Favorite Moments of 2013

Christmas is over.

I’m back at work, sitting at my desk trying not to cry that there is no more Christmas music, movies, or people being extra nice. The Christmas hangover seems four times worse this year.

Know why? Because it’s been a pretty damn great year over here. As I grow older, I feel like I’m always saying something similar to, “This was the best year yet!!!”. But truly, this year was full of so much love and growth. Each year is a blessing and I feel like I become more and more aware of that as I accumulate more years under my belt – which in turn makes my days so much fuller.

And it’s not just the big blessings, like vacations, our wedding, and success at school and work. The smaller everyday moments, when added all together, turn our life into the beautiful masterpiece we will look fondly back on when we are in our 80’s talking about the good old days. I’m talking about the good morning kisses, the sing a longs in the kitchen, the chats with parents, the meals with Pop-Pop, the walks around our neighborhood. That is life. That is what we will remember.

Who knows what 2014 holds for us. We have some hopes but fate is always full of surprises. But I never give up on our hopes, they are what define us as a person and couple. We look forward to the adventure.

As we prepare to say goodbye to another year, I wanted to share five of my favorite BIG moments of 2013.

1. New Years 2013 in Vieques, Puerto Rico

Vieques Puerto RicoDecember 31, 2012 it was a blustery and cold day as Ryan and I boarded a flight headed to a very small island off of Puerto Rico. Veiques is a gorgeous island with some of the most pristine and tourist free beaches in the world. There is only one hotel on the island. All other accommodations are inns and rentals. We had quite an adventure staying in a waterfront apartment, exploring the island on a jeep and checking out the local cafes. Other highlights included the Bioluminescent Bay kayak tour, wild horses, and getting lost in the jungle.

New Years eve was spent dancing in the street to a Puerto Rican band with about 100 other revelers, sipping drinks out of paper cups, and dipping our feet in the ocean. You cannot beat that for New Years!!

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2. My 30th Birthday/Bachelorette combo Party

On March 26 I turned 30 and was excited about it! Most people are hesitate about saying goodbye to their youth. Not me, I’m celebrating getting older – it’s a gift some people are never able to receive…not to mention my 20’s were a MESS! I loved my casual joint 30th Birthday/Bachelorette party at a cabin in the mountains. It was a small group of just my bridesmaids. We had so much fun just being silly together, shopping, eating, drinking, making YOLO t-shirts, hot tubbing it, and singing karaoke. It’s rare for all of us to be together – so it was really special to me.

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3. Our Wedding

I think this is pretty self-explanatory – but yes I loved every minute of our wedding and most of every minute of our wedding planning. I loved sharing our vows to each other in front of all our family and friends. I loved having an excuse to get all of our family and friends together for a big party. I loved all the preparations and how it was a reason for my Mom and I to bond for 6 months. And yes, I loved my dress. It was a simple yet elegant Sunday and we were very lucky.

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4. My Mom’s Surprise 60th Birthday Party!

On July 9 my mom and best friend turned 60! After all that she did for me for my wedding I wanted to give her a big celebration. Together, Ryan, my dad, and I planned a SURPRISE birthday party at Ryan and I’s house. My mom loves all things beach and ocean related so the theme was easy. I had a blast planning and preparing all ocean themed decorations and food. About thirty guests attended and we managed to keep the surprise under wraps. The night was so much fun!

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5. Taylor Swift Concert with Kay Marie 

 Also in July, my bff and I went to go see Taylor Swift in concert for our second time together. I have no shame in expressing my complete love for Tay Tay. People can knock her relationships and music as much as they want, I will never waver. Girl is talented, driven, positive, and a great role model. We had so much fun rocking out with all the teens and moms at the sold out stadium. We even had fun waiting for 1.5 hours in between sets until a terrible thunder storms passed through. I’m so happy by bestie shares my love of Taylor!

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 2014, I’m ready! Come and get me!!

xoxo katie

5 Favorite Books from 2013

Another year come and gone. There are only 3 more Friday’s left before we say “see ya later!” to 2013 and welcome 2014 into our lives. 2013 was a year full of love, change and growth. (really, what year isn’t full of these three things?!)

