Best of Cleveland 2017: Where the City's Faves & My Faves Overlap

Saturday, April 29, 2017

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Cleveland Scene just came out with their Best of Cleveland 2017 results, voted on by readers (myself included!) I've always loved going through "best of" lists in the cities where I've lived, & now that I finally at home in this city - I know it, I love it, & I never plan to leave it - I was especially excited for this year's reveal.

I know lots of my readers aren't located in the Cleveland area, so I try not to write Cleveland-centric content too often - but this time, I couldn't resist! Here are a few of the Cleveland Scene Best of Cleveland winners that also happen to appear on my personal Best of Cleveland list - you know, the one in my head. Let's make it official, shall we?
  1. Mitchell's: Best Ice Cream
    Graeter's? Jeni's? Nahhh. When it comes to the battle of the Cleveland ice cream giants, Mitchell's has my heart. I already told you that their Vegan Salted Caramel Pecan Ice Cream is one worth eating in silnce to you can fully enjoy its deliciousness. Need I say more? (Fine: Their Ohio City location is in a cool old theater!) (multiple locations,
  2. The Grog Shop: Best Bar/Club for Underground Music
    In fairness, I haven't been to the Grog for ages, truly, but the nostalgia is strong with this one. This is where I fell in love with emo music, all the way back in 2002. Before we were old enough to get into shows, my late ex-boyfriend, Dave, & his best friend, Kevin, used to stand outside the back door & listen in. (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-5588,
  3. Taste of Tremont: Best Street Festival
    Braggin' on my neighborhood! It's not just walking distance of home; for the next one, we'll be living right on Professor Ave., where the whole thing takes place. It's a perfect opportunity to try a little bit of everything Tremont has to offer - & to do some good day-drinking, of course. (
  4. Velvet Tango Room: Best Cocktail Bar
    Wanna get a little fancy? This is the place. Located in a super-weird little spot off the beaten path between Tremont & Ohio City, Velvet Tango Room serves innovative & immaculately crafted cocktails that are worth every penny - as long as you're not having more than one. (2095 Columbus Rd., 216-241-8869,
  5. CLE Clothing Co.: Best T-Shirt Company/Store to Find a Piece of CLE
    Is there anyone in town, at this point, who doesn't own a CLE Clothing Co. tee? Their downtown location is my favorite way to kill time (& lighten my wallet), & they regularly swap out their existing styles for new ones to keep things fresh. Show your pride & getcha some. (multiple locations,
  6. Great Lakes Brewing Company: Best Local Beer & Best Local Brewery
    There are plenty of great new breweries in town, but sometimes, the original is still the best - or, as Scene calls it, "the archbishop of Cleveland's microbrewery diocese."They've got a great patio, a lurky live-music basement, & a second floor that's home to my favorite trivia in town. (2516 Market Ave., 216-771-4404,
  7. West Side Market: Best Place to Take a Visitor
    If you're seeing Cleveland for the first time, you've got to see West Side Market. It's a beautiful, breath-taking, historic building jam-packed with vendors selling all things local & gourmet - cheese, meat, produce, spices, even homemade pasta. And cupcakes, of course. (1979 West 25th St., 216-664-3387,
  8. Best Local Jewelry Maker: Oceanne
    I've got a whole post in the works about my favorite Cleveland-area jewelry makers, but now's as good a time as any to raise up Oceanne, who's top of the list. Her minimalist style is both funky & chic, & her prices range from affordable to worth-the-splurge. Catch her at the Cleveland Flea! (2570 Superior Ave. East, Suite 403,
  9. Lucky's Cafe: Best Brunch
    This is my favorite brunch spot in the city, & even before Scene named it so, I knew it was everyone else's, too, given that you can barely walk through the door on a weekend. Everything is locally sourced, & some of it is even grown right there in their backyard garden. Get the pecan-crusted bacon & regret nothing. (777 Starkweather Ave., 216-622-7773,
  10. Cleveland Bagel Co.: Best Bagels
    No longer just available at the Cleveland Flea, these delightfully crispy bagels are now sold all around town, including at the company's brand new brick-&-mortar shop in Gordon Square. Their cheddar cheese & chive cream cheese it to die for, & the bagels themselves don't even need to be toasted. Take that, NYC. (4201 Detroit Ave., 216-600-5652,
  11. Rising Star: Best Coffee/Coffeehouse
    My new Friday ritual is to head to the Rising Star location in Hingetown, which is hip but laid-back, bustling but somehow also peaceful. I'm no coffee connoisseur, but I love their Promised Land Latter... & the days when they also sell Brewnuts booze-infused donuts. (multiple locations,
  12. Beet Jar: Best Local Juice Bar
    The other part of my new Friday ritual is to grab lunch at Beer Jar, just across the street from Rising Star. Their smoothies are healthy & delicious (I love the Phat Beets), & their Bravacado sandwich is seriously one of the best things I've ever eaten. Smoked coconut flakes?! Smoked coconut flakes. (1432 West 29th St.,
  13. Cedar Lee: Best Movie Theater
    This indie arthouse theater is an old favorite in Cleveland Heights, & it's the one reliable spot in town for indie films & oops-I-missed-it Oscar nominees. They also play Rocky Horror Picture Show once a month, complete with on-stage actors enhancing your viewing experience. And there's beer at the concession stand, of course. (2163 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights, 440-528-0355,
What's your favorite spot in Cleveland? Do you agree with Scene's final results? Comment & let me know! 
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A List of 31 Things to Do & Worry about Before You Move

