chronic illness, confession, depression, fibro, friendship, gifts, gratitude, holiday, home, journey, Lately, list, self care

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

Happy Friday!

Since last week’s post was SO long, (but so full of information I find value in…) I will keep this week’s list pretty to the point.

Here in our little corner of the world, (which isn’t as much a corner as a saying) we have been gifted sparkling mounds of beautiful snow. They’ve caused me to slow down a little. This is partly a chronic illness thing, and partly a savor the moment sort of thing. At any rate, there has been some gift wrapping, some baking, some new recipes and lots of intentional moments, which is essentially the point really…

I am sure you will notice a sort of theme in this week’s list… (also a theme, in my life, this week: spilling. Coke Zero on my couch, Kahiki stix on my couch, coffee all over the floor/side table and coke zero on my laptop.)

1.) Hand Warmers… I had no idea such a miraculous little thing existed until a girlfriend of mine brought some when we were going to be evening shopping downtown.

2.) The Magic Door on Amazon Alexa. I have already shared this with quite a few people. I absolutely love it!

3.) These Jane and Bleeker slipper socks. I am obsessed. I may have ended up buying several for gifts because I love them so much!

4.) Pretty much, if I’m not doing something uber productive or important, I am going to be hanging out under this… Fibro is a nightmare on a good day. On the days when the cold and moisture are extreme- well, there currently is not an adjective for such things. It’s the little things, like this, which really make a difference.

5.) This lotion! If lotion were to be a soul mate, this lotion would be mine. Not only does it smell divine, but my skin adores it, and it adores my skin! What more could I ask for?

Whether your home has snow, or not… Whether you are able to find stolen moments of peace, or are quietly aching for them- I hope that you are at least able to savor a moment, here or there, and be swept up in more of the beauty and simplicity of the season, than the stress and greed. Take a little time for some self-care!

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beautiful, books, confession, creative, entertainment, family, friendship, gifts, gratitude, holiday, home, journey, Lately, list, marriage, music

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.)

birthday, chronic illness, confession, entertainment, family, fibro, food, friendship, gifts, gratitude, holiday, home, journey, Lately, list, marriage, parenting

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

Minimal sunlight is streaming through the drawn blinds and my Wonder Woman mug is full, (refilled, mind you) and steaming with the caffeine loaded nectar of the PNW gods, in easy reach. I am curled up on my couch, laptop on lap (isn’t that where it is supposed to be, anyway?) and I am flat-out exhausted.

I’m a little under the weather. (I have been blaming my beautiful daughter in law for sharing her bug, over the holiday, but let’s be honest- I have a chronic illness and am coming down from the craziest month of travel/busyness that I have had in a really long time. It isn’t her fault, but even if it were- it’s a cold… I’ll live.) Yesterday was the first day, since Sunday, that I believed I could actually be a functioning member of the human race. To commemorate the very special occasion I decided to pour my heart and soul into a huge project, and not crawl into bed until nearly five in the morning. Those of you under the ripe old age of 40 are probably thinking yeah, so? But I haven’t been able to successfully pull of such great feats in a very long time. Also, I woke up around 7:45, and crawled out of bed around 8:15… I’m dragging. (There is not enough coffee in all of Michigan to help, I fear.)

At any rate, it’s a good thing I work on my list throughout the week, because otherwise there would simply be five bullet points stating SLEEP, and that’s no fun… (also, this post is covering two weeks, as I was away on Holiday last week)

1.) Scrunchies. The truth is, I have really naturally curly hair. Depending on the weather, temperature, humidity index and whatever mood my fickle hair is in, at any given moment, my hair can look really beautiful. These rare and glorious moments are the ones I dream about. In reality though, unless I’ve had a blowout (which I try to get semi-regularly, just for sanity purposes) my hair is usually a tangled mess of indescribably proportions. My solution to this natural disaster, as anyone who sees me regularly can tell you, is a messy bun. (Lazy hair and I truly don’t care who sees it or how terrible it may look due to the evil baby hairs which frame my face with absolute defiance.) Anyway, (I’m tired and clearly cannot stay on point) over the weekend my daughter acquired a packet of 90’s style hair scrunchies. I thought they were pretty funny and nostalgic. At one point, that evening, a scrunchy was used and the user (I don’t remember who) exclaimed WOW! These are awesome! This gave me pause. Really? Awesome? So, my Friday late night messy bun met a 90’s scrunchy and I think it may be safe to say there is no going back. Ever wondered why I had less tension headaches when I was in high school and under extreme stress and duress, in comparison to adult years? Scrunchies. Every wonder why I still can’t wrap my mind around the amount of hairs which tangle themselves around a hair tie? Scrunchies. In a time when we are surrounded by problems and we simply need solutions, I’m beginning to wonder if a scrunchy may not be the answer. (also, I’m tired. But still, my bun is scrunchied and I have no headache or tension pull, so there ya go.)

