A Trader Joe’s Find

Just real quick: if you can find these Verry (is the misspelling really necessary?) Cherry Plums, GET THEM. Buy them all (unless you live in Delaware, in which case keep your dirty paws off them).  They may be the yummiest fruit I’ve ever eaten, and I normally don’t even like plums that much. They’re firm yet juicy, crazy sweet, and it took some serious self restraint not to eat the entire clamshell in one sitting. I think they’re only supposed to be available for two weeks, so RUN DON’T WALK! I’m heading to Trader Joe’s today to buy them out…FIGHT ME, DELAWARE!

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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.

 

 

Stuff That Makes My Life Easier

Hey friends. Life is hard, yes? Therefore, I enjoy things that make said life easier. Let’s discuss, shall we?

  1. Wine Stoppers – I’ve been a hefty drinker of wine for many years, but for some reason I just started using a wine stopper like a month ago. Previously, I’d try to stuff the cork back in, which was a pain and didn’t work very well, and I’d often forget and then fruit flies would drink all of my precious wine. Well, no more! I can’t find the one I have since I bought it on clearance at Target, but here’s a cute monogram one, or a pretty set of agate ones.
  2. Garbage Can Bungee Thingies – Don’t you hate when your garbage bag slips inside of your garbage can and makes a huge mess? I do. These help.
  3. S’well Water Bottle – I know everyone has these already, but if you don’t, get one. They legit keep your water cold for unfathomable amounts of time. One time I left my water bottle in my car in 90 degree weather, and it was still cold when I came back 8 hours later. No joke.
  4. Duvet Clips – I don’t have these yet, but I’m getting some. My most recent duvet cover doesn’t have ties for reasons unbeknownst to me, and it’s basically a nightmare. These seem better than ties. Win.
  5. Apple TV – Honestly, I don’t remember life before Apple TV. Was it fine? Probably. Was it worse? Almost undoubtedly. If I’m being frank, we probably have too many streaming option type things (we have a smart TV, two TiVos – yes, actual TiVo, Apple TV, we still for some reason possess a DVR from our cable company which we pay for monthly and do not use, an Xbox 360 or whatever the most recent iteration is, plus we subscribe to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, I think all the premium channels and their streaming counterparts…it’s a lot, guys) um but anyway, it makes life easier.
  6. Hair Pins – Up until my wedding, I only used one type of hair pin (the flat kind), regardless of the type of hairstyle I was using them for. But then! The night of my wedding, I was taking out the 50 thousand hair pins holding my ‘do up, and I noticed that they were different – instead of being flat, they were open, and I realized that these are probably what you’re supposed to use for topknots and buns and such. Lo and behold, they work WAY better. You’re probably not stupid like me and already know this, but if not, you’re welcome.

Okay, this post was supposed to be helpful bordering on genius, but it got dumb really fast…my apologies, guys. Here’s a pic of my dog in a party hat to make up for it.

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Forgive me.

 

Digging

I haven’t done one of these in a while! Let’s see…

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Lightroom: As is DREADFULLY apparent by looking at this blog, I’m really, really bad at photography. I want to learn how to get better, but I just don’t have the patience (keeping it real). Plus, I’m terrible at remembering to take pictures, I currently only own the crappy zoom lens that came with my SLR camera, and I very rarely actually use it, so it’s difficult justifying purchasing a nicer lens. Anyway, I’ve tried my hand at photoshop several times, but it’s just way too complicated. A couple of weeks ago, I came across this blog post, and boy did it change things for me. I signed up for a free trial of Adobe’s Lightroom and got right to work editing my photos from Savannah…holy crap, it made a world of difference. Even having used my “crappy” lens. While it’s still kind of unlikely I’m going to lug my “nice” camera around frequently (maybe more so when we have a kiddo), I definitely think it’s worth it to invest in Lightroom, and maybe I’ll actually shill out for a nicer lens (this one’s only a couple hundred bucks, and I’ve read great things). If you have any interest in learning how to edit photos as a beginner/hobby photographer, I would highly recommend giving Kelly’s post a read.

