We all know that one Emerson quote (frequently used to caption Instagram posts) that says something about living in the sunshine, swimming in the sea, and drinking the wild air, riiiight? Although it was a quote ruined by basic bitches, it’s still a good one. There is something so purifying about being near the sea.
Right now it is 19 degrees in Pittsburgh and there is fresh snowfall on the ground. I am beyond grateful that I got to spend my birthday weekend visiting friends in sunny AF south Florida with my husband. I hope that the memories of the colorful lifeguard stands of South Beach and the crystal clear waters of Ft Lauderdale can carry me through the winter. At the very least, I have enough blog material to pretend like I’m somewhere sunny for the rest of the year…
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!! My favorite part of the holiday season is the part with no plans in sight and nothing to do. Does it count as “dolce far niente” if the TV is on? Yes, it does. I’ve done my research, and have found the best shows to binge watch (and which to avoid) during your well deserved time off. So kick back, relax, and turn on the ROKU.
The Office/30 Rock/ Parks and Rec- The holy trinity of goofiness. Everyone needs some comic relief in their life! We re-watch one of these annually and rotate between them.
Breaking Bad- Seriously, this show is probably the best show ever made and it’s EVEN BETTER when you go back and watch it again. So many Easter Eggs and so much foreshadowing!
Gossip Girl- I was v anti GG when it first aired because I was loyal to the books, but what started as a guilty pleasure show to watch while I drink coffee in the mornings or when Joel’s working late, has turned into a full-on addiction. So bad, it’s good.
Pretty Little Liars- FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT GET SUCKED INTO WATCHING THIS. We made the mistake of binging the first two seasons when we had the flu and it was such a waste of time because nothing ever happens.
Skins (British Version)- I may be pushing 28, but I guess I have this thing with teenage drama.
The Great British Bake- YAAAAAAAAS, but don’t watch if you’re hungry.
The OC- Speaking of teenage drama, this show singlehandedly shaped my youth. I was obsessed in 2004 and with the exception of the fashion choices and the cameo appearance of Paris Hilton in season 1, it holds up. Even the last season was not as terrible as I remembered it.
The Mindy Project- Danny and Mindy 4ever!
Younger- Another guilty pleasure show that I couldn’t turn off.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills- If you’re going to watch any housewives series, this is the ones to commit to because they’re the most glamorous and the most dramatic.
The Handmaid’s Tale- One of those rare occurrences where the movie/tv adaptation is better than the book!
The Grand Tour- IDGAF about cars, but Joel got me looooving this show! It’s so over the top and ridiculous, plus I love me some dry British humor.
The Man In The High Castle-Nope, sorry. Great concept and cool intro, but terrible execution.
Z: The Beginning of Everything- I read the book version of Zelda Fitzgerald’s life and loved it! I only watched the first episode of the show, but my BFF and sister love it and I trust their opinions.
Well, it’s been fun, but I have to go see what happens between Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass… Happy binge season to you all!
There are two ways of getting into a pool: the first way, you use your big toe to check the temperature and if that feels good, you slowly lower your body in as it gets used to the water. And the second way is… AHHHH! YOU JUMP!
I like to think of this scene from Superstar as metaphor when it comes to taking the plunge into living a more “granola” lifestyle. Though, unlike Mary Catherine Ghallager, we prefer the former method and are going ever so slowly into all-natural, organic living…
Now that we are officially closer to 30 than to 20, we’re getting to be more aware of the products and foods we are putting onto and into our bodies. Did 21 year old Sarah care about how the synthetic fragrances and aluminum in her deodorant could potentially cause breast cancer and/or kidney problems? No! I just wanted to smell nice! Did I give a crap about all the plastic I was wasting by buying the tampons with plastic applicators?! Nope. I cleaned everything with bleach and other harsh chemicals and I never really cared about the effect it had on myself or the world around me. Had Joel, at age 23, ever even heard of Whole Foods or knowingly been within 100 yards of a Farmer’s Market? Probably not, too busy eating chicken wings or whatever… Ha! Just kidding, Joel’s parents are actually two of our healthy living gurus who raised their kids on lentils. Luckily, somewhere along the line, our eyes and minds started to open (thanks a lot to all of our gurus). That old saying about how “our bodies are our temples” always struck a chord with me; and since I plan to live a long and prosperous life, I need to start treating it as such…. Plus, we all need to start caring a little more about this world we have to leave to the generations to come.
