Looking Back on 2018: A Good Year, Really

Sunday, December 30, 2018


I started last year's year-in-review post like this:
"I've been pretty lucky to have a few good years in a row. What does it say about me if I'm perpetually living in fear of waiting for the other shoe to drop?"
In fairness, nothing bad has happened; that other shoe hasn't dropped, per se (& thank goodness for that). But 2018 wasn't quite the year that the last three or four have been. As 2018 draws to a close, I just feel... tired. Exhausted, really. I feel like I can't keep up with my own life. I feel like I can't get anything right. I am, in short, having a hard year.

In 2019, I Will...

Friday, December 28, 2018


I've got to be honest: 2018 is the first year in a long time that has ended with me feeling less than great - & I've been feeling way less than great lately. I don't totally know why because, in reality, 2018 was a pretty darn good one - but right now, I'm looking forward as much as I'm looking back, trying to figure out how I can start feeling better in 2019.

That's what these resolutions goals are focused on: looking forward & feeling better. Here's what I've got on deck in the new year - to start.

Go back to therapy.

This is my number-one goal for 2019. I stopped therapy in mid-2015, & I haven't felt like I've needed it since then - until now. I didn't look for a therapist in December as planned, but it's the first thing I need to get on top of in the new year.

In 2019, I'm pursuing mental health... again. It feels disappointing & borderline embarrassing to relapse like this after a few years of doing so well & feeling so healthy, but I guess that's how it goes, right? Just gotta take it as it comes - & take care of myself.

Complete 100 Harness Cycle classes... & keep going

At the time of this writing, I've got 20 classes to go, so if I stay on track, I should hit 100 Harness classes by early to mid-February - but I have no plans to stop once I get there. Anyone want to come celebrate my 100th ride with me?

In 2019, here's to many more rides - including the ones designated only for Club 100 members!

Try (at least) 10 new kinds of workouts

Of all my goals, this feels among the most daunting. Since starting to work out today, as I've written before, I haven't lost a single pound - & have, in fact, gained quite a few. I know, I know, "You can't out-exercise a bad diet" (we'll get to that in a sec), but I'd also like to diversify my exercise in an effort to try to be healthier.

In 2019, I'd like to try some other workouts. I certainly don't plan to abandon Harness, but I'd like to put my newfound workout confidence to use & try a few new places.

Focus on healthy eating

I eat like crap. I know it. I try to tell myself that I don't - & I have, to some extent, gotten better about it - but overall, man, I eat poorly. And it's time for that to change.

In 2019, I'd like to... eat better, period. I barely know where to begin, but I swear to God, this will be the year I not only begin but continue

Take a solo vacation of some sort

I've been daydreaming of a week-long vacation/staycation to some sort of cabin or yurt or treehouse or something else outdoorsy & barely wifi accessible. I've never done this before, but maybe this is the year for it?

In 2019, I'll explore a few options & book one & not feel bad about taking a frivolous, just-for-me week of work to not even go anywhere amazing. Know what's amazing? Mental health.

Save at least $5k

This goal is so elusive to me. This year, I paid off my credit card bill, but truth be told, I still didn't quite figure out how to live within my means, as evidenced by the fact that I wasn't able to save as much as I wanted or intended to. That's gonna hit me hard come tax season (uh, like, a week from now).

In 2019, I'm committing to not withdrawing from my savings account, like, ever, unless it's for something huge & unexpected, like a health bill or car issues. No drawing from my savings to supplement my daily living... or spending.

Read 80+ books again

This year, my goal was actually only 75 books, & I blew through it to hit 100. I don't like to set the goal of 100, though, because reading isn't a race, & I don't want to turn down long books out of fear that they'll take me so long to read that they'll be a detriment to my ability to read more... or something.

In 2019, I'll aim for 80 books, which is pretty easy/average for me, & if I go beyond that, great. I'll never be upset to read more than planned - but I don't want to set myself up to leave behind great books in pursuit of a random numerical goal.

Participate in some sort of professional development

I feel like all my friends have masters degrees, & here I am, plugging away at the same job I've had for 6+ years (at the same place I've worked for 11+ years). It's time for me to do something that will make me feel good about my skills, empowered by my efforts to learn more, & equipped to do more, better, & with new knowledge.