Manchester Orchestra: More specifically, their most recent album, A Black Mile to the Surface. HOLY MOLY it’s good. Every. Single. Damn. Song gives me chills. I’m not typically one to listen to an album all the way through (I’m a shuffle/playlist fiend, much to Jeff’s chagrin), but I’ve had this album on repeat for the past week and I’m not even remotely sick of it. Andy Hull is a damn genius.

My Nespresso Machine: Guys, I’m in love. I still love my Ninja Coffee Bar and the Nespresso machine isn’t a substitute for an actual coffee machine (or however you prefer to brew coffee), but when I want an espresso based drink it’s SO EASY and SO GOOD. I bought a real espresso machine “for Jeff” (ha) for Christmas several years ago, but it was a lot of work and cleanup, so it ended up getting neglected and put away after several months. And the “espresso drink” function of the Ninja is really no good – it’ll do in a pinch I guess, but there’s no substitute for real espresso with crema. I’m frankly shocked at how good the Nespresso capsules are, plus there’s a huge variety depending on the strength and flavor you’re looking for. And the best part of all: NO CLEANUP. Aside from rinsing out the Aeroccino (the milk frother thingy), there’s literally nothing to clean. It’s glorious. I got mine from saving up points from my work’s rewards program (you guys, this rules – other things I’ve scored using this program have included Ray Ban Clubmasters and a Le Creuset stock pot, among other things), but you can grab the model I have here.

LL Bean Wicked Good Moccasins: I typically get a new pair of slippers every year, because I’ve been buying the fake shearling ones that wear down and end up stinking HORRIBLY after 3 months. I finally invested in a pair of authentic shearling moccasins from LL Bean, and my feet are SO happy – it’s like I’m walking on a pillow made out of clouds wrapped in unicorn fur. They’re basically Uggs, but in moccasin form (and from LL Bean, which I’ve developed a renewed obsession with recently). I’ve had a pair of Ugg boots that have lasted something like 10 years without wearing down or smelling (although to be fair, I haven’t worn them with any amount of regularity in probably 5 years), and the lining in these is basically the same so I’m hopeful it’ll hold up. They’re also great gifts for the fella in your life.

The Frame: This isn’t something I have; just something I want desperately. I read this blog post from Emily Henderson, and it blew my mind: The Frame is a TV that Samsung makes that functions as ART when you’re not watching TV. It’s slim and sleek and looks like an actual gallery frame, and it comes with something like over a hundred pre-loaded art prints (but you can upload ANY art print your little heart desires), and it FLAT-MOUNTS to the wall like an actual piece of art, while still being able to adjust and tilt. You can even get the actual frame part in different finishes. I’m obsessed. Now to convince Jeffrey (ha!!)

Loafers: GIVE ME ALL THE LOAFERS. I’m crazy about ’em. Mulestasselpenny loafer, I love ’em all. I don’t love wearing heels on a regular basis and I’ve been wanting something that’s not a boot or a ballet flat, but is dressier than a sneaker, and loafers are the absolute perfect solution. They look amazing with jeans (and you can wear them with cropped jeans or full-length styles, which can’t be said for a lot of other types of shoes…or at least, I can’t pull it off with a lot of other styles of shoes, haha), but you can also wear them with skirts and dresses, or slacks. I’m really loving this Halogen pair with a collapsable back – you can wear them as mules or not, depending on your mood (or temperature).

 

 

Digging

Happy New Year, friends! Here are some things I’m digging this January…

My bathrobe: Jeff and I gifted each other hotel-style white terry bathrobes for Christmas this year, and it’s been a real game-changer, at least on my end. I use that sucker every single day. Our bathroom is freezing cold, so I wrap myself in my warm, fluffy robe every single morning while I get ready for work, I wear it after every shower (I don’t know how I’ve lived so long without this), I curl up in it on weekend mornings. I’d love to do a staycation night where we open a bottle of red, curl up in our bathrobes, watch movies, and sleep in the guest room.

