Listening, Reading, Watching

Books I Have(n’t Read)

After a fleeting 60-degree day on Saturday, this week brought chillier temps and a fresh layer of snow. Immediately after staring out at the wintry weather and pouring myself a hot cup of coffee on the morning it hit, I felt that familiar urge to curl up and get lost in a book.

Looking at the long list of “books to read” that I keep on my phone, I instinctively found myself on Amazon, ready to order a few. Then I thought, wait a minute, what am I doing? I have a whole bookshelf of books upstairs, several of which have yet to be touched. Buying books is my bad habit.

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A Christmas Playlist

Christmas at Grandma's

One of my favorite Christmas scenes, Grandma and Grandpa’s house

I looked at the calendar this weekend in complete disbelief that Christmas is only THREE WEEKS AWAY. What?! What happened to 2016?!

Speaking of “what happened,” I’m sorry to have been absent this past week. I’ve been feeling under the weather since Thanksgiving, but I’m slowly seeing my normal self emerge. While I’ve been down for the count, my Christmas decorating and celebrating has gotten away from me. But! This weekend, we cut down the most perfect Christmas tree—a festive step in the right direction. Once we got it home, I was afraid we got a little overzealous; it’s really tall, guys. Now that I think about it, I’m not too sure how we’ll get it out of the house when the time comes, but meh, details…

I threw together this Christmas playlist for all the decorating, gift exchanging, and hot chocolate (wine) drinking of the season. It’s something a little different, but a mix of both classic and nontraditional Christmas tunes. Enjoy!

P.S. Another good Christmas playlist option is the Home Alone soundtrack, just sayin’. Happy December, my friends!

Bonfire Ballads Playlist

Bonfire Ballads PlaylistSince we moved into our house last September, I’ve been craving a night spent lounging peacefully in the backyard around a bonfire. It’s shaping up to be the perfect evening for that, albeit slightly windy.

I put together a playlist of songs on Spotify for the occasion. Friends relaxing around a blazing fire, drinks in hand, this soundtrack playing in the background—a tranquil autumn evening under the stars.

I hope you have a wonderful Saturday night! Enjoy.

 

Late Summer Reads

books

As another summer comes to a close, I’m trying to soak in the last bits of the long days and that warm evening sunshine. One of my favorite pastimes during this first summer of homeownership has been to lounge outside on the porch and read, even if only for ten minutes at a time.

I generally read a lot of magazines and blogs, but nothing beats a tangible paper book. I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. Not just reading them, but the feeling of flipping through the pages, totally engrossed, letting yourself escape into the words. I can’t help but be nostalgic.

Last week, I finished Tig Notaro’s book, I’m Just a Person. Wow. She’s been through some tough stuff. Her book, while much more serious than her stand-up, was equal parts emotional and humorous.

She fills us in on bits of her childhood while telling the story about the worst couple of months of her life, endured a few years back. First, Tig had a terrible bacterial infection from which she was hospitalized and made her believe she was dying. Soon after she was released from the hospital, still in rough shape, her mother passed away suddenly. And not long after that, the cherry on top, she found out that she had breast cancer. In both breasts. Oh, and somewhere in there, she and her girlfriend broke up too.

Eventually, Tig reveals a little bit about her infamous Largo set, which she performed just after finding out she had cancer in both breasts. She didn’t have a routine and candidly walked out on stage announcing her diagnosis. No one knew how to react, or whether or not she was joking. They quickly realized she wasn’t. She managed to captivate the audience with her raw, brave, and relatable performance. I’d heard that part of the story before, but not from her humbled perspective, which was fascinating. 

I’m Just a Person is definitely worth a read if you like Tig Notaro’s stand-up and dry sense of humor. It’s doesn’t require a lot of extra thought. You might shed a tear or two if you’re an emotional sap like me, but brainpower really isn’t necessary. And I mean that in the most positive way. I did hear that a lot of the details in the book are the same as what’s in her documentary, but I haven’t seen it. Even if it is the same, I’m sure I’ll watch it anyway.