But, how do you sum up a year? I can’t help but reference “Season’s of Love” from Rent, that asks  “How do you measure, measure a year?” There are five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes in a year. What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Can you measure it in sunsets, laughter, hugs, cups of coffee, miles driven, tears, diapers, text messages, fights, trips, weekends?

There is no way to sum up the moments of the past year – but I’m going to try with top 5 lists for the next three weeks. So how about in books?

It’s no secret around her that I love to read. And, as a reader I’m always looking for good book recommendations and reviews. I wanted to share with you my top 5 books that I read in 2013:

2013 top 5 books

1. Beautiful Ruins

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A story about dreams and how they grow with us through our lives or fade away. This book explores the dreams and the journey of flawed but fascinating characters and spans 50 years. It takes us from the Italian coast in the 1950’s to the set of Cleopatra in the 60’s, to Scotland in the 80’s and modern-day LA. It is full or surprises and enchantment.

2. The Light Between Oceans

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I can safely say this is the most beautifully written “new” book that I’ve read in the past 10 years. It is 1918 on a small rock of an island in Australia and a light house keeper and his wife make a life altering decision that will devastate and destroy not only their world but those of others. We are reminded that one person’s moral justice means the exact opposite for another.

3. The Book Thief

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I’ve always been fascinated with historical novels that take place during the Holocaust. Narrated by death, this novel tells the story of Liesel and how books (meant to be burned by the Nazis) provide her with comfort, love, and connection. She befriends the Jewish man her foster family is hiding by sharing her books. We are reminded at the power of words to heal and feed our souls.

4. The Fault In Our Stars

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I ate this young adult novel up in one sitting, like it was a delicious bowl of ice cream. We are welcomed into the world of terminally ill 16 year-old Hazel who is fighting Cancer. She meets and falls in love with Augustus, who is also terminal. Seeing the strength and perspective of these young adults allows up to widen our spectrum and re ask ourselves the big questions of life and our purpose as humans.

5. The Interestings

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The Interestings follows 6 teenagers who met at a summer camp in the 1960’s and remained friends throughout their lives. Spanning 40 years, the novel examines how people, friendships, and relationships change over time. The complex characters all face challenges due to social class, talent, money, envy, health, and personal happiness.  It’s kind of a more grown up “Now and Then”.

Please comment below on some of your favorite books from 2013! I’ll need some new recommendations for 2014.

Remember reading is sexy!

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xoxo katie

Top 5 Christmas Movies and When to Watch Guide!

Five Friday Favorites CHRISTMAS MOVIES

Aren’t Christmas movies simply the best? Whether they are silly, sad, funny, touching, made for children, or made for adults they always hold the power to warm my heart. All year I look forward to watching my favorite Christmas movies while my tree twinkles, candles are burning, and I have a spiked hot chocolate in my hands.

Yes, I have almost every line memorized. Yes, I always know how they will end. There are no surprises.

But that’s where the joy is, they are as familiar and comfortable as my softest PJ’s.

Yet, holidays are a crazy and sometimes stressful time. It’s hard to fit in everything you want to do. I’m here to help! Because you simply cannot miss not watching your favorite holiday films!

Below, all in good humor, I list my top 5  favorite Christmas movies and when to watch them throughout the season! Joy!

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 1. Christmas With the Kranks

Feeling a little stressed and overwhelmed by all of the “work” that goes into getting prepared for the holidays? Pop in this silly Tim Allen flick and replace your anxiety over Christmas with excitement and the desire to do it all!

Christmas with the Kranks is based on the book “Skipping Christmas” by John Grisham. When Luther and Nora Kranks daughter join announces she won’t be home for Christmas this year, they decide to skip the commercial side of Christmas, and use the money to go on a cruise. But, when their daughter calls and says she’s making a surprise visit home, they have 12 hours to get Christmas set up and realize what they were missing all season long.

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 2.  Love Actually

So, now that you’ve decided to embrace Christmas, and all of its cheesiness and commercialism, it is time to soak in some LOVE.

This movie reminds us that love is all around and that no matter your social class, ethnicity, background, or age, love is the same. Love Actually has moments of sadness, nostalgia, hope, silliness, and laughter. Feeling like everyone is out to get you while shopping at the overcrowded mall? Want to strangle your in-laws or scream at your boss? You will be reminded to be kind to others during this busy season and to accept love yourself.

