Monday, December 15, 2014

14 from '14: My Top 14 from 2014

Like most people around me, I cannot believe it's December and that the year is already coming to a close. 2014 is over? Whaaaaat? This has definitely been one of the fastest passing years but as we all come to know, time moves faster and faster every year we get older. It's just a crazy concept to me. Some days it feels like we just got summer back and now we're prepping for Christmas. I don't mind that - this is my favorite time of year!

What I want to do today is highlight 14 of my favoite finds/moments/experiences/items from 2014 - get it? The 14 from '14? Sorry, that was my attempt at being clever.

They're in no particular order (no playing favorites now!) and some may be repetitive to other blog posts so I apologize in advance if you're thinking "OKAY SARA, WE GET IT!" with some of them. So without further ado, let's get this party started!

1. EMC World in Las Vegas, May 5-8
This trip was full of so many firsts for me. The only other time I have been on an airplane was when I was 7 so going to Vegas for this work event was CRAZY. Luckily, Cody came along. EMC employees usually bring spouses to Vegas for our annual conference. While we work, they get to play, but hey, it's a free hotel stay for them so why not? Cody had so much fun exploring (he sent me constant selfies on his adventures while I was stuck working our booth) and I learned SO MUCH. I conquered a lot of fears and was very proud of myself for accomplishing the whole thing: the airplane, embracing a new place and experience, all of it! Cody and I had a great time together as well. I did work for most of it but we explored at night. We are definitely looking forward to the next EMC World in 2015!

2. One Pot Pastas (aka Wonderpots)
One thing I made a lot of this year were one pot pastas. TELL ME you've heard about this concept. Google it and you can probably find a plethora of recipes. Basically, a one pot pasta is a recipe that makes it possible to cook EVERYTHING together in one pot: the pasta, the sauce, the add-ins, all of it. Insanity, right? I've made all kinds of one pot pastas: Italian, Alfredo, primavera, lo mein, chili mac, taco pasta, scampi, all the pasta you can name! I originally discovered the idea of a one pot pasta on BuzzFeed. They listed 21 recipes and I think I have made about half of them by now. They're just so easy and convenient and most only take 30 minutes, which makes weeknight meals super simple!

3. New Couches!
Actually, it's new couch, singular, because we ended up going with a sectional, but you get the idea. Before I moved in with Cody, he rented our house by himself. We knew we would be moving in together within the year so when his lease was up and an awesome rental house was available for an awesome price, we figured it was worth him getting so that when we were ready to merge lives, we'd already have the place. Since he moved in, he's had hand-me-downs for couches from his parents' basement. These were OLD couches - slouchy, lumpy, torn up couches. This fall, we started talking about buying our own furniture and we started shopping around. Finally, a few weeks ago, we made a decision and invested in one heck of a sectional couch - I even got my chaise on the end, which is where I am sitting right now. I call it our living room boat because it is SO BIG! When it's just Cody and I, it feels way too large but when our friends are over, it's awesome! Everyone gets a seat and no one has to sit on the floor or the Love Sac bean bag chair.

4. Inbound 2014 Conference
This fall, HubSpot, a marketing automation software system I use everyday at work, held their annual conference called Inbound. I went with my team last year and we loved it. This year, I went by myself. I was kind of terrified but knew I could do it. The conference is always in Boston so it'd only be a 40 minute travel for me. Even though it's local, my boss told me to get a hotel room so I wouldn't have to worry about rush hour traffic every day. So I did! Then Cody dropped me off at the train station, I commuted in, grabbed a cab to the conference center, and spent 3 days immersing myself in all things marketing. I had a BLAST despite a terrible cold I had as well as my period (sorry, TMI?). Those challenges combined with my already existing anxiety struggles make it a big accomplishment in my book. I survived commuting in by myself, learned a lot from the conference, stayed in a lovely hotel by myself, explored and found a pub to have dinner in one night (by myself!), and traveled back. As Cody pulled into the train station to pick me up after it all, I was so proud of myself and relieved. I DID IT. I did it all by myself and I didn't let my anxiety and fear deter me from doing it. It was a great experience!

5. Poppy England
This summer I discovered Poppy England, a clothing company in London who makes beautiful clothing for women and little girls. The prints are made in-house and are based on a little girl and her dog's adventures in London. The storybook concept combined with the idea of buying an outfit for you and your little girl made me swoon. I splurged and got myself a skirt, which I gushed about before on the blog. Someday, I will go to London and when I am there, I hope I get to visit Poppy England. What a dream trip that would be!

6. LP "Forever For Now"
One of my favorite albums from this year has been LP's "Forever For Now." I first discovered LP from a free download iTunes offered over a year ago. I made sure to keep her on my radar so that when her album was released, I'd indulge in the whole thing. This year, the album was released and I fell in love. The song I first got hooked on was "A Night Like This" but soon the whole album was being played on repeat. LP is funky, unique, and such a fresh sound from what's out there on the radio. I also feel a connection to her since we're sort of hair twins with our crazy thick and curly hair. That aside, her voice is raw and so interesting to me. If you want something different, check out LP.

