My Top 3 Most-Anticipated Series Finales of All Time

Friday, May 17, 2019

As the series finale of Game of Thrones approaches, I'm thinking a lot about, well, series finales.

Overall, I tend to watch TV shows after they've already finished, to catch up & binge them when everything is already available online. That way, there's none of that "OMG what will happennn" anticipation or drama - just me trying to be sure I don't spoil things for myself on Wikipedia or IMDB beforehand.

As I prepare to watch the end of GoT in real-time, though (hopefully, given that I'll be at a hotel in D.C. for work at the time...), I'm thinking back on other series finales that gave me those "OMG what will happen" feelings - & whether they lived up to the hype.

Here are my top three.

Dawson's Creek

I've written before about my undying love of this early-2000s fave, despite the fact that I can't bring myself to rewatch it lest it somehow lose its shine. I started awhile ago & didn't get further than season one! I vividly remember, though, watching the finale from a bean bag chair in my college dorm room.

My roommate, who didn't watch the show, had left for the night to give me space to have Feelings - & when she returned to the room at the end of the night, I was full-on weeping about the tragic death of Jen Lindley (spoiler alert, sorry), Joey Potter's final love partnering, Dawson Leery's TV-instead-of-film career, & the freaking six-season beauty of it all.


In this case, my roommate did not leave to let me watch in peace - & in fact, he decided to watch the finale with me, despite the fact that he hadn't watched the show since its second season. If you know anything about Lost, you know you couldn't skip multiple seasons (or even a single episode) & expect to have any idea what's going on!

I was so annoyed. He talked through the whole thing, making random commentary, criticizing the show, & basically just blathering. (I don't know him anymore, so I think I can safely say this?) Overall, it really ruined the finale for me, & when I rewatched it the next day, I was ticked not to have gotten the full impact of it as it aired.

On the whole, though? I did not hate the ending nearly as much as the rest of the world seemed to. I was baffled by it, yes, & I suppose I hoped for a little better, but it didn't leave me as furious as it did others.

How I Met Your Mother 

Speaking of series finales I didn't hate: I know, I know, everyone is still real mad about this one, but I, for one (& I know I may be the only one) thought it was kind of perfect.

I watched the last episode of HIMYM alone, quietly, in my studio apartment in D.C. back in 2014, & when it ended, I texted with my friend Arielle about how much we both loved the ending. We'd yet to learn that the Internet wholly disagreed with us - so for a bit, I got to hold onto that feeling of truly loving the way a show ended, without anyone else's input or criticism. It was glorious.

Hmm, maybe that's a show that deserves a full-series rewatch...

What series finales do you remember anticipating and/or watching in real-time as they aired? Will you be watching Game of Thrones when it ends? And if so, who do you hope ends up on the Iron Throne?! 

All the Fun Things I Did in NYC - & the Stuff I Didn't Get To (This Time)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

It's now been a couple of weeks since I returned from my second April trip to NYC, & I was feeling like it was too late to blog about it - until I remembered that I'm still working on a blog post about Mike's & my one-year wedding anniversary trip to Ann Arbor, which we took in November. Guess this one is pretty timely, comparatively.

I spent nearly two full weeks in New York in April. Here's some of the best of the stuff I did while I was there - & some of the things I didn't get to.

Explored the Color Factory

I already told you all about my very fun day in SoHo with two of my coworkers, but if you missed that post, it bears repeating: This was really awesome, & if you're headed to NYC soon (or live there), I can't recommend it highly enough.

Checked out the Glossier store

Everyone's favorite cult makeup brand has a flagship store in SoHo, & what a delight it is! At various stations throughout the crowded shop, you can try all of the brands various makeup & skincare products, guided by pink-jumpsuit-clad employee who can tell you about each of them, make recommendations, & glam you up.

You place on-the-spot orders with those employees, then head over to a waiting area where your order is delivered to you via a strange system or levers & pulleys reminiscent of old-school ATM vacuum tubes. Remember those? They're out of the Super Bounce Serum, so I just ordered a Mango Balm Dot Com - mostly because I wanted to see my order come down the pike. I'm a sucker, I know.

