Friday five

March 16, 2018

ONE || Armchair Expert | Interview with Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres is the golden-haired bridge between “us” and “them.” Everyone loves her, so when I found her candid interview on Dax Shepard’s new podcast, I was floored. Who knew she could be even more charming and open?

TWO || The Keepers

The Keepers is a true-crime Netflix original that centers around the unsolved murder of nun, Sister Cathy Cesnik, and two former students who are trying to solve the case. In digging up those skeletons, they unearth something even more diabolical. This docuseries is gut-wrenching. Catholicism. Rape. Murder. Cover-ups and corruption. It’s terrible. But it’s a must-see.

Episode 2 will destroy your life.

Actually, it just gets worse from there.

THREE || Heritage Minutes: Lucy Maud Montgomery

Lucy Maud Montgomery—writer of 19 novels, including my favorite Anne of Green Gables—is my soul sister. I will forever be thankful to her because she gave me Anne, and Anne gave me the courage I needed to proudly embrace being smart.

Smarter than the boys.

And if/when I wasn’t the smartest, I found the courage to be okay with that (eventually) and continued to be voracious in my pursuit of knowledge.

Thank you, Lucy Maud Montgomery, for fighting against sexism, depression, and rejection. My path has been more sure-footed because you and Anne lit the way.

FOUR || Sure Sure

Your new favorite band, Sure Sure. Four quirky guys and an alt-indie pop sound that’ll be sure to get your foot a-tapping.

FIVE || Zola Wedding Registry

I had not heard of Zola until an engaged friend of mine showed me where she was registered. Color me excited! You can register for all the brands and best gifts—towels, vacuums, cutlery, pet stuffs, you name it—but also (and this is my favorite part) experiences! I’m talkin’ hotels, fitness classes, wine clubs, honeymoon funds, airfare! Eek!

My middle little brother (as he is affectionately known around my apartment) popped the question to his sweetheart on TUESDAY, y’all! So maybe this will be a game changer for them as they register for gifts.

Also, congrats and best wishes to Cai and Sam on their engagement. I love ya, middle little.

How I Plan to Break Up with Diet Coke

March 7, 2018

Having tried and failed to give up diet coke more times than I care to mention, I want to make this year a turning point. My 30s are creeping up on me, and I’d love to enter into that new phase not only with a better, more healthy body but a more positive mindset. That means kicking diet coke to the curb.

No matter how much I love thee, Diet Coke, you are bad for me.

Reasons to Give up the DC

  • Health
    • Diet coke is bad for my teeth, waistline, and skin–all aspects of the body that advertise age.
    • Being addicted (though I use that word lightly) to something is a life buster. I don’t want any chains holding me down. This is my life, and I don’t want to be ruled by a beverage.
    • I failed at giving up diet coke in 2016. For 3 months, I didn’t even have one sip. Until I did. I fell off the wagon, and my skin freaked out. I dealt with breakouts that my teenage self didn’t see. Honestly, my skin still hasn’t fully recovered.
    • Plus, it’s just bad for my overall health.
  • Money
    • Getting a soda when we eat out adds an easy $2 to our meal. That might seem negligible, but we eat out often. It adds up. Not to mention the constant trips to the gas station for my daily 20 oz-er, or the weekly stock up at the grocery store. I know. That’s too much diet coke.

The Plan

  • Drink the rest of the bottles that I have in my fridge. Try to limit one per day.
    • This will bring me to the end of the week, so I can deal with the withdrawal symptoms–feeling irritated, grumpy, and generally miserable–at home. On the couch. In front of the TV.
  • Once the diet coke is gone, I will not buy any more.
  • To curb the cravings:
    • I will replace the diet cokes with fizzy water and lemon (or any alternative that works).
    • I will continue to order diet coke when I eat out (for now).
    • I will drink a warm cup of green tea in the morning.
    • I will ONLY drink another cup of green tea in the afternoon, if I absolutely cannot deal with the headaches, co-workers, or stress.
  • Three strikes.
    • Slip-ups are expected and are not to be scathingly punished. Too many times, I’ve slipped up, had a diet coke, and said to myself, “Well, you messed up. You might as well keep drinking them.”
    • I am giving myself permission to fail, but it’ll cost me.
    • Any time I drink a diet coke (outside of a restaurant for the time being) that is considered a strike.
    • For any and all failures after the third strike, I have to give Brian (the hubs) $20.

I have a pass/fail outlook on life, so this experiment to kick my diet coke habit has an overarching theme. I want to work on giving myself permission to stumble, make mistakes, and even fail at something without feeling like I am a failure.

Friday five

March 2, 2018

ONE || Rick and Morty

An adult-themed cartoon that is produced by Adult Swim (think Robot Chicken, Family Guy, etc.), Rick and Morty has been around for a few years, and I’ve been avoiding it.

I finally broke down and watched a couple of episodes through Hulu. It’s definitely raunchy and crass, but it has some pretty funny moments. Would I recommend it for the faint of heart? No, I would not.

Watch this, and get ready to clutch your pearls.

TWO || Celeste

Brian is always looking for video games he thinks I’ll enjoy, and he’s normally pretty good at it. With Celeste, he was right again.

It’s got that classic Mario look and simple game play (back, forth, jump) and is a funny little video game. Though it is a little difficult to make it from level to level, that’s kinda the point. You’re meant to celebrate how many times you die. I died 125 times in the first level, so I’m pretty good.

