Gift Guide 2017 – For Her

So I realize I’ve been pretty MIA from the world of blogging for a while, but I couldn’t let the holiday season go by without putting together a gift guide! Full disclosure, these guides are basically just things I like that I think other people would like too. Maybe that’s every gift guide though…?

Let’s get to it.

1. A chunky knit cowl scarf/snood. Snood is a great word. If you live anywhere that gets even remotely cold, a substantial collection of scarves is a must. I’ve been digging the neutral, cozy, chunky look this winter…and not just because they look like they’d be good to nap in. A lot of the amazingly cozy looking scarves are made overseas, but this one is made in the US, and as of 12/5 has Christmas delivery guaranteed!

 

2. Book of the Month 3-Month Subscription. Yes – I’m still into subscription boxes. And yes, it would be more financially smart to just go to the library, but a 3 month book subscription is a gift that keeps on giving! Well, for 3 months. Book of the Month lets you choose one of 5 books each month, and the options are pretty broad. Cheesy romance? Yup. Murder mysteries? Got it! Non-Fiction? Check. BotM will introduce your giftee to some great authors…and something to do when they’re cozied up on the couch with that scarf!! 🙂

 

3. Rabbit Wing Corkscrew. Okay so I hadn’t planned on doing a themed list, but when you’re cozied up in your scarf reading a new book, it only makes sense that you’d be drinking a glass of wine, right? And how are you going to open that wine? This fab bottle opener. Joe and I have this one, and I love it. Plus everyone could use a corkscrew that doesn’t feel like it’ll fall apart if you twist too hard, right?

 

4. White Marble Cheese Board. Continuing the trend…(seriously, as I was pulling things for my list I didn’t choose themed things purposefully!) Having friends over for a movie night? Bringing snacks out on a nice serving tray of some sort makes you look like you have your shit together – even if you don’t.

 

5. LUSH Sleepy Lotion. I’ve read review after review saying this lotion gives people the best night of sleep ever. It apparently smells amazing (I have yet to try it) and has the same effect as taking a melatonin before bed. Sounds perfect, right? It also has the added benefit of being made with natural ingredients and cruelty free. Doesn’t get better than that!

 

6. Set of Travel Eye Masks. I discovered this website when putting together a wish list for myself, and fell in love! I’m not an eye mask user, but these designs were too cute not to post. They’d be perfect for anyone that a) travels a lot or b) needs total darkness to get some shut-eye. For the record, I put the laundry bags on my list.

 

7. Random Illustrated Facts. Everyone could use a little bit of well designed trivia in their lives, right!? This book seems like it would be a great conversation starter, or something to leave on your desk if you need a quick brain break.
8. Colorful Mini Notepads. Each of these notepads are only $4, and as I’m typing this out I can think of the perfect use for every style. Grocery lists, to do lists, doodling….plus they’re just tiny and cute! Clearly running out of steam on this whole wordsmithing thing.

 

So there we have it! Gift Guide 2017. Unintentionally ‘cozied up on the couch’ themed for the most part. Also, I guess I should include a note that none of this is sponsored by any of the brands I included – but I do get a free book if you sign up for BotM through my link! 🙂

Happy Hump Day, and happy 19 days until Christmas!

 

Summertime Favorites

Somehow it’s already the end of August – my Instagram is full of back to school pictures, and it’s getting dark before 9pm. Where’d the summer go!? I’m definitely not ready for pumpkin spice everything. Or shoes that aren’t Birkenstocks. But alas, it’s about that time.

In a desperate attempt to hold onto the little bit of summer we do have left, I thought it would be fun to make a list of some products I discovered and/or fell in love with over the past few months. Also, the last time I did a ‘favorites’ post was in the middle of Fall 2016. So I’d say it’s about time.


Starting off with what I’d say is legitimately my best find in recent memory – DKNY Bralettes! Every 5 or so trips to Costco Joe and I will mosey through the middle section of the store – rarely with the intention of buying anything. But a few months ago I came across 2 packs of bralettes, and my life hasn’t been the same since.

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but over the course of multiple trips, I ended up with 6 new bralettes, and now probably only wear a real bra once a week (if that.) They’re super comfy, have just the right amount of padding, and were cheap! 2 for $15. Unfortunately they’re basically twice that price online for one, but I’d definitely consider buying more – even at full price.


