Friday Favs – New Year, Who Dis?

Happy first Friday Favs of 2019!

 

 

A couple of website update notes! First, I installed a little widget in my sidebar where I can track how many miles I hike this year. (If you missed it, I posted my 2019 goals last week, and hiking 100 miles is one of them.) I’m weirdly motivated by getting to update that kind of tracker! The WordPress plugin I found to track goals only lets you do one, which crushed my vision for having a progress bar for each of my 3 trackable goals. I did finally find the reading goal widget on Goodreads (It’s in the “edit profile” section -there’s a whole tab of widgets), so I added that, too.

Next, I changed the archives section of the sidebar to a drop down menu. Now that I’ve been at this URL for over 3 years, having it in list form was getting stupidly long. My sidebar still doesn’t look very good (I’m still not used to WordPress after using Blogger for like 15 years), but it’s a small improvement!

 

lakeside walking trail at dewey short visitor center

 

1. Last Saturday was 60 degrees with a clear blue sky, so I headed over to the trail that runs between the Dewey Short Visitor’s Center and State Park Marina. If you read my goals post, you know that I had a toe issue going on, so I wanted a fairly easy trail to put as little stress on my foot as possible.

 

No idea who built these rock piles, but they’re cool!

This is the first time I’ve been here since the Duck boat accident, so walking past the Branson Belle dock was sad.

 

 

2. My mom fell and fractured her hip on Sunday, and had to have surgery to repair it on Monday. That happening obviously doesn’t make my list of favorite things, but the awesome nurses she had at the hospital, her great surgeon, and the fact that it was an easy break to fix do. She hit her head pretty hard when she fell, so I’m especially thankful that wasn’t worse! She got a pretty icky bump and bruise on her head, but no concussion or anything.

One of the scariest parts was the hallucinations she had as an after effect of the anesthesia or pain meds. She’s had them before when she had a really bad UTI – it’s really more like she has dreams that she thinks are real. (She called everyone while I was in FL a couple of years ago to tell them I won the lottery and got engaged. This time she thought my neighbor fixed my dryer for me. Kind of a downgrade.) Thankfully, those seem to have faded away!

 

 

Quoth mom, “I got screwed.”

 

3. This month for the Chewy Influencer Program, we were sent some Friskies Lil Soups Lickable Treats to review.

 

 

I first saw these in stores about 3 months ago and I’ve been wanting to try them! The price on Chewy ($7.99 for 8 cups, and actually sale for $7.50 when I ordered) is really good, since they average $1 each at mass merchandisers.

I took a picture of what the actual treat looks like when I opened it, but it basically looks like cream of chicken soup, which isn’t super photogenic, so I’m going to skip posting that.

There are four varieties available (You can check out all four here) – Tuna, Salmon, Chicken, and Shrimp. They’re all in chicken broth except, funny enough, the chicken flavor, which is in butternut squash broth. I went with the tuna – I honestly don’t know why because I almost always pick salmon, but I think it might have to do with ordering right after I woke up one morning and the fact that the blue container was prettier than the pink. Don’t let me make decisions before I’m properly caffeinated.

There is a variety pack available with 8 salmon and 10 tuna. My first thought was being sad that Chewy didn’t offer that as an option for influencers, but my second thought was, “Wait, WHY did Friskies set up the variety pack that way?” Are those the two most popular flavors? Why not do a variety pack with four or five of each of the four flavors? Why are there uneven numbers of tuna and salmon? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS, FRISKIES.

Anyway…

cat eating Friskies Lil Soups

 

I let Tennyson and Hercules Mulligan split one of these, then tossed the little plastic container it came in into the trash and went in the other room for a minute. You know what’s coming. Hercules dug the container out of the trash and took it into my bed (cringe) to lick completely clean.

 

 

I really appreciate that this comes in a little plastic cup that cats can happily lick clean. Pouches are so hard to get all of the food out of, so no matter how hard you try you wind up with funky-smelling trash, but the cups let you (or Hercules Mulligan) be sure nothing goes to waste.

