Things I Love

Things I Love: December 1

Things I Love: December 1 | Writing Between Pauses

I can’t believe Blogmas is here! I can’t believe I’m already a bit behind! Isn’t that typical? Who knows if I will actually keep up on Blogmas this year—I did well with Blogtober, I knocked NaNoWriMo out of the park, but to be quite honest, I’m very tired. Like, extremely tired!

I’ll be resting on my laurels just a wee bit this Blogmas and doing a lot of Things I Love and Inspiration Sundays. Would you expect anything less from me? Or perhaps, more? (*laughing emoji here*)

Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Danny and I took a trip to Idaho for Thanksgiving. And gosh, sometimes I forget how much I like Idaho. I hated it in college, but it’s a different animal now. I was listening to a podcast recently about the book A Separate Peace, which I think is still a common high school assigned reading; they talked about how when you stop going to school (like a university), it sort of ceases to exist and every time you go back, there is a surreal quality to it because it is both changed and unchanged. The College of Idaho exists in my head exactly as when I went there… but it’s been completely changed in a lot of ways since then. It makes me super nostalgic, but also really sad because I wish I had more time as that version of myself.

It goes without saying… getting my house ready for Christmas is one of my absolute favorite parts of the year. I made this palette art last year in a class—and that’s a Balsam Fir scented candle from Bath & Body Works, of course.

This week, I impulsively bought these candies at Target. I don’t know why, but I expected mixed candy… and inside was a bunch of smaller bags of candy. They’re pretty delicious though and give me something sweet to eat that isn’t just chocolate. I’ve never been a big gummy candy fan (except Sour Patch Kids). Forrest has, of course, eaten all the little candy canes.

What are you loving this week?

Things I Love: October 27

Things I Love: October 27 | Writing Between Pauses

Another week, another TiLT! I wrote about turning 30 last week, because I was feeling sad and a bit panicky. But I’m going to return to my original format this week because I have a few things to talk about. (As always, you can read all my past Things I Love posts here.)

Here’s everything I loved this week.

1. New Skincare Products

I swear, I’ve been inundated with skincare products this week. Skincare is one of the hardest things for me to try and review because it takes a long time to get an idea of what the product does. And as someone whose skin is almost entirely controlled by my hormonal cycle, it is just really hard to know if results are because of a product or because of a change in my hormones!

However, I received these products from Influenster, which is very, very exciting. I don’t react very well to vitamin C serums, but hyaluronic acid is my absolute best friend these days. I’ll have a full review of these soon, as well as some other exciting skincare products!

2. Tan France Being Tan France

If you haven’t watched this new clip, a promo for Hasan Minhaj’s new show, then stop everything and watch it. Tan France is such a delight and so is Hasan (who I loved on the Daily Show). Them together is absolutely magical. (And I really need to know who hurt the girl around the 2:30 minute mark! Tell us everything, sweetie!)

3. The Trees Outside My House Are Finally Changing

I remarked on Instagram last week that the leaves still aren’t changing around my house yet. Some trees had already gone and were losing leaves. But the huge maple outside my house was ALL GREEN. Well, finally in the last two days, they started to change. It is finally getting a bit colder here and we had our first rain yesterday. The winter is on its way, but I am soaking up these last days of Oregon’s Autumn. The leaves are all beautiful right now because we haven’t gotten much rain. Everything is lush. I’m in heaven.

What are you loving this week?

Things I Love: October 20

Things I Love: October 20 | Writing Between Pauses

Well, it’s here. It’s arrived.

Today, I’m 30 years old.

When I was a teenager, 30 felt ancient. You always watch movies and it seems like by 30, most people have their shit together—and the people who don’t really, really, really do not have it together, but are actively working to get it together. Prime example? All the FRIENDS characters were in their mid-20s in the pilot episode (25-27, roughly).

Your 20s are supposed to be for finding yourself, getting it together, and setting yourself up for success in your 30s.

But what if you are staring down at being 30 and feel like you don’t have any of the pieces of your life just right?

I realize it sounds a little crazy for a parent to write that. Shouldn’t I, as the keeper of a small child, who depends on me, have it all figured out? Shouldn’t I have a plan?

The other day, I had a moment where I really, truly had a panic attack about turning 30. I can’t really put my finger on why I suddenly felt desperately, horribly afraid of turning 30. Most days, I spend my time on autopilot: I get my work done, I take care of Forrest, I make dinner, I clean the house top to bottom nearly every week. It feels like I’m stuck on a clock.