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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Look, everyone knows that moving is awful. I don't have to tell you that. But as I prepare for yet another move, I am again reminded that moving is awful.

Also, in the past, I've mostly moved into/out of apartment complexes, the kind that take care of the utilities for you so you don't have to call those companies yourself. Having to do so is an added layer of stress, for sure.

The good thing about all of this is that I've moved so many times that I know how to do this, & I am also comforted by the fact that, soon, the stress of moving will be over, & I will be moved - which is the best part of moving. I can't wait to settle into our new place, but in the beginning, here's how the last few days have looked. Sound familiar to any of you fellow frequent movers?! 
  1. Book movers for once because you're a real goddamn adult.
  2. Pack everything, obviously.
  3. Run to Target to buy more trash bags & packing tape.
  4. Continue packing everything.
  5. Sort of give up & just start throwing things into garbage bags.
  6. But make sure not to pack the cleaning supplies so you can clean the old place before you leave it.
  7. Load everything you've packed into one place so the movers have easy access.
  8. Make about a dozen trips to the trash.
  9. ...including throwing out your broken kitchen table & a massive rug.
  10. Load bags & boxes of giveaway items into your car to take to Goodwill.
  11. Take bags & boxes of giveaway items to Goodwill.
  12. Order cat carriers so you don't have to worry about an escaped feline mid-move.
  13. Call the gas company to transfer utilities.
  14. Panic because the gas company says they can't turn off your gas at the old place until a week after you've already moved out.
  15. Text your mother and your fiancé in a panic.
  16. Make an appointment within a four-hour window to wait for the gas company to come turn off service, figuring you'll sort it out later.
  17. Make an appointment within another four-hour window to wait for the gas company to come turn on service at the new place.
  18. Call the Internet service provider to transfer services.
  19. Call the electric company to transfer services.
  20. Call the new landlord to see when you can pick up the keys.
  21. Try to figure out how you'll pick up the keys at 9am if your movers are also arriving at 9am.
  22. Call the old landlord to see when you can do a walk-through of the old place.
  23. Feel really relieved when the old landlord says he'll have the gas service transferred into his name so you can cancel one of your appointments with the gas company.
  24. Try to change your address on the USPS website.
  25. Go to the post office in person because USPS doesn't recognize your new address.
  26. Email your neighbor to ask if your moving truck can use the driveway on moving day.
  27. Leave a note for your new neighbors to ask if your moving truck can use the driveway on moving day.
  28. Keep packing. 
  29. Stay up at night worrying about the details.
  30. Continue to stress out your significant other by sending frantic texts every time you think of a new potential complication.
  31. Hurry up & wait.
Did I mention that there's plenty of other life stuff going down right now, too? It's not like the world stops when you're getting ready to move! In the midst of all this, add the following:
  1. Confirm jury duty
  2. Confirm with your boss that you can't make your upcoming work trip to NYC because of said jury duty.
  3. Return your broken modem to your Internet service provider.
  4. Buy gifts for your fiancé's sister & cousin, who are graduating from college.
  5. Make a trip out of town for aforementioned graduation the day before moving.
Again: I know that the moving part will soon be over, & Mike & I will be settled into a place we already know we love. I just have to keep telling myself that it'll all be worth it. New place, we're comin' for ya, & I am about to relax so hard once this is all said & done.
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Things I Love Right Now (Pt. VIII)