They all love these- I wish they had a larger size available for multi-cat households! There’s enough for two cats to get a satisfying amount (Although I’m pretty sure my cats would tell you that the proper serving size is one full 8-pack per cat) but splitting it between more than two cats feels like they just get a few bites each. To be fair, since I’m such a cat lady, I wish that pretty much everything was available in a larger size so that I can feed everyone without accumulating a bunch of empty containers, but c’est la vie.

 

4. I don’t usually buy Valentine’s Days stuff, but I found a few cute things at Target this week!

 

 

I had to get the black cat socks! And I joked that “The snuggle is real” was going to be the title of my atobiograpy like two years before they started putting that phrase on everything. The universe owes me like a million dollars.

 

 

My cats broke one of my wine glasses and I’ve been on the lookout for a replacement, so I was super excited to find this heart one in the Dollar Spot!

I didn’t buy this little guy but now I really wish I had!

 

5. I subscribe to Netflix for a month about once or twice a year – I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV and movies so I found that if I just maintain a constant subscription, I never watch it, but if I do it this way I just binge watch everything I want to catch up on and then I’m good for awhile. Since January is usually one of the worst weather months where I live, it seemed like a perfect time to watch a bunch of TV in bed since I’m down to two jobs until March and I can’t spend much time outside.

This time around, I’m really enjoying:

*The Marie Kondo tidying up show. It’s a known fact that everyone likes watching other people clean. (WAIT, is Hoarders on Netflix?? Hoarders is the best cleaning motivation ever.) I was kinda surprised that Marie mostly speaks Japanese in this show, but there are subtitles and she has an interpreter with her. My Japanese is terrible, but it’s fun to pick out the occasional word or two that I understand.

*Nailed It – I’ve been listening to Nicole Byer’s “Why Won’t You Date Me” podcast and she mentions the show fairly often (she’s the host), so that made me curious. This show is kind of like the Great British Baking Show’s trainwreck of a little sister. It’s so much fun!

*Seasons 4 & 5 of BoJack Horseman –   I knew there was a new season out that I hadn’t seen yet, but I didn’t realize there were TWO!

You know how Futurama was generally lighthearted, but every now and then they threw an episode at you like that one with Fry’s dog that just punched your right in the gut? BoJack is a lot like that. There was one episode that was entirely a eulogy at a funeral… just one character delivering a monologue, but it’s SO GOOD that you don’t even realize it’s just that for the entire 20-something minutes until it ends. There’s another episode that (spoiler alert) shows what’s going on in the mind of BoJack’s elderly mom, who has dementia. I SOBBED, Y’ALL. I sobbed at the cartoon horsies.

No matter what, always pay attention to the little details in the background. They’re usually equal parts hilarious and totally messed up.

 

 

I also found this Vulture post of 75 hidden jokes in season 4.

 

A last bonus item – because I miss Florida so much ad live for FL headlines like “Spider Monkey Attacks Home Depot Employee After Escaping From Owner’s Car”, here are the Best Florida Headlines of 2018.

This weekend is supposed to be cold AF, so I’m probably spending it reading, working, Netflixing, and cuddling cats! Hope your weekend is awesome!

 

Friday blog linkup

Show Us Your Books – January Edition

Happy Show Us Your Books link-up day! I missed posting last month, so this post has everything I’ve read in the past two months.

 

 

 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Goodreads * Amazon

I heard so many reviews of this book that I had to check it out, and I’m so glad I did!  To put it very simply, this is a book about mothers and daughters. There are multiple plot lines that weave together perfectly, and a fairly large cast of characters that are both interesting and believable. Thumbs up for this one!

 


Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Goodreads * Amazon

 

I picked up Gladwell’s book “Blink” several years ago and just couldn’t get into it, so I didn’t have high expectations for this one. Surprisingly, I really got sucked in!