Writing this blog has been a huge way for me to keep “a bit of myself” as I descended into motherhood. Writing about beauty products and how I use them is freeing. And I want other mothers to feel free as well, to remember that it’s ok to take care of yourself alongside everyone else.

But on Sunday, I looked in the mirror and I thought, “I don’t know this person.”

I started reading blog posts and articles about turning 30, about being a mother, about self-care after 30 and realizing that my crisis isn’t specifically unique. But it is my own.

When I had Forrest, it felt like I was swallowed. Like “motherhood”—the big behemoth of motherhood—swallowed me up whole. For a long time, I didn’t really know who I was outside of being a mother. My days are dominated by Forrest and Forrest’s needs. I’m not resentful about it anymore; I’ve managed to regain a little bit of my foothold and feel like me.

But the woman I see in the mirror isn’t… me anymore. We all change as we age, but there is something about this change that feels particularly unwelcome. I don’t look older necessarily (I can thank my round face for that one), but i just don’t look like myself. I think this said it best, from an article called “What I Learned About Self-Care After 30”:

I was so consumed with being selfless that I never stopped to take care of myself, and it pretty much came to a head all at once.
I was nearing the end of my 20s when I looked in the mirror and barely recognized myself one day as I got out of the shower. I used to love doing face masks, getting my nails done, making sure my hair was cut, but most importantly, feeling good about myself and the way I presented myself to the world. That all had kinda stopped. Instead, I was staring back at a tired, overworked mom who hadn’t gotten a haircut in a whole year and couldn’t remember the last time she had a pedicure or even plucked her eyebrows. I felt horrible, and it pretty much got worse from there.

Remember how I mentioned that I hadn’t gotten a haircut in three whole years?

3 years! I went 3 years without a haircut! Without doing basic maintenance on myself.

I’m not quite as freaked out about turning 30 today as I was a few days ago. I’m still the same person I was then.

It is hard to compartmentalize my life: to be a blogger, a writer, a professional, and a mother. I am all of those things at once, but sometimes… well, most of the time, being a mother trumps them all. I will abandon blog posts, I will leave work early, all for my child. Because that’s my job. But is leaving myself last on the list—running myself ragged, not taking time to see my friends or do things I enjoy—part of that too?

It’s not. My goal for turning 30 is this: to start taking time to really focus on myself, to let myself become a person I recognize again, and to dedicate time to being the best mother, professional, and blogger I can be. Not just one.

Things I Want to Stop Doing

This is a bit of a different Things I Love isn’t it? I started out writing it fully intending to transition to my usual TiLT posts… but I’d rather leave it at this. I hope you all have a wonderful Saturday!

Things I Love: October 13

Things I Love: October 13 | Writing Between Pauses

You know what I love most about these posts? Being able to look back and see what was going on in my life this time last year. (You can read all my past Things I Love posts here.) It’s funny to imagine a year from now remembering this week through this very post.

It’s been a big week here! Danny’s parents are visiting, Forrest has had a third cold, and Danny had a day off yesterday. I’ve been working nonstop it feels like, plus I’ve been deep cleaning just about everything in my house. (Is this, perhaps, the Mrs. Hinch effect?) I have a lot of things on my list this week, but as usual, I’ve narrowed my TiLT to just three.

1. Fall Leaves

TiLT 1
TiLT 2

It’s so funny that some trees are already completely gone over to yellow, orange, or red; some trees are still half-and-half; and some trees, like the gigantic cedar just outside Danny & I’s house, are still completely green! I’m so thankful this year that the changing leaves is less all-at-once and more one-at-a-time. It gives me a little bit more time to enjoy those leaves (and take photos like these ones).

2. Spooky Season Is Here

Danny and I have a rule that we don’t watch certain movies outside of October. They are specifically for the run up to Halloween. This includes the Saw series, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Coraline, and a few more. Every night for the past week, we’ve been picking one of our scary movies from our collection and watching it. I don’t mention this much, but Danny is a movie collector, so we have a ton of movies—and I’m really grateful for it this time of year! I love finishing my workout, then going home to cross stitch and watch a classic scary movie!

3. Early Birthday Treats

Birthday Gift to Myself
It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Loose Powder

My birthday is the 20th and I may or may not be turning 30 years old. I’m trying not to actively freak out about it because 30 feels very big. I don’t remember being freaked out by turning 20, but I do sometimes wish I’d been a more teenager-y teenager instead of the anxiety monster I was! Anyway, it’s a big birthday, obviously, and I’m easing myself into it by getting myself a few treats.

