January 27, 2016

One Last Word on 2015

I forgot to share my 2015 resolution. It would be silly to keep it to myself, because I kept it ALL YEAR no exceptions.

For 2015, I want to try something new every day.



This is real. I did it. All 365 days.

Every night, I wrote down my "something new" in my planner and eventually categorized them to see how I did. I gave myself no other rules. Some days, there were more than one, but never zero. Today, I'll share with you how it broke down and some favorites and not so favorites.

In 2015, I tried...


26 new movies & TV shows - Star Wars was still at the top although I highly recommend Making a Murderer if you are one of the few people left that hasn't watched it. The worst one I watched was probably Dumb & Dumber To.

5 new projects/classes - I have a favorite, but it's not quite ready yet. Stay tuned in February for a quick peak.

32 new beers/ciders - My two favorites were the New Glarus' Moon Man (which sadly you can only find in Wisconsin) and the Huckleberry beer I drank in Montana. I did notice that I only tried one NJ beer the entire year, so I'd like to get better about local stuff in 2016.


23 new kinds of wine - I think my favorite is the wine in a juice box I had with Kirsten on the beach in Florida, but mostly because it brings back awesome memories. I also discovered that we love almost anything from the Wolffer Vineyard on Long Island and the place is gorgeous.

32 new places - That includes NYC neighborhoods, other cities and even one country. I think Iceland takes the cake on this one.

23 new make up/beauty items - This number surprised me because I didn't think I was that adventurous when it came to beauty items. I did have 3 new Lush bath bombs on this list. One of my favorites was the goat's milk lotion I got in Montana - see similar products here - I will try any lotion to find something that works for my sad winter skin. I also became a fan of Kiehl's Shampoo & Conditioner and Jamberry nails.

23 new articles of clothing - This number can't be right because I'm sure I bought stuff this year and didn't write it down. Of the things listed though, my Icelandic slippers are at the top and are worn almost daily now that it's cold out. Another favorite were the onesies we purchased and wore for our Christmas card picture.

67 new restaurants - Guys, I live across the river from NYC, of course that was going to be super easy. The ones that jump to the top right away are Queens Comfort in Astoria, Steve's Key Lime Pies (for dessert only) in Red Hook, Brooklyn and Good Enough to Eat on the Upper West Side. A new favorite in Minnesota was Buster's in South Minneapolis. I'm drooling just thinking about their veggie burger.


64 new experiences/adventures - These were items that didn't really fall into another category. Some of the highlights include Kayaking with Manateesvisiting the Blue Lagoon in Icelandthe MS Climb to the Top of the Rock and many other adventures.

71 new foods/drinks - I needed a category for the stuff that wasn't necessarily a new restaurant, but a new food or recipe that I had never tried. Zeppoles are at the top of the list, but I also loved the Smores Oreos, Deep Fried Pumpkin Pie, Skyr and Cheerwine. On the flip side, there were quite a few recipes we tried that will never be tried again. I even learned to have two Pinterest boards - one for recipes we haven't tried yet and one for recipes we love... the ones that aren't good, get deleted.


28 new books - I've already recapped my books and I also think I'm missing a few, so I won't dive into this one again.

55 new items - This is the treat yoself category that includes a few bracelets, coffee mugs, a new planner, some records, a Harry Potter coloring book (thanks Holly), a new vacuum, and new couch pillows. You would normally exclude these from a list of new things you've tried, but when I wrote them down on this list, I seemed to enjoy them even more.

20 new people - I only counted people that we hung out with for the first time. This included my brother's friends at his wedding, our awesome neighbors turned friends, new babies/spouses of friends and a few people Justin met through surfing.

To summarize...

In 2015, I tried 469 new things. It seems like so much looking back on it. It makes me proud.

There were a few days where I struggled. I would either get lucky and receive something in the mail or I would wander over to CVS or Target and go hunting for a new nail polish color or scan Netflix for a new movie. There were other situations, like our Iceland trip, where everything was new and I could pick a favorite or two from the day to capture.

I cherish some of my routines. Having a challenge like this with very few rules helped me switch up a few routines without feeling like it was torture. Now, I read the whole menu instead of jumping to my go-to item or I'll buy a brand new kind of wine at the store because it has a pretty bottle. There's a little more variety in my life and I'm so grateful for that.

What was your 2015 resolution? Did you keep it? Would you try a daily challenge like this?

January 25, 2016

How We Survived the Blizzard Called Jonas

blizzard_jonas

Maybe you missed it, but the east coast got 24 hours of non stop snow and wind. It started late Friday night while we were enjoying the company of friends & neighbors at the local watering hole. I slept in until 9:00 AM on Saturday which was amazing and when I woke up, it was a winter wonderland.

Good thing I had prepared for this blizzard with a quick run to Target and our local liquor store. It ended up being the absolute greatest day. Now that I've survived a blizzard and enjoyed every last second, I'm clearly an expert that should be giving you advice.

Supplies required for Blizzard:

  • From Liquor Store:
    • Champagne
    • Bailey's
    • Wine of all kinds
  • From Target/Grocery Store:
    • Marshmallows
    • Fruit juice
    • Hot cocoa of all kinds - Salted Caramel & Chili Spice are my favorites
  • Things you probably have at home (if you don't, buy/get them)
    • Sugar
    • Almond Milk
    • Vanilla Extract
    • Coffee
    • Good Boots - I have these and I love them.
    • Amazing PJ's
    • Books
    • A fully stocked Netflix queue
Once you have all the supplies, it's time to get into your PJ's and enjoy yourself a blizzard. 

Here is a possible itinerary (it worked great for us.)

9:00 AM - Wake up, make the coffee and take the dogs outside for an adventure. If you follow me on Snapchat: stephgregerson - you would have seen their adorable winter jackets. 

9:30 AM - Make cinnamon rolls. Read, drink coffee, stare out the window at the snow. Repeat until you finish your current book. 


12:00 PM - Search the hashtags about the storm to see how much has accumulated and the pictures people have taken. You should probably take 100 pictures to make sure you have a good one to share.

1:00 PM - Make a mimosa and stare out the window at the snow some more.  Obviously, post the picture on Instagram (another plug - my blog has an Instagram account now - insertclassyhere)


1:30 PM - Make macaroni & cheese because nothing goes better with a mimosa. 

2:00 PM - Start a new book. Keep drinking mimosas.

3:00 PM - Answer text messages from all of your out of town relatives letting them know you're alive and you have power. Also, remind them that New Jersey is bigger than people think and we are not in the area that is getting flooded. 


3:30 PM - Take the dogs out again and play in the snow. Ski goggles are never a bad idea when the wind is blowing snow towards your face at 30 mph.

4:00 PM - Peer pressure neighbors to hang out with you and drink. We used a bribe of dessert - including snow cream (see recipe below) and hot chocolate.

4:30 PM - Pack your backpack full of goodies and head out into the storm... well, across the street, but it felt really bad ass. Drink wine with your hot chocolate and snow cream.



6:00 PM - Starting discussing pizza and wondering if delivery guys are considered emergency vehicles.

6:10 PM - Realize that all you want is pizza and start calling local places. Get lucky on your second try (really, it was a miracle). Convince friends to "gear up" because we are walking the 10 blocks to pick it up.


7:00 PM - With pizza in your possession, walk fast back to enjoy it. Also, count your blessings if you have a garage to park in.


7:20 PM - Eat pizza, drink more wine, watch youtube videos. 


8:30 PM - Make the trek back across the street, bundle up the dogs and take them out again. Prepare yourselves for little success considering the snow is 2 feet high at this point.

9:00 PM - Change into a fresh pair of PJ's, pour more wine and settle in for some Netflix or if you're lucky like us, you get a few hours with two of your best friends via FaceTime.

11:30 PM - Fall asleep to the sound of the snow plows working extra hard and wonder if tomorrow will bring sunshine.

Best Blizzard Day ever.


We were supposed to be heading out of town today for a work trip, but since travel was banned until mid-day and the Pennsylvania turnpike was closed for part of our route, we pushed it back until Monday. I'm probably driving when you're reading this. Hopefully the sunshine helped clear those roads.

Hoping all my friends were able to have a quiet, peaceful day at home with power and food during this crazy storm. Let me know what you mix into your snow cream. 


January 15, 2016

Death, Cheese & $1.5 Billion: What's Trending on Twitter

Sometimes I like to browse the trending topics on Twitter and learn things about society at the current moment. I get some current events, learn some new information and make some stuff up. I also find some hilarious people to follow. I have such a love/indifferent relationship with Twitter, so I'm trying to use it more.  Here are 10 things I saw trending on twitter this week.

#alanrickman - This one made me sad because he passed away this week. He has been in so many awesome movies - Harry Potter is my favorite. RIP.

source
#bigblockofcheeseday - You can imagine my excitement when I discovered this was a thing. Good thing we went to Costco last week and bought a giant block of Vermont White Cheddar. I ate part of that for dinner and it was incredible.
#chrischristie - I'm not watching the debate tonight because I didn't feel like it. I'd rather watch the last episode of season 1 of True Detective. However, I'm trolling Twitter and it appears the governor of my lovely state is talking bridges and planned parenthood. I'm sure it went great.

