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It’s Friday, I’m in love…

How in the world is it already December 8th? I was going through our calendar today and caught myself pretty off guard by the fact that Christmas will be next week, in just a few days. I mean, what?!?!?!

I really love doing these Friday posts, and I really love the conversations they inspire. I get great feedback, through various means, about what you guys thought regarding the things I’m loving. I have also been directed toward cool things that I was not aware of, and I am so grateful! When I first began blogging, comments were EVERYTHING. People subscribed, and that was how conversations happened. Now, half of my readers read my posts in their email in-boxes and just hit reply. That isn’t counting the responses from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Blogging has really evolved and I need to remember that. Sometimes old school Misty gets all down and out, whining about a lack of comments, while the reality is that I have great connections with so many of you guys and several of this blog’s readers are now people whom I am lucky to consider friends. I love that! My goal, from the very beginning of my blogging journey (twelve years ago last month,) was to forge genuine connections and have authentic conversation. I have most certainly accomplished that and so much more…

This week’s list is a little different. All five of these things are VERY MUCH things I am loving this week. The points themselves, however, are a little tendrally, bear with me:

1.) Christmas music. Of course. I don’t love most of the music that plays on the Christmas music 24/7 stations, so I’m not super giddy over that. This is the first year we haven’t subscribed to Sirius in years. I would always get so excited as the stations transitioned over to Christmas music, only to sit back in disappointment after-the-fact saying that’s right, yuck. The thing is, if you were to ask my expert opinion (expertise on my taste, and that alone) I would tell you that I love really great Christmas music. New or old, classic or modern, as long as it is GOOD. Like this album (and yes, I mean album. You guys, it’s time to admit it- VINYL IS BEST) and in the last post (or maybe the one before it) I mentioned this one. I finally tracked a copy down and I am in
Christmas HEAVEN. I mean, the BEST way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear. Other than that, I’m just listening to Elvis and lots of classic records that have been in my family since way before I was born.

2.) I finally managed to see The Man Who Invented Christmas, and I can say it was well worth the wait! Such a lovely film and honestly, from a writer’s perspective, it gave me all sorts of feels…

3.) I LOVE Trader Joe’s. Anyone who knows me, knows this. So many people are right there with me. Some people don’t care and others hate it for some strangely incomprehensible reason… (It’s healthier, it’s fun, it’s creative and it’s affordable. What’s not to love?) What I am about to share, however, surpasses my regular, every day love for many things Trader Joe’s. Have you had Jingle Jangle ice cream? In case you aren’t quite sure what Jingle Jangle is, (and no, this is not an obscure Riverdale reference)  It is a holiday snack mix consisting of various sweet and salty bits. I am sure it can be quite tasty. The problem, for our family though, is that we never tried the snack mix before indulging in the ice cream. The ice cream is far superior. (well, assuming you love ice cream. And have taste.) The beloved TJ’s fave was a total let down compared to its creamy counterpart.

Imagine that this TJ’s bullet point were an album. On side A, we have the heavenly delight that is Jingle Jangle Ice Cream. This would be the delightful B side: The Taste Test of Caramels. Serious holiday fun, and it is delicious. Chw is a major lover of dark chocolate. The snobbier and blacker the chocolate, the better, as far as he’s concerned. (I, on the other hand, cannot stand dark chocolate) Super fun fact: I LOVE Caramels! They can come in the classless version of gooey goodness known as Milk Duds. They can be the square gems of luxury in the cheap and almost oxidized heart-shaped boxes of Februaries past. Caramels are life! (no. I’m kidding. Mostly I’m illustrating a here.) Follow up fun fact: Chw detests caramels! (we need to pause for a moment here… Ok.) It is totally like West Side Story up in here, sometimes. The tension is real, yo. Obviously, the prospects of this Caramel flight are equal parts torture and pleasure for us. We split them, one mystery caramel, each evening. We discuss and debate their layers of buttery sugar and bitter chocolate, and then (only then) we reveal peak at its flavor. Sometimes we are right. Sometimes we are very wrong. Last night’s Caramel (Fig and Honey) was one that Chw was the most terrified of, and guess what?!?! We both loved it. So far we haven’t had one we did not really enjoy, proving once again that TJ’s is amazing. It is the professional helping me to come to peace with disgusting dark chocolate, and my dear misguided husband embracing caramel. (#traderjoesforever)