And surprise, Danny gave me some early birthday presents this week too. He got me a new deck of Tarot cards, as well as a book on witchcraft that I’ve been wanting. I treated myself to the Too Faced Dew You foundation, as well as a new pot of It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores, my favorite setting powder of all time. I’ll have a full review of the foundation next month, but gosh, I love it already; it smells like watermelon!

Well, that’s it for this week. What have you been loving?

Things I Love: October 6

Things I Love: October 6 | Writing Between Pauses

Welcome back to another edition of Things I Love (or TiLT)! If you’d like to read past TiLTs, click here.

How is your October going so far? If you’re doing Blogtober, are you drowning yet? I swear, the past week has been the fastest of my life. I really thought I’d have more time with Forrest in preschool, but I feel like I somehow have even less time.

Thankfully, it’s the best time of the year! I love, love, love October. Danny and I are on a little vacation this weekend (oh la la) so he can attend a teacher’s union event; Forrest and I are therefore having a little mommy-son bonding time. You can follow me on Instagram for photos from our little trip. MAKE SURE TO LINK.

Without further ado, here’s everything I’ve loved from the first week of October.

1. Happy Birthday, Forrest

Sunday was Forrest’s birthday. It’s hard to believe that I’m the parent of a 3-year-old and not a baby anymore. And each day, I am consistently impressed with the wonderful, kind, caring, gentle boy he is. He loves nothing more than reading books, coloring, and playing with blocks. He loves school in the way that I loved school (which makes me so so proud). There are a million and one perfect, wonderful things I could write about Forrest, but I’ll keep this short: celebrating my boy is always going to be one of the best parts of my week.

2. Apple Picking & Assorted Apple Desserts

Technically, I went apple picking last week. However, I’ve been making apple everything because I have about 10 pounds of apples in my house right now! I’ve made apple strudel, apple pie, apple hand pies, applesauce, and, of course, caramel apples. It’s a nonstop apple party at our house and it’s so, so worth it. (And if you don’t go apple picking, I highly recommend it! Support your local orchards!)

3. October Traditions

Do you have a very specific October tradition? Mine is these cookies. In the first week of October, I have to buy and bake a box. It’s just the way I start the month! I got these ones mid-September to bake with Forrest before his birthday, but during the week, I definitely picked up a new box to make! They’re the perfect little cookie. Yes, I know they are processed as hell. Yes, I know they aren’t really that good as far as cookies go. But I love them. They are nostalgia in a box!

Things I Love: December 23


It's another Things I Love... but this time it's an "it's almost Christmas!" edition. 

Danny and I are currently in Idaho to celebrate Christmas with his family. We had an exciting trip getting here (3 inches of packed snow on the pass we have to drive to get here? Sure!), but we are glad to be here and we have plenty to celebrate and love this week. Considering we almost called it off, we are really excited and lucky to be here. (Getting home will be a different story!) 

I'm glad I planned to do another Things I Love today; I think it's the perfect time of year for it. So without further ado, here's everything I'm loving from this past week. 

1. Finishing my Advent Calendar

Have I put this on both of my TiL's this month? Yes. Do I regret it? No. As I mentioned in the review post I wrote about it, I'd never done an advent calendar that wasn't just waxy pieces of chocolate and the Night Before Christmas poem behind each door! So it's quite exciting and different for me. I posted each day's item on my Instagram as well, which was a fun series (even if a lot of people were totally bored by it)! 

2. Making new Christmas Traditions with Forrest

I'm very used to celebrating Christmas at my house with my family. Visiting Danny's family for Christmas is an entirely new experience and I realized it's made me actually have more fun than I thought I would. As well, Forrest is having a blast here in Idaho. It snowed yesterday evening; we decorated cookies our first night in town; and we spent Friday visiting friends, going shopping, and watching Christmas movies. (You can read my post about all my favorite Christmas traditions here.) 

3. My daily gratitude thread

I recently started challenging myself to post a short list of things I'm grateful for every single day on Twitter. I really enjoy doing it every day and while most people seem to ignore it (it's mainly for myself), it's something I want to try to keep up through the new year. 

Things I Love: December 16

Things I Love: December 16 | Writing Between Pauses

Welcome to another Things I Love (aka TiL)! I did these throughout October/Blogtober and really enjoyed them. They're not great for evergreen content, but they are really, really fun to write. 

Originally, I had another gift guide on my editorial calendar. Every single December, I plan these gift guides and, I'm going to be absolutely honest here, I know I'm not great that them. And, again, absolute honesty, I really hate writing them. I like thinking about them; I like once they're posted; but they are such a bugbear for me to write. I really, really dislike it. 

