Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Monthly Medley: November 2020


Writing
Many months ago I wrote an article for Texas Living about hotels that take their Christmas decorations and celebrations to the next level. And then COVID happened... A few days before the article was scheduled to go to print, we realized it needed a serious overhaul, and so I spent a panicked week contacting the hotels and rewriting almost the entire article. It came out on time and turned out alright, thankfully, and you can find it in this month's issue!

Reading
Hip hip hooray for Thanksgiving Break, which gifted me the time I needed to finish my November book. The courtroom drama The Holdout, by Graham Moore, was recommended by someone I follow on Instagram, and I would recommend it right alongside her. It grabbed my attention immediately, and kept me interested and engaged through the final page.

Watching
Is anyone else as happy as I am about the return of "regularly scheduled programming" on cable? I missed my scripted television shows, and have enjoyed once again having new episodes waiting for me in the DVR queue. I've also been impressed with how well many of these shows built the events of 2020 into their plot lines; the Grey's Anatomy season premiere did a painfully beautiful job of addressing the pandemic, while All Rise took an honest and poignant approach to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Will and I were both excited to watch the US women's national soccer team take the field after an eight-month hiatus. Our World Cup champions and Olympic gold medalists beat the Netherlands 2-0, which was the icing on the cake. 

We kicked off our holiday season viewing with Christmas Vacation, and then we moved on to a few shorter Christmas specials. Next up: Home Alone, Home Alone 2, and Elf!

Listening To
I shared last month that I planned to check out two new podcasts this month, and I actually followed through on that plan! Brainwashed - a short, six-episode investigation into the CIA's covert mind control experiments - was equal parts disturbing and fascinating, and I highly recommend based on both content and production quality. Daughters of DC, on the other hand... I listened to exactly seven minutes before I had to turn it off. This podcast plays out as a story with different characters, and the actors' voices drove me crazy; I never could pinpoint exactly what it was about them that rubbed me the wrong way, but I knew I couldn't listen any longer. I also got the feeling that I might be about 20 years older than this podcast's target audience, so it's probably best I walked away. 

Otherwise, I spent the first half of November catching up on new episodes of old favorites Criminal, Cold Case, and Crime Junkie (it seems I have a favorite type of podcast...) and the second half of November listening to Christmas music. It's all Christmas, all the time now, friends!

Following
  • If you need a pick-me-up, check out Upworthy (@upworthy) for feel good posts of all kinds...which I'm finding are more important than ever right now.
  • Fans of The Nutcracker will love following along with The Nutcracker at Wethersfield (@nutcrackeratwethersfield and www.nutcrackeratwethersfield.com). This "brand-new, live, immersive, reimagining of the holiday classic for safe family viewing" was created and will be directed by the talented Troy Schumacher and will star our beloved Ashley Laracey as the Sugar Plum Fairy (Troy and Ashley are married). Though we won't be able to attend the show in person in upstate New York, watching the rehearsals and preparations unfold has been fascinating!

Trying/Using
After using Shutterfly almost exclusively for the last few years, I decided to give Minted a try for this year's Christmas cards. Minted doesn't offer the same extreme discounts as Shutterfly, so I opted in to the Minted More membership which, for about $30, saved me 30% on my cards and earned me 20% off on any additional Minted purchases I make throughout the year. I must not have read the fine print though, because I didn't realize that my membership included a cute throw pillow, six lovely greeting cards, and a fairly substantial collection of wrapping paper, gift bags, gift tags, and ribbon, all of which showed up about a week after I joined. The amount of money I saved on my cards far exceeded my initial $30 investment, AND I ended up with a lovely bonus gift, so I'd consider Minted More well worth the money and highly recommend it if you're still shopping for a holiday card vendor!


I have no affiliation with Minted or Minted More. I'm just a happy customer!

After years of admiring the loads of subscription boxes out there, I finally committed. A friend discovered that Causebox was offering PMD products with their fall box, so we decided to give them a try. I opted in to only a single box at first, just to see if I liked what the company had to offer. And while not every item in my box was a win in terms of being something I'd use on a day-to-day basis, all of the products were of a remarkably high quality. I also like that Causebox focuses on creating a "greener, fairer, kinder way to shop" by offering only "ethically made, sustainably sourced, and cruelty free products". I've decided to officially join, as members have more say in what they receive in their boxes; I'll let you know what I choose for and receive in my winter box in a couple of months!


