We’re exactly one full week into 2014 and after giving it some thought – I’ve decided to make a few New Year’s Resolutions. This should come as no surprise. After all, a lot of people make resolutions around this time of year in an effort to better themselves and start fresh, but this is actually very atypical behavior for me.

I’ve never been a believer in New Year’s Resolutions, and here’s why:

  1. They are usually generic and cliche (like the list depicted above)
  2. They are usually difficult, unappealing tasks (like the list depicted above)

And though you will ultimately be happier, healthier and extremely proud of yourself if you lose weight or quit smoking – the end result will not make the means to reach those goals any more attractive. For example, probably the most popular, universal New Year’s Resolution is losing weight. I would love to lose weight. Who wouldn’t? But do I want to get out of bed on Saturday mornings and head to the gym? Do I want to adhere to a strict, sensible diet? Do I want to quit drinking alcohol? The answer to all of those questions is a loud, emphatic and undeniable ‘NO!’ and I’d challenge any of you to disagree with me. Resolutions are things we know we should do, but they are also things we don’t really want to do. Otherwise, we already would be doing them. There’s a reason for the expression, ‘Resolutions are meant to be broken.’ It’s because resolutions are hard. They’re really fucking hard. They’re not fun, and that’s why I don’t like them and that’s why I don’t make them. I see nothing more futile than setting goals that you probably won’t reach or making promises to yourself that you probably won’t keep.

So Alison, if you hate New Year’s Resolutions so much – why did you make some this year? Good question, clever Reader. After ruminating over this for the past seven days, I realized that I can still set goals for myself that will ultimately make me a healthier, happier person. The key difference is that all of my resolutions are reasonable and positive. For example, my resolutions are either things I really, really want to do or enhancements of things I already do and enjoy doing. Rather than treating New Year’s Resolutions like daunting tasks, we should be using them as opportunities to try new things. There is no shortage of activities, behaviors or good habits that will make my existence in 2014 better than it was in 2013, but said activities do not necessarily have to be terrible, uninspired and mundane tasks (like the list depicted above) Instead of focusing on abstaining from vices or depriving myself of tempting things, my New Year’s Resolutions are fun and exciting. I challenge you to quit treating New Year’s Resolutions like Lent and start brainstorming creative ways to enjoy and improve your life while having fun in the meantime. Quit treating resolutions like work and start looking at them like play.

I think this will all make more sense once you actually read my list. I thought 10 was an appropriate and elegant number to strive towards. Here goes:


1. Run a 10K. This is a perfect example of a positive, yet reasonable resolution. I like running; I really do. I never thought I’d like running, but I started last year and genuinely enjoy it and want to continue doing it. Running a 10K isn’t as lofty a goal as say, a half marathon, which would require a significant time investment, weeks of training and a certain element of sacrifice. A 10K makes sense. I can do a 10K, but I never have before. In fact, I’ve probably run 6 miles before, but never achieved the gratifying sense of accomplishment that comes with officially completing a race.

2. Read six Classic novels. Perhaps one every other month. Y’all know I love reading; this is just a way to force me to pick up those timeless novels I’ve always wanted to read, but never got around to.


4. Try a new restaurant every month – I actually just did this last night so I can already check January off my list. My friend and I decided to try a new sushi joint and had such a terrific time that it actually inspired this entire blog post and set of 2014 goals. The Head Chef at this place was the friendliest, most unassuming sushi chef I’ve ever met – rather than the usual quiet, brooding, hyper-focused chefs that deftly prepare your sushi (and don’t get me wrong, I love watching those guys work in respectful silence too) this guy welcomed questions, customized several of our orders, and gave us complementary dessert and tea. We not only scored a delicious meal and discovered a new gem, but we learned a lot about seafood and culinary artistry and made a new friend!

5. Watch a new old film once a month.  I’ve never seen The Princess Bride. Or The Goonies. Or The Gremlins. Or Labyrinth. Or Never Ending Story. Or The Godfather. Or Rocky. Or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Or Back to the Future. Or [Insert any must-see, timeless film that most everyone’s seen] Whenever people learn this about me, they without fail respond with the most overdramatic sense of disbelief, and it’s really disheartening. This list of movies I’ve been deprived of all these years keeps growing and growing. That in itself is so miserably overwhelming and daunting that I usually give up before I even start. But I can do one a month. Anyone can do one a month.

