5 Essentials for a Cozy Night In

5 Essentials for a Cozy Night In | Writing Between Pauses

I’ve never been much for going out in the evening—although there is something delightfully nostalgic about late, Autumn nights out with friends. When school starts back again and you have a football game to go to, or you just spend the evening at someone else’s house… everything just feels a bit surreal on those evenings, with the leaves changing, the temperature just a smidge colder than you remember it being barely 3 weeks ago when you were spending summer nights outside. But that being said: I would much rather spend my evening at home rather than going out.

Forrest’s sleep schedule has been bonkers the last few weeks, so Danny and I haven’t gotten as many of our cozy nights together as we like. However, he’s finally figuring things out and getting better, so we’re already planning an Autumnal movie marathon (which is our personal favorite way to spend the evening in Fall). I thought I’d share a few of those cozy night essentials that everyone needs—with some links to my favorite products.

cozy night in products

1. A Hot Toddy

Do you like hot drinks? Over the past year, I’ve definitely become more of an iced coffee person—but my day doesn’t start without a hot, cup of coffee. And sometimes in the evening, there is nothing like a good hot toddy or nice cup of tea. I had originally planned to have 4 of my favorite drink recipes up today, but I still have to photograph one of them. Instead, I’ll share these for now: my 4 favorite autumnal teas (still my top 4 Fall favorites!) and 4 hot toddies just for the holidays. Whip up your favorite, settle into the couch, and get ready to be cozy.

2. A good movie

As I’ve said, I have extremely specific movie preferences, but if you’re in need of motivation, here are a few posts I’ve written on the matter:

hygge night in

3. A good board game

Danny is a huge fan of board games and I, unfortunately, am not necessarily. I’ll play, but I don’t love it. He’s always quite fond of card games and has somehow talked my entire family into being obsessed with Cover Your Assets. If you’re indifferent to games and love them, they’re a great way to spend a cozy evening that isn’t watching TV or playing on your phone (although I will personally be curled into a ball on the couch playing with my phone).

4. Your (new) favorite cuddly socks

Little known Michelle fact: I am deeply, deeply obsessed with socks.

One of my weirdest OCD triggers is stepping on any sort of debris in my house in my bare feet, so to minimize this (since it’s impossible to keep your floors 100% clean when you have a dog and a preschooler), I wear slippers and socks nearly constantly in my house. I go through 2-3 pairs of slippers every single year, but in the winter, I start wearing heavy socks.

I, of course, have sock recommendations if you love cozy socks. These are also great under boots if you live in a colder climate, but I mostly wear them around the house so my feet don’t absolutely freeze.

5. Good snacks

Who doesn’t love snacks?! I’m sure there is someone out there and you know what? You are valid. (Also, please send me your tips for hating snacks. Thanks.)

Danny and I usually try to have one very healthy snack alongside something slightly more indulgent: we might pick, say, a Daily Harvest* smoothie to share plus Doritos. Or pretzel chips dipped in Hungryroot Almond Butter and buttery popcorn. It’s about balance. On a cozy night in, we like to have a small spread of snacks to eat: fruits & veggies, smoothies, chips, pretzels, a good mix of sweet and savory. Keeping things balanced can keep us from feeling that specific “food hangover” feeling in the morning.

(Psssst… not to be a total shill, but if you want to try Daily Harvest, they have some amazing Autumnal smoothies & harvest bowls right now—and they just introduced grain bowls! You can use my code PAUSES for 3 free cups in your first order!)

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. 

Things I Love: October 7

Things I Love October 7 | Writing Between Pauses

Remember that Inspiration Sunday post I did? Well, waaaay back when I first started blogging everyone used to do Things I Love posts… especially Things I Love Thursdays (TiLT). It was a staple of blogging. When you had nothing else to write about, you’d do a TiLT. Boring week? TiLT. Feeling a bit bored with your blog? TiLT. It was easy. And, honestly, it was fun. 

Blogging can feel a bit stuffy now. Everyone trying to think of the best clickbait titles, trying to make the best Pinterest-worthy graphics, trying to write evergreen content. Siiiigh. 

