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Rebecca Collected

A Less Material Gift Guide

Sunday, December 9, 2018

We're smack dab in the thick of gift giving time once again. It's a fantastic time of year for many reasons, but sometimes you might just feel like giving but without all the stuff. Maybe you're short on money this year, maybe you're actively trying to be a bit more minimal, or maybe you just can't be bothered to fight your way through stores or try to be around for all those package deliveries. Whatever the reason, I thought I'd put together a bit of a gift guide with less of focus on material goods. There's still a few physical things in here, but I hope they're a little more purposeful or thoughtful while bringing delight.

1. A personal advent calendar 

Instead of advent calendars that center around small gifts or candies, this year I'm making a personal advent calendar for John. I wrote down 25 things I love about him, rolled them all up and taped them with Christmas themed washi tape I had leftover from past bullet journal spreads and tied them all up into a string I can hang on the mantle. Each day he'll get something hopefully makes him feel loved, appreciated and special even though he's not getting something physical.

2. Charity donations

So it's not actually something that goes directly the the recipient, but it's definitely something that could make them happy as long as you do a little research on what causes are close to their heart. For instance, if someone was donating something in my name, I would be very happy if money went toward anything that helps prevent climate change in any way. If I was giving to my parents, I'd give money to a local music group like the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, a group my dad has played in since it's inception. For my cat loving sister, I'd give to the local no-kill cat shelter. If you're not sure what causes your recipient is passionate about, try asking them where they've volunteer if they had all the time in the world!

3. Schedule a fun day trip together

If you can't give a lot in terms of money, try giving your time instead. A lot of times I just wish I could spend more fun afternoons with my family and friends, but it's sometimes hard to come up with a plan the day of. I would love is someone planned out a day with things like an easy hike or bike ride in a park with a picnic, a museum visit followed by some local window shopping, or a day trip to a nearby town because it would me that not only would I get to spend time with them, but I also wouldn't have the added pressure of doing the planning myself.

4. Lighten their load and do their dirty work for them

Another way to give your time, and probably my favorite gift I could receive in this list, is volunteering to do someone else's dirty work. What have they been putting off for a long time, or what do they absolutely hate doing but have to do anyway? I hate folding laundry. If John promised to fold my laundry for a full month I might cry with happiness. Maybe it's something like doing someone's grocery shopping for them when they're busy, meal prepping for them for a week or two, helping them deep clean their closets/garage/bedroom/etc, or doing all the emotional groundwork on project like learning about what size of bathroom exhaust fan you need to buy (not that I've been needing to do that for a few years now or anything...). Anything that takes a little stress out of someone's day to day life is perfect!

5. If all else fails, keep it simple

Sometimes you still just want to give somebody something material. Go for it! My only advice? Make sure you're giving in a conscious way. I once heard a little saying to help focus gift giving that I still think is a great idea to this day -- buy something they want, something they need, something they'll wear and something they'll read. Obviously you don't need to get someone a gift in every one of those categories, but it's a nice place to start brainstorming from. Just try to stick to things that the recipient truly wants and doesn't already have something similar to so you can be sure it doesn't go to waste. And finally, if you're really stumped, I love the idea of gifting a plant!

Hopefully this little list has given you some ideas for the holidays this year. Happy gift giving!

November Highlights

Sunday, December 2, 2018
And so it begins -- the most wonderful time of the year! Cheesy? Maybe. Accurate? Absolutely. Of course I can only say this openly now that's it's officially December, but truthfully our household started hitting the Christmas movies and songs hard starting November 1st. Some say that slights poor little Thanksgiving, but I beg to differ. For us, Christmas isn't religious (*insert gasps here*) and Thanksgiving just doesn't have it's own bad Hallmark movies or traditional songs (minus Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie, of course). I love Thanksgiving just as much, but until it steps up it's celebration game, Christmas songs will just have to fill in for both. On that slightly ramble-y note, here's a look at my highlights from the month I call the official start of the holiday season.