The PMD products that came with the Causebox were also winners. I might not have splurged on them if I'd had to pay full price, but with the Causebox deal I couldn't pass them up. So far I really like both the PMD Personal Microderm Classic and the PMD Clean, and while I haven't quite mastered the technique needed for the microdermabrasion, I'm working on it. (I wanted to share that piece of information in case you see me in person and wonder why I don't already have dramatically younger looking skin 😉).

Wearing
This category has, over the last few months, gone from my least to my most favorite one to write. A shirt update is coming, of course, but before we get to shirts, I want to share a couple of my favorite new and affordable loungewear-turned-everydaywear pieces. (Because for the love of 2020, we deserve to wear loungewear a little more frequently than we have in the past, amiright?)

And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for... November's shirt haul! (It's probably starting to seem - if it didn't already seem - like I have a problem with shirts. Truth. But the beauty in this problem is that I share it with two others, and shopping for all three of us each time we buy shirts makes the anticipation, the reveal, and the matching incredibly fun.)
I can't recall where this tee came from, but Mandi
chose it because it fits us better than I care to admit.

Jenn picked this tee out from one of our faves - Saturday
Morning Pancakes - and it's perfect for the Thanksgiving!

I chose this one - from another favorite company called
Little Mama Shirt Shop - because I love the movie Elf, we
all three love The Nutcracker, and the sentiment behind the
saying fits this year perfectly. I also opted for a sweatshirt over
a tee for the first time - wishing and hoping for cool weather!

This one also came from Little Mama Shirt Shop, and
I couldn't pass it up for our three little besties who love
dancing...especially together and to Christmas music.
I'll probably buy it for us mamas as well...

Eating/Drinking
Summer may be over according to the calendar, but summer's weather is still hanging around...like a party guest who just won't go home at the end of the night, when you just want to load the dishwasher and go to bed, summer weather just won't go home at the end of its season, when I just want to pack away my shorts and open the windows.

Now where was I going with that? Oh yes, recipes. 
  • This Fresh Summer Goulash was easy and tasty. I cut the recipe in half and added about a cup of squash (just because I had one that I needed to use), and everyone enjoyed it!
  • This Corn Salad also felt as summery as it was delicious. I followed the recipe exactly (a rarity for me) and it went over incredibly well.
  • This simple Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup, while not at all summery, also hit the spot on a cool(er) evening. 

Feeling Good About

What's new and interesting in your world this month?

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Breathe in All the Things That Make You Grateful

In place of a High Five for Friday post tomorrow, I'm posting my annual November Gratitude Journal today. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

stop.
stand here.
and breath in
all the things
that make you grateful
for this life.

~ Ahmad Sanusi Husain

November 1
I'm grateful for the shift back to Regular/Standard Time. I prefer "falling back" and gaining an hour of sleep over "springing forward" and losing an hour of sleep, but I also prefer our four months of this Time (Regular/Standard over Daylight Saving). I feel SO much better waking up to the sunrise and the beginnings of daylight than I do waking up in complete darkness, and the early sunsets don't bother me at all - if anything, they remind me of the holidays!

November 2
I'm grateful we decided to enclose - and upgrade - our back porch, and for the many family dinners we've already shared in this new space. 

November 3
I'm grateful for my right to vote, and for all those who fought to make that right possible.

November 4
some days it's enough
to be grateful
for the air in your lungs
grasping at a promise
that tomorrow will be
better.

~ Wren Wilds

November 5
I'm grateful for these three, and the joy they brought into our home today.





















November 6
I'm grateful for the brightness that follows even just a glimmer of hope.

November 7
I'm grateful that today, when I told my children that character matters...that being a good person matters...I had an example to prove it.

November 8
I'm grateful for a Sunday morning "reset" with friends.

November 9
I'm grateful for medical professionals and scientists, especially those working tirelessly to slow the spread of, heal those who have become infected with, and create vaccines to prevent further infections of COVID-19.