4.) Really awesome gift finds. I am a gift giver. We all know this. I love it. I live for it. I am fairly descent at it, in most cases… This year I have discovered some really cool things and I want to share them here, just in case you find yourself in need of some ideas…

  • The Gentleman’s Box. I LOVE this! Neither my husband nor my son would love to receive it, but I personally think that it is super cool.
  • Baby Lit. Does everyone in the world know all about Baby Lit, and I am just a loser? This entire product line is like one of those instances where I admit that I totally could have done this first, and been set for life. (Wait, is this company’s person (er, people?) set for life? I certainly hope so, because, BRILLIANT!
  • Blue Q. About a year and a half ago a friend sent me socks from Blue Q. They were edgy, and funny, and timely and unique. Since then, Blue Q has moved beyond socks and it is wonderful (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Ticket to Ride. It was early this year when our family boarded the TtR fan club, and when we commit, we COMMIT. Between the lot of us, we’ve got most editions covered. (no Rails and Sails, but someday!) Super fun game, for pretty much anyone over the age of 7/8. I was 40 when I started obsessively playing this game, and I learn so much from it, so that’s pretty cool.
  • Salt Massage Stones. I think I may have mentioned these before, but they were a high point this year, for sure. It is amazing, when heated, how they literally pull tension.
  • Le Creuset French Press.  Hands down, THE BEST French Press either of us have ever used. The coffee is incredible, it stays warm, it is super easy to clean. We love this thing!
  • Tarte Eye Shadow Palettes. Absolute favorite eye colors this year. Perfectly pigmented, blends beautifully. Ethically made. Just love them!
  • Novel Journals. Seriously, brilliant. Such a simple, cool and meaningful way to incorporate a classic book into a useful and intentional gift.
  • Cuisinart immersion blender. Truthfully, this gadget would make my list, EVERY SINGLE YEAR. It is, hands down, the best appliance we have in our kitchen.
  • Book That Takes its Time. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! It’s amazing! Most favorite book ever!
  • Instant Pot. I am not going to say much else. If you haven’t ever heard of it, I am shocked- and props to you for shielding yourself from every form of social media.

5.) This toaster oven. I am OBSESSED. To clarify, NO I do not own one, and I likely won’t ever.I will also have you know that I blame Oprah for making me aware of its presence. (thanks, Oprah!) It is incredible. (and sold out, because that is what happens when Oprah makes something her favorite) (but I don’t have a budget for one anyway, so it’s all for the best. Enjoy your amazing ovens, Oprah fans.)

So, in closing, let’s review a few important things… Vinyl is best. Everyone needs to see The Man Who Invented Christmas. JINGLE JANGLE! (#traderjoesforever) There are some cool gift ideas out there. If you are trying to reach me, and can’t, I am probably staring hopelessly (pathetically) at a website feature of the Toaster oven, and drooling.

Also, if I were Oprah, you’d all be going home with these really cool things and everyone would be so happy! (especially me, because I would have the toaster oven.)

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beautiful, chronic illness, confession, depression, family, fibro, food, friendship, gifts, gratitude, holiday, home, journey, Lately, list, travel

It isn’t quite a scrapbook…

My re-entry back from my PNW trip has been tough. Full disclosure? Depression has smacked me really hard, right between the eyes. Before I left, I wondered if it would. When I was with my people I made the conscious effort to absorb as much of their energy as I could, so that I could create a sort of storage for their amazingness. I also came back to Michigan knowing that Thanksgiving was just around the corner, in which I would be with some of the best of my people. I tried to prepare for the possibility, but I was probably several days into it before I really saw it.

