Waiting for Spring…

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I’m pushing HARD for spring around here – I’ve got the bright, flowery candles burning, I’ve got the relaxed, warm weather tunes pumping. I’ve brought the outside in, but I’m ready to take the inside (ME) out. Come on, sunshine & warm weather! We’re waiting for you!

Digging

Long time, no dig! Here’s what I’ve been into as of late:

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T3 Micro:

Up until recently, I hadn’t bought a new blow dryer in ages. We’re talking years. And I wondered why my hair would be all frizzed out 5 minutes after I finished drying it. So, earlier this month, I finally upgraded my 10 year old $20 Conair dryer to a T3 Featherweight. I happened to luck out and snag mine from an outlet sale for $85 (marked down from $250!!), but it was definitely an investment well made. I can actually blow my hair out and it’ll stay silky smooth without being touched with a flatiron. Speaking of which, I was gifted a compact flat iron for Christmas, also from T3 – I asked for it so I’d have something small to throw in my bag to use after the gym, but it’s so much nicer than my old flat iron I’ve been using it at home (thereby defeating the purpose of getting it in the first place – oh well).

Revlon One-Step Volumizer Brush:

Speaking of hair care, this brush was another game changer I received for Christmas this year. It’s a volumizing brush and dryer in one, and is great for when you need to get out the door quickly, and don’t have time for a full blowout. It leaves my hair bouncy and silky smooth, and takes a fraction of the time a full blowout and straightening/curling sesh would.

Function of Beauty:

What the hell, let’s keep going with the hair stuff. I switched over to Function of Beauty late last year, and I’ll probably never go back (don’t hold me to that). It’s personalized shampoo and conditioner for your exact hair – you take an extensive quiz and select what you want your products to do (add volume, mend split ends, etc.), and even select your scent (they use amazing smelling essential oils – I chose a eucalyptus mint blend) and color (you can also choose to go dye-free). It’s lasted forever (I’ve had it since September and still have half of each bottle left…although let’s be honest, I don’t wash my hair very often), looks chic, smells great, and my hair has never looked or felt better.

Nutpods:

Moving on to less hair-related things…my dear, precious Nutpods. If you follow The Good Food, you’ve heard me wax poetic on Nutpods countless times. I discovered this almond/coconut blend creamer during a dairy-free month in January, and haven’t looked back – it’s one of the only plant-based creamers I’ve found that’s almost as creamy as half & half (my previous creamer of choice), is totally unsweetened (even the vanilla flavor), and doesn’t leave any chalky residue. I’ve found a refrigerated version of these at Wegman’s, but I prefer the shelf-stable kind I buy on Amazon (it needs to be refrigerated after opening) – I don’t know why, because the ingredients are identical. It just tastes better to me.

Madewell Jeans:

I feel like I’ve finally found my jeans, and it’s glorious. I have a history of trying every bargain brand of jeans available and hating all of them – they’re always crazy uncomfortable, stretch out and end up sagging, and the knees wear out in literally one wear (I also discovered that may be because I should be buying tall, and had been buying standard fit, but that’s a story for another day). I finally bit the bullet and invested in some higher-quality jeans, and I will absolutely never go back. Every pair of Madewell jeans I’ve purchased fits like a glove, feels like butter, and holds up beautifully. I especially love the Roadtripper cut – they’re the softest jeans I’ve ever worn and the cut is perfect (and they’re a steal at only $75) – but it’s hard to go wrong.

Brandless:

Brandless is an online grocery store that sells un-branded items for $3 each. I was a bit skeptical at first, but I received my first box today, and the quality has been great so far. It does help to comparison shop a bit – $3 isn’t actually always cheaper than you’d find at a regular grocery store – but there are some great deals, and I got some of their wooden spoons and spatulas and they look great. I also love that their packaging is minimal and modern looking. Definitely grab some of the Jalapeno Lentil Crisps if you order!

