What I Liked In February

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I cannot believe tomorrow is the beginning of March.  I feel like 2015 is already flying by. It’s  been a busy, hectic year so far, but hopefully it is a year heading towards a lot of positive changes and experiences.  February was a short month, but I feel like so much happened. Here are just a few things I liked in February.

moving on up // we started the month out by moving! Moving is, let’s be honest, the worst.  Packing sucks.  Unpacking sucks even more. Add to that the stress of getting everything lined up, like movers, and the financial strain, and it’s just all around no fun.  But, we are loving our new digs.  We moved to a new neighborhood and a much bigger apartment that just feels like home.  All the stress was definitely worth it now that we are settled into our new space.

booking it // I’ve been reading like a madwoman this month, which is really nothing new.  This month I revisited some old favorites, like Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem and I took a second crack at Game of Thrones. Some of my other favorites this month were Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure, Megan Stielstra’s Once I Was Cool, and Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.

the writing process // this month has been all about writing.  I am entering the final stages of my MFA and I am so ready to be done.  I’ve been working my tail off and I finally have a complete draft of my thesis written.  I’m definitely not happy with it yet; there are some rough edges that need smoothing and some fine tuning that will happen. Writing is a tough job; no one can make you do it, and ultimately getting it done is up to you.  It’s been hard work, but I’m so glad to finally feel like I’m reaching the finish line of this marathon journey.

unplugging // a new house calls for some new routines.  One of my favorite new things this month has been unplugging on Sundays.  Instead of waking up and immediately grabbing my phone or computer, I enjoy my time and leave all my technology off.  Instead, I opt for a cup of coffee and a newspaper.  It’s been a lovely way to spend my Sunday’s this month, so I hope it is a routine that sticks with me.

snow // oh winter in Chicago.  I have such a love / hate relationship with it.  On the one hand, I am a southern girl who will always find snow exciting and beautiful.  On the other hand, we got 22 inches of snow in one day this month and that is excessive. So while I think it is pretty and I enjoy seeing the city blanketed in snow, I’m about ready for some spring at this point.

comedic timing // one of the true downers of living in Chicago is that everything is so expensive.  It can be a challenge to go out on a budget, so when one of our friend’s told us about a $5 amateur comedy night at a local bar, we were in.  It was such a fun night, and it’s nice to get out sometimes and laugh.  If you’re ever looking for something to do, I definitely recommend the Wednesday comedy night at Timothy O’Toole’s.

start your engine // this month, I started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race.  I watch LOGO a fair amount because they always have Golden Girls on, so I see the commercials for the show, and it always looks so fun.  I’ve made it through two seasons, and I love it.  It’s a fun show, and I am blown away by some of the makeup, artistry, and performance value of the competitors.  It’s safe to say this is my new guilty pleasure.

working woman // so the job hunt continues and is never ending, but this month I did accept a position as nonfiction editor for TriQuarterly, the literary magazine that Northwestern publishes. It’s a volunteer position, but I am so excited about the opportunity to work on one of the best literary magazines in the country.  It’s going to be great experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of this!

Those were just a few things I liked in February.  What did you like?

Sundays Unplugged

For the past few Sundays, I’ve been trying something different.  That something different is giving myself permission to do nothing.  Yes, that’s right, nothing. This has been one of the more stressful times in my life, and a time when I feel like my brain is being pulled in every direction.  At the end of January, my boyfriend and I moved to a new apartment, and anyone who has ever moved knows that moving is stressful.  There are so many things to think about and plan for before the move, but there is just as much to plan for after the move.  I’ve been trying to organize our new space, decorate it, and restock our shelves, not to mention learn a new neighborhood and new daily routine.  Then there is this whole thesis thing.  I am likely in better shape than I think in terms of getting first, second, and third drafts on paper, but that has not stopped the laundry list of things I have to worry about and obsess over when it comes to my writing.  Is it good enough? Is anyone going to care? Can I actually get this done by May? Add constantly searching for and applying to jobs, and it’s a lot to juggle every day.  So a few Sundays ago I thought, why am I making myself crazy all day, every day? I decided to give myself a break.

My Sunday, in a nutshell; Newspaper, notebook, all that's missing is the coffee.
My Sunday, in a nutshell; Newspaper, notebook, all that’s missing is the coffee.

