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I think Palm Springs is my new favorite vacation spot.  I immediately fell in love with it and I fell hard.  It’s small.  It’s gorgeous.  It’s full of mid-century modern everything.  There are dogs everywhere.  It’s basically everything I love.

  • We stayed at the Kimpton Rowan, which we LOVED.  It’s a beautiful hotel and our room was so aesthetically pleasing — whites, grays, blues.  So calming.  The location was also ideal — right on the “main drag” for shopping, within steps of a Starbucks (we joke that it’s not a vacation without 35 iced tea lemonades from Starbucks), etc.
  • Given our travel schedule (we did a lot of driving on this trip — jumping from Anaheim to Joshua Tree to Palm Springs, etc), we really only had one full day in Palm Springs.  I’ve already vowed to make a week-long return in a future winter.
  • I wanted to drive around and see all the “famous” mid-century modern houses — you know, the ones with the colorful doors that look like they belong in a magazine?  So that we did.  I probably drove my mom nuts driving around and around and around the same neighborhood, stopping every 30 seconds to take photos.  I chuckled because a few houses had signs that said “no photography allowed.”  Nice try.  I’m on a public street, I can take pictures.  If you didn’t want attention, you shouldn’t have purchased this type of house, ya know? (and I’m always a fan of the “ask forgiveness not permission” mantra)
  • We visited the Saguaro hotel (aka the rainbow hotel).  I’ve seen so many photos of it and given that it literally looks like a rainbow, I had to see it in person.  I’m glad we decided not to stay there because the hotel is, well, pretty sad.  It wasn’t very clean, smelled like cigarettes, and had a real party vibe to it (which hey, if that’s what you want, cool! But it wouldn’t have worked for us).  But OMG, I still love that it’s basically a rainbow.
  • After our short visit to the Saguaro, we went to breakfast at Elmer’s because, well, duh.  Much to our surprise and delight, it was one of the best meals of our trip.  Even my mom, who is not a fan of breakfast foods (Ron Swanson would be aghast), really enjoyed it.  I had a gigantic German pancake and some really fabulous bacon.  I was a happy camper.  I also bought 4 of coffee mugs because, well, duh.
  • We then went to the Moorten Botanical Gardens.  Loved it!  I’m a sucker for succulents.
  • In the afternoon, we drove about 30 minutes to Cabazon to visit the outlet mall, which was a bust.  We made our way back to Palm Springs and did some more shopping, took a walk, had some Mexican food for dinner, and packed our suitcases up to leave the next day.
  • I absolutely, 100% loved Palm Springs.  I can see why so many people want to vacation and/or retire there.  I can’t wait to return.
  • And thanks again to my momma, my best friend and favorite travel partner.

The area outside of our hotel.
I’ve heard that the Kimpton Rowan has the only rooftop pool in all of Palm Springs.  I find that hard to believe (as it gets to be, like, 100 degrees there).
These homeowners have a good sense of humor.  I love people that embrace the attention.
See what I mean?  It’s like a rainbow.
Unintentional coordination of sweater color, eye color, mug color, and restaurant name. :)
Look at that wallpaper!  Hot. Dogs.
Frankinbun. Cold Nose Warm Heart (where I spent approximately two billion dollars on items for Sadie).
Kimpton Rowan
There was an art museum behind our hotel — and some weird giant baby art to go along with it.
My favorite of all the houses.  Gimme that orange door, please!
Another successful mother-daughter vacation.  Taking advantage of these years while we can. <3

We were anxious about this element of our trip.  The federal government shutdown meant that the National Parks were either closed or just entirely unsupervised.  Luckily, Joshua Tree was “open” to visitors, but had no park rangers or staff present.  As it turns out, it was a fabulous way to see the park.  No one was there!  It was eerily quiet: no traffic, no crowds, no parking issues.  We were disappointed to miss out on seeing the Visitor’s Center, but all in all, we had a very positive experience.

We also didn’t see any litter, vandalism, or damaged trees or plant life.  This is not to say that the damage wasn’t there (after all, we didn’t visit the campground areas, etc), but sometimes you have to take what the media throws out into the world with a grain of salt.  It wasn’t anarchy; everyone we saw was peaceful, respectful, and the park was as beautiful as ever.

On our way, we stopped to see the Cabazon dinosaurs!  Of course.  :)
A highlight for me was the cholla cactus garden.  They are actually dangerous to humans (their little “barbs” will pierce your skin and be very painful to remove), but aren’t they pretty? In a the-desert-will-eat-you-up-and-spit-you-out kinda way?