Living With Less:

You may have noticed that most of the products I’ve listed here were either purchased late last year, or were gifted to me – I’ve been trying really hard to avoid buying things I don’t need since the beginning of the year, and I think I’ve been doing pretty well. There have been some setbacks – I’ve noticed that when I actually do need something and allow myself to buy it (like the blowdryer), it tends to open the floodgates and tempt me to start buying things I don’t need as much (I just bought myself a new running outfit I probably could’ve done without, as well as a pair of flip flops I justified by telling myself I needed “dressier flip flops” when we went outlet shopping for work clothes for Jeff), but for the most part I’ve cut way back on online shopping, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself. I’m spending less, there’s less crap all over the house, and I’m finding other ways to occupy my time. It feels great.

 

 

Let’s catch up.

Hi friends! Let’s catch up, shall we?

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Reading:

A big, fat, nothing (literary, at least)…but I really want to get back into it! I read Jessi Klein’s memoir on the plane to & from Florida and really enjoyed it, which brought on a brief comedy book kick…but I’m starting to crave my thrillers again. I recently downloaded The Innocent Wife and was excited to dive in, but immediately forgot about it. I’ll get to it eventually!

Working:

On figuring out what my next career move will be. I’ve been feeling a bit bored at work recently…it’s nice to have some downtime, but I’m ready for a new challenge. There are a couple opportunities on the horizon, so fingers crossed!

Listening:

I’ve been in a huge music rut for the past…I don’t know, two years? I’m having the hardest time finding new music I enjoy, and I’m super bored with my old standbys. I’ve been leaning hard on musicals like a huge dork…Jeff & I recently saw Hamilton on Broadway which was the most incredible experience, and I’ve been very into the Spring Awakening soundtrack these days.

Wearing:

Jeans & sweaters, sweaters & jeans…and I’m so over it. I love me some sweaters, but I’m ready for the weather to warm up so I can pull my skirts and dresses out and put my puffer coat away. Get it together, spring!

Watching:

We just finished Wild Wild Country on Netflix, and it was wild (no pun intended, ha!). Highly recommended if you’re looking for something to make you say “WTF?!” It made us want to re-watch Making a Murderer. We’ve also been digging some newer comedies – A.P. Bio and Corporate are the first to come to mind.

Needing:

To get back on a normal schedule, desperately. A combination of Seasonal Affective Disorder and laziness has me waking up super late these days, and it’s bumming me out. I miss those quiet early morning hours, and productivity has gone out the window. I know it’ll be a lot easier once it starts warming up, but I’m looking forward to feeling human again.

Wishing:

For a home refresh. Jeff had some uncertainty going on with his career for a few months so we put any major purchases or projects on hold, but he’s accepted a great position with a new company (he starts tomorrow!) and I’m itching to get moving with some projects. I’m still loving our bedroom re-do that we finished this past fall, but our main bathroom needs work desperately, our porch needs major construction, and we’ve been dying for a new couch. I’m starting to feel the itch to move, but there’s really no reason to leave at the moment and I keep reminding myself to be patient and wait until the perfect house in the perfect location becomes available (plus, I’ll be heartbroken to leave our little house). In the meantime though, we need to make sure our current house is ready to put on the market…it’s go time.

Drinking:

Coffee, in higher quantities than normal. My usual cup a day habit has been creeping up to 2 or 3 cups on average. I do feel a little better about it since I cut dairy out of my coffee routine in favor of plant-based creamers, but I do still indulge in a real latte every now and then. I’ve also been drinking a lot of wine, and the occasional gin cocktail – Jeff’s been big into bourbon lately, so I’ve been trying to expand my booze horizons.

Writing:

The Good Food. As mundane as a lot of my daily posts are, it feels good to be writing regularly, and the straightforward format keeps writer’s block mostly at bay.

Eating:

I’m just gonna leave this here.

Wanting:

To run/walk outside, desperately. I haven’t stuck to my pledge to work out daily, partially due to laziness/SAD (such a vicious cycle, since exercise is a very effective antidepressant for me, but it’s so hard to get motivated when you’re already physically depressed) and partially due to some minor physical setbacks. This sounds like such a cop-out, but I was pushing myself a little harder than I probably should’ve with running and got terrible road burn on the balls of my feet, which led to huge gross layers of skin peeling off – sorry, I know that’s disgusting. If anyone has any recommendations on how to avoid this, PLEASE HELP. I’ve tried wearing two pairs of socks and it didn’t help at all. I’m pretty sure my shoes fit properly, and my stride is okay…my next step is to lubricate my feet, but it sounds uncomfortable and I’ve been putting it off. Anyway…I really do find it so much easier to keep up with consistent physical activity when I can just step out the door and go. I honestly do enjoy the gym some days, but some days I just don’t feel like getting in my car and driving somewhere (or changing clothes in the middle of the work day). I know we always get a mid-March snow storm, but winter really feels like it’s hanging on longer than normal this year and it’s killin’ me.