As the week leading up to this post wore on and I just hadn't written anything, I thought, you know, Michelle, you don't have to write gift guides if you hate it. So I scratched it off my calendar and added in another Things I Love. Because, why not? It's Christmas after all and I can do what I want. 

Now, let's talk about the fun stuff: things I'm loving this week. 

Ulta Beauty 12 Days Advent Calendar | Writing Between Pauses

1. My Ulta Beauty 12 Days of Beauty Advent Calendar

When Danny asked me what I wanted in my stocking, I really didn't know what to tell him. I thought about it for a while and when I spotted this 12 day Advent calendar in the Ulta Beauty catalogue I get in the mail... I kind of knew that's what I wanted. Advent Calendars aren't really a thing in the U.S. (although they're getting more popular), so it is a new concept for me. It was only $13.50 so Danny bought it for me (er, I bought it for myself and he was there). I have been loving opening each day. I've been sharing on my Instagram here

2. My new homepage

So you may have noticed something odd (if you visit my website via the main link): I created a home page to make the blog page secondary. I'd been wanting to mix up the look of my blog for a while, except that right now, it just kind of "works" for lack of a better word! However, I got the idea to create a new page and add a carousel to display my most recent blog posts. Easy peasy and I have the look I want for my homepage now! 

3. Salma Hayek's Op-Ed about Harvey Weinstein

I love reading powerful pieces of writing by women, but I wish this wasn't one of them. It's an important one though. Salma Hayek deserved a better career and the things that were done to her were catastrophic to her achievement. But most importantly, Hayek touches on something I have been thinking about a lot: is it possible to separate the art from the artist? And at the end of the day, when an artist is accused of doing something awful, you have to consider the reality that behind that person, there are other people who were capable of creating beautiful, meaningful pieces of art. What about the art all the women Weinstein hurt would have created? What have we missed out on from not seeing their work? And not just Weinstein, but everyone accused of hurting and silencing women for their own gain? So, next time someone suggests we can separate art from the artist, remember that: there is better art out there from people who were silenced. How about we look at that instead? 

4. Cat Person

Another piece of brilliant writing from a woman? Is it Christmas? (Yes.) This short story went viral on Twitter and for good reason. While the takeaway for many is that this is an individually bad person depicted, I think it goes deeper. To me, this short story is about emotional labor: the dance that women undertake to prevent men from experiencing uncomfortable feelings (either out of fear or just not wanting to "hurt" another person). We are socially conditioned into these roles and I certainly find myself doing it with everyone, not just my husband. It is magnificently written and filled with a kind of slow, undertone of dread that feels very, very familiar. Highly recommend. I've been obsessed with it the last week! 

Things I Love: October 14

Things I Love: October 14 | Writing Between Pauses

Another week, another TiLT! I've been really enjoying keeping notes for these posts, because it gives me something to really look forward to writing. 

How is everyone feeling about Blogtober? As I've posted on Twitter, I've been feeling exhausted from so much writing and planning. Basically, trying to stay ahead of writing 7 blog posts a week (usually in advance) is really difficult for me--but I'm glad I'm making it work and hopefully you are all enjoying these posts! 

Anyway, without further ado, let's get to the things I love this week, shall we? 

1. #WizardTeam: A Harry Potter Podcast

I swear, I don't mean to include a new podcast every week... but I really, really love this one. #SorryNotSorry. I love the podcast Potterotica, but sometimes I just wanna hear my fellow nerds talk Harry Potter. #WizardTeam is run by the women behind Black Girls Create and I've been binging the past episodes of the podcast to catch up. I have 110 episodes to catch up on. I'll be done in... two weeks. That's my prediction. 

Pumpkin Patch 1 | Writing Between Pauses
Pumpkin Patch 2 | Writing Between Pauses

2. Pumpkin Patches

Listen. Guys. I really love October. I really love Autumn. Need you question why pumpkin patches is on this list!? We made it out to our favorite farm and pumpkin patch on Sunday and it was so much fun. Forrest is so obsessed that I think we abandoned him in a pumpkin patch, he'd be fine. He would have spent all day there. We came home with 7 (yes, 7!!) large pumpkins and 5 (yes, 5!!!) small pumpkins. You read those numbers right. I would almost be embarrassed, but our porch is looking adorable. 

Winery | Writing Between Pauses

3. Visiting Wineries

Danny and I aren't the kind of people that usually go to wineries. I'm not entirely sure why not, because we always have a lot of fun. And now, Danny works just down the road from a really nice, fun winery that we visited last week. We had so much fun! We sampled wines, watched Forrest point out every flower, and spent time chatting with our friends. It was warm, it was Autumnal, it was fun. I loved every minute.