Christmas Wish List

This year for Christmas, I made an Amazon wish list for myself. And also a Google doc for the things not available on Amazon. This is basically for my husband, since the rest of my family finds gift registries offensive (let it go Brittany, just let it go...).

Last year people at least asked what Babycakes wanted...but apparently everyone is full-blown psychic this year.

I can definitely tell I am getting old based on my wish lists...bless. Here's what I actually need/really want this year:

  • New hair straightener Y'all, I'm using the same one from college...and it was cheap then.
  • New mixing bowls Not storage bowls, mixing bowls with no lids, because we end up using our storage Pyrex bowls to mix stuff for dinner then have nothing to store leftovers in unless we want to wash the dishes directly after dinner (which, obviously, I do not).
  • Casserole dish carrying case
  • Caffeine mints & gum trying to cut out sodas and Starbucks, but I can't quit caffeine.
  • Silk pillow case heard it's better for your skin and hair.
  • Immersion blender I make this baked potato soup and it's good now, but would be better if I could blend it.
  • Essential Oils starter kit Mainly because I like to use vinegar as cleaner, and my hubs hates this smell. Lots of cleaning recipes say essential oils cover this up.
  • Sally Hansen Miracle Gel nail polis, Step 1
  • CoverGirl Outlast Lipcolor shades Wine to Five (538) or Blushed Mauve (550)

What's on your wish list this year?

Show Us Your Books: December 2019

Hello, fellow readers! Hope you are having a great month and able to squeeze in some relaxing reading time during this holiday season. Merry Christmas, or Happy Everything, whatever you are celebrating! And if you aren't...I hope you still eat lots of good food and feel some love.

I'm extra thankful that my reading slump from last month is officially over! I've been on a roll with good books and enjoyed all my recent reads. With that, let's get on to the books.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
I super enjoyed 95% of this book. It is an honest, snarky, only slightly exaggerated, realistic view that was me the first year after having a baby (minus, I wasn't staying at home). The last 5% of the book was a little cheesy for me, and unnecessary, which makes it 4/5 rather than 5/5. But I'd still overall recommend. 4.5/5

I will always read/watch/listen/intake Caitlin Doughty's work. She is a mortician who advocates for the good death (literally, that's her organization). She is all about being realistic about death and knowing the different ways to handle it. This book is full of questions that she's gotten from children regarding death. They are super interesting and she answers straightforwardly with slight snark. Also, surprisingly adorable death cartoons. 5/5
Small gripe not specific to this book: WHY DO ALL NON-FICTION BOOKS NEEDS SUPER LONG SUBTITLES?!?! Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? is a great title. It needs nothing else.

Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead
This is one of those books that didn't super have a point. That's fine, I can enjoy those, but I don't think it was done quite as well as it could have been. Laura is a WASPy New Yorker who gets pregnant off a one-night stand. The book weaves in and out of Laura & her daughter's view year by year. It's an interesting look at a super privileged person who does still have some semblance of concern and awareness, but not a complete awareness. This was also one that I liked until the last was just random and ambiguous, and there is one way it could go that I would be fine with and another that I would be very against...anyway. 3.5/5

The Crossing Places and The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths 
(Ruth Galloway #1-2)
I read The Crossing Places without realizing that it was part of a series. Pretty sure this was on my TBR from this link-up, so thank you to whoever shared it! But it was really enjoyable, so when I logged it via Goodreads and saw that it was a series I decided to read the next one. They follow an archeologist and police detective in the UK who end up working a case together. Seeing as how I love Bones, this isn't a surprise that this made it to my TBR. This was like the Goldilocks of books for me, in lots of ways. There was just enough mystery, just enough history, just enough myth, just enough everything without being too much anything. The relationships got a little weird, and the first book was slightly preferable. But I'll likely continue the series. There's something like 10 books, so not sure I will read them all straight through, but at some point. 4/5 for both

What have you been reading lately? Link-up and let us know!
Life According to Steph