Took a trampoline class

This is another one I wrote about already, meeting my friend Sam for a 50-minute class at TrampoLEAN in the Flatiron District. Now that I'm back home, I've been on the lookout for anything similar in my area, but I've yet to find anything like it here in the CLE. We get things late but eventually, so perhaps there's hope for us yet? I'd love to take one of these classes again.

Had a Mister Softee cone

I first learned about the Mister Softee ice cream truck from reading the blog The Only Living Girl in New York, & I'd forgotten all about it until I spotted the legendary truck parked outside the Brooklyn Museum during my first visit.

I was visiting my friend Rachel, & not that you ever need an excuse to get ice cream, but we were with her toddler, AJ, & if anyone loves ice cream, it's toddlers. I ordered a cherry dip cone with vanilla ice cream, took this one terrible photo, & proceeded to enjoy the smoothest dairy delicacy I've ever consumed. Mister Softee is no joke, y'all.

Shopped at the MoMa Design store

I didn't go to the Museum of Modern Art itself, but while in SoHo, I spotted the MoMa Design Store & couldn't resist. This two-story shop sells all kinds of artsy yet functional items, from jewelry & reading glasses to lamps & other home decor goods. There is so much to look at, & nearly all of it is beautiful and/or colorful and/or expensive.

I bought a pair of IZIPIZI reading glasses & the guided journal 99 Things That Bring Me Joy. I did not buy this $300 banana lamp, much as I wanted it, or any of these lovely, quirky clocks. Ugh, so responsible of me, I know.

Made my own Birchbox

Birchbox recently closed its flagship store in the city, instead opting to open a few partnership locations within Walgreens stores. Those stores sell Birchbox-featured beauty items & include a staffer who can help you with those items. Luckily, they still offer the opportunity to build your own Birchbox, though in a significantly limited-from-the-flagship-store way.

I chose five items from the 14 offered (love those tube displays), including a full-sized Laura Geller lipstick that's quickly become one of my faves. Though I wished I could've visited the Birchbox store itself when it was open, this smaller DIY version was still quirky & fun, the kind of thing you can't get in the CLE - & thus worthwhile.

Took my first Peloton ride

For the first time in my life, I brought workout clothes with me on a trip - sneakers & all, despite how annoying they are to pack! I wanted to take a SoulCycle class but didn't get to it, so one night, I hopped on the Peloton bike in the fitness center at my hotel, Hotel Boutique at Grand Central, & took a 25-minute on-demand class.

Truth? I hated it. The bike felt uncomfortable & unintuitive; I felt like I was sliding off of it as I rode, & one of the adjustment handles kept hitting me in the shin. The instructor was good enough, but I didn't find her particularly compelling, maybe because it was via video - & I did not do well at all in the class itself, which is weird because I'm pretty darn good at my cycling classes IRL.

Hey, at least I didn't drop three grand on a home bike (lol) to learn that Peloton isn't my jam.

Spent time in Brooklyn

I visited Brooklyn twice: the first time to see my old D.C. friend Rachel, who lives there with her husband & daughter, & the second to see Mike's (now our) friends Adam & Kristina, who are getting married in August. I hadn't yet gotten to know them well, so it was great to spend some one-on-one (err, one-on-two?) time with them, though I wish Mike had been able to join us!

Rachel & I mostly just hung out at her place, because her kiddo had to go to bed, but Adam & Kristina took me on a little Gowanus/Park Slope adventure day. We started with brunch at Sweet Chick, where I had the seitan chicken & waffles, then explored Prospect Park, checked out the Brooklyn Public Library, & hit up a few bars until it was time to part ways. I refrained from quoting Newsies all day long.

Visited my fam

My mom's first cousin, Michael, lives with his wife, Samantha, & their two young sons on the Upper West Side. They invited me over for dinner at their apartment, where we just hung out in the kitchen, catching up & drinking Svedka Rosé Vodka while Michael cooked salmon, rice & beans, & green beans almondine.

As we ate, the boys told me about their recent vacation to New Orleans, the instruments they pay, their new schools, & their feelings about Avengers: End Game, of course. It was so nice to catch up with them - & truly, it always feels like we've picked up right where we left off.

Braved Times Square

I wouldn't usually willingly go to Times Square in adulthood, but I don't love switching trains, & on my way to the UWS, I was supposed to have a switch-over that I didn't want to bother with. Instead, I walked to Times Square to catch the train there, instead - but it was so bonkers that I kept walking until I got to a quieter stop!