6. Watch a documentary once a month.

7. Complete 5 DIY/craft/organization projectsI could easily spend 2 hours continuously perusing a plethora of Pinterest boards and DIY blogs, but I almost always lack the motivation to make the trip to Michael’s, buy materials and execute a project. When I buy a piece of artwork, it’s not uncommon for me to take weeks, months even, before framing and hanging the damn thing. I have all these hopes and dreams for potential storage solutions or cute ways to displaying my Instagram photos. I don’t think finding the time or money is as decisive a factor as simply, finding the motive.

8. Write a letter to a someone who lives in another state once a month. I love the thoughtfulness and nostalgia of hand-writing notes and mailing them to people you care about. I know how much it means to me on the rare occasion that I receive a handwritten card so I think the most deserving recipients of these special gestures are those I care about, but rarely get to see in the flesh.

9. Donate to a deserving charity. I usually do this in some form or fashion every year, but this year I want to find a nonprofit that supports a really interesting cause that might not be as widely known as other, better established organizations.

10. Treat yo’self once a quarter. I think treating yourself to a manicure, massage or facial once in a while is healthy and important to your own well being. Once a quarter seems like a reasonable amount that’s not too overindulgent.

*I think it’s also important to note that each of my resolutions has some sort of tangible number, timeline or level of frequency attached to it. This is one of the most important, but commonly ignored rules of goal-setting both professionally and personally. Rather than “run more” – I determined a set distance. Rather than “read more”, I designated distinct numbers and types of books. Even if your resolution is as cliche and unoriginal as losing weight – you should have a target weight you want achieve. You’re more likely to attempt your resolutions and accomplish them when you have a figure or deadline associated with it. Therefore, if you do decide to make resolutions this year, I’d encourage you to keep that in mind.* 

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Well that about sums ’em up. Hopefully, I’ll keep you guys updated on my progress on this blog, which could also double as an honorary 11th resolution to blog more often. However, I know my limitations and writing these actually takes a really long time so I won’t make any promises. But I can commit to writing a year-end review of what I actually accomplished and I’m optimistic that I will actually achieve all of these things.





So, after my strongly-worded diatribe I penned a mere two days ago that detailed my negative opinions about how terrible New Year’s Eve is and why I had every intention of avoiding people, places and all things associated with the occasion, I ate my words and actually partook in almost all of the awful, cliched activities that characterize celebrating New Year’s. Whoops!

To be fair, my New Year’s Eve plans were spontaneous, last-minute and ultimately influenced by a group of my oldest friends who were visiting Austin for the day and now live in North Carolina, California and New York respectively. If I was asked to dress up, go to dinner, pay a cover and brave downtown Austin in the biting cold with any other group of individuals I would have definitely said “no” or feigned some compelling excuse about washing my hair or explaining that… “as much as I’d like to join you guys, I don’t really want to join you guys….”

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But I’ve known these dudes since I was 13 years old and some of my fondest memories of summer camp, Vans Warped Tour, the first boy I ever liked (none of the above by the way) and my entire four years in college involve these goofy guys so I would have been a terrible friend if I denied the rare opportunity to spend meaningful time with them. Plus, it evened out the group for the one solo, girlfriend-free, fiance-free bachelor, who happens to be my oldest and closest friend of the bunch. Accompanying him was a pressure-free, innocent and fun way to start off 2014 single, but not alone – free of any sort of anxiety or expectation, arguably the most unattractive aspects of the entire New Year’s Eve experience.

The haphazard nature of how quickly I had to alter my original plans of running errands, staying in and starting my latest literary conquest saved me the time and money of buying a dress, getting my nails done and even showering – things I probably would have done under different circumstances. But I ultimately managed to appear presentable and though my opinions about New Year’s Eve are steadfast and unwavering, I would be a miserable liar if I said I didn’t have a good time. Because I did. You can call me a hypocrite if you want, but the evidence for my original arguments is still crystal clear – I did have to spend an unreasonable amount of money on cover fees and alcohol. I did have to worry about finding a cab, and I did have to withstand 40-degree weather in an insufficient ensemble paired with excruciatingly painful high-heeled shoes. These components are all undeniably terrible things indicative of celebrating New Year’s Eve. However, the company I was with was worth the extra effort I wouldn’t have otherwise made – so judge me if you like, I don’t really care.