What's New

Like every other parent of a small child I know, we watched Frozen II recently! TBH, I kind of loved it. It's definitely a more complex plot than the first one, which was super simplistic. But my kiddo still liked it, even if she didn't "get" everything. There are lots of good things to say about it, but my favorite is this- along with wonderful, independent "strong female characters" in Anna & Elsa (who have very different strengths but both valuable and worthy in their own right), there is also a great emotionally mature male character. I'm all for strong women, although I am super annoyed that "strong female character" is so unusual it has to be specified. But I dislike that those women are so often portrayed against men. Kristoff is a wonderful character because he respects these awesome women and truly views them as equals while knowing his own's just a great relationship and character and I'm so glad all of them shine. Also, sorry not sorry, that soundtrack is kind of amazing. It's been consistently playing in our house and no one is mad about it.

I was going to buy some locally made stocking holders that someone posted on Facebook, but backed out. I apologized, but didn't feel too bad because they were offered as customizable and I was only getting plain. So I figured NBD, she could just personalize them for the next order. She came back a little tartly and said she hoped I wouldn't waste other artisan's time in the future. Which like, I get but really? Had they actually been custom I would have went through with it, but there is literally no reason these can't be used on the very next customer...I didn't waste your time, you're just ready for the next order even faster. So...idk. Felt very weird, and it's crap like this why people order from Amazon because it's just damn easier.

I was invited to a mom's group on FB by a friend. I usually don't belong to these, because...drama and annoyance. However, I liked this mom so I decided to join. I answered literally one question, against the grain because I'm the only mom who believes in LISTENING TO DOCTORS AND EXPERTS and got some backlash (apparently yearly check-ups are a scam, and unnecessary, and some other crap). Immediately left the group...I am not interested in being a stranger's "yes mom."

I've mentioned my husband basically made this huge life change regarding his health/diet/exercise. He hit his one-year goal in less than 6 months; it's ridiculous. Anyway, it's making me feel like I need to do more because I do not want to be the one who let myself go while he's super buff over there. I think I offended him by saying he was going to be the prettiest one in the relationship and to please not leave me. I don't think I'm the prettiest, guys, I just thought we were fairly on the same level...apparently this was rude! Bahaha. Anyway...we'll see how it goes. Today was day one and it actually worked out really well, time wise. I've had awful headaches on and off the past few weeks, so I didn't even really miss any sleep time because I've been sleeping like crap anyway.  
To be clear, because...this is the internet, my husband is not insulting me or telling me to do this or in any way making me feel bad. It's more of a begrudging inspiration that I'm moderately annoyed at but also know I probably need. And it's 100% my decision.

My workout group, FiA, needed a new website. Previously we went through the national site, which used Wordpress. But they canceled that and encouraged each region to make their own. I did ours almost entirely myself, and through Blogger. I was going to stick with WP but we couldn't get a custom domain name without paying 40$+ dollars a year which seemed excessive. I talked them into Blogger instead and everyone is LOVING it. They say it's so much easier and they are much more likely to use it. So, wooo hoo, happy dance, go me!

I'm not making any specific donations for Giving Tuesday...but I'm not letting myself feel guilty. I do payroll deductions at work for a variety of charities, I donate to my church (specifically a program that directly feeds children in need via relationships with public schools, so doesn't only benefit church members), and I have my Amazon Smiles charity set to a local organization with employees I know work very hard and do a lot for the community. So, I'm telling myself that these consistent donations are better than one bigger one.

I recently purchased a new devotional. I have been having...not a crisis of faith, not a lack of faith...but a lack of connection, I guess? I may come back and talk about this more in-depth...but for now, I am just going to say that I really like that this devotional comes with a journal (rather than me writing in a different notebook like usual)- plus it has really good quality paper. I think the holiday season is a perfect time to remember the importance of resting, and being still, and listening for Him.
100 Days of Less Hustle More Jesus - Devotional Journal by Shanna Noel

What's new with you?

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

 We decorated for Christmas this weekend! It was a fun family time...even if Hubs did have the Panther game on and was half distracted. He did mute it to play carols, haha. 

A few weeks ago I painted my living room- I used to have a blue wall. Which meant I had to have blue Christmas decor, because red and green wouldn't have looked right with the traditional red and green. Thankfully, now I can go old-school.