Monday, April 24, 2017

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It's been awhile since I've done one of these! A little bit of truth, though: I've had a hard time lately thinking of anything except staying afloat. Our big move is happening in less than a week, & our wedding is in about six & a half months, so I've been more than a little busy these days.

Still, there's always time to find a few new favorites, right? Here are a few things I'm loving right now. What about you? Comment & let me know!
  1. Elsie Larson's "Up Your Instagram Game" e-Course: I'm technically taking this online class for professional development purposes via work, but it so happens to be applicable in my personal life, too, & I'm really enjoying it. (Follow me on Instagram to see how I'm doing!)
  2. PopSockets: These expandable/retractable phone grips adhere to your phone or its case, making it easier for you to hold onto your tiny technology. No weird finger pain! They're $10 apiece & come in tons of designs. 
  3. Strappy Caged Bralette from Charlotte Russe: As a big-busted gal, I figured I had to opt out of the bralette trend, but then I realized I could this one over my regular bra. I bought it in black (of course), & it's a little edgy for me, but I love it under lower-cut blouses.
  4. Calm Balm from Lesley Saligoe Botanicals: I loooove this stuff, which I first got in a Self-Care Box (the one I once modeled for!). I rub it on my hands just after I crawl into bed, then I cup my hands over my face & breathe deeply. So relaxing.
  5. Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty: I bought a tiny container of this at Off the Wagon in Kent, OH, & can't stop playing with it! It's like silly putty but less, well, putty - more of a gummy plastic feeling, really soothing when you're feeling stressed.
  6. Digit: I wrote about this a few months ago (check it out), but I'm still goin' strong with it. Yes, Digit recently began to charge $3 a month for their services (atop interest I assume they were already making off users' savings), but for me, it still feels worth it.
  7. Charmed: Inspired by Gretchen's rewatch, I've started watching this '90s WB fave while I work. It's so freaking cheesy but perfect for background noise - & it's so funny to message about ridiculous plot points with Lanny, who's also bingeing it!
  8. Lancôme Artliner: My IG friend Anna Marie recommended this precision felt-tip liner, which, at $30.50, is a little pricey - but also totally worth it. It doesn't stay on as well as my beloved, now-defunct Urban Decay liner, but it's the closest I've yet to find.
  9. The #sendcardspreadlove Challenge: All April, I've been participating in Pretty By Post's snail mail challenge, tuning in to her weekly to-send tasks. I already send out tons of letters to friends & family; this just gives me an excuse to do it for prizes!
  10. Mitchell's Vegan Salted Caramel Pecan Ice Cream: OK, this is a pre-Whole30 obsession (did you read my post about that?), but damn, is this stuff delicious. I told Mike we had to stop talking while we ate it because I needed to enjoy this stuff in silence.
So? Your turn. Tell me what you're loving!
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We Started Whole30, & Here's How It's Going So Far

Sunday, April 16, 2017

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I've been asking Mike for months if he'd do a Whole30 with me, & he kept saying he wasn't into it. Then, last Sunday, he asked, "Want to start a Whole30 tomorrow?" Tomorrow! I'd been trying to plan this thing for months, & he wants to jump in with less than 24 hours' notice.

But that's how Mike operates, & that's how we operate together, &, unsurprisingly, I didn't need all the damn planning time I'd tried to allot, anyway. He was right: 24 hours was just about all we needed to get started.

I'm not a great cook. I actually hate to cook - so much time & effort for something that's gone so quickly! - so, for me, one of the biggest changes in doing a Whole30 is, well, having to cook a lot. Fortunately, Mike is a really good cook who also likes doing it, but he's not with me for every meal, so I've got to fend for myself a bit. (Man, I sound a little pathetic.) We've been planning our meals, including making enough for leftovers, & we've even found a few meals we can eat at restaurants.

