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December is probably my favorite month of the year. It’s like a warm, cozy hug. Until it’s not come December 26th. I’ve been struggling with the post-holiday blues this year: 3 months of winter are ahead, I’ve gained holiday weight, it’s still dark all the time, etc. But brighter days are ahead. My month was busy, as usual. Lots to see and do and eat!

Sadie was so sick one day that we had to give her an at-home bath. What on earth do these cute little dogs get into?!
Sick, sad Sadie. And time in Milwaukee for a seminar.
Wouldn’t be a holiday season without a trip to the GBBG!
I applaud the person who chose “Doritos” as a plate. And makin’ vanilla, as I do.
I baked a lot this season.
COOKIES!
Annual gingerbread house decorating day!!
Annual visit to the Qualleys!
A trip to Green Bay w/ my parents.
Holidaze. My dad made awesome brandy old fashioneds!
Love you, Denny. My whole life and all the holidays in it wouldn’t be as special without you!
Pete gave me socks with Sadie’s photo on them!
More eating! And sometimes we mall walk at Park Plaza. We’re so cool.
Pete’s birthday was on the 30th. We ate cake, saw The Mule (good stuff), and had dinner with 10 of his lifelong friends.

In no particular order, here are my Books of 2018!

1. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond // I enjoyed this book and it certainly makes you sympathetic to the tenant side of the landlord-tenant relationship; but let’s remember that there are two sides to every story. There are shitty landlords and shitty tenants.

2. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara // Loved it! I’m a big true crime fan, and Michelle was a badass.

3. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance // Good stuff. Though I’m sure very few on the far left would agree with my review.

4. The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St. Clair // Umm, an entire book about color… history, culture, meaning, etc. I am obsessed with this book.

5. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry // A book all about psychopaths. If you’re into that, which I apparently am, it’s an interesting read.

6. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty // I’ve always been weirdly fascinated with death (remember when I asked for an anatomy/autopsy book when I was in 6th grade?), so I absolutely, 100% enjoyed this book.

7. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls // Ehhhhhh not my favorite. I read it because Jeannette came to Oshkosh to speak.

8. Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood by Mari Andrew // Adulthood is no fun and getting there is even less so, but this book is like a beautifully-illustrated friend to make you feel less alone in it.

9. Everything is Awful: And Other Observations by Matt Bellassai // This was just OK. A quick, sometimes-funny read.

10. Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life by Jessica Zitter // Encouraging people to plan for the end of their life will be one of the hills I die on (no pun intended). I come at it from the legal side, and this book comes at the issues from the medical side. It’s an interesting, thought-provoking must-read.

11. Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis // I just… ehh… nah.

12. I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romanic Comedy by Erin Carlson // Yes yes yes! Loved it! Good insight into the filmmaking industry and I really loved getting to know more behind-the-scenes information about some of my favorite movies.

13. Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive by Jessica Turner // I’m not a mom (duh), much less a working mom, but I read the book because I knew Jessica growing up. I thought it was well-written and if you are a working momma, give it a read!

1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
Flew in a helicopter… with the doors off… it was scary but also so fun!

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t think I made resolutions for 2018. I have a few resolutions for 2019: revive my baking blog, read more books, exercise more frequently, and drink more water and less soda (maybe it’ll help with my headaches).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A few friends had babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thank goodness.

5. What countries did you visit?
Just the US — Disney World, Hawaii, Atlanta, Chicago a few times, Las Vegas, and New York City.

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
Less anxiety regarding nearly every aspect of my life and more exercise.

7. What date from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
5/14/18 – the date of my Dad’s heart surgery.
10/25/18 – the date of Sadie’s knee surgery.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I’m not sure; I feel like I didn’t have many noteworthy accomplishments.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Many newbie mistakes at work, I’m sure.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, other than my usual headaches/migraines. My dad had bypass surgery though — so scary!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Sadie’s knee surgery; pricey, but I would have done anything to fix her.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My momma – who is also my boss. I’m grateful for her patience, understanding, perspective, humor, friendship, and open-mindedness.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Any and all politicians.

14. Where did most of your money go?
SADIE! That knee surgery wasn’t cheap.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
All of my trips — I love visiting new places.