In Blogtober, I wanted to take things back to what I originally loved about blogging… that sometimes you just put up… whatever. that you posted the things that were really happening in your life. Nothing glossed over. No perfect photos of your curated living room. No boomerangs of your vacation that ignored your lost luggage or the fact you cried for 20 minutes because you missed your dog. We wrote honestly back then. And while it’s not better or worse now, it’s just different—but I do miss a little bit of that rawness. 

I say, let’s bring back the TiLT. Let’s make this a thing again. Ok, I’ll make it a thing again. Here’s what I’m loving this week. 

1. My One Line a Day journal

I was inspired to get a One Line a Day journal by both Charlotte and one of my mom friends. My mom friend has a toddler a few months younger than Forrest and while we’ve both always been journal keepers, it is much harder to keep up on after having children. Some nights I can write for hours; others, I can barely lift the pen. It just depends! However, a One Line a Day format gives me the space to just write one fun or important thing that happened. Recent entries include Forrest saying something particularly funny or what we made for lunch together or how he made me sad that he destroyed the Halloween gingerbread house we built together. Just little things! 

2. Family Trips

My husband and I decided, before Forrest was born, that we would try not to do a ton of gifts for birthdays and Christmas (and other gift-focused holidays). We wanted to focus on creating experiences for him, whether that is a party, taking him on a day trip, or taking him on a longer vacation. For Forrest's birthday, we decided to visit the aquarium; I got him a few books for birthday gifts and our relatives got him some presents, but our gift to him was an aquarium trip. He loved it! And it was so much more fun for all of us to have a nice drive to the coast, visit the aquarium, get lunch together, and then get ice cream together. 

3. And That's Why We Drink

If you know me, you know I'm an absolute podcast addict. I have a weekly schedule and I look forward to my favorites every week. I've recently been binging a new favorite: And That's Why We Drink. It's a paranormal and true crime podcast. Sometimes in the true crime community, I feel out of place because I also love paranormal stuff--but this podcast combines the best of both worlds. Like My Favorite Murder, I love that it is a less serious take and is just two friends talking to each other. While I love podcasts like Casefile and In Sight, sometimes I just want something more casual and this absolutely fits the bill. I tip my milkshake to Em and Christine. 

Tell me your favorite things on Twitter

5 Best Products from e.l.f. Cosmetics

best elf drugstore products make up beauty

Let’s talk drugstore products for a minute. 

I remember, years ago, when I was 12 or 13 and just starting to get into make up, that drugstore make up was all I really knew. To me, make up was either from the drugstore or from somewhere like Clinique. Clinique felt elderly, a little geriatric (and at the time, it was). 

In the last few years, make up has had kind of a renaissance: brands like Clinique have been reborn and are more popular than ever, alongside other high end brands, like Kat Von D, Marc Jacobs Beauty, and others. And drugstore make up, at the same time, has kind of grown up too. 

No more cheap Bonne Bell chapsticks and Wet’n’Wild eyeshadow that looked purely iridescent on your eyelids. No cheap, oily lipsticks and lip glosses that got everywhere in your purse. No, drugstore make up is more expensive than it used to be (without being as expensive as high end competitors) and it’s way better than it used to be. 

Which is where e.l.f. cosmetics comes in. E.l.f. is one of those brands that everyone knows: they’re at Target; they’re super cheap; and they’re known for being super, super cheap. So cheap you actually wonder just how they do it. So cheap that people tend not to buy it because they think it will suck. 

E.l.f. is one of those brands that people overlook and they shouldn’t. (I would argue Wet’n’Wild, despite its reputation as the make up of my childhood, is another amazing brand.) One reason why both e.l.f and Wet’n’Wild rock is that they are entirely cruelty free and have a pretty large selection of vegan products as well. 

Without further ago, I want to share my 5 favorite e.l.f. products. 

1. Natural Glow Face Palette in Fresh & Flawless

This is the palette pictured in my photo. If you’re wondering, to me, it’s the perfect travel palette. It has two blush colors: a cool-toned peachy pink and a crisp, rosy pink color. Both are very pigmented without making you look like a kewpie doll. It also has a bronzer, which is a great cool-toned ashy contouring color. The last square is the slightly lavender-tinted highlight; it’s not the most “blinding” highlight (as the YouTube beauty gurus would say), but it does the job. This is a great travel palette. The price? $8. 