I want to whine, and kick my feet and tell the universe that I simply can not live here anymore. Here in the land of cement colored skies and a community culture that, try as I might, I will just never understand. (Also, leaving home is tough because the things you fall behind on, while you’re gone, don’t magically get done. No. You come home to the house you need to clean, the laundry you need to do, the fridge you need to stock. As dumb as it may sound, it was overwhelming…)

That aside, I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you what my adventure contained…

  • Catching up with twenty-plus friends, and realizing again (and again) that I my friends are really beautiful people and I am really, really very lucky to know them
  • Cuddling two brand new baby boys
  • loving on six awesome, joyful dogs
  • hanging out with my amazing sister
  • meeting the beautiful boy who has made me a great-aunt
  • celebrating the birthdays of my two handsome nephews
  • feeling the silky curls which belong to my beautiful grand-daughter, along with drinking in the smell of her baby scented head
  • going to one movie, with my bff
  • filling up my soul with goodness, at my church (which I miss TERRIBLY)
  • dining on familiarly amazing things (an estimated 900 duck fat/truffle salt fries, handmade eclectic ice cream, authentic street tacos, Korean tacos, a decadent wine tasting spread, and so much more…)
  • a strong debate over the ranking qualities of the Nutty Buddy vs. the Ding Dong
  • surviving what very well could have been a haunted halloween
  • one paper crafting project with the bestie, who is a paper crafter extraordinaire
  • a handful of really fun photo shoots (thank you so much, and you’re welcome!)
  • a sleepover complete with rum, conversation, late night scary-ish stuff including a string of truly bizarre you-tube videos and pizza
  •  a bazillion laughs
  • a few tear-filled talks
  • an unnatural amount of calorie filled coffee made in the land where barista-ing is done right
  • a mini road trip, unlike one I’d ever had before, leading the secret place where all of the unique convenience store snacks are hidden
  • adding another phenomenal Chinese massage to my collection of experiences
  • meeting my now-Washington State Safeway boyfriend

It is truth that the home of my past feels best, smells best and tastes best, though I am old enough to realize that the biggest reason because it is more the special occasion place than the every day. (though, don’t get me wrong, many of those things would be great every day to do things…)

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It’s Friday, I’m in love…

This morning I am sipping Holiday Blend coffee from my Seattle cup. Because I really love these Friday posts, Friday mornings tend to be a time of reflection. Even though it is already the 17th, this is my first Friday post of November. We can blame this on many things… There was lots of traveling, lots and lots of quality time with some of my favorite people, more traveling, more quality time, half a dozen long doctors visits, a conference, quality time with the stranger-as-of-late, whom I share a home with- (this would be Chw, of course, though we had barely seen each other since mid-September!) a week-long battle with a seasonal illness all sprinkled with some work stuff and the menial tasks of adulting…

Over the weeks since my last FIIL post, I have been keeping a list of things to share with you! Full disclosure, however, what tops the list (and is not super sharable via links anyway) is getting to spend time with my son, his wife and their beautiful baby girl. (You guys, she has the best head of silky curls, and so much personality and so many expressions, and she is so smart and funny and amazing…)

This will top all of this lists, all of the time…

Now that I have made my position on the matter pretty clear, here are the things I’m loving this week…

1.) Coffee! This is also a huge relief to me. You see, people in the midwest just don’t get it. They may be trained, and know things to the best of their abilities (generalization… I am sure some people do get it, just not the ones I usually encounter.) The PNW gets it. While they may not have invented coffee or the many delectable drinks one can whip up, with coffee, the PNW really is responsible for this bliss being such a part of American culture. (note: NO, I do not give Starbucks all of the credit. In the midwest, Starbucks is kind of the IT thing. And I get it, I love a good Starbucks drink as much as the next person, BUT there, well- Starbucks isn’t the IT thing. It’s the sheep thing, and for anyone else who just wants an awesome coffee, there are TONS of other options.) Anyway, this is quickly becoming a coffee post and that isn’t my intention. Let’s not squabble over Starbucks, ok?