Last night, I started Mindy Kaling’s second book, Why Not Me? I guess I’m on a roll with female comedian memoirs. I was a big fan of MK’s first book (the title alone cracks me up every time), so I have high hopes. If you’ve read it, what did you think? On page one, I was already laughing out loud. That’s always a good sign.

Have you read any good books this summer? I’d love your suggestions while there’s still time to enjoy some outside reading!

Guilty Pleasure: The Bachelor

JoJo Unicorn

JoJo’s entrance on Ben’s season

The Bachelor is absurd. I know that, I get that, I see that—every Monday night at 8pm. But yet, I’ve been looking forward to Monday nights for almost a decade and have no plans of cutting myself off from this vice. Clearly I love the absurdity. And also the wine.

It’s the same thing season after season. Repetitious corny monologues about how love compares to whatever insane activity they’re doing on a date, the same “most dramatic rose ceremony ever,” familiar character archetypes, and always a cast of skinny and attractive contestants who are looking to find a life partner in less than six weeks while on vacation. TOTALLY REAL. And that’s what makes it entertaining; ya just gotta laugh.

Somehow the producers always seem to keep me and a bajillion other women hooked. Women (sometimes also men) who I look up to as intellectual, progressive, funny, and honest admit to liking The Bachelor/ette, despite its stereotypes and predictability. I’m always surprised when I learn someone I respect is a Bachelor fan. Every season, the show gets more and more attention and viewership grows. The most recent stars of the past few seasons have over a million followers each on Instagram. As outlandish as it is, they’re doing something right.

SPOILER ALERT: Don’t continue reading if you haven’t watched this week’s episodes of The Bachelorette (yes, “special two-night event!”). I hate when things are ruined for me, so this is your fair warning to get the heck outta here if you don’t wanna know what happened with Luke, Robby, Chase, and Jordan!

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Summer Playlist

summer_2016

Happy first day of summer! Here’s to lots of warm days, colorful sunsets, late night bonfires, and soft serve ice cream cones.

I put together a quick playlist to kick off the season. It’s mostly newer songs, some a couple years old, but all tunes I could picture myself listening to this summer while driving with the windows down, hair blowing in the wind. You can access it here if you use Spotify (it’s free!). Or, you can view the list below if you want to listen elsewhere.

UPDATE: If you use Google Play Music, my friend Nick so kindly re-created the list there as well. Thanks Nick!

  1. Joy Rides – Mutemath
  2. Something To Believe In – Young the Giant
  3. Too Young – Bear Hands
  4. Past Lives – Local Natives
  5. Bored to Death – blink-182
  6. Cream on Chrome – Ratatat
  7. Letterman – Gay Nineties
  8. Ripple Water Shine – Pianos Become The Teeth
  9. Connection – Silversun Pickups
  10. Are We Ready? (Wreck) – Two Door Cinema Club
  11. Truth – Bloc Party
  12. Good Grief – Dr. Dog
  13. Peaches – The Districts
  14. Around Town – The Kooks
  15. Talk To Me – Kopecky
  16. Thunderhearts – Cold War Kids

P.S. How bout those CAVS! 330 is home 

I’m Only Productive When It Rains

music and productivity

Do you listen to music while you work? I wish I was one of those people who could jam out and still get the job done, but truth be told, I’m just not. My favorite playlist could start and end without me having heard a single lyric.

All sorts of studies have been conducted about whether or not, and how, music affects productivity. From what I’ve read, research has concluded that music can help with mindless tasks that don’t require a lot of concentration. It may also improve mood, which can therefore increase productivity. However, retention and concentration often drop when listening to music, so it isn’t always best in situations where you’re performing a new task or one in which you need to focus.

Even though I normally work in silence, my co-worker and I recently stumbled upon the perfect combination of sounds that simultaneously helped us both relax but also sharpened our focus, both for mindless tasks and those that required full concentration.

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