What I’ve Watched For Every Mood I’ve Had In Quarantine

Wow guys! Are we all so sick of quarantine? I know I am. BUT – I feel moderately optimistic. It’s basically summertime, things are slowly opening back up (which I’m nervous about but also cautiously excited for), work has kept me nice and busy, and I’d just rather focus on the good and fun parts of it all.

We all know quarantine has had its ups and downs. I’ve had real low moments of intense loneliness while I miss my friends and family, and sadness while I feel like all the things that make life fun (read: bars, restaurants, concerts, parks, travel) are temporarily on hold. I’ve also had moments where I’ve felt pretty happy with how I’ve been able to spend my time. Through it all, I’ve kept up a consistent stream of entertainment (look, don’t lie, we’re all watching more TV right now and I live alone so I need it more than others.) So I thought it would be fun to share all the things I’ve been watching, based on the moods I’ve been in during this quarantine!

Note – this doesn’t include the movies I’ve been watching as part of my movie review series on Instagram.  

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When I was ready to laugh my ass off:

For all the times I was in a great mood and wanted to keep the party going, I usually put on one of these options for a guaranteed crack-up.

Schitts Creek – The Rose family’s riches-to-rags journey is that of comedic GOLD. I can never decide what’s funnier, David’s physical humor or Moira’s pronunciation of “baby” (read: bey-bey.) The number of times I laugh out loud at this show is astonishing, and I will literally never be able to “fold in” any ingredient in a recipe ever again without saying “FOLD. IN. THE. CHEESE, DAVID!”

Brooklyn Nine Nine – I’ve got to be honest, I was never a huge Andy Samberg fan. I thought he was good on SNL but never gave him much thought. But so many people recommended this show to me, knowing my love for Parks & Recreation and The Office, so I tried it and quickly got hooked. It’s great. Andy is very funny, but the real comedic gem is the character Captain Holt who delivers some of the funniest & unexpected one-liners I’ve ever heard.

Chris D’Elia’s No Pain – Do I need to explain further? He’s hysterical! I watched the comedy special he dropped on Netflix, then immediately watched all the others ones he’s done and then moved on to re-watching all of John Mulaney’s comedy specials. They’re just so good.

 

When online dating wasn’t quenching my thirst for romance:

When quarantine first started I was highly amused with what was going on with my dating apps (you can read about it here) but as time went on I got really bored. I missed all the things that happen when you meet & fall for someone IRL, so I filled the void by watching it happen on screen.

Outlander Ohhh boy. This show. The things it’s done to me. Wow. I knew nothing about Outlander except that it kept showing up on my “recommended for you” list on Netflix. So one night at about 9 p.m, I was like “I’ll try it out and watch one episode.” 12 hours later I had pulled an all nighter and watched almost the entire first season because IT WAS SO GOOD I COULDN’T TEAR MY EYES AWAY. It has everything I could ever hope for: The 1700’s (my favorite time period to learn about), foreign scenery and accents (hi, Scotland is a dream), danger and strategy, really hot Scottish men in kilts, and a truly legendary romance. Unsure if I’ll ever be able to fall in love ever again because I highly doubt anyone will ever measure up to Jamie Fraser.

Jane the Virgin – A lot of people think this show is cheesy and ridiculous. And honestly? It is. But that’s kind of the point! It’s meant to mimic and even mock cheesy, preposterous, almost nauseatingly romantic telanovelas. I like it because it has lovable & relatable characters, dramatic love triangles, and this element of magical realism that makes it feel like you’re watching a romantic daydream come to life onscreen.

 

When I missed being with my friends:

Sometimes I just really missed the feeling of being surrounded by buddies…

New Girl – I swear, this is the only show that has ever made me wish I had roommates. Can you imagine how entertaining it would be to live with Schmidt, Nick, Jess, and Winston? There’s always some weird, hilarious thing going on and you’d be right in the center of it. For someone who lives alone, that sometimes sounds really fun.

The Bold Type – I love the #girlpower in this show, and I love watching the friendship between the three main characters because it’s pretty reflective of the honest, silly, supportive, no-bullshit friendships I have with my own girlfriends.

How I Met Your Mother – Ahhh, a classic. I’ve revisited this show so often over the years that I feel like these characters are old friends of mine.

 

When I needed an excuse to ugly cry:

Modern Love – Each episode tells a different story of love, both romantic and not. It does this amazing job of showing you how love is complicated, beautiful, wonderful, and terrible all at once. Every story is so moving that I find myself weeping by the end of each episode.