While I was home I had coffee from all of my favorite Idaho places, and it was heaven. (I was also really, really caffeinated.) Coming home, I shipped some beans from my favorite Boise coffee roaster, (which is tragically lost in the mail forever, I’m afraid, along with about $200 of other things… BOO) When the crushing reality that I was out of my Storyville coffee (favorite coffee EVER) and my Dawson Taylor coffee was lost in the mail (forever), my husband consoled me with the news that Starbucks Holiday Blend was now out! What?!?! This is, in our (And many other people’s) opinion, this is the only really palatable Starbucks coffee. Christmas angels rang out their Hallelujahs and all was right with the world… (Minus the previously mentioned illness, the husband’s back injury, the bitter cold weather, etc…) But, you guys… Then something even more wonderful happened! Storyville sent an email about a free shipping promotion (LoveEverybody is the code, what are you waiting for??? AMAZING Coffee AND it supports a good cause!) Since I hadn’t been able to get in there and stock up, while I was in Washington, this was amazing news! (plus, lets face it, it would just have been lost in the black hole of the US postal service anyway.)

2.) My awesome friend (who I love so dearly and miss already!!! You know who you are… COME TO MICHIGAN!!!) showed me this amazing weather app called What The Forecast?. Here’s the thing, weather typically sucks, right? And we all kinda want to complain about it, and complaining about it only makes us (or me) feel crappier. But what if you had a weather app that complained about the forecast for you, and in such a negatively funny way that you looked at the forecast and then LAUGHED with joy, AND THEN reached out to share that laugh with someone you love, (you may not do that, but I do. All of the time, because it is seriously super funny) pretty genius right? This app is fantastic! (and so accurate re: the forecast AND the sentiment.) (**IF you find yourself offended by things like the general use of profanity than good news! You can have the app edited to state the same funny things, but in a less crude way, profanity free!)

3.) Flying has changed a lot. This was my first time flying in a decade, and to celebrate I decided to fly on five planes over the span of 15 days. (Bold move, I know.) Security is a nightmare (seriously, EVERY TIME… And depending on the airport, such things as Essential Oil cough drops or a cut out in a dress may be seen as contraband and HIGHLY threatening.) After I was in Washington I stumbled upon an article about a Michigan man who had SEVERAL guns and ammo in his carry on. Naturally they found him and naturally he was arrested. Rumor has it, it was a bigger terror plot. Here’s my question though, what the heck size of cajones do you have to think those things will simply slip by? Had he also not flown in a decade? THEY CHECK, SCAN, SWIPE and XRAY EVERYTHING. My bag was hand searched every time. I was put in what is equivalent to an airport time out for COUGH DROPS. Every inch of my body was shown more affection that a stranger has ever had the privilege, in both Detroit and Seattle. (I wanted to find the article and link it for your reading pleasure, but what I found instead were 4 separate instances of other people with impossibly large cajones attempting the same stupid thing- SINCE JULY. I mean, what the? I wouldn’t even attempt fingernail clippers, I was so nervous about it.)

That rant aside, Flying has changed a lot. I was able to track my flight on the tv screen in front of me. My bag texted me when it was safely on the plane, when it securely made my connection and when it was safely off the plan. After the luggage nightmare I had in 2006 in LA, this is the most geniusly wonderful thing in the history of travel- EVER. You get real snacks (Kind bar please, no nuts for me), have the option to purchase meals AND free wifi to Imessage (or FB message) til your hearts content. All in all, well worth the molestation and need to re-pack (over and over again) when awesome people are waiting for you on the other side.

4.) Catstudio is SUPER fun! Specifically THESE. (I want so, so badly, to have four of them.) I’ve seen them in person, and they are amazing!