7. Friendsgiving
On November 22nd, Cody and I hosted our very first Friendsgiving, which is just what it sounds like: Thanksgiving with your friends. We were in charge of the turkey - our first one! We named our 20lb bird Frank and actually had a lot of fun getting the bird in the pan and stuffing it with yummy things like onions, celery, and carrots. Then it cooked for a whopping four and a half hours and I spent the entire time worrying that it would come out terrible. I had never done it before so who's to say it'd be a success? Cody and I were pretty proud when we served it - it came out great! Everyone brought something with them to complete the meal and everything was delicious. I was so glad we decided to host it and am excited to keep the trend going. It was fun to have everyone in one place and share our home with our good pals. We also had SO much dessert - there are still nearly 3 whole pies sitting in my kitchen right now. Hey, no shame in pie for breakfast!

8. The One I Love
I am actually watching this movie as I write this blog and it is definitely the strangest, most interesting, and intriguing movie I've seen in a long time. It's about a distressed couple who goes to a getaway cottage that is known for bringing couples back together. They stay the weekend to try to fix their relationship and notice something weird - Ethan cannot recall having sex with Sophie only 10 minutes prior and then Ethan finds Sophie making breakfast in the morning as if they didn't fight the night before. Soon, they discover there may be another version of them living in the guest house at the cottage - the better versions of them. Elizabeth Moss plays Sophie (she's one of my favorites) and Mark Duplas plays Ethan. This movie is crazy!!! It's so good though!

9. In Your Face tripod mount for iPhone
So this year I got really into taking Outfit of the Day photos to document the outfits I was rocking everyday. It sounds silly but there really is a whole community full of ladies who share their fashion sense and style on Instagram and blogs, etc. It's incredible! I didn't have a really good way of taking these pictures. The typical selfie didn't capture the entire outfit and I practically had to beg a sleepy Cody to take them in the morning (he got tired of that really fast). So I did some research and ended up buying a wireless remote shutter for my iPhone from Photojojo and then I found a mount for my tripod that fits an iPhone. Genius! Now all I have to do is stick my iPhone onto my tripod in the morning, snap away with my remote and I have my own self portraits!

10. Steve
Some of you may know who I refer to when I say Steve, but for those who don't, Steve is our bearded dragon that we got in May of this year. We already have a tortoise named Clarence but Cody has always wanted another reptile so we decided on a bearded dragon. When we got him, he was so tiny he could hug our finger! Now, he's quite a bit bigger and he has grown on me. I still don't hold him like Cody does but he certainly has a funny personality and he can be quite cute. Cody is in charge of feeding him (as he eats live bugs like dubia roaches and super worms - ew!) but I give him greens and sometimes will rub his head. He leans into your touch like a cat does when you scratch its ears and it's so cute!

11. Moving in/My Dressing Room
Cody and I decided to move in together this fall. We had planned it that way and I was slowly bringing stuff to the new house all summer. It made the final move in day so much easier. All that was left were some boxes and the furniture. What we love about our house is that we have 3 bedrooms - one for us to sleep in and one for each of us to do what we want with! Cody made a man cave and has a futon in his along with his guitars and amps and pedals. We put my TV from my place in there too so that if I am watching one of my shows or movies he can go in there to watch South Park or whatever man child cartoon is on. I love my room - I have my own dressing room! I have all my dresses on display and after I take a shower, I just walk down the hall to my dressing room and get ready for my day. It's been SO AWESOME! I always hated closing my clothes up in a closet (not to mention trying to fit it all into a closet) so now, my pretties can breathe and be on display. I also have my Mac in there for when I have a gig and have photos to edit. It's become such a cute little space for me.

12. Flair for the Fantastic Skirt in Cameras
One of my absolute favorite items I bought this year was my camera skirt by Bea & Dot. It was one of the items I saw on ModCloth and without hesitation purchased. A skirt covered in vintage cameras? How could I NOT? It fits me perfectly, can be worn in so many ways, and is just so eye-catching and unique. I always get compliments when I wear it. It has the retro vibe I always dig and is just my personality in a skirt. I am always tempted to wear it everyday but have to hold back. It is definitely one of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe, hands down.

13. Mary Lambert "Heart on My Sleeve"
This is an album I bought recently but already love dearly. Mary Lambert is amazing. She's got this retro look about her, such a sweet voice, and some awesome songs. Her album is interesting - it goes from having the fun, lively, quirky "Secrets" to the slow, hit you in the feels ballad, "When You Sleep." I love her voice - it's sweet, feminine, and drips with honey - and even though her sound isn't completely unique, it's genuine and her lyrics are more real than some I've heard from similar artists. I'm all for a genuine artist!

14. What If?
What If was one of my favorite movies this year. I watch a lot of Netflix movies on DVD still (I cannot accept not being able to watch movies on Instant so I pay for a DVD plan as well) and sometimes they're decent, sometimes they suck, and SOMETIMES they are AMAZING. I was due for an amazing find. I found one! Mr. Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, is in it. As is one of my favorite actresses, Zoe Kazan. There are a lot of people in it I know from other places, actually. This movie reminded me of 500 Days of Summer in the sense that it had such artsy pieces between the scenes. While an actor explains how to make a sandwich, the film cuts to a pair of chef's hands making said sandwich. Just small bits like that throughout the movie - which I fell in love with within 15 minutes of watching. Check it out!