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Well. It's that time of year again. All the 2015 roundups are in full swing on social media, and new resolutions are being made. I checked in with my resolutions from last year, and I stuck to 3 out of 5: I learned to put down the tweezers (although I had an unfortunate threading experience a few months back, so now I'm re-growing the brows out. AGAIN.), I started drinking way, way, wayyy more water (much of this has been seltzer water, but still), and I've gotten really good at responding to to texts/voicemails in a more timely manner. 

Maybe if I whittle the list down to 3 intentions this year, I'll fare better this time around. Let's see...

Merry Christmas Eve!

Today marks the last day of Autumn, 2015. Back in October, I went to brunch with my friend Laura and made it my mission to do brunch more often this season. Since then, I've been to Another Broken Egg (did not blog - so in theory, it did not actually happen) (?), Waffle House (does this one really count?) Le Petit Marche, and lastly, Oy! on this past Saturday

White Barn, Bath and Body Works' candle label, stepped up it's game recently. They now have their own store in a couple malls around metro Atlanta, and it's quite the festive frenzy. It's a candle bonanza! There are so many scents to choose from. I went in looking for something different but came out empty handed for a few reasons: after like five minutes, all the fragrances start to blend into one big confusing aroma, and there are many more food-scented varieties then I remember (pumpkin, vanilla, apple pie, etc.) - those aren't exactly my cup of tea (read: jar of wax).

So, I'll be sticking with my old faithfuls from now on. For anyone else out there who loves a good scented candle this time of year but doesn't have the patience to sniff around for 30 minutes, let me save your sinuses by offering my suggestions. Here are my favorite White Barn Christmas candles.
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1. If I see one more "natural" makeup tutorial that uses 15+ makeup products, I'm... probably going to watch it anyway but continue to be irritated.

2. I've recently started exploring the world of YouTube, and by exploring I mean actually subscribing to channels, and I'm know I'm super late to this party, but it's a major time suck, so maybe that's why I never subscribed to any channels before.

3. Also, YouTube keeps forcing me to upgrade my account to Google Plus if I want to comment on a video. This means I have been unable to comment on any videos.

So here's the low-down on Le Petit Marché: It's tucked away in East Atlanta's Kirkwood neighborhood. People rave about this place. Out of 400+ reviews on Yelp, it currently has 4.5 out of 5 stars, and it's a (black) family-owned establishment. Why I haven't been before 2015 is beyond me, but after seeing it featured on both Beth's and Sheriden's blog, I had to go.

A few days ago, Meredith came over (like she frequently does) and Raven excitment-peed all over the dining room floor (like she frequently does)(but only when she's super excited to see someone). I have no clue how to break her excitement-pee tendencies. I thought she would have grown out of it by now, but maybe she just needs more time? In any case, I keep lots of cleaning product handy. At one point, I had multiple bottles of enzyme cleaner for the carpeted areas of the apartment.

As Meredith and I were mopping up her "little" puddle, she complimented the smell of the products we were using and asked what kind they were. Cue my moment to share my enlightenment. Why, yes! They do smell great, and they're non-toxic!

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix titled The Human Experiment (briefly mentioned on this Netflix round-up post). Ten minutes into the film I was hooked, which isn't necessarily a huge feat. People sharing their honest and personal stories always, always reels me in. You could be telling me about your ingrown toenail, but if it's compelling and dramatic enough I will surely listen.

But back to the documentary. By the time the credits rolled, I decided I was making the non-toxic switch, and by "I" I mean we, and by we I mean anyone who lives in or visits my home.

Listen, Linda. HONEY*.
Happy Thanksgiving! Well, day after Thanksgiving... I spent most of the day on the couch with the pup (who is officially one year old this month - yikes!), updating my tumblr theme, which took way longer than I hoped/expected, but now it's a beautifully responsive extension of this blog, and you should definitely follow me if you haven't already. Yes, that's a shameless plug, and I look forward to following you back. :)

In the afternoon, I got out for a few hours to chill with Mom and visit J at the firehouse. It sucks that he had to work on our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, and it sucks that I wasn't able to be with a whole bunch of family members like most other people, but I guess every year can't be family-filled and picture perfect. It would've been really nice to have some sweet potato pie, though.

I'm outrageously late with this post.

The book club went on a little outing in September to some horse stables out in Cumming, GA. Most of us had never been horseback riding, so we were all looking forward to our equestrian adventure. It was definitely a day to remember.

I've clicked through on many a blog post titled "how I edit my iPhone photos," or something along those lines, expecting to read about an app I hadn't tried before, only to be disappointed. I like playing with different tools to make a basic phone photo pop, but most of the posts I read offer the same handful of suggestions. I'm looking at you, VSCO.

I do use VSCO, but it's not my favorite. I don't have a favorite. I use a handful of different apps interchangeably. If Afterlight (another popular option that works well but will not appear on this list because it's popular) isn't setting the mood I'm looking for, I'll try the Photoshop app. If that's not working I'll play with Lightroom Mobile's editing tools, and so on and so forth. The list below is in no particular order. It is small, but it is mighty, and none are necessarily better than the other. They're just different. Oh, and they're all FREE (!).