In 2019, I'm looking for some kind of online class or course that will help me become a better digital marketing and/or overall communicator. Do you know of anything like this? Get at me!

Focus on friendships

I don't feel like I have a lot of close friends here in Cleveland. I love the folks I know, but I wouldn't say we're close, which means that when I want that debriefing-out-with-a-BFF feeling, I'm at a loss - unless I turn to FaceTime with long-distance friends.

In 2019, I'd like to put extra effort into being a good friend & cultivating closer friendships, whether with the people I already know or new people entirely. So, um, does anyone wanna be my friend?

What are you aiming for in the new year? 

2018: The Year I Got My Sh!t Together?

Monday, December 24, 2018

Photo by Tall Hair Creative
As 2019 approaches, I'm reflecting on how surprisingly successful I was in 2018. I didn't think of it like that throughout most of the year - but now that I'm looking back on it, I feel kind of proud of how well I adulted.

In 2018, I...

Changed my name

In January, I took a day off work, dragged my mom to a judge's office downtown, & made it official: I'm legally Kate Bigam Kaput, y'all! As longtime readers know, my legal first name was Sara - & now it's not. Sure I still haven't changed all the paperwork (like, um, with my banks), & this will probably cause some end-of-year issues, but I'm on my way

In 2019: Time to make it official with my banks! Why do they make it so hard? No one has a fax machine anymore, you guys.

Went to a lot of doctors

This year, I finally took it upon myself to schedule visits to a pulmonologist, an allergist, & a neurologist. I did a CAT scan, had allergic tests, & participated in a 24-hour sleep study, with follow-up appointments to come. I also scheduled an upcoming physical, where I'll get my vaccines updated & ask to have my thyroid checked.

In 2019: In January, I'll find out the results of my sleep study & determine, with my neurologist, a course of action moving forward. I also neeeeed to schedule a well-woman visit & a dentist appointment. Any Clevelanders love their gynecologist and/or dentist? Get at me.

Paid off a huge medical bill

OK, fine, I have $200 left to go, but that'll be paid off in the next couple of weeks, so I'm counting it as paid, for the purposes of this post. It was such a pain to work my way through all this paperwork, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected, & I'm proud of myself for facing it instead of avoiding it, as I am wont to do.

In 2019: I'm sure I'll have a new medical bill to sort out following my recent sleep study (dreading this), but it's worth it to finally see doctors, get answers, & feel better, overall.

Paid off my credit card

WOOOO, I am not a person who uses my credit card anymore (except, fine, for the Michelle Obama tickets I just bought!!!, which is OK because I just wanted the points - & then quickly paid it off). I'm really proud of myself on this one, though if I'm being honest, it continues to be difficult for me to curb my spending.

In 2019: I will open no new credit cards & only use my existing credit card thoughtfully & sparingly (like if I want the points on a large purchase). Now, time to start increasing my savings so that 2019 can be the year I really get my finances in order.

Started working out

I know, I know, I've written about this a lot. In April, I went to my first Harness Cycle class... & cried my face off & felt terrible about it. And then I went to, like, 75 more classes, & now I'm on my way to 100, & I haven't lost a single pound, but I do love the ride. For the first time in my life, I can say, "Yes, I work out three or four times a week."

In 2019: I want to step it up & try a other kinds of workouts. I told my mom I'd go to kickboxing classes with her, & a few Instagram friends convinced me that I should give Orange Theory a try. And I still want to try aerial yoga at Yoga Strong!

Did lots of freelance work

Last September, I started freelancing for Cleveland Magazine following a simple request that I write two book reviews for them. That turned into steady work, a project or two a month - just small sidebars, mostly, but I also told my mental health story in a long, personal essay. I've loved the opportunity to learn more about & make more connections in the CLE - while seeing my name in print.

In 2019: I'd love to keep doing this, if Cleveland Magazine will have me, & I'd like to find a couple other outlets I can submit personal essays to on occasion. It's been awhile!

