2017 | Not Entirely Perfect

100 Resolutions for 2018

December 22, 2017

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I already mentioned how I'm using a word of the year to guide my 2018 goals, but I do still enjoy a good resolution.  If you're thinking about what you want 2018 to look like, let me help with these ideas for 100 New Year's Resolutions.  Maybe they'll even guide a word of the year for you!


Three on Thursday - Top 3 of 2017

December 21, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.

2018 Shopping Ban Guide

December 19, 2017

I do multiple things each year to work on my finances.  Usually I do monthly shopping bans or quarterly spending freezes, and I find great success with those.  It helps me be much more mindful of where my money is actually going and I even take that time to concentrate on things like lowering the electric bill.  Occasionally those bans have helped me stop spending on certain things for good (Starbucks coffee), but for other things, I go right back to old habits.


Our Christmas Decor

December 18, 2017

The last week before Christmas, I can't believe it.  Since the time is almost up for enjoying our decor, I wanted to make sure I took pictures before it gets packed up.  Plus it's always fun to take pictures of our house right after the cleaning lady has been here.  We really don't do much in the way of Christmas decor, at the moment.  Since we don't have outdoor electrical outlets in the front of the house, our light hanging is non-existent.  Hopefully that will change by next year!  I'm also not the type to change out home decor by holiday or season.  As in, I don't put Christmas towels in the bathrooms or holiday sheets on the bed.


Yearly Reflections

December 15, 2017

Why is it that January 2017 seems so long ago?  Am I the only one that feels that way?  I was looking back at my posts from then and my Instagram pictures and it just seems much longer than that.  12 months feels like a lifetime, but ... at times it feels like I just did some of those things.  Years are weird.  Anyway, I figured now was a good time to share with you some of my own thoughts on my past year and recap what was going on and what was popular on the blog then, in case you missed anything.


Three on Thursday

December 14, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.

My End of Year Declutter

December 13, 2017

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Making that post about what to do with the stuff you declutter really got my butt in gear.  Finally got some donations out to the center, I'm feeling good about that!  I didn't try too hard, but I did wander around and do a sweep of our home, bagging up anything I knew wasn't serving it's purpose anymore.  Mostly my clothes, but some other things as well.


Choosing a Word of the Year

December 12, 2017

I love the change of the year because I'm one of those people who gets really motivated by that January 1st fresh start.  I realize that's all mental, and that an arbitrary date doesn't actually mean anything, but it works for me nonetheless.  I'm not great at 'resolutions' though, per se, so I try out different types of goal setting each year (though the 101 in 1001 list undoubtedly works the best for me.)  Something I've done in the past is to set a word of the year, so I'm trying that again this year.  If you're interested in trying this yourself, I've got some tips for you for choosing your own.  And if not, scroll to the bottom to find out my word of the year and why.


Cozy Christmas Eve Essentials Box

December 8, 2017

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There's a big part of me that prefers Christmas Eve over Christmas, and I don't think I'm alone.  Christmas day means the finality of the whole fun season, but Christmas Eve is still full of hope and lights and magic.  I like that.  I also like that the whole day, at least for us, is all about being cozy and totally relaxing.  Given the fire schedule, we do have to sometimes move around when 'Christmas Eve' actually is, but we still make it count.  I usually make some sort of Christmas Eve box, which is a small, fun little present to open a day early that contains all the necessities to have a quiet and cozy evening at home.


Here are some of our favorite essentials for a cozy Christmas Eve for you other homebodies out there:

Three on Thursday

December 7, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.

What To Do With the Stuff You Declutter

December 6, 2017

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I really like taking this time of year to declutter things.  Christmas brings an influx of new stuff so it's always a good idea to take stock before that happens and start to clear out anything that no longer suits you.  That way, you won't be totally overwhelmed by a lack of space when new things come in.  And while it might be easy for you to decide what to get rid of, it's not always so easy to decide what to do with it once you know it has to leave your house.  I think that's a big roadblock for people, not wanting to just trash something that's still perfectly usable.  I don't want you to trash it either!  One huge selling point of decluttering and minimalism is that you're ending the cycle of consumer wastefulness, so it makes no sense just to send everything to the landfill when it has more life left in it.  Just recognize that it doesn't have life left in it for you, and send it off to someone who can use it.


15 Things To Do Before You Leave For Vacation

December 5, 2017

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December is here and all the travel that comes with it.  Even my parents are off to Florida tomorrow for 10 days, although they'll be back in time for Christmas.  Not always the case!  One year they were in India for Christmas, so I know a lot of people travel for the holiday season.