Let me tell you: I'm feeling awesome. My digestive issues have gotten better, I've been sleeping better, I've had more energy, I've felt less bloated. I hate to say it, as much as I miss bagels & blue cheese & beer, but I may have to keep on eating this way - which, you know, would probably be a good thing, which is the whole point. 

Here's some of what we've been eating:
  • Chicken Avocado Burgers: We ate these two nights in a row, once alongside rosemary sweet potato fries & once with roasted red potatoes. While I'm not usually a big chicken person, these were delicious: All the feel of a burger without any of the greasiness that sometimes accompanies them. The sweet potato fries really upped the flavor of the whole meal. 
  • Single Skillet Chicken with Bacon, Brussels Sprouts and Apple Au Jus: This recipe comes from Buzzfeed, of all places, & while it was a tasty one-pot meal, Mike used chicken breast rather than chicken thighs, so I think we were lacking some of the flavor it was supposed to have. Next time, more bacon!
  • Buffalo Chicken Casserole: This is one of the best home meals I've ever eaten, & it even tastes cheesy, somehow, despite not having any dairy in it. It's spicy & gooey & tastes totally unhealthy, but it's really just full of meat & veggies.  
  • Healthy snacks: Thank goodness for Larabars (I love the Lemon Pie flavor) & for cashews, dates, & bananas. They've been my go-to snacks when I've felt hunger pains - though I've also been less hungry between meals than usual, one of the goals of Whole30.
And now for a confession: We totally broke our Whole30 today - on purpose, though not without some regrets about doing so. We went to Mike's aunt & uncle's house for Easter lunch, & there was nothing we could eat without breaking it; we didn't plan well enough, figured we'd wing it, & then let ourselves get sucked into, well, a really delicious, non-Whole30 meal.  

I know the hardcore folks out there will be like, "It's doesn't count! Start your 30 days over!" The Whole30 website itself reads, quite aggressively IMO,
"Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a  pizza, there is no “slip.” You make a choice to eat something unhealthy. It is always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident. Commit to the program 100% for the full 30 days. Don’t give yourself an excuse to fail before you’ve even begun."
This language, frankly, makes me want to punch the program's founder, Melissa Hartwig, in the face. I get it: If you want to see the real & full benefits, you can't also cheat & eat BBQ ribs & pistachio cake on Easter. At the same time, it's language like this that makes people like me - & people with even worse food-related discipline than me - feel alienated & ashamed & like there's no way we'll be able to be successful at healthy eating.

That language fails to recognize that, for someone like me, even six days of eating like this is really freaking amazing. And I won't be deterred or dismayed by my Easter Day decision to go off track for a minute.

It's OK to slip (& I do believe slips happen). It's also OK to make a conscious decision to eat something that isn't "Whole30-compliant," as I did today. It's OK to want to celebrate with your family. It's OK to decide a certain diet or lifestyle is not for you, or that you want to tweak it to better suit you for now. Quite simply, it's OK to do whatever the fuck you want when it comes to the food you put in your own body.

So while Melissa Hartwig would surely tell me I failed (& she also seems like the kind of person who'd call me a loser for doing so), I don't actually feel like I've failed. I've eaten like this for six straight days, & I'm starting it back up tonight. I ate one meal that wasn't "compliant," & it was delicious & joyful, & now I'm going to go back to a way of eating that, while difficult, has made me feel really great for the past week & which I would like to try to continue, if not for 30 days in a row. I'm not "starting my 30 days over," so I guess I'm not doing a "real" Whole30 - but I am following the guidelines as closely as possible, & I feel great about it so far.

And for me? That's a big deal. And I'm proud of it.
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Spring Cleaning Inspired by the Perpetual Pursuit of Minimalism - & What's In My Way

Monday, April 10, 2017

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I read Marie Kondo's cult-favorite Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last January, & like so many people, I had mixed feelings about it (which I wrote about back then). I found the author's tone deeply annoying & stilted, which I chalked up to a bad Japanese-to-English translating job, & some of her advice felt truly absurd. I'm never, for example, going to fold a perfect underwear drawer - but I did find some elements of her "tidy" lifestyle to be really appealing.

I've moved so many times that I don't have a ton of extra stuff, really. When you move approximately once a year, you learn pretty quickly to pare down your possessions, keeping only what matters - & yet, there always seems to be too much. Still. 

I have too many clothes, things I liked at the time of purchase but that don't fit me quite right or don't flatter me as well as I'd like & rarely get worn.

I have too many shoes, too, pairs that, as much as I like them, only come out of the closet when I want to switch it up from my usual go-to style - which, admittedly, isn't often.

I have too much food in my pantry, cans of stuff I probably won't make & don't even really like, & bags of quinoa & walnuts that I've over-purchased because I forget I've already got plenty.

I have too many tchotchkes on my shelves, items that don't necessarily make me happy & sometimes even annoy me just to look at, but they maintain their spots because, well, they go there, right?

I have too many books, ones I picked up at Little Free Libraries or library fundraisers, ones I'd like to read but will likely never get around to because they're not at the top of my list.

I have too many beauty items, Sephora samples that are probably already expired & expensive full-size products I got in subscription boxes but never even opened.

I'm not bad at getting rid of stuff - but I'm all too good at bringing in more stuff, at wanting & buying & recreating the problem all over again. It's hard on my shelves & on my wallet.

I have too much of everything, yet somehow, I catch myself wanting more. Why is that?

I've been thinking about it, & I think the answer, at least for me, is simple: Instagram.

When it's just me, in my home, looking around at my space, I recognize that I've got all I need - & sometimes more. But when I'm scrolling through social media, looking at all the beautiful ways other people have styled their lives? Their homes, their clothing, & their food, & even their damn bookshelves? That's when I start to want more than what I have, when I feel the urge to buy, buy, buy.

When I'm scrolling through Instagram or watching Insta-stories, I want lives that aren't mine. I want an apartment with more sunlight so I can take better photos. I want to eat tastier-looking food, own prettier home decor, wear more stylish clothes, learn to do my makeup better, organize my bookshelves in rainbow order... Of all the social media platforms, Instagram is my favorite, but it also makes it too damn easy to compare my life to others'. When I do that, I start to want things that are out of character for me - things I don't need, a life I don't need or even really want. A life with more stuff. "Better" stuff. Even as I'm trying to own less stuff!

The Jewish holiday of Passover starts tonight, & one of the traditions of in the lead-up to the holiday is, basically, spring cleaning - purging our homes of chametz, which literally means "leaven" but figuratively translates into anything oppressive in our personal environment. This times up nicely with my desire to do some good old spring cleaning anyway, & it feels especially pressing in advance of the big move.

So I'm throwing stuff out - & vowing not to replace it with a bunch of new crap that I'll eventually want to throw out, too. I will pursue minimalism, even if I know I'm always likely to be a person who likes & desires stuff. Passover is all about freedom, & in the modern day, that can be interpreted in lots of ways. For me, this year, the holiday is a reminder not to be beholden to my desire for more stuff, which is, in part, directly tied to my tendency to compare my life to the lives of others, especially those I can only see via the Internet.

In going through my belongings & trying to scale back, I keep telling myself: Life wasn't made to look good on the Internet. If it happens to look pretty on there, well, so be it - & I will keep trying for that because I enjoy it, within the confines of my normal, existing life. But I am not going to live for the likes, & I'm certainly not going to add more baggage to my life - literally - just so I can arrange it into a square shot for display on the Internet.

P.S.: Still wouldn't hate it if you wanted to follow me on Instagram. You can find me at @heyescapist.
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My Creative, Non-Traditional Passover Seder... with Thai Food

Friday, April 7, 2017

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When Passover arrived last year, I was nowhere near ready. I’d made big plans… and hadn’t followed through with any of them. OK, I whipped up a bowl of charoset – the mixture of fruit and nuts that goes on the seder plate – but that was about it. I hadn’t found a shank bone, and I hadn’t hard-boiled an egg, leaving me without two key elements of the seder plate. And though I’d planned to make a traditional brisket, using my grandmother’s recipe, guess what: I hadn’t done that, either.