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3. A Christmas Story

Ok, now that you’ve decided to be kind and loving and all that jazz, it’s time to have some fun! Who doesn’t love the story of Ralphie and his quest to get a Red Rider BB Gun? There are so many laugh out loud moments that never get old to me, the bunny suit, the leg lamp, the Chinese restaurant on Christmas day, the “how do the little piggies eat?” scene.

But this movie also touches the heart with its nostalgic family scenes, reminding us that yes, the holidays are crazy but these moments with our families provide us with the memories we will cherish for a lifetime.

You are now ready to celebrate with your crazy family, with these nostalgic memories as your fuel.

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4. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

Clark Griswold is DETERMINED to give his wife and kids an old-fashioned “Griswold Family Christmas”. He has big plans and has invited his parents, his in-laws, and his great-aunt and uncle in for the holidays. Of course, nothing goes has planned.

This movie is perfect to watch on Christmas Eve, after most of your holiday stress is behind you and you’re ready to kick up your heels before the big day.

 Clark is like most of our dads – a slightly dorky middle-aged man simply wanting to give us the best and to be remembered as a great father.  The mini disasters of Clark Griswold cause a domino effect of crazy and trouble. Hilarity ensues. Start pouring the egg nog!

It's a Wonderful Life   5. It’s a Wonderful Life

This classic is perfect to watch on the evening of Christmas, as you lay back by the tree, soaking in the joy of a beautiful day. (Even if you day was less wonderful and more Christmas Vacationish)

How could the touching story of down on his luck George Bailey NOT remind you that you have it pretty darn good. Yes, things aren’t perfect, you may have received more socks and underwear rather than what you really wanted. Your family may have driven you crazy. Your boss may be a Scrooge and only gave you one day off. But, after this movie you simply cannot say, damn my life IS pretty good!

Cue ugly cries!

And that’s a wrap! I’m kicking off my holiday watching tonight! What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?

xoxo katie

5 Reasons I Celebrate Christmas “Early”

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This year there seems to be more ho0-ha about people celebrating Christmas too early. The internet is saying that some people think this is a big no-no and that they are forgetting all about Thanksgiving.  I don’t know why this year seems worse than overs – every year stores start putting out Christmas items and decor at the end of September. Have no fret, worry worts, we will all still take the time to be grateful for all our blessings, stuff our faces, and enjoy down time with our family’s over turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving isn’t going to disappear.

(Although I  STRONGLY disagree with Black Friday now starting on Thursday, tearing retail workers away from their families and the right to take a long cozy nap after that carb overload and encouraging individuals to shop in a crowded mall instead of sitting around catching up with their families and leftovers.)

Christmas is my most favorite time of the year. I love that it gives an excuse to make every one be kind to each other and to celebrate. I feel all warm and fuzzy all season long.

As of today, I am all done shopping (minus some stocking stuffers), have the house nearly decorated, our Christmas cards are ready to go, and have planned out our holiday festivities – Christmas movie watching, Baileys hot chocolate sipping, tree cutting down and decorating, festive holiday party throwing and attending, cookie baking and decorating and so on.

So, to clear up some questions for you Scrooges out there that think Christmas celebrations should be strictly held off until midnight on December 1 (at the earliest) here are my 5 favorite reasons to celebrate Christmas “early”.

1. I’d rather spend the month of December reveling in all the Holiday Cheer

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I like to get all the Christmas errands, shopping for gifts, shopping for wrapping paper and tape (why am I always running out of tape?), shopping for all your cooking and baking ingredients, cleaning up your guest bedrooms, etc so that I can actually relax and enjoy all the fun activities and events in December.

I’d rather spend my time cuddling with Ryan watching Christmas movies with some spiked hot chocolate than rushing around last-minute trying to find the perfect gift for the in-laws. I’d rather spend my time listening to our favorite Christmas music and decorating sand tarts with my mom rather than bailing because I haven’t had time to dig out my Christmas ornaments yet. I’d rather put the finishing touches on my holiday outfit and relax with a glass of champagne before my guests arrive  than cursing myself because I have to run out to the store AGAIN to pick up napkins 30 minutes before the holiday party starts.