Someone Great – This movie really gets me right in the feels, I’ve watched it several times when I just need to emote. The main character breaks up with her boyfriend of 9 years after deciding to move across the country for a job (#relatable, lol) and enlists her two best friends to join her for a day of adventure in New York while she starts to deal with her heartbreak. This movie came out around the same time I went through my very similar breakup and I remember being so taken aback at how accurate it all felt. It so truthfully depicts falling in love, staying in a relationship you’ve outgrown, experiencing a heart-wrenching breakup, and beginning to move on. Even if you can’t immediately identify with any of those things, it has this way of really getting you there mentally. I found myself crying for the past version of myself going through all of that. I also found myself crying out of gratitude for all the incredible friendships I have that get me through whatever heartbreak I’m dealing with, which is also something this movie perfectly exemplifies.

Alright! That’s it! Back to re-watching Outlander. What are you all watching during quarantine?

The 5 Best Things I Did For Myself in 2019

Ahhh, a new year. So much promise, so much excitement, a brand new fresh start! I love it. I’m doing a lot of looking forward in the new year, but with resolutions also comes reflecting. 2019 was such a whirlwind of a year, it had so many ups and downs, but ultimately it was one of the best years of my life. So, I’m sharing the 5 best things I did for myself in 2019.

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***Also, yes. I know we’re already halfway through the month. I still haven’t sent my Christmas cards and honestly, it will happen when it happens. Doing my best people!

1. Aggressively Pursued my Professional Interests & Goals

I was busy af in 2019. I wanted this year to be the last one I spent feeling like I was waiting to choose a concrete path, so I worked tirelessly to make big moves in all of my professional interests. I worked 40 hours a week at a veterinary hospital, took a microbiology class to complete my pre-requisites toward vet school, and applied to veterinary school once more (and on the 31st I got notified I’ve been selected for an interview at one of my top choices – talk about a way to end the year!) On my days off, I worked as a freelance content creator, food stylist, and photographer. In whatever free time I had, I made content for this blog. More often than not in 2019 I did some form of work 7 days a week. Was it exhausting? Sometimes. But here’s the thing – I ended the year in a new role that’s honestly a dream come true in an industry that I’ve been wanting to enter for years. If I end up getting into vet school, that’s also a huge accomplishment whether I choose to go or not. I have options, and really good ones at that. Hard work pays off!

2. Laser Hair Removal

Everyone has things about their appearance they wish they could change. I know this, and I’ve worked hard to be more accepting and loving of the body I was given, imperfections and all. But I also believe there are certain things you simply don’t have to “just live with”. For me, the course, dark, Italian hair in unwanted areas was not something I wanted to fret about any longer. I was sick of constantly tweezing, waxing, checking in the mirror, and feeling generally self-conscious. So I got laser hair removal. After ONE visit, my problem areas are almost completely clear and I have a newfound confidence. Such a simple process with so much payoff.

3. Said “Yes” to Almost Every Single Invite

I made so many wonderful new friends, connections, and memories in 2019 and it’s because I pushed myself to say yes to almost every invite I received. I went to dinners, professional events, parties, out for drinks, to sporting events, first dates, you name it. Sometimes I really didn’t want to go. Sometimes I was feeling tired, or lazy, or I didn’t have anything to wear, or I was anxious about a new setting with new people. But I can’t name a time where I didn’t have a blast, and I feel like I’m really developing a solid community here in Raleigh.

4. Knew When To Say When

I said goodbye to a lot in 2019. I ended a 7 year relationship and exited a field I’ve been working in for 4 years. Change can be difficult, and letting go of certain hopes & plans for the future is not easy. But staying in jobs or relationships that aren’t right for you any longer is harder. When you’re honest with yourself about what you want, need, and deserve it allows you the chance to actually find those things. I didn’t settle, I knew when to identify if something wasn’t right any more, and I stepped away from things that weren’t serving me in building the life I want.

5. Stuck to a Budget

Budgeting is my favorite adult task, hands down. Some day soon I’ll do a post explaining what I use to budget and how it’s been so absolutely life changing. For now, I’ll just say this: sticking to a budget in 2019 made me a more intentional consumer, it made travel more fun (because I was less anxious about what it was setting me back), it allowed me the flexibility to go out and enjoy myself with friends, it enabled me to be more generous, allowed me to finally save up enough to upgrade my DSLR camera, and I was even able to considerably save for more long term goals (like buying a house and getting a dog)!

 

72 Hours in Chicago

Before autumn fades out for good, I wanted to take the time to recap on my recent trip to Chicago in case anyone was looking for ideas for an upcoming trip! While I’ve passed through the windy city many times throughout my life, this was my first trip (in memory, at least) where Chicago was the main destination. I was so excited! I’ve had a big hunch for a few years now that I would adore this city, and oh man, was I right.