November 10
(I guess) I'm grateful for the moisture in the air, which, according to my mom, is good for my skin. 😂

November 11
I'm grateful for all those who have selflessly served our country. 

Forever may it wave.












November 12
I'm grateful for pumpkin cream cold brews.

November 13
I'm grateful for the spring in Tom's step. After seven months of working almost exclusively from home, this week Tom started venturing back onto campus to work from/in his office and lab. His building is nearly empty so he feels safe, and the change in scenery has allowed him to be exceptionally productive and feel really good about what he's been accomplishing...hence the spring in his step. 

November 14
I'm grateful I - we - made it through the day. Today was probably our busiest Saturday since early March, with one ballet class, two ballet rehearsals, four dance parent-teacher conferences, a meeting with our ballet academy director (which I had been dreading for days), and a soccer game in Houston. Just looking at November 14th on my calendar nearly gave me hives in the days leading up to it, so now that the day - which brought with it a couple of unexpected controversies and conflicts - has come to an end, I feel more peaceful and calm than I have in a while. 

November 15
I'm grateful for fall weather (even if it only lasts for a couple of days), board game playdates, leftovers for dinner, and early bedtimes. 

November 16
I'm grateful for a beautiful answer to the smallest and simplest - but still significant - prayer.

November 17
I'm grateful Tom was working from home today so he could catch for me the rather large lizard that had taken up residence on the office window.

November 18
I'm grateful for brownies, and for my Gal Hal who likes to bake and no longer needs much supervision in the kitchen.

November 19
I'm grateful that a particularly hard and heavy decision was taken out of my hands, that the decision-maker chose - what I consider to be - the right course of action, and for the relief that came when this weight was lifted off of my shoulders. 

November 20
I'm grateful for Thanksgiving Break, which starts today!

November 21
I'm grateful for curbside pick-up, food delivery, air conditioning, and DVR.

November 22
I'm grateful for 42 years on this earth.

"Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many."





















November 23
I'm grateful for all of the birthday phone calls, texts, emails, and Facebook messages. Social media has its downfalls, but allowing users to make sure people feel loved on their birthdays (and supported through times of crisis) is not one of them. 

November 24
I'm grateful for my girl. She wants so badly to stay little, but try as she might to suppress the young woman she is becoming, I can see a new version of her emerging. I could give at least a handful of examples, but I'll stick to the one happening as I type: a friend is scared about something going on in her life, and rightfully so. Hallie too is scared, as the situation has the potential to impact her as well, but as she talks to the friend on the phone in the other room, I can hear Hallie's calm tone of voice and kind words. She may fall apart often for me, but she can be strong for her friends when they need her. 

November 25
I'm grateful my Thanksgiving decorations are packed away and my Christmas decorations are ready for the next holiday season. I wouldn't usually take down Thanksgiving and set up Christmas until the Friday after Turkey Day, but this year I had the time, the energy, and a helper the Sunday and Monday beforehand. The outside lights (Tom's domain, OF COURSE) aren't up yet, but everything inside is already bringing joy to all of the humans...and all of the kittens (of which there are currently FOUR)...in our home. 
























November 26
I'm grateful for my family members and friends. I'm grateful for my and their relative health and financial security. I'm grateful for amazing moments and awful moments and all the ordinary, mundane, and routine moments in between. And I am grateful for all of you, who make writing about life here on Chasing Roots matter.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. See you next Tuesday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Dear Erin

A few days ago, a package arrived from my parents. This isn't an unusual occurrence (my mom regularly sends us masks, and she periodically sends the kids the Sunday comics from their newspaper), however it's always appreciated, as receiving and opening "fun" mail always lifts everyone's spirits.

This particular package contained - as expected - masks, as well as a postcard with a picture of Disney's EPCOT Center on the front. I assumed the postcard came from our trip to Disney World last January; I thought perhaps my mom had purchased it as a souvenir and then decided she no longer wanted it and sent it to me.


When I flipped the postcard over, I discovered that no, it wasn't a souvenir from our recent trip to Disney World; it had been written on, addressed, and mailed...to Erin Mueller. I haven't gone by Erin Mueller in 17 years, so I checked the signature.