I’m off of work today due to a blizzard, so what better time to blog than the present?
My mom and I went to California for a week in January.  We were anxious about the trip because of the government shutdown (we were planning on going to a National Park and all, but more on that in a later post), but we had a wonderful trip.  Perfect weather, smooth travel, and great experiences.  We felt extra lucky because it rained non-stop for a week (in Southern California!) right after we headed home.  I always appreciate those instances where I feel like the universe is giving me a hug.

We spent one day at Disneyland, one day at Joshua Tree National Park, and a few days in Palm Springs.  I went to Disneyland in 2012 and 2016, and I like it more and more with each trip.

  • We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Orange County, which is where I stayed on my previous two trips.  We really like it.  It’s clean, convenient, has a shuttle to/from the parks, and has a Starbucks in the lobby.  What more could we want?
  • Given that our first day was a travel day, we didn’t have the energy to go to the parks that evening.  So we went to Downtown Disney instead and did a little shopping.  The thing I LOVE about Disneyland is how close together everything is.  You can walk between Disneyland, California Adventure, and Downtown Disney easily and quickly — no bus or monorail is necessary to get you from one to the other.
  • The next day, Tuesday, we spent the whole day at the parks (and walked 18,000 steps!).  We didn’t plan ahead for Fastpasses, so we didn’t do many rides or shows.  Most of the joy for me is just being there — and soaking up the Disney atmosphere, food, and cuteness.  I say it all the time, but to me, the parks feel like a warm, comforting hug.
  • I got to see Pixar Pier at California Adventure for the first time.  It was formerly Paradise Pier.  Disney re-branded the whole “land” to be Pixar-themed — and it is ADORABLE.  Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.
  • My other favorite land at California Adventure is Cars Land, which is weird because I’m not crazy about Cars as a movie.  The land is just so precious though — Route 66-themed and completely charming.
  • We ate a lot of Disney treats, my favorite being the Churro Toffee. OMG.  Toffee, covered in white chocolate, dipped in cinnamon-sugar.  To die for.  I have a t-shirt from my last trip to Disney World that says, “Just Here for the Snacks” — so true.
  • I wish we could have spent more time at Disneyland but I was thrilled to get one day.  See you next time, Anaheim!

The palm trees that greet you at the Hyatt Regency Orange County.
Looking up in the lobby.  I love how open and airy the hotel is.
Y’all know that my favorite thing in the world is a Mickey balloon.
Walking out of Downtown Disney.
Our hotel attempted to do Mickey waffles.  It was a good effort but not the same experience as a Disney resort Mickey waffle.  I’m such a snob, aren’t I? ;)
Sleeping Beauty’s castle was undergoing renovations, so it was all walled off and unavailable for photos. Here’s Walt and Mickey instead.
Really happy to be there!  And on the right is the Wall-E wall at DCA.
Always and forever my favorite ride.
The New Orleans Square area is so cute!
I mean, duh, we had to get Dole Whip.
The cutest!
The Incredicoaster!
My mom had never tried a churro before (*gasp*!) so we had to fix that (spoiler alert: she loved it).  I also tried a treat at Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff (spoiler alert: I loved it).
The cuteness overwhelms.
I think the Cozy Cone area is one of the cutest things of all time.
Each “cone” sells a different treat.
Mickey’s house!
Minnie and Goofy’s houses.
Oh look, another photo of my most favorite ride ever.
Churro toffee!  Cheshire cat tail!
Stormtroopers in Tomorrowland; and my personal hero: a girl who bought 5 Mickey balloons and took photos of herself throughout the park with them.  I’m gonna do that next time.  I’ll probably be spending $100 on 5 balloons, but I’m gonna do it.
One of the things I’ve always wanted to see is it’s a small world lit up for the holidays.  I assumed that I’d miss that chance because we were visiting in January.  Wrong!  I was so thrilled to see it all bling’ed out with Christmas lights.
Had to buy these Mickey ice cream bar ears — notice the “bite mark” one of the ears? So cute. Also, this “Up”-themed wall at DCA is amazing!
Back at our hotel after a long day of walk walk walking.  See you next time, Disneyland.  I love you so much.

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.
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!
Socks with Sadie’s photo on them!
More eating! And sometimes we mall walk at Park Plaza. We’re so cool. Heading into 2019, here we go!

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!