Tuesday, December 17, 2019

9 Reasons Why The Muppet Christmas Carol is the Best Christmas Movie Ever


Every year the debate comes up about which Christmas movie is the best. There are some classics like White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life that are always mentioned alongside somewhat newer movies like Love Actually and The Holiday. Then, there are more humorous movies like Elf and Home Alone

All of these movies are classics, but when it comes to the best Christmas movies, there's just no way to beat The Muppet Christmas Carol

1. The source material is well-written. Obviously, Charles Dickens is a celebrated writer for a reason. The serious of the theme juxtaposed with the warmth of the Christmas season is so compelling. Dickens was one of the most well-known writers of his own time period, and the characters that he created in A Christmas Carol have proven to be timeless.

2. The Muppet adaptation honors the original surprisingly well. Even though the Muppets' style of humor is present throughout the film, the core of the story remains the same.

3. Gonzo makes the most perfect Charles Dickens. Having a character play the author keeps the story on track and makes the setting more accessible. In some movie adaptions, the loss of the narrator means that crucial pieces of the story have to be reworked, but this movie manages to avoid that issue. It also helps that Gonzo is absolutely sure that he is Charles Dickens despite being a long-nosed blue unidentifiable creature.

4. Same the Eagle is British. This might only be entertaining to those who are already Muppet fans, but the idea to make the over-the-top patriotic character British is completely hilarious.

5. Kermit and Miss Piggy are a married couple. As much fun as it is to see Cameron Diaz and Judd Law get together in The Holiday, seeing Kermit and Miss Piggy together is 1000 times more satisfying. Things are difficult in the family's life, but you believe that regardless of what may go wrong, Kermit and Piggy's characters are committed to each other. How is it even possible to feel this emotional over puppets?

6. Michael Caine plays the best version of Scrooge. Everyone already knows that Michael Caine is a skilled actor. But, it's especially apparent in this movie. You can't even tell that he's working with puppets rather than people. And, his transition fro the cold, heartless version of Scrooge at the beginning of the film to the changed, repentant version at the end comes across as authentic rather than cheesy.

7. The movie's soundtrack could be played on repeat for hours. From the opening song that perfectly builds Scrooge's ominous character to the cheeriness at the end of the film, every single song adds to the mood and moves the story forward. Also, if you don't listen to "One More Sleep Til Christmas" at least 25 times on December 24th, then are you really even ready for Christmas.

8. The film is written for both children and adults in mind. At first glance, it might seem like the movie is just for children, but the movie isn't actually childish. The theme is applicable to everyone. And, the movie is full of moments and jokes that adults will enjoy, but that children won't even notice.

9. The movie ends with Gonzo telling the audience to read the book. Honestly, this is the way that all movies should end. There's nothing more to add.

***

If you enjoyed reading this, you can keep up with new posts by signing up for my monthly email club letter or by following along on instagram. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

How to Get Your Home Ready for Winter


Learn how to make your home an inviting, cozy space this winter


As excited as I am for Christmas, I am not looking forward to winter. Nashville may be a southern city, but compared to south Mississippi, it definitely has a winter.

I am used to wearing sandals on Christmas Day. I am not prepared to deal with snow days beginning in November (not that I minded an extra day to myself about 3 weeks ago.)

Still, I am happy to be living in Nashville, so I am going to be dealing with the weather from now on. Which means that I need to learn to like winter.

I may not ever enjoy being outside in the cold, but I can make my home a cozy and inviting place to spend the winter. If you're looking for a way to make your own home snug and comfy while the weather outside is not so nice, then feel free to steal my wishlist of things to get to make my  house prepared for the winter.

Full disclosure, some links are affiliate links. If you purchase a product using my links, I may receive a very tiny compensation from the company.

1. Blankets - I already have lots of blankets. Unfortunately, the ones that got me through winters with an average high of 60 degrees don't quite cut in when the temperature dips below freezing on a regular basis. Real winters need chunky, cozy knit blankets, just like this one from Etsy. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to hug a warm cloud, this is probably it.

2. Candles - Y'all, I used to not be a candle person. I would maybe go through one candle in a year. I still can't handle candles with strong scents. But, the glow of a candle makes a room instantly feel more cozy. You don't even want to know how many candles we've already burned through. The crackle of a Woodwick candle is one of my favorite things. You might want to make sure that you have unscented candles around too though if you're planning on lighting multiple candles at once. I do not advise mixing candle scents. Unless that's your thing.