I am spending my Sundays unplugged now, trying on a new, yet old-fashioned routine.  I have always loved newspapers, the way the newsprint feels in my hands, the crinkle and crumple of trying to adjust the pages, the way the ink smells.  Growing up, my parents had the newspaper delivered everyday, but the day I truly remember them sitting down and reading the entire paper was Sunday.  It was what they did after we came home from church, and I did it with them.  Admittedly, I was more interested in the comics and word jumbles than the front page news, but reading the paper is something I still greatly associate with lazy Sunday afternoons.  So I’ve been treating myself to a thick Sunday newspaper, which eats up most of my mornings.  I wake up on Sundays, brew a cup or two of coffee, sit down at the kitchen counter and spread out the paper, reading it as close to cover-to-cover as possible.  I leave the TV off, leave my computer shut down and my phone off so I have no distractions.  Let me tell you – it  has been lovely.

There is something so calming about sitting in silence and taking a moment for yourself.  It has really helped to focus my mind, and clear it out so that later in the day I can get some writing done without all the pressure and distraction of sitting at my computer.   Computers and smart phones are such tricky things.  My life is certainly enhanced by my devices, and I love so many things about technology, but I hate how accessible it makes me, how distracted. It is so tempting to constantly refresh e-mail and social media, instead of working or even instead of taking the time to do something you enjoy.  Too often I find myself mindlessly sitting behind my computer screen when I could be reading, or taking a walk, or checking out a new cafe in my new neighborhood.  But I know that it is also easy to make myself feel guilty for taking a moment to myself for a walk or a trip to the coffee shop.  There is always something else I am worried that I should be doing.

And that is where Sunday mornings come in now.  Since I began this new routine of leisurely starting my Sunday mornings with the newspaper, I find myself looking forward to waking up on Sunday mornings.  Instead of thinking about how much work I need to do in the coming week, I find myself thinking about what I want to do for myself.  It is a delightful moment of selfishness that I allow myself every week.  Of course, I don’t stay completely unplugged, but I don’t let myself turn on my computer or the TV until well after noon, sometimes it has even been after dinner before I open my laptop, something I never would have thought I would say even a month ago.  I hope this is something I can keep up with, a small way I can continue treating myself throughout the year.

Sometimes, it really is the little moments and allowances that can make the biggest differences in our minds and moods.

February 2015 Birchbox Unboxing

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Wow, sorry for the radio silence around here the last few weeks.  It has been a crazy time, to say the least.  Since I last posted, Mr. Man & I found a new apartment, packed, moved, unpacked, and weathered a blizzard.  And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been buried under work for my thesis.  It’s finally starting to feel like things are settling down, and what better way to get back into the swing of things than with a Birchbox unboxing? It’s only February 10th, and my box is already here! Major kudos to Birchbox on how quickly their boxes are shipping lately.  As always, before we get into this month’s goodies, a look back at how I fared with my January box.

My favorite thing from January wound up being the Essentiel Elements lotion. I am all about a good lotion during the winter, and this one is the perfect combination of light weight, but ultra moisturizing, and not greasy.  I really liked the Harvey Prince body wash, but sadly there was only enough in the tube for one use.  The Davines products were good, but man did they smell bad, and the Sweet Science and Mirenesse were just bad colors for me. Overall, it wound up being just an OK box.

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The theme for February’s box is Friendship.  I’ve gotta say, I love that Birchbox didn’t go the traditional, expected Valentine’s Day route for February.  The box pattern this month is so fun! It’s bright neon orange and magenta, perfect for a winter month that can be a bit dreary.  I said it last month, but I’ll say it again: I love that Birchbox is changing up their boxes with fun patterns all year.  It makes getting my box even more exciting. And in a lovely turn of fate this month, the packaging of my samples continues the orange and pink theme.  Adorable.

My first sample this month is amika Nourishing Mask. This is a hair mask for deep conditioning and repair.  I have been really into conditioners lately, because my ends are getting drier and drier the longer my hair gets.  I love amika products.  Their dry shampoo is my all time favorite, plus the sea buckthorn berry scent is amazing.  Easily the best smelling hair products I’ve ever used, and this sample is nearly an ounce, so it will last at least two uses.

