I made you valentines!

You guys! I made you some more valentines as a token of how much I love you. Valentine's Day has quickly become my favorite holiday, because it means I can continue my annual tradition of making these. I would like to thank this year's presidential election for the wealth of inspiration. 

Let's all go back to elementary school for the day. Grab your shoebox and decorate it with hot pink construction paper, markers, and glittery stickers. Get some lollipops and conversation hearts, print one of these bad boys out, and hand them out to everyone in your life. Guaranteed to make anyone fall in love with you, because nothing says true love like politics, right?

Maaaayyyybe I have some Downton valentines coming down the pipeline? We'll have to see.

If you need even more valentines (you do), check out 2014's here and 2015's here.

Hallmark, if you're reading this, I'M AVAILABLE.


I made you a mixtape

I always love when people post music they're listening to. I lap up music suggestions like a bowl of ice cream. A few friends have asked me for music recommendations lately, so I thought I would compile all my favorites and share with the rest of the world in case you need some new music to love, too.

I've been super slack lately about finding new music. I've discovered a few new people, but mostly I've been relying on some old favorites. Not long after I started my last job three years ago, I made a playlist to get me through those long afternoons of rifling through court documents. Lord Huron and Leagues will forever remind me of break room coffee and rush hour. I nabbed some of my favorites from that playlist and included a lot of songs that got me through those warm, spring newborn days. Every evening when James was working, I would take Gracie on long, sunset walks through the neighborhood just to get us out of the house. She would sleep while I would dance on the sidewalk to Alabama Shakes, The Kooks, and Shakey Graves while pushing the stroller. Those are my favorite memories of those early days. For some reason, putting on Jamestown Revival would help me stop throwing up while I was pregnant. Once the worst of the morning sickness passed, the sound of them would actually make me throw up. I couldn't listen to them for about 6 months after Gracie was born, but now we're good. I could make this playlist 5 times longer, but we'll stick with this for now. These are the songs have gotten me through many seasons, past and present, both hard and good, and I will love these songs forever. Enjoy! 

What else should I listen to? Tell me. I need ideas!


currently, vol. 17

Loving: Gracie's ponytail! Her hair has been growing like crazy lately. Having a baby girl is the most fun thing in the world. She's been grabbing her board books a lot lately and flipping through them on her own while giggling and chattering to herself. It makes me so happy.

Feeling: Exhausted after an insane week. Water poured through our ceiling Monday night, loud neighbors kept us up most of the week, I woke up in the middle of the night Tuesday from the pain of a clogged milk duct (gross) that turned into a mild case of mastitis and put me out of commission for a day, and today I woke up sick to my stomach (probably from sleep deprivation). IT'S GOOD TO BE ALIVE.

Eating: There are chips and guacamole in the kitchen that are calling my name, but I'm waiting until nap time so I don't have to share with a certain 10-month-old who demands a bite of everyone's food.

Watching: Hear me out before you judge me. There is a Hallmark series called When Calls the Heart. It's as cheesy as it can be but I am obsessed. It's about a schoolteacher who moves to the Canadian frontier in the early 1900s. My grandma told me about. Yes, my grandmother. And I'm so glad, because my life would be so much sadder without it. I blew through season 2 on Netflix during my little stint with mastitis and I'm dying for season three to start in a couple weeks, but the New Year's special is on The Hallmark Channel's website, and I highly recommend curling up on the couch with some tea after a bad day and watching it. I haven't watched American Idol in years, but I'm watching it this season since it's the last. It's so good this year. New Girl is killing it this season as usual. Also, Downton Abbey. I will no longer have any reason to live through future winters since this is the last season. It was nice knowing all of you.

Listening: I'm working on a playlist of my favorite music to post in the near future. But during the evening cranky times when it's too early for bedtime and all the toys have lost their appeal, I put a She & Him record on the record player and we dance around the living room.

Drinking: Run straight to your grocery store and buy yourself some bengal spice herbal tea. I've been drinking some every night before bed. It's spicy and zippy and tastes like autumn.

Smelling: Peppermint tea due to the aforementioned upset stomach.

Reading: Little Women. Officially one of my favorite books of all time. I'm just going to constantly read it over and over. I'm almost finished and I don't want it to end! I'm thinking about reading Villette next? 

Cooking: Last night I made spaghetti with my mom's recipe for homemade meat sauce, green beans, and homemade bread. One of my favorite meals. I made this recipe for crockpot cashew chicken earlier in the week, except the store was out of cashews so I subbed peanuts. I served it with brown rice, broccoli, and carrots. I'm making it again immediately. I suddenly have a craving for chocolate chip waffles. That might be tomorrow morning's breakfast.


please go, greased lightning

5:30 am has become my witching hour. It started last week when James kicked me out of bed to hunt for his ringing phone under the boxspring, and then this morning Gracie gave me an angry wake-up call at 5:30 on the dot instead of her usual 7-7:30. When I woke up, I realized I had been deep in a dream about roasting brussels sprouts. Seriously. I was dreaming about brussels sprouts. I was drizzling some balsamic vinegar on them when I heard the screams.