Got rid of a ton of stuff

After reading Cait Flanders' The Year of Less in February, I undertook a process to, well, have a lot less, & I got rid of bags & bags & bags of stuff. Like, how could I even have that much stuff in an apartment so small? I'm now a lot more thoughtful about what I buy & when & why - which is also partially how I paid off that credit card bill.

In 2019: I plan to continue my attempts at thoughtful minimalism, as outlined in a post I wrote right after I read Flanders's book.

Tell me: What was your best adulting win of 2018? What have you finally gotten the hang of? 

The Best Books I Read in 2018

Friday, December 21, 2018

Photo by Tall Hair Creative

It's that time of the year again - time to recap the best books I read this year! The year isn't over, of course, & so I'll probably fit in a couple more before 2018 draws to a close - I'm hoping to hit 100 - but I'm still going to go ahead & share my 10 favorites of the year.

If you want to keep up with my reading in 2019...


And without further ado, the best of my year!


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is probably one of my favorite books ever, not just this year. & I need to get my hands on everything else Reid has ever written. It tells the story of a Hollywood starlet whose fame began in the '50s. So juicy! So salacious! And yet, somehow, also so tender, so full of genuine feeling. Everyone told me this book was great, & everyone was right. This book is not what you think it will be - & I, for one, could not put it down.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This was the first book I finished in 2018, & did it ever set the bar high! Eleanor is a deeply odd, socially awkward, single, thirtysomething woman who has maintained a surprising lifelong relationship with her violently abusive mother - & has no other relationships to speak of until she meets Raymond, a coworker who becomes her very first friend. This story both broke & warmed my heart.

Bad Blood: Secrets & Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

I was stunned to read the story of Theranos, the Silicon Valley scam company that fooled everyone - & made millions before its fall. How had I never heard of its existence?! This was a real-life thriller, a true crime novel like you've never read before. Carreyrou, the journalist who broke the original story, did incredibly thorough reporting & even better writing to make this book a reality.


Honorable Mentions: As always, I read so many good books this year that it would be impossible to pare it down to just three - & was still really tough to pare down the top 10. Here are the best of the bunch, in no particular order:
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John MandelRead this if you appreciate emotional, complex, character-driven novels, especially if post-apocalyptic is your jam.
     
  • The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: Read this if you're looking for heartwarming but realistic YA fiction. And, um, aren't we all?
     
  • You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi KleinRead (or listen!) to this is you're a thirty- or forty-something woman with a good sense of humor about you mental & emotional issues.
     
  • Little & Lion by Brandy ColbertRead this if you've ever struggled with your mental health, your sexuality, your family, your feelings... basically, if you've ever been a person, period.
     
  • The Woman in the Window by AJ FinnRead this if you're looking for a slow but complex thriller with an unreliable narrator & a chilling twist.
     
  • The Year of Less by Cait FlandersRead this if you're trying to delve into thoughtful minimalism or or just want to do some goddamn decluttering.
     
  • The President Is Missing by James Patterson & Bill ClintonRead this if you're overwhelmed & upset by current real-life politics & want an escape into sensationalized political heroism.
What's the best book you read this year? What's on your to-read list in 2019?

Diners, Drive-Ins, & my Favorite Memories of My Dad

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


I don't talk much about my dad, in part because I was only 10 when he died. In truth, I don't remember a whole lot about him. I remember a feeling about him - I was a real daddy's girl - but nearly 25 years after his death, there's not much I can tangibly remember.

The one memory that connects me best to my dad is of Swenson's Drive-In. If you're from Northeast Ohio, you know the glory that is Swenson's, a chain of restaurants that began in Akron, near my hometown, in 1934. Swenson's was my dad's favorite place, hands down.

Wait, let me back up.

5 Christmas Beers I Love

Monday, December 17, 2018


You guys.

I've told you before about how I'm still newish to not-just-PBR beers, which means that, with each new holiday season, I get a little bit more adventurous - & find at least a couple new beers I enjoy.

And this has been a banner year, thanks in part to my recent visit to Der Braumeister's 12 Beers of Christmas event, which I attended just before Thanksgiving. Since then, I've gotten a little bit more adventurous than ever when it comes to holiday beers - & I've found a few new faves. Here are five beers I'm loving this holiday season.