My next sample is Juicy Couture Hollywood Royal Perfume. I have such a love-hate relationship with Juicy Couture perfumes.  I’m pretty sure I’ve sampled every perfume they make thanks to Birchbox, and I always love the scents, but they are just too pricey.  This one is really floral, but a bit fruity.  It’s also got a sultry amber undertone.  It’ll be awesome for springtime.

Next is another familiar brand to me: Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser.  I’ve previously sampled this brand’s daily moisturizer and it is one of the best.  I’m not a huge fan of blemish or acne clearing cleansers, just because I don’t have a big problem with acne, and cleansers made for acne typically have the opposite effect and break me out.  This one is made with a lot of natural products, like lemon, cherry, and aloe, and promises to hydrate while cleansing.  It smells good though, very fresh and definitely lemon.  Plus, the .5 oz sample size is big enough to get several uses out of it.

My next product is theBalm cosmetics Read My Lips Lip Gloss in BAM! I love theBalm’s packaging.  It is always so stinking cute.  I’ve sampled a blush, a creamy lip/cheek stain, and a gel lip stain from them and liked them all.  This is a really pretty pinky nude color.  Definitely qualifies as “your-lips-but-better.”  It smells really fruity and it is INSANELY pigmented, and ultra shiny.  It leans to the sticky side of glosses, but this is definitely going into my lip gloss rotation.  I am also really digging that it is a mini-size, because, let’s be real – when was the last time you finished a lip gloss?

The final sample this month is Dr. Scheller Calendula Hand Balm.  I am really all about lotions and hand creams.  My hands are looking rough lately, thanks to the cold air and moving.  This says it provides instant protection for rough, chapped hands, and works to soften and hydrate.  It goes on really smooth, and feels nice on my hands, almost like it’s creating a buffer between my hands and the air.  The scent is light and fresh, very reminiscent of drugstore lotions like Lubriderm or Vaseline.  Not offensive by any means, but not heavily perfumed.  Also, this is a full-size product, which is awesome.

So that is my February 2015 Birchbox.  This box is a nice mix of hair, skin, and makeup.  I also love that there are new products from familiar brands I haven’t sampled in a while, and some brand new brands. Plus the sample sizes of all the products this month are fabulous. On first impression, I think this is going to be a good box, so hopefully that impression is correct. If you are interested in signing up for your own Birchbox, it is a $10/month subscription service.  You can pay monthly or pay for a full year up front.  Everyone gets 4-6 different samples each month, tailored to the beauty profile you fill out and you can review your samples to earn Birchbox points.  Birchbox has the best points system, hands down.  You get 10 points per review and 100 points  = $10 to spend in the Birchbox shop on full size products they sample.  It’s like they pay you $4-6 every month just for taking your box.  If you’re interested in learning more or signing up, you can click here for more details, or just go to Birchbox.com.

Happy February!

January 2015 Birchbox Unboxing

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Happy 2015! The first few weeks of a new year are always strange for me.  It’s hard to think of it as a brand new year when it doesn’t feel that different from 2014, but at the same time there is a feeling of freshness and possibility.  Here in Chicago, we entered the deep freeze along with the new year, and we are just now coming out of it, and what better way to perk up gloomy, frigid days than a Birchbox? My box did take a long time to get to me this month, which isn’t normal.  It shipped on January 6th, but just arrived today on January 16th, but that’s Chicago’s mail system when it gets too cold.  Our mail hasn’t been delivered every day the past couple of weeks, simply because it’s too cold for the mailman to walk his normal route.  But no matter, my box is here; I just had to wait a little longer for it.  Before we get into January’s box, let’s take a look back at December’s.

My favorite thing from December’s box was the Sumbody Salt Scrub.  This was such a fun product, and felt like a little treat in the shower.  I also loved the Ruffian Red nail polish for the holidays.  The dud in December’s box was definitely the Juara Face Mask.  I couldn’t get past the turmeric smell to enjoy the benefits of the mask itself, but that’s just my personal aversion to turmeric.  Overall, December’s box was a great one, and a fantastic way to send off 2014.

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Birchbox is doing something really fun with their boxes this year.  Instead of sending our their signature brown, craft paper boxes, each month the box is going to be a different color and pattern, which I think is really cool.  January’s theme is Let’s Do This, which is a great theme for the start of the year.  I love how bright and colorful the box is this month, while still feeling fresh and clean.  When I first opened my box, I thought this month was going to be full of repeats because I saw a lot of familiar packaging, but Birchbox never sends out duplicate samples (and if they do, all you have to do is e-mail them and they’ll make it right), so upon further inspection, this box is full of familiar brands, but new products.

