.
Cork Dork – Bianca Bosker: If you’re interested in wine – and not just drinking it – but the behind the scenes of the wine industry, the restaurant/wine culture in NYC and the makings of becoming a sommelier, read this. It did drag a bit in the middle, but overall very interesting and enjoyable. And obviously makes you want to drink more wine.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid: So after I read Daisy Jones, I was told to read this book by the same author. I’d heard so much about this one, but for some reason never picked it up. After loving Daisy Jones, I was skeptical it could be as good, but had to try. Y’all. This author can do no wrong. Again, uniquely written, captivating and hauntingly beautiful. Do yourself a favor and pick them both up to read this summer.
The Bride Test – Helen Hoang: Another repeat author, Hoang wrote one of my favorite books of 2018 – The Kiss Quotient. This one is similar in that it’s a super sweet story, easy read, but has more depth than you’d expect. A love story between an autistic man who doesn’t think he can love and a Vietnamese “mail order bride.” You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll be rooting for these characters.
You can read all my book reviews here.
[drinking this || all the beer at our favorite event, fayetteville foamfest]
[loving this || the best monday night with literally everyone at the killers!]
[enjoying this || a quick trip to LA for work, eating at my favorite restaurant, spending time with one of my favorite people + running into DIANE KEATON!!]
[cheers-ing to this || an amazing long weekend]
Reminder: for 2019 I’m starting a new series – 10 things. I want to capture things I’m learning in my 30th year whether tiny or bold, big or small. The rules: It can only be one sentence, and there can’t be repeating lessons from month to month. It can be something I’ve learned in prior years, but needed reminding. I’m also including one picture per month that’s symbolic of the month for me.
My plan was to post this monthly, but the past few months have been craaaazy so doing a combo post again. Here are 20 things I’ve been learning:
M A R C H
- Don’t be lazy – put your outdoor cushions inside for the winter.
- Sometimes a 9:15pm dinner is the best dinner.
- Porch wine always tastes better than inside wine.
- Israeli hummus is the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.
- There is nothing like the first spring day.
- I am the worst uuni pizza chef.
- Give yourself permission to do nothing for an afternoon.
- Lemon coffee is not just a thing, but a very delicious thing.
- The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
- Don’t listen to other people’s negative opinions.
A P R I L
- It always seems impossible until it’s done.
- Wind therapy is a real thing.
- Add brussels sprouts to your crawfish boil.
- Sometimes the right thing to right thing to do is the hard thing to do.
- A fresh coat of paint can make the world of a difference.
- Not all tiki bar drinks come with umbrellas.
- Seeing my name in a byline never gets old.
- You can get a sunburn in April.
- A cookie can make someone’s day.
- Book the massage.
10 Things: Jan + Feb
The Dreamers – Karen Thompson Walker: As someone who loves all things related to sleeping/dreaming, this book fascinated me. An ordinary town is transformed by a mysterious illness that triggers perpetual sleep. Though a little repetitive in the middle, this unique story kept me quickly reading to solve the mystery.
The Winter Sister – Megan Collins: Another female-led thriller (my fave) with a little less suspense than I’d like, but still enjoyable. Solid B, easy read, didn’t love the characters.
The Age of Light – Whitney Schrarer: I love love loved this book! Set in 1940s Paris, it’s based on the real-life love affair between photographer Man Ray and model turned photographer Lee Miller, whom I knew nothing about, but immediately took me down the Google rabbit hole. The writing was sharp, the characters complex, and it felt like a romance novel + historical fiction. I couldn’t turn away.
Girl, Stop Apologizing – Rachel Hollis: This one makes me very sad to report because I’m such a Rachel Hollis fangirl (and still am). However, this book just didn’t do it for me. It felt like it was trying too hard to be the cool older sister to Girl, Wash Your Face. There were still some great nuggets of wisdom, advice and empowerment, but overall not quite the energy I was hoping for.
You can read all my book reviews here.
Life lately has been CRAZY. I’d sum it up perfectly with the manifesto –
W O R K H A R D . P L A Y H A R D .
I haven’t blogged in a month (since our trip to Philly), so here’s a little peek into my life as of late.
[planned this (with some other party people!) || clorox spring fling at the holler]
[enjoyed this || a night out with the girls to see Waitress at the WAC – which we LOVED!]
[soaking in this || the most beautiful spring weather]
Busy month, huh? Philly > Durham > SF … and things don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
But you know what I’ve been thinking lately – let’s be THANKFUL for being busy with all good things, and enjoy the little moments of joy and relaxation with my favorite people while I can. ❤
[walked around Rittenhouse Square on the most adorable little streets, then wound up in this bookstore that printed classic books right in front of us! We picked up Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – such a cool souvenir]
[one of my favorite things about exploring a new city is the food – I read about this Israeli restaurant Zahav in a magazine and immediately called to get a reservation. 2 months out and all I could get was 9:15pm on Wednesday night, so of course I took it. I didn’t get great pictures, but this was a meal and an evening I’ll never forget! we got seated around 9:30 and didn’t leave until almost midnight. we did the tasting menu and it was such an experience and the food was amazing – especially this hummus! HIGHLY recommend this place if you’re in Philly and can get in!]
