My Favorite Books of 2020

Thursday, December 31, 2020

I didn't read enough books this year to share as long a list of favorites as I'm about to share here, but you know what? It's 2020, I'm gonna do what I want. I re-read all of the Harry Potter books, delved into BrenĂ© Brown for the first time, did a Ted Bundy audiobook, & read three YA series, among other readers. 

Oh, one another thing: Apparently I only read one, sole, singular book this year written by a man. Shortly after I finished it, that man's ex-girlfriend accused him to stalking her & planting a tracking device in her vehicle. COOL COOL COOL.

Maybe I'll stick to books by ladies & NB folks? Annnyway, here are my favorites of the bunch... & read all the way to the bottom for links to some of my favorite bloggers' favorite books of the year, too! 

The Best Things I Bought in 2020

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

What are the best things you bought in 2020? In June, I wrote about the best things I'd bought during the pandemic up until that point, & all of those purchases still stand as good ones. Inspired by fellow bloggers like Shibani & Samthough, I thought I'd also do an overall wrap-up of some of my favorite things I bought throughout the year. 

I'm only including five things here – the best of the best, the things I keep going back to, the ones that are reaaaally giving me my money's worth. Without further ado...

2020: A Summary, in Which I Try Not to Be Too Depressing

Sunday, December 27, 2020

I think you'll all pardon my French when I say what a fucking year. Twenty-twenty hasn't been anything closer to what any of us expected; it is the year that just kept giving & giving & giving, in all the worst of ways.

But it still happened, & it's still worth documenting, & it's still worth hoping that 2021 brings better, bright, healthier, happier, safer, less socially distanced. Here's a recap of my 2020, the good & the bad & the worse & the hope for the future. 

Let's Talk about Anger: How Do You Deal?

Friday, December 11, 2020

This doesn't feel great to admit, but: I used to have a bad temper. Not, like, a violent temper, but definitely a temper. The door to my childhood bedroom is still broken at the bottom from the time I slammed it shut & kicked it in anger as a teenager... & my foot went straight through to the other side. (Sorry, Mom.)

With time, age, & a lot of personal effort, I've gotten my temper largely under control. Recently, I found myself in a situation where I was furious; I'd just gotten some upsetting news, & I was so mad about it that I just... didn't know what to do with myself. 

When I finally calmed down, after having dealt with my anger in a number of healthy, responsible wats, I got to thinking about how much I've changed in this particular area. Sure, I sometimes still yell when I'm angry, but don't we all? Honestly, I'm pretty proud of myself. 

Anyway, after all of that thinking, I thought I'd share with you the ways I deal with my anger in mostly healthy ways... & I'd love to hear your tips, tricks, & time-tested emotional survival skills, too.

Local Brands I Love: The Not-a-Gift-Guide Guide

Monday, November 30, 2020

It's that time of year again, folks! With Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday season approaches, & damn, what a year it's been. 

Whatever winter holiday you do or don't celebrate, you deserve gifts. And so do the people you love. But precisely because it's been such a difficult year, it's more important than ever that we support local businesses, which have been hard-hit by the pandemic & continue to struggle. 

I know, I know: Every blogger puts together a gift guide. But I want to do my little part to lift up local brands share some places I truly love. I've only included here places that I've actually purchased from and/or know well. I can't make any guarantees, but all of these brands have done right by me. 

Now go forth & shop!

Our Anniversary Weekend in Port Clinton, OH

Monday, November 23, 2020

On November 11, Mike & I celebrated three years of marriage, a mile-marker than still sometimes feels hard for me to believe. Prior to meeting him, my longest relationship was three & a half years, & frankly, I wasn't very good at being in that relationship, so it's astonishing to me that I have so easily & responsibly managing a healthy, happy marriage for three years already.

We usually take a trip for our anniversary, but this obviously isn't the year for that, so we made do with what was available to us: my mom's friend's floating house in Port Clinton, OH, where we spent some time over the summer.

Autumn in Northeast Ohio: Pandemic-Safe Adventures in CLE & Beyond

Monday, November 16, 2020

We're fortunate to be able to experience all four seasons here in Northeast Ohio, but the one I consider to be the best of them – autumn – is also the most fleeting.

This year, it seems 2020 has thrown us a bit of a bone (finally), giving us what feels like slightly more autumn than usual, & I, for one, have been trying to make the most of it before cold(er) weather sets in for good. 