3. Kettle - Ok, so we actually already own a kettle. I've had one for years, but I didn't use it as often as I would have liked. Now, I have the perfect reason to make hot chocolate every night (I don't, but I could). Sure, you could use a coffee maker or a regular pot to boil water. A stovetop kettle is a thousand times cozier though. It also heats up the kitchen more than a coffee maker or an electric kettle would. Mine is red, and it makes me incredibly happy every time that I walk by the kitchen. #win

4. Twinkle lights - You probably already have Christmas lights up. You can definitely leave lights up throughout the winter. Even once Christmas is over, having a little extra fun lighting can help when the nights still feel way too long. Although I already have some strings of Christmas lights, I am considering getting globe lights to put up in January and February. These would be a good investment because you could potentially use them outside during the summer as well. Then, they wouldn't be tangled up when it came time to use them the next year which is half the battle with strings of lights anyway.

5. Board games or book - Like I said earlier, I am not a fan of heading outside when it's cold, but that doesn't mean that I plan on spending the winter on my couch bingeing Netflix. Not that there's anything wrong with occasionally vegging out, I just would eventually start to glaze over if I did it too often. Obviously, you can't go wrong with a good book. If you need suggestions, you know I have them (here, here, and here). You can also invite others over to your newly cozy home for a game night. Some of my favorites are Clue and Dutch Blitz. I'd like to get Pick a Pig (a little bit childish, but so fun) and Hive (I haven't played this one yet, but it's supposed to be good for two people).


You don't have to spend all of winter miserable. We spend so much time and effort getting our homes ready for Christmas, but we should put some effort into keeping it just as inviting once the festivities are over.

If anyone needs me for the next three months, I'll be underneath a blanket on the couch surrounded by twinkle lights.

How do you feel about winter? If you already enjoy winter, please share your suggestions with the rest of us in the comments below.

Learn how to make your home an inviting, cozy space this winter

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Why Paris Isn't My Favorite City in France

Eiffel Tower - Why Paris is not my favorite place in France



If the only exposure that you've ever had to France is through books and movies, then it might seem as if Paris is the only place there. I've been fortunate enough to live in France twice, and almost everyone assumed that I was living in Paris because, based on their knowledge, otherwise what was I even doing there. I'll be honest that before living in France, I knew very little about any other parts of it. I'm now convinced that we need to extend that hype about Paris to the rest of the country.

Visiting Paris is a dream from many people. The French city is as vibrant and interesting as its reputation leads you to believe, and I would never tell anyone that Paris isn't worth visiting. But, Paris isn't the only thing that France has going for it. France may be small, but it is packed with everything that you could ever want to see. An afternoon in Paris is charming, but France is full of other charming cities and towns.

If you are planning a trip to France, you absolutely need to see more of what the country has to offer. You might be thinking that if you only have a couple days to spend in France that it isn't worth it to try to go anywhere except for Paris, but you would be wrong.

There are plenty of reason why you will love visiting places in France besides Paris.

The Crowds


To start with, Paris can be extremely crowded depending on the tine of year that you go. Paris is one of the top visited destinations in the world. Unless you are traveling during the off-season, then everything that you want to see is going to be flooded with other tourists during the exact same thing. Based on multiple visits to Paris, the only time that it felt easy to get around was during April. On a random Tuesday in April, my friends and I were able to walk right up to the kiosk for the Eiffel Tower with zero wait time. Maybe there are other times when this is possible, but I doubt that it happens too often.

Smaller cities and towns will be much less crowded. Sure, there might be crowds during special events, like the Fête des Lumières in Lyon, but for the most part, you won't have to squeeze past crowds on the sidewalks or wait in line for hours to get into museums.

When I visit somewhere, I want to be surrounded by the people who actually live there, not other people who are also traveling as cool as those people may be. There are parts of Paris that aren't touristy, but in general, other places in France have a better tourist to local ratio.

The Cost


You can visit Paris on a tight budget, especially if you time your visit around days when museums are open for free to the public (like on the first Sunday of each month) or if you happen to be under 26 and from the European Union. It isn't easy though.

In most cases, your money will go a lot farther in other areas of the country. You can enjoy less pricey accommodations, food, and experiences outside of Paris. Let's say that you've always wanted to go to a Michelin star restaurant, you'll find that it's more manageable in a small town in France rather than in the middle of Paris.

The Food


Let's just be clear that the food in Paris is spectacular, but every single region in France has culinary specialities. You probably could find a restaurant in Paris that serves a particular regional speciality if you searched hard enough. It is true that some dishes that started off as regional dishes have become national dishes. However, French people themselves prefer to experience regional cuisine in the region that it comes from.