The first thing in my box this month is Davines OI / Shampoo.  At 3.04 fluid ounces, this is a huge sample.  I’ve sampled the Davines Love Shampoo before and really loved it (no pun intended).  This one has roucou oil and is supposed to hydrate your hair, while boosting shine.  It smells very much like a professional, salon haircare product.  It’s fresh and clean, but slightly citrusy.  As a bonus, Birchbox also threw in foil packets of the Davines OI / Conditioner and OI / Oil.  I’m not a fan of foil packets, but it’s awesome to be able to try out the whole line together.

My next sample is Essentiel Elements Wake Up Rosemary Body Lotion.  I got the body wash back in October and I loved it.  The scent is so vibrant and really pepperminty.  It’s a great way to perk up in the mornings.  The lotion feels so good on.  It’s lightweight, but hydrating, and it’s not greasy. Plus, a tiny bit goes a long way, so this 1.5 fluid ounce sample will get quite a few uses.

The next sample is Harvey Prince Hello Liquid Loofah.  I love the scent of Hello.  I sampled the body cream back in July and really enjoyed it, so I’m sure this will be a great sower gel to throw in the shower for a morning treat.  The scent is citrusy and refreshing.  My only complaint is that there isn’t much product in the tube, but of course, that falls on the manufacturer, and not Birchbox.

Up next is Mirenesse Mattifying Cream Lip Stain in New York. This says it is a creamy, velvety lip stain that dries to a matte finish and won’t budge during the day.  I always like the idea of lip stains, but they never seem to work out for me.  The color is a really bright, hot coral shade.  It’s really gorgeous, and unlike other stains, this goes on opaque and doesn’t feel runny.  It felt more like applying a liquid lipstick or gloss.  It takes about 30 seconds to set, but when it does, it sets just like a matte lipstick.  This stain definitely seems like a game changer for me, so I’m excited to try it throughout the month.

My final sample this month is Sweet Science Invisible Daily Tint SPF 35.  This is a face cream that goes on matte to even skin tone and protect the skin from the sun.  It is a tinted product, and I thought it would likely be too dark for me, but it blends out really nicely.  The consistency is heavenly and reminds me a lot of the COOLA mineral tinted sunscreen.  It’s fluffy and has an almost whipped texture, and it definitely helps diminish some redness on my face, without making it look like I have product on. The sample size is quite small, but a tiny dab goes a long way, so the little tub should give my at least 6 or 7 uses. It also smells like tangerines or clementines, which I love.

So that is my January Let’s Do This box.  At first glance, I am really happy with this box.  There are a lot of great brands that I know I like, so I’m excited to get to try some of the brands’ other products, and I feel like this is a nice variety of product types. There’s some hair care, some skin care, and some makeup, so Birchbox pretty much hit all the categories with this month’s box. If you are interested in signing up for your own Birchbox, it is a $10/month subscription service.  You can pay monthly or pay for a full year up front.  Everyone gets 4-6 different samples each month, tailored to the beauty profile you fill out and you can review your samples to earn Birchbox points.  Birchbox has the best points system, hands down.  You get 10 points per review and 100 points  = $10 to spend in the Birchbox shop on full size products they sample.  It’s like they pay you $4-6 every month just for taking your box.  If you’re interested in learning more or signing up, you can click here for more details, or just go to Birchbox.com.

How are you kicking off 2015?

Three Things + My Week in Reading

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first snow // this week brought Chicago’s first true snow of the season, and while I didn’t love the subzero temperatures that came with it, this southern girl will always find something magical about a city blanketed in snow.

on immunity // since it was too cold to go outside this week, what better to do than stay home and read? This week, I finished Eula Biss’s On Immunity: An Inoculation, which examines our culture’s relationship with vaccines and the anti-vaccination movement.  This was such a fantastic mix of history, mythology, research, and memoir, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good nonfiction read.

pequods // last Sunday, we made our semi-annual trip to Pequod’s.  What is Pequod’s you ask? Only the best deep dish pizza in Chicago.  Most people head for Gino’s East or Pizzeria Uno, but Pequod’s and their caramelized crust is where it’s at, and nothing is more comforting on a bitter night than a giant slice of hot deep dish.  Bonus: most tourists don’t know about it, so the wait for a table is never very long.