There is simply too much to do (and eat) to squeeze it all in a few short weeks.

Thanksgiving is very late this year which only allows a short 3.5 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are too many parties, too many events, too many movies to watch and tunes to listen to, and old and new recipes to make. I never can seem to squeeze all that I want to do during the holidays in. Add the fact that Christmas is on a Wednesday this year, which means only one day of work off that week. Boo! So really only 3 weekends to do all the things you need and want to do.  So, why not start earlier? Why limit yourself on Christmas cheer?

2. Less last-minute stress

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I love Christmas, but there is no doubt that the holidays are stressful. You are often pulled in five billion directions between family and friends and you also want to fit in some reflective down time for yourself. More money is being spent, you’re under pressure to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list and there is the daunting pressure of New Years Eve looming in the future. There is a sense of urgency around it all.

By starting early, I give myself some breathing space the week before Christmas. This allows me time to reflect on the past year and for the blessings I’ve received. I can take time to spend time with friends and family and do the things that make me happiest. You’ll never find me running out to the stores the week before Christmas. A crowded mall is the last place I’d ever want to be.

3.  Spread out the budget

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You’ll never find me rushing around on Christmas Eve sweating over what to get my great Aunt and finding myself spending $40.00 on a ridiculous bird tray because I couldn’t decide between another scented candle or necklace she’d probably never wear?  I like to spread out my shopping throughout the six months prior to Christmas. Not only does this put less pressure on finding the perfect gift in a short time frame it’s also easier on my budget.

From August to December, I allow a certain amount of money each month to go towards Christmas gifts. I often discover unique gifts for people while travelling or while I’m not under pressure. There are deals all the time – so don’t you worry about all those “Holiday Saving Events”. At least this way I’m not pinching for pennies to pay for all the additional things you find yourself buying or paying for during the holiday season.

4. You get to enjoy the decorations longer

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I love to decorate – it take a full weekend to get everything lugged up from the basement and to decide that year’s decoration scheme. Fact: Ryan and I spent a full 1.5 hours on Wednesday night hanging the garland on our banister. We just couldnt’ seem to get it “just so”. Since it takes so much effort and work to decorate – why not enjoy it for as long as you can?

I dread the day I have to take everything down and hide it away in the basement for another 10 months. The house always looks so depressed, so empty, so cold after all the festive decor goes away.

5. It makes me happy and relaxed

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There is no simpler way to say this. The holidays make me feel wonderful inside. Love is all around. I love the comfort of knowing all the words to my beloved Christmas tunes. I love knowing that I can throw on a feel good holiday movie at any time. I love the lights, the trees, the decor, the cookies, it’s all so beautiful and magical. I love the memories of innocence and childhood it brings up. I love that my family all comes together and celebrates the same exact way we have since I was born. I love all the traditions.

I love that everyone is happier this time of year. I love that it gives us a reason to be grateful to be more loving and to be more accepting. I wouldn’t put that off any longer than I have to.

What is your opinion on starting to celebrate Christmas before you cut the turkey on Thanksgiving day?

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xoxo katie

 

5 Friday Favorites – Procrastination

Five Friday Favorites

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The other night I found myself in an all too popular situation. I had a big post to finish writing, dinner to cook, and a still hadn’t completed my daily run. But instead of getting on top of any of these tasks I was instead glued to my phone, constantly refreshing my feed and clicking on every single article in twitter. Each article would lead me to another article, and another, and another, and another.

Pretty soon a whole hour had passed. I’m a pro at procrastination.

But the fact that I just couldn’t tear my face away from my phone begged me to ask the question:

How did I procrastinate before social media and smart phones? Before I had a smart phone, I would be sitting with my Macbook in my lap, quickly turning myself into a serious stalker on Facebook.

Before Facebook was introduced in 2004, during my senior year of college, I would put off writing assignments by chatting on AIM or by feeding my addiction to Snood. (remember snood?! The first candy crush!)