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2018?
“Delicate” by Taylor Swift (her live show in Chicago was so good!); and anything by Queen, because I fell back down that rabbit hole after seeing Bohemian Rhapsody.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you
i. happier or sadder?: Same
ii. thinner or fatter?: A little fatter (thanks, holidays!!)
iii. richer or poorer?: Same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Exercise. Story of life, right?! Though I’ve been walking a lot. I need to do more strength training.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worry. But I’m a worrier. It’s in my DNA.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my parents in Oshkosh & Pete’s family in Hartford.

21. What was your favorite TV program?
Schitt’s Creek!!

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
It’s a waste of energy to hate people.

23. What was the best book you read?
I do a whole separate post about my books of the year,

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Hmm not sure; I enjoyed Brooks & Dunn way more than I thought I would when we saw them in Las Vegas!

25. What did you want and get?
For the most part, I maintained my weight. Though this post-holiday period of time doesn’t count, right?

26. What did you want and not get?
World peace. LOL.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?
A Star is Born. So good!

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 34 and was in Oshkosh. Spent the weekend prior in Door County!

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not sure. I had a pretty nice year.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
Talbots. All the Talbots. Because Talbots = the lady lawyer uniform.

31. What kept you sane?
My mom.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Bradley Cooper. He’s dreamy.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
There are too many to list. TOO. MANY.

34. Who did you miss?
All of my friends who live far away.

35. Who was the best new person you met?
I’m not sure!

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018:
(1) If your gut is telling you something is wrong, something is probably wrong and (2) you have to advocate and push like hell for your life and your health. Both of these lessons brought to you by my Denny and his heart surgery experience.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
*shrugs* I don’t know.

This month’s post will be a bit of a snooze. I did ALL THE THINGS in October (or so it seemed), and November was a quieter month.  Lots of Sadie pics though, as per usual. :)

She was recovering from her knee surgery and had to wear the cone of shame!
My Christmas decorations always arrive in November.  I’m one of THOSE people.
I love quiet time at my house.  Tuna casserole.  Cozy.  I’m a complete introvert.
Skee Ball date with Pete.
Colored lights on the tree this year!
Paislee and Sadie.
Milwaukee now has a Christkindlmarket! It was OK. Lots of room for improvement, but a good effort for the very first year.
Thanksgiving! Time to Turkey Trot!
Food. Family. Dogs. Home. Love.

Another trip to New York for me and Jillian!  We are developing a pattern of going every 2 years, it seems.  Maybe we’ll pick someplace new in 2020, but we always have such a great time in New York — despite the city being somewhat of a hellscape to our very introverted selves.

This year we arrived on Halloween, which I was curious about.  Would it be cute and adorable — or would New York be all sorts of crazy on the spookiest day of the year?  It was cute and uneventful for us, probably because we were back at the hotel and asleep by 9pm that day!

Our trip was full of food (so, so much food), bakeries, walking (averaged about 9 miles a day!), trains of all sorts, the Color Factory, the Great Jack O’Lantern BLAZE!, the joy of Uber, Lyft, and Postmates, plenty of Mexican food, and a lot of laughs. Onto the photos.

The view from the airplane was pretty awesome.
We arrived, took a Lyft to our hotel, but were too early to check in — and a little too early for lunch.  We killed time by walking around Central Park, which is so beautiful this time of year.
Seeing fresh flowers on nearly every street corner is one of my favorite things about New York.