I was actually glad to have walked through, because it had been years - 2012, I think? - since I'd been. It's crowded & sort of horrible, but it also retains, for me, some of that childhood magic that made me fall in love with New York in the first place, all those years ago. As I fought my way through the crowds, I reminisced about my junior year of high school trip to NYC with showchoir, & how obsessed we were with all things Times Square. Those memories were worth the wander - & I hit up Strand Book Store's kiosk!

Tried cookies from Levain Bakery

For years, I've been hearing about the joy of cookies from Levain Bakery, which is known for its chocolate chip walnut cookies. I don't really like chocolate chips or walnuts, so I was a little skeptical, but when I passed Levain on my way to my cousin's place, I knew I had to stop in.

I got one of each cookie, except the gluten-free kind, plus an extra chocolate chip walnut, & I was not disappointed. I brought most of them home for Mike to try, but not before I slowwwwly ate a chocolate chip walnut cookie, savoring every warm, delicious bite. Those cookies are the stuff dreams are made of.

There were, of course, plenty of things I'd hoped to do but didn't get around to, including:
  • Seeing a show: I was supposed to see Book of Mormon but didn't make it to the show. I don't wanna talk about itttt.
  • Shopping for books at The Strand's main store: This has always been on my to-do list, but it's not in a convenient location to any of the places I typically visit in New York. Next time! 
  • Walking the High LineI did finally get to see it from below, at least, & would love to explore it in nice weather. Hello, Ariana Grande?
  • Exploring The Vessel: This wacky-looking new structure at Hudson Yards is, well, wacky-looking. It features 154 flights of interconnected stairways, a la Hogwarts - but I don't think they move. Fortunately.
  • Visiting the 9/11 Memorial: I can't believe I've still never been, but I guess that when I visit New York, I don't typically make a lot of time for touristy stops. I should! I think this would be nice to do if I go back with my mom, who has been asking to visit NYC with me. 
  • Take a SoulCycle class: A former Harness Cycle staffer works at a SoulCycle location, & though I'd messaged him about taking a class there, I didn't make it. Again: next time! 
All told, I had two great trips, saw lots of friends & coworkers, & ate a ton of delicious food (I miss you, VIV Thai). I feel so lucky to be able to visit New York at least once a year, & even though twice in one month felt like a lot for me, it was a lot in the best possible way/

See you again soon, New York.

What are your favorite things to do in the city or, if you haven't been, what's on your would-visit list? I hope to head back soonish - so I'm keeping a list of my own!

Why, Yes, I am an Adult with a (Dental) Chore Chart

Monday, May 13, 2019

Last month, I told you about my first trip to the dentist in… well, in an embarrassingly length of time that we don’t need to discuss anymore, now that I’m back on track & taking care of my dental health. Right? Right. Onward & upward.

I’m really proud, actually, of the way I’ve been taking care of my teeth & gums since that appointment, guided by instructions & product suggestions from Sandra, my hygienist at Hudec Dental. I’m planning a future post about what products I’m actually using, but for now, let’s talk about the sort of funny, very childish, but also extremely helpful way I’m keeping track of my new dental care routine.

That’s right: a chore chart!

The background is this: I’m not great at remembering to do stuff, especially when said stuff is new to my usual routine. I have Post-It notes all over the apartment & my desk reminding me to do things like “Take medicine!” along with three forms of calendars (an Erin Condren planner, Google Calendar, & an at-a-glance “My Week” pad I fill in each Monday) to keep me on track.

It makes sense, then, that with the addition of a bunch of new-to-me health-related tasks to add to my regular routine following my last trip to the dentist, I also needed a new way to keep track of them.

Enter my chore chart, which I chose from a variety of options on Amazon. It’s a magnetic dry-erase chart that comes with its own dry erase marker, which will allow me to re-write or re-arrange my “dental chores” as needed.