Here's what I've been up to as the air gets crisper & the leaves start change color (OK, fine, most of them have fallen by now...) How about you?

What I've Read Lately (Pandemic Pt. II)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

I continue to notttt read much at all during the pandemic. In July, I shared reviews of the seven books I'd read (plus four Harry Potter audiobook re-reads) since the initial shelter-in-place order went into effect in March. Since then, I've listened to three more Harry Potter audiobooks & finished only eight others. 

Why? I don't know, really. I still love reading, it just hasn't felt like my jam this year. I'm still working on other hobbies, like cooking & baking & learning Spanish. But reading just hasn't been high atop my to-do list.

How I Stay Active Online Without Letting Social Media Rule My Life

Monday, November 9, 2020

In the wake of Election Day Week, does anyone else feel social media’d out? After aggressively refreshing every app & news site on repeat for days on end, I’m ready to remain largely logged-off for a bit.

But how do you ensure that while you’re keeping it low-key, social media’s tricky algorithms don’t forget about you forever, de-prioritizing your content & ultimately doing damage to your online presence? I’ve spent the last year figuring that out.

At the end of 2019, I transitioned out of my longtime job managing social media for the organization where I work; I still work there, but I’ve moved into a role that doesn’t require me to be on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram all day every day. After spending the better part of a decade in a job that had me perpetually connected, it was both strange & refreshing to suddenly be able to put down my phone & close my laptop & not need to check them all the time.

I'm Trying to Learn Spanish (Again)

Sunday, November 1, 2020

As a kid, I was obsessed with trying to learn Spanish. I had a book of Spanish words that I carried around with me for an entire summer, & I once convinced my grandmother to consider taking me to Mexico in lieu of having a bat mitzvah. (She didn't come through on this one, but I tried.) (Also, when I was young, I thought that Mexico was the only place where people spoke Spanish. Imagine my surprise & delight when I learned about Spain & allll of Latin America!)

I took Spanish in both middle school & high school, & for awhile, I even wanted to be a translator of some sort, or maybe teach ESL. My freshman year of high school, when my mom & I welcomed a Peruvian exchange student into our home, I was proud to discover that my choppy freshman-year-of-high-school Spanish was enough for us to communicate un poquito, enough for me to understand the book he brought with him to teach us, his host family about his home city.

Somewhere along the way, though, my drive fell: I struggled with conjugating verbs, & after my two requisite college Spanish classes, my commitment waned, even if my interest never did.

Sorta-Spooky Stuff I'm Watching this Halloween

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday, but we didn't do much for it last year because we had a wedding that weekend, & this year, we have exactly nothing planned because... you know, global pandemic & all. 

Our friends Stevie & Andrew typically host an epic Halloween party, but that's not happening this year, so I'm trying to get in the Halloween spirit with all the spooky movies & TV shows I can watch. I don't like horror, so my choices are all, for the most part, extremely tame.

What's your favorite Halloween-themed movie, show, book, podcast, etc.? Tell me what else I should be watching! I need morrrre!

The Time We Rented an Entire Bookstore for Date Night

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Mike is notably difficult to buy gifts for. He doesn't want, need, or care about stuff, & he rarely gives me any semblance of a wishlist. This year, as we prepared to celebrate his 35th birthday amid the pandemic, he wouldn't even tell me what he wanted to do that day, so I was left to my own devices.

Enter Visible Voice Books, an independent bookstore in our neighborhood. It's located on the top floor of a building that also houses Crust, a popular pizza joint, & Proof, a new BBQ spot. 

Baked Apples... in the Microwave: My Favorite Fall Treat!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

This is decidedly not a food blog, especially given that I just learned how to cook, like... at the start of the pandemic. But this new-to-me recipe, shared with me by my mom, is so easy & results in such a delicious autumnal treat that I couldn't help but share it with you here. I've told a few friends about it, & it's become so popular that I wanted to spread the love!

How I Observed the Jewish New Year from Home

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Like everything else about 2020, this year's Jewish High Holidays look considerably different than in years past. Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish new year, was observed last Friday/Saturday, & while I would typically have spent the day in synagogue, this year I, like millions of Jews worldwide, had to get a little creative.

My day job working with means I have a lot of easy access to & knowledge of Jewish resources – finding synagogues, figuring out which prayers to recite, identifying tasty recipes. Leaning on some of the content I've recently created or helped promote for work, Mike & I cobbled together a really nice little new year's celebration for ourselves. Here's what it entailed. 