My Week in Reading

This year, I’m making an effort to read more, and that includes reading more meaningful articles and opinion pieces online.  These are just a handful of pieces I’ve read this week, but the ones that stuck with me, either for content or writing.

What 2000 Calories Looks Like: An interesting examination of perceptions of portion size and how it’s out of control
21 Things to Stop Giving a Shit About in 2015: A humorous take on resolutions for the new year
Someone Gave My 5-Year-Old a Tablet: How young is too young to be connected with technology?
Gates Foundation Uses Art to Encourage Vaccination: How art and medicine are melding for the greater good
So Many Earth-like Planets, So Few Telescopes: Space is always fascinating and mysterious to me
Among the Disrupted: A look at how our ideas about culture are shifting in the digital age
When Women Become Men at Wellesley: A look at women’s colleges and transgender students
Held to Account: How a Charter school in a struggling Georgia school system is trying to change education

My Year in Books – 2014 Edition

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It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.  – Oscar Wilde
                                                                                                                                                 

One of my big goals in 2014 was to read more books for fun.  By nature of being a writer and a graduate student, I read a lot, but at the beginning of 2014, it was mostly assigned reading.  My fun reading had fallen by the wayside.  I’d say this is one goal I set for myself that I more than accomplished.  I set out to read one “fun” book per month, so I’d have 12 books outside of school for 2014.  Well, let’s just say I exceeded that goal. In 2014, I read 39 books:

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco
Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos
Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs
Bones in her Pocket by Kathy Reichs
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Percy Jackson & the Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino
Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavic
A Perfect Vacuum by Stanislaw Lem
There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Book of My Lives by Alexander Hemon
High Rise Stories by Audrey Petty
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz
The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs
Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Matsuo Basho
The Vacationers by Emma Straub
The Fever by Megan Abbott
You Feel So Mortal by Peggy Shinner
The IPO by Dan Koontz
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzch
The Inferno by Dan Brown
Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
A Fairly Honorable Defeat by Iris Murdoch
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

I’m already plotting out the books I want to read in 2015.  First up on my list? On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss & The Unspeakables by Meghan Daum.  What books did you love in 2014?

So Long, 2014 + What I Liked In December

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As I write this post on New Year’s Eve, I’m sitting in my parents’ living room, looking at their gorgeous Christmas tree and smelling the wonderful balsam scent in the room.  Christmas felt like it passed by so quickly this year, and yet for the most part, I didn’t feel a lot of the bustle and stress that normally accompanies the holiday season.  I was fortunate again this year to be able to head from Chicago to Atlanta for two weeks, and this year was especially nice, since my boyfriend and I rented a car and drove down, so he and our dog could come as well.  Driving from Chicago to Atlanta is not exactly fun, since it is eleven to twelve hours of very boring highway, but it is so worth it to be able to spend the holiday season at home.

I don’t really go in for the whole New Year’s Eve thing. I don’t like to make a big fuss, go to parties, drink a lot.  That can all be fun, but ultimately it’s too stressful for me.  Instead, my New Year’s Eve plans consist of staying home, watching college football bowl games, eating too much delicious food, and, let’s be honest, probably falling asleep before midnight.  Wild, I know. I’m also not huge on New Year’s resolutions.  I never have been, simply because I’m not sure they work, at least in the way that most people think about them.  I feel like most people view resolutions as cut and dry things; once you resolve to do or not do something, you have to go at it cold turkey.  It’s just so unrealistic and sets you up for failure, or feeling like a failure, when you inevitably slip up. But still, the start of a fresh year has it’s allure.  It’s nice to think of having a clean slate, a chance to start over, a chance to make some changes or improvements to your life. The beginnings of things are always very exciting, the ends less so.  Instead of resolutions, I like to make a few yearly goals for myself that are simple, attainable, and will enhance my life in the coming year.  Goals just seem more manageable somehow, and leave more room for missteps and do-overs.