I tested in the super high percentile (95th or 98th or something?) for IQ as a kid, so for me the most fascinating chapter was the one that looked at a study that tracked children with exceptional IQs to see which factors most influenced their success. Mild spoiler alert – It turned out that the thing with the most influence, by an overwhelming degree, was the income of the children’s parents. It affected not just the opportunities that the children had (such as being able to attend prestigious schools or take lessons that interested them) but also the parents approach to parenting, to entitlement, and to authority.

I’m going to be embarrassingly honest here. (Eep!) I have a lot of guilt, I guess? (for lack of a better word) around being born with gifts and never really putting them to a good use. Reading about a man who has an IQ of around 200 who was born poor, got kicked out of college in his first semester because his car died and they wouldn’t let him switch to afternoon classes so he could get a ride with someone, who now lives on a horse farm in rural Missouri… it’s the first time I’ve ever felt like “Whoa, what it if isn’t entirely my fault? What if outside factors DO play a way bigger role than we realize?

There were a few sections that didn’t really capture my interest and thus felt too long, but overall I really liked this one. It definitely shakes up how you think about why certain people succeed. It would be a great one to read right before Twilight of the Elites by my imaginary TV boyfriend Chris Hayes, since that one is all about meritocracy.

 

The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead

Goodreads * Amazon

I read the first book in this series a few months ago (That review is here) and liked it enough to put the other two on my library holds list. I didn’t realize when I started reading this one that it was the 3rd book, not the second, but it didn’t really end up mattering.  All three are fun YA-type reads along the lines of The Selection series, and each one is telling the same series of events from a different perspective, which was a fun structure. You really do need to read the first book first for the second and third to make any sense,though.

 

Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead

Goodreads * Amazon

This is the second book from the series above, which I read third. It’s really fun to see minor characters from the other books fleshed out into major players. I kind of wish there was another book to this series, I think the author could have easily told the story from a couple more perspectives before it started getting old.

 

Wishwork by Alexa Fischer
Goodreads * Amazon

I received a PR email about this book and my curiosity was sparked to check it out. With New Year’s Resolutions being a big thing this time of year, a book that helps people reach their goals seemed especially timely. (I posted about my goals for 2019 in this post, if you missed it!) The basis of the book is to really tune into your heart to figure out what you want, and then to take small daily actions to help you get that thing.

One amusing note – as I started reading, my very first thought was, “Hey, is this foreword written by Alex Franzen?” and then IT WAS. I get her email newsletter and something about the way the foreword was written was just so clearly her voice.

It’s a super short book, just 116 pages and that includes about 16 pages of blank space for you to write in. I enjoyed reading through it, but if you’re familiar with the Law of Attraction (and especially the “scripting” aspect of that), you can probably skip it because it’s things you’ve already heard. It’s very basic (as in it explains what visualizing is) so I wound up feeling like it was too simplified for me to personally get much out of, but it could be great for a high school or college student.

The one thing that got annoying while reading as how often the author talked about her business, from mentions of her product on many of the 21 days of actions to a drawn out story about how she started the company. That kind of thing is a lot like wanting to tell other people about that dream you had. It’s fascinating to you, but they really don’t care to hear every detail.

The book would have been so much better if she had briefly talked about what she does (bracelets made with your wish written inside) in the intro and then not mentioned it again. Having it come up SO often makes it unclear if the real point of the book is to guide people through achieving their goals or marketing the bracelets.

 

My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper

Goodreads * Amazon

I never watched The Officeso I only know Ellie from Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, bur I picked this up from Netgalley because it sounded fun. It falls into Steph’s infamous “passed the time just fine” category – entertaining but not especially memorable.

 

Visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out the link-up and see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading lately!

2019 Goals

Happy 2019! I can’t believe we’re already three days in, but at the same time it feels like this has been SUCH a long week!

I know that a lot of bloggers share goals on a monthly or quarterly basis, but that’s never really been my thing. I did decide to share this year’s goals though, since I’ll probably be referencing them throughout the year.

Here we go!

 

2019 goals new year

 

First, I have three goals that are easy to measure:

 

 

*Hike 100 miles (in total, not all at once!)