Dreaming:

Up our next adventure. Since our trip-heavy last year, the travel bug has bitten me, hard. I’m itching to get on a plane and go…pretty much anywhere. I’d love a trip to California (possibly San Diego, or maybe LA?), but I’d also be happy with somewhere a bit closer – maybe south Florida, or possibly the opposite direction to Maine or Vermont. I’d love to plan another international trip – Italy’s #1 on my list, and I’m always down for an all-inclusive, tropical getaway, but we’re in kind of an awkward place where we don’t know if or when I might get pregnant, so I don’t want to plan something big too far out and then have to cancel. We will see!

 

 

 

 

Universal Studios & Our Florida Escape

Oh, hey! I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit since I update The Good Food daily, but I miss having more personal chats! Let’s catch up, starting with our Wizarding World of Harry Potter Trip.

You guys…WE HAD THE BEST TIME. Universal Studios was great of course, but if I’m being honest, my favorite part of the trip was our hotel (which was a resort property) and the time we spent just hanging out.

Since our trip was so short (Friday evening through Sunday morning), we really didn’t think we’d have much time to spend doing anything other Universal Studios, let alone swim or hang out at the hotel. We somehow ended up making the best possible use of our time, though – starting immediately after we checked in to the hotel, at which point we headed directly to the bar, luggage and all, and ordered cocktails. We took our drinks to go and briefly explored the hotel, which included a bowling alley, several bars, multiple restaurants, two huge pools (one of which had a water slide, and I didn’t even see it until right before we left), a lazy river, a huge outdoor jacuzzi, and an arcade. We went up to our rooms to finish our drinks and change, and then headed out to explore City Walk and grab some dinner.

Saturday was (obviously) our Universal Studios Day, and since we were staying at a resort property, we were allowed to enter the park an hour early. Much to Jeff’s distress, we ended up losing about 15 minutes of that time due to a miscommunication about breakfast (he figured we’d eat at the park, whereas I refused to leave the resort on an empty stomach – typical me), but we still ended up easily beating the crowds. It was a chilly day in the low 60s, but coming from frigid Delaware, it felt pretty comfortable by comparison and we were both fine in t-shirts without jackets in the sun.

Upon entering the park we discovered that Jeff had accidentally bought Fast Passes in place of actual tickets – at Universal Studios, fast passes are extra (they actually cost the same amount as the ticket itself, so it’s a pretty steep add-on), but you literally get to skip the line (or rather, you get to walk past the line into a separate queue towards the entrance of the ride). The ticket taker told us we could either keep the fast passes and buy tickets from the ticket sales kiosk, or we could exchange them for actual tickets at the customer service desk. We originally intended to exchange them since this was an over $300 mistake, but the line for the service desk ended up being too long and we decided to suck it up and just buy tickets and keep the fast passes.

Welp…this ended up being the BEST DECISION EVER. Seriously. By the time the crowds arrived at the park, lines for some of the more popular rides were 3+ hours, but with our fast passes, we were on them within 10 minutes. We decided that from here on out, we’d be building fast passes into our budget any time we visit Universal Studios. Highly, highly recommended – especially if you only have one day. We ended up being able to enjoy every attraction we had interest in, with time left over.

The park was pretty much everything we imagined – both Harry Potter worlds were perfect, like walking right into the movies. The rides were great – much more intense than I had predicted, but very thrilling and full of incredible affects. My favorite rides were the virtual reality rides – the indoor ones where you’re strapped in and the drops and spins are simulated. We ate lunch at one of the Harry Potter restaurants (the food was fine, but the standout of the day was the hot butterbeer – I’m still dreaming about it), and ended up leaving the park completely exhausted an hour before close (I think the park closed at 8, so we left around 7).