5.) Christmas movies! (I know that was the topic of my last post, but seriously… It’s Christmas time!) The movies I’m referring to are the two Christmas movies currently in the theater. (Both parentally themed, oddly enough.) The first one being Daddy’s Home 2. I loved Daddy’s Home and was super cautious of this one because, well, it’s a sequel AND Mel Gibson is in it. (I found myself screaming, why??? Why???? when I first saw the announcement.) I had minimal expectations (which might be the best way to go in to any movie) and I absolutely loved it. I mean, LOVED IT! We laughed so hard, and the funny thing about Mel Gibson’s character (in the movie) is that he just sucks and everyone accepts it. (#typecast ???) It was endearing and funny (SO FUNNY) and we had a great time! The second one is Bad Mom’s Christmas. (I am going to stop right here and say that I realize I have some readers who fall on the more conservative spectrum of things and that is totally ok. TOTALLY. I absolutely respect that conviction. So, those of you who are there- this movie isn’t for you.) I saw it in Boise with my bestie and, honestly, I was really disappointed. It had some funny parts, but the one thing I CANNOT stand being used in entertainment is little kids using BIG profanity. I just can’t… And since this happened at the very start of the movie, I think I was just irritated for the rest of it. Once I was back home and settled, I kept seeing trailers for it and remembering not only the really funny stuff but also the pretty deep point of the gigantically emphasized caricatures of the storyline too. Chw had really liked the first one and had really wanted to see the second one, (I would have known this had we not been separated by thousands of miles of ocean and land for two months) and so after a really stress filled day of hospitals and annoying doctors, (so many doctors) we went to see it. Knowing the big evil was there, (you know, the kid/profanity bit) I was able to really enjoy the movie and it was still so very, very funny.

So, I guess it isn’t super terrible that it’s a lengthier post, since it’s representing an entire month, right? But now what should you do, after investing the time in this novella? You should go buy some Storyville coffee (you will not be sorry!) and then enter my Christmas giveaway!

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My first Christmas Gift, of the season…

My heart is all a flutter these days as darkness blankets the world earlier and twinkly Christmas decorations span the city streets. Part of my adult heart still feels a bit surprised when evening brings such Christmas magic to life. Isn’t adulthood kind of like that? Each holiday season seeming to approach sooner, and never seeming to hold quite enough of those peaceful, magic-filled moments we crave… Maybe it’s just me. (It isn’t though, right???)

Being a movie lover, and a Christmas lover (Christmas itself and not the consumer induced frenzy of chaos and clutter that seems to misrepresent the season, anyway) I find that movies really do act as the glue which binds my season together. For roughly forty-six weeks of the year I am a pretty critical film watcher, with fairly high standards, but come early November I melt into that girl who loves nothing more than spending a snowy afternoon or at-home-evening in front of the fireplace with a Hallmark Christmas Movie on TV and a cup of something deliciously warm and comforting in hand. Sure, its cliche. I’m pretty ok with that. These are among the rare moments I have ever shared with my mother. This is the very description of many a Christmas season moments in our home, once my motherhood was the route of my journey. Of course though, Hallmark is not the only source of Christmas movies which hold my heart… I love so many, from the really funny ones (Christmas Vacation, Elf, Surviving Christmas, A Christmas Story) to the heart-layered-lovely ones (Step Mom, The Family Stone, The Holiday) and so many beautiful classics (Miracle on 34th st, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Bishop’s Wife)… Many of these fall on my must watch every year list, which naturally inspires one to wonder: does this girl do anything other than watch Christmas movies in November/December??? The answer to this, naturally, is sort of… They are almost always on, in the background. Sometimes I focus on them, sometimes they simply go about their two-hour time period bringing comfort, like an old friend, while I go about a work project, gift wrapping, card signing, baking, or mundane household chores.