How to Start a (Free, Basic) Podcast

December 4, 2017

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LoveYourPC #CollectiveBias

In case you don't know, I run a little podcast with Tara, just for fun, called the Steph and Tara Show, were we talk each week about the upcoming weird national holidays, like national taco day or creep like a ninja day.  We have a lot of fun doing it, because we don't take it too seriously.  But it was a big learning curve to get everything up and running, particularly because we didn't want to spend a lot of money doing it.  A lot of people are in the same boat - they want to start a podcast, have a great idea, but don't want to spend a lot to get it out there and definitely aren't sure how to go about that.  If that's you, let me talk you through how we record and get our podcast out there each week.

How to Make a 101 in 1001 List

December 1, 2017

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'm doing really well on finishing up my 2nd 101 in 1001 list, and that I'm working on my 3rd, which is going to start next May.  I gotta say, coming up with a totally different 101 ideas for a 3rd time is hard.  I'm not there yet, but I'm slightly more than halfway and I'm feeling great about what I've got planned so far.  I think the goals get better with each list.  Besides the obvious 'how do you get it all done?', the question I get asked most often is 'how do you come up with 101 ideas at all?'  So today I'm sharing with you the process of how I come up with my 101 list, which will hopefully inspire you to create your own - I know how popular it is to start them on January 1, after all.


Three on Thursday

November 30, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.

7 Ways to Help Charities Even If You're Broke

November 29, 2017

We're entering the season of simultaneous spending bonanza and serious desires to give back to others.  As much as you want to give more money to your favorite charities for Christmas, it's entirely possible that your budget is stretched to the max right now.  The good news is that you can still help without giving cash.


A Quick Guide to Indian Food

November 28, 2017

It's been awhile since we stayed home on Thanksgiving and ate (relatively) traditional Thanksgiving food - we go to the Indian restaurant!  Personally, I prefer this tradition because I love Indian food.  Obviously since my dad is Indian, I was raised on it, so I love the flavors and spices.  But I know that it can be totally overwhelming for beginners.  Even those who have tried it before tend to stick to the same things on the menu, but I promise you it's safe and delicious to branch out.


Minimalism, Clutter, Fire Life, and The Holiday Season

November 27, 2017

The long weekend was not long enough, that's for sure.  Anyone else feeling that way?  I mean, I got a lot of relaxing time in, which was nice.  I was able to declutter and clean up the house, and of course, put up our Christmas decor.  And my parents' decor.  I was also able to blog, which is fun for me - I like to write when I have downtime.  I had some thoughts swirling around in my head about balance and the holidays, but nothing concrete enough that I wanted to make into their own separate posts, so here we are.  Brain dump.



Self Care and the Holidays

November 24, 2017

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Happy day after Thanksgiving, everyone.  I hope you're enjoying a day off, like I am.  I wanted to check in anyway, because I'm using this weekend not for shopping but for taking care of myself (and our house!)  A couple weeks ago I posted about some reminders for ensuring that you have a more simple holiday season this year.  Because in addition to being the most wonderful time of the year, it's also the most stressful for people.  Simplifying the season obviously goes a long way towards combating those stress levels, but it's still so important to take care of yourself.  A hallmark of this time of year is to take care of everyone else - and that's fantastic, of course, but you're not being the best version of you for anyone else if you aren't taking care of yourself too.


Three on Thursday

November 23, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.

What I'm Not Gonna Buy

November 22, 2017

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The deals weekend is almost upon us.  I'd say 'Black Friday' but it actually starts tomorrow and continues into next week.  I don't participate in Black Friday.  That's not to say I don't buy anything all weekend - in fact, it's one of the best deal times all year for Bath and Body Works candles, my obsession - but I do it online and don't obsess about getting to the store at midnight.


One of my favorite YouTubers, Kimberly Clark, started these 'anti-haul' videos in response to the rampant consumerism that surrounds the holidays.  I've mentioned how much I love them in a previous Three on Thursday post, but if you missed them, you can check out her entire playlist here.  These are just a few things I decided I definitely won't be buying right now.

Zodiac Gift Guide

November 21, 2017

This post has been compensated by UncommonGoods.  All opinions are mine alone.