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But, even so, I believe I spent more time off the internet than on because we could leave it behind. It wasn’t always constantly with us, taunting us with adorable cat videos, Miley Cyrus articles, or 5 billion ways to cook, decorate, dress, and live better on Pinterest. When I seriously needed to get work done, I would post a fun little ‘away message” on aim, leave my dorm room and head over to the library. Oh the glorious library. I loved sequestering myself in one of the little cubicles tucked away in a quiet corner on the 3rd floor, surrounded by the musty yet loved smell of old books, with only a pen, a notebook, and a stack of books.

That is an almost unimaginable scene in this day and time.

As are these 5 ways I used to procrastinate before the internet took over:

Be ready to feel like the internet is the most unhealthy, anti social, destructive tool ever.

1. Go running

When I didn’t want to study for biology, or rewrite that one damn poem for the 10th time, I’d lace up my running shoes and go for a long run. Yes, I still run now, but it’s at a scheduled time that I often put off because I’m too absorbed reading facts on IMDB or Buzzfeed articles.

2. Play with my dog more

Before smartphones, Maggie would receive more one on one cuddle time, ball throwing fun, and long walks. She and my childhood dog, Missy, would benefit from me putting off work. Maggie’s smart – she knows that petting her with one hand while I shop online with the other is not quality time.  She promptly jumps down and scowls at me from a chair across the room.

3. Talk on the phone

Yes, it’s true. I would actually use my phone to talk to people, with my voice. In high school I’d spend HOURS on the phone. I now hate talking on the phone. What happened?

4. Clean/Organize

To avoid doing  any other project I would turn to cleaning my room or organizing my project. Just proves that you can accomplish SO much when you don’t want to do the one thing you really should be doing.

5. Nap

Naps are a beautiful thing. Before, if I had writer’s block or just wasn’t feeling into a project, I’d take a 30 minute nap and wake up feeling refreshed. Now, I still go lie down in bed and  tell myself I can take a 30 minute nap – but instead of promptly closing my eyes I find myself scrolling through blogs and instagram. Pretty soon my 30 minutes are up and my eyes are more tired than ever. Fail.

So basically, I’d be living a more enriched and productive life. So, why is it so hard for us to disconnect from our phones?

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And if you need some help prolonging any task you wanted to complete today, here are 5 articles to assist you:

Jennifer Lawrence’s Insightful Guide to Life

This Woman is a Professional Cuddler

Dinovember: One couple brings wonder back into childhood

Gadget Sickness: In case you needed more proof that our devices will be the end of us

11 Terrifying vintage ads featuring children

Have a great weekend!

xoxo katie

 

 

5 Friday Favorites – Halloween Edition!

Five Friday Favorites

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I decided to walk down Halloween memory lane and post my 5 favorite Halloween costumes of all time. This was tough to decide. How to combine the innocent and fun costumes of my youth with the slightly risqué costumes I choose in college and lastly those more boring adult costumes? Well, don’t hold your breath, I saved you from the college costumes. Well…all except for one. I still celebrate Halloween with the spirit of  a child and simply love dressing up. So let’s dress up, pass around the Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, and party!

1.

Costume: The Witch

Age: 5

Verdict: Adorable

I loved the fake hair attached to this vinyl witch hat. Also, doesn’t my brother look pretty cool as Dracula? This was the first year I got to experience the awesomeness of dressing up at school! (I don’t think they allow that anymore)

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2.

Costume: Fairy Princess

Age: 6

Verdict: So Sweet

I LOVED this costume. The wings, the tiara, the sparkles, and the plethora of pink! But wow mom, think you could have put anymore blush or bright blue eye shadow on me? I may or may not still have those fairy wings and they may or may not have been used for a Tinker Bell costume in college….

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3.

Costume: Scary Old Lady

Age: 10

Verdict: Creepy!

This was a surprising choice for my little girly self. You’d think I’d continue along the princess route – but no I wanted to be creepy! I remember picking out this mask at Rebmans – the go to costume shop. By the time Halloween rolled around I had trained myself to breathe in this sweaty plastic mask and had perfected the most creepy old lady voice and laugh and walk. I had so much fun!

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4.