Last year,  I set five goals for myself to focus on in 2014.  My first was to read more for fun.  I read well over thirty books in 2014, way up from just getting through the Game of Thrones series in 2013. My second goal was more proactive dog training, and I’d say it’s been a success, though it is something I have realized that will always be a work in progress.  My third goal was organization, and I’m afraid this one has fallen by the wayside.  I just didn’t get organized in the way I wanted, but that is okay.  My fourth goal was to eat out less, and I think this was definitely accomplished.  We still enjoy the occasional pizza or take-out Mexican food, but over all we’ve been eating at home a lot more.  My fifth and final goal was to take more advantage of living in Chicago.  I’ve definitely taken more advantage of my neighborhood, especially recently, and I’ve enjoyed walking around the UChicago campus.  I’ve also found some awesome new spots (okay, coffeeshops) in really cute neighborhoods all over the city.  I still have my favorite haunts and hoods, but I feel like I’ve gotten more out of living in a big city this year.

2015 Goals

Take better care of myself // this one is pretty self explanatory.  I’m not focused on losing weight or fitting into any specific sizes of clothes.  This is about being good to my mind and body, and just generally feeling more energized throughout my day.

Finish graduate school // this one is inevitable.  It will happen, and I am both ready for it to happen and completely unprepared.  I’m excited for what the next chapter in my life will bring, which is a Master of Fine Arts degree and hopefully a full time job.

Keep reading // It was so nice to get back to reading truly for fun this year, so I want to keep the trend going.  I read over 30 books in 2014, so in 2015, I’m going to up the ante and aim for 40 books.

Get on a schedule // with my writing, that is.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to work whenever I want to, but since I am hoping to have a full time job soon, I know that I won’t always be able to do that.  I’d like to get myself on a writing schedule, which means picking a time of day, sitting down, and just writing for a couple of hours with no distractions.

Those are my goals for 2015.  They are pretty simple, but they are all things I want to do and things that I know will benefit me greatly in the coming year.  And now of course, since it is the end of the month, as well as the end of the year, it’s time to take a look at what I liked in December.  I love doing these “What I Liked” posts.  They are such a fun way to go back through the month and reminisce a bit.  It can be so easy to feel like nothing is happening or that everything is ordinary, but these posts help me realize that there are good things in every month.  There aren’t always big or exciting things, but there are always good things.

What I Liked in December 2014

home for holidays // I’ve said it before, but I am so thankful to be able to come home for the holidays and celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with my parents in my childhood home.  I am even more thankful that this year my boyfriend was able to come home with me for the first time.  It’s nice to have a couple of weeks to unwind and relax.

strange magic // this month, I reread one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.  I’ve read this book many, many times.  I read it once a year, usually, and I am constantly amazed by how the book is equally heartbreaking, hilarious, poignant, and thought provoking.  It’s no secret that if I could be anyone on this planet, I’d be Joan Didion.  This was a great read to finish out the year, and moving forward as I think about my thesis.

vlogmas // this year I discovered YouTube, and by that I mean, I discovered a handful of channels that I really like.  Most of them are beauty / lifestyle channels, and most of them did something called ‘vlogmas’ this December, where they essentially posted a new vlog every single day from December 1-24.  I loved watching these.  It was seriously the highlight of my day, every day, to sit down and watch five or six vlogs.

another quarter gone // the fall 2014 quarter came to a close.  It was overall uneventful, but I feel like I got a lot accomplished and had some good experiences.  This was probably my final “normal” quarter, as from now on I’m working solely on thesis things, and not taking or participating in any classes.  It’s exciting and kind of sad.

true detective // oh. my. goodness.  If you have not seen HBO’s series True Detective, run, don’t walk to your computer and watch it now.  It is so good.  The show is set up to be an anthology, sort of like American Horror Story, where every season is a different story and cast.  The first season starred Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey.  It was only eight 1-hour long episodes and I may or may not have watched it in a day.

serial // I was a little late jumping on this bandwagon, but this month I got into the podcast Serial.  It was a twelve week podcast, made by This American Life and hosted by the wonderful Sarah Koenig.  The point of the podcast was to tell one true story over the twelve weeks.  The story they chose? The murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999 and whether or not Adnan Syed, the man sent to prison for her murder, was actually guilty.  This was riveting to listen to.  In the end, the story was messy and complicated, and nothing was tied up neatly, but it was fascinating to listen to.  I can’t wait for a second season.

Those are just a handful of things I liked this month.  Here’s to the end of 2014, which was a good year over all, and to a new and exciting 2015.