You will get the best food when you order cuisine from the region that you are in. Even items like pastries, cheeses, and wines are regional. I would start listing my favorites right here, but that would just make me sad that I don't currently have access to them. I'm not the kind of person who gets obsessed over food, but I will happily obsess over French food any day.

The Language


If you want to practice speaking French, Paris isn't the best place for you. Once people in Paris hear your accent, they are more likely to switch to English. However, if you don't speak French, that doesn't mean that you have to stick to Paris. In larger cities, you'll most likely be able to communicate with others easily. Despite what you may have heard about France, people aren't rude. As long as you make an effort, even if the person you're trying to speak to doesn't speak English, the two of you will probably be able to get an idea of what the other person is trying to say.

If you took French in high school or college though and want to put all that hard work to use, you will be better off somewhere outside of Paris.

The Culture


Obviously, Paris has lots of history and culture. However, the entire country has such a richness of culture and tradition that it would be a shame to never experience more if you were able to. Even cities that are only an hour or two apart by train are so vastly different.

During our honeymoon, my husband and I went to both Lyon and Marseille. It took roughly three hours on the train, but the difference between the two places almost felt as if we were in a different country. Marseille was much more Mediterranean than Lyon. The way people spoke, the type of food, and the style of architecture was all completely different.

Besides the major cities, there are tiny towns that most people would never think to visit but that are absolutely magical.

Places to Consider Visiting 


(AKA places that I've been before or places that I want to visit next time that I'm in France. We might have just been there last summer, but I'm already looking forward to going back whenever the opportunity arises.)

1. Lyon
2. Grenoble
3. Marseille
4. Annecy
5. Colmar
6. Avignon
7. Rouen
8. Strasbourg
9. Aix-En-Provence
10. Avignon



Even though I spent two years total living in France, I still want to have more time to explore different regions because I feel like I didn't go to enough places while I was there.

I've always secretly loved other parts of France more than Paris, but whenever people came to visit we always went to Paris because after the cost in both time and money, it seemed wrong not to go there. Finally, on our honeymoon, my husband told me that he actually enjoyed our days in other French cities more. It was nice to know that someone else agrees with me.

You should definitely go to Paris if going to Paris is something that you've always dreamed of doing. But, if you want to see France, and you've decided to go to Paris just because it seems like the place to go in order to do that, then I'd urge you to consider visiting other places in France. You'll love what you find there.

Metro - reasons you should visit France without going to Paris


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Reasons You Should Keep Journal + How to Get Started




We are all aware that we need to be doing things that are good for us. Self-care is absolutely important, but the trendy type of self-care sometimes pushes us to try expensive options that don't actually have huge benefits. Keeping a journal is an easy, almost free form of self-care that has a massive positive impacts.

Health benefits 


While it might seem surprising, studies should that journaling can improve your physical health. I'd like to think that this is the reason I've rarely gotten sick, but I'm also aware that a variety of factors probably contribute to this.

Stress Management 


Writing down your thoughts can help you get rid of negative emotions. The process of sitting with your thoughts and sifting through them can allow you to focus on what's most important to you. For me, journaling is one of the best ways that I cope with stress.

Creativity 


Chances are that you already know that artists of all kinds keep journals. You might find it super helpful to have a place to write down the random thoughts that flit through your mind. Every idea may not be golden, but having a low-stakes medium to play around with can allow you to try out new ideas.

Reflection


Journaling can help with reflection in two ways. First, it can provide a way for you to gather your thoughts about recent occurrences or issues in your life. Second, journaling can allow you to look back at events in your past. For example, if you've already been through a situation once looking back at previous journals might be helpful in deciding what to do next.

Self-Discovery


We spend so much time consuming media that figuring out where the line stops between who we are and who we think we have to be can be almost impossible. Sitting alone with your thoughts can give you the space to discover who you are and what you want from life.



Now, I will acknowledge that there are probably some people who have no interest in keeping a journal and who, as a result, wouldn't benefit from keeping one. But, if you've read this far, you are more than likely interested in keeping a journal.

You're in luck because keeping a journal is actually super easy.


Just to be clear upfront, your journal does not have to be

  • boring
  • organized
  • perfect
  • time consuming
  • instagrammable

If you're worried about any of these things, don't be. There is no right or wrong way to keep a journal. Your journal doesn't have to be like mine or like anyone else's.

You just need to know a few things before you begin.