The thing is, buying organic versions of all of your beauty/bath products (shampoo, soap, makeup, deodorant, toothpaste, lotion, etc), cleaning products, plus all of your food can be ungodly expensive and ridiculously overwhelming. “Whole Foods? More like ‘Whole Paycheck’ am I right?” Hence the whole “taking it slowly” thing I mentioned earlier. We are implementing holistic teachings as well as plant based meal options bit by bit. I mean, I spent the last 2 years trying to find a good replacement for my old deodorant and I just now found one that actually works. Slow and steady wins the race, doesn’t it?
Going all natural is really not as hard or as expensive as I had originally thought it’d be… I didn’t know until recently that tofu could taste so good or that I could clean the bathtub with just baking soda and white vinegar! I’m glad that that being a little more “crunchy” is the cool thing to be these days. This is a band wagon that people should want to be on and I can’t wait to talk more about it!
I’ve spent the last 27.5 years trying to truly know myself. I know my favorite colors, my favorite things to do, my natural hair color (not blonde), what foods I hate, my Myers Briggs score (ENFP), which Hogwarts House I’d be sorted into (Ravenclaw), and a million other things only I care about. I think it’s important to get to know yourself a little more every day so you don’t go through life being dazed and confused about, well, you.
The other day, in an attempt to further this relationship with me, myself, and I, I thought of some hypothetical questions to ask myself. I asked the same questions to my two best friends, Joel and Allie, and we had so much fun laughing and comparing our answers. Scroll down for answers to 10 hypothetical questions I randomly decided to ask myself…
If you could reign over any one thing, what would it be? I’d be the Queen Of Crumbs or the Queen Of Unmatched Socks… All hail the Queen!
If you could only have ONE for the rest of your life, would you choose pizza or coffee? COFFEE.
If you could have not only the friendship but the respect of any celebrity, who would it be? Probably Larry David.
If you had to choose one, would you rather lose your ability to see or hear? Hear (art major, hello!).
If you had the opportunity to pack your stuff and move anywhere in the world for a year, where would you go? Germany or India.
If you won the lottery, what would be the first three things you’d spend money on? Charity, Real Estate, and Shoeeeeeees!
What would your low-key super power be? Talking to animals.
Who would be your side kick if you were a low-key super hero? My cat, Peter.
If you could resurrect three dead people for a dinner party, who would you invite? Carrie Fisher, Albert Einstein, and Michael Crichton.
If you could travel back in time and hang out in any era for a weekend, which one would you pick? The Triassic Period… or the 70s.
These would be really good conversation topics that you write on a notecard and hide in your purse for a first date… But since I’m already married and we have so much family coming to town in a few weeks for the holidays, I’m definitely going to be the (drunk) busy body at the table asking these questions…
Even though I don’t have children of my own, I’ve always had an interest in Child Development. Kids fascinate me! Last year, my very pregnant Francophile sister-in-law recommended Bringing Up Bébé, a book written by an American mother raising kiddos in Paris. It was très intéressant. Basically, the French have perfected the art of child rearing; but not only that, they make it look so easy. Anyway, it’s a great read and I can’t wait to test it out on all 8 of the future Little Blumer Babies (jk, Joel, calm down!).
During our most recent stay in France, I tried to make it a point to be especially observant of French children. Are they really as well behaved as Pamela Druckerman made them out to be? The answer is: I guess so? Honestly, I was way too distracted by how abnormally well behaved every single dog we saw was that I kind of forget about the tiny humans.
Full disclaimer: I wasn’t always the crazy cat lady my Instagram followers have come to know and love. I was raised with a full spectrum of pets from cats to lizards and snakes, one ferret, a pigeon, and a brief stint with a piglet. As well as, of course, dogs.