Shiner Holiday Cheer (Spoetzl Brewery)

If you're from the north like me, you probably didn't realize there were Shiner beers beyond the standard Shiner Bock. Enter Shiner Cheer, a roasted-pecan-&-peach-flavored Dunkelweisen available only in winter. I first tried this one at the Der Brau event & am now a biiiiig fan - though it's made in Texas, & it's surprisingly tough to find in the CLE! It doesn't sound like it should be a Christmas beer, but it's surprisingly cozy - & honestly, I would drink it year-round, if it were offered.

Esther (Platform Beer Co.)

Oh, hello, this beer is very boozy. This Belgian Strong Dark Christmas Ale clocks in at a whopping 9.5% ABV, which explains why a six-pack is a whopping $13. It's described as "aromatic & complex, with notes of honey, dark cherry, & a touch of toffee as the glass warms." I, uh, don't know if I taste any of those, but I don't hate whatever it is that I'm tasting. This beer is surprisingly dark for my liking, but I do indeed like it - & it only takes about one & a half of them to get me feelin' toasty for the holidays.

Christmas Ale (Great Lakes Brewing Co.)

If you're from the CLE, you know from Christmas Ale - but this is my first year as a fan. For whatever reason, this year it finally just clicked - & it tasted good to me, after a few years of taking small sips of Mike's & making an involuntary blech-face upon doing so. A heady combo of spices & honey, apparently the brew tastes a little different every year (or so say friends; the brewery denies it), & perhaps this year's version just did it for me. GLBC's website says it pairs well with "Roast duck, spiced desserts, and ugly Christmas sweaters" - & as Meatloaf once sang, two outta three ain't bad.

Holiday Donut Cookie (Platform Beer Co.) 

As I started writing this post, I didn't realize that I was including not one but two Platform beers. Guess it's confirmed at my favorite CLE brewery! I bought this one on a whim because the can reads, simply, "Cookie. Spice. Donut." which kind of sums it up, though the beer is much less sweet than I'd expect it to be, given that description. It's somehow reminiscent of all three of those things without tasting like it'll also give you a cavity. At 7% ABV, it's solidly boozy but not overly so - & mostly, it just makes me wish I had a fireplace.

Imperial Cinnamon Roll Ale (Southern Tier Brewing Co.)

There's a new Southern Tier open in downtown Cleveland, & Mike's office's holiday party is taking place there - which means I've got some Cinnamon Roll Ale to drink this weekend! STBC's website describes it like this: "Akin to the morning’s first brewed batch of perfectly roasted coffee, the aromas envelope you and cause the corners of your lips to curl into the slightest unconscious." Who writes this dramatic stuff? I would just say of it, "It tastes a lot like if a cinnamon roll became a beer." Because it's true. Mission accomplished, STBC.

Are you a beer drinker? What's your favorite holiday brew?

8 Ways to Become a Better Gift-Giver

Friday, December 14, 2018

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Pinecrest, with whom I'm partnering for a holiday series. I've been compensated for my writing/shopping, but as always, all opinions are my own.



I absolutely love gift-giving, & I think I'm pretty good at it. I could be wrong (you tell me, I guess, if you've ever received a gift from me), but I put a lot of time & effort into gift-giving & really have fun doing it. I love the feeling of making someone else happy by giving them something that's perfectly tailored to them.

1. Think about what they like - not just what you like.
I think this is one of the biggest gift-giving mistakes: Some people love giving gifts but have a tendency not to think of the likes & styles of the person they're giving said gifts to. Instead, they buy what they like for that person - which is not the same thing.

When you spot something that might make for a great gift, ask yourself: Do I like this, or do I actually think my aunt/brother/BFF would like this? Oftentimes - especially if you're a person who's struggled with gift-giving in the past - you'll realize that, upon asking yourself this question, the answer is the former. If so, move along. Don't buy that. let's try again.

2. Consider their interests.
Where to start where to start... This time, ask yourself: What do the people in your life like to do? Let that be your guide.

If your dad is a hardcore hiker, head to REI & see what looks right. Your wife loves home decor & is always trying to redecorate the living room? West Elm it is, & head straight for the fancy tchotchkes. Maybe you've got a sister who's obsessed with fashion, so you check out Vernacular & ask the store clerk for suggestions for a perfect clutch...

Feel me? Figure out what your loved ones like, then go from there. That's all there is to it.



3. Pay attention when they talk.
It may be too late in the year for this tip, but bear with me for the future, OK? Most people will, at some point, mention stuff they enjoy or want or would like to do. If you're not the kind of person who loves gift-giving & finds it easy, well, pay attention.

Even if it's February, make note of the thing they tell you they're interested in. Your football-loving husband says he needs a warm hat for tailgating? Make a note in your phone, & grab a Browns-themed one from Homage when those holiday deals hit. Your sister mentions that she could totally use a massage? Flag it for later, then buy her a gift card to Woodhouse Spa when her birthday rolls around.

People will reveal what they like, if only you're listening. So listen!

4. Investigate their interests a little further.
Awhile back, I was trying to decided between two necklaces for my best friend, but I couldn't remember if she wears more silver or gold. Not wanting to buy her something she wouldn't wear, I did what any smart millennial would do: I turned to the Internet. In nearly every Instagram photo with her face in it, she was wearing silver jewelry - & so I went with silver. The necklace was a hit, & now it shows up in her Instagram photos!


5. Cheat a little.
Do they have an Amazon wishlist? How about a Goodreads TBR list? A Pinterest board titled something like "Stuff I Want to Own"? (That's what mine's called, anyway!) It's not actually cheating to dig around, find a list like this, & buy them something you know they want. That's just smart.

6. Don't forget about experiences. 
Some of the best gifts I've ever received have been in the category of "things to do" instead of "stuff to own." If you want to be sure they still have something to open - you know, for that holiday ambiance - consider pairing the experience with a tangible related item. 

I love the idea of gifting someone a candle in a scent you love, paired with the gift of the experience of making their own at Candle Studio, or packing up a nice water bottle or workout headband paired along with a membership to Orange Theory. (Note: Don't you dare give a gym membership to someone who doesn't want a gym membership, though! That's called body-shaming.)

7. Everyone likes food.
"Food, glorious, fooood!" Any other musical fans out there? Just me? Moving along...

There are many ways to give the gift of food. You can give a gift card to a restaurant or a coffee shop or a dessert spot (lookin' at you with heart-eyes emoji, Duck Donuts). You can create a foodie gift basket out of high-end goodies from someplace like Williams Sonoma, which sells lots of locally made goods. You can put together the best-ever stocking with treats from an old-timey candy shop like Sweetie's Big Fun. You can give someone a card saying that your gift is taking them to dinner for a nice night out together because everyone loves quality time, right?

Look, I'm Jewish. I just think food is a great gift. 


8. When in doubt, remember: Nobody doesn't love gift cards.
I know a lot of folks are loath to go the gift  card route because they think it's lazy, but listen: If you know you're not a great gift-giver, gift cards are actually great gifts. No one is ever going to complain about being able to pick out their own gift on someone else's dollar! For these, you can do what I mentioned about: Wrap 'em up nice like gifts, & even pair them with a related item to create a more "real" gifting experience.

Can't decide on a store? Some place offer gift cards to entire shopping plazas. Pinecrest, for example, sells gift cards that can be used at nearly any store or restaurant in the area. Choose your own adventure!


Tell me: What are your gift-giving tips? And what's on your holiday wishlist this year?! Mine's here, in case you're buyin'. 

What It's Like to Do a 24-Hour Sleep Study

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


It's done, it's done, my 24-hours sleep study is finally done! After being rescheduled twice, it finally took place on Sunday/Monday, & boy, am I glad to be done with it. I'd expected it to be like a sleep staycation, but to be honest, I've never been more bored.

If you missed the backstory, my doctor thinks I have two separate sleep disorders, delayed sleep phase disorder & idiopathic hypersomnia. I am not thrilled about either, but I am thrilled to be on the road to having answers & finding treatment. This sleep study was the first step. 

6 Small Goals for December

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Just like everyone else, I'm stunned that it's already December. Is this what adulthood is like? The year just zoom on by? Cue the Amy Grant.

As we head into the final month of the year, here's how I did on my November goals:
  1. Relax. Honestly? I did a decent job of this but not well enough to cross it off the list. I had a few crazy weeks of work, & even on vacation, I was stressed out & uptight. I didn't schedule the massage I'd hoped for (it's next week), & I stayed up late working on more than a few last-minute deadlines. How am I so bad at relaxing?
  2. Finish my holiday shopping. Yesss, I nailed this one, & I'm so proud of myself! You can read about it in this post. The only thing I haven't done yet is to put together my gift for Mike's aunt & uncle, a basket of local foods, but you can only put that together so early, you know? Holiday shopping soooo close to done!
  3. Cook more. I didn't do a great job of this, but I would say I accomplished it. I started making tostadas with gallo pinto, although Mike made the gallo pinto; I baked pumpkin banana bread & made no-bake peanut butter energy bites. And even when I wasn't cooking, I was making, if that makes sense. I had lettuce wraps for lunch, tortellini for dinner, etc. etc. Lots more eating at home than usual.
  4. Do the laundry in a more timely fashion. Accomplished, for the most part. I think I only had to re-do one or two loads of accidentally-left-overnight laundry all month long. 
  5. Go to 10 Harness Cycle classes. Nope. During those busy first two weeks of the month, I I ended up canceling two classes at the last minute, & I was out of town for a full week. I only made it to a total of seven classes in November.
  6. Consume less sugar. Total fail. I forgot that I even set this goal. I did, however, eat significantly healthier this month than usual. 
OK, OK, so this was my worst month in a long time, when it comes to achieving the goals I'd set for myself. Here are some much more achievable (I hope) goals for the month of December:
  1. Get an oil change. Dude, I neeeeeeeed to take better care of my car. I have not been getting regular oil changes, & that needs to change, like, now.
  2. Starting using the Calm app. On Black Friday, I paid for a discounted, year-long subscription to Calm, a meditation & sleep app. I haven't used it much in the past, but I'd like to get in the habit of using it regularly - or at least exploring its options. 
  3. Complete my sleep study. It's here, it's here! OK, it's almost here: My 24-hour (!) sleep study has been rescheduled twice & is finally happening this Sunday. I'm dreading the sorting out of health insurance mess that comes with it, but I can't wait to get answers about my sleep disorder(s). 
  4. Get (or at least schedule) a haircut. It's been almost a year since I last got my hair cut, & man, I look bedraggled. I don't really have a go-to stylist, so it seems like a pain to figure this out, but it's probably more of a pain to look as gross as I do.
  5. Search for a new therapist. I won't get into this except to say: It's time. It's apparently, like, borderline impossible to find a therapist, but I've got to try. Cleveland friends: Any recs?
  6. Successfully host Christmas dinner. In the past, Mike's family has done Christmas at his grandmother's house. Sadly, she passed away last weekend, & we have offered to step up & take on the Christmas celebration. It will be so hard without her here - but I hope we can do justice to the holiday in her absence.
What are you December goals? Do you set new year's resolutions, & if so, are you planning them already? I think I may just stick with the small, monthly goals in 2019... 

What I Read in November

Monday, December 3, 2018


Hello, December! I probably won't hit 100 books this year, & that's OK. I'm trying to focus on quality over quantity, reading things I enjoy & want to be reading, instead of trying to reach a particular number. Sometimes I find myself looking at read-time estimates & going "Seven hours?! No way," then ditching long reads in favor of shorter ones. I don't want to do that anymore!

Incidentally, I mostly only finished short reads this month because I was stressed & wanted a mental break. But they're what I wanted to read, so it's OK. Going forward, I just want to be sure to pay attention to my reasons for reading so that I don't overlook great long reads in favor of shorter ones that will boost my "numbers."

Reading isn't a competition, with myself or anyone else. 

Anyway. Onto my November reads.

Before He Preys by Blake Pierce

I can't believe I've made it all the way to book nine in this very cheesy crime series, but man, these books are perfect when I need a quick & easy escape. I get through them quickly but enjoy them, even if they do seem to be riddled with typos. Hire me as an editor, bro. This one is about a case in which someone is stages murders to look like suicides. ★★★☆☆

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

I think Albertalli is one of my favorite writers. I've loved everything I've ever read of hers, & this might've been the best yet - which is saying a lot, given how much I loved Simon versus the Homo Sapien Agenda. This book is loosely set in the same universe - it's all about Simon's best friend's cousin, Molly, so he makes a brief appearance - which was a cute revisit. Molly is 17 & has never been kissed, though she's prone to intense crushes. Her twin sister tried to set her up with cute guy... just as Molly starts falling for her nerdy coworker. Can she follow through on either? ★★★★★

The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner's Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan

This book was a good start for learning more about financial literacy & getting some good ideas about savings, credit card usage, credit scores, & the like. Unfortunately, it was far too simplistic on some topics & way too complicated on others. It also veered weirdly off-topic into areas like wardrobe selection & cooking, even going so far as to include recipes. I understand what they were going for, but I have cookbooks for that; I wanted more of the financial help! ★★★☆☆

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

The world feels gross & overwhelming right now, & so I wanted a lighthearted read to get my mind off of it. Enter Meg Cabot's 2001 hit, later made into Anne Hathaway's big break. When New York native & noted dork Mia Thermopolis learns that she's the heir to the Genovian throne, her first instinct is to keep it secret. When she's outed by way of a front-page news story, her life changes... in surprisingly very normal ways. Unsurprisingly, this book is adorable & was the perfect antidote to my stress. ★★★★☆

Dawn and the Impossible Three by Ann M. Martin

This title is a bit of a misnomer, as it wasn't the three kids who were impossible; it was their scatterbrained & irresponsible mother, who left a 12-year-old babysitter to watch her kids, clean her house, & basically sort out her entire life. One of the kids was freaking kidnapped because she was so scatterbrained! You guys, this book was incredibly dramatic.

My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir Through (Un)Popular Culture by Guy Branum

I first heard of Guy Branum when he appeared as a hilarious guest on My Favorite Murder, so when I saw that he was coming out with a memoir, I got on the library's waitlist, stat. What I didn't expect was the level of intelligence behind Branum's humor. He's not just a comedy TV writer; he's also a lawyer & an all-around brilliant dude, thanks in part to his life growing up as a weird, dorky, closeted gay kid in a podunk southern town. He's a fascinating, funny guy, & this book was a delight. ★★★★☆

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

I hated this book. It seems to be so well-loved that I thought I'd give it a try, even though I could've known by the touchy-feely title that it wouldn't appeal to me. I didn't know who Hollis was, but I also feel like I somehow should've realized that she is a Christian woman writing for a Christian publishing company & that this book would contain a great many eye-rolly platitudes, Jesus-loves-yous, & statements of unchecked privilege that are just not my jam. ★☆☆☆☆

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I thiiiink I liked this one, but it wasn't necessarily memorable. I'd read that the plot twist was incredible, but I saw it coming halfway through. Still, I enjoyed the reveal. The main character, Cadence, comes from a wealthy family headed by an aging patriarch who pits his three daughters against one another in competition for his money. Every summer, the whole family gets together on Beechwood, a small island he owns - but one summer, something terrible happens. So why can't she remember it? And why won't anyone just tell her? ★★★★☆

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How To Get All Your Holiday Shopping Done in a Single Day

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Pinecrest, with whom I am partnering for a holiday series. 
I have been compensated for my writing, but as always, all opinions are my own. 



One of my November goals was to finish all my holiday shopping before December even started. I'm happy to say I accomplished that goal by employing a two-pronged tactic: snapping up some handmade items over the course of the summer & fall, as I spotted them, then doing a final gift push at Pinecrest, a new mixed-use district in Orange, OH - about 20 minutes from me.

I am not one of those people who loves shopping & wants to do a ton of it, so I love places like Pinecrest, where I can do it all at once. This year, Hanukkah starts December 2nd - hey, that's tomorrow! - so I really needed to get things done early.

What stops were on my list? Some of the best! Here's how to make a perfect shopping day of your time at Pinecrest.
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