November kicked off with a bit of an unusual family tradition of sorts: seeing The Bruce Katz Band at the Zoo Bar. Every time they announce they're coming to town again I brace myself for an email from my dad arranging for us to get ticket. My uncle also loves them, though they rarely seem to venture up to Chicago where he lives, so my aunt and uncle used the show as an excuse to come down, see us family and enjoy a few beers at the dive-y-est of dive bars. The atmosphere at the Zoo Bar is always fantastic (you can practically feel the history seeping out of the walls -- or maybe that's just the aging wallpaper of old show posters), the show was amazing as per usual and seeing family is always special, especially when the whole night culminates with family dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant.

The next weekend was decidedly quieter, but still quite enjoyable. On a few scattered Sundays throughout winter, one of the summer farmer's markets reforms inside for a special winter market. There's produce, some tasty baked goods and a few handmade items. Even if you don't need anything, it's fun to meander around and take a look at all that's on offer -- especially when there are free samples. John and I joined my sister and my brother-in-law for a little adventure. We hit the market, refueled with the most delicious vegan pecan roll I've ever eaten at Goldenrod Pastries and then did a little shopping at paper kite, a cute kids shop, and Home & Closet, a vintage furniture and clothing store where we found the most 90's Husker national championship sweatshirt, complete with a black and white gradient Husker logo and gaudy picture of the championship ring. Naturally my brother-in-law pulls it off like no one else could.

Then the marathon began. Thanksgiving day we always go to John's cousin's house for lunch with all of his (very large) extended family. Then, because my brother-in-law's birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving this year, we headed over to my parents' house for birthday dinner with my family and another aunt, uncle and two cousins and their respective significant others. The next day kicked off with an 11am football game (we lost 😢) and then my family's Thanksgiving meal which we capped off with a 7pm volleyball game (we swept them 🎉). Saturday we had a slow morning of reading and putting up Christmas decorations and then we headed to Omaha for Friendsgiving. This was the first year I didn't host Friendsgiving at my house and it was also my first ever fully vegetarian Thanksgiving meal. It was great! I'll have to share the full menu in another post here soon because it could easily work for any other holiday. Finally, on Sunday we woke up to a blizzard warning, but that didn't stop us from making our fourth Thanksgiving meal, this time with John's immediate family. All in all, I had nine different kinds of pie, saw many people I love and thoroughly enjoyed four days off of work.

Lastly, I've been loving all the beginnings of winter and the holidays that have been popping up. We have already seen snow three times this year which is a little bit insane, but since it's just enough to give you that cozy feeling and not enough to really stick around too long or make you curse while shoveling, it's been lovely. We've had more fires in the fireplace, enjoyed seeing little kitty prints on our front porch and cuddled under blankets watching Christmas movies and cracking open shelled nuts with a nutcracker. It's pure wintery bliss. Let's hope it still feels that way by the end of next month...


Sunday, November 25, 2018

1 Watching your houseplants grow.
2 Dancing at shows when everyone knows the song.
3 Walking excitedly to an event you've been looking forward to.
4 Friendships that endure years and long distances.
5 The smell of coffee beans.
6 The rainbows that form on my walls and floors when the sun starts going down.
7 Dark winter evenings with candles flickering.
8 When a cat falls asleep on your lap.
9 Dark chocolate bars.
10 A job and coworkers I genuinely enjoy.
11 Curling up on the couch and reading for hours on end.
12 My loud, funny, and smart family.
13 Having fires in our fireplace.
14 Riding my bike through the low, cool area of the bike trail when it's hot and humid outside.
15 Long text conversations about nothing with your best friend.
16 Sitting around chatting at the table after family dinners.
17 That blissful feeling right after shavasana.
18 Having a kind, supportive, loving partner at home.
19 The mixture of exhaustion, accomplishment and invigoration after a day of hard work outside.
20 Puttering around the house on weekend mornings in pyjamas and slippers.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tackling Goals Before 2019

Sunday, November 18, 2018

It finally hit me the other day that 2018 is practically over already. So much has already happened this year that I feel a bit like I've been left to sit in awe of it all as the dust settles, but I don't want to let the last few weeks slip by me. I want to soak up as much as I can of this crazy year and the holiday season to come, but I also want to make sure I'm putting myself in the best position possible for the start of 2019. So even though the timeline is only a few weeks, I'm taking some time to reflect on what life is like now, what I want to focus on and creating a plan of action for the rest of 2018.

In my life, a lot of my time and energy each week is going toward my everyday routine, when in reality it shouldn't be taking up much time at all seeing as how it's, well, a routine. I feel like time is slipping through my fingers each week as I sit around struggling to pick out workouts for my gym sessions, healthy meals for the week, keep our house from becoming a complete mess and trying to make progress on all the improvement projects we have left at John's house. I want to reclaim all these areas of my life, set up a routine I don't need to think about and can pre-plan as much as possible and then focus on things I actually want to do more of, like reading 8 more books to meet my Goodreads reading goal ( 😬) or searching for pieces to finish up my living room redesign.

1. Bring back a cleaning routine...

To tackle my housework, I'm reviving my old cleaning routine. I stuck to it for a long time, but then I started dating John. Just like most things when you first start dating someone, it fell off the radar pretty quickly. Now that we've come back up for air and we're sharing a home, I should be able to squeeze in 15 minutes of cleaning a day pretty easily. Once a week I will take out the trash, vacuum, sweep, clean the bathrooms, dust and clean all the glass and counter surfaces. Dividing those tasks throughout the week means I can accomplish everything with only a few minutes of work a night. I'm adding each task to my weekly bullet journal spread so I can keep myself accountable and make sure I remember to do each task.

2. ... and create a general evening routine

If I want to keep up with the cleaning routine I created, it's just generally easier if I have an all around evening routine. I wrote down everything I want to do on a nightly basis (gym, shower, skin care, read, Duolingo, etc etc etc) and figured out a schedule that gets it all done but still allows some free time. I'm the kind of person that gets really focused on something for awhile until I grow tired of it, so having some room to explore whatever whim I have that night is the only way I can stick to a routine. Must remember: routines are only a means to an end, not the end themselves!

3. Finish home improvement projects

For the mountain of home improvement projects at John's house I created a Trello board to plan everything out. If you're not familiar with Trello, it's a simple productivity tool that lets you create virtual whiteboards that have multiple lists of cards. It's a pretty basic premise but it's flexible enough that you can track things in ways that make sense to you. We added one list with every to-do task we could think of and then made a list for each remaining week of the year. Once I could see the rest of the year all laid out, it was pretty easy to divide all the to-do tasks into the remaining weeks. I like using a digital tool when I'm trying to get a schedule like this laid out because it lets you play around and change things without having to start all over, erase things or constantly be crossing things out. Once we came up with our schedule, I added all the tasks to the monthly views of my bullet journal so that I can easily remember them when I'm planning ahead for the week. Now I know what's getting done when and I'm confident we can complete it all before the end of the year!

4. Refocus at the gym

When I show up to the gym without a plan, I tend to pick an easier workout since I immediately face the consequences. I want to up my game and challenge myself more, so I really need to pre-plan my workouts so I don't take the easy way out. I'm arming myself with both Bikini Body Guides from Kayla Itsines which I've done several times before, workouts from Zanna van Dijk's Instagram posts and YouTube videos, some weight circuits from Jamie Eason Middleton's Live Fit program and yoga from Yoga With Adriene. I've picked out four gym workouts for each week and added some yoga for the weekends, so now I have no excuses when I show up at the gym. Now just give me a high energy playlist and I should be back to hitting it hard.

5. Eat more whole foods

After essentially re-learning how to cook earlier this year when we went vegetarian / almost vegan, I finally feel like we've got a good mix of go-to recipes and we're not floundering in the kitchen. Since we have a good foundation now, I want to pay more attention to the kinds of foods we're eating and how much of it. I found a nice little vegan food pyramid to aspire to from Plant Proof and I'm going to try to hit those targets every day. This means I'm finally going to have to stop finding excuses not to eat salad before I gorge myself on all those delicious carbs...

Period Talk: Plastic Free Periods & Switching to a Menstrual Cup

Sunday, November 11, 2018
Welp, we're just gonna dive right into this one today. Let's have a chat about periods and menstrual cups.