According to my iPhone, we had walked over 10 miles over the course of the day, so our feet and legs were killing us…but we were determined to make the most of our trip, and rested in our hotel room only briefly before heading back out for dinner. Our original intention was to go back to City Walk for a sit-down meal, but we noticed that despite being pretty chilly, the pools were all open and there were quite a few people in each of them, so we decided to take a quick dip before eating. Well…one thing led to another, and we ended up at the pool bar, talking to some other guests. The pool cocktails came in souvenir plastic tumblers, and we found out that not only could you bring your drinks into the pools/lazy river, but there was a huge hot tub (we hadn’t discovered this yet). Obviously we couldn’t pass up a huge hot tub with cocktails on a chilly night, so we ended up spending several hours in the hot tub, and deciding to order room service for dinner. After retiring from the hot tub (several cocktails in and trying to avoid the hangover of a lifetime for our 6 AM flight), we went up to our room and Jeff ordered pizza while I ventured out into the hotel in search of additional junk food (which I found at the bowling alley snack bar in the form of soft pretzels and mozzarella sticks). We feasted in our room and immediately passed out.

As silly as it may sound, that evening was the most fun I can remember having on vacation in a long time – just being spontaneous and not feeling like we had to follow an itinerary, and relaxing and enjoying each others’ company and chatting with fellow resort-goers. I almost want our next trip to be to another theme park, just so we can stay at a resort property (haha). All in all, it was a trip for the books and I’m itching to plan our next getaway.

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And we’re off!

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View from our room (pardon the glare)

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City Walk at night

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The Good Food

Hi friends! I started a new blog!

I don’t plan to stop blogging here, but I’m pretty excited about this new project – it’s going to be a food diary/recipe blog. I’m literally going to post everything I eat, every day – I’m hoping that this will help me keep track of the meals we really enjoy, in addition to possibly encouraging myself to eat more mindfully. Head on over to check it out: the-good-food.com (named in honor of Jeffrey’s favorite dish).

See you over there!

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Accio Luggage!

Guys…the Raums are being spontaneous!

Last Thursday, I woke to a text from Jeff (he leaves for work earlier than me) asking if we had any plans this weekend. I answered negatively, and asked him why he was asking…to which he responded by asking if we had any plans the next weekend.  A bit exasperated (keep in mind I had just woken up three minutes earlier), I responded, “?? I don’t know. Why?? Are you going somewhere?”

Then came the big reveal: Jeff had tentatively planned a trip to Universal Studios Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the following weekend! He told me he had originally planned to keep the whole trip a total surprise – like, “Pack your bag, we’re going away” style – but thought better of it, not wanting to take the joy of researching things beforehand away from me (what he really meant was, “I know you’re a control freak and completely surprising you could be a disaster,” but to be fair, I do love me some vacation research).

It’s going to be a very quick trip – we’re talking, arrive Friday evening, spend the day at the park Saturday followed by dinner somewhere, go to bed, leave at the crack of dawn Sunday morning. The way he had originally booked things was to fly in AFTER 11 PM on Friday, but we ended up changing the incoming flight to put us there just after 6 (ahem…*control freak*). This way, we can at least spend some time exploring City Walk and our resort, rather than literally arriving and hitting the hay immediately. Ideally, we’d leave a little later on Sunday, but our flight options were limited and we’d need to check out of the hotel by 11 AM anyway (Jeff hates not having a “home base” when we travel). But we’re super excited – neither of us has been to the Harry Potter attraction, and I’ve never been to Universal Studios, period. We’re not really “theme park people” typically, but we both love Harry Potter and Jeff’s been dying to go for a long time (he sneakily had us watch all the movies last weekend during the most recent snow storm). Plus, it’ll get us out of the cold for a couple of days – I think it’ll be the perfect quick getaway.

So, we leave this coming Friday – we’ll be staying at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort (it’s a retro-themed resort with two huge pools and a lazy river – it’ll probably be a bit cool to swim at a high of around 73, but we won’t really have time anyway, so that’s okay), and Jeff purchased park-hopper passes for Saturday, which means we can go between Universal Studios – where Diagon Alley is – and Islands of Adventure, where Hogsmeade is located. The only attraction our tickets don’t include is the water park, but again, it probably won’t be warm enough, and we’d be a little short on time anyway. Jeff’s also excited to check out the Jurassic World exhibit, and I’m pumped for the Simpsons attraction. If anyone’s been and has “must do” recommendations, I’m all ears…we’re also open for dinner recommendations for Saturday evening. We’ll probably grab food at City Walk on Friday, but we’re undecided for Saturday – should we stay within Universal Studios, or venture out? What’s good in Orlando? Any and all recommendations welcome!

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A (Very Dumb) Dilemma

So, I have a dilemma. Remember how I’ve mentioned I’m obsessed with Rao’s Arrabbiata sauce (which, by the way, I need to google the spelling of every time I write it)? Well…it’s SO GOOD that I can’t NOT use it! Which sounds like…well, not a dilemma, but…I LOVE making tomato sauce! I’m definitely not above a shortcut, but I genuinely love long, drawn-out cooking processes, and no sauce that I’ve ever made is as good (and I’ve made some pretty delicious sauces).

I could use the excuse that it’s expensive (which it is), but while it’s almost $10/jar at most grocery stores in my area (which is, dare I say, ridonkulous), Target sells it for around $6, which makes it really not that expensive. So I use it basically any time a recipe requires any kind of red sauce…you guys, it’s JUST SO FREAKING DELICIOUS. Jeff loves it, too. Sigh.

Okay, this week’s edition of “Problems that are ridiculous even as far as the first world is concerned” is over. Thanks for tuning in.

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Happy Friday

This week was CRAY. An unexpected work emergency meant working frantically almost literally non-stop from Wednesday morning through late last evening, but we got through it and things are (hopefully) smooth-sailing now. Plus on top of that, of course there was the great “BOMB CYCLONE” – which just meant yesterday’s portion of my frantic work marathon was done from my couch (with a Harry Potter marathon playing in the background). I work this weekend, but I’m off today, and I’ll be rewarded with a 4 day weekend next week (which feels like such a treat so early into the new year)! Have a fantastic weekend, STAY WARM, and I’ll talk to you next week!

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Happy 2018

Happy New Year, friends – I hope your holidays were joyful, restful, and restorative.

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I just went to look back at my “resolutions” post from last year, and found that…well, there wasn’t one. So that makes my job easier today – no goals from last year to review progress (or lack thereof) on. Last year was a weird one…it felt very eventful, but I don’t feel like anything of much substance occurred in my personal life. Or maybe it just feels that way, since the previous few years were chock-full of milestones (engagement, wedding, new job, first trip abroad, etc. etc.) So, instead of reflecting on the past year, I’ll just move right along to what I’d like to accomplish in 2018.

I’m actually setting resolutions this year, which isn’t something I generally do. But this January, I’m feeling a little mentally cluttered and unfulfilled, and I know there are specific things I can do to remedy this…so I’m going to do my best to. I do want to note that I’m only going to include more personal types of resolutions – so, for example, I’m not going to include, say, re-doing our porch, even though that is one of my goals. These resolutions will be more about keeping myself happy, healthy, and sane, rather than little things I’d like to fix with my home (which will need to also involve Jeff).

So, without further adieu, here are my resolutions for 2018:

  1. Bring less stuff into my home/live with less/use what I have. Over the past few years, I’ve slowly developed a pretty hardcore online shopping addiction. It started somewhat out of necessity – I was truly lacking a lot of practical things that I needed – but devolved into buying all the things, just because they were on sale and/or pretty. Not only is this financially unwise, it’s created a lot of clutter in my life, and it’s starting to make me a little crazy. This was really hammered home after Christmas this year – Jeff and I went all out on gifts for each other (we figure it might be our last Christmas without any little ones to buy for), and while nice, it ended up feeling a bit self-indulgent, and I’m feeling overwhelmed with stuff. So, I’ve decided that this year, I’m only going to buy things that I really, truly need, and instead of shopping sales like a fiending crackhead, I’m going to invest in quality items that will last me years. This applies to not only clothes and accessories, but also home decor – I tend to buy lots of small scale things because they’re more inexpensive or seem like “great deals” in the moment, but buying a ton of tiny things just makes my house look cluttered and cheap. Instead of buying every little pretty thing I see, I’ll wait to purchase larger scale items that I really love and will complement the rest of my decor.
  2. Purge unwanted items. On a related note, it’s time to go through my storage, weed out things that I no longer need or use, and donate them (or throw away anything that’s not fit to donate). At this point, we’ve been living in our house for over 4 years, and there are still tons of things I’ve held onto since we were in our apartment “in case I need them someday.” At this point in my life, I’m lucky enough to be able to let things go, and if I really need them in the future, I’ll be able to replace them with upgraded versions that I’ll actually use. Examples include, but aren’t limited to: old, plastic picture frames from the dollar store, cheap square glass candle holders, undersized, mismatched throw blankets, cheap, outdated “placeholder” decor, damaged Ikea furniture, and the list goes on. Along with the purge will come a reorganization – somewhere along the way, I started throwing things anywhere they’d be out of sight, and I no longer have a dedicated place for everything. This is going to change in the coming months.
  3. Get our finances in order. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that the old Raum finances are kind of all over the place. We’re comfortable in the overall sense and aren’t struggling by any means, but we also don’t have a budget (at all – zip, zero, zilch), overuse credit cards, and never know exactly how much money we have at any given time (due to said overuse of credit cards). We could also definitely be saving more efficiently. I’d like to prioritize paying off any outstanding credit card debt and go back to paying cash for most things (only putting large purchases on credit cards for cash back/points, and paying the balance off right away), and working to combine our finances – with Jeff now making double my income, it no longer makes sense to keep everything separate (plus, we haven’t really functioned as though our finances were separate for years).
  4. Exercise consistently for stress relief. I’ve set fitness goals in the past, but this is different, and possibly my most important resolution: I NEED to exercise consistently (meaning at least 4-5 days every week) to manage my anxiety and keep my mental health in check. This isn’t about training for a marathon, or losing weight, or even being in shape (although that is important to me), this is purely for the purposes of mental health. This means, at the very least, moderate cardio – it has to be in addition to any strength training or core classes I take, and it has to be non negotiable. At this point I can confidently say that the vast majority of my anxiety and depression stems from periods of being sedentary, and I can’t deny it any longer – I need to stay active for my mental health. My end goal is to get over the hump where running is painful to the point where it becomes enjoyable, and then maintain it – I’ve been able to get there in the past, but I always trick myself into thinking I can let it slide for a bit and then I fall into a vicious cycle of not wanting to start up again. No more.
  5. Prioritize my health. It’s not that I’m NOT healthy, per se (I rarely get sick, knock on wood); this is more about maintaining my health with preventative care. I’m famously terrified of anything medical and NEVER go to the doctor, and if we’re going to start a family, this needs to end. I increased my medical coverage for the year, so now is the time to take advantage and start actually getting routine health screenings.
  6. Take care of my stuff. Just like I need to prioritize maintaining my own health, I need to start prioritizing maintaining my material possessions. I’m terrible about letting the condition of my things deteriorate until I simply re-buy it (for example, I bought outdoor furniture covers for our brand new patio furniture this year, but have yet to put it on after countless rainstorms and a handful of snow storms), but I’m 33 freaking years old and I need to cut that shit out. No more being wasteful – I’m going to start putting the work in this year.
  7. Be kinder to myself. As is everyone, I’m my own worst critic (can you tell? Ha!) – this fuels my social anxiety, since I feel like everyone is judging me just as hard as I’m judging myself (even though I know this isn’t logical or true). I need to start accepting myself for who I am and learning to recognize the awesome parts of myself as well as embrace my flaws. I also really want to get to a point where I feel comfortable sharing my true self with others, rather than trying to force myself to be a different version of myself depending on who I’m around. I know this is always everyone’s resolution, but man…self love can be tough, can’t it?

And there you have it…I have a lot to work on in 2018, but I’m excited for a fresh start. Cheers to what’s ahead!

Happy Holidays!

I know, I know – I’ve been totally slacking on the blogging front for the past few weeks. Holiday life took me by storm, and I have been B-U-S-Y! I probably won’t get the chance to pop in before Christmas, so I wanted to drop a quick holiday greeting before the big day. Can’t wait to catch up, and I hope your holidays are happy, cozy, and spent with loved ones.

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