THREE || “King of Police” | My Favorite Murder

The My Favorite Murder podcast, hosted by the funny ladies, Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgarif, is a true crime lover’s fantasy. I enjoy listening while I’m running (even though it makes me hyper aware of suspicious vans or men in turtlenecks), and this particular episode was really good.

As Karen and Georgia would say, “Stay sexy. Don’t get murdered.”

FOUR || Sweat app

Can I just say that my friend Cyntia and I were on the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE.

Now, it has swept the blogosphere, and all the fashion bloggers are posting their after-workout pics. Everyone is giving them credit for finding it first, and that’s a weird thing that makes me irritated. Alas.

As for the app, it’s easy to use, beautiful, and jam-packed full of helpful exercise stuffs. It includes the entirety of all of the BBG workout guides PLUS some yoga guides from other trainers, meal plans, and access to the BBG community. It’s helpful for me to be able to track my progress and see the exercise demos.

The caveat? It is very expensive. The app is built on a subscription model and costs $19.99/month or $54.99/3 months. That’s pretty steep. But it could be compared to the cost of a gym membership, especially since most of her exercises don’t require hefty equipment (all of her exercises and workout plans can be done at home, hotel room, etc).

FIVE || Walmart and Dick’s Raise Minimum Age for Gun Buyers to 21

Let’s get controversial: guns are bad.

When there have been nearly as many mass shootings as days in 2018, I think it’s time to consider gun-control in the US an issue.

Walmart and Dick’s announced they will no longer sell ANY guns to ANY person under the age of 21. While Walmart will no longer sell anything that resembled assault-style rifles, including toys, Dick’s will no longer sell high-capacity magazines.

That’s a step in the right direction.

Thirty-Six Books

March 1, 2018

“Read three books a month,” I said. “It’ll be easy.” Past me is a real overachieving bitch.

We are now officially in March, and I have read a total of ZERO books. One of my favorite things to do, though, is add to my ever growing stack of unread books. Yay!

Whether I do read three/month like I originally planned or all of them in December, I WILL read 36 books this year. It’s a mix of fiction and non-fiction, essays and poetry, memoirs and satire across all genres–from horror and romance to literary fiction and religion. I’d like to become a more eclectic reader, but we’ll see. Sometimes, the book chooses you (genre be damned).

Here’s my list of to-reads; what gets read vs what gets replaced or added in will unfold with the year. For now, I am dying to get my hands on and peepers in:

  1. Negroland by Margo Jefferson
  2. The Heirs by Susan Rieger
  3. The Mothers by Brit Bennett
  4. How To Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ
  5. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
  6. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  7. Awayland by Ramona Ausubel
  8. We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
  9. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  10. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
  11. A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman
  12. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  13. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  14. Dear Life by Alice Munro
  15. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  16. Everything Happens for a Reason by Kate Bowler
  17. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
  18. White Houses by Amy Bloom
  19. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  20. Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin
  21. Nightingale by Amy Lukavics
  22. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
  23. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
  24. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  25. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  26. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
  27. She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop
  28. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
  29. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  30. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  31. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  32. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
  33. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  34. Autumn by Ali Smith
  35. Evicted by Matthew Desmond
  36. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Alternates (or Extras, if you’re a positive thinker)

  1. Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates
  2. It by Stephen King
  3. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  4. Becoming by Michelle Obama (to be released on November 13, 2018)
  5. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Friday five

February 23, 2018

ONE || Queer Eye

I don’t want to sound dramatic, but this reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. The new Fab 5 are the best, most entertaining guys to ever grace television. Not only do they makeover men’s homes and wardrobes, but they tackle their deeper-seeded issues like body image, male stereotypes, and family traumas.

This new version is more fluid and less campy than the original, and I promise every single one of the eight episodes will make you laugh, cry, and reexamine your life. Not to oversell it or anything.

TWO || Game Night

Honestly, I didn’t really care to see this movie, but thanks to MoviePass, we’re giving more movies chances than we might have otherwise. And I have to admit: I’m so glad we did. This light-black comedy, starring Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and that guy from Friday Night Lights, Game Night is two very important things: funny and unpredictable.

A group of couples/friends have a weekly game night, and on one particular occasion, things get out of hand, and hilarity ensues.

If you’ve been on the fence about seeing it, you should give it a chance, too.

THREE || Black Panther

It took us forever to see this because it was always sold out! That’s so cool, in my opinion. I think we were overdue for this Marvel story. With the success of DC’s Wonder Woman, it just proves that the public is dying for some diversity in their super heroes.

Black Panther was a visually stunning movie, and Michael B. Jordan, the bad guy, did an uh-mazing job. Overall, it re-energized me for the incoming barrage of Marvel movies this summer.

FOUR || Asher Market blankets

I covered Ashley Maike, designer of alpaca blankets, for the magazine I write for, and I loved her product so much, I wanted to add it to a Friday five (even if I’ve already talked about it in my newsletter, which I can’t remember if I did/didn’t).

First, the blankets, made of alpaca yarn, are machine-washable. HELLO?! That’s the reason to love these. But they’re also beautiful. They are thin but incredibly warm, and I love them. She also makes scarves, so that’ll be the next purchase.

FIVE || flor: hold on

Brian is my go-to for cool kid music. And the next up-and-coming cool kids, according to Brian? Flor.

This song is peppy and poppy, and I think you’ll enjoy it. If you do, then you’re in luck because they just dropped their debut album, and if you don’t, then you’re probably my dad, and I love you all the same.