2. Contour Palette

I wish this had a funkier name, but honestly, it doesn’t really need it. This is the first contour palette I ever bought and, at first, I was disappointed that it wasn’t cream. (I thought it was. I’m terrible at reading, I guess.) I’d only seen cream contours used in Instagram videos and wanted to try them. I ended up giving this a whirl and, honestly, this is another perfect palette for traveling. It has a killer highlight shade, a great brightening shade, and then two great contour shades; I used the lighter shade for most of my face and then the darker shade for my jawline (sparingly). I’ve been using it for 2 years now and, honestly, I’ll never buy another contour palette. I just don’t need it. And guess what? It’s $6. 

3. Aqua Beauty Blush & Bronzer duos

I’m kind of a sucker for blushes. For a long time, I only bought pink-toned blushes, but recently, I’ve been gravitating towards more cool-toned violets and peach shades. What’s up with that? This blush in Bronzed Peach is one of the prettiest colors I’ve ever seen: the bronzer is great for along your hairline and to use instead of contouring. And the blush? Silky, smooth, super pigmented, the perfect blush, honestly. Don’t buy those expensive Too Faced peach blushes; get this baby instead. It’s only $6. Buy two! (The Bronzed Violet is killer too.) 

4. Baked Eyeshadow Palette

Eyeshadow is the one area of drugstore beauty that is still lagging behind. Foundations are great; face products are great; but eyeshadows? Eyeshadow formulas are hard to do, I guess, because I’m still struggling to find great drug store eye products. That being said, I love (love) my Baked Eyeshadow Palette from elf. I have the Texas palette, but I’m really wishing I had the California palette. These eyeshadows are pretty pigmented (with a fair amount of fallout, but again, not bad for drugstore) and when you use a wet brush or your finger… girl, stand back. And it’s $10. Buy all three palettes and you still haven’t paid as much as you would for one Too Faced palette. 

5. Brushes

Listen: brushes are a necessary evil when it comes to make up. I hate buying them because they can be so expensive. But, e.l.f. brushes are so affordable and honestly, work so good. I love the Contouring Brush, the Ultimately Blending brush (perfect for blending out your contour or blush if you get a little heavy-handed), the Blush Brush, and the Total Face Brush (perfect for swiping off excess powder after baking). All of these brushes are less than $7 a piece. Considering a single Morphe brush can be $14+, that’s a bargain. 

10 Quotes to Use on Instagram

I've written before about how I struggle with Instagram captions. It's definitely a challenge for me to write engaging content both on my blog and on so many social media platforms! But I'm trying... I started thinking recently about quotes that can be used in captions to add a bit of humor, thought, and, of course, engagement. I found a few great ones on Pinterest that I thought would be perfect to share. 

  1. Everybody has a chapter they don't read out loud. 
  2. Better an "oops" than a "what if." 
  3. "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." ee cummings 
  4. We look up at the stars and see such different things. 
  5. "Maybe one day we'll finally learn to love ourselves and stop apologizing for the things that make us who we are." R.M. Drake
  6. "Of course I feel too much, I'm a universe of exploding stars." S. Ajna 
  7. We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone. 
  8. You can ask the universe for all the signs you want, but ultimately, we see what we want to see when we're ready to see it. 
  9. Don't let someone dim your light, simply because it's shining in their eyes. 
  10. When it rains, look for rainbows. When it's dark, look for stars. 

For more great Instagram captions, I always turn to Pinterest. You can follow me here

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The Perfect Holiday Bucket List

I get...overly excited about the holidays, I'll admit it. I'm one of those people who get excited once September starts because first, it's Halloween, then it's Thanksgiving, and then it's Christmas. It all is just a snowball: one favorite holiday after another. Then, a stretch of months until summer returns. Oof, that stretch of January through May is hard. So I really believe in making the most of October through December. 

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday; however, as I've gotten older, I've found myself favoring Thanksgiving because it combines my favorite parts of Christmas without the pressure of giving gifts. Either way, though, I consider late October to be the start of the "Holiday season," starting with Halloween.

I wanted to share my holiday bucket list for this year. Sometimes, I frame these things as "goals," but they're not really goals, are they? They won't really improve my life in any way; I just really want to do them. 

So, here it is: my holiday bucket list. 

1. Take Forrest to a Halloween party

I have never been a fan of trick-or-treating, I should probably come clean about that, and I'm not 100% sold on Forrest doing it. I am, however, very into Halloween parties and festivals. Our town has a ton of options--including trick-or-treat at downtown businesses, several Trunk or Treats at local churches, and at least one Halloween festival. We'll be picking our favorite as Halloween approaches and taking Forrest. 

2. Go Christmas light hunting.

This is one of my favorite things to do at Christmas: load up the car with a snack and some hot cocoa and then, just drive around looking at the best Christmas lights. I love the houses that go all out, even if I don't!  

3. Get the perfect Christmas card photo of Forrest.

This is truly a bucket list item, considering the fact that Forrest barely sits still to eat, let alone for a photo. 

4. Buy matching Holiday pajamas. 

5. Find Forrest a really cute, entirely inappropriate outfit for Thanksgiving

I'm talking fancy suit level inappropriate! Last year, I dressed him in a tiny sweater vest at Christmas and it was totally adorable, totally uncomfortable, and totally inappropriate for a tiny baby. However, it made for some great photos, so I refuse to stop doing it. 

6. Sing Christmas carols with Forrest

Forrest is just starting to get the singing thing and he loves music. I like to imagine us dancing around the Christmas tree, in matching pajamas, singing at each other. But most likely, I'll just turn on a Spotify station while we eat breakfast. 

7. Help Forrest put ornaments on the tree. 

We probably won't do a real, or very big, tree this year because Forrest would undoubtedly tear it down, but I really want to get him involved in decorating. 

8. Make Christmas cookies

My absolute favorite Christmas tradition! I'll probably make some eggless cookie dough that Forrest can roll out and safely eat (because most likely, he will just put it in his mouth), and then he will get to try his first real sugar cookie. 

What's on your holiday bucket list this year? 

I Woke Up Like This: Top 5 Secrets to Getting Up Earlier in the Morning

Treat yo' self: getting up in the morning doesn't have to be awful. 

We all know someone who hits the snooze two or three or ten times every morning. 

That person, for me, is my husband, Danny. He hits snooze for about an hour every morning -- so by the time my alarm goes off, I've actually been awake for 30-45 minutes. Thanks, bro!

Getting up in the morning can be difficult. I go through cycles where I can wake up easily -- and then go into a phase where I wake up groggy, hit the snooze, and have no motivation. It tends to cycle around my eating and workout habits, which is incredibly motivating. Just kidding -- it's not motivating at all. 

I have found a few tried and true ways to get up earlier. Here they are. 

1. Don't hit snooze. 

I know, that's the worst. But don't. As I've written before, the more decisions you make, the harder it can be to make other decisions. So if you spend your mornings hitting the snooze, every time you decide to hit that snooze button, you're reducing your decision-making abilities for the rest of the day. Oops. Yikes. Uh-oh. Plus, hitting snooze doesn't actually give you more rest -- it can actually make you more tired. Which isn't very good. 

2. Promise yourself something. 

Bribes are not always the way to get stuff done unless you really like bribes. If that's the case, they are a really good idea. Basically, what I'm saying is: if you need to tempt yourself out of bed by saying "you can have a massive Starbucks this morning," then you should do that. Sometimes, I bribe myself with a treat, like a bagel for lunch or my favorite dinner, or something else, like a new pair of leggings I've been wanting. 

3. Set your alarm across the room. 

I know, we've all heard this one before. But it's because it works. Whether you use a traditional alarm clock or your cell phone, putting it across the room is the easiest way to get up in the morning. I actually put my phone on the windowsill so I have to physically get up and move to the coldest part of the room in the morning -- this pretty much instantly wakes me up! 

4. If you're getting up to work out, wear your gym clothes to bed. 

That way you don't have to change into cold workout clothes immediately upon getting up. It makes it so much easier to just get up and go. You literally have nothing stopping you -- you're dressed and everything! I know Charlotte at Girl Next Door does this and she runs marathons, so that's very impressive. 