If you've followed me for any amount of time, you know how I love all things astrology and sun signs.  I think I'm exactly how you imagine a Scorpio to be, and everything I read about my sign tends to be correct.  I also think my friends and family members fall neatly into their sign descriptions as well, so when I think about what to get them for Christmas, I start by thinking about what suits their sun sign personality.  If you're at a loss on gift ideas for someone in your life this holiday season, here's my guide to help you shop according to their zodiac traits.


33 Things I Still Haven't Learned in 33 Years

November 20, 2017

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Personally, I can't believe this day is already here, but it is - my 33rd birthday.  That seems like a big number but it's also my favorite number, and has been since I was little for no apparent reason other than it was Scottie Pippen's number even though Dennis Rodman was my favorite Bull.  I don't get it either.  But it's stuck with me over the years so I expect 33 to be a good year for me.

10 Tips for a Satisfying Life

November 17, 2017

I'm in full catch up mode today, and have been all of this week.  Funny how vacation really messes with you like that - I even have a twitch in my left eyelid from not enough sleep and too much caffeine.  Not just vacation of course, we had all that drama last week.  My dad is all good now, thanks for the well wishes.  Obviously my aunt isn't recovering as quickly but that's to be expected.  Nothing like family members suffering serious illnesses to make you think about whether you're own life is going well, right?  Now, I certainly don't have all the answers, but in general, giving it an overall look, I'm happy and satisfied with my life.  Some days I wish my job paid more, some days I'm happy that means I can make my own hours.  Some days I wish the house would stay clean and organized, but mostly I'm happy about it because the mess is from my loves, John and Hawkeye.  (Mostly John, Hawkeye is actually pretty neat!)  So I'm sharing some tips that I think are helpful for living a satisfying life.

Three on Thursday

November 16, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.

101 in 1001 Reflections (90% Done!)

November 15, 2017

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Oh yes, you read that right - I'm 90% done with my 2nd 101 in 1001 list.  Not time-wise, I still have 5 months left, but goals-wise, I've completed 91 things on the list.  And I've already started thinking about the next few I need to finish and the next list I play on starting next year.  The next list will be my 3rd one, and since I try to make them pretty different, it's getting harder to come up with ideas.  It takes a lot of reflection on past goals and looking forward to what life might be like 2 years from now, but it's an interesting and fun process.  It'll definitely take me the next 5 full months to come up with all my ideas for the next list, but in the meantime, I thought I would share some of my reflections on my last list in case you're thinking about some goals of your own for 2018.


Apple Pie Cocktail Cupcakes

November 14, 2017

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This post is from the archives, since I'm still playing catch up after last week.  But it's 5 years old because yeah, I've been blogging that long, so I figured it'd be okay to bring back now.  Plus, it's seasonally appropriate.

So today I bring you Apple Pie Cocktail CupcakesApple cake, cinnamon whiskey ganache center, whipped cream vodka buttercream frosting with caramel drizzle.  Full of shortcuts like boxed cake mix, because the end product is the most important.



You're welcome.

The Cakes
1 box white cake mix.  3 eggs.  1/3 cup vegetable oil.  20 oz can apple pie filling.


Preheat oven to 350 and line your muffin tins.  Combine all 4 ingredients in a mixer and beat until smooth.  The apples should be very broken up.  Bake for 20 minutes but only cook them until a toothpick in the middle comes out barely clean for nice soft cakes.  Cool completely.  (No really. Completely!)  Then use whatever tool you have, even a spoon, to remove the cupcake centers.

The Filling
8 ounces white chocolate.  1/2 cup heavy cream.  1 tablespoon butter, room temperature.  3 teaspoons cinnamon whiskey.


Finely chop the chocolate into a heatproof bowl.  Simmer the cream on the stove and pour it over the chocolate.  Let it sit for one minute and stir until smooth.  Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.  Cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped or spooned into the centers of the cakes.


The Frosting
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature.  5 cups powdered sugar.  6 tablespoons whipped cream vodka.


Whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.  Reduce the speed and slowly add the powdered sugar until all of it is well mixed.  Add the vodka, increase the speed to medium-high, and whip until it's light and fluffy (3 minutes).

Making alcohol infused frosting is all about balance.  You don't want it to be too watered down and thus melt right off your cake.  If it's going to be kept inside always, at room temp (never leaving your house) then you will have no issues.  If you travel with them, I recommend frosting on location.  Don't overdo the vodka, that's how it'll become too thin.  You can slowly add powdered sugar to thicken, but it may get too sweet so start with small amounts of vodkaOf course, mine went to boys on football sunday, no one cared whether my frosting was pretty.