I, like a lot of women, have used pads and tampons for every period since I got mine at age twelve. Pads and tampons were what my mom used, what her mom used, what my sister and all my friends used and what I was taught about in Girl Scouts and school health class. They were easily accessible, simple use and they worked pretty well. In short, I never knew any other options. The only strong opinions I formed about pads and tampons in the last 18 years of menstruating were that I hated those big mattress-sized pads, that paying extra for plastic applicators instead of cardboard was totally not worth it for me and that Target's Up & Up house brand tampons were weirdly way too long for my apparently tiny cervix. Not a lot to write home about really.
When I got to college I met a few people who said they used a Diva cup, but I never really knew anything about it, how to use it or why you even would. It wasn't until earlier this year that I found my motivation to look into menstrual cups more -- the environment. And boy did I learn a lot. I learned that a single pad can have up to 4 plastic bags worth of plastic. I learned, or rather just took the time to think about the fact that each tampon produces 4 different pieces of waste. I learned that for every 100 meters of shoreline, the Marine Conservation Society found on average 20 female sanitary items. I even branched out from environmental issues to read some about the pink tax and period poverty and how tampons suck everything up, including the fluids your body naturally produces and wants to have around! The information overload convinced me it was time to do something differently.

I decided I was going to try out a menstrual cup. I did some research about fit, firmness, price and company (fantastic chart here) and settled on the Lena Sensitive Cup in size small. It's made in California from 100% medical-grade silicon and comes with a cute patterned cotton carrying case. I bought mine on Amazon for $24.90 with Prime shipping.

The only care this cup really needs is a good 5 minute boil before and after your period and to be kept in the breathable pouch that's included when you're not using it. When you're on your period you just want to make sure it stays clean (a quick rinse in water when you're emptying the cup) and that the four tiny holes at the top of the cup are not obstructed by any period fluid. It's pretty simple and it's all laid out in the included instructions and on Lena's site.

So how the heck do you use these big giant squishy things?? It was definitely pretty intimidated at first, but it's turned out to be pretty easy after a little practice -- just like using tampons for the first time. Generally speaking you just want to fold the cup down in some way, push it up into your vagina so it's completely inside you and then release the fold so it pops open and seals to the sides of your vaginal wall. You then check that's it's completely unfolded by running your finger around the cup once it's inserted. I also like to try to turn it from the base to make sure it doesn't budge before I consider it good to go.

The biggest trick is finding a way to insert the cup that works for you. There are tons of different folds that the community have come up with and it definitely takes some trial and error to find your perfect fold. I started with a c-fold and I just didn't like how wide it was and I wasn't having a lot of luck getting it to unfold completely. I watched a lot of YouTube videos (just search "menstrual cup") about different folds and finally ended up trying a punchdown fold which I've stuck with ever since. You can see how it looks in my last three photos. This fold plus wetting the the rim of the cup with a little water has made insertion a breeze for me.

Once you've inserted your cup you don't need to change it for 12 hours. I was thoroughly convinced by tampons that you actually bleed quite a bit during your period so I really did not believe that the cup could hold a full 12 hours of period blood but with my average flow I have only ever gotten it about halfway full. I was also worried about spotting, as they warn it can take a few attempts to get insertion down pat where it completely seals, but I haven't had any issues at all. The only thing I've noticed is that when I'm wearing my cup I take a lot longer to pee. There isn't any sensation or feeling like I have to go more often, I just definitely don't want to leave it until I'm bursting for a pee because it'll take a lot longer to get that sweet relief.

Removing the menstrual cup is quite easy as well. I just locate the stem of the cup (which I have left at it's original length) inside me, the pinch the base of the cup and start to pull down. If pinching the base doesn't break the seal, I just run my finger around the sides of the cup and press inward. I haven't had any issues keeping the period blood in the cup with I'm removing it. I always insert and remove mine while seated on the toilet so even if a little were to fall out it would be completely fine. Here's another nice trick -- put a couple squares of toilet paper in the bowl first so that when you dump out the blood it doesn't spread or splash. After I dump the cup I just rinse it out in my sink (I have only ever changed my cup at home or work where we have sinks next to the toilets), then fill it up with water, place my hand over the top and turn it upside down to squeeze the water out of the holes at the top. And yes you're going to have to get used to your own period blood. It's really not gross, I assure you.

