Thursday, December 31, 2015


I figured I'd jump on the blog bandwagon and do a quick 2015 round up - all of my favorite things this year.  Like everyone, I can't believe it's the last day of the year.  2015 has been pretty huge for me - my first full year being a "grownup", a year with phenomenal travel, a lot of challenging work changes, some big stuff on the home front.  Here's to a great 2016.

Tallulah //  This will probably come as no surprise, but my girl tops the list of favorite things.  This was our first full year together, and it's been the most challenging and rewarding part of my life.  She's finally starting to settle down a little, which I'm grateful for, as her puppy-hood was long and hard.  I definitely bit off more than I could chew getting a dog, but it's been so worth it, and she's made me grow up and figure out my priorities a lot faster.

At Home Workouts // The way my schedule and life work, getting to the gym is nearly impossible.  In February, I started doing workouts on YouTube (this channel is my favorite) and it's honestly made such a difference.  I am a much better person if I spend some time getting sweaty frequently, and being able to do it at home limits my excuses.

Sorry not sorry I put a picture of you making out up, Mom and Dad
My Parents // This may seem like a weird favorite of mine, but my parents have had an incredible year.  Both of them have worked so hard for a long time, and it's such a privilege for me to see them reap their rewards. They moved into a new, beautiful home in July, took the family on a number of incredible vacations and have met financial goals I can't even imagine.  I'm always grateful for them, but this year, it's really been extra amazing.

Bean Boots // Backing away from the sentimentality, my Bean boots have been my most worn piece this year.  I chuck them on at least twice a week all year, and far more frequently in the winter.  I honestly wouldn't have gotten through last February - April without them, and I don't see the love affair ending any time soon.

Breakfast // Food is a constant favorite of mine, obviously, and trying to narrow down the things that really made my year was hard (this was a close second). In the end though, I ate the same breakfast for at least 80 percent of the year, so it won out.  Once a week, I make a batch of these beans, a pot of quick barley and 5 soft boiled eggs. Each morning, I put everything in a bowl with a handful of sautéed veggies and call it good. I'm full until lunch.

Travel // The last 2 years have been incredible for my passport and I.  This year, I spent a lot of time in planes and would not have it any other way.  I spent time in Baltimore, Ireland, England, Chicago, Provincetown, Chicago again and Miami.  The increase in work-related travel has been really exciting, if a little exhausting, and I'm hoping to do even more personal travel next year.

Tote Bags // To be honest, these have been a favorite for at least 10 years, but they'll remain forever.  I use a tote bag every day for work, and I can't live with out them this year. Currently, my Dagne Dover is the favorite, but the style of bag in general can't be beat.

Birchbox // When I first subscribed to Birchbox, it felt so frivolous I assumed it wouldn't last. This year, however, the days that those bright pink boxes arrived have easily been my best mail days. I've loved trying new products, and definitely found a few winners, but I think the box itself - getting a piece of pretty, girly, indulgent mail once a month lifts my spirits immediately.  Unwrapping what I got and trying it all out makes me happy enough to easily justify the 10 dollars a month. More info here, sign up here.

Overdrive //  Of everything on this list, Overdrive is probably the thing I used the most. It's an app that basically allows you to access the online volumes that your library owns.  I can honestly say that I would never have read as many books this year (66!) if I didn't have this app.  Once in a while, I load up my holds, then read everything as they come in on my ipad, or listen to audiobooks on my phone.  It's a priceless experience on a free app.

Skincare // This year, I feel like I figured out a routine that has really worked for me skin. While I'll probably love to experiment, my basic products have been incredible at keeping my skin happy, and I don't see myself switching them out any time soon.  I use this cleanser, this toner, this facial oil and this moisturizer

Monday, December 28, 2015

December Budget

Oh, hello, budget.  It's been a while.  Sorry that I blatantly ignored you all month. In case it passes your notice, everything I bought, minus the bow top, is gray or navy.  The Uniqlo jeans/pants etc immediately became my favorite things - so comfy, so easy to wear, and they mostly look like real pants, but without buttons. The bow back top was a hit over Christmas, but I think I'll get more wear out of it, and the Banana Republic dress has been on my wishlist for months and I scored it in the after-Christmas sale for 10% of the listed price. It's a Christmas miracle.
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1 // Uniqlo Jeans
2 // Uniqlo Navy Pants
3 // Uniqlo Long Sleeve
4 // J Crew Bow Back
5 .// LOFT Ruffle Sweater
6 // Banana Republic Dress

Fit Notes // Everything fits TTS for me. The Uniqlo leggings are seriously awesome - they look like real pants and have pockets, but they are SO comfortable.  The LOFT top is my favorite thing - super cute and easy to wear.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Traditions // Apricot Cookies

I am a little obsessive about family traditions, especially around the holidays.  Things need to be about the same, and I get a little crazy about doing the same things again and again and again. One of my favorite things is making apricot cookies with my grandmother.  The recipe is a state secret and deeply weird (the dough makes no sense, the filling is apricot and corn starch), but they are delishhhhhhh.  I brought my camera this year, here's what my afternoon looked like -

Monday, December 21, 2015

Book Review // The Good Girl, Fates and Furies, Modern Romance, Seveneves, Bull Mountain

One of the things I am most looking forward to with this break is reading. The last few weeks have been nuts, so I haven't gotten through as many books as I'd like to, but here are my favorites of the bunch -

The Good Girl // I don't typically like books like this - too dark, too twisty, too mind-bending.  But this book is beautifully written, with an incredible twist I did not see coming.  There were a few story lines that got a little old, and the characters felt a bit cookie-cutter, but the plot is amazing. Definitely worth a read.

