Making lists keeps me sane

The title of this post should surprise no one who has read this blog for at least the last six months. (And if you’re newer than that, my name is Justine, and I’m incredibly Type A. Welcome.)

So as you know, I embark for Iceland in less than 48 hours. (Pause for girlish squeal…squeeee! Moving on.) Naturally, I still have a few things I need to accomplish before then. And to help keep my own brain straight, I’m going to document them here.

Welcome to my brain.

List of Everything I Will Accomplish Before Thursday Afternoon:

1. Go to the drug store for allergy medicine, batteries, face lotion, and a few other essentials. (Doing this over my lunch break today.)
2. Go to the gym. (After work.)
3. Pack. (Doing this tonight).
4. Go to the gym again. (Tomorrow morning.)
5. Get my nails did. (Yes, again. My nails grow really fast. DON’T JUDGE ME.)
6. Clean the entire apartment. Including putting away the laundry Joey is picking up tonight, straightening the living room and dining room, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, and giving every surface a once over for that ever-multiplying dust. (After the nails.)

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I hate coming home from a trip to a messy apartment. I mean, you’re already bummed to be coming home (and in the case of international travel, it may have not been the smoothest trip). The last thing you (I) want is to do is stumble through the door to be met with a stressful, cluttered space. (Hmm? I’m the only one stressed out by clutter? What?)

So anyway. Six things. That’s not so bad. Plus I’ll have half a day after I pack to think of things I may have forgotten.

Hmm…I should probably make a list of things I need to pack, too, huh?


A mish-mash of things.

For those of you concerned with the status of my health: The head cold has evolved to more of a chest cold.

Pros: Less nasal congestion, easier to breathe, not so much of that “out of it” feeling.
The coughing has begun — and it sounds revolting. (You’re welcome, co-workers.)

Plