What I’m Loving | 02/25/2018

I finally caved and got MoviePass! I’m not sure why it took so long, but my card arrived the other day and I am READY to see movies eat popcorn.


I don’t like superhero movies, but I am so excited to see Black Panther. I’m also hoping to catch The Post before it’s out of theaters, and I’ve heard good things about Game Night. I still want to see Lady Bird, but I think it’s already out of theaters so I’ll have to catch it at home. Are there any other movies you’d recommend?

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:

Reading ::  I’m still working on The Joy Luck Club! So far, I’m really enjoying it—I just haven’t made a ton of time to read this week (see below about GameCube games 😳).

Listening :: I found this Surf Rock Sunshine playlist, and with a title like that, I couldn’t resist listening. Surprisingly, it’s great! There are some songs I really like on there, but most of them just fade into ambient background noise while I’m working. Exactly what I’ve been needing!

Spare Time :: I have been playing so. much. Mario. Harley broke out the old GameCube games and we’ve been having a blast. I’m terrible at video games but it’s so much fun — especially since he doesn’t mind beating the hard parts for me!

Style :: I don’t often make big purchases, but I’m trying to use my money for more quality items. I badly needed a pair of shoes that were sharp looking, comfortable, and durable…Forever 21 shoes don’t make it long on the SF streets. I decided on these Clarks boots. I’m still waiting on them to arrive, but I am so looking forward to it!

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Our Trip to The Ruth Bancroft Garden

Have you ever found out about something and wondered why it took you so long? That’s what happened to me this weekend when I discovered the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek!


It’s pretty obvious how much I enjoy plants (especially succulents!) so I can’t believe I didn’t know about this place. Starting with a small collection of potted plants, Ruth grew her collection to over 2,000 dry-weather and drought-resistant plants over the course of her lifetime—which was 109 years, by the way.

From the website, I was unsure if it would be a hiking spot or just a casual walk, and it turned out to be a relaxed stroll suited for most ages and mobility groups. Normally, admission is $10/person, but they were doing an event to memorialize Ruth on Saturday and admission was free. They also had cookies, planting stations, and raffles to win clippings from her own personal succulent collection! Needless to say, I was in heaven.

The garden has every kind of succulent you could imagine, from cacti to aloe and everything in between. It also features various trees, flowers, and plants of the non-succulent variety. Instead of having a formal walkthrough with signs and guideposts, it’s a self-guided walk and volunteers are placed throughout to answer questions. It gives the experience more of an organic feel, and it does genuinely seem like you’re walking amongst someone’s garden as opposed to visiting a plant museum. I saw many plants I had never seen (including a dragonfruit plant!) and learned quite a bit about the different species within the garden that are native to the California area. There’s also a nursery that sells plans from Ruth’s personal collection, and while I didn’t get one this time, I definitely will when we go back!

Overall, it was a really amazing sight and I’m so glad we took the time to go. If you’re in the Bay Area and a nice afternoon ambling amongst plants sounds like your thing, I’d highly recommend making the trip!

What I’m Loving | 02/18/2018

The Valentine’s Day festivities are behind us, President’s Day is here, and now we have the long wait for the thaw of spring.


Everyone has been making fun of me for saying this, but it has been cold in California. Not cold by Tennessee standards, but when you’re used to 60-70 degree weather all year, having lows in the 40s is a rude shock to the system.

To combat the winter blues, Harley and I (finally) got memberships at the local network of climbing gyms! We’ve always loved climbing, but it’s so expensive here that we hadn’t made it a priority until now. There are 6 area gyms we can visit with our membership, so I’m excited to get back the (meager) bouldering skills I’ve lost.

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:

Reading :: I’d be lying if I said my political affiliations didn’t give me a positive bias, but I thought What Happened was a delightful read. I’ve been interested in politics since I was a young girl, so getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a presidential campaign is fascinating to me. Hillary is an amazing role model for women everywhere, and I quite enjoyed learning about her life in her own words. In the honor of the Chinese New Year, I started The Joy Luck Club next. I’m always excited to read books set in San Francisco, so I’m sure this will be a good one.

Listening :: Childish Gambino re-released an EP (craftily titled, EP) for Spotify. Rumor has it there might be a new album from him eventually, but it’s kind of him to re-release things in the meantime.

Spare Time :: Olympics!!! I’m not very invested in sports, but I love the winter Olympics. I’m so thankful I got to see Chloe Kim’s snowboarding win, and watching figure skating is mesmerizing. Primetime starts at 5 PM PST so I’ve been turning it on in the evenings while I’m cooking dinner and such. So amazing what these athletes can do!

Style :: There are major President’s Day sales happening, especially on winter outdoor gear. We finally became REI members (!!!) and took advantage of their sale so I could get these Patagonia snow pants, and I also ordered this ski jacket from Evo. If you need winter gear, now is the time! Now we just need snow in the Sierras and we’ll be set…fingers crossed!

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Eliminating Social Media Clutter

Overall, I think social media gets a bad reputation. I do see how it can be easy to develop a negative relationship with it, but when used properly and in moderation it’s an incredible tool.


That being said, sometimes too much information is not a good thing. Between Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, keeping up with all those timelines is time-consuming at best and exhausting at worst. Even after doing my notification cleanse, I still found myself trapped in the endless scrolling cycle and didn’t give much thought to the value I was receiving from it.

I decided to start auditing my social media time, and I noticed two things: 1. paying closer attention to what I was seeing made me enjoy it less, and 2. I was spending a lot of time looking at things I didn’t care about in the hopes that something interesting would be next on my screen. I quickly realized that’s a really strange way to live…so I decided not to.

I’m already slim when it comes to social — I try to not follow a lot of people and don’t add strangers. But when I looked through my channels, I was still surprised at how much social clutter I found. I applied the Marie Kondö method and unfollowed every random company or old giveaway site that didn’t bring me joy…and then some.

I also learned you could mute words on Twitter! I hate hashtags (which is ironic, considering my profession) and there are so many words I’d rather never see again. Now I don’t have to! I also deleted Snapchat and Facebook from my phone because I never use them for anything that brings me joy, and I find myself getting irritated more than anything else.

Even though I’ve only been doing this for about a week, I’ve already noticed a big difference. I don’t spend a lot of time aimlessly staring at my phone because I don’t have a lot to look at — meaning I’m spending a lot more time looking at the world around me, and I think that’s a cool thing.

What I’m Loving | 02/11/2018

With every week it’s beginning to feel a bit more like summer here, so I’ve been trying to soak up as much sun as possible.


This week has been fairly low-key, which is just what the doctor ordered. I’ve had plenty of quiet reading time and some time to watch a bit of Atlanta in preparation for the new season. We’re pretty new to Hulu, but they definitely have the best TV selection out of all the streaming services! I don’t like to watch a lot of TV, but when I’m folding laundry or doing stuff around the house it’s nice to turn it on.

Here’s what else I’m loving lately:

Reading :: Angela’s Ashes was a pretty interesting book. The author did not have an easy childhood so some parts were a bit hard to stomach, but I would recommend it overall. In the similar non-fiction vein, I moved on to What Happened. Unfortunately, there are a lot of atrocious reviews of this one, but if you visit the 4- and 5-star ones on Amazon you can get a good idea of what the book actually reads like. Personally, I’m about 5 chapters in and loving it so far.

Listening :: Is anyone else obsessed with the Songs Taylor Loves playlist? I’ve said forever that Taylor Swift and I have so much in common, and our shared music taste only further solidifies that.

Spare Time :: I’ve been focused on writing this week, and ICYMI, I had a story published in Defiant Scribe this week! The theme of this issue is unconventional love, and I had so much fun putting this together.

Style :: I’m obsessed with all things Fixer Upper, and Joanna has been sharing pictures of their new restaurant, Magnolia Table, as the renovations come together. I’m loving everything from the funky tiles to the fluffy biscuits.

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6 Kitchen Gadgets Worth Losing Drawer Space For

If you’ve been following along with the blog for awhile, you know I love to cook. We definitely can’t afford to eat out often, so I love being able to get creative and make cost-efficient meals at home.


I have a lot of DIY recipes for commonly-purchased items (black beans, garlic bread, etc.) which I plan to cover soon, but for today I wanted to talk about some of my favorite tools I use on a regular basis.

Tools can be extremely useful for getting things done in the kitchen, but there’s nothing worse than buying a kitschy gadget and never using it again. I’m sure not one among us can say their parents didn’t have a cupboard with reject appliances (ours was a deep fryer!).

Because I hate wasting money (and space!), I’m extremely selective with what we buy. I typically wait until I really really need something, and then wonder how I ever lived without it!

So here are my favorite kitchen tools, all inexpensive and all incredibly useful:

Electric kettle // If you’re like me and drink a lot of tea or cocoa, this thing is magical. It’s much faster than a stovetop kettle, and handy if you need boiling water in a pinch. I’ve also switched to using Better Than Bullion cubes to make chicken broth — something I would have never done if I didn’t have this kettle!

Garlic press // I used to hate mincing garlic so much that I would buy the pre-minced jars — y’all know that if I’m willing to spend extra money on something, it’s a big deal. A garlic press seemed a bit indulgent, but whole garlic is so much cheaper than pre-minced that it quickly became worth it. You still have to peel the garlic, but it’s worth it to save money and get the extra flavor from the fresh cloves.

Potato masher // You’re probably thinking “I am never going to make homemade mashed potatoes,” but bear with me here! Even if you’re certain you never want to go down that road, if you brown ground beef or turkey a potato masher is still worthwhile. Brown your meat like normal, and then once it’s nearly done, use the potato masher to break it up further. I learned this trick from my mom and it produces the finest, most consistent ground beef ever! From tacos to meat sauce, this makes such a big difference in both the texture and the consistency of the seasoning.

Silicon brushes // These probably wouldn’t be useful for everyone, but depending on the type of recipes you cook, you might find yourself reaching for them quite a bit. If you’re often roasting veggies, cooking chicken/fish covered in sauce, or toasting bread with olive oil, it’s worth picking up a pack. These particular brushes are tiny, so I stash them in my silverware drawer until it’s time to whip up some bruschetta!

Silicon spatula // I actually found our silicon spatula in Target’s clearance section after Thanksgiving, but having four would be wonderful! This is a low-cost item that can cut down on your food waste when baking or cooking with sauces. Whether I’m making a dough or a glaze, I feel much better knowing I can get the last bit out of the bowl instead of wasting it or defending it from the cat.

Whisk // I didn’t find I wanted a whisk until I started cooking a lot, but now that I have one I reach for it often. I made sure to get a silicon-tipped one since most of our pans are non-stick, but ours is not dishwasher safe so that’s definitely something to consider! (P.S. This is another Target clearance find, but this Amazon link will take you to almost the same model)

Whether you’re just getting your own place or you’ve decided to start cooking, having the tools for the job will make a big difference in your efficiency and your stress levels!

What are some of the kitchen tools you can’t live without?

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What I’m Loving | 02/04/2018

There’s a big football game on today, which means the Puppy Bowl is on and there are plenty of snacks to go around!


I’m (obviously) not super into sports, but we’re going to a watch party with some friends we haven’t seen in awhile and it will be great to catch up! I love any excuse to whip out the party food, and today I’m making a ridiculously simple bean dip with homemade refried beans. We don’t keep a lot of appetizers or unhealthy snacks around the house, so I’ll take any excuse to splurge!

Also, in case you missed it, I got an article published on Monday about some of our recent hikes in the Oakland area! Aside from hiking, here’s what I’m loving lately:

Books :: I wrapped up  Beloved this week, and it was a great read! I went into it thinking it would be much different than it was, but ended up pleasantly surprised. I’m now reading Angela’s Ashes, a memoir about growing up in Depression-era Ireland. It’s heartbreaking, but fantastic. Memoirs don’t always flow well, but this one almost feels like reading a novel!

Listening :: I’ve been catching up on podcasts this week because I let myself get quite behind! Since I never drive/commute, I don’t have many time slots where I can listen to someone talking while simultaneously doing other tasks. I do love the informative nature of it, though. I think I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but Drunk Safari is the best. Real animal facts + real laughter = my fave.

Spare Time :: It’s been perfectly warm in the afternoons, so I’ve been going for walks every day! I get a bit of extra exercise, and the sun exposure my poor, pale legs definitely need.

Style :: I’ve had my eye on felt letter boards for a while now, but word on the street is that they’re featured in the Target dollar spot. I’m obsessed with quotes and typography, so I think these are perfect to jazz up a small shelf or picture wall.

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