I usually only do 1-2 mile hikes, so to hit this goal I either need to get out on at least a weekly basis or I need to mix in a few significantly longer ones. Still, I think it’s a totally achievable number! I do have some uncertainty around what all I am going to count as “Hiking”. For instance, some parks nearby have lovely walking trails that go through the woods – does it still count if it’s paved and easy? Does it only count if it’s dirty and rugged? What’s the line?

One… amusing? (for lack of better word) note about this – Almost an entire month ago, I stumbled getting out of bed and managed to crack my toenail horizontally. I was a little worried it would fall off at the time, but it’s hung in there. But NOW, after all this time, it’s finally…uh… not doing well.  (I’ll spare you the details.) I have it all wrapped in athletic tape to try to postpone disaster, but I don’t think it’s going to end well. I know that long distance hikers lose toenails all the time and keep doing 20-30 mile days like that, but I’m still a little worried about going out with it like this! But on the other hand, it’s supposed to be like 60 degrees this weekend, so how can I NOT? Cross your fingers for me! (Or at least for my toe.)

 

 

*Read 30 books 

According to Goodreads, I wound up reading 26 books in 2018. You can find reviews of most of them in my Show Us Your Books Posts! (That link will bring them all up.) My book goals vary a lot year to year – once I came close to 100, but 50 is pretty average. I have a feeling this is going to be a super busy year, so 30 feels good.

I was really tempted to do a goal that focuses on number of pages read instead of books for a couple of reasons. First, you could read 30 children’s books in a few days and technically say you read 30 books. I’ve seen a lot of people actively seek out short books just to hit a high number. Second, I start a LOT of books that I don’t finish. I probably read the equivalent of 10 extra books last year, but since I didn’t finish them, they don’t “count”.

Despite those two reasons, I’m sticking with counting whole books entirely because it’s so much easier.

 

 

 

*Spend 100 hours on horseback

This should be easy once my trail ride job starts back up since I average 2-6 hours in the saddle each day there, but I’d like to get in as much variety as possible – western, jumping… maybe even a dressage lesson? (One year into Hunter/Jumper lessons and I still feel like a hot mess, so dressage would either be really helpful or really embarrassing.

 

In addition to those three easy to measure goals, there are two goals about how I want to feel:

*Empowered to fix my own problems

*Authentically Seen

 

I think the first one is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ve been having trouble explaining the second one. I guess being true to who you are without being misunderstood in the process? I think a lot about the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us. Most people don’t have any clue about 95% of what’s buzzing around in your head all day. So basically I want to be more myself and also bridge that gap between how I feel and how I’m seen.

 

I’d love to hear what your goals are for this year! Leave me a comment or a link to a post if you did one, too!

 

Linking up with Jen and  Jenna for #ShareYour2019

Friday Favs – Last of 2018!

 

Happy Friday, friends! Can you believe 2018 is almost history? 3 more days! I’m posting late in the day this week, which you’ll hear more about in #1…

 

 

1. I helped teach a day camp thing at my Hunter/Jumper barn today and despite literally freezing temperatures (I think it was 31), it was a lot of fun! We had 5 girls there for almost 5 hours, and it went surprisingly well! A lot of times when you have groups of kids there’s someone who feels left out or cliques or whatever, but that was the perfect number. Whew!

I mostly worked in the barn teaching kids parts of the saddle and bridle, parts of the horse, horse colors and markings, etc. while the barn owner (my jumping instructor) took them on pony rides one at a time. There was one little girl who was SO EXCITED to ride who as also SO nervous, so I walked alongside her while my instructor led the pony. It was so cute to see her go from legit trembling to waving like a princess when we started talking about the Princess Diaries. I’m not a kid person, but I do love teaching!

 

 

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2. I worked on Christmas Eve and Christmas and the day after, but I was off on the 27th and it was like 60 degrees, so I went on a quick hike in Branson. One of my goals for 2019 (I’ll be sharing more about those soon!) is to hike 100 miles, so it was nice to get a one mile stroll in to warm up for that since I haven’t had time to get outside much lately. I’m really hoping to get at least a few nice weather days in January so I can knock out 10+ miles ASAP and make a dent in the 100 mile goal!