Next up, in keeping with the ‘wearables’ theme – I decided I wanted a one-piece swimsuit this summer. Mostly so I could drink beer at our friend’s pool and not worry about my stomach situation if I’m being totally honest. In any case, after 3 failed attempts at buying a cheap one (from 2 of those cheap stores where everything comes from China, and 1 from Amazon,) I figured it would be okay to treat myself and splurge on a suit I knew would be high-quality, fit well, and last more than 1 season. Enter: AlbionFit.

I’ve been following their Instagram for about as long as I can remember; dutifully entering contests in hopes of winning a shop gift card, and ogling basically every outfit I saw. I guess it should also be noted that I have a weird affinity for low-V tops. What can I say, I like to show a little skin! 🙂 It was super hard for me to pass over the cute patterns, but I figured black could stand the test of time. Anyway – I’ve had the suit for about a month now and am super happy with it…maybe next year I’ll go for a cute pattern!? We’ll see.


Next up on my list, an app I actually just discovered last week called Sworkit Abs + Core. Joe has been kicking major butt at the gym lately, but between work and just general feelings of “I’d much rather go home and drink a glass of wine” – I’ve been slacking in the gym department. Oops. This app has 3 different ab-focused workouts, and allows you to set the amount of time you want to work out for. I’m hoping to get back in the habit of going to the gym after work, but for those days that just isn’t going to happen, I’ve got this app as backup.


Earlier this summer after a bunch of eye doctor shenanigans, I decided I wanted to look into starting allergy shots. Starting the shots requires an allergy test, and allergy tests require 2 full weeks off of most allergy medications. Considering I’ve taken Claritin or Zyrtec just about every day since 6th grade, this was a big deal. I’m allergic to basically everything. Molds, dusts, cats, dogs, all trees….you name it. (But not food. So I’m very thankful for that.) Anyway. I was miserable. My one saving grace (aside from Benadryl, which I could take until 3 days before the test) was en essential oil Allergy Bomb roller ball from a coworker’s wife. I’m not going to say it miraculously cured my allergies or anything like that, but I definitely would have been more miserable without it.

Bonus points: it smelled good too! Equal parts lavender, lemon, and peppermint oil + a carrier oil. So easy! (and yes, it’s still at my desk. The allergy shots will take 6 months until I start noticing a difference.)


Has anyone watched Riverdale (CW/Netflix) or The Bold Type (Freeform)? Those are my 2 new favorite shows. Joe and I binged all of Riverdale in one weekend. To be fair, there’s only one season – but it was surprisingly good! It’s a present day murder-mystery type show, but featuring characters from the Archie comic book universe. I know that sounds totally bizarre, but somehow it works. Season 2 starts soon, and I can’t wait! (Plus, look at those ratings. That’s impressively high for a CW show.)

The Bold Type was equally surprisingly impressive, and another that I have been urging my friends to watch. It follows 3 friends through their daily lives working at Scarlet – a magazine basically like Cosmo. That in itself is an interesting premise, but the show also looks at social issues, girl power, and of course relationships…but not with too heavy a hand. Usually. They work under a boss that instead of the Devil Wears Prada Glenn Close character, is strong and supportive – refreshing to see in a female CEO type character. Another plus: any drama gets resolved pretty quickly. I’m not a fan of long, drawn out, awkward drama.


Whew. It’s been a minute since I actually “blogged” vs just writing a review! I could totally keep going, but I think 5 or 6 things is plenty. Hope everyone is having a great last day of August!

Happy Monday! 8/15

Well shoot, it’s been a while since I posted something of substance, eh? Moving + Disney + unpacking + freelance + regular work takes a lot out of a person! No complaints though – I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t keep busy.