  1. What materials do you want to use? Your materials can be as simple as getting a cheap notebook and picking up any random pen that you have lying around. I like to use a sketchbook because it has thick paper and no lines. Turns out that despite the moleskine hype, I personally don't like using them for a journal. I also enjoy using stabilo pens. But, it's more important to get into a habit of writing in your journal rather than putting off getting started while you search for the perfect materials.
  2. When do you want to write? Creating a routine for journaling makes it infinitely more likely that you'll stick with writing. Do you want to write in the morning, after work, before bed, or whenever? Does it need to be every day or maybe just one evening a week? It's ok to miss days or to change your routine as needed, but try to link journaling to another habit to make sure that it happens consistently.
  3. What do you want to write about? Your journal might be a hodgepodge or you might have something more specific in mind. In the past, I've found that writing "today, I did..." gets boring. I've used journal prompts before. After getting used to the habit of journaling regularly, I've become more freeform. You can start one way and change as you go along. Your journal is entirely for you.
Keeping a journal is such a useful self-care practice. Start simple at first and experiment as you go.

If you already keep a journal, how has it helped you and what advice do you have for others? Share in the comments below.

Full disclosure, links to products may be affiliate links. If you purchase a product using my links, I may receive a very tiny compensation from the company.


Sunday, November 10, 2019

5 Ways to Build a More Ethically and Socially Conscious Wardrobe



The idea of buying ethical clothes has been gaining in popularity. At one time, it was difficult to find brands that disclosed how their clothes were made and what materials went into making those clothes. Thankfully, now consumers (like you and me) have a much easier time finding brands who are invested in following and sharing how their clothing is made.

Clothes are necessary to daily life. There is no reason why fashion should hurt the planet or harm those who produce the garments.

I've been interested in making my fashion choices better for a while, and I have occasionally been able to purchase a few sustainable pieces from places like PACT and Nisolo. The problem is that even though sources for ethical clothing are more abundant than in the past ethical clothing can be pricey.

Recently though, I borrowed the book The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth L. Cline from the library. I had heard good things about the book before reading it, so I had pretty high expectations for it. The book absolutely did not disappoint. The book was incredibly thorough in explaining the issues within the fashion industry and how consumers can make changes in their own choices.

The biggest takeaway that I got from the book is that everyone can have a conscious closet regardless of your clothing budget or your personal style. Thanks to the information in the book and a couple of other sources, I no longer feel overwhelmed at the idea of having my closet align with my values.

While it may not be possible to build an entire wardrobe from ethical clothing brands, there are several simple steps that can instantly make your wardrobe more sustainable.


1. Wear the clothes that you already have. Even if the clothing in your wardrobe is from a fast fashion store, continuing to wear those clothes instead of buying new ones keeps extra resources from being used. If you like scrolling through instagram, #shopyourcloset, #30wears, #project333, and #glamcapsule can provide inspiration.

2. Have a clothing swap with friends. If you're like me, part of the reason that you want new clothes is because you get bored with the clothes that you already have. Swapping clothes with friends extends the clothes' use, and lets you get new clothing. I'll be honest that it's been several years since I've swapped clothes with friends, but I had a lot of fun when I did.

3. Thrifting is a good choice both financially and ethically. Resale shops are slightly pricier, but they are still less expensive than retail and save time compared to thrifting. I currently use Poshmark, and one of my absolute favorite skirts can from ThredUp. If you aren't using these yet, you should be. You can sign up using my link for ThredUp, and we'll both get $10 to spend on secondhand fashion.

4. Wash your clothes in cold water and allow them to air dry. This is possibly the easiest change ever to make. Making both (or even just one) of these changes to how you do laundry keeps your clothes in good condition for longer. I've had a foldable drying rack for years, but I've been lazy. (When I pulled out the rack this weekend, my husband had no idea what it was. Oops.) It really does not take much extra time and you can totally still use a dryer if you need something dry right way.

5. Use a reusable bag when you buy clothing at a store. When you can't buy clothing from ethical sources, you can at least reduce the extra waste of a plastic bag. You probably already have totes or extra bags at home, so this is an easy option no matter where you shop.


I hope this post has inspired you to rethink a few of your ideas regarding sustainable, ethical fashion. Creating a more conscious wardrobe is attainable for everyone. It doesn't mean that every piece that you buy has to be from niche ethical brands.

Personally, while I still plan on investing in ethical pieces in my wardrobe, I feel better knowing that I can make smaller changes as I work up to being able to afford better made clothing.

Full disclosure, links to books are affiliate links. If you purchase a product using my links, I may receive a very tiny compensation from the company.



Sunday, November 3, 2019

Writing Lately



If you've stopped by before, you already know that I had pretty ambitious goals for reading over the past year, but you probably didn't know that I also had some goals for writing more during the year. Mainly because that's not a goal that I shared with anyone. Even though I didn't write as regularly on the blog as I had hoped, I still managed to spend some time working on my writing.