I felt terrible, in part because Jewish guilt is a powerful, permeating thing, and in part because this was my first time holding a seder in my home – not my mother’s house or the community hall in my synagogue, but in my very own kitchen. It was all on me, and I’d failed, right off the bat.

It was also my first seder with my boyfriend, Mike (who has since become my fiancé and will soon become my husband). Mike grew up Catholic and has since become an atheist, but he’s curious about my religious views and cultural practices. We were both looking forward to our first seder together, and I wanted to show him a good one.

Read the rest of this post on

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That Old Familiar Refrain: We're Moving Again!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

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It was my deepest wish that when I finally moved to Cleveland, I would, like, never move again. And while it's true that I never plan to leave Cleveland, I've already moved twice since coming back to Ohio... & now it's about to happen again.

Long story short: Mike & I love our Tremont apartment, which is old & charming, with wood floors & strangely colored walls. We gladly would've glady stayed for awhile, & planned to - & then our friend Rick got transferred to California for work. 

Rick's apartment, which he only lived in for a few months, is the bottom half a duplex. It's chic, shiny, & newly renovated, with two bedrooms & an in-unit washer/dryer (which I've never had before & would basically die for). It's next door to a small park, across the street from one of my favorite restaurants, & caddy-corner from another great restaurant/coffee shop. It has a front porch & a small backyard. And best of all, the rent is almost exactly what we pay now.

Needless to say, it's perfect. And while we'd gladly stay where we are if it meant Rick hadn't moved across the country (j/k Rick, happy for you), this is a pretty perfect opportunity, & it just fell into our laps.

The great news - aside from the fact that the apartment itself is awesome - is that it's in the neighborhood we live in now, just a few blocks away from our current place. We can stay in Tremont, upgrade our place, maintain our rent costs, & wash our damn pants on our own timeframe, thankyouverymuch.

Want to hear something else kind of crazy? We signed a three-year lease. The rental company guarantees to keep our rent costs the same for the duration of our lease, so we figured, why not lock it in? We definitely don't want to move again... & now we don't have to. 

Look, I hate moving, but all things considered, I'm over the moon about this one. Did I mention that we'll have a spare bedroom? See you in Cleveland, suckahs. We're movin' on up.

(P.S.: These aren't my house keys, so creeps of the Internet, don't even bother trying to duplicate them so you can rob me.) 
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My 9 Single-Lady Behaviors When I'm Home Alone

Monday, April 3, 2017

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 Last week, Mike went out of town for five days, something he rarely does without me, & while he was away, I realized that, when I have the apartment to myself, I revert back to a few elements of my singledom. Here are just a few of the ways my lifestyle temporarily changed while he vacationing & I was solo in the CLE.

1. Jump at every little sound

Every time I heard the downstairs door slam, I thought, "Mike's home!" before realizing, nope, that's someone else. Only two other people live in our building, but when I'm home alone, every little noise makes me nervous, & there's a lot of lock-rechecking.

2. Order delivery, like, daily

Mike does the cooking, & I do the cleaning. Iam capable of preparing food, & when he goes out of town, he tries to set me up with some options for his time away, but still I usually end up ordering Indian food from GrubHub & vegan pizza from UberEats. Oops/yum.  

3. Clean like a madwoman 

I know, I get wild & crazy when I'm home alone! Mike has a tendency toward messiness, so when he's away, I take the opportunity to go a little nuts with the cleaning. I feel like I have more time to do it when it's out of town, & I know it won't get messed up again right away. I love having a few days of my preferred level of neatness. 

4. Wear pajamas all day

I can get away with this because I work from home, but usually I at least make an effort to look nice, knowing Mike will be home at the end of the day. I put on real clothes, do my hair, wear lipstick... but when I get a few days to myself, I'm known to wear comfy, cozy clothes, like, the entire time.

5. Get gross

When I have the house to myself, I burp as loudly as I want & revel in the freedom of peeing with the door wiiiiiide open. Ain't nobody here to see or hear or be disgusted by me! Um... wait, please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?