  1. Friday over lunch I decided we had to tear up the carpet on our stairs. I’m pretty sure the previous owners’ dog slept there every night, so the stairwell just reeked. The stairs will definitely need to be refinished at some point but I’m just happy to not have stinky stairs anymore 😀
  2. After buying all of the painting supplies to redo our porch floor, we…decided to tile it instead. So far we’ve cleaned the porch and put down a moisture barrier, and today after work we’ll be smoothing out the concrete with some mortar (it’s in really bad shape right now.) There’s a good chance we’re biting off a bit more than we can chew, but it’ll get done!
  3. I did a few blind taste tests with Vökin, Grey Goose, and Ketel One with friends and Joe over the weekend, and they all chose Vökin as the best one – so that’s promising! Hooray for *officially* having good product!
  4. One of my friends is visiting this weekend! We have grand plans of building porch furniture and sitting on the porch for hours upon hours, so hopefully Joe and I are able to get the floor finished before he leaves for a conference Wednesday night.
  5. Even though it was already a week ago, I’m putting our Disney trip into my happy things, because..duh. Disney. We took a whopping 274 Photopass pictures; when you’re paying a lot of money for Memory Maker (aka can download all of the photos) – you gotta take full advantage of every. single. photographer. on main street. Heh. Really though, we had such a great time, and are already looking forward to our next trip. Which will absolutely, certainly, without question be longer than 2.5 days:) (Well, 3, taking into account the Delta issues we ran into on Monday.) Look out for a full (mini) trip report in a week or so..once life settles down again!

Whew! Lots to catch up on. In addition to a Disney trip report, I’ll also be posting a couple of reviews sometime soon..yay for getting back into the swing of things!

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Ouch.

Does anyone else find it ironic/somewhat comical that I possibly gave myself a concussion on the day I was switched from my mom’s good insurance to my own that only covers ‘catastrophic events?’ No? Just me?

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(The door frame leading to our upstairs is much lower than we’re used to. Joe and I have both bonked our heads on it a handful of times, but I hit my head extra hard last night and have some symptoms of a concussion this morning. Fun!)

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Now let’s just hope I feel better by Friday! I’m sure I will.

Also, can we talk for a second about Jojo’s poor decision last night on the Bachelorette finale? Whyyyy, Jojo, whyyy?!

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Shout-out to the Disney GIF app for existing.

ps. Yes, friends and family – if my head still hurts when I wake up tomorrow, I’ll go get checked out.

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Product Rave: Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pens

Alright, so full disclosure – these Papermate Inkjoy Gel pens would have never been on my radar had I not been given one at work (the company I work for owns Papermate.) That said, as someone who loves to write everything from to-do lists to penpal letters, I’m so glad I was introduced to the Inkjoy Gel pens. They’ve quickly become some of my favorites – yes, including the Japanese pens from Mochi Things.

Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pens

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I currently have 6 of the 14 total colors that these pens come in…which means my work notes, penpal letters, to-do lists, and planner will be quite colorful for the foreseeable future – sorry not sorry. The ink also dries very quickly, which is the biggest difference between these pens and any other gel pen on the market – thinking of you, lefties of the world! Heck, I smudge inks from regular ballpoint pens and I’m right-handed, so the lack of smudging is a godsend for me as well! (Plus if that doesn’t convince you they’re worth checking out… these pens just look so much nicer than their predecessors.)

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The pens come in a medium (.7mm, what I currently have) and fine (.5mm) point – and even though I LOVE fine pointed pens, the medium point feels perfectly good to me 😀 Ahh. I’m pretty sure that Joe, my friends, and Snapchat followers think I’m ridiculous for how much I’ve been raving about these pens, but I really am as excited about them as it sounds. Can I give 3 thumbs up? Because I totally would.

Have you used these pens yet? Let me know what you think!

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Blog Award Time!

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I’ve been nominated for a blogger award! Paul from palfitness nominated me for (in short,) the Epically Awesome award – woohoo, thanks Paul!

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The rules (which I’ll post below) state that I should write 5 things about me/my blog…and while I think I used up the majority of my fun facts on my previous award post – I think I can pull a few more out of my brain.