#davidbowie - If you haven't seen this news by now, you are missing something. Cancer takes people too soon. David Bowie was an incredibly talented human and someone that made it so cool to be different.



#oscarnoms - Don't care about any of them other than Leo. I just want him to win and I haven't even seen the movie. I love movies, but I like to be entertained by them - Star Wars wins for me this year.

#ifihadabilliondollars - Who didn't spend at least a few minutes this week imagining what they would do with that money? I know people that didn't even buy a ticket and still spent a few minutes day dreaming. I would buy a few places to spend my time at, a farm for animals that need homes, everything on my pinterest board and probably give everything else away.

#ididntwinpowerballsonow - Keep your effing job. Duh. But also, treat yourself to whatever bottle of wine won't break your bank account and save your pennies for the next lottery record.

#alittleknownfactabout - There were some hilarious facts under this hashtag. I couldn't pick my favorites. I have one: a little known fact about flamingos is that there are more fake ones in the world than real ones.

#bachelor - I just can't watch it. I tried once. Also, #deathofabachelor is now trending... but I think that's unrelated.

#SOTU - I wish there would have been a real mic drop. I hope I live to see that happen.


So, what do you think about our week in twitter? Who are your favorite people to follow? Any big plans for this weekend? I hope they involve a giant block of cheese.

January 13, 2016

The State of Steph 2016

I thought to myself while watching the State of the Union that I should do a State of Steph. A few minutes later, I realized how familiar that sounded and realized I did it last year (you can read that here.) Another year, another update. If we're being honest, I write these all the time because this is a blog about my life, but let's see what I can come up with.


I need a haircut. I'm going to be chopping it off in the near future and donating all of it.

I'm decluttering so many things in our apartment. I swear things just appear here that I've never seen before. There's also stuff hiding in drawers that we haven't touched since we unpacked it two years ago. It's GOT TO GO.

I feel like watching our government function is like watching a TV show sometimes. Election years stress me out because everyone acts crazier than normal. I'm bracing myself for a gong show this year. #rockthevote

I still cry when I watch most episodes of Parenthood.

I struggle finding things I feel like blogging about lately, but that usually means I need to refresh and get excited again. I signed up for Helene's blog detox course.

Swimsuit shopping is the worst thing in the world, but so many people have sent me awesome links that I'm going to share with you some of the best places to look for them. Holy crap, they are expensive though.

I'm dreaming of a cabin in the woods. I would like to drink hot coffee, read and have a fire.

I'm realizing that this is essentially just a "currently" post, so let's talk about the future:

In two hours, I'll be doing my 25 minute workout like a boss over my lunchtime.

Tonight, I will win a couple million dollars (because a billion just doesn't seem realistic.) I will then purchase a few vacation homes, a retreat for animals that can't be adopted and all my Pinterest boards will become real life. In fact, if you need me tonight, I'll be updating my Pinterest to reflect what life will be like tomorrow.

In a few days, I'll be back in Queens enjoying my favorite brunch and catching up with some of our favorite Astorians.

In a month, I'll be exploring a new country.

In 9 months, I will be moving in somewhere else... but I don't know where that will be.

In 10 years, I will be 40 and flirty and fabulous. Also, I might need to do a 40 before 40 list because I miss having a life goal list. Or maybe I'll finally do a 101 in 1001... any suggestions?

In 10 years and 1 day, I will not be flirty because that's stupid.

So that's the current state of Steph (and the future state.) I hope you watched the president's speech last night or at least read it today. Also, please vote.

January 8, 2016

Thank You Notes Vol. 11

It seems appropriate to have a Jimmy Fallon themed post today since I SAW HIM LAST NIGHT. We have been wanting to see Billy Joel at MSG since he announced his run in Jan 2014. About a month ago, I finally purchased tickets for his 25th show there and it was last night. The show was so incredible, but adding Jimmy Fallon to the mix was incredible. Jimmy and I have history which you can catch up with here.


Anyways, on to some Thank You Notes...

Thank you Billy for playing River of Dreams and making me shed a few tears as I was flooded with some fantastic childhood memories. Also, you played Justin's favorite song and that was super awesome too. And one last thing, you are pretty funny and that made me like you even more.

Thank you Piano Man for being a better version of drunk people swaying and singing along than Garth Brooks' Friends in Low Places. Watching thousands of people sway back and forth and sing along last night made me feel like I was hanging out with all my friends in a bar somewhere in Northern MN. It was awesome.


Thank you usually obnoxious cell phone lights for creating the most beautiful setting last night at the concert. I usually hate when I see them lit up, but last night, it took my breath away.

Thank you Quincy & Lola for having a clean bill of health at the vet. He was surprised by your age, which is the best news ever.

Thank you Jamberry for making my nails pretty with little maintenance. I botched my first set in a pretty epic way, but then I watched some YouTube videos and nailed it with my second attempt.

Thank you body for surviving 5 days in a row of getting my butt kicked in workouts. You might think it's some New Year's resolution, but it's really a last minute effort to prep for Costa Rica. And by last minute, I mean five weeks, but it's what I got.

Thank you 2016 for already being awesome. This year is off to a great start. I'm excited for a weekend of football playoffs, rest days from T25, coffee, books and early bedtimes. Cheers to getting through that first week and being awesome for the next 51.

January 5, 2016

Currently...


I know that so many people are sad that Christmas is over, but it's a brand new year and I'm pretty excited. I shared my word for 2016 yesterday, so today I'll update you on the little simple things in life.

Reading The Book Thief and #Girlboss right now. I found a great book challenge for 2016 that will get me outside of my usual a little bit, but nothing too crazy. 40 books. I'm off to a good start.


Obsessing over Making a Murderer. We watched the first two episodes before we left town last week and then binge watched the remaining eight episodes in two days. I have so many thoughts about this - most fall into the angry and confused category. I also have to continue to remind myself that this is a real story and not a scripted TV show. It's terrifying and sad and I'm obsessed with talking about it and reading about it. If you haven't finished the series, wait until you're done to read about it. If you haven't started watching, do it ASAP.

Listening to Fleetwood Mac. Classic.

Smelling my Vanilla Snowflake candle. It's such a BBW classic.

Sweating my way through T25. I've survived 2 days in a row - only 4 weeks and 5 days left. 25 minutes a day really isn't bad. I'll update more once I'm a little further in. If you have ever thought about doing a program like this, let me know and we can chat more about it. You can also visit this website to check out more info.

Writing in my 52 Lists book. I received this from a friend for Christmas and I was so excited. I love lists and I love new journals/notebooks.

Shopping for a new swim suit for our Costa Rica trip. I want a one piece that is comfortable but not old ladylike. I have no idea where to start. It's been so long since I've bought a swimsuit that wasn't on clearance at Target.


Missing the woods and the mountains from this weekend. We fell in love with the Catskills this weekend more than we had during our previous visits. Plus, the house we rented was perfect. I wish I was sitting in front of a fire right now or sitting in the reading nook pictured above.

Feeling the cold finally showing up. Winter has arrived. There is still no snow, but I'm back to the time of year that I wish the dogs could pee in our toilet. I think it would be easier to handle if there was pretty snow to look at.

What is happening in your life today? What candle are you burning? What book challenges are you participating in?

January 4, 2016

2016: One Word


I love New Year's Day as much as I love a good sunrise, a new notebook or a brand new pair of socks. I love everything about fresh starts and new beginnings. I drank a nice big glass of wine one night last week and did a little reflection.

I love to set a resolution, but one that I actually follow through with. It's no surprise that the majority of people don't succeed in following resolutions. You have to pick something that is realistic and that you want to accomplish.

I like to think about the things that made me happy in the past year and figure out how I can do more of that. I'll share my 2015 resolution soon and why I loved that so much, but for today, I'm sharing with you my 2016 word. Isn't that what everyone is doing these days? I kind of love it because it's simple and easy.

Engage.

I want to be more engaged in the things I'm doing. What does that mean?

+ Less multitasking and more focus

+ More unplugged time because my phone and computer take me out of the moment

+ Better conversation and listening with friends and family

+ Embracing and diving into new things and really taking the time needed to get things right

+ Finishing things that I set and focusing on goals that I set for myself

+ Use the things I have - the food I buy, the clothes in my closet, the skates in our car

+ Engage with all of you awesome people that read this blog

So that's the plan for 2016 and so far, it's been wonderful. We kicked off the first few days of the new year in the woods and mountains, so unplugging was simple. Plus, I've made it through the first Monday of the year and I've successfully gotten 1/25th of the way through the T25 Alpha program.

Big things happening here, people. And lots of love and best wishes for all of you for the new year.

Tell me - do you pick a word or a resolution? Share it with me and I'll help cheer you on.