Here’s what’s on the daily to-do list & why:
  • Brush: I’ve always been good about brushing twice a day, so this one’s easy. I’m planning to buy an electric toothbrush as recommended by my hygienist, but for now, I’m using a soft-bristle brush purchased from good ol’ Target.
  • Floss: I’m terrible at remembering to floss my teeth, so now I keep floss in my medicine cabinet & floss picks in my car to be sure I make time for it every day.
  • Scraper: My hygienist recommended I purchase a plastic tongue scraper, which is easy to use & not nearly as disgusting as it sounds. I’ve gotten good at remembering to use it every day & even weirdly enjoy it?
  • Paste: I’m currently using a dental-grade topical paste for sensitive teeth, which isn’t for daily use but which I should use more often than I do. The chart is helping!
  • Night Guard: For now, I’m using a DIY kind I bought at CVS, but I’m headed back to the dentist soon to be fitted for a high-quality custom night guard to minimize my grinding issues
  • …& a bonus item: My “medicine” task isn’t dental-related, but it’s my other most important medical thing to remember, so I added it to this list to be sure it gets the daily treatment.

Yes, the chart currently hangs on the side of my refrigerator, but that’s because there’s nothing magnetic to stick it to in the bathroom – & our apartment is small enough that the fridge is the first thing you see when you leave the bathroom, anyway, so it works.

Tell me: What does your daily dental health routine look like? And have you ever used a chore chart like this in adulthood? How’s it working for your kids? Maybe if I had used these as a kid, I’d be better at some of these daily rituals by now – but hey, it’s never too late to start!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hudec Dental. I have an ongoing partnership with Hudec Dental in exchange for the creation of original content; as always, all opinions are my own.

A Very Colorful Day in SoHo

Monday, May 6, 2019

When I was in New York City at the beginning of April, I desperately wanted to visit the Color Factory, but no one was available to join me - & it seemed like the kind of place that was pretty sad to visit alone.

Instead, I made plans to go the next time I was in town, when my coworkers Paige & Jenny & I had a Friday off. We met for brunch at an Israeli cafe called 12 Chairs before heading over to the Color Factory in a veritable monsoon. It was a good day to be indoors!

The Color Factory is an interactive exhibit all about... you know, colors. It originally debuted as a temporary pop-up in San Francisco, & now it's a semi-permanent installation at a 20,000 sqaure-foot  space in SoHo through the end of summer 2019.

Upon visiting (tickets required), you go through the 16 exhibits room by room, as you would at a museum, & along the way, you experience all things hands-on, educational, fun, & even edible. Various displays are sponsored by big-name companies (think Maybelline & Gymboree), & everything is highly Instagrammable - but it also feels like a true experience, like art, like science. 

In other words, it was very cool - & very fun. And we took a lot of photos. 

(Here is a post about it from blogger Erin Loves Fun, whose photos are muuuuch better than my own, should you want to marvel over all of this with higher-quality imagery. If you're willing to stick with me, though, bless you, & read on.)

We got My/Mo mochi when we first checked into the exhibit; I went with mango, but I ate it before I even photographed it - &, in a very on-brand move, got powdered sugar all over my all-black outfit in doing so.

In the first room, we chose a Mille Feuille macaroon from a conveyor belt. I went with a simple vanilla cookie because I didn't know what flavor blue would be - & because vanilla looked best on the color-wheel of a coaster it was served on. Guilty as charged. Also? That macaron was really damn good. 

With that, we were off to a tasty - &, of course, colorful - start.

You go through The Color Factory at your own pace, taking as many photos as you'd like along the way. Many of the exhibits are connected in some fashion, thematically, starting with the room right after the macarons: In a hallway with huge, color-blocked walls, we were instructed to choose a solid-colored button in a hue that "spoke to" us. 

I picked that rich green color you see on the far right in the first pic below; Paige & Jenny both picked shades of light blue. We were told to wear our buttons through the exhibit, where they would eventually come into play.

In this musical installation room from artist Lakwena & musician Abimaro, we used xylophones & drums & other colorful instruments to create joyful noises with strangers. It was hard to tell whose sound was whose, which was, I guess, the point. You can see my looking very grumpy below (I was just concentrating!) as I make sweet, sweet music... & then, as we took photos with some of the words on the wall once the other visitors cleared out. 

Taylor Swift had debuted her new song, "Me," just the night before, so Paige picked the corresponding word; Jenny, who is quintessentially cool, went with "back" & turned her denim-clad back to the camera. I went the Michelle Obama route with "high" - you know, as in, "When they go low, we go..."