Sidenote: I had some roasted squash and brussels sprouts with lunch today, but that is neither here nor there.

I finally got the baby back to sleep and fell asleep dreaming about Grease Live. I didn't watch it when it aired, but the commercials gave me PTSD. I was in my high school's production of Grease when I was in 10th grade. The director kicked me out five separate times. She never told me which scenes she wanted me in, then she would call my house yelling at me and my mother for "skipping" rehearsal for a scene I was never told I was in. We went back and forth until she realized her mistake and let me back in. Five times. She would also send me home from scenes I was told I was in, because she didn't remember I was in them. I'm pretty good at forgiving people and moving on, but I would still have the urge to smack her square in the face if I ever saw her again. 

When I was in South Pacific the following year, I took matters into my own hands and put myself in the scenes I wanted to be in. It was so exhilarating that I kept pushing the limits and wound up giving myself a line as well. 

Anyway, the Grease previews took me back to the dark place of 10th grade every time I heard them. Songs I had long suppressed in the basement of my brain came bouncing back when I least expected it. I caught myself doing the hand jive in the shower. I walked around for days muttering "shoo-bop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom" so often I finally succumbed and watched it on Apple TV. I was more than happy to replace my high school memories of Grease with a better version.

Though I will add, Boyz II Men had nothing on me in Beauty School Dropout:

That is me, front and center. The girl whose skin blends in with the white dress. 

I have never looked better than I did in that moment. Except at 5:30 in the morning, of course.


and everyone told me it would be the baby that kept me up at night

Sleep and I have become the best of frenemies. I won't bore you with our sordid past, but we've been playing a game of cat and mouse with each other lately. Last week I was excruciatingly tired. Since James had to work all day Saturday, I made the executive decision that I would put off the laundry and nap during Gracie's afternoon nap. I'm not a napper, but I could feel in my bones that I would be asleep in 30 seconds.

Well, Gracie didn't nap. Upon further inspection, she had a tooth breaking through the gums, and bless her heart, I don't think I would've been able to nap either if I were her. I'm sure it also had nothing to do with the fact that our neighbors blasted the likes of Amy Winehouse and Kenny Chesney all day long. Every time I pounded on the wall, it just got louder. I've had Rehab stuck in my head since Saturday afternoon. It was so loud I could hear every word and instrumental nuance of the music. I'm not going to say I held my crying baby up to our shared wall at one point, but I'm also not going to say I didn't. After 8 long hours of comforting a teething baby during the rave next door, she finally fell asleep for the night. I thought I would do the same, until the loud music turned into a full-fledged party in which I can only imagine they were trying to relive their college frat days. I seethed while I made dinner by candlelight, since our kitchen lights had gone out the night before, and texted James that if I'm not home when he gets back from work, it's because I'm in the local jail.

James and I can't even talk about that day without shuddering.

I've been doing a little better with sleep this past week. A few months ago, I started charging my phone at night on the other side of the room so I don't mindlessly scroll or play hours of Words With Friends with my dad. I've been reading Little Women and then peacefully falling asleep, as long as our fan is able to block out the noise of the neighbor's tv every night from 9-12 pm. I don't know what they've been watching, but there are a lot of explosions involved. Our landlord can be expecting a strongly-worded email this morning.

Last night, after a few chapters of Little Women, I fell fast asleep between tv explosions. I was knee-deep in a dream that GIANT BALLS OF ICE were flying through the windows, and I was trying to protect Gracie while screaming for my dad, except no sound would come out of my mouth, when the shaking bed shook me back to reality. James told me I needed to get out of bed, and I was about to claw his eyeballs out for waking me up in the middle of the night and kicking me out of bed.

And then I heard it.

The alarm on his phone was going off, and it had fallen behind? in? under? the bed. I'm still not sure exactly what happened, because I was still trying to discern if there were, in fact, giant balls of ice flying through the windows. All I know is that his jingling phone had disappeared into the giant abyss of our enclosed bed frame. I grabbed my pillow and moved to the floor while James had to literally rip the mattress and boxspring off the bed in search of his phone.

I laid on the floor whisper-shouting at him for kicking me out of bed IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, like he was doing it for fun.




"Michelle, it's 5:30 in the morning."

"EXACTLY. It's the middle of the night." I said, disregarding the fact that in my pre-baby days I would've been running on the treadmill at the gym at this time.

I was just happy he didn't wake up the baby until I heard her stirring in her crib.


She eventually went back to sleep, and so did I, five minutes before she woke up for the day. I've read that you can tell a person's character by how they handle things like lost luggage and untangling christmas lights. I've dealt with those things more than once and survived, but nothing tests my character quite like the loss of sleep. So far, I've failed every test.

But I will not be beat! I put on a She & Him record while I made breakfast, and there's bread dough rising to have with dinner tonight.

Now hopefully that jackhammer outside will stop so one or both of us can take a morning nap.