The best pet I ever had, was my Great Dane, Samson.
Samson loved me, unconditionally, and the feeling was mutual! Although our time together was brief, it would still rank as one of the top friendships I’ve ever had. He was a good boy, BUT…. he was terrible on the leash. I can’t even tell you the number of times my arm was almost ripped from its socket trying to take him on a walk around the block. Since we had a fenced in backyard, our walks around the neighborhood were probably not as frequent as old Sammy Boy would have liked. So if I, or family member, ever left the front door open (to bring in groceries or whatever), Samson would book it. And that big lug was lightning fast, so he’d be out of sight in no time. The quickest way to get Samson back would be to make a “Lost Black Great Dane” ad on Craigslist, which would take about an hour to work and I’d get a call from someone a mile or two away saying they’d found my baby. One time, though, he was brought home in the back of a police SUV. Every parents’ worst nightmare!
My point is: this bad dog behavior would not fly in France. Almost every single dog I saw, ranging in sizes from tiny to huge, was walking alongside his/her owner sans leash. More than a few times, I’d look down and see a dog walking by Joel and I and I’d have to fight the urge to pick it up and start yelling “whose dog is this?!” over and over until someone replied, because the owner was always just a few paces in front of us and the dog would totally know it. Pups are welcome everywhere too! We went to happy hour one night and a sweet couple had their little chihuahua with them. The petite pooch would take an hourly sniff of the cafe in its entirety, then return to his master’s feet. Bon chien! If you find yourself an American in Paris, watch the dogs. Seriously…
So what is it that makes French Canines so good? Is it in the kibble? Are the French bribing their puppies with filet mignon every night to get their undying love and affection?! Are they wearing chew toy scented perfume to make their dogs follow them in the street? Is it that French Dogs have the freedom to take dumps anywhere and their owners don’t have to worry about cleaning up the mess because the Parisian Poop Patrol will take care of it? I guess I’m going to have to move to Paris to research my next book… I’ll call it “Bringing Up TouTou” and it’ll be a New York Times Bestseller, too, I’m sure.
Fact: a little bit of an effort to speak the local language will go a long way in a foreign country. I mean, that makes total sense, right? To give you some perspective, imagine you’re in your hometown and a stranger comes up to you and starts speaking a language you only kind of understand. You’d be like “yo, I took Mandarin in high school, but I don’t understand this specific dialect… English? Maybe?”
I’ve heard stories of Americans going abroad and just assuming everyone speaks English, but you know what they say about people who assume, right? Don’t make an ass of yourself, learn the bare minimum of a new language to at least skate by without annoying everyone you meet! The effort goes a long way, especially in France. Hence why this post you’re reading has come to fruition: it’s not just me blabbing, it’s actually useful (I even included links to youtube pronunciation videos)!
French Phrases You Should Know In Paris:
“Bonjour/Bonsoir“- GREET. EVERYONE. OR YOU’RE BEING RUDE. Okay, greet everyone you encounter in businesses (the hotel concierge, taxi/uber drivers, the coffee shop barista, the boutique employee, the checkout guy at the grocery store, etc). Don’t greet strangers on the street or you’re being a creepy American weirdo (the beautiful French person doesn’t give a shit if you like her scarf). Bonjour means “good day,” so when evening rolls along, be sure to change your greeting to bonsoir (apparently 6 p.m. is a safe time to make the switch).
“Pardon“- Manners, remember? If you’re thinking “excuse moi” is the acceptable version of “excuse me,” well you’re wrong.. It’s not your fault, “excuse moi” just translates closer to “sorry” than “pardon me”.
“Apres vous“- We’ve all done that awkward hold-the-door tango, right? Gesturing and saying “after you” in French will get you into the building much faster.
“L’addition, s’il vous plait“- This is probably the most useful thing you’ll learn to say en Francais because once you’ve been given your food at a restaurant, your waiter will probably leave you alone until you’re ready to pay. When you do grab his or her attention, asking for the bill in French is sure to get you a smile of appreciation.
“D’accord“- Okay! Look at you being all agreeable!