I am very happy I made the switch from tampons to a menstrual cup. There was a bit of a learning curve the first month or two, but I have been using it for 4 periods now and I feel like I've really got into the groove of things. I love not having to buy tampons every month or having a trashcan full of used tampons to deal with. I can't feel it when I'm wearing it and I don't have to worry at all about leaks like I did with tampons and their blasted strings. I won't be going back. The only time I do not wear my menstrual cup is at night. I didn't really like wearing tampons at night either, so I'm not sure this is really the fault of my menstrual cup. For nights I've been using up my pantyliners, but once those are gone I plan on looking into all the different period underwear or reusable organic cotton pads. I'll be sure to share my experiences with those later!

Resources & References:

Best Vegan Chili Ever

Sunday, November 4, 2018

One of the things I pride myself on is my ability to make an amazing chili. It's pretty much an essential skill when autumn hits in the Midwest, especially when someone volunteers to make a pan of cinnamon rolls to go with. It's a thing [link], I promise, and it's totally great. When I stopped eating meat I was worried my chili recipe, adapted a long time ago from this one here, wouldn't translate well into veggie-only land, but in fact it's just as delicious, so it's time to share the magic!

Best Ever Vegan Chili
Serves 8
Cooking time: 20-45 min

2 tablespoons oil
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeño peppers, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes 
15 oz can tomato sauce
2 15oz cans of chili beans in chili sauce (do not drain)
2 15oz cans of kidney beans, drained
about 1/2 a bag of frozen sweet corn

For serving (optional):
Diced avocados
Red or green onion, diced
Chips or tostadas 
Cinnamon rolls!

1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, green pepper, garlic and jalapeño and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft (about 4 or 5 minutes). 
2. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to the vegetable mixture and stir to coat.
3. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili beans and their sauce, and kidney beans. Bring the the chili to a simmer and let cook at least until completely heated through. The chili tastes great right off the bat, but if you let it simmer about 30 minutes the flavors will have more time to meld together. Tastes almost even better the next day!
4. Add the frozen corn to the chili. Let it simmer until it warms through, about 4-5 minutes.
5. Serve with diced avocado, red or green onions, corn or flour chips/tostadas and/or a side of cinnamon rolls.


October Highlights

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Here we are at the end of October, the spookiest time of the year and the only nod to my inner witch I can claim this year is my two black cats. I haven't really been getting into the Halloween spirit this year. It feels instead like September was just extended so I could finally fit a little relaxation into the busy month, with a few random days of full on winter thrown in (thanks crazy Nebraska October snow storms). And you know what? I'm totally okay with that. In fact, every single one of my highlights from this month centers around coziness and unplanned fun.

I started this month off with a delivery all the way from Morocco! I finally settled on a rug for my living room and it's 8x10 feet of fuzzy perfection. I bought it off Etsy from a shop called MoroccanLooms which is supposedly a woman's weaving cooperative. It still kind of amazes me that something a woman made halfway around the world and posted online could end up in my living room only a few days later, but I'm glad to be living in a time where that's possible! I love how unique this rug is, how soft it is underfoot and how it's not a perfectly symmetrical and synthetic rug like so many of the options we have in stores here. Check them out if you're looking for a new rug -- they have tons of options!

And then, the best event of the year finally happened: the annual library book sale! Every year I go and every year I come home with far too many books, even if they are only $1.50 each. Considering I still haven't made it through all the books I got last year, I did tame it down a bit this year and only got 16 books and a cookbook. Still a pretty good haul if you ask me! Even if you don't end up with a whole ton of books, there's still something a bit magical about a room full of tables upon tables of books and a whole crowd of book lovers pouring over them.

As if Nebraska knew that a new living room rug and a stack of books needed a cozy day in, we got a Sunday snowstorm that blanketed the area in a couple inches of big, wet snowflakes. We lit the first fire I've had in my fireplace, made some potato and leek soup and cookies and spent the afternoon reading and watching Bake Off. Perfection.