If I am being honest though, I’d have to admit that my all time favorite Christmas movie is It’s a Wonderful Life. This Christmas is finding me at 41 years old. For as long as I can remember, my holiday seasons have held this movie as a part of life’s festivities. It never grows old and I somehow still manage to cry and draw kernels of wisdom and truth from George’s story, despite the fact that every inch of it is already stitched into my heart. Though Michigan may not be my favorite leg of this life’s journey, one thing I truly love is at Christmas time when we bundle up (because the weather here is usually pretty rocky on this day, and Ann Arbor seems to intensify the rockiness of the weather) and head to the Historic Michigan Theater for a Sunday December afternoon showing of It’s a Wonderful Life. The seats are snug and tiny, and every inch of our surroundings are rich with history and family sharing millions of moments just life the one we’re partaking in. The theater has both warm popcorn and beverages, and proceeding the film there is a jolly man playing the best of all fun Holiday jingles on a larger-than-life pipe organ. When ever I think of Christmas and the bits I truly love, this one always illuminates my mind first. The entire afternoon is sheer perfection.

I love my old school, time-honored favorites. I am a sucker for the new Christmas movies too. There are already two out, and I’ve seen them both. (Like I said, I am pretty die-hard about this whole Christmas movie thing. Speaking of Die Hard– ALSO a Christmas movie I love! ) The movie I am REALLY looking forward to this season is The Man Who Invented Christmas. (Fun fact sidenote: I also read A Christmas Carol every December)

The Man Who Invented Christmas tells the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Tiny Tim and other classic characters from A Christmas Carol. Directed by Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), the film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) mixed real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the holiday season into the celebration we know today.

 

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS releases in theaters on November 22.

As if it isn’t exciting enough, I also have a behind the scenes featurette to share!

So tell me, are you feeling in the mood for Christmas yet? Well… I have a little Christmas giveaway to add to the spirit. I would love to give one of you a Christmas movie DVD pack. I’m leaving the title’s a secret, BUT to make it fun- I will tell you that each of the three films has some significant tie to this movie The Man Who Invented Christmas! Intriguing, right? Entries end at Midnight Thanksgiving day!

To enter to win this awesome little package all you have to do is leave a comment RIGHT HERE, about your favorite Christmas movie. That’s it. (and yes, Hallmark movies COUNT! They totally do!)

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It’s Friday, I’m in Love…

Before the sun sets this evening, I will be jet-setting my way to the Pacific Northwest, likely with the biggest smile I’ve worn in a while. (This is my optimistic point of view, in reality I am pretty anxiety riddled over the whole flying part…) In an effort to think of happy thoughts, let’s get to the top five of this week, shall we?

1.) My oldest niece delivered an incredibly handsome and captivating baby boy. Though I am yet to hold him, or breathe him in, the photos have confirmed that I am already head over heals for this little man!

2.) Before my husband headed back to Australia, we were fortunate to catch an early screening, (it’s out officially now) of Only The Brave. You guys, even if you do not like movies, please consider seeing this one. Films like this, stories like this, are why movies exist. It is incredible…

3.) Serenity Gel caps. I am a big fan of the Serenity blend of Essential Oil, but I was not 100% about these capsules. In the past week I have come to the full realization about how much they help my sleep, and I saw my husband rock star his way through pretty severe jet lag with their help. BIG WINNERS!

4.) My awesome friend had the opportunity to catch a Dreamcar show, in L.A. awhile back. She kept the awesomeness that is their music, to herself, until about a week ago. Honestly, I am OBSESSED. Incredible. What do you get when you combine the male members of No Doubt, the lead singer of AFI and a sound reminiscent of every great new wave song found in the great John Hughes films of the 80’s??? You get DREAMCAR!

5.) This both barely made my list AND was an absolute addition. (I know, I make no sense sometimes.) Here is my review of Goodbye Christopher Robin.

BONUS:

I already did a music link, so I didn’t want to add another one but I just couldn’t share. I am OBSESSED with this song!

So, what’s up with you?