  1. I love writing, re-writing, and re-re-writing lists. Shopping lists, packing lists, planning lists, to-do lists….etc. And if I smudge something on the list or it just doesn’t look quite right? I’ll throw that page in the recycling bin and start over. I especially enjoy doing it when I have one of my MochiThings pens that I rave about here on my blog every now and then.
  2. I love subscription boxes, despite currently only subscribing (full-time) to one – Birchbox! I also have recently fallen in love with Club W, get an outfit from Fabletics on occasion, skip FabKids every month, but there’s the option to get an outfit for our niece Bridget, got a lingerie set from AdoreMe once, and have yet to completely cancel, was doing the Graze thing all of last summer (highly recommended,) Joe has gotten Birchbox Man and SprezzaBox in the past, and currently receives clothes from FiveFourClub…and lastly, Barb has given KitNip Box a try, with a PurrPacks box on the way! Wow typing that all out makes it seem like I have a problem – but I swear only Birchbox and FiveFourClub are recurring/monthly boxes!! Hahah. (ps, referral links abound! All but Sprezza I think.)
  3. I have a tough time doing nothing. I think I wrote about this in my New Year’s post (about how I’m like a hummingbird and all that jazz) but really. I can’t think of the last time Joe and I had a weekend where we weren’t doing something. Well actually yes, I can, but it’s because I was alternating between whining on the couch and puking in the bathroom. Even when we think we’ll have a weekend to do nothing but relax, watch movies, and maybe do a little laundry, we end up doing much more than that — and that’s just the way I like it!
  4. I think I’ve made it pretty obvious that I love traveling. Howevvvvver, nothing makes me happier than walking down Main Street USA towards Cinderella’s Castle! Spending the night in the Sahara (in Morocco), eating fresh hummus with a picture-perfect view of Hagia Sofia (in Turkey), or consuming way too much wine on a cruise down the river Seine may be close seconds, but Disney World will always be my second home. Home is where the wifi automatically connects, right?! 😉
  5. Some people need their coffee in the morning to get their day going, I need Diet Pepsi. In fact, my whole family does. If we’re traveling, no matter what country we are in, the first thing we do is seek out Diet Pepsi….sometimes clearing a smaller store’s entire stock, especially in countries where Coke is more prominent. It’s kind of amusing. On that note, we’re all very excited that Pepsi has taken the aspartame out of their DP – hooray! Sometimes I joke that my occasional sucky memory is due to consuming too much aspartame 😛
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Oh hey! A bonus picture of Barb snoozin!

Hooray! Now for the rules:

Include the picture of the award in your post and thank your nominator while linking to them. Tell the blogging world 5 things about yourself and/or your blog. Select 5 nominees, name and link to their most recent post!

That’s it! Pretty simple, I’d say.

My nominees:

Allison – 10 ways

Jamie – From 5’3

Linda – Nutsrok (she has an award-free blog, but worth a follow!)

Kelli – Kelifornia

Joanne – My Life Lived Full

Sooooo, yeah! Hooray awards! If you haven’t checked out any of those blogs, you should definitely give them a look 🙂 Hopefully everyone’s weeks are off to a great start! We woke up to another 4+ inches of snow here in Kalamazoo. Mother Nature can suck it – I’m ready for spring!

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Review: OZ Naturals Ocean Mineral Cleanser

Disclaimer:  OZ Naturals sent me this product, with no compensation other than the product to test and review. The following post consists of my honest thoughts & opinions!

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I’m usually not too picky about face wash – we buy whatever is cheap at Target, and as long as it keeps my face clean and acne-free, I’m a happy camper! Face wash is one of the only things in our shower that Joe and I currently share…we’re working our ways through particularly feminine and masculine smelling bottles of body wash right now. There are too many bottles of things in our shower. Mostly my fault (I need 3 shampoo options, right?)

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Anyway, last week OZ Naturals sent me their Ocean Mineral face cleanser to review, and I’m already loving it! My face doesn’t feel like it’s crying out for moisturizer after I shower, and the smell kind of reminds me of being at the spa…which let’s be real, is exactly how I’d like to wake up in the morning. I also really appreciate that the cleanser is all natural and not tested on animals, which I know is important to a lot of people!

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The ingredients in the cleanser are all restorative and natural: Rose Hip Oil is a natural acne and eczema treatment, with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that help decrease environmental damage and soothe the skin. Aloe Vera has anti-bacterial properties, which help to heal, soothe, and moisturize. MSM is a skin softener that is derived from healthy super food vegetables, and CocoBetaine is a solution derived from Coconut Oil that improves the foamy-ness of the cleanser, making it feel smoother on your skin.

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Pros:

Vegan and not tested on animals.

All natural ingredients that you can Google to read about their benefits to your skin! (That’s what I did.)

Makes your shower smell like a spa!

Cons:

It comes out of the bottle way too fast, I feel like I’m wasting a lot whenever I use it 🙁

I typically prefer a cleanser with an exfoliant – I feel like I’m getting my face cleaner than using just a foam, even when I know that’s not the case.

Info from OZ Naturals:

The CRUELTY FREE formula does not contain alcohol, parabens or sulfates, and is safe for all skin types. This face cleanser an extremely effective… you’ll want to add it to your natural skin care regimen.

MADE IN THE USA, in a state of the art FDA registered facility, OZ Naturals formulates the most effective anti aging skin care products on the market. This natural face cleanser will provide your skin a more vibrant appearance upon 1st use, we guarantee you’ll get results!

Our POWERFUL INGREDIENTS include rosehip oil, rich ocean minerals & vitamin e. This formula was developed to specifically be gentle on sensitive skin yet highly potent and effective at dissolving nasty particles that clog your pores.

Sooo, yeah, face wash! There are lots of things you probably shouldn’t rub all over your face, but this definitely isn’t one of them 😉

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Review: Billion Dollar Brows

Disclaimer: I was sent these products from Billion Dollar Brows, with no compensation other than the products to test and review. The following post consists of my honest thoughts & opinions about the product!

If you had asked me 5 or 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have known the first thing about makeup (okay well maybe the very basics, but that’s it.) However, I can now fend for myself pretty well thanks to the efforts put forth by two of my bridesmaids during all of our pre-wedding prep!

A huge part of my new knowledge involves filling in my eyebrows! I’m not gutsy enough to go thick and/or dark with them, but a little more definition has been life changing (well, maybe not. But I do feel more ‘put together’ when I attempt to do my brows, even if they aren’t perfect.)

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Anyway, I was super excited to be given the opportunity to try/review Billion Dollar Brows’ Best Sellers Kit and the 60 Second Brow kit, since slowly but surely I’m figuring this makeup thing out! I think my favorite part of both kits is that they’re good for people with both light and dark brows…though I’m not sure I’ve 100% got a handle on the pencil included in the Best Sellers Kit – that’s my fault though. The only eyebrow filler I’ve used up to this point is a brow pomade, which is similar to the powder in the 60 second kit – so I’m just more comfortable using that one!

As a relative newbie to the eyebrow world, I would have appreciated a bit more of a ‘how to’ included with the best sellers kit – there lots of pieces that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with off the bat. Luckily Google has allllll the answers to every question you can think of, and I’ve made it work! Now the only thing I need is my friend Olivia to get my eyebrows under control a bit. Or I could get them done professionally, but I mostly just want to see my friend! 🙂

Brows aren't perfect, but they're pretty darn good I'd say.
Brows aren’t perfect, but they’re pretty darn good I’d say.

Pros:

60 second kit is super easy to use!

Spoolie brushes included in both kits. If I don’t have time to do anything else, I try to at least “brush” my eyebrows before going out. Even that makes a difference!

The pencil in the best sellers kit doesn’t need to be sharpened – woohoo!

Cruelty free, and based on a quick Google, I’m pretty sure the products are Vegan.

Cons:

 

I wasn’t 100% sure how to use the best sellers kit at first- mainly just what order to use them in! But again, that’s just me being a relative newbie 🙂

I think it would be a skosh better if there were light and dark options of the pencil.

Info from BDB:

**Universal Brow Pencil: Formulated to work beautifully with most skin tones and hair colors, this amazing eyebrow pencil goes on smooth and natural. Plus, the Universal Brow Pencil is automatic—it never needs sharpening and it comes complete with a spoolie brush on the opposite end for effortless blending and a perfect finish.**

**Brow Duo Pencil: Highlights your brow bone to add gorgeous definition and warmth while providing instant visual “lift.” Our highlighter works with every skin tone. Plus, for on-the-go touchups, we added a handy universal concealer on the opposite end of the pencil. It’s effortless flawlessness!**

**Brow Gel: Our clear brow gel locks in your look, giving your eyebrows a long-lasting, radiant glow while keeping them perfectly in place all day.
Smudge Brush: This flat, synthetic brush is the ideal mate for applying creamy cosmetics like our Brow Duo Pencil. The perfect Holiday gift to share with a friend and spruce up your look for Holiday and New Years festivities.**

And with that, I’m going to help get the house ready for Christmas dinner…I can already hear (…I mean smell?) the cheesy potatoes calling my name. Merry Christmas!