Note: the snaps below are rough examples of the various editing options within each application. Heavy emphasis on the word rough. Even heavier emphasis on the word various. (direct links to the iTunes product pages are marked with an 'x')

My past couple weekends have been spent in super good company. Last Saturday I met up with the lovely Beth from The City Dweller. She has a great blog that puts a spotlight on Atlanta and all it's glory, and after like a year of following each other we were finally able to meet in person. More meet-ups are sure to come!

This past Saturday, on the other hand, was mainly spent alone, and it was WONDERFUL. Cue a post about me, me, me, and how great it was to some things for myself.

I had forgotten how much I love Michigan in the fall. I've talked about it over and over again, with many people throughout the years, but it's not the same as experiencing it for the first time in a while. The day of my brother's wedding was a brisk 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit. There were moments when the wind really whipped through my leather jacket, but it felt so disrespectfully good to be back in my element. I'm one of those people who loves and embraces the cold. I crank the A/C on summer evenings so I can snuggle in cozy blankets, and I hardly touch the heat during the winter. Maybe growing up in the Midwest is to blame, because I remember getting excited as a kid when the forecast showed anything over 50 degrees. Ha!

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I wrote a post a while back on Netflix titles that turned out to be such a pleasant surprise. I have more to share, but I also wanted to throw in some recent book titles and TV shows that have treated my brain well lately. So I'm slamming them together in one, big master post. Let's go.

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"I’ve been looking at some places to move on Zillow, and i’m shocked at how reasonable the rates are for buying a house these days. The price of a monthly mortgage payment would be cheaper than paying rent in some instances, and I’d get wayyyy more space. But I really don’t want to move forward buying a house alone, because what about stuff like plumbing and yardwork, etc… I’d need a man around permanently for stuff like that. 
I think they call them 'husbands.'"

You know what's much more difficult to do as an adult than it was as a kid? Bike riding. When I was growing up, I could spend hours riding around my neighborhood, up and down the steepest of hills, with ease. I haven't owned a bicycle since I was about 11 years old, and lately I've had the itch to buy one. So, on a random Monday evening, I did. This past weekend was rainy and overcast, but I still wanted to go for a proper ride on the Silver Comet Trail. Even with the wet and muddy terrain, it was fun.

"I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma." - Eartha Kitt

I'm taking a page out of Tierra's book (blog) and dropping a variety of thoughts here today.
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I'm going to get straight to the point this morning. I have some links to share. Here's some randomly curated content that i've really enjoyed lately, and I thought I'd better not keep the goodness to myself. (links are attached to each '[x]' below)

There's this episode of How I Met Your Mother that discuss something called the The Mermaid Theory (Season 6: Episode 11, for those of you watching on Netflix at home). The theory states that back in the day, sailors used to go so long without female contact, that they'd start picturing manatees as mermaids while on the open seas. As it turns out, the male psyche hasn't evolved much since then, so this continues to happen in present day. Only, instead of sailors, it's the average joe who works a job where he doesn't get much female interaction, except for maybe his secretary. He's not attracted to his secretary for a variety of reasons; ultimately though, she's probably just not his type. She's a manatee. However, after so much time passes, and he's spent 40 hours a week around this woman for month after month, year after year, eventually she starts becoming more and more attractive. She turns into a mermaid. I may not be explaining this well enough, but it (surprisingly) makes sense the way the screenwriters broke it down on the show.

The point of that anecdote is to explain my feelings about mornings.

On my way to Amelia Island, Florida a couple weeks ago, I had big plans to take lots of beach pictures for my own personal enjoyment and for when I needed to mentally escape to the ocean later on throughout the year. Meredith and I get a group together and take this trip annually. It's always something to look forward to on/around my birthday/4th of July weekend. Today, only a little over a week later, I found myself needing that mental escape, and unfortunately, I didn't have many pictures to run to! I hardly took any, and for that, I am now slapping myself on the wrist. Our little vacation was so relaxing that I rarely brought my phone out to play, let alone my camera.

I guess that means it was a successful getaway. I'll just have to re-live those moments on this page, in a different way: with words.

I’m a friendly person.

Monday, we meet again. 

Yesterday was one of those days where thoughts and emotions all bombard you at once. For one, it was Father's Day, and for the first time in my life, I was unable to talk to mine on that day. I wasn't sure how I'd be feeling once the day finally arrived, but it was okay. I had moments of sadness mixed with moments of comfort, mixed with an array of other indescribable feelings. For the most part, I tried not to focus on how I was feeling. I didn't really focus on anything. I just went through each moment as they came. 
I got my ears pierced a while back, and I promise this back-story ties into the overall theme of this post.

On Saturday morning, we had to opportunity to volunteer with Books for Africa. It's an organization that's been around since 1988, and just as the name suggests, they send donated books to various countries in Africa.

© the active spirit. +