By the way, does anyone know what this plant I came across is?

 

 

My first thought was holly, but I’m not sure. It definitely looked Christmas-y!

 

3. If you read my Friday Favs often, you know that about half the time #3 is a review of something that Chewy sent us for their Influencer Program! This week it’s the Purina Beyond Wild Prey-Inspired Salmon, Liver & Arctic Char Recipe Canned Cat Food.

 

 

Side note – I had to look up what Arctic Char is – I figured it’s a fish, but I’d never heard of it. (Although I don’t eat fish so maybe you guys have heard of it?) Turns out they’re both cool and creepy looking, and apparently massive?

 

what is an arctic char

 

Anyway, back to the cat food! Salmon is the main ingredient, so it’s high protein and Bear-approved. (He’s a bear, of course he likes salmon.) It gets good reviews on Chewy – 75% are 5 star and the next 13% are 4 star, so it seems to be cat-approved in general! My cats liked it a lot, but the other food they tried this month (which I wrote about here) stole the spotlight because they loved it so much.

 

4. Sorry to go all Cat Lady on you (not actually sorry), but my favorite part of Christmas clearance shopping (it only barely beats out getting fancy chocolate for cheap) is picking up new toys and treats for my cats. I got this catnip penguin for $1 at Target and it’s basically Hercules Mulligan’s new favorite thing in the world:

 

5.  I picked these up on a whim on my last trip to Springfield to hit my favorite grocery stores, and I was surprised that I really like them! I’m so busy most of the time that little snacks I can keep in my car are super important. The funny thing is that I DO NOT like cauliflower at all, but these do a good job of masking it. They basically taste like Cheez-its, but a little less artificial, if that makes sense. I found them at Hy-Vee, but I just looked the brand up and they are also available on Amazon.

 

That’s it for this week! I’m trying to type with my cat Bird rolling around in my lap, so I’ll keep the goodbye quick! See you all next year!

 

Friday blog linkup

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Friday Favorites – Shortest Day of the Year

 

Happy Friday, friends! And happy Winter Solstice! I am SO HAPPY that after today, sunset will start getting a little later each day. Total darkness at 5:30 pm really throws me off!

This has been such a weird week for me. After working 4 jobs from August until the beginning of December, I’m now down to just TWO until March! One of those is freelance writing, and I just found out that the main site I write for is going to close their office until January 4th for the holidays, so after I finish up the 600-ish words I need to do today, I won’t have anything else to do for over a week! Long story short, I’ve had SO MANY DAYS OFF and although it’s going to suck on payday, finally getting to catch up on things around the house has been awesome.

I’m working at the hotel on Christmas Eve and Christmas, but I really don’t mind because it means that my coworkers who have kids don’t have to work.

Here are a few of my favs from this week!

 

1. I follow this artist on Instagram and always love her work (I think she’s even made a Friday favs post before), but I feel like this piece is SO ME!

 

2. Spotted at my local Walmart earlier this week:

 

3. As you probably know, Chewy.com sends my cats awesome food to review every month for their Chewy Influencer Program. My cats usually aren’t that picky, but this month’s selection was even more of a crowd pleaser than usual!

 

 

We got the Natural Balance Delectable Delights wet cat food in the Sea Brulee variety, which is a grain-free stew made with tuna, whitefish, chicken, peas, eggs, and carrots. My cats LOVED this – I think it was the perfect blend of broth and chunks of fish.

This stuff is apparently so good that one night I fed it for dinner and then woke up in the middle of the night because Hercules Mullign had dug the little plastic cup it comes in out of the trash, brought it to bed, and was licking the (totally empty) cup right next to my head. For like 5 minutes. Definitely cat-approved!

 

4. This distractify post of 34 Hilarious Holiday Cards is fun to scroll through, even though most of them come from just a few families. The one above is clearly the one I relate to the most!

 

5. This is my current jam for dancing around the kitchen while I cook:

Have a fantastic weekend and a Merry Christmas next week!

 

Friday blog linkup

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