And I do mean, old-school. I remember as a kid arguing with my mom about lights. She wanted white lights, which I thought were sooooo boring. Obviously colored lights were so much cooler. Now though, I am all about what my husband refers to as "boring white people" style. Aka, white lights and green wreaths and red bows and candles in the windows of white clapboard houses. 

I'm going more simplistic this year. We have an artificial tree (between the baby years and the dogs, a real tree created too much stress for me to enjoy), so I don't have tree trimmings to decorate my mantle anymore. But I found this ribbon garland at Michael's on a black Friday sale, and loved it's slightly rustic touch with plaid and burlap. The nativity scene sign is from Walmart, and the two smaller signs are from Target's dollar section (that is not really a dollar section anymore, but I digress). Obviously, Babycake's stocking is the big one in the middle, haha! I didn't realize it was so much bigger when I bought it, but oh well. The pine cones I have had for years...probably from Michael's or Dollar General. They used to smell like cinnamon but that's worn off. I've also sprayed painted some of them with gold or white paint to glint or look like snow. 


The small manger in the middle is our Giving Manger. Each day, you are encouraged to do something kind for others. For every kind thing you do for someone, you put a piece of "hay" in the manger. The goal is to have the manger full of hay and ready to place Baby Jesus in on Christmas day. It's part of my goal to have a more Christian Christmas. It's fun, and kind, and Babycakes and I really enjoy it.

When we had a real tree, I used a stainless steel bucket rather than a tree skirt...which I loved. But, the artificial tree holder won't fit so again, going old school with a Santa-ish tree skirt. Thankfully, Babycakes loves it, she pronounced it "So cute."

Now I just have to pack up all the boxes and put the storage containers back into the garage until after the holidays, haha. How are you preparing for the holiday?

Three Things: November 2019

As always, thanks Steph.

Things I'm looking forward to before the end of the month

-family pictures
-pineapple casserole
-The lack of "but it's not even Thanksgiving" argument about when it's acceptable to decorate for Christmas 

Things I’m happy with

-my latest reads
-our anniversary plans
-my pre-December Christmas prep

Things I don’t understand

-why people need to complain instead of letting others live
-why every time I start trying to track calories I immediately get sick
-why my phone had to wack out just before Christmas, aka when budget is tighter than normal

Things I love to eat at Thanksgiving

-broccoli & cheese casserole
-mashed potatoes
-macaroni & tomatoes

Things I need from the store

-paper towels
-Babycake's outfit for family pics
-something else I can't remember

Things I don't like to do

-washing my dogs
-call in sick

Things I've said out loud to strangers this week

...I don't talk to strangers

Things that smell good in this season

-the apple spice soap I got from B&BW
-the kitchen on Thanksgiving
-chilly after rain

Weekend Update

This weekend Babycakes went to stay with her grandparents. Apparently a lot of people think it's weird that I ship my kid off for days at a time to a location several hours away...but there's really point in driving that far for just a few hours or night. Also, I was super close with my grandparents as a kid, and that is the only reason I feel at all guilty for moving away from my hometown. So I try to make it a point to support her relationship with her grandparents and make that a priority for her.

Anyway, I got so much done around the house. Normally I will push myself too far, but I think I did a good job of being realistic and also forcing myself to enjoy that alone time also (hubs had to work some this weekend so I had the house to myself).

It didn't start off great. I took a short lunch on Friday so I could leave a little early, get some day-to-day chores out of the way, and shower before Hubs got home. That plan epically failed because there was a ridiculous wreck. Due to DST, it was already dark when I left. Plus it was raining. These are my least favorite driving conditions, it super stresses me out. Add in the fact that one of the biggest intersections in my city was blocked by cop cars and ambulances with flashing was rough. Then the only way to detour was by a school zone, so that made everything even worse. Needless to say, I'm normally home by 5:20 when I don't leave early, and I made it home at 6:00. Thankfully, I had put some food in the slow cooker so dinner was ready, and we just upgraded to the kind with a timer so it wasn't burnt to hades.