“Au revoir“- Much like greeting, it’s important to say your goodbyes as well. Too bad I can’t say “au revoir” without wanting to yell “SHOSHANNNAAAAA” after… you know, because of Inglorious Basterds? Oh, just me then…
“Parlez vous Anglais?“- Sometimes the answer is “no,” so it’s much more polite to ask people if they speak English than to assume that they do.
I was going to include “puis-je épater votre chien?” but the answer to “may I pet your dog” is always “non” anyway ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Yes I took French in high school, but that doesn’t mean I don’t butcher this beautiful language when it comes out of my mouth. I’d say that in Paris it’s okay if your pronunciation isn’t perfection, and that a little effort goes a long way. Even my husband (who has never spoken a lick of French and actually kept accidentally saying “hola” the first time we were in Paris) had these few phrases on lock down and used them everyday!
It’s also a good idea to have the Google Translate App downloaded and ready to use. You know, just in case the one person who doesn’t speak English at all happens to be the pharmacist you’re trying to buy laxatives from. That’s not something you want to mime out. Trust me.
When Joel and I were in the beginning stages of planning our latest European rendezvous, my mom called me and in a typical “mom fashion” asked about a bajillion questions about our upcoming trip. Of the questions, there was one particular, two-parter that made me LOL. After inquiring where exactly Iceland is located, my goofball mom added “and what IS Iceland exactly? like, what’s its deal?”
As far as replies go, I could have said anything from “it’s this cool little country that was made by volcanoes” or “it’s where the Vikings settled”. I definitely should have sent my mom a link to the History of Iceland on Wikipedia because it’s fascinating, but instead I said “remember that weirdo who wore the swan dress to the Oscars? She’s from Iceland.” (disclaimer: Bjork is awesome and “weirdo” is always a term of endearment in my book)
These map screenshots show the location of Iceland in relation to other places, mom:
I didn’t know much about Iceland until recently. My curiosity in the country began when my blogger friends went in 2015, and it grew from there. We now know quite a few people who have been (my artist friend, Courtney, got married on a cliffside in Iceland)! Even after visiting, our interest in Iceland hasn’t piqued! We definitely left a lot to explore for next time, so it’s great that it is soooo cheap to get there…
Yes, the getting there is cheap… once you’re there, though, “cheap” pretty much ceases to exist, but for good reason. Iceland depends on tourism (your country would too if you couldn’t grow anything because your “soil” is actually just volcanic rock). Also, almost all of the food you eat in Iceland has to be shipped over from elsewhere (with the exception of seafood), so you can expect to pay more for it.
We heard from friends that Iceland is expensive, but didn’t realize how expensive until we got there. Try not yelling “$25 for a medium pizza from Domino’s?” or “OMFG IT’S $17 FOR ONE DRINK AT THIS BAR” the first time you see it. But don’t forget about how much money you saved getting there, okay?! And it’s for sure worth it to visit Iceland, you just have to figure out which way is right for you…
3 WAYS TO SEE ICELAND
The Layover– using an Icelandic airline to get to other European countries will save you money AND you’ll be contributing to the Icelandic economy. You’ll just be a big dummy if you don’t leave the airport.
The Stopover– you can have your herring and eat it too! This is the option we chose because if you’re going to be stopping at the airport in Iceland anyway, you might as well stay a night or two! That’s plenty of time to explore Reykjavik and do at least one excursion. And you can save some money on food by eating your complimentary hotel breakfast, Icelandic hot dogs, and Domino’s.
The Stop, Drop (your bags), and Stay Over– My brother, Brennan, made Iceland his sole destination and spent a week exploring the entire country. His photos are AMAZING. He really explored the crap out of Iceland! Even though our time there overlapped by a day, we weren’t even mad when he didn’t attempt to hang out as he was so busy climbing glaciers and getting blown by geysers.
Reykjavik is such a cool city!
It’s nice, too, because if you do get tired of being in the city, just walk along the coastline and before you know it, you stop hearing the cars honking and it’s nothing but beautiful mountains ahead of you.
We can’t wait to go back to Iceland, rent a car, and road trip the whole dang thang.