All the Things I Miss

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

I've been trying to stay upbeat during the pandemic in part because... well, what's the use in moping? (God, I sound like my grandmother.) That said, as this thing drags out & drags on, I'm starting to dread the approach of colder weather – because with it comes our return to isolation, without the option of outdoor hangs.

I've been thinking about all the things I miss most, & I'm keeping a little list, just because I find that it makes me feel a little bit better to have it all written down. I thought I'd share it with you here – & if you're inclined to share, I'd love to hear what you're pining for, too.

5 Life Lessons from My New Beachcombing Hobby

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Here in Northeast Ohio, beachcombing seems to have blown up this summer, probably as a result of the pandemic. Local beach glass Facebook groups are bursting with new members, & a radio station recently ran an interview with a beachcomber about the best spots in Cleveland (which revealed a bit of an open secret, flooding that beach with new hobbyists). 

I'm new to beachcombing myself, so who am I to judge? As the pandemic-laden weeks carry on, I'm finding my beachcombing hobby to be more & more integral to my mental health – an opportunity for me to be outside & in nature, mind clear & heart open, just me & my thoughts & my headphones & my digging hands.

Things I Love Right Now (Pt. XI)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Apparently it's been two years since I did a post about products I love, but, uhhh, no time like the present, right? Seriously, I feel like I do these all the time, but... I guess not. So here are just a few things I've been loving these days. How about you? 

Finding Joy: 8 More Little Reasons to Smile Amid the Pandemic

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Back in April, when the pandemic was brand new (man, remember those days?), I wrote a post about "eight good things during bad times." Months later, the pandemic is still going strong (despite some people's insistence on returning to regular life), & I'm back with eight more small but happy things.

I Thought I Was Going to Become a Mom This Month

Monday, August 17, 2020

I was at a work conference in Chicago when I began to suspect I was pregnant. The day I returned home, I verified it with literally six at-home pregnancy tests, all of which told the same story: baby on board – or embryo on board, at least.

I was ecstatic & panicked & in a total "now what?!" tailspin. I told Mike the week before Christmas, announcing it with a Harry Potter onesie ("Mischief Managed") & a handwritten snowflake ornament that read "Baby Kaput, Gryffindor, Coming August 2020." 

We knew it was too soon to tell people, according to societal norms, but we told a few loved ones anyway. We couldn't help ourselves; we were thrilled.

10 Ways to Get to Work Electing Joe & Kamala

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Why, yes, I did put on lipstick for this week's Kamala Harris announcement! What are you doing today to help elect the Biden/Harris ticket? Here are some ideas:⁣

What I'm Baking

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

My adventures in baking continue! I'm having so much fun experimenting, but I'm trying to give away as many of my creations as I can to friends & neighbors because my poor bod cannot eat everything I create...

Here are a few of the things I've been making lately, some of them more successfully than others - but all of them worth a try, if you're looking for a good dessert to make at home. I've instituted here the same sort of star rating system (out of five) that I use for my book reviews. Hope it's helpful.

A (Birthday!) Week of Staycation Plans

Sunday, August 2, 2020

I took the week of my birthday off of work this year because... why not? It's not like we're going on any actual vacations this year, so I might as well take a week off for a staycation. I've had two weeks of furlough so far this summer, & each was incredibly relaxing, which inspired this plan - but it'll be much less stressful to have a paid week off.

That said, because there's not exactly much to do right now, I've been racking my brain to try to come up with some staycation plans & activities. Here's what I've come up with so far.

What I've Read Since the Pandemic Began

Monday, July 27, 2020

You'd think that a pandemic would be the perfect time to hunker down & do nothing but read books. Lots & lots & lots of books.

But here I am, nearly five months into the pandemic, & I have read... 11 books. Total. In sum. I used to read 11 books in a month, man.

And look, I know that 11 books in five months is still plenty. And I've been up to plenty of other things that aren't reading - cooking, for starters, & a variety of other newfound hobbies, atop trying to, like, keep sane. It's a weird world out there, & things have changed, including productivity levels. And my reading output.

Adventures in Beach-Combing on Lake Erie

Saturday, July 25, 2020

My mom & I started beach-combing entirely by accident. We were walking together along the beach in Port Clinton when she asked, "Have you ever found beach glass?" 

"No," I told her, "but apparently there's a ton of it in Lake Erie."

I knew from reading The Dainty Squid & just doing some general research into beach-combing that Lake Erie is the source of a veritable bounty of beach glass, more so than the other Great Lakes. It's shallower & therefore rockier, which means the waves tumble & smooth the glass within - glass that comes from the lake's 2,000+ shipwrecks (yes, shipwrecks!) as well as from litter from boaters, Put-In-Bay partiers, etc. 

Lots of beer bottles turned into treasure! 

Our Socially Distanced Getaways to Lake Erie

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

At the beginning of the summer, my mom learned that we would have occasional summer access to a friend's lake house – a small but sweet little spot on the water in Port Clinton, OH, about an hour & 15 minutes west of Cleveland. With no real travel on the horizon – like, for the foreseeable forever – we feel really, really fortunate to be able to escape to this cozy cottage every now & then.

Is there anything more relaxing than this view?

What We're Eating: Another Quarantine Cooking Roundup

Monday, July 6, 2020

Heyyyyy, I'm still makin' food over here! Although restaurants have largely reopened, we're still basically not comfortable going anywhere unless it's outdoors and hella-distanced, so it's either homemade or delivery for us.

Here's a little recap of what I've been making lately, with links to recipes where applicable. Got any recommendations for me? I'm hoping to try making some more new-to-me stuff... but here's what we've been up to for now.

Someone Sent Me on a Neighborhood Safari

Friday, July 3, 2020

Y'all ready for one of the most delightful stories of my quarantine? Here we go.

The other day, I was walking to Cafe Social Latinoamericano, one of my favorite new local spots, while talking to my mom on the phone. It was mad hot outside, so I stopped under a shady tree while we wrapped up our conversation. 

At some point, I looked up... & found a little surprise!

No Regrets: 11 Good Quarantine Purchases I've Made (So Far)

Monday, June 29, 2020

I'm not spending much money these days, & that's a good thing. I'm not really going anywhere or doing anything, so what would I be spending money on, anyway? I'm buying groceries & the occasion new pair of athleisure gear to suit my never-wearing-pants-with-a-waistband-again lifestyle, but we're not really even ordering takeout, for the most part. 

My wallet thanks me, especially because I have a few weeks of furlough throughout the summer – but I have made a few extremely worthwhile purchases during this time of otherwise-very-few purchases. Inspired by a similar post from Simone of Skinny Dip, here are my best quarantine purchases.

I Have Hobbies Now

Monday, June 22, 2020

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, if you'd asked me what my hobbies were, I would've said reading & writing; I would've said that I don't have any other hobbies. But you know what I haven't done much of of under quarantine? Reading or writing. 

I've read just five books since this began, but four were reread on audiobook, which doesn't seem to count? My lack of writing speaks for itself, too, evidenced by the minimal posts seen here as of late.

Instead, I've been... you know, trying other stuff. I've been working a lot, & while I feel extremely fortunate to be employed, I've been working so much that I don't want to spend any of my free time in front of a screen if I don't have to.

Here's what I've been up to instead.

UPDATED: 22+ Links to Help You Learn About and Act for Racial Justice

Friday, May 29, 2020

Let's get a few things straight, right up front: The first is that you can find much better & much more comprehensive lists of "how to act for racial justice" & "resources for antiracism" elsewhere (& I have linked to some of them below). This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, nor an overall how-to in antiracism/racial justice work.

Because, to be clear, I am not an expert in anti-racism/racial justice work. I am not trained in racial diversity, equity, & inclusion (REDI) principles. I aspire to be both an ally & an activist, but neither of those labels are the sort you can give to yourself; you have to work for them, continually & indefinitely. 

I am nobody. I am a white person who is trying. But I am also a white person with a medium-sized audience that includes many other white people, & I feel that with that comes a responsibility to help others to join me in learning, acting, & continuing to educate both ourselves & others around us.

Kaput Your Mind to It: Our Hand-Picked Trivia Questions

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Smiling couple stands on a front porch
Photo by Amber Patrick / A Terror Musical

Last weekend, we gathered on Zoom with friends (as friends are wont to do these days) for an evening of trivia. Each couple wrote a round of 10 questions on a pre-determined theme. Mike & I chose a round we dubbed "Kaput Your Mind To It," which was ostensibly a miscellaneous round... comprising topics our friends would expect from the two of us.

We came in third overall, if only because a few of the rounds were basically impossible (lookin' at you, friends who chose the topic of "space"). I thought it'd be fun to share the questions we chose & see how hard you think they are. We thought they were really easy, but... you know, we're probably a little biased.

On a Roll: My Quest to Bake Allll the Carbs While Quarantined

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Hello again, from my surprisingly active adventures in quarantine baking!

These locked-down weekends have been spent whipping up all the carbs & breads I could ever dream of, & more than I could ever consume on my own. Luckily, between putting some in my freezer & participating in exchanges with friends, I've been able to experiment my heart out while making sure none of it goes to waste.

Last month, I received my first box from Love Local CLE, which I first told you about in a recent post. A project of Central Kitchen, they've partnered with local farms to create weekly bundles of fresh produce, meats, & more, originally intended for restaurants - with contact-free pick-up near downtown Cleveland.

"Don't Live It Twice": The Advice That's Getting Me Through the Pandemic

Monday, May 11, 2020

I once had a coworker, a rabbi named Marcus, who gave me some of the best advice I've ever received: When you worry about events you can't control, you live every experience twice: once as you worry about it, & again as it happens. 

And isn't that exhausting, he asked? Why force yourself to do so much extra living when you could cut it in half & only live each experience once, as it is?

 Marcus died of cancer in 2016, but his advice has always stuck with me - especially now, in the middle of a global pandemic, when I am worried about everything.

Passover Under Quarantine: How We Got Creative with Our Seder

Monday, April 20, 2020

I work for a Jewish organization & very much identify with my Judaism, but I am not always what you might call a "practicing Jew." I don't belong to a synagogue, I don't observe all the holidays, I rarely observe Shabbat. I've always eaten bacon, & I rarely fast when it comes time for the holidays that call for it.

But I love Mike's & my annual tradition of holding a small Passover seder at home, just the two of us. I love the seder plate he bought me a few years ago. I love remembering the time we ended up going out for Thai food because I couldn't scrap together a Passover dinner. I love trying.

This year, I felt like I needed Passover more than ever – so even though it was, in fact, more difficult than ever to observe it, I knew I wanted to. I couldn't go out to acquire most of the items the holiday requires... so I knew I had to get creative.

Learning to Cook Under Quarantine: 9 Things I've Made Recently

Sunday, April 12, 2020

What are you up to under quarantine? I know we're all sick of being asked that, but I, for one, am a little surprised how I've been spending my time: I haven't been reading. I've barely been watching TV. I've been working & playing Words with Friends. And in between, I've been cooking.

I've never enjoyed cooking, & for the most part, I never needed to do much of it. Mike cooks at home, & we live in a restaurant-heavy area so until now, I got by on eating what he makes, going out, & ordering in.

But we're not going out or ordering in right now, & Mike can't be expected to do all the cooking under quarantine - so here I am, learning to cook, & feeling surprisingly enthusiastic about it.

Here are a few of the best things I've made lately, including links to recipes & behind-the-scenes tips where applicable. Tell me: Whatcha makin'?

Quarantine Life: A List of 8 Good Things During Bad Times

Monday, April 6, 2020

The world is bonkers right now. You don't need me to tell you why. No matter where you are, we are all in some sort of similar situation right now, the world over.

I mean, sort of - in a general way.

I know, of course, that all of our specifics scenarios & circumstances vary greatly, & know, too, that I am incredibly fortunate to have a work-from-home job, good health & health insurance, a safe home, & relative overall security during a time when so many people do not.

I do not want to discount all of those; they are, truly, the epitome of privilege in this moment. I just mean to convey that... well, we're all dealing with this, in some way or another. We're all scared. We're all sad. We're all unsure. We're all hurting, somehow or another.

And so, I'm keeping a little list. It's a big list, actually - a big list of little things that are still good, that are keeping me happy, that are allowing me to find joy in the everyday, even when the everyday is so very unstable & unknown.

I Was Supposed to Be in Israel Right Now, But...

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Mike & I were supposed to go to Israel on March 19th. Did I tell you that? Well, we were. Following a surprisingly rigorous application & interview process, we were absolutely thrilled to be selected as participants on a Honeymoon Israel trip with a bus full of other couples from Cleveland.

We were scheduled to spend 10 days in Israel – 10 whole days of shuk shopping, camel riding, history learning, Goldstar drinking, Masada climbing, falafel eating, & friend making in the Holy Land.