We went to Black Tap for lunch.  The burger and fries were great, but look at the shakes!
As absurd as they look, they were actually really good. The funfetti cake was one of my favorite desserts that I experienced on this trip — the icing was perfect.
After our huge lunch at Black Tap, we took the subway to see the High Line.  This art greets you at one of the entrances.
The High Line is an elevated park that used to be a rail line.
In other news, have they never seen a squirrel before?!
Resting.  Honestly, every hour or so Jillian and I had to sit down, take a minute, not speak to each other, and just decompress.  NYC is a very over-stimulating city!  Oh, and there’s Bert’s tit. Why? I don’t know.
We visited two bakeries after the High Line:  CHIP and Empire Cake.  The CHIP cookies were just OK, but the black and white cookies and rainbow cookies from Empire Cake were amazing!
We also visited Stuffed, located in the East Village (I think).  Look. At. That. Ice. Cream. Cone. It was truly delicious and stayed completely intact as we ate it. I do not understand the physics. Oh, and hey Michael Myers.
The next morning, we went to Best Bagel & Coffee and we really did experience the best bagel.  Everything bagel toasted with cream cheese was my order (not exciting, I know), but oh, it was so good. The bagels really do taste different (and better) in New York.  We then took the train to SoHo to find the Color Factory!
The Color Factory is an interactive museum of sorts.  Color color color.  My heaven, obviously.
Macarons on a conveyor belt. And balloons with wishes on them, written by elementary school children. I, too, wish that unicorns were real.
The other side had fun facts about whatever particular color you choose. I always thought heliotrope was more purple than pink though.
You guys. A BALL PIT! I hadn’t been in a ball pit since I was a kid at Chuck E. Cheese!
Oh yes. It was sweet to see a bunch of adults having fun and, for a minute or two, remembering what it’s like to be a kid.
The New York palette made me laugh.  They also provided you with a Color Factory map, so you could explore other New York neighborhoods and their colorful highlights.  We wished we had more time to see it all.
After our happy color experience, we went to Dominique Ansel.  The macarons were delicious, but the staff was rude.  Ya can’t win them all.
As soon as I saw this place, I knew that Flour Shop was the bakery for me! Sprinkles! Rainbows!
Look at that rainbow cake… stuffed with rainbow sprinkles!
Chinatown was up next.

Greetings from Chinatown mural.
We then went to the Lower East Side for lunch at Russ & Daughters.  Traditional Jewish fare – we had matzo ball soup and potato latkes.  From there, we went to Supermoon Bakehouse.
Supermoon was great – the staff was so welcoming and friendly – I think the place is secretly run by a group of Midwesterners. ;)
We also stopped at Economy Candy and Big Gay Ice Cream (their sprinkles are somehow different and really, really delicious!).
Then it was off to Grand Central Station to take a train to Croton-on-Hudson, a suburb of New York City, to experience the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze!  My dad saw a bit about it on the Today show and DVR’d it for me.  I watched it and said, ‘wait! Jillian and I could totally go see that!’ I bought tickets and researched what train to take — and we were off and running!
We had surprisingly good pizza at a strip mall when we got off the train — and then went to see ALL THE PUMPKINS.
It was so magical.
All the signs of the Zodiac were carved into pumpkins.  I know, this isn’t all 12 of them, but aren’t they cool?
OMG.
My face the entire time we were there.
SO COOL.
This was the only time in the trip when I wished I had my nice Nikon rather than my iPhone.
The Blaze was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  It was magical and charming and spooky and just plain awesome.  It was 100% worth the hour-long train ride to get there and the photos don’t do it justice.
Radio City + a cool neon piece at the Museum of Modern Art.  I’m not a sophisticated enough person to really enjoy MoMA, but I’ve never met a neon piece that I haven’t loved.
Friday was a slower-paced day (thank goodness).  We went to Best Bagel & Coffee again for breakfast, then we went to the Upper West Side, one of my favorite New York neighborhoods.  The chocolate peanut butter cookie from Levain is just as good as everyone (read: all the food bloggers) say it is!
I told you I love the flowers.
Treat House was so fun! Mini rice krispie treats — that actually tasted as good as they looked. Many people ask how we can possibly eat so much all day long. The answer is simple: we don’t.  We buy the treats and try them, we don’t eat all of everything you see!
I had the best mac ‘n’ cheese of my life at Jacob’s Pickles.  I would 100% go there again.  Later that evening, we took the train to Brooklyn to visit Butter & Scotch, a bar/bakery.  Let me say that again: a bar and bakery.  Why are there not more of these?!  It was so fun.
Cute (and very expensive as compared to Wisconsin) cocktails.
On Saturday, our departure day, Jillian went to get her hair done at Dry Bar and I went to get donuts.  Sounds about right.  The Everything Donut was so good! But then again, I’m always a big fan of the salty + sweet combination.
Another flower photo.  How shocking!
The only pic of the two of us that we managed to take!  We were too busy photographing all the food we ate, obviously. ;)
And, home sweet Wisconsin.  Waiting at quiet MKE for Pete to pick me up.

We had such a fun time.  New York is chaotic, interesting, diverse beyond words, and absolutely full of the best of the best of everything.  I love it and I hope to visit again and again and again throughout my life.  The world is full of beautiful things to see, both ordinary and extraordinary.  Never stop paying attention and always say YES (even if your feet hurt).