T H U R S D A Y
[all the historical things! independence hall where the declaration of independence was signed, snuck a peek at the liberty bell through a window, benjamin franklin museum, and my favorite: elfreth’s alley]
[the reason for the trip – BON IVER!!! I can’t say enough how magical this show was. the venue was stunning, our seats were incredible and I’ve loved Bon Iver for years. this was a bucket list show for me, and it exceeded all my expectations]
F R I D A Y
[recovery after late night show: donuts + coffee, and not just any donuts, some of the BEST donuts I’ve ever had – made fresh right there. my favorite was the strawberry lavender, and we may or may not have gone back saturday morning….]
[did a lotttt of walking down museum row, but totally worth it, especially to end up here…]
[is the music playing in your head right now?! we had to run the rocky steps, obviously.
and the art museum was also legit]
[drinks + apps with a familiar face!! loved spending time with AMR and hearing about Philly from a “local” ❤️]
[after a long day of walking + drinking, we stumbled upon a ben + jerry’s – it was the perfect late night snack by the fire to end our friday]
S A T U R D A Y
[because saturday morning it was rise + grind for a 60 min soul cycle! not quite peloton, but still fun]
[ended the trip the best way we know how – found a local brewery, enjoyed the sunshine and talked about our favorite parts of the trip]
For 2019, I’m starting a new series – 10 things. I want to capture things I’m learning in my 30th year whether tiny or bold, big or small. The rules: It can only be one sentence, and there can’t be repeating lessons from month to month. It can be something I’ve learned in prior years, but needed reminding. I’m also including one picture per month that’s symbolic of the month for me.
Since I missed the first month, we’re starting out with Jan + Feb, so here are the 20 things I’ve learned:
- 3 birthday cakes are better than 1.
- 3 happy birthday songs are better than 1.
- The sticks in shuffleboard are called Tangs and the discs are called Biscuits.
- I really can exercise every single day, even if only for 10 minutes.
- The most expensive wine does not always equal the best tasting wine.
- Don’t obsess over the weather – you can’t change it anyway.
- New year’s resolutions shouldn’t start until the first Monday of the year.
- It’s okay not to finish everything you start.
- I’m pretty positive I have seasonal affective disorder.
- Sometimes inanimate objects are really hard to say goodbye to.
F E B R U A R Y
- We have control over our fears, and they’re often not nearly as big as we make them out to be.
- I can get tired of drinking wine.
- Nobody cares or notices if you’re on third-day hair.
- Burmese food is delicious.
- Make time for Galentine’s Day just as you would for Valentine’s Day.
- If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
- The best team building is traveling together, especially if it also includes working on a ranch in 40 degrees.
- If you want to sound sophisticated about wine, just say it has BALANCE.
- Being bold looks different for everyone.
- While February is the shortest month of the year, it definitely feels like the longest month of the year.
[eating this || first ever attempt at making sunny side up eggs + chrissy teigen’s cheesy spicy hash
D E L I S H ]
[watching this || february friday night film vault: oscars edition. hi, stephen!]
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can read all my book reviews here.
N A P A
[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!]
[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?!]
[plus a hot tub night, ha!]
[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!]
[first can we talk about how gorgeous these views were from our hotel?!]
[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]
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.
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.
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. 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.
Hike Pinnacle Mountain + eat a Hubcap burger at Cotham’s.
- Successfully do a one-armed push-up.
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.
- Volunteer 30 hours. (17 hours complete!)
Buy all my friends a round, randomly.I really loved doing this one, and it was the perfect occasion – Thanksgiving Eve at Club Frisco. 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!
- 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.
- Learn a song on the guitar.
- Be in a play.
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! Make a signature cocktail.Another Christmas check – the most delicious drink with prosecco, vodka and raspberry sorbet aka The Raspberry Millay!
- Make a YouTube video that gets over 1k views.
Start my book. 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! 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!
- Take a dance class.
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! 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! 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! 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!) 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. 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! Take a personal day, for no reason at all. 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! See someone in concert I’ve been dying to see.
- Find an artist whose perspective of the world I appreciate and buy a piece of his or her work.
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!! Plan a huge 30th birthday bash.
BONUS: Read 30 books.
Here’s to 30 more years!
[getting excited about this || early saturday morning planning session for our upcoming napa trip!]
[LOVING this || 60 degree day + impromptu patio beers]
[celebrating this || our favorite 33-year-old’s birthdays with a blind wine tasting party]
[eating this || delicious brisket chili from wright’s barbecue]
[obsessing over this || $10 lilies from sam’s club!]
[trying out this || rent the runway unlimited – ask me about it! loving it so far]
[enjoying this || cozy snowy saturday with magazines + coffee]
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.
Riverdale – The CW, Dirty John – Bravo, The Crown – Netflix, The Good Place – NBC
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!