My YMCA membership: This hasn’t actually happened just yet, but I’m SUPER excited about it. I’ve fallen WAY out of my fitness routine since the wedding (to be honest, I fell out of it BEFORE the wedding – I’ve been saying I’m the only bride in history to have GAINED weight before her wedding – ha!), and I’ve decided to splurge on a YMCA membership in favor of my work gym this year, due to several factors. First of all, my office has been relocated – my company owns two buildings a few blocks away from each other, and I’m being moved from one building to the other. However, my parking assignment will remain in my current building (bummer), and a YMCA branch is actually located right smack between the two buildings, so it’ll be right on my way from one building to the other. Plus, my work gym is located in my current building, so I could see myself using the fact that it’ll be in a separate building as an excuse not to go. The second largest factor is that I was planning on joining a local pool this summer, which isn’t cheap, especially considering that it would only be open 4 months out of the year. My YMCA membership will include a really nice outdoor pool facility minutes away from my house, which will eliminate the need to join a separate pool. Plus, the YMCA just offers more amenities than my work gym – of course, it was nice to have the opportunity for free personal training through work, but I ended up deciding that it wasn’t really for me anyway, and the Y offers more classes than my current gym. I’ll stopping in tomorrow for a tour, and I’ll sign up from there…I’m hoping to add swimming to my weekly workout schedule!

Amazon Echo: I was skeptical of this before owning one, but I’m an enthusiastic convert! Jeff gifted me an Echo for my birthday this year because my previous bluetooth speaker had fizzled out on me, but I didn’t see the point of the Alexa feature – it just seemed kind of lazy and pointless to me. Boy, was I wrong! It’s SO nice to be able to control the speaker from inside the shower, or if I’m making dinner and have dirty hands…or even if I’m just sitting several feet away. Admittedly, it may be a little lazy, but it’s SO convenient (and neat)! I primarily use it for music/podcast listening, but it’s also handy if I have a cooking question (“Alexa – how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?”), and we have it set up to control our home’s thermostat (which I admittedly haven’t found use for yet – I still walk over to the thermostat and change it manually. But it’s still neat!) The sound quality is top-notch as well.

Frozen Christmas Cookies: I gift cookies to my family and friends every Christmas, and unfortunately (ha) had the foresight to freeze my extra cookies this year – I usually throw them away several days after returning from my family’s house after Christmas. But they retain their texture surprisingly well being frozen, and there’s nothing more delicious than dunking a frozen chewy ginger cookie into a hot cup of coffee – it softens just to the point of chewiness, instead of falling apart like a room temperature cookie would. It makes for a delicious (and too frequent) afternoon snack.

Living Proof: I had heard several good reviews of this line (primarily via Podcast advertisements) and finally gave in and bought the travel kit of their “no frizz” line to take on our honeymoon. I’m rarely very impressed with any specific hair product – best case scenario, I find them all pretty similar, worst case scenario I find them TERRIBLE. Living proof has been a game-changer for me. I have a lot of hair, but it’s fine and has a crappy natural wave – it’s curly underneath and flat on top, making it impossible for me to wear it naturally without looking like a lazy slob. While I still feel the need to blow dry and straighten my hair (I probably always will), this line almost completely tames my tons of flyaways and broken hairs, makes my ends look smoother and healthier, and seems to keep my hair looking good longer, while being light and allowing my hair to feel smooth and bouncy. It also smells great (it has that “fresh from the salon” smell to it). I recently bought the full-sized bottle of the “No Frizz” finishing serum, along with a style extender cream and hair oil, and I think they’re keepers.

Tocca Eau de Parfum in ‘Stella’: I purchased this on a whim during an Anthropologie tag sale, and I think it just may become my new signature scent. I’ve been trying to convince myself that I like more masculine, musky scents (I guess I’m trying to be more mysterious/sexy? haha), but I’ve reached the conclusion that I almost always prefer more classic feminine floral scents. This has the perfect mix of light floral notes with just a little bit of citrus.

Diorskin Forever foundation: For the past 5+ years, I’ve been trying to settle on my ideal foundation, and have waffled between a ton of different brands, from drugstore to more high-end brands. This foundation is a bit of a splurge at $50, but just a little dab provides plenty of coverage and I haven’t found anything that works as well. I’ve struggled with my skin on and off my entire adult life, and although I’d love nothing more (seriously) than to be one of those women who’s comfortable going fresh-faced or just wearing a dab of mascara every day, I just feel more comfortable wearing foundation. This stuff is super light but provides good, buildable coverage, it looks ridiculously smooth and natural, and I’ve found that my skin condition actually improves when I wear it (lots of other foundations suffocate my skin and make me break out).