Fantastic weekends were kind of a theme this month. This last weekend was also one for the books. John and I had an impromptu date night on Friday. We grabbed ramen at a place he'd been wanting to try (delicious) and followed it up with a couple drinks at a bar where we sat and chatted. We met our friend later for another drink or two and John's very first, and incidentally Halloween-themed, drag show (I don't know how he's gone this long). The next morning we slept in and then wandered down to our local coffee shop for some caffeine, a pain au chocolate and some reading. We had delicious ramen leftovers for lunch and then walked under all the gorgeous fall leaves on our way to the Nebraska football game where we got to witness the first win of the season (yeah, let's not talk about that fact too much -- just focus on the positivity)! After so much walking and excitement we naturally needed to devour a veggie pizza while watching more Bake Off and Gogglebox before heading to bed. Sunday was the usual puttering around the house, going on the grocery run, meal prepping, etc, but this time we actually squeezed in a nice nap on the couch and even more reading (seeing a theme?). I'm not sure I could have come up with a better weekend plan if I had tried.

Have a happy Halloween everyone and enjoy the rest of your October!

Book Review: Versions of Us - Laura Barnett

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Versions of Us by Laura Barnett follows two characters, Eva and Jim, through three different versions of their lives. Each path branches off of a single moment: Eva riding her bike to lecture. In one version she swerves to miss a tiny dog, gets a flat and is helped out by Jim who offers to help her fix her bike. In another version, Eva misses the dog, Jim, walking by, asks her if she's alright and she carries on to class. In the third version, she gets a flat tire and then spends the rest of the afternoon with Jim at a nearby pub after he offers to buy her a drink. Each version follows them all the way through until the end of their lives. We witness marriages, births, deaths, loves, betrayals, successes and failures. Throughout each version, the only constant remains the magnetic draw between Eva and Jim.

This book is an expansive, sweeping story of love, but not the shiny, pretty love being packaged up and sold as an ideal. It's a messy, worn, often heartbreaking love that results after years of weathering storms together, getting annoyed and bored with one another, sharing life's good times, but also the hardest, ugly emotions. The depiction of love reminded me a bit of watching a fire burn down. At first it's well defined, tall and dramatic flames. It's unmistakable, it's simplistic, it's black and white. But as time goes on, the definition of those flames starts to blur and the fire isn't as mesmerizing as it once was. The wood starts blending in with the coals and it's not as easy to delineate the parts. Happiness might now have tinges of sadness to it. By the end, we're left with glowing embers. It's all a bit of a mess, with dark and light woven completely throughout. It's tamed, but it's warm. It's nothing like it started out as, but it's shaped everything about how it ended up.

Reading this book provided almost as many varied emotions as the story so accurately illustrated. I loved the story, but it was sometimes hard to keep going with. I took quite awhile to read this because while I think the author did an amazing job of painting a realistic life picture, sometimes it was a lot to bear. Living life in real time can often be hard enough to process the good and bad as they come, but reading about a life compressed down, with all those emotions condensed, packed quite a wallop. I kept taking several days off from reading this so I'd have time to digest, which then ended up making it a bit hard to remember what was happening in which storyline. I also sorted it out in the end, but the first chapter or so after returning to the book was always slow goings. By the time I got to the last 75 or so pages however, I tore through the book. It was one of those books where your partner has long since fallen asleep and you're up several hours too late reading in bed by the light of a single lamp. When I finished, I just cried. It was the best way I could process both the beauty and the sadness of the lives lived throughout the book.

So much of this book is about the journey of the different versions not plot twists or where you end up so I don't want to say too much about what happens. However, having given this a few days to settle in my head, I do think I got to know Jim's personality, his inner struggles and aspirations quite a bit better than Eva's. She wasn't a flat character by any means, but she seemed a bit more closed off, whereas Jim bore it all, so to speak. I would have liked to see more of Eva's vulnerability, but throughout most of the book she seemed to just be getting on with it. Perhaps that's part of the point however -- she had mouths to feed at the end of the day. In all, I think the characters in this book are some of the most rounded, complicated and human characters I've read in awhile.