So, I ate and drank wine and maybe something else that I don't remember.

Saturday I finally returned to my normal exercise schedule. It was cold and windy and I'm sore and I love it. This past month has been rough, and I know that with the holidays and everything I'm going to need it even more than normal.

I went home and actually managed to do a lot in a quick succession. I cleaned my bathroom mirrors and Babycake's tub before I took a shower, because that always makes me feel gross anyway. Side note: why I ever bother trying traditional cleaners I don't know. Vinegar and baking soda are by far the best for cutting through grime. I go back to it every time.

Next I tackled our spare room. It was both nice and frustrating that half the stuff in there was already bagged up for either a) trash, or b) donation. And it just never made it to those places. It wasn't gross trash, like food or anything, just items that were no longer needed and couldn't/weren't in good enough shape to be donated.

My plan was to have a complete hermit day, including lots of booze and PJs only. But...I didn't want to loose the momentum or have to come back to this room, so I sucked it up and put on regular clothes and took everything to a local charity for donation. Also, I took a detour by the library and picked up some books I had on hold. I think part of the reason I got in such a slump last month is because I picked books randomly on my last visit, so I had about 6 books and just no interest in them at all (might blog more about this later). So I'm going back to requesting books already on my TBR only. It's just more sensible this way, for me, right now.

Once I got back, it was straight back into PJs though.

The only thing left was laundry, which I did while binging the last season of Doctor Who. Jodie Whittaker is truly such a great 13th doctor, I forgot exactly how much I loved her.

I put up my clothes & Babycake's clothes, and then it was all about painting my nails and reading my new book. It's Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan and it is definitely breaking me out of my slump. Other than the stay-at-home thing, it's pretty 100% of my mindset after having a baby. It's an awesome slightly snarky, only barely-exaggerated description of new motherhood for those of us who aren't crunchy or serene or total hot messes (just half hot messes).

There were other daily errands I could have done, but I forced myself to chill. And I think it paid off, because I had a great afternoon alone- curled up with a comfy blanket and a good book while the wind howled outside (seriously, it's been ridiculous the past few days). Then it was a chill night with hubs once he got home, and I woke up super perky on Sunday. was ridiculous. I had the dishes done and all the rooms picked up before I even had coffee. I usually can't even walk without this was big.

I had the time for picking up Babycake's mixed up, so I ended up having time to run to Sam's Club for a few things. Overall...I was super productive this weekend but didn't push myself too far. May sound simple, but it's a big deal for me.

How was your weekend?

Rejoining the World last (very intermittent) post have been kind of downers because, well, last month was hard.

Everyone in the house got sick, there was a ton of parenting stuff (Halloween is a surprisingly big event with a kid), I couldn't work out due to a combo of the aforementioned issues which messes with me,  and daylight savings time happened...I just got in a huge slump.

Anyway. I'm feeling slightly better.

Babycakes is visiting her grandparents, so Hubs & I had a night out together. We had dinner and then went to do some Christmas shopping for Babycakes. It was nice to go somewhere a little more adult, and spend some quiet night. We had a good talk about some family stuff- with the holidays coming up, it's always a bit of an issue. With last month being so crazy, it was good to have some time together and recharge as a couple.

My plan for this child-free weekend So much fun, right? It will be, because I have wine!

Can you tell I started watching Cougar Town?

We have this room in our used to be the guest room, then it was the foster room, then I have way turned it into an office but not all the way because we weren't sure if we wanted to try and have more kids or it's just become a junk room. Babycake's old clothes that she is outgrown are in there waiting to be put up in the attic, Christmas gifts are hidden in there, think there is some camping gear in there...I really don't know to be honest. But, I have a whole day of no child or husband or errands and I'm going to get it back under control.

Anyway. I hope to be back soon. How are you?

Show Us Your Books: November 2019

This has been a slow reading month. I finished my Harry Potter reread, but I don't count rereads in my yearly goal. Oh, but these two books did make me hit my yearly goal.

I feel like I always hit a little bit of a slump around this of year, so I guess this is to be expected.

