20 Things

I was tagged by a fellow Nikki at dsdstyle.blogspot.com to do a post with 20 facts about myself. My first ever tag!

20 facts tag

About four facts in, I realized this was going to be a lot harder than I thought. I really tried to keep them fairly interesting and stay away from basic things like “my favorite color is blue” (it is), or “my middle name is Agatha-Louise” (it’s not).

Enjoy and if you decide to post your own (because I tag YOU!) leave a link in the comments section below!

  1. I’m a lefty with green eyes and two remaining baby teeth, even though I’m in my 30s, which basically makes me somewhat of a statistical rarity?
  2. One Friday the 13th, my dad & myself were bit by the same dog, at different times, and my brother by a crab almost simultaneously with my dog bite. I’m not superstitious, but maybe I should be.
  3. Years ago, I met Adam Sandler and got his autograph. Unfortunately, I only had it for about 24 hours because it was written in a Crayola marker on my arm. NOTE to self: Always carry paper and a Sharpie.
  4. I find it really difficult to come up with 20 interesting things about myself.
  5. Dan vacuums way better than I do and has more shirts, but I know more about football and can take a two-minute shower. We kind of defy gender stereotypes.
  6. Sometimes I worry that people don’t know when I’m being sarcastic.
  7. My fridge usually consists of a few yogurts, rotting vegetables that I had good intentions for, condiments, 3 kinds of milk because we’re indecisive, and lots of water and alcohol. I’m working on it.
  8. I once had a cat named Stupid, but we called her Poo instead….because that’s better.
  9. I’ve never broken a bone, unless teeth count, which I guess they technically do. In that case, I’ve broken the same one three times.
  10. I can’t think of a time where the movie has been better than the book. I will say though, Gone Girl is one of the few where each was equally as good.
  11. I deleted an item from this list because it talked about religion, and even though it was in a funny, anecdotal sort of way, I’m a little bit terrified to bring up the topic to people who may have a more serious view than I do. Let’s talk politics instead.
  12. If I could only watch 3 television shows on repeat for the rest of my life (the horror!), it would be Breaking Bad, House, and Gilmore Girls. My mother is probably shocked I didn’t choose 90210 since I insisted I was moving to Beverly Hills all through junior high and Brenda was my BFF. Luckily, I choose my BFFs a bit more wisely now.
  13. I’m eating cauliflower while I write this and wishing it were chocolate peanut butter flavored with sprinkles.
  14. I actually kind of liked high school.
  15. Somehow I signed up for a free subscription to one magazine and ended up with free subscriptions to many more. You know that scene in Harry Potter where thousands of letters keep flying in through every part of the house? My life is like that, but with magazines. It’s awesome.
  16. I still carry around a piece of dog fur from my childhood best buddy, Cooper, who passed away on Christmas when I was 16. It’s one of my saddest memories.
  17. A few years ago, Dan and I rappelled down a waterfall in Costa Rica, and I like to think it’s one of the most badass things I’ve ever done.
  18. I’m not always sure how to use commas, and it frustrates me. That one was wrong, right?
  19. I firmly believe there is nothing in this world that can’t be made better with cheese. Except cheese itself because it’s already the best.
  20. My life is ruined because my cats insist that we absolutely, no way, can never ever have a Christmas tree.

 

Word Vomit

I’ve been having a serious problem with motivation lately and I think I know why.

While this blog has always been a creative outlet for me and lets me indulge in photography, social media, writing, crafting, and a few other passions of mine, recently it feels like it’s not enough and I worry I might explode from all of the ideas floating around in my head! I wonder what that would look like actually. I would probably be sitting at work one afternoon and just the mere thought of a Pinterest craft would have me DIY-ing all over the floor.

What I’m trying to say is, I find it hard to keep up lately with all of the photography skills I want to learn, design projects I invent for myself, posts I want to create for this blog, and things I want to accomplish that have nothing to do with my 9-5 job. Which is actually an 8:30-5 job, so, yeah, worse.