Frost away, drizzle some caramel on top, and enjoy your creation!  (responsibly)




 
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Simple Reminders for a Simple Holiday Season

November 13, 2017

And just like that it's mid-November.  Practically to Thanksgiving and then we're right into prime holiday craziness time.  For me, the season starts with Halloween, but I know that for many people, it's just starting now or at the Thanksgiving weekend.  Although I can feel the intensity of the season ramp up, I still like to keep things relaxed, even in December.  If you're like me and don't enjoy the holidays when they're stressful, here are a few reminders to help you keep things simple.

Three on Thursday

November 9, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.

Advent Calendars for Adults

November 8, 2017

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Who else had and totally loved Advent calendars as a kid?  They were usually chocolate ones in our house, where there was a little cardboard flap with the day's countdown to Christmas on it that you pushed open and behind it was a piece of chocolate hiding behind.  I loved those things.  Obviously they're still around, a still a huge hit, so if chocolate is your thing, than go for it.  But if you're looking for something a little different this year, you wouldn't believe how many advent calendars exist for adults.

Don't Gift a Puppy For Christmas

November 7, 2017

aka things Tara learned getting Beau.  If you read my post yesterday, you know I wasn't quite sure what to post this week, if anything, so I dumped up a post that Tara had written for me that I was going to post closer to Christmas.  But seeing as how every other advertisement is Christmas related already, it's relevant.  And something we both feel very strongly about!

On My Mind

November 6, 2017

This post is going to have absolutely no direction, you should probably know that in advance.  I'm just going to ramble a bit, because this past week has been a whirlwind and there's so many thoughts swirling in my mind.

Birthday Wish List: Then and Now

November 3, 2017

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We are officially approaching my birthday.  It's November 20, in case you haven't noticed that all my social media accounts are 'stephs1120.'  Something about that switch of the calendar from Halloween to November makes me totally get into birthday mode.  I know November also has Thanksgiving but since I don't care at all about that holiday, it's just birthday month in my book.  As a kid, I would have spent the first week of November making a combined birthday and Christmas wish list complete with a color coded map of the mall for my mom.  I was a greedy little only child, what can I say!  Times sure have changed though, because now when people ask me what I want for my birthday or Christmas my answers are more like 'please give me a gift card to the grocery store and by the way this is the $25 a bag brand of dog food Hawkeye eats.'  #adulting.  As a total 90s kid, though, I thought it would be fun to look back at exactly what I used to request for gifts:

Three on Thursday

November 2, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.

2018 Planners That Aren't Just Calendars

November 1, 2017

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Already researching your 2018 planner?  I'm not surprised - it's coming up quicker than you think and once the calendar changes to November 1, people start thinking about how close the new year is.  And there's so many planner options, so I know that planner people start researching and ordering really early!  Makes sense, because with all the fancy planners available now, it's a good chunk of change you're going to be spending.  Gotta get the best one.  I actually think I'm going to stick to my paper-free planning process for 2018.  If you remember, I made a list of 18 goals I was going to work on before the end of the year (I update that post with my progress instead of making new posts about it.  I've still got a lot to do!), and one of the goals was to look into paper planners for 2018 and determine what I was feeling on that front.  At the end of the day, I think the digital stuff is working too well for me right now to add a paper planner on top of that.  I just don't need it.  (I reserve the right to change my mind, because pretty.)

But in my hunting around, I found a ton of fun options that really caught my eye.  Mostly because they weren't just calendars.  Some people enjoy that, having a planner that just has months and days like the Erin Condren or Simplified Planner.  On some level, I get that - it's easy to see your schedule at a glance and check things off your to do list.  But do you really need to be shelling out that kind of cash for something that you can essentially pick up at Target for $10?  If you're going to be spending more, I think you should be getting more.  If you're in that same boat, here's what I found of interest that you might want to look into too:

Halloween (Partial) Decor Tour

October 31, 2017

I even want to add more.  To see the finished product and Hawkeye in a firefighter costume, follow me on Instagram.  Happy Halloween!


Add It To Your List: All Things Halloween

October 30, 2017

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This 'add it to your list' link up is actually on the last Tuesday of each month, not the last Monday.  But tomorrow is Halloween and I wanted to share with you what our decor looks like instead.  So today, I share with you my favorite 'add it to your list' Halloween movies and music.  And a couple other things, so you can be ready for tomorrow.