5. Have everything ready. 

Waking up can be a huge pain, especially if you have a bunch today. But preparing a lunch for your work day, picking out an outfit, and getting your coffee ready to brew can make a huge difference in helping your morning go smoothly. Every morning, I have breakfast waiting in a Tupperware to heat up and eat as I get ready, plus my coffee starts brewing as I'm showering; my lunch and snacks are prepacked in the fridge, Forrest's breakfast is ready, and I have bottles prepped for the day. 

Have your own tips for getting up early? Share with me on Twitter!

6 Beauty Products I Refuse to Live Without

Confession: For the last 6 months, I have really fallen down on skin care. I found myself hurriedly rubbing foundation on my face and putting on mascara then bolting out the door (Forrest in tow) for doctors appointments, lunch dates, and, worst, work. Combined with the fact that I wear leggings and a sweatshirt 2-3 days a week, it was adding up to a pretty bad look (as well as making me feel pretty sloppy most of the time). 

A few weeks ago, I decided it was time: Forrest is old enough to entertain himself for 30-40 minutes at a time (even if he whines about it), which means I deserve time to shower and get ready like a normal human. I also set a goal that I wasn't going to leave the house in the same sweatshirt I'd worn 20 days in a row ever again. 

I started cleaning out my make up in the mean time. I have a lot of crap I've collected over the years, as well as some favorites that I'd let myself run out of. After deciding to repurchase all my favorites and start from scratch, I realized there are a few things I just refuse to give up. 

1. Laura Geller Spackle Supercharged Primer, $32. 

The struggle is real when it comes to primers and oily skin. People with oily skin need a primer more than anyone else, but literally no primers are made for oily skin. None. Most of them leave the skin feeling slick (and trust me, I've tried tons). However, Laura Geller's Spackle Supercharged is, hands down, the best primer I've ever used. A solid runner up is Tarte's tinted BB cream, but it is the same price for a smaller tube. I like a good bang for my buck! I wear this everyday and my foundation is usually set through the entire day. 

2. Urban Decay Primer Potion, $12.

This is one of those stupid expensive things that I know I could probably find a cheaper dupe of, but I just don't want to. It's so good. It's good for eyelids and keeping eyeshadow and liner set all day. It's also good for blemishes and keeping concealer set all day. It's also good for lips and keeping matte lipstick set all day! I mostly use it for a lip primer these days and I swear, it's the best thing out there. A tiny tube lasts forever too, so I feel a little more justified regarding the price. 

3. Beauty Blenders, $20 for name brand, $5 for Ulta brand

Beauty Blenders are a specific brand and a specific product: those egg-shaped make up sponges that you use damp. Some people swear by name brand, which are $20+ a pop. However, I use the Ulta brand for $5 a piece ($10 for 2) and I like them just as well (and yes, I forked over $20 for a tiny freaking sponge a few years ago). They are so good for blending foundation and concealer (and contouring, if you're into that), but you can also use them to apply moisturizer and primer, to buff out too much blush (it happens), and to protect your under eyes from fallout as you put on eyeshadow. 

4. Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation, $39.

I love a full coverage foundation and Tarte's is the absolute best. I also like Naked by Urban Decay, but it doesn't come as close to matching my skin town. Tarte comes in a wider variety of shades and provides the same great coverage. A tube can last me anywhere from 4-8 months, depending on how often I wear it. It's the only foundation that has come close to matching my skin tone at all. 

5. NYX Powder Foundation, $9.99

Some people don't wear powder everyday, but I do. I used to be a devoted fan of Covergirl's Professional Loose Powder, but they recently stopped making the original and replaced it--and now they don't make a shade light enough for my skin tone. I started using NYX's powder foundation as a finishing powder (just using a brush instead of sponge) and it's so good. And for $9.99, you can't beat the price. If I need extra coverage, I just use my Beauty Blender to apply where I need it. 

6. Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, $18. 

I've done the leg work: you cannot find a better liner for winged eyeliner. You just can't. I also love that it's a pen with a flexible brush head. Here's why: most liners for winged liner have a felt tip and I actually don't get that because it's like putting on eyeliner with a marker. How does that make sense? It's the perfect matte black; it has the best brush head; you can get that perfect pointed wing. And at $18, it's not too bad! A close runner up is NYX matte black liquid liner, but I find it gets flaky and the brush is harder to control.