In a nutshell, Chicago has that perfect balance of metropolitan bustle and small town coziness that I love so very much. There’s beautiful architecture, exciting food and drink options, a shockingly cool history and cultural identity, and some of the nicest people ever (midwesterners are the best).  The weather was also perfect – we went the first weekend of October so it was sunny but with a perfect fall crisp. It occurred to me more than once during my stay there that if it weren’t for the brutal winters, I’d move there in a heartbeat.

Going with my big sister (& travel soulmate) was crucial. We do trips together really well and tend to create itineraries that include a lot of food & coffee, a ton of walking/biking, some ticketed special/local experiences, and relaxing quality time spent together. We like to steer clear of most tourist traps, keep things pretty frugal, and try to really get the feel of the place. This trip did exactly all those things, so without further adieu…Our Perfect Chicago Itinerary! 

Day 1:

We started the day early (like 9:30-ish but we recommend even earlier!) at the Doughnut Vault. I love doughnuts, and saw this spot all over the ‘gram, so I made this one a non-negotiable. The aesthetics were so on point and the doughnuts were good, but we got there too late and the buttermilk old fashioned doughnuts had already sold out. Sad.

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Starting here was also ideal because it put us in the heart of downtown Chicago. We took our coffees to go and leisurely walked around the downtown area so that we could admire all the city sights, like the iconic Chicago Theater!

We also picked up our metro passes early in the day. This ended up being completely worth it – the subway and bus system in Chicago is really nice and got us everywhere we needed to go. No Ubers or renting cars required!

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Eventually we found our way to Millennium Park and The Bean. Our advice? Go early and go on a weekday. We were there when it was relatively empty, but just an hour later it was completely packed.

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Around noon we loaded onto a riverboat for an Architecture Boat Tour. Seeing the city from this perspective, on the river that winds through the middle of it, felt really unique. I learned a few cool facts about different styles of architecture, and my only complaint would be that I had hoped for more trivia about Chicago itself.

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By the time the tour was over we were starving, so we headed to Pequod’s Pizza for some Chicago style, deep dish pizza. Then it was off to explore the Lincoln Park area. This was definitely one of my favorite neighborhoods – it was beautiful, quaint, and almost London-esque. Doesn’t this house (below) look just like Hogwarts?!

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At around 7:30 we made our way to Second City Chicago for an improv show. Guys, I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard for so long in my entire life. One of my favorite activities of the whole trip and a total must!

To end the night, we stopped at the LondonHouse rooftop bar for a quick drink and some stunning sights of the city at night. Then it was off to bed.

DAY 2:

Our airbnb was a beautiful 15 minute walk to Wicker Park, so we headed that way for brunch at Etta. Talk about interior dreams.

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Wicker Park turned out to be my favorite area, so we spent a good amount of time exploring. We stopped into several shops, sat and chatted over coffee at Wormhole Coffee, did a lot of great people watching, and loved every second of it. From Wicker Park, we walked all the way over to Logan Square where we tried a few beers from a local brewery and where I picked up a “souvenir” candle from Diptyque.

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Around 5 p.m it started to rain, so we caught an early dinner at Beatnik. This was maybe my favorite place we ate the entire trip. The interior was so beautiful! There were plants everywhere, a glass ceiling, lots of middle eastern textures, big golden chandeliers, drippy candles, and fun patterns. The food was also so good. 

Since it was still raining and we wanted to give our feet some rest, we headed back to our airbnb to relax and watch a movie together. After refueling, we headed back out to Wicker Park to get drinks at The Up Room cocktail bar, then ended the night at a speakeasy called The Violet Hour. The speakeasy culture of Chicago is really cool, so don’t sleep on it. I wish we could have gone to more!

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Day 3:

We started out with another brunch in Wicker Park (can you tell it was our favorite area?) at Café Cancale. Then we headed back into the downtown area to visit the Chicago Cultural Center, which was stunning and so interesting. If you’re too crunched for time to do the Art Institute like we were, this is a great (and free!) alternative.

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Our last big activity for the trip was renting a couple of bikes and biking up and down the lakefront of Lake Michigan, past the Navy Pier, and through several parks. I was completely floored by how blue the water was, how the lake looked like an ocean, and how it came right up to the edge of the running path! I saw so many people just jump right in (not wade, jump!), from where we were biking. The weather couldn’t have been better, people were out doing all kinds of activities, and it was altogether just stunning.

We biked all the way up to Weiner’s Circle for a Chicago-style hot dog as our last meal. Then we returned our bikes, picked up our bags, and headed to the airport (which was so easy to get to on the subway!)

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That was it! I loved it there so much and can’t wait to go back. There were so many things we just couldn’t get to all in one weekend. Bravo, Chicago, you stole my heart.