I still hate New Year’s Eve. I just love my friends.


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Photos complements of the beautiful Melissa


Around this time every year, I always mentally compose an evaluation of the year’s activities – best albums, best books, best vacations, concerts, etc. This year I’m sad to report that I thought 2013 was ultimately pretty underwhelming. Perhaps we can blame the ever-unlucky #13 or maybe I’m just being extra negative as I’m wont to be every New Year’s Eve, contender for my least favorite special occasion aside from my birthday, but nothing about this year was particularly memorable, fun or special to me, and I’m okay with that. That’s the bright side of starting a New Year. I personally think that’s more worthy of celebration – the inspirational onset of Change and the Future. Therefore, getting plastered on the Eve of said Change only promises brutal hangovers and regret over half-hearted kisses on the first day of a fresh beginning. No thanks.

Like birthdays, I think New Year’s Eve is tainted with lofty expectations of dressing up and having the Best Night Ever, but in my experience, it’s always more trouble than it’s worth. Two of my good friends are hosting house parties and several others are attending various events at bars or music venues around the city, but battling the cold weather, paying exorbitant covers only to stand in line at overcrowded bars plus the added worry and hassle of ensuring safe transportation tonight are all effective deterrents to leaving my warm couch and ever-faithful sweatpants. Why on earth would I do that?

Before you bestow your piteous sympathies on me and wrongfully group me with those bitter anti-Valentine’s Day single ladies, you might be surprised to learn that my sentiments towards New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day are actually quite different. Sure, they are both considered “romantic” occasions, but Valentine’s Day is actually romantic. I love Valentine’s Day. It makes me happy every year even though I’ve been single for the past several. Some argue that it’s petty to celebrate Love because if you love someone you shouldn’t need a holiday to tell them and bestow thoughtful gifts and attention upon them, which is true. But c’mon – New Year’s Eve? Birthdays? At least Valentine’s Day celebrates the wonderful, special phenomenon of Love rather than the mere inevitable (somewhat depressing) passing of Time. And sure, you may or may not get a kiss at midnight, but if you’re single, more often than not you’re hoping you get one just to avoid feeling left out. I can’t think of anything more utterly unromantic and frankly, sad than searching for an equally lonely stranger to ring in the New Year with if you don’t have a significant other.

But don’t despair, readers: I will look at some of the brighter moments of the past year in a feeble attempt to lift your fragile spirits. Some of my favorite moments or proudest accomplishments did in fact, occur during this otherwise, boring year.


READING: I had a goal of reading 50 books this year, which in itself is essentially a stretch goal. That’s almost a book a week, which is near impossible if you have a full-time job and a social life. However, having this goal, unattainable as it may be, caused me to always, ALWAYS have a book. There was never a point in which I didn’t have a book on my nightstand or in my purse, and there was never a solo meal or gap of time in which I wasn’t reading, and that to me is fantastic. I hope I continue this rewarding good habit in 2014 and quite frankly, for the rest of my life.

I ended up reading 37, which is respectable and eight more than I read last year. Notable literary moments:

A Song of Ice and Fire

  • Biggest Accomplishment: This summer, I read the entire 5,000 some odd pages of the Song of Ice and Fire series in less than four weeks. This was easily my proudest and most fulfilling reading accomplishment of the year and ignited an unquenchable obsession for all things Game of Thrones and George R. R. Martin-related. It’s been years since I’ve been so enraptured by a series, comparable only to the seven Harry Potters in my personal experience, and I can barely contain my excitement and frustration about the upcoming books, whenever they may be published. A Storm of Swords was probably my favorite of the series, but shit gets pretty real in A Dance with Dragons too. The HBO series doesn’t hold a candle to its origin. No contest.