Things I Make Sure I Do Daily

October 27, 2017

I love a good routine, that's no secret.  I love when things run smoothly and I love organization, so routines are right up my alley.  It's easy enough to plan out the big time blocks in my day (commuting time, work time, sleep), but I try to make sure to fit in certain small things that I know from experience make my entire day so much better.

Here are the 18 things I noticed I make sure I do every day because I believe they make my day so much better - happier, more smoothly, more productive and less chaotic.  I tried to put them in order from morning to evening:

Three on Thursday

October 26, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.

Best Money I Spend Each Month (Currently)

October 25, 2017

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I mentioned in my 'decisions I don't make' post that I never think about bill paying because I've automated so many things, which got me thinking about where my money is going each month.  You already know I live pretty frugally, but that doesn't mean I don't still spend on things that absolutely aren't essential.  There's still plenty of items that are costing me, but that I've deemed as worth it to keep on the budget.  For now.  Here's a couple of the ones I think are the best:

Pumpkin Carving Tips and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

October 24, 2017

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I have a love hate relationship with carving pumpkins.  Because I love the idea of it and I love pumpkin seeds.  And I actually love the process of getting the pumpkin ready for carving.  But I had the actual carving of the design part because I suck at that.  Doesn't stop me from trying each year though, and we'll definitely be doing it this weekend so be sure to check my Instagram for those photos.  Today though, I'm sharing some tips I've learned over the years to help make the process easier.  Scroll to the bottom for a recipe on how to roast pumpkin seeds.


Last Minute Lazy Girl Costumes

October 23, 2017

Like I showed you Friday, I always dress up for Halloween.  I used to spend way more on my costumes, buying the pre-made super pretty (and let's be honest, super skanky) ones that you get at places like Part City and Spirit Halloween.  But I've gotten cheaper and less ridiculous over the years, with a lot of more creative DIY costumes.  Or sometimes I just wear a footed onesie because whatever, it's cold on October 31 in Chicago.  I start planning my costume pretty early so I can rope my friends into various group costumes, but there's always those couple of times that I add a last minute party to my to do list and I don't want to wear the same thing, so I turn to a list of easy and lazy last minute costumes that I pretty easily get together on a whim.

The Ghosts of Costumes Past

October 20, 2017

I was going to put these in age progression order for you but I got real lazy real quick.  I don't think you care.  I was also going to add text but I don't think you care about that either.



Three on Thursday

October 19, 2017

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Welcome back to Three on Thursday, my weekly even though I sometimes skip weeks list of things I'm loving at the moment that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you're interested in past weeks, you can find those here.

The Garage of Doom

October 18, 2017

With Halloween approaching, I was reminded to show you something truly scary.

Our garage.


*Cue screams.*

Fears, Legitimate and Otherwise

October 17, 2017

You know how you go into haunted houses at Halloween and think 'meh it's cool looking but it's not scary?  Now if they had ____, that would be scary!'  No, just me?  (Read to the bottom for my version of a haunted house.)  I always think about what they could put into a haunted house that would truly scare the crap out of me, and I feel like Halloween in general gets me thinking about I'm actually afraid of in life.  And how deep that fear goes, because apparently, there's levels.  There's normal fear where you get a little anxious, but it's considered a phobia if you avoid what you're afraid of at all costs.  I have both.

Things That Don't Annoy Me

October 16, 2017

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I have a quick post for you today because I am determined to get comments responded to.  I've been putting it off and I'm pretty behind.  Probably like 2 months behind but meh.  I don't plan on going that far back to respond but I do feel like I should tackle the last two weeks.  **UPDATE: I'm not doing it.  I'm too lazy.  I'll be better going forward, starting today.**  So today, a quick post about 5 things that don't annoy me.  (A departure from my usual and numerous pet peeves.)  It's not just things that don't annoy me in general though, but I'm specifically talking about here the things that seem to annoy a lot of other people, but don't bother me in the slightest.  I see them pop up often on lists of complaints or annoyances but they're never on mine.


3 Fictional Characters I'm Most Like

October 13, 2017

Originally I was considering which fictional characters I think would describe me best to see if I could craft a Halloween costume out of any of them and when that question made my list of blog post ideas, I knew I had to write about it at some point.  However, I just couldn't think about enough things I wanted to say about each one to make it a real post.  I mean, I don't think I need to explain why I'm most like Karen Walker, I think you can get the gist from just reading my blog or following my Instagram.

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