After that, we were asked to split into pairs for the next room, which initially posed some issues.

My friends & I were in a trio, as were the people ahead of us - a  young mom & her two kids, from whom she didn't want to be separated. I volunteered to be her partner so her kids could partner with each other, & she could be near them; Paige & Jenny were also split up on either side of a wall barrier, so we promised my partner we'd keep an eye on whichever kid she was separated from (which turned out to be her son, who was about 9 or 10).

It was such a Midwestern suggestion of me, but it also worked out well. When we got into the next room(s), we were separated from our partner by a glass wall, much like a prison visitation situation. We were each asked to put on a pair of headphones, which guided us, in tandem, through the process of identifying all of the colors associated with our partner &, eventually, drawing that person without ever removing our pencil from the paper.

In the first image below, you can see the colors I chose for my partner; in the third image, on the grey slip of paper, you can see the colors she chose for me, including pale skin, pinkish lips, red earrings, & my green button. Her line drawing is wonderfully Picasso-esque.

Afterward, we headed into a room filled with... candy! We were each given two pieces of colorful (or, in my case, not-so-colorful) candy, instructed to try each of them both separately & together. I had the black & white pairing you see below - black licorice & vanilla. I thought I'd hate the former, but paired with the latter, it was actually really good.

One room was full of Mylar balloons in colors that represented sunset over the Hudson River, bearing statements from kids about their ideal world. Fans on all sides of the room kept the balloons blowing around us.

 Then we entered a life-sized flowchart, where we chose our own answers to various questions, like, "Do you like playing with fire?" & other such vital, personality-defining probes. At the end, we entered a small, private room the size of a closet, where our "secret color" was revealed.

Mine? "Artisanal School Bus," a.k.a. bright yellow, which has never been one of my favorites. Just look at how jaundiced my mega-pale self looks in that third photo below! Still, I wasn't unhappy with my big reveal. It was kind of fun - & that color name can't be beat.

When we exited our closet, we took a small, paint-chip-like tag off the wall, picking the one that bore the name of "our" color. On the back was a dance move that matched our color.

Mine, of course, was something like, "Move your hands in a steering wheel motion while quoting, 'INDOOR VOICES!'" I am offended on behalf of bus drivers everywhere - but this is also sort of how I normally dance, so it all worked out. We showed off those moves in a dimly lit, sequin-walled dance floor room, where we also tried fizzy raspberry drinks.

Even the bathrooms had good art, man. I didn't photograph the toilet seat because that's weird, but the seat covers were clear with silver glitter inside them, & this eyelash art was everywhere.

The last installation of the day was a giant ball pit, a.k.a. a huge vat of other people's germs. Although it freaked me out mightily, because who knows what's lurking in here, I loved this whole experience. The balls were soft & squishy, & the pit itself was deep, so you could really just sort of sink in & get lost in a sea of plastic balls.

At the end of the exhibit, we got light blue gelato (colored with pea shoots!) to resemble the balls in the ball pit, plus a freebie of our choice from a cute little stand; I picked an enamel pin in the shape of a whale). Then we checked out the gift shop, took some more photos, & bought matching "OY VEY" keychains in bright pink. For $20. Because New York.

When you're done with the exhibit, you can pick up this map of the surrounding neighborhood, where art installations large & small are embedded throughout. We hit up one of the locations, an unassuming ATM at the Canal Street Market that dispenses money-shaped art by NYC artist Jason Polan. So cool, right?

I wish more of these bespoke pop-up experiences would make their way to Cleveland. I know we're not a "big city," in the grand scheme of things, but I think Clevelanders would really enjoy & appreciate these experiences in a way that has become rote & routine in bigger cities like NYC & San Fran. Just look how well & how quickly we sold out tickets for Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors exhibit! Invest in the Midwest, Instagram experiential museum pop-ups...

All in all, though, I'm so glad I made this one happen while I was in the city, & I loved getting to know my coworkers a little better, given that we usually only ever see one another from behind computer screens. It was such a fun day exploring the Color Factory & all of the many colorful experiences within. 

If you're in New York this summer, 10/10 would recommend visiting the Color Factory! Find tickets here.
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