Costume: Dorothy from Wizard of Oz

Age: 22

Verdict: Sexy Cute? Who knows…

So this is the one “sexy” Halloween costume from that era that seems like 75% of young women aren’t wearing much and can turn any character into the sexy version. At least I can eye roll at this now. But, if you can’t tell, I did make this dress on my own – sewing together various pieces I found at Goodwill. I was very proud that I didn’t buy the store-bought version. Then again I was a recent college grad and was broke.

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5.

Costume: Alice from Alice in Wonderland

Age: 29

Verdict: Adorable

Ryan and I did the whole couple costume thing last year. And look at that, I made full circle back to when I was 5 and decided to try Adorable again. How cute. Ryan was a sport wasn’t he?

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Stay tuned for this years costume! We’re headed to a costume party tomorrow!

What are some of your best and worst costumes?

xoxo katie

Five Friday Favorites – 5 Things That Made Me Feel Old

Five Friday Favorites The weight of my thirty years felt a little heavier this week.

Sure little things make me feel old daily, like twerking, the ignorance of kids, and the newest fashions at Forever 21 (kids these days ammiright?). But this week, there were 5 other moments that kind of made me pause and think, wow, this is happening – I’m half way through my thirtieth year. I swear that sometimes I have to remind myself that college was 12 years ago. But then I remember, we didn’t even have Facebook until the last semester of my Senior year. Facebook people! The one thing that I now check countless times a day.

So here were the five things that made me stop and think that I’m officially closer to adulthood than I am to twenty something.

1. Hunger Games Catching Fire Tickets

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One of my bff’s Ashley and I always get tickets to see the midnight showings of movies generally set aside for the teenage population like Hunger Games and Twilight, oh and Sex and the City. So it was a given that we’d be getting tickets for the Nov 21 midnight premier of Catching Fire.

Imagine my delight when I went online to buy my movie ticket and discovered that they now offer an 8 p.m. showing!!! I yelped in my office chair. Yes! I do not have to take a disco nap in order to see the midnight showing. I won’t get home at 3 a.m. and be a complete waste at the office on Friday.

2. Discarding Some of My Party Dresses

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I love dressing up. I think I have more little black dresses, bandage dresses, and sequin dresses in my closet than work pants. But, lately they’ve been hanging in my closet unused. Just not really my scene anymore. Some were a size 2. I was just hoping that maybe, someday, I could shrink myself back into them.

Who am I kidding? These dresses deserved to be out partying with some new hot young thing. So, I did the mature thing and accepted my 30-year-old hips and donated them, only keeping the ones that fit me and that weren’t designed for a 17-year-old.

3. No Desire to Go Out For New Years Eve

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Going along with the above, this is the first year where I have zero desire to do anything for New Years. Most of you are probably thinking, New Years?! That’s two months away – but yes, I like to plan.

Can we all agree that NYE is usually a big fat disappointment? I usually get all dressed up and go to some fun party, but it never lives up to your expectations and you usually go home with an empty wallet and some dried tears or vomit.Last year, Ryan and I escaped to an island off of Puerto Rico for NYE. We just can’t beat that. This year I’d be perfectly content staying home in sweat pants, watching Netflix and drinking wine.

4. Spending Money at the Grocery Store

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In my mid twenties I’d spend as little as possible at the Grocery Store so that I could spend the majority of my paycheck on clothes and trips. I basically lived off of lettuce, ketchup, Boca Burgers, yogurt, rice cakes, and canned green beans. I made it to the grocery store maybe every other week.

Now I feel like I’m there almost every other day. I get a thrill on produce sales and live to stock up my fridge with goodies. I’m constantly trying new recipes and actually consider myself a cook! Gasp!

5. Newfound Forehead Wrinkles

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I’ve noticed some fine lines creeping their way across my face in recent years but while I was dabbing on some sample wrinkle cream I received I was completely shocked to notice the deep wrinkles forming in my forehead. Like Grand Canyon deep!

Okay, I may be exaggerating and all of the above may have made me obsess a little more about my aging., but is this normal at 30? I don’t buy in on all those ridiculously priced wrinkle creams and line fillers.  So what do you do? I say pour a glass of wine, turn on Netflix and say cheers to the next 10 years!

What makes you realize you’re no longer a Spring Chicken?

Have a fabulous weekend!

xoxo katie