Fates and Furies // This is one of those books I put on my list without ever finding out the plot. To be honest,  I'm not sure I ever found out the plot.  Unlike The Good Girl, this book is alllll character.  It basically follows a marriage in two parts - first the husband, then the wife.  I kept expecting some dramatic twist, which never came, but I loved the story anyway.

Modern Romance // Dude, this book surprised the heck out of me.  I thought it was a humor/witty/tinder horror story type of book, but it's actually a well-researched, anthropological look at how we date and what romance looks like now.  It's definitely not a scientific study, but it's darn interesting and really fun.

Seveneves // IT'S 700 PAGES. I could honestly stop the review right there, like that tells you a lot. Honestly, the plot could very easily have been made into a trilogy, which might have been better. Also, it's an incredibly exhaustive end-of-the-world space odyssey, complete with at least 250 pages of incredibly detailed accounts of how things work in space.  If that's your wheelhouse, this book is a dream. If you are part of the other 99.9 percent of the population, steer clear.

Bull Mountain // More dark and twisty. I should probably talk to someone about that...  Anywho - this is beautifully written, the characters are amazing, the story is unique and well-done (believable, interesting, moves quickly) and the twist was not what I expected. It's a fairly quick read and easy to digest.  I would absolutely recommend it and will read the rest of the author's work.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Outfit Ideas

9 days left of my favorite time of year, and planning is in full swing.  My family keeps it pretty low key during Christmas.  We spend Christmas Eve with my mom's family, eating a lot of shellfish for reasons that continue to confuse me, and Christmas Day is just the 4 of us in our pajamas.  Below are a few outfit ideas, no matter what kind of Christmas you're looking at.  I am so, so tempted by the onesie, especially as it has a star on the hood.  Enjoy!
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Bow Tee
Pixie Pants

Red Dress
Sequin Heels

Sequin Dress
Black Heels

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dagne Dover Tote Review

As a committed lover of all tote bags, my collection is far larger than reason would require. I have, as far as I know, never turned down the opportunity to buy a new tote bag and, in fact, frequently make them up.  I think it has something to do with my pathological need to be prepared for everything.  Until now, my tote bags have been black holes, containing every item I can jam in there with minimal organization, but this bag has helped me reform many of my overpacking/underorganized ways.  It has an incredibly thoughtful design, and I appreciate the insane level of detail that has gone into it.
Some specifics of my bag - I got the 15 inch laptop tote in Bleecker Blush.  I love the color - it's definitely not blush, more of a very dusty lilac. Not quite grey, not quite purple.  It's a gorgeous neutral that's a bit more unexpected. The quality is stunning - super sturdy, the leather is amazing, all the hardware is brushed gold/bronze.

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Why I Love It

Functional Organization //  As I mentioned in my Lo and Sons Pearl review, I love pockets that actually hold specific things.  The Dagne Dover has 3 pen/lipstick holders, a little pocket that perfectly fits my wallet with an additional outside pocket for a single card (usually my work credit card or a hotel key), a phone pocket right under my armpit (easiest access), a padded and closeable laptop sleeve with attached ipad sleeve, plus one more big pocket that I keep my Harry Potter coloring book in (ADULTING). Also THERE IS A WATER BOTTLE HOLDER.  I love it so much, and it's insulated, so it keeps condensation off everything else (works great for umbrellas too).  And finally, there's a key lanyard. SO FUNCTIONAL. SO ORGANIZED.

Thoughtful Materials // The bag is made out of coated canvas, so scratching or marking it are definitely less of a concern, and the whole thing is basically wipeable.  I appreciate that the entire bag is like this, not just the outside.  I am sure there will be a day when maple syrup or Karo or liquified lollipops or something else horrifying spills everywhere, and it'll be so easy to clean once I calm down.

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What, you don't carry a Harry Potter coloring book, crayons, colored pencils and an NFL game ticket around? Weirdo

Why I Don't 

It's Giant //  Like, enormous.  It fits my laptop with about 3 extra inches on the ends. The size means it's heavy, which would be a bigger deal if I was commuting more than an 8 minutes walk.  I carried it with me on this business trip, packed to the gills with who-knows-what.  It got uncomfortable by the end, admittedly.  Also, if you don't like to carry around enough stuff to live out a zombie apocalypse, this is not the bag for you. And we probably can't be friends.