Love, Grandma and Grandpa

My Grandpa Russ died when I was younger than Hallie and my Grandma Hallie died when I was in college, so I checked the postmark.

16 Mar 1984.

I was just five years old when this postcard arrived in the mail for me, and as I read through what my grandparents had written, I could see how perfectly it was crafted - all capital letters and simple words - for a five-year-old who would have been learning to read.

DEAR ERIN,

THANK YOU FOR YOUR LETTER. WE HAVE SOME SHELLS FOR YOU. IT IS WARM AND SUNNY. MIM, ERIC, AND DIXIE ARE HERE NOW. DIXIE WANTS TO GO SWIMMING BUT SHE IS NOT ALLOWED ON THE BEACH.

LOVE, GRANDMA AND GRANDPA

I don't have many pictures of me with my grandparents. My parents took photos, but smart phones and their ability to capture important relationships were still decades away. We visited my grandparents a few times a year, but they lived three hours away which meant they couldn't pop by for Sunday night dinner or to see a Saturday morning soccer game. All things considered, I knew my grandparents well as a little girl because my parents (and my grandparents) made an effort to help my sister and me development relationships with them. But I didn't know them well as an adult - as I mentioned above, my grandpa died when I was still young, and my grandma suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for many years before she passed away when I was in my early 20's - and I wish that weren't the case.

This postcard is a reminder of the effort they made to stay connected...a reminder of how much they loved me, my sister, and all of their grandchildren.

My parents and Tom's parents all send postcards and notes to my kids now. I know Will and Hallie don't understand the importance of those communications now, but they will someday. 

Also, the stamp on the postcard cost $0.13. 😉

Friday, November 20, 2020

High Five for Friday (11.20.20)



One
As of later this afternoon, all four of us are on a nine-day Thanksgiving break. Hallie has dance on Monday; Will has optional soccer practices on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; and both Tom and I have some work we need to fit in, but other than that, much-needed relaxation lies ahead.

Because of COVID, we aren't traveling for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. We will miss our families tremendously - we haven't seen Tom's since late December and mine since early January - but we have high hopes for quality time together and perhaps a few new experiences/traditions.

Happy Thanksgiving Break, friends!

Two
Though we love all of our extracurricular activities, there's something special about an occasional and unexpected night off. Will's Wednesday night soccer practices were cancelled last week and this week, and while we wouldn't wish for this schedule on a regular basis, the ever-so-slightly earlier evening (everyone home and able to eat dinner at 8:45pm instead of 9:35pm) was a treat!

Three
Somewhat against his will, Will auditioned for Region Orchestra. (He didn't audition in fifth, sixth, or seventh grade, and when his orchestra teacher found out he once again didn't plan to audition, she signed him up and told him he would participate...so he did.) The results came in this week, and he earned fifth chair cello! His response - unsurprisingly - was, "I could have done better", but I was excited for him and the progress he's made as a cellist this year. 

Four
My Christmas cards are DONE. I decided to hold off on mailing them until some point next week, but they're signed, sealed...and waiting to be delivered. 

Five
Happiness Highlights
Hallie had to do a music research project on a favorite band
of mine. I picked The Chicks, and her project was awesome.

Having three kittens at once is exactly as
crazy as you might imagine it to be. Frequently
it feels like there are kittens everywhere.

It's funny how often they all three
flock to the same person at the same time. 

My friend Anne dropped off miniature charcuterie "boards"
and wine bottles ahead of a virtual party she hosted. SUCH a
fun idea, and one I'll remember for future virtual gatherings!

When you show up at dance wearing the EXACT
same outfit as your bestie...I guess it makes sense that our
bestie daughters always end up dressed the same as well.

This toy was for the kittens, but Tux claimed it. He does
NOT like RBG and does NOT want to share this toy. 😂

Yep, we finally put a television on our porch!
I haven't turned it on yet, but it's nice to know
it's there for future football game watching. 

She's teaching Bader (in her lap) and Ginsberg
how to play Dos. They don't quite get it yet.


Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

It's November, For the Last Time

On this Tuesday, I present the 10th - and likely final (I should probably stop asking my girl to sing this silly song for me, now that she's 11 years old) - installment of one of my favorite annual posts. Here is "It's November", courtesy of my Hallie Claire.