Gods of Jade & Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This was an interesting read. I haven't read many fiction books that weren't from an Anglo-Saxon background, so this was a cool change. It's a good coming-of-age story, and I liked the human-god comparison/merge. I'd read more.

This did hurt a little to read. She had some tough times as a teen. It was interesting to hear about Hollywood from the perspective of someone who has had success but isn't exactly a household name. Her frank discussion of new parenthood and the change it can bring on relationships was real, and I love when people express that things can be good but bad. Apparently this is kind of what she is known for re: Instagram Stories, but I don't get on there much. It wasn't as much of a bummer as I am making it sound, haha. And it was a very quick read. 

This was fun fantasy read. Not amazing but passed the time pleasantly.

What have you been reading lately?
Link-up and share!

Life According to Steph

What's New Link-Up: November 2019

There's pretty much only one thing new with me- I've been sick for about 3 weeks now. The first week I thought it was just normal allergies; I have about a week every Spring & Fall during the changing temps that is miserable, but then I'm fine. The second week I got to about 90% which point Hubs and Babycakes got sick (with different issues). Now it's week three and I'm back in the dumps. FML.

Went to the doctor, got some antibiotics finally...and since those kill both good and bad bacteria...also have a lady issue now to deal with on top of regular cold symptoms. Whoo-fuckin-hoo.

Hmmm, let's see though...short versions of other things that have happened since the last link-up.

  • We threw a Harry Potter Halloween was great...some things I tried were totally worth it and some weren't. Glad we only go HAM once a year. 
  • Made a lot of progress on Christmas shopping, which I'm happy about. Just gotta wait till Black Friday for some sales on clothes, because that's really all that's left. I get basically all dudes shirts, because idk what else they want. Other than Hubs, but for other's just shirts. And that's a Black Friday special. 
  • 'Member how I said Hubs is on this new healthy eating thing?'s slightly rubbed off, without me trying, and now I can't eat too much ice cream or sweets without feeling sick. Seriously. Had a small Blizzard from DQ and felt terrible after. 
  • I finally started watching Brooklyn 99 and it more than lives up to the hype. 
  • Did a reread of Harry Potter because...I'm in a reading slump, and I reread series when I'm too tired to take in anything new. Felt lots of feels.

Stuff From the Internet: October 2019


This video from Hank Green at Vlogbrothers, which is peak 2019 yet hopeful and connecting.

Ours Poetica is a YouTube channel collaboration where people read poems- sometimes the authors, sometimes the spouses, sometimes celebrities, sometimes just people who love poems. Highly recommend. I really like it because often the speaker will tell a story- what they were thinking when they wrote it, where they were the first time they read it, who shared it with them, etc. You may not like every poem, but you will almost certainly like some of them.

I'm really torn on this Ellen thing. I don't think that ignoring differences will enact change...but neither will screaming at someone that they are wrong (even if they are absolutely wrong). If I cut every single person in my life who felt differently on immigration than I do, I would have almost no one of any color left. And guess what? No one would feel differently about the issue- just about me. I do fully believe you have to win hearts and minds to truly win a war. And you can't do that with least, I can't, and maybe that's what Ellen was saying too.



 I want to show this to everyone who complains about having to be politically correct. You don't have to, and intentions matter, but if you are intentionally ignoring the fact that you are hurting people, yes you are an asshole.
(pin links to this video, which I did not watch: )

Three Things: October 2019

Places I never want to go

Chinese buffet
the dentist
Haunted Houses

Places I always want to go

-the mountains
-the library
-TJ Maxx


Appetizers I will eat at any time

-mozzerella sticks
-fried pickles
-chips & salsa

Wall colors in my house


Things I'm looking forward to this month

- Harry Potter Themed Halloween Party
-checking items off my Christmas shopping list
-finally selling odds & ends that we don't need

Places I enjoyed in my youth

-skating rinks
-swing sets
-tree branches

Things 10 year old me never expected to spend so much money on

-light bulbs

How To Take Care of Yourself When Sick

 Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Thankfully I don't get sick a lot, but I have about a week each spring and fall when my allergies LOSE THEIR MIND and my body freaks out.

I was fine on Saturday- even lead a 45 minute workout- and then woke up on Sunday with my throat hurting. By Monday it was ON FIRE and on Tuesday I called out of work so I could basically sleep all day and not have to talk to anyone.

One of the most adult-y things I've experienced is figuring out how to take care of myself while sick. I know there are all these different recommendations and medicines and home remedies, all with a variety of anecdotal success rates. I really do believe everyone kind of has to figure out what makes them feel better, but here's mine.

  • Get your flu shot! I am being slightly hypocrital, because I don't have mine yet. I missed my company's annual flu clinic, unfortunately. My plan was to get it this week...and then I got sick. But let's all acknowledge- vaccines are the best proven way to help your body stay healthy. Do not fight me on this.
  • USE YOUR SICK DAYS. I know this is hard for some people, but especially if your work gives you sick days...USE THEM. The number one best thing for your body when sick is rest. Even if it's boring or guilt-inducing, DO IT. 
  • For stomach bugs:
    • Pepto
    • Gatorade (I prefer blue or clear, my husband likes red)
    • Chicken Soup
    • Saltines
    • Sprite
  • For allergies or colds:
    • These are different, but can have some of the same symptoms, so I'm putting them together.
    • OTC medication that FITS YOUR SYMPTOMS
    • V8 (cold & thick- great for sore throats)
    • Gargle with hot saltwater (I usually do this in the morning)
    • Hot tea or cider with honey (can also add lemon & whiskey)
    • Chicken Noodle Soup
      • Can also try tomato soup with a grilled cheese, if you feel up to it
    • Sit in a bathroom with the shower running full blast on hot (the steam is good for loosening gunk)
What's your go-to remedy when sick?

Home Improvement as Self-Care

 Photo by Cam Morin on Unsplash

Self-care can get a very cheesy rap. And I get it...there are things no bubble bath or glass of wine will fix.

Those things are valuable, IMO, but they aren't the only kind of self-care that people need. Sometimes self-care means doing what needs to be done.

For instance, I've been feeling a little sad about my house. For a variety of reasons that aren't really the point of this post. true Brittany fashion, I made a list of things I wanted to change- room by room.

Last week I accomplished one of my biggest goals for this home improvement plan- I repainted part of my living room. I had an accent wall that just wasn't working and I really wanted it painted to match the rest of the room.

When I went to mark this off my list, I was pleasantly surprised to see that over half the things on the list had been accomplished. It's nice to see forward progress.

Now every time I go in my living room, I think I did it. Something made me feel bad, I changed it, now I feel better. Doing something that has a physical result is so good for my mental health. 

Another, much smaller but probably just was as impactful change...was changing out our toilet paper holder. The couple who built our house was older and had some disabilities, so the toilet paper holdrs were the kind where you just slide the roll on there. Which is fine...for adults. But...I have a child. And our main bathroom, which the child uses, is a fairly tight fit. To brush her teeth, I usually sit on the toilet seat (lid closed, obvs) and at least 70% of the time she sits on my lap. So for over two yeras...every day, twice a day...we do this and she kicks the toilet paper roll off and onto the floor or in the trash can. SO FRIGGIN' annoying. I finally ordered a new, standard roll type and convieniently left it out on the counter and my husband changed it while I was out of the house.

Oh, and another weird thing about our house- all the light bulbs are different. Seriously, I don't get it. We have the boob-looking lights that take one type of bulb, can lights in the living room and kitchen that take another type, the type for our ceiling fans, and then the light over our sink is a flood light even though it's inside...I don't understand. Not to mention our bedside lamps, because I am the last person of our generation who enjoys warm hues and soft lighting.

Anyway- it was Hub's responsibility to handle the light bulbs and he was always frustrated about it because well, it's super frustrating. So I started taking over and then decided to take pictures of the boxes and upload them to our shared iPhotos so it's easy to keep track of. Then I got even smarter and just ordered from Amazon Prime, because it keeps track of what types we need and I don't have to go to the store.

Work smarter, not harder. Because anxiety and stress are hard. You deserve alternatives that don't make your life miserable.