And then coronavirus started to spread.

What I Read: February 2020

Sunday, March 1, 2020

I finished a significant number of books (six), given that I mostly felt like I didn't do any reading whatsoever. Guess I must've!

I'm still making my way through two book club books: How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi for my work book club & A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles for my book club with friends.

What are you reading? Give me a follow me on Goodreads and/or let me know where to find you there so we can keep in touch...

What Are You Looking Forward To?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The last few months have been weird. Is it a cop-out to say that? I mean, when it comes to feeling a little "off," a few days or a couple weeks - even a month or two - is one thing. But a weird six months? At what point does it stop being a phase & start being, just... life?

Still, I have faith, that things are starting to go back to the version of normal with which I am most comfortable. After a lot of travel & some big shake-ups at work & the health issues I've experienced thus far in 2020, life is finally starting to feel familiar again - & one of the ways I'm trying to help it along is by putting some things on my calendar that I can be really excited about.

Here are a few of the things I'm looking forward to in the coming weeks. What about you? Do you, like me, try to stay positive by having stuff to look forward to?

How to Send Long-Distance Love to a Friend Who's Struggling

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

As I recover from a few weeks of medical bullsh!t, I feel extremely grateful for the love & support of the friends, family, & coworkers, who have sent that love & support in various ways. Some have visited, bearing flowers & frozen dumplings, while others have texted from afar, sent Instagram messages, & even deposited a little something extra into my Starbucks account.

Anyone who knows me knows that sending gifts is my Love Language®, not sorry - & while I am far less accustomed to receiving gifts, I have been, truly, blown away by the kindness & creativity of some of the ways people have reached out to us. I thought I'd share with you some of the ways people sent things - so that you know that these services exist, too, should you ever want to support a friend in a similar way.

Going Full Hufflepuff: Taking a Wreath-Making Class with Friends

Friday, February 14, 2020

I recently complained to Mike, "I don't make anything! I have no creative output! What are my hobbies?!" Fine, I might've been a few drinks in - but my point stands. I don't do that much.

My friend Erin, pictured second from right above, makes a lot of things. She knits sweaters. She recently gave me a bag of homemade marshmallows. She has a little home garden. And she's an artist. "I want to be more like Erin!" I told Mike. "I need to find things to make!"

Conveniently, that week, Erin invited a few friends to an air plant wreath-making class at Lakewood Plant Company. I was enthusiastically on board, happily shelling out the $50 even in the midst of my "modified no-spend month" because this counts as "activities with friends."

Second Annual BFF Trip to Bal Harbour, FL

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Last January, my friend Rebecca's dad passed away. I told her I'd be wherever she needed me to be - Minnesota, where he lived, or Brooklyn, she she lives - but they weren't having a memorial ceremony until spring.

Instead, she asked, would I be willing to come on vacation with her for a long weekend? She had her annual solo trip planned, but she didn't want to be alone.

Of course I said yes - because I love her & I love a sunshiny vacation, especially during mid-winter in Cleveland. It was such a nice, relaxing, rejuvenating time, & it didn't hurt that we stayed in a very fancy hotel.

So this January, we decided we should do it all over again.

Second Thoughts & Paper Hearts: Remembering Dave, 15 Years Later

Monday, February 10, 2020

"I always thought it was weird that you wrote about him so much," a friend admitted to me recently. "I just felt like... it was so long ago, hasn't she moved on? But now I feel guilty for ever thinking that. I get it now."

My friend's words, just a few months ago, frankly spoke to one of my deepest fears when it comes to my writing about my late boyfriend, Dave, who died by suicide in 2005: "Hasn't she moved on? Why does she still have so many feelings?"

I worry, sometimes, that I look like a crazy person for talking about it over & over again, year after year, 15 years later.

Fifteen years later. Today.

Sipping, Swapping, & Shopping Out of Other People's Jewelry Boxes

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Shibani of Bombay Taxi Boutique & Kimberly of Modern Musings - two of the most glamorous bloggers in the CLE - teamed up to host a jewelry & accessory swap! Even though I'd just given three biiiig bags of stuff to Goodwill, I managed to scrounged up... well, an appalling amount of stuff I still didn't want or need.

Armed with two bags of stuff, I showed up at the GreenRoom, a co-working space in Gordon Square, promptly at 9:30 a.m. Shibani & Kimberly were hard at work, setting up everyone's stuff & putting out a spread of seltzers, juice, champagne, & snacks, including tiny donuts (my fave). My friends Lilly & Stephanie were already there, too.