November 2011

November 2012

November 2013

November 2014

November 2015

November 2016

November 2017

November 2018

November 2019

November 2020
 

And just for fun, a bonus video that she wanted to make.
        
Slow down, Father Time. 

I still can't watch the 2011 version of this video without tearing up. I miss that sweet, spicy, pleasantly precocious two-year-old… 

Friday, November 13, 2020

High Five for Friday (11.13.20)

 


One
Tux has been such a good buddy these last few weeks: putting up with kittens, and more kittens, and more kittens, and then letting us dress him up in a Halloween costume and participating in the Halloween night candy sort. I forgot to include these pictures in my Halloween recap, so I decided to post them here along with a shout out for our #1 kitty.




Tensely waiting staring at the door
as trick-or-treaters began to arrive.

He did NOT want to be a dinosaur.

He did, however, want to ride in Will's
pumpkin tote after the candy had been dumped.

Two
Speaking of kittens and kitties... look who joined our family late last week! 




When these three were born a few weeks ago, I knew immediately that I wanted them in our home as fosters. Somehow I felt like taking care of Ruth, Bader, and Ginsberg - yes, they are named in honor and memory of the RBG, as they came into this world just after their namesake left it - was my way of paying tribute to the OG, who I admired tremendously. (I know, I know - that logic makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.) They are all delightfully sweet and cuddly, which was a nice change from Dorothy, who wasn't much of a cuddler, and Ruby, who took a LONG time to warm up to us. 

Ruth, Bader, and Ginsberg are available for adoption, so if you're interested in bringing one, two, or all three of them home with you, let me know!

A special thanks to Will's friend, Andreas, who took the AMAZING photos below. Check out his website here.
Ruth



Bader


Ginsberg



Three
As is my tradition, on November 1st I took down all of my Halloween decorations and put out my fall decor. These pumpkins, pillows, and candles don't see nearly as much "action" as my festive Halloween jack-o-lanterns or wooden Christmas trees or painted Easter eggs, but gosh darn it, they deserve their three weeks! 


In our house Fall goes up on November 1st and Christmas goes up on November 22nd, which is my birthday. All I ever really ask of Tom and the kids for my birthday is for everyone to joyfully and cooperatively help me put up and decorate the Christmas tree while drinking hot chocolate and listening to the new Christmas album Tom gifts me every year. Most years my birthday wish comes true.

Four
We continue with virtual schooling, wrapping up today our first week of the final six week session of the semester. I can hardly wrap my head around how far we've come - there were points, especially in those first few weeks - when I wasn't sure if we'd make it. I'm so proud of the kids for adapting to their new normal, putting in the work, making excellent grades, and continuously finding the silver linings in this mess of a year. 

Part of that new normal has included virtual performances, and two weeks ago (accidentally missed writing about this high five last week) we were able to enjoy two: Will's fall orchestra concert and Hallie's bestie Avery's improv show. It felt strange to watch these performances huddled around the computer instead of crammed into an auditorium, but the fact that we were able to watch these kids perform at all brought me a great deal of comfort and joy.



Will and Hallie's only complaint was that we didn't get to get to eat our traditional late-night breakfast for dinner at IHOP after Will's concert. I promised a make-up trip to IHOP just as soon as our family is eating inside restaurants again.

Five
Hallie and I spent four hours last Sunday morning talking and laughing and relaxing and eating and drinking (add playing and running wild to that list if your name is Hallie) at Nonny's and Papa's house. Nonny and Papa's real names are Brenda and Berry, and they're parents to my friend Mandi and grandparents to Will and Hallie's friends' Kaylee and Kara. We've gotten to know them - especially Nonny - fairly well since first meeting them more than eight years ago, and they have graciously welcomed us both into their lives. Oh, and they let kids who aren't actually their grandchildren come over for playdates and call them by their grandparent names.  

Side note #1: Will and Hallie have always called Brenda "Nonny", but after Kaylee became Will's girlfriend, he wondered aloud to me if he should start calling her "Mrs. Nonny". 