2.) Intentional Gifts. I know this probably seems stupid, but hear me out. Anyone who knows me even 3% knows that gift giving/receiving is my primary love language. I am a big fan of The Minimalists. Recently they have challenged that this is not a real love language and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I get their point (consumerism, materialism, etc.) but also, I live with my brain/body/soul and know how I feel giving gifts and receiving them. The thing their point did do, however, was challenge me to really introspectively lean in to those thoughts/feelings during the processes. I realized there IS a difference and it has changed the very way I function within the realm of gifts…

Someone VERY special to Chw and I just celebrated her 30th birthday. It was a milestone birthday and we wanted to do something really thoughtful for her. We purchased a couple of small, yet sentimental gifts, but honestly it just did not feel like enough. What do you give someone so vital to you, to celebrate a pretty huge birthday, on a nominal budget? (because without the lack of independent wealth, we would have spent the year traveling with her, and rolling in stacks of money, obviously) We talked, and talked, and talked about this for the better part of a month. Then, a few days before her birthday, we got an idea. We’d make her a playlist of songs from the year she was born… (1987, which we learned was the year we both really blossomed into our love of music and movies, which is pretty cool.) The playlist morphed into one of those 1987 fact sheets to share with our family, in honor of her birthday. This eventually became a game. A 30 part trivia game complete with 1987 inspired commercial breaks, music videos, movie trailers, historical facts and a big bag of 1987 inspired prized. (i.e. SCRUNCHIES) I’ll admit it, we got carried away. (By we, I mean me, though Chw was VERY enthusiastic.) I spent every waking second, for several days, working on this game. And naturally, doubt set in… They would hate it. It’s OLD stuff and they won’t get any of the references (they being a bunch of awesome people, under the age of 30) so when a friend offered to be a test subject, I jumped at it. Halfway through the performance of the Game (it was NOT a smooth run through, you guys) it occurred to me that these friends were our age so this messy run through was very possibly as good as it was going to get. It wasn’t. It was really fun, and it went much smoother, and it was REALLY fun. And she felt loved, and felt special, and it was a memory. This is when I realized that is the whole point of giving a gift. It cost some time, and a few bucks in prizes. In the end it was a chunk of quality time centered around someone very worthy of the effort and we all enjoyed it. Much more meaningful than a “big” dollar purchase, and my gift love bank was full.

3.) Our family Thanksgiving tradition is going to the movies. It’s a little tricky at this phase of familyhood because we’ve got grand-babies and babies don’t love movies, (and most movie goers share the same sentiment regarding babies in movies) but tradition is tradition so some of us went. We chose Coco. Chw felt it might be a little easier on the boys (6, 7 and 11) than Wonder, and I was pretty fine either way. A few times, during the movie, I questioned if maybe this was the WORST choice to see with them. By the end however, I was a sob-filled-blubbering mess absolutely moved and in love with Coco.

4.) Whipped Cream Maker. We’ve actually had it for years. It isn’t anything new to us, but it does sit unused for large amounts of time. And then, Thanksgiving rolls around (PIE!) and melts into the Christmas season (hot chocolate!) and we pull it out and fall in love with the miracle of it, over again. Incidentally, last week my poor husband made a not so tasty batch of whipped cream. This inspired me to get creative with flavors and types. It’s a whole new world up in here… (impromptu hot chocolate and game night, anyone???)

5.) Listening to Christmas music on Vinyl. I love it. I had HIGH hopes of adding this little record to my growing collection (because this album is kind of one of the best), but alas, it is sold out. Sad days… So, I’ll listen to it on Spotify, and my other Christmas records when I’m not.

What about you and your week? What are you loving?

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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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!)