The group was small, but between us, we brought a ton of stuff to the (literal) table(s) - literally three big tables, laid out with all kinds of goodies.

I'm Doing a No-Spend Month... Sort Of.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Hellooooo, February! Inspired by the ever-stylish, world-traveling Priya over at Priya the Blog, I've decided to take on a modified no-spend month. 

Yeah, yeah, maybe you wouldn't call that a no-spend month, but... bear with me, OK? Life isn't black & white! I'm trying here!

So what does a "modified no-spend month" mean to me? As Priya outlined in her recap of a "no-buy year" - that's right, she did this for all of 2019 - I've set a few rules for myself. I'm not saying I can't buy anything because A) that's absurd, & B) that's setting myself up to fail, like suddenly starting a celery-only diet when all you've been eating is pizza.

What I Read: January 2020

Sunday, February 2, 2020

One month of 2020 down, & I'm six books in - & they were all damn good!

I also started the 2020 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, which I've tried to do in years past & not completed. In these monthly recaps, I'll be including which challenge prompt each book fulfills (if any), & you can follow my challenge progress on my designated 2020 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge page. (P.S.: If you're doing the challenge, too, I'd love your recs for any of my incomplete prompts!)

Without further ado, here are the six books that kicked off 2020.

7 Great Real-Life Dates in Cleveland, for All You Skeptical "Bachelor" Viewers

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Monday's episode of The Bachelor hit the road, with Pilot Pete & his crew of young, whiny, thus-far-universally-terrible women making their way from sunny Los Angeles to not-quite-as-sunny Cleveland, Ohio. The reactions were... as expected, I guess, & thus infuriating.

I am surprised, honestly, that after all this time, the rest of the country is still so happily shitting on this great city, which is not only inexpensive & easily accessible to the East Coast, but is also actually full of really fun things to do. And we're Midwestern, so you know we're friendly, unlike some cities. (Lookin' at you, coastal elites.)

Also, need I remind you that recent seasons of Bachelor shows visited Virginia & Rhode Island, for crying out loud? Don't talk to me about "exciting," please.

What I'm Watching: Early 2020

Monday, January 27, 2020

I always say that I don't watch a lot of TV, but it's possible that I watch a lot of TV? It's weird because I'm always doing something else; I never just stop & sit & focus on what I'm watching. I'm always multi-tasking, always doing two or three things at once, & so, as a result, I can really only watch shows that don't require a ton of attention... which means I watch a lot of bad TV. Or at least extremely basic TV.

But you know what? One of my new year's resolutions was not to be ashamed anymore of my guilty pleasures or to feel pressured to like the pop culture phenomenons that everyone else seems to love - which includes "deep" TV shows. Here are the very not-deep shows I've been watching lately, each of them as entertaining as the last.

When You Have to Cancel Everything To Take Care of Yourself

Thursday, January 23, 2020

People talk a lot about self-care. Heck, I talk a lot about self-care. Everybody loves a bath bomb & lavender essential oils & a solo movie night.

And I've talked, too, about the kind of self-care that comes with true mental health issues - the times when you need to talk a day off work & sleep for hours, or when you need to force yourself to shower, or when all you can do is zone out in front of the TV & at least make sure you eat & drink.

And then there are times when self-care is just about self-maintenance. About not letting yourself drown. About keeping your head above water until a rescue dinghy comes out to grab you & you can breathe easy again. Sometimes your legs hurt & your lungs are burning while you tread water, & self-care is just making sure you don't let the waves take you under.

And that's where I am right now.

I'm Being Published In a Book... & You Can Pre-Order It Now!

Friday, January 10, 2020

I couldn't be more excited to share that you can now pre-order Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy, a YA anthology of essays, artwork, poetry and other ephemera, to be published on August 18, 2020. Along with pieces from bestselling YA authors like Nic Stone (Dear Martin) & Julie Murphy (Dumplin'), this book will also include an essay by yours truly - all about starting sixth grade in a back brace.

The book's cover isn't yet available, so in its absence I leave you with. a photo of me, taken the summer between sixth & seventh grade, with a back brace not-so-hidden beneath my baggy ensemble. On a billion-degree day. At Disney World. I couldn't be more excited to share this essay with you, & I hope you'll consider ordering a copy. Pre-order the book now.

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