I think this is a lovely book. It's high quality writing on a grand scale and it's just a little bit different than your normal novel. Grab a cozy blanket and put a fire on in the fireplace, because this is a perfect poignant autumn read.


My Favorite Autumn TV Shows for a Cozy Night In

Sunday, October 14, 2018
I probably sound like a bit of a broken record, going on and on about how great this time of year is, but there's just so much to love about it! If you're a lover of a good TV series this is just one more reason to celebration the season because all the best shows seem to return now. Here's what I'll be cozying up with this year.

Great British Bake Off

There is no better show to watch if you're looking for warm, earnest, comforting television. Sure there's an element of competition, but everyone is regularly celebrating the highs of their competitors and comforting them when they're low. It's heart-warming, a bit cheesy and really bad for anyone trying to stick to a diet. Oh, and great for innuendo bingo.

Bob's Burgers

In a weird way, I think Bob's Burgers is kind of a heartwarming show as well. Sure it's an animated comedy that probably easily makes the most fart jokes on television, but in the end it's all about family. Louise is easily my favorite, but I really do love every character for their own brand of comedy.


I have never described this show to anyone in America without them thinking I'm insane, but I absolutely love Gogglebox. I love all the crazy conversations people have, watching their reactions to all the emotions of the shows and getting to know each of the families. It always manages to leave me with a sense that humanity is all so similar, no matter your background, and that we all can find common ground somewhere.

Will & Grace

I binge watched the original series last year in time for the reboot and I'm excited for the story to continue this year. I grew up on this show and it's shaped a lot of my sense of humor. The reboot brings that same sharp wit back, thank goodness. Let's just hope they squeeze in as many scenes with Karen as possible.

Vanity Fair

My favorite novel. British period drama. Main character shares my name. There's nothing else to say.

Modern Family

This show is probably not the greatest show to have ever aired, or the most impactful, but it's amusing, I love all the character story lines and I'm really invested after 9 seasons in the books. Who doesn't love a corny Phil joke?

First Dates Hotel

Apparently I just can't resist a heartwarming show, or think of a better way to describe them as such.
The original series, First Dates, pairs people up for blind dates and films them at the First Dates restaurant. At the end of the date they get to choose on camera if they're going to see each other again. Every episode has a great mix of funny, touching, awkward and ___ moments packed in. This series is a spin-off of the original and is filmed in a sunny resort location instead, and rather than deciding if they want to see each other again later, they get the opportunity to check into the hotel for the night. Scandalous.

Catastrophe - I hope?

Please, please, please let season 4 come back soon. I can't wait any longer to find out what happened!

Instagram Autumn Style Inspiration

Sunday, October 7, 2018

My Pumpkin Apple candle is burning, it's a cozy grey cool day and I'm sitting under a throw with my kittens cuddled up on my side. It's basically the perfect autumn day. I grabbed a berry crumble from Goldenrod Pastries, a hot coffee from The Mill with a little pumpkin spice almond milk creamer, put the football game on in the background and I'm ready for an afternoon in. These lazy afternoons are perfect for a little poke around the internet for some seasonal fashion inspiration and I love browsing through Instagram to see what kinds of outfits people are putting together lately. I spend more time than I should scrolling through Instagram and saving things to my collections, but I end up with a great idea of what I'm loving for this season. Here's a few of my favorite looks I've seen so far (and incidentally a great list of who to follow).

It looks like this season will be chocked full of more high-waisted straight leg denim, blazers, loafers and warm-tone knits which is no surprise to me. I was in love with those same kinds of looks last season and I'm dying to wear all my clothes from last year again. What I definitely wasn't expecting was to be loving the look of a simple v-neck cardigan and jeans. I can't say I've worn a cardigan like that for a few years, but hey, I'll happily break out my staple black cardigan I've got tucked away in storage. I'll also be keeping my eye out for some good checked blazers, more brown accessories to pair with all my many black pieces, silk tops and some more straight leg jeans, this time with a button fly.

What kinds of items are you looking out for this season? Who are you favorite Instagramers to follow for fashion inspiration?