On Goodreads


Since I tend to be slow about updating my progress with books on here, the best place to follow my 100 book challenge is on Goodreads. I rate books that I enjoyed reading, and I tend to leave a sentence or two as a review on about half of the books.

On Tirzah


Tirzah is an online Christian magazine. I started reading it years ago, and recently, I've been contributing to it on a monthly basis. The articles that I write are based on issues that I've noticed affecting either myself or those around me. A lot of time, it feels like I'm the one who most needs to read what I'm writing. You can read the articles that I've written here and here. I'd also suggest reading more on the site because there are so many good articles there.

In my journal


Most of my writing is not meant to be public at all. And frankly, if someone read my journal, it would be a confusing and boring experience. However, I've found that spending time writing out my thoughts is extremely helpful for me. Especially when life is difficult, the routine of slowing down to sift through my feelings and emotions help me to focus on what truly matters to me. Because journaling has been so beneficial to me, I created a set of journal prompts in book form and in printable form so that others can hopefully experience the same positive effects.

Hello Sunday


Starting in December, you'll be able to get a newsletter with exclusive writing, freebies, and updates. My plan is to begin sending it once a month on the first Sunday and potentially work up to sending it every Sunday. (I'd rather underpromise, and then be able to overdeliver rather than the opposite.) Sundays should be restful and restoring. My hope is that readers will feel inspired and ready for the week. You can go ahead and sign up for it here so that you don't miss the first issue.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Best Bookstores in Nashville



One of my favorite parts of living in a city is that I have access to more bookstores than I did in the past. Bookstores are absolutely necessary for my happiness. Of course, I order books online sometimes, but I also need physical bookstore around.

Nashville Scene recently released the 2019 Best of Nashville list. Taking a look through the list inspired me to create my own list of the best bookstores in Nashville. My ranking is probably not based on the same criteria that Nashville Scene used, but I enjoyed making the list. And, regardless of how I ranked a bookstore, I'm appreciative of all bookstores in general.

Note: I left out any bookstores that I haven't visited yet.

7. Target 


Ok. So, this is not truly a bookstore, but it does have a book section which I browse every single time that I go in. Some days you just need to get unicorn socks, new lipstick, snacks, and the latest bestseller all in one place. Target is there for us on those day.

6. Books-A-Million


While it is true that big chain bookstores don't have the same personality that independent bookstores do, for a long time, chain bookstores were the only bookstores that I had access to. I grew up going to a Books-A-Million that was the only bookstore within an hour of where my family lived. Going there helped me to grow to love reading, so I will still go into a Books-A-Million every once in a while even when there are other options.

5. McKay's


This store is basically the book lover's dream. It has a gigantic selection of used books. Obviously, the prices are awesome, and it's fun to browse. Those two things make McKay's very popular. I really do like this place, but I do not like crowds. McKay's is almost always crowded when I go in, so I get trapped in the middle of the aisles while in peak book introvert mode. I keep going back though. Because sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get books.

4. Elder's Book Store


Another used bookstore, but not at all the same kind as McKay's. When I have a Beauty and the Beast -style library and am very wealthy (possibly unlikely thanks to my public school teacher salary) then this is the shop that I'll go in to in order to get the beautiful antique books that are going to fill my floor to ceiling shelves. Please, don't judge my life goals.

3. Rhino Bookseller


Third used bookstore! This one slightly edged out Elder's Book Store on my list because it has cats and because I can currently afford to buy books there. If you love bookstores with books piled on every available surface and with cosy little nooks, you'll love this place. It looks deceptively small from the outside, but there are lots of books inside.

2. Parnassus Books


First of all, this bookstore has the coolest name ever. It also has a great selection of popular books and local interest books. I am always able to find books that I want there. Plus, there are friendly shop dogs that wander around the store. The only negative to this place is that I find the parking lot challenging, but I find most parking lots challenging so that's more of a personal problem.

1. The Bookshop


It might be controversial to put the newest bookstore at the top of my list, but that's what I'm doing. The first time that I walked in, I discovered that someone had taken my idea of the perfect bookstore out of my head and made it real. This shop is small, but it's beautiful. And, despite the small selection almost every book is one that I have read, one that is on my list to read, or one that I want to read immediately after seeing it.



That's where my bookstore rankings are at the moment, but since I've only been in town for a few months, I should probably do more research (Thank you for pretending to believe this made up excuse to spend more time in more bookstores and buy more books).

What are your favorite bookstores? How to you judge the quality of a bookstore? Let me know in the comments below or comment on instagram.