I have lists upon lists of things to redecorate in my apartment, pins for days with seasonal crafts to recreate, and billions of articles I want to read that focus on things of interest to me. I want to try EVERY CREATIVE THING! The problem? That 8:30-5 job and the tedious responsibilities of being an adult. So when I find myself doing something mundane, I get overwhelmed with all of the thoughts of things I’d rather be doing and literally (but not literally) paralyzed with frustration about not having the time or resources to do them! And there goes my motivation right out the window. It’s like I don’t want to be doing anything if I’m not passionate about it.

Sigh.

In an attempt to indulge my creative side, I’ve been playing around with some quote designs and photo-editing software. I’m basically self-teaching myself (with a little help from Dan) how to create things in a product similar to Photoshop (because I’m still just a little too scared of the ACTUAL Photoshop) and I’ve started using it for inspiration boards, my seasonal bucket lists, and the like. Recently I fell in love with some printable quotes on Etsy, but before I whipped out my wallet, I wanted to try my hand at creating some of my own.

It was pretty easy to decide which quote I should start with. I really need to print this one out and frame it at home, on my desk at work, in my car, and maybe turn it into the wallpaper on my phone.

Don't sweat the small stuff

Since I really do plan on printing some of these, I thought it would be nice to have a few seasonal designs that I can switch out of a cute, inexpensive frame. While I’m not quite ready for winter, and I may never be, this one at least gets me excited for the holiday music that I can’t wait to put on repeat. Lucky for me, Dan enjoys Christmas music much more than he enjoys my recent country obsession.

Dashing through the snow

Finally, I wanted a simple, cute quote that I could hang in our apartment or on our fridge.

The best part of me is you

When I first showed this one to Dan expecting an “awwww” or something similar, I got a slightly different response: “Did you write that for Kitty?” Is that a sign of a true cat lady?

Also, can we ignore the fact that I just babbled on about wanting to be more creative and yet my cat’s name is Kitty?

Slow Cooker Broccoli Casserole

I love the idea of Crockpot meals. Throw a few things inside, turn it on, and go about your day while dinner basically prepares itself. While I haven’t quite warmed up to the idea of leaving it on while I’m not at home, I took advantage of a Sunday with no plans and made a slow cooker meal for tonight’s dinner while I sat on the couch in pajamas ALL.DAY.

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The recipe I used is a Slow Cooker Broccoli, Brown Rice, and Cheddar Casserole from SkinnyMs.com. You can view the original recipe on her blog, and I only made a few changes to suit our own tastes and make it even healthier.

While the recipe called for mushrooms, I’m not their biggest fan, so I subbed in diced tomatoes instead.

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I also used almond milk (unsweetened) instead of dairy milk, and whole wheat flour. I didn’t substitute anything for the broccoli, but I still felt like I needed to include a photo of the bag because Broccoli Wokly.

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It’s funnier every time you say it. Broccoli Wokly. See? Moving on. I would recommend using a food processor to chop your broccoli instead of making a mess like I did.

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Truth be told, this was a bit more time-consuming to prepare than I expected, but I’m also pretty lazy when it comes to cooking, so take that however you will. Instead of throwing everything into the slow cooker and walking away, you first have to prepare the sauce and chop your vegetables.

Once the sauce is done, THEN you can toss everything together and go back to watching hours of YouTube videos under a blanket with your cat. Or, you know, cleaning or something.

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While it sits, the rice will thicken and absorb a lot of the liquid. For the last hour it cooks, you add cheese to the Crockpot, and if you suffer from a cheese addiction like myself, you may add a bit (lot) more once it’s on your plate.

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We both enjoyed this meal and could each get about 2 servings a piece from the recipe. Now, is there a slow cooker that will make me a sundae?

Weekend Adventures

So often someone will ask myself or Dan what we have planned for the weekend, and then once we list our potential plans, they will make a comment like “you guys do so many fun things!” We do. So many fun things. Often it stresses me out when it seems like we have all of our weekends planned from April to December, and in the days leading up to them I will complain about never having time to relax at home, but then I go and make MORE plans. And the thing is, I enjoy almost all of them. The solution? A day between Saturday and Sunday to enjoy more relaxing while still having plenty of time for fun things. Genius, right?