Side note #2: Will and Hallie call Tom's sister "AJ", which stands for Aunt Jenna. When two-year-old Lily, my sister's daughter, came to Jenna's wedding, she started calling Jenna AJ - even though AJ is not her aunt - and still calls her that today. 

I love both of these side notes so much.

So on Sunday, Mandi and her girls, Jenn and her girl, and me and my girl, road tripped to Nonny's house for the best morning of just "being". That time together was so needed and so appreciated.

Oh, and my girl learned how to drive, so there's that too. Watch out, world - she's coming for you from behind the wheel of a wagon-towing lawn mower with the blades shut off. 😂

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Monthly Medley: October 2020

Reading
I've read and enjoyed all of Ruth Ware's books, and Turn of the Key was no exception. I wouldn't rank this one atop a list of her mysteries, but it kept me far more engaged than the many books I started and didn't finish in September. The protagonist's narration takes the unique form of letters written from prison to a defense lawyer she hopes to retain*, and I appreciated the occasional grounding in real time - checking in at the beginning and end of each letter - this storytelling tactic allowed. 


* This isn't a spoiler. If you decide to read Turn of the Key, you'll learn of the protagonist's status as a convicted criminal almost immediately.

Watching 
Rather than typing out the list of movies Hallie and I have and haven't watched every month, I added all of the titles to a Google doc affectionately titled, "Corona RomComs". Next up and just for fun, Hallie and I plan to analyze each movie in order to award it an agreed upon letter grade. Feel free to follow along on our Corona RomCom journey by checking out our list here!

This month we added the Father of the Bride "trilogy" to the list. We both loved the original and liked the sequel, but we had slightly different thoughts on the made-for-YouTube third movie; I thought it was adorable and endearing, while Hallie didn't quite get it. I should also add that she "didn't get" why I cried my way through all three movies. I explained that when I watched one and two for the first time* 25 years ago, I pictured myself in the role of and could relate most closely to the daughter, Annie. But when I watched both as a 41-year-old mother of a teenager and a tweenager, I pictured myself in the role of and could relate most closely to Annie's mom...imagining my kids getting married and having babies felt entirely too real and just about broke me.  


* Father of the Bride was my favorite movie for years and I used to watch it monthly...that is, until I wore out my VHS cassette tape. 25+ years later, I still have George Banks' opening monologue memorized. Hallie was legitimately IMPRESSED with my skills.
 
We also added My Best Friend's Wedding to the list, but it scored as low as any of the movies we've watched thus far. Hallie just wasn't all that interested, and I was surprised to discover that as an adult I found almost all of the main characters annoying in one way or another. 

Listening To
A few months ago I mentioned the podcast Uncover. At the time I had only listened to season one, but I found it intriguing (exactly what I'm looking for in a podcast that keeps me company while exercising) enough to both recommend the podcast and move on to the next season. But after I started and couldn't get into seasons two and three, I took a break from the podcast until this month. Seasons four, five, and six peaked my interest the same way season one did, and I quickly cruised through all of them. The verdict is still out on season seven, which I just started...

I also just downloaded both Brainwashed (highly recommended) and Daughters of DC (basically forced upon me by the local radio station's incessant advertising); I'm looking forward to letting you know next month if these two podcasts are worth your time!

Following
  • I've followed Kate Bryan of The Small Things Blog (@k8_smallthings) for years - I jumped on her bandwagon back when her online presence included only YouTube hair tutorials shared via Pinterest. She's considered a pretty "high ranking" influencer now, and while I don't particularly like following influencers, I've stuck with her as she grew in popularity because she was/is/has stayed so incredibly nice. She is also honest and real, is from the midwest, loves cats, and has refreshingly down-to-earth approaches to her job as an influencer, to parenting, and to body image, among other things. Oh, and because of her I know how to curl my hair and which jeans to buy to disguise the aftermath of my c-sections. 😉
  • I only recently started following Kamri Phillippi (@kamphoxy) She's a mixed race adult woman (her mom is white and her dad is black) who is married to a white man and has one mixed race biological son, one adopted mixed race daughter, and two adopted black daughters. She obviously has an incredibly unique perspective on race in our country, and I love listening to her talk about her experiences growing up, as half of a mixed race couple, and parenting both biological and adopted children. She does a "Teaching Tuesday" segment each week, and while these segments feel informal and comfortable, they're open, honest, and informative about topics I need to learn more about.  