7. Indulge in long self-care routines

Mike falls asleep fast, so if I want to head bed when he does, I don't have much time to spare. When I fly solo, though I take long showers, do face masks, put on argan oil & body lotion, breathe in essential oils, wear my robe around the house, & in other words become a total hippie. 

6. Go to bed super late

I tend to lose track of time in the evenings; I've never been a morning person, but I could easily stay up until 4am if it were acceptable at age 32. When Mike's home, I try to go to sleep when he does, but when he's away, the clock ceases to exist. I intend to go to bed by 10:30pm & usually hit the 1:00am mark instead. 

8. Pray (or something like it)

When I was a kid, I talked aloud to God every night; now I mostly just talk to the universe - a "just in case" kinda thing, like being my own therapist. I'm agnostic these days, but on nights when I fall asleep alone, I still sometimes whisper up a quick conversation to the universe.  

9. Sleep like a freaking rock

I don't sleep very well these days, in part because Mike snores. He feels terrible about it, I know, & earplugs usually help mitigate it, but when he's out of town, I confess, I sleep like I've been drugged, minus the drugs. It's a beautiful thing.

Your turn! If you live with your significant other, I'd love to hear what single-lady (or dude!) behaviors come out when you have the house to yourself. 
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What I Read in March

Saturday, April 1, 2017

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I didn't read as much as usual again this month, in part because I did a week of traveling (D.C. & NOLA pics are on Instagram!) & in part because I got hooked on The Great British Baking Show. Nearly everything I read this month was non-fiction, aside from one YA book; interestingly, I'm more interested in non-fiction these days than in my standard fictitious fare. Got any recommendations? Let me know in the comments, or add me on Goodreads. 

And before we get into my reads, just a quick note that today is my favorite day of the month: Book of the Month Club's book reveal day! Use my referral code to get three months for $30, plus a BoTM tote. I'm obsessed, & you will be, too.

Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson 

This is the true-life account of the 1893 World's Fair, held in Chicago, but it's written in a way that makes it feel more like a novel. It weaves two tales related only in their connection to the fair itself: that of architect Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair's director of works, who faced countless challenges in bringing the fair into physical being, & that of H.H. Holmes, one of the first & most prolific serial killers in the U.S., who preyed upon the atmosphere & lifestyle the fair brought to Chicago. ★★★   

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

This short non-fiction book is a must-read for anyone who consider themselves a creative... or wants to. I've certainly never referred to myself as an artist, but maybe I could, someday? This book is both grounded & inspirational, providing solid tips for creative work, mentality, & process. Go read it. ★★★★★ 

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker 

This is another one recommended by the My Favorite Murder podcast. It tells the converging stories of a five sex workers whose bodies were all found on Long Island in the early 2010s. The disappearance of one woman, Shannan Gilbert, lead to the initial police search, though Gilbert's death is now thought to be accidental & unrelated to the other women's deaths. All the murders are still unsolved. ★★★★★ 

Around the Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson 

I was initially put off by the first few pages of this memoir, in which Oscar-nominated Henson defends her abusive father as a fundamentally good & kind person, even after describing him beating her mother. Ultimately, though, this book gave me so much respect for Henson, an incredible actress who is also an incredibly strong, powerful, & thoughtful woman. I loved the insight into her work ethic, her backstory, & her outlook on life - yes, including the many lessons her flawed father taught her. ★★★★★ 

Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

This YA novel tells the "what if" story of one young woman told two different ways. In one version, a childhood accident left her disfigured; in the other, the accident never happened. Though this debut novel got surprisingly negative reviews on Goodreads, I found it to be an interesting & compelling story with likable, relatable characters (though I guessed one of the big twists about halfway through). I'll be curious to see what McStay does next. ★★★ 

Triumph: Life After the Cult by Carolyn Jessop

Carolyn Jessop was the fourth wife of Merrill Jessop, a leader in the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, a religious group deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center & widely understood to be a cult. Her first book, Escape, told of her in the polygamist sect & her daring exit with her eight children in tow. This book follows up on their story, including what happened after they escaped & when the FLDS was raided by law enforcement. Like the first book, it was a fascinating & well-written look into a nightmare of a life that most of us can only imagine. ★★★★★ 

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