Handles Aren't Perfect //  I wish that the handles were about 3 inches longer and a little thinner.  When packed fully (not distended, just full), I can't quite keep both handles on my shoulder without holding them.  And the bag sits right under my arm no matter what, while I'd prefer to stick it behind my shoulder occasionally.

January 2018 Update

I ended up selling the bag after using it for about 2 years.  To be honest, there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, and if I was regularly hauling around a lot of things, it still would have been perfect.  Eventually, however, I found it to be too big for my everyday use.  I was thrilled with the resale value it had on Poshmark, so overall, a fabulous investment! I ended up buying the Dakota backpack and am OBSESSED.  Reviewed here, but it's available here.

Other beloved tote options include the Longchamp bag (buy here, reviewed here) and the Madewell transport tote (buy here, reviewed here)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Best Books of 2015

According to Goodreads, I've gotten through 61 books this year.  Which is a little insane, but I did read two yesterday, soooo.  Trying to narrow down my favorites was nearly impossible, so I focused more on books that were a little more under the radar - don't worry, All the Light We Cannot See and The Girl on the Train and all of them were great.

Oregon Trail // Admittedly, this is a book only some people will love.  I appreciate that an exhaustive retelling of two dudes time on the Oregon Trail is appealing to a smaller subset. But guys, it's so good. It's informative and engaging and smart and not boring. I read it at a music festival and ignored several food opportunities to keep reading.

It Was Me All Along // I've been reading Andie Mitchell's blog on and off for many years and adore her writing.  Reading her book felt like I was sitting at her kitchen table, eating pound cake and drinking tea and hearing stories.  She's a talented writer who makes her journey-to-health informative without being preachy and inspiring without the inclusion of any obnoxious idioms.

All the Old Knives // This book took me by surprise - I'm not even sure how it ended up in my Overdrive queue, but I'm glad it did.  It's a very quick read, but fully immersive. The book basically tells the story of a single dinner, but not really.  I loved it and couldn't put it down.

Furiously Happy // The Bloggess aka Jenny Lawson, is a blog I've loved for a long time.  She's a hilarious writer who's honesty keeps me coming back again and again. Just like her first book, Furiously Happy is funny and quick and easy to read and funny and funny and funny.  I love that this one also focuses on mental health. She makes it relatable and, though I don't struggle with most of what she has, I felt empathetic and understanding.  Also, it's wicked flipping funny.

Ember in the Ashes // TBH, I read this book yesterday.  But in my defense, I started it on a plane and was so engrossed I read it walking through the airport, waiting to board, walking down the jetway and on the next flight too.  And then it ended and I had no idea where I was or what year it was.  It might be a YA book, but it's phenomenal. Perfect for anyone who loves Hunger Games/Harry Potter/Percy Jackson etc.

The Painter // The whole premise of this book is kind of weird - a dude saves a horse from an abusive owner and then all of a sudden all of this murder/hiding/craziness happens. It escalates real quickly. It's also almost painfully well written, like I needed to take breaks to process how good it was.  The characters are perfect, the plot is quick and exciting. And the writing, oh the writing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

23 Things and 23 Years

It's my birthday!!  I have successfully not died for a full 23 years, so that's nice.  In honor of my advanced age, I thought I'd list out 23 things I've figured out so far.

  1. Practice self care // This looks a little different for everyone, but I am a significantly better human when I get alone time, have makeup on and get to bed early
  2. Read as much as you can
  3. Say yes // To everything, in moderation
  4. Get outside
  5. Be that girl // Whatever you see as the ideal - the girl who always has a clean, welcoming home, that's always down for a party, that knows everything about baseball - work to be that girl
  6. Splurge on experiences
  7. Be effusively, sloppily, wildly grateful // Say thank you, smile, acknowledge hard work anywhere you see it.  It makes such an impact and is so easy.
  8. Always carry a Tide pen
  9. Eat good food // Healthy, not healthy, whatever - eat what makes you feel good
  10. Invest in the basics // Jeans, classic sweaters, coats, boots - stuff you'll wear for decades, pay for it to last
  11. Travel everywhere and anywhere
  12. Exercise as often as possible // Whether it's a walk, 15 crunches or some slow yoga, get moving
  13. Protect yourself // This goes along with self care, but it's so important to put your needs as high on the list as possible. Figure out what's required and do your best to make it happen
  14. How to feed people // Basically, how to make a handful of crowd-pleasing recipes that I can always whip up
  15. Treat your possessions well
  16. Be nice, not right // I most definitely am not good at this yet, but I'm trying
  17. Ask for the help you need 
  18. Drink lots of water
  19. Wear the right shoes // Right can go in a lot of directions, as I firmly believe that sparkly heels are appropriate, even if it's snowing.
  20. Budget for your real life // When I first started budgeting, I put tons of limits on how much I could spend.  Because it was unrealistic, I never adhered to it and totally ignored the budget.  Now that my budget is more in line with my standard spending and financial goals, I actually stick to it.
  21. Pack a sweater and sunscreen
  22. Mom's right // Every, damn, time.
  23. You are so, so young // Lols at 15 year old me who thought that, by 23, I would definitely have it all figured out. I'm not even close and absolutely loving it.