Trying/Using
I bought this Haagen-Dazs Heaven Cold Brew Espresso Chip ice cream on a whim, and OH, what a whim it was. I don't usually like light ice creams, but I wouldn't have known if I hadn't seen the word "light" on the container.


A few weeks ago I got an email from the make-up and skincare company alleyoop, promising me a $20 credit toward anything in their online store if I pledged to vote. It seemed a little fishy, but since I of course planned to vote anyway, I made the pledge and not 30 seconds later found a coupon code for $20 off in my inbox. I used it to purchase this eyeshadow (in bronze medal), which I had wanted to try and happened to cost exactly $20, and I love it!

The best part? (Well, maybe not the best part, but ONE of the best parts...) The eyeshadow arrived in packing peanuts, which initially rubbed me the wrong way. But after I'd tossed them into the trash, I saw this note in the box.

REALLY?! 

I pulled every single one of those packing peanuts out of the trash and put them in a bowl of water. Sure enough, they dissolved. Way to go, alleyoop. Between your commitment to democracy, your generous coupon codes, and your commitment to the environment, you've got yourself a customer. 


Wearing
Look at Hallie's adorable summer sandals! (Don't worry - it's basically still summer here, at least by my standards, so she'll have a lot more opportunities to wear them before the weather officially turns.) I bought her a size up so she could get a second summer out of them, but wearing them a little big hasn't been an issue.


After years of dealing with plantar fasciitis and wanting to keep this condition under control as much as possible, I only wear shoes with arch supports (I make exceptions for fancy dress shoes, of course). Hallie and Will haven't developed any issues yet, but given how active and athletic and active they are and that both (will eventually) come by foot problems genetically, I try really hard to keep them in quality shoes. (My mom is the queen of foot issues, and she passed a couple of those issues on to me and the rest of them on to my sister. It's likely one or two will make it to Will and/or Hallie.) These aren't cheap as far as sandals go, but to me they're worth the price.

It wouldn't be a monthly medley if I didn't provide an update on my newest quarantine shirts and Starbucks to-go cups, now would it?

YES. 😍

After checking Starbucks every other day for two
weeks, we finally found what we'd been waiting for:
this year's glow-in-the-dark cups! (We actually bought
them in September, but since I didn't start using mine
until October, it seemed appropriate to share them this
month.) Two friends and I divided them up, so we
each got two. And they're so fun!

Eating/Drinking
October was - and should always be, in my opinion - a delicious month. Typical fall foods like chili, soups, anything with apples, anything with pumpkin, and warm beverages that make my house smell divine are my absolute favorite.
  • I make a similar version of this Creamy Crockpot White Chicken Chili, and while delicious, it's missing the corn, cream cheese, and half and half that I think made this recipe even better. I topped my bowl with a little monterey jack cheese, and it was perfection. (Next time I'll serve it with sour cream, avocado slices, and homemade tortilla strips as well, just to raise the recipe from and A to an A+.)
  • I honestly thought these Garlic Butter Meatballs and Zoodles were going to crash and burn, but everyone - all FOUR of us - LOVED it. I used ground turkey instead of chicken and made only two zucchinis worth of zoodles because that's what I had on hand, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. Next time I'll use four zucchinis, as that's what I need to comfortably feed the four of us, but otherwise I won't change a thing!
  • This Beefy Tomato Soup was quick, easy, inexpensive, and perfect for a cool fall evening. I used a little less chicken stock than the recipe called for because I like thick soups, but that was the only change I made. I added a little mozzarella cheese to mine and slices of crusty french bread rounded out the meal.
  • Baked chicken can be great, or baked chicken can be dry and dull. This simple Baked Chicken Breast falls into the first category. I didn't have any fresh parsley with which to top my chicken, but I didn't miss it. And we didn't have any leftovers from this meal!
  • Last but not least, I made this Zucchini Bread for a friend's birthday, and while I overcooked my loaf by about a minute, the flavor was amazing! I didn't add any of the extras, substituted applesauce for half of the oil, and used 1/3 c. of each of the sugars. 

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