    Son of Poseidon

  • Most Fun: Don’t judge me, but over the Thanksgiving break, my 9-year-old cousin would not stop raving about the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Being familiar with the movies and a fan of Greek Mythology in general, my curiosity took over and I bought and read that whole 5-book series in 15 days. Sure, I purchased them in the “Chapter Books” section of the bookstore and they are very obviously written for 4th-grade level readers, but that didn’t detract from the adventure, humor and clever fun of the books and I’m excited to read the Heroes of Olympus Series in 2014.
  • The Classics: I read four Classics this year and enjoyed all but one. My favorite was Slaughterhouse Five, but I’m glad I finally read 1984 as well.
  • Most Influential: Reading Eating Animals propelled a major lifestyle change a few months ago. I’ve been more conscious about my diet and what goes into my body than ever before and I doubt I can ever reverse what I know about factory farming and animal products thanks to this book. Review here.
  • Favorite Book: The first book I opened in 2013 remains the best one I read all year – Michael Chabon’s The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay moved me unlike any other novel probably has ever before. Not only was it my best book of the year, it might be my favorite of all timne. You can read my review here.

WEDDINGS: I attended more weddings in 2013 than I have in my lifetime combined. I suppose I’m reaching that age when all of your friends are getting hitched, and even though they’re expensive and sometimes stressful, it’s always fun and so, so special to witness your loved ones make a huge, monumental step in their lives. I traveled to Wisconsin for one, served as a dutiful bridesmaid in another and celebrated at all of them. I even have a celebratory marriage gathering back home this weekend, but by then it will be 2014 so doesn’t technically count.


MUSIC: I think 2013 was severely lacking in good music this year. My friend Allison and I were trying to think of our favorite songs, albums and shows of the year, and struggled to come up with any. Maybe the industry’s in a slump or all of my favorite bands are hibernating and busy writing and working on their next big projects – but I found 2013 profoundly boring from a musical perspective. Sure, I went to a lot of shows and festivals and saw a lot of bands, but none particularly affected me in the way a genius album or an amazing concert typically can.

  • Best Performance: Atoms for Peace at ACL – I remember standing alone near the sound board, freezing in my flimsy festival clothes and being rendered speechless by the entire production before returning to reality and meeting up with my friends who saw Lionel Richie instead.
  • Best Album: N/A – I really can’t think of one that truly amazed me this year, but I will say Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, CHRVCHES and Daft Punk did not disappoint me.
  • Best Song: “We Sink” by CHRVCHES is probably the song I’ve listened to the most in 2013. From the energized, well-paced intro to the catchiest chorus ever, I think this song is perfect and I still listen to it a few times a day.
  • Worst of the Year: Lorde – I just don’t like this chick’s music and without fail will hear ‘Royals’ or ‘Team’ at least six times a day. I don’t deny her talent or lyricism, but there are just some artists and songs I simply don’t like – and in 2013, Lorde is my personal most overrated breakthrough.

FOOTBALL: The Dallas Cowboys, The Texas Longhorns and my Fantasy Football team all performed horrifically this year. I still love football and will watch the various bowls and playoff games dutifully for the duration of the season, but seeing all of your teams under perform and lose is understandably upsetting and disappointing. A tie for the worst game goes to:

  • The Romo-less NFC East Championship where Kyle Orton’s noble efforts actually produced a close game which ended in an interception, loss to Philly and the end of another typical Cowboys season.
  • The saddest Texas bowl game I’ve ever watched – Not only did the Horns fail to score more than once during the entire game, but getting royally stomped by the Oregon Ducks during Mack Brown’s last game was even more heartbreaking.

That about sums up my best and worst of the year. Regardless of whether or not you agree with my anti-New Year’s Even sentiments or my generally underwhelmed opinion of 2013, I hope you all have a great day off tomorrow and a safe and happy evening.


Last night, a group of friends and I had a quiet and intimate dinner party and gift exchange before we all left town for the holidays. We made homemade Chinese dumplings, sipped cold sake and listened to our favorite records.
My favorite part about our little gathering was our “White Album White Elephant” gift exchange – a fun, creative spin on the traditional white elephant and I hope we make it an annual holiday tradition. Each guest was asked to bring one of their favorite albums, wrap it in white paper and write a lyric from one of the songs on the back of the package. Each person would choose two blank packages, silently read the lyrics on the back of each album and select the one they wanted to keep based on the lyrics. Then the guest would read the lyrics of their selection out loud so subsequent players could potentially steal their CD, but only based on the lyrics. This was such a unique way to share our favorite music and appreciate beautiful lyrics from our favorite artists.
Once we all settled on our decisions, we each opened our package one by one. The results were shocking – to the surprise of many, some of the most poignant and profound lyrics came from Metallica and Lupe Fiasco. To my personal surprise, I owned four of the resulting CDs, but only recognized lyrics from two of the bands. A lot of guests also shared why they chose the album they did and how they discovered their artist – what a great way to discover new music!
My contribution was Metric’s new album, Synthetica. It’s probably my favorite album of the year and I hope the person who chose it loves it as much as I do. All of the songs are terrific, but my favorite track is “Clone” which is where the poetic lyrics I wrote on my parcel were derived from. Listen to that and their main single “Breathing Underwater” below. What are your favorite albums from this year?
Metric – Breathing Underwater

Metric – Clone

At this very moment in the time and space continuum, I’m sitting at my cubicle on this dreary Tuesday afternoon, patiently waiting for the minutes to tick by before I can go home, and I just came to the realization that Christmas is exactly two weeks away. Two damn weeks!

 I still have a lot of gifts to buy and errands to run, and to my supreme inconvenience, my roommate and I have to move out of our beloved apartment this weekend. Rather than spending our last weekend in the current place packing and cleaning like sane, practical people, we decided to host one last gathering with our closest friends to celebrate all of the memories and good times we’ve had while we’ve lived in our charming little abode. Our official theme was originally ‘We Are Never Ever Ever Wearing Sweaters,” guests were welcome to interpret how they wished, but highly encouraged to emulate Taylor Swift’s music video filled with animal bodysuits, pajamas and joy.
It was a good last hurrah, especially before the holidays. To my pleasant surprise, almost everyone dressed festively. Reminds me of how lucky I am to have such fun and free-spirited friends. On Sunday morning, I woke up to a record high of three air mattresses and six hungover guests in our living room. I’d consider that a success, wouldn’t you?

I’m definitely sad that we’re leaving our place, but unknown to some, my roommate and I have spent a good chunk of our past living as road warriors, relocating from state to state, hotel to hotel – we were technically homeless for a year. To top off a fantastic last weekend at our apartment, a frank old friend paid us a welcome visit – the ghost of Christmas past, if you will.

I hope you’re all getting into the Christmas spirit – I certainly enjoy seeing festively decorated homes, receiving Christmas cards and buying gifts. Since it is the season of giving, I thought I’d generously share some of my favorite holiday ideas and finds.


DIY Magnetic Advent Calendar via Twig & Thistle

DIY Magnetic Advent Calendar
I love this idea for a clean, simple magnetic advent calendar. These tiny pots can conveniently adorn your fridge and you won’t have to fuss with nailing anything to your walls. Fill with candy or any other little knick-knacks, also easy to store and reuse for next year.

DIY Snow Globes via Martha Stewart

DIY Snow Globes
Snow globes are typically cheap and tacky, but these clean, minimalist ones are much cuter. Plus the different sizes and shapes of the jars adds height and dimension. If you want to be really creative, build a Lego landscape or use miniature action figurines. Who says snow globes have to be holiday themed? (Unoriginal people)

Ornament centerpieces via Budget Wise Home

Ornament Centerpieces
This is one of my favorite inexpensive Christmas decor ideas. The results are sleek and sophisticated and even the laziest and most creatively-challenged people could successfully pull off this project. I’d recommend only using round, spherical ornaments, so they stack nicely but I recommend experimenting with the texture, color and the shape of your glassware.


Printable Gift Wrap

Printable wrapping paper via

I love all of the iconic and poppy designs from Plus, these are printable designs so you will never run out (theoretically)! You can embellish with high contrast gift tags and ribbons or print on neon or colored paper. A lot of these designs could certainly be used for other gift-giving occasions as well.

Alternative wrapping paper

I’m guilty of buying new rolls of wrapping paper for every holiday, birthday, shower or gift-giving occasion and I’m ultimately left with a huge amount of excess that would ultimately take years to use up. I’m not going to stop buying wrapping paper, but I will be more strategic about the colors and designs I choose. Moving forward, I will probably opt for solids or universal prints like polka dots and stripes rather than paper with imagery associated with holidays or special occasions.

Map wrapping paper via Martha Stewart

I love the idea of using alternative materials for wrapping your gifts; not only is this sustainable, it’s creative and unique. With smartphones and the Internet, I doubt anyone uses antiquated maps or atlases anymore. If you want to be extra thoughtful, use a map of a meaningful location such as the honeymoon destination for a wedding couple or the hometown of one of your friends. Other alternative papers include pages from books, music or old calendars.

Trader Joe’s paper bag wrapping paper via Shannon Eileen

Brown paper package with twine and vintage photograph

Brown paper packages with doily label

Brown paper packaging with doily label via Robbie & Erin

Brown paper is also one of my favorite wrapping materials; whether you buy a roll or reuse one of your paper grocery bags (like the Trader Joe’s example above), brown paper looks simple and classic and you can use for any gift giving occasion. You also have a huge range of accessories to decorate with! You could stamp patterns, write or directly on the packages or dress up with ribbon or yarn.


I love receiving Christmas cards; it’s a friendly reminder that your relatives and peers are thinking about you during this busy time. I’m personally not a big fan of the Walgreen’s family photo glossy prints and opt for simplified and minimalist designs.

Tacky Christmas Sweater Letterpress Christmas Card via Etsy

Mistletoe Letterpress Christmas Card via Etsy

Mustache Christmas Card via Etsy

I love wrapping gifts; it’s one of my favorite holiday activities. For whatever reason, I find the whole process oddly soothing and therapeutic. Crowded shopping malls, parking lots and screaming children tend to overwhelm me during the holidays, so coming home, turning on a movie and pouring a glass of wine while meticulously packaging and decorating my purchases is my way of unwinding and exercising the right side of my brain. I realize my love of gift wrapping is terribly inconsequential considering my beautiful creations will ultimately be destroyed and disposed of, but I don’t seem to mind.

Today, i devised a DIY holiday project that’s easy, versatile and relatively cheap. Plus, your newfound creative prowess will impress your gift recipients. Look below for instructions on how to make some handy dandy gift tags:


Xmas Craft 1

For this particular project, you will need:

  • Alphabet stamps
  • Holiday stamps
  • Ink pads in pigments of your choice
  • White or manila card stock
  • A hole-punch
  • Decorative ribbon
  • Wine (optional)

Tip: You can buy most of this stuff at your local craft store. These holiday stamps often come in packs of 4 or 5, so you don’t need to buy individual images unless you want to; these stores also have sales on seasonal stuff all time. Also, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby always have coupons, and not shitty “spend $75 and save 10% coupons“, but awesome “take 50-60% off of any item in the store” coupons, so look up their weekly ads online and print them. Michael’s even accepts coupons you download on your smartphone. If you want to save a few bucks, you can always get the card stock and ribbon from Walmart, Target or an office supply store. If you want to be really stingy, steal the hole-punch from your office like I did…



Xmas Craft 6

Xmas Craft 9

Neatly stamp your card stock. You can be as minimalist or as enthusiastic as you please, but keep whatever wrapping paper you plan on using in mind because the gift tags should match and compliment the end product. Don’t worry if your letters aren’t perfectly aligned. I think the words look cuter and more whimsical when they’re a little crooked anyway.

Tip: Make sure you thoroughly clean the stamp rubber if you plan on changing ink colors to avoid ruining your ink pads. I use a  wet paper towel and blot with a dry one. Then I stamp out any remaining ink on a scrap piece of paper to ensure it’s fresh and clean for the next use.


Xmas Craft 7

Xmas Craft 10Xmas Craft 2

Xmas Craft 11

Crop and finish your gift tags as you see fit. I like to accessorize with simple accent ribbons.

The best part about crafting is the versatility you get from using the same materials. You can make a variety of other holiday-themed paper products based on your own family’s respective traditions. Some ideas include:

  • Stationary
  • Christmas cards
  • Wish lists or Letters to Santa
  • Holiday menus
  • Holiday party invitations
  • Christmas dinner place cards

Here are some of my other creations:

Xmas Craft 4