This weekend was no different. We kicked it off with the usual Friday night date night and ventured into Salem (in October!) for dinner at a new (to us) place. Food was decent, prices were good, but not a lot of options for a pseudo-vegetarian like myself.

We braved the crowds and the witches to head back to Salem on Saturday for a scavenger hunt. We had done a Watson Adventure before at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and loved it, so we were pretty pumped for this one which promised to be spooky and festive.

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While we did feel like we had a bit of an advantage being locals, the crowds were just too much on a nice Saturday during October in Salem, and we found that we couldn’t even get close enough to some of our clues to be able to solve all twenty questions. Other groups were able to complete their entire sheet however, so maybe we were just slow? It also got dark about halfway through, which only frustrated me more, and I ended up giving up about two-thirds of the way through while Dan searched for one last clue alone.

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While our last Watson Adventure had a story to it and required you to solve a mystery at the end, this one did not. This allowed us to visit some of the areas in Salem that we often overlook and to learn some of the history of the area, but I think we would rather have done this particular hunt in the Spring at an earlier hour. Overall though, I really recommend doing a Watson Adventure if you haven’t. They are VERY well put together, always a lot of fun, and just a super cool way to explore an area or museum.

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The next day was beautiful outside once again and proved to be the perfect day to not fall off a horse.

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A few friends and I got together to cross an item off of my Fall Bucket List – horseback riding! We went to Bobby’s Ranch and rode with a small group for about an hour. While I was a little nervous at first, my horse, Finn, knew exactly what he was doing and didn’t require me to know much at all. Definite plus since I had no idea what I was doing.

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I would certainly go back and do it all again. If you’ve never been, it’s an amazing place with all kinds of animals roaming free around the parking lot. We spent a little time just petting and gushing over the miniature horse and barn cats before heading out to lunch.

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All in all, another great weekend and I even had some time to relax a bit with a book on Sunday night!

How was YOUR weekend? Any fun things planned for the next one?

From Fan to Fanatic

I’ll admit it.

I’ve been a terrible football fan this year. As someone who used to spend their Sunday parked in front of the computer, watching the Pats game while checking the scores of every fantasy league I belonged to, it became too much for me and I’ve slowly been taking back my Sundays and using them for things like leaf-peeping and apple-picking. I only get two weekend days after all, and any time spent outside is time well spent to me.

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But since the Patriots are going to continue to pull themselves together this year and make it to the Super Bowl (a sort of uncertain but hopeful prediction), I’m planning to step up my game as well, even if it means DVR-ing those suckers to watch at night when it’s no longer gorgeous outside.

Whether I watch the game at my own apartment, or out with friends & family, I always throw on one of my jerseys or sweatshirts to get into the spirit. I usually pair them with jeans and throw a white t-shirt underneath. How boring, right? Time to make dressing for the game a little more fun!

NFL Jersey collage jersey|leggings|shirt|shoes|clutch|hat|jewelry|nail art

To start my look, I chose a jersey from Fanatics’ impressive selection. To this day, I still don’t own a Brady jersey, so it was a tough decision, but I had to go with Gronk. I already own this one in white, and several others in blue, so I chose red to mix it up a bit. It also seemed like it would look the best with those killer leather leggings. If you’re not quite ready for full-on leather, a legging with leather details, or even plain black would work just fine.

As I said above, I always throw a long-sleeved white t-shirt under my jersey, but I’m done with being basic, so I went with a chambray button-down instead. The bonus to this is that when the game is over, you already have a cute outfit ready to go! It’s a sort of two-point conversion, if you will. 😉

No matter which jersey you choose, there will be Vans that match to keep your look sporty and casual. I also grabbed a clutch via etsy, and several sellers make these specifically for sports fans in their team colors, so it’s easy to match your accessories to your outfit!

Speaking of accessories, you can get those right from Fanatics as well. One-stop shopping leaves much more time for cheering and eating nachos. I chose a Patriots bracelet and earrings, and a beanie that looks so toasty warm I would wear it all winter long. If you’re really into showing your spirit, you could grab some temporary tattoos, paint your face (or other body parts?), or stick on these nail decals, also from Fanatics.