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Digging

Here’s what I’m digging this week…

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$3 apothecary jar from Target!

Money Diaries: I’m obsessed with this feature from Refinery 29. They interview a huge variety of women (usually in their 20s or early 30s) living in different parts of the country (some are actually living abroad), with varying salaries, and have them list out everything they spend money on during a one-week period, diary style (they also have special editions where they document longer timespans). I think it’s fascinating to read how other women around my age spend their money – it also makes me feel a little better about the amount of money I spend on a weekly basis (sometimes I feel like I’m throwing fistfuls of cash out the window, when everyone else is stacking piles in savings). Plus, I’ve always been a major voyeur/snoop, so I love reading pretty much every detail of someone else’s day. What can I say, I love the mundane!

Halloween Candy – Especially the Reese’s Cups that have Reese’s Pieces in the center?!! I had never tried them before, and now my world has been changed. Ugh. Oh, I also bought the bulk of our candy to hand out from the dollar store this year like a goddamned genius – I rarely think to wander into the dollar store (I know, I know – it’s like a religion to some people), but this year for whatever reason I did and saved a TON of money. We hand out a combination of full-sized bars and snack sizes (for when the big boys run out), and I scored a huge variety by buying the full sized bars individually instead of in a variety pack this year (I usually buy a variety pack from Target that has Snickers, Reese’s, Twix, and Hershey bars) Last year has been the only year we’ve had a decent amount of trick or treaters (I blame the fact that we live across the street from a school’s soccer field, meaning there are no houses on the opposite side of my street – plus our house is set back from the road)…but last year, we ran out of candy, so it looks like word may have gotten out that we hand out the good stuff. My dreams of being the witch from Hansel and Gretel are coming true!!

Target’s The Dollar Spot – I’m not sure if they still call it that, but I’m talking about that little section by the entrance with a bunch of inexpensive odds and ends (I think everything used to literally be a dollar, but it’s not anymore). They’ve really stepped this section up recently. In the past few weeks, I’ve purchased a beautiful tan plaid blanket scarf (I don’t remember exactly how much I paid, but it was $5 at most), several brown apothecary bottles that I’ve been using as vases for $3 each, 3 mason jars with copper closures for (I think) $3 each (I use them to hold ground coffee and Jeff’s Stevia packets), and some chalkboard labels for like $1. This section used to be full of, basically, crap (little junky toys and candy, mostly), but now there’s tons of seasonal decor and crafty stuff…I never pass it by these days.

Jessica Seinfeld – Yep, Jerry Seinfeld’s wife. “Eh?” you say? Well…She. Is. Wonderful. She’s super cute and witty and self-deprecating, she seems like pretty much the nicest person on earth, you’d never know she has about 17 billion dollars (I do know that Jerry Seinfeld has always been described as one of the most down-to-Earth celebrities out there), she does tons and tons of charity work, and she just re-launched her website , which is full of delicious, beautiful, healthy, easy recipes. I’m so smitten that it’s causing me to write in insane run-on sentences.

Plantain chips – Yum.

This Is Us – This show was a bit of a slow start for me – I LIKED it at first, but it was just a tad bit too sappy for my taste. That said, I NEEDED something to fill the void in my TV viewing life left by Parenthood a couple years ago, so I kept watching, knowing that most shows start off a little slow and get better as characters and storylines develop. Well, boy was I right. This show is effing wonderful. Jeff’s even into it, and he is definitely not big into sap (although he weirdly tends to enjoy shows and movies made for teenage girls?) I’m also very into Divorce with SJP, which I thought was going to be a drama but is actually hysterical.

 

 

Digging

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Here’s what I’m digging lately…

Novels – I was a voracious reader growing up (and when I say “voracious,” I mean my parents literally had to pry the books out of my hands for fear I would ruin my eyes from constantly having my face shoved in a book). Since my early 20’s, I shamefully haven’t had the attention span to read as much…I blame the Internet. But, when I did read, I tended to gravitate towards non-fiction (quite a departure from my novel-loving younger days). I still do love a good memoir or comedy book (or even a well-written cookbook), but I’ve been getting more into fiction recently – I just devoured The Girl on the Train, among a few other thrillers, which has been my genre of choice of late. Jeff is overjoyed – he’s a huge reader himself, and almost exclusively reads fiction. He read The Girl on the Train immediately after I was finished, and we’re going to see the movie tonight – so excited!

Onion & Chive Cream Cheese – Random, I know. I’m a huge fan of breakfast in general – it’s probably my favorite meal of the day. I eat the same thing almost every day at work – oatmeal from my work cafe’s breakfast bar, topped with berries, toasted coconut, a little brown sugar, and a spoonful of granola. I usually stick to yogurt at home on the weekend, but yesterday on a whim I picked up a package of plain bagel thins and an assortment of whipped cream cheese spreads, mostly for Jeffrey. Let me tell you – that onion and chive cream cheese really hit the spot. My yogurt may just need to take a backseat for a while.

Wine – I know, #basic. But, after months of emails promising enticing deals, I joined a monthly wine subscription club (Bright Cellars) last month – at $38 for my first shipment of 5 bottles, it was just too good of a deal to pass up, plus I’ve been wanting to keep more wine on hand instead of just buying a bottle at a time. It’s normally $68 for four bottles, but they have a referral program where you get a free bottle for each person referred (I’ve referred two people so far, so I’m up to 2 free bottles)…plus my first shipment was delayed by some kind of vendor issue, so they gave me ANOTHER free bottle for that (their customer service has been top-notch so far – I emailed them just because I thought my shipment may have been lost in the mail…I wasn’t even complaining)! I figure I’ll keep it going until all of my free bottles are used up, and by that time I’ll have quite the wine collection and I’ll stop the shipments until I’m running low (Jeff doesn’t really drink wine, so I don’t go through it super quickly). When I signed up, I took a short test to determine my taste, and you can choose to have only whites, only reds, mostly reds with a white thrown in here and there, or a mix of both, and then you rate each bottle you receive to help them choose the best wines to send for your personal tastes. The first bottle I opened – a tempranillo, my favorite! – was on point, so I’m excited to try more. If you’d like to give it a shot, you can use this link to receive 50% off your first order.

Fall TV – I love this time of year, when all of our favorite shows come back (even though a lot of what we watch these days is on Netflix or another streaming channel). We’ve been enjoying New Girl, Superstore (SO funny), and of course SNL, and I’m loving a few new shows (The Good Place is super cute, and I’m determined for This Is Us to fill the void Parenthood left in my life). I’m also anxiously anticipating Sarah Jessica Parker’s return to television in Divorce.

Cooking – I always love cooking, but I tend to hit a slump during the summer – I’d just rather be out and about, and it’s not as fun to me to cook lighter summer dishes as it is to cook hearty fall meals like soups and braised dishes. As I previously mentioned, I love to put on a podcast and take my time cooking a yummy meal. Of course, I also love baking this time of year – last weekend I whipped up a batch of frosted pumpkin cookies, and I’m itching to go pick some apples and use them to make all kinds of goodies.

Shoes – I’ve always been more of a clothes girl than a shoes girl, but I’ve been developing a bit of an addiction recently. I’m kind of obsessed with sneakers – I want a pair of New Balance in basically every color (these are a crazy steal right now and I REALLY don’t need them, but I mean…an extra 40% off!), and I just added these classic black Nikes to my collection using a Zappos gift card I had laying around. I’m also really digging block heels – especially in cabernet or navy suede (like these and these).

Leggings – Ah, the most wonderful time of the year. Well, actually, let’s include all manner of slouchy, lounge-y pants – my favorite sweats I found on a random trip to Banana Republic outlet have been getting a lot of action these days as well. I ordered a pair of leggings from Girlfriend Collective a while ago – have you heard of them? It’s this startup that’s ethically manufacturing bomb-ass leggings, and they’re giving away one pair of leggings to each customer for the cost of shipping. I’m anxiously anticipating their arrival sometime in November.

Relaxing – I’m really soaking up the post-wedding life. I feels so great to not have anything to plan or decide or coordinate, and my weekends have been filled with a lot of lounging, tidying up, and catching up on blog reading. I want to get back into home projects soon – I have big plans for our master bedroom – but for now, I’m chillin’ out max and relaxing all cool.