I love our tree. It is enormous.
I love our tree. It is enormous.

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Real Talk – Paris etc.

Last Friday the unaccompanied man next to me at the movie theater ordered a beer, left the theater before it was delivered, and never returned.

Last Friday I couldn’t focus on how amazing Daniel Craig – I mean Spectre – was, because I was too busy worrying about where that man went, taking note of the nearest exit, and planning what I would do if he came in, guns blazing.

Last night my friend texted me a picture of the aftermath at the Bataclan in Paris.

Last night I sat on our couch, caught off guard by the tears suddenly pouring down my face out of sadness and anger toward everything going on in the world right now. (She has since apologized a zillion times and all is well.)

I’ll be the first to admit that my mind gets away from me from time to time, but in an ideal world there wouldn’t be any reason for me to worry about taking the train from Michigan City to Chicago this weekend…except that Michigan City is apparently on ISIS’ hit list. In an ideal world, when someone leaves a movie theater without drinking their beer, paranoia/anxiety shouldn’t set in, thinking about all of the what ifs. And who knows how long it will be until I can share my favorite international destination, Istanbul, with my husband without being put on someone’s watch list.IMG_7066

Although people are frustrated that similar/recent attacks in Beirut, Baghdad, and Kenya are being ignored, I think that because Paris has been featured in so many books and movies that most people feel some slight connection to this romanticized city, whether they’ve been there or not. The same can’t be said for the other cities, but that’s a different conversation for a different time. If changing profile pictures to a washed out French flag or re-gramming the Eiffel Tower peace sign is how a person reacts to all the crap going on right now, more power to ’em.

Amazing view of Sacre Coeur.
Amazing view of Sacre Coeur.

I’m not one to typically get hung up on major issues, political or otherwise, but for some reason I feel like I have so much going on in my mind just floating around. My heart is heavy. Maybe because I was just there. Maybe because I’ve had a connection to French culture/France since the 4th grade (thanks, French Back to Back!) Maybe because of the relief I felt as I saw a handful of Facebook friends checking in as ‘safe’ on Friday evening before I even knew what was going on. Maybe I don’t need a reason.

Selfie, minus mumsie.
Family selfie, minus mumsie.

I don’t really have anything monumental to say about what is happening that hasn’t already been said in another blog, news article, or Facebook post. Assuming all Muslims have a hidden agenda obviously isn’t the answer. Assuming all refugees have a hidden agenda isn’t the answer. Hopefully someone out there knows what the answer is…I want to bring my (future) kids into a world that has more good than bad.

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Disneyland Paris, May 2015
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Been to Paris twice now, have yet to actually visit the Louvre.

 Oof. That was heaaaavy for a blog that usually posts about food, married life, and hedgehogs. I need to get my butt back to the Happiest Place on Earth for some self-medication…but in the meantime, Christmas music + raking leaves while it’s still nice out.

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Sometimes I buy baby things.

Let’s be real for a hot second: I bought a pair of shoes on my phone while drunk on Nicaraguan rum on our honeymoon. They were a good purchase though, and will be very useful next summer. I’ve also never forgotten to brush my teeth while inebriated, which is pretty admirable, if I may say so myself.

This is the only documentation of rum/shoe buying night. Thank goodness for strawberry banana smoothies and 1 cordoba cans of Pringles.
This is the only documentation of rum/shoe buying night. Thank goodness for strawberry banana smoothies and 1 cordoba cans of Pringles.

On an only partially related note: tonight, I bought over half of Gymboree’s 40% off unisex hedgehog collection.

In case you missed it – I have a small collection of unisex baby clothes (keeping it unisex is the only way to keep myself from buying every cute onesie that crosses my path), a medium-sized collection of potential potty training fodder (Tsum Tsums), and a large collection of children’s books. I like to be prepared, what can I say? Oh – I also have a pet hedgehog, which I suppose is important to know, for validation of this purchase.

But I mean really, how could I just ignore the existence of these amazing things? And yes, I bought two sizes of the socks.

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On that note, I’m going to  finish this episode of America’s Next Top Model (season 9 has a girl from Valparaiso, Indiana – super awesome), and going to bed. Goodnight, loves.

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