You know what I think would go even better with this outfit? A Super Bowl ring. We should have a few of those lying around in New England, right? 😉

[[ I was not compensated for writing this post and all opinions are honest and my own, especially the ones about this season’s Super Bowl winners. ]]

You’re (sort of) Invited!

I’m having a party!

But don’t get too excited – the party is in my head. Sometimes it really does feel as if there’s a party in my head and people are very, very drunk, but that’s neither here nor there.

This party is a product of Halloween envy and nostalgia. A few years ago, Dan and I threw a pretty fun Halloween bash in our apartment and, due to timing and just, well…LIFE, we haven’t been able to have another one since. Our decorations are up, our costumes are somewhat planned, I’ve eaten just about every pumpkin creation ever made, and I’m dying over all the cute decorations I see, but still no party this year.

So I threw this one for you! Here’s your invitation:

Halloween Party Invite

I hope you can make it! There will be plenty of decorations, like this adorable banner from Paper Source:
Banner

The best thing about that banner is that it would be so easy to make your own if you wanted to. Some burlap, stamps, craft paint, and you’re good to go! Just punch holes in each side, string some twine through each letter, and hang it for your guests to admire.

Side note: This is a non-scary party. It has to be that way because I’ve gotten rather old and well, neurotic? so I can’t handle scary things anymore. Last night, we went to a haunted corn maze that we had paid a decent amount of money for, and I got past the first creepy-looking thing that jumped out and shouted at me before I decided that this was NOT going to happen, NO way, NOPE. I used to live for Halloween and all its haunted houses and scary movies, and in fact I had done this SAME haunted maze just last year, but this time I was just not having it, so we turned around and headed right back out of that maze and sold our tickets to someone in line. I’m still annoyed at myself.

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What this party WILL have are some cute, non-threatening, mummy pumpkins.

mummy pumpkin{source}

This party may be fake, but in real life, I will be attempting to create one of those pumpkins tomorrow. I recently crafted a couple of paper pumpkins, found in this tutorial, but there is only this one left standing on my bookshelf because CATS. It’s not just the black ones that are evil.

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Another quick and easy decoration idea is to blow up a black balloon, stick it to your wall or ceiling, and add crepe paper “legs” as seen here. Or stick some googly eyes (found at any craft store) onto your plastic drinking glasses. The possibilities are endless and I could easily get lost in decorating for my fake party.

At our last party, we had a few games for our guests to enjoy, including guessing the amount of M&Ms in a jar, or naming the movie that a selected iconic image was from. For the party in my head, I think it would be fun to have a “photo booth” set up where guests can use different masks or props (stock up at the local dollar store, or make your own with printables like the ones below) and then take photos against a backdrop with a cell phone or Polaroid. You could also create a specific hashtag for your guests to use when uploading their pics to social media, such as #myfakeparty2014.

photo booth{source}

If kids are invited, you could put together an inexpensive craft table complete with foam paper, stickers, ribbon, glitter, markers, and glue so that they can create their own masks to wear.

You can bet there will be plenty of themed food, just like we had last time.

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Finally, you could easily DIY some treat bags for guests to take home candy or other items. Just use any small paper bag and go crazy with black and orange designs, lots of BOO!s and EEK!s, or maybe some fake blood.

halloween-gift-bag {source}

I hope you have a great time at my party! The best thing about parties that aren’t real? No hangovers or sugar crashes when you get home!

My Dream Wedding with Lover.ly

I was so excited when Carolyn from lover.ly contacted me to participate in a project for the website, which she describes as “the wedding planning binder in the cloud”! I was asked to choose from three different destination wedding locations and then select all my accessories and extras in order to style it however I wanted.

You can imagine my excitement when one of my three choices was my ACTUAL dream wedding destination:

Italy

ITALY!!

Since I’ve already spent a lot of time planning this out in my head, I already had an idea of exactly what I wanted my look to be like. I went right to lover.ly and searched for a vintage-inspired lace dress. With all of Italy’s deep historical roots and rustic views, I think the vintage look fits right in.

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You can filter your search by designer, style, price, length, even neckline or sleeve. The range of dresses to choose from was phenomenal, with everything from David’s Bridal to Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta. In fact, the dress I almost chose was an affordable gown from David’s Bridal, but since this is my dream wedding, I decided to go all out with that gorgeous Monique Lhuillier piece that you see above. Isn’t it just so pretty?

From there, I decided to search for shoes and accessories. I wanted something simple because I feel like the rich colors of your venue in Italy (think Tuscan wine country or Venice canals) should be allowed to stand out, and I didn’t want anything to take away from that amazing dress. I went with rose gold to compliment the vintage look, but I think bronze would have worked just as well. The rose gold adds a little bit of a modern flair in my opinion.

Loverly print screen

It was easy to search for accessories based on the ideas I had in mind of how the completed look should be. I even found the perfect cake and table setting!

Lover.ly wedding dress collage

Dress|Shoes|Earrings|Hairpins|Cake|Table Setting|Flower|Necklace

The necklace and the earrings were chosen from etsy, which is another great resource for choosing your wedding accessories. The earrings are my “statement” piece and tie in to the rose gold color of the cute Kate Spade sandals (look at that bow!). The necklace was chosen to be simple in order to let the neckline of the dress have it’s own moment. I love the “love” wording (yeah, I did that.) but similar designs that would also work for a wedding are an ampersand (&), the word “mrs”, or a monogram of your new initials!

As I said, my pops of color were left to the decor, and what better color palette to use in Italy than a wine-themed one! The burlap of the table number keeps it rustic, while the design of the cake uses similar colors in a modern shape.

I just love how everything looks together! It makes me wish I could fly off to Italy right now and tie the knot in that dress! Fittingly enough, I am off to a wedding in a few hours and I can’t wait to see how the bride incorporated all the elements of her fall theme. What is your dream wedding like?

[[While this post was created in partnership with lover.ly, I did not receive any compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.]]

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

A few months ago I was adding a book to my Goodreads account when I decided I had reached my threshold for the number of items on my “to-read” shelf. I spent some time going through the list and determining if each one was something that I would still be interested in reading. Roughly 115 of them made the final cut, which is a much more manageable number than what I started with.

Sometimes I will read a book by a particular author and decide that I love them and have to read everything they’ve ever written. Suddenly 17 more books have just been added to my account. Considering I average about a book a week or less lately, there is no way I would ever get through that stack. So, moving forward, I vow to do two things: 1) Only add books to my “to-read” shelf that I’m really excited about and not ones that will do “when I have time” because I’m learning that I will never have time for those! 2) Read more! Much more. I’m a little overwhelmed with magazine subscriptions at the moment, but I plan to fit more reading time in, whether it’s during my lunch break or for a little while each night. I’m not sure I will ever get that list down to zero (and I truly hope that I don’t!!) but I would like to keep it from giving me panic attacks.

That being said, here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

book collage

Torch [Cheryl Strayed] – This was one of those cases where I picked up a book by this author, loved it, and then wanted to read everything else of hers that I could get my hands on. This time it worked out well for me, as I enjoyed both Torch and Wild. Torch is fiction, but is based on the author’s own life. I read Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things first, and since both are autobiographical, I enjoyed connecting the parts of Torch to those parts of Cheryl Strayed’s story that I already knew. I will say that had I not read this book after the other two, I may not have been as interested, as it can be a bit slow and is certainly a little depressing, although moving.

An Abundance of Katherines [John Green] – Ok, so I guess I really do this a lot. I picked up this book after finishing The Fault in Our Stars and having actual pains from missing the crap out of that book once I turned the last page. An Abundance of Katherines was a similarly endearing story with quirky characters, but I didn’t fall in love with it as much as I did the first John Green novel that I read. Being the nerd that I am, I can’t discount a book with so much math in it, so I still would say it was a good read, but definitely start with his other books.

Landline [Rainbow Rowell] – I was waiting for this one to come out before it was even published. After finishing everything else that Rainbow Rowell has written (yeah, yeah, it’s a thing.), I actually set a reminder in my calendar to grab this book on Kindle the first day it was out. I finished it the next day. I just love all her stories, all her characters, and the way I get sucked in. The one and only thing I didn’t like about Landline was that [SPOILER ALERT] I never got a logical explanation as to why the crazy, time-traveling phone thing was happening (intrigued yet?), but that wasn’t enough to keep me from loving this story. It was one of those where I put it down at the end and feel like I just lost my best friend, which may sound like a terrible feeling, but that’s how I know it was a good read.

So that’s my list! What have you been reading? If I were to (carefully this time) add some books to my list, what would you suggest??

Fall Fashion Wishlist

Let me point out right away that I am by no means a fashion blogger. I’m not really a fashion anything, unless shopper counts? The things I am about to show you probably went out of style before I was even born (if they were ever “in style”?), but these are the things that I’m searching the malls for lately.

Fall Fashion Wishlist

[one] – I need me a cargo vest. I’m not sure why, but I’m dying to wear it over a striped shirt with some cognac boots. I’ve seen these all over blogs lately and yet I can’t find one in the stores that I like, so I’m cursing all of you who caught onto this one before I did and snatched them up!

[two] – I’ve also been on the hunt for a cute graphic tee. I think they are a good alternative to a neutral t-shirt when you want to add some interest to your look. I could wear this under a cardigan, with a vest, or on its own with some colored jeans or a skirt.

[three] – If only I had saved ALL my plaid, flannel shirts from the 90s. Sadly, most of those were probably a little boyish and not trendy at all, so this time around I want one with some pinks or purples and more of a modern flair to it.

[four] – This leopard cardigan is practically a neutral and I feel like I could wear it with so many things! It would look great over a graphic tee, with my olive green skinnies, or dressed up for work with a black skirt.

[five] – New obsession. I want colored pants in ALL the colors. I’ve started a collection with olive green, burgundy, and cobalt pairs, but I want them all, especially the mustard and the red! I seriously wear these more than my plain denim now.

[six] – Really searching for a cute dress that I can wear with some tights, boots, and a cardigan for fall, but still get some use out of in the spring and summer as well. This one would be perfect!

[seven] – Puffer vests are my go-to fall thing when I don’t want to wear a jacket yet. I already own a white and a silver, but I would like one in a darker color like this navy pinstripe one. So cute!

[eight] – I was SO excited that ankle boots were becoming a thing this year because I’ve had a pair in my closet for years that never got much use. Unfortunately, I think mine were a chew toy for my cat because pieces of them were hanging off in shreds when I pulled them out to wear to work this week. Embarrassing confession? I wore them anyway and hoped no one looked too closely! I just had to get one last wear out of them before adding them to the list of things I need this year. Yes, need.

I love how most things on this list will pair will the other things, or with items I already own. The leopard cardi over the dress? Awesome! Black booties with a graphic tee and vest? Yes!

Wait, what was that noise? Did my closet just moan?

Fall 2014 Bucket List

Well. August was a rough month. In some ways I feel like August didn’t even happen and I jumped right from enjoying my summer into mild, fall-like temps and I’m still pouting a bit. Between a family emergency that meant several nights away from home (everyone is doing well now!), an ongoing battle with bronchitis, and not too many warm, sunny weekends, my Summer Bucket List definitely suffered. Since I can’t really request a do-over, I’ve decided to save the few things that I didn’t get to and make sure they get back on the list next year.

In the midst of kicking and screaming about the end of summer (I’m not dramatic at all. Really.) I managed to stir up some excitement for fall things, like leaf-peeping, the Patriots, and my favorite month-long holiday – Halloween!

Halloween 2010 - Popeye  Facebook  - Olive Oyl made an appearance on a different night
Halloween 2010 – Popeye and Facebook – Olive Oyl made an appearance on a different night

Instead of the 40 items that I had added to my Summer Bucket List, I decided to be a bit more realistic this time around and ended up with 19 fun things to do this fall. Without further ado…

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I’m jumping right in on this Fall Bucket List and can’t wait to stuff my face with cider donuts and pumpkin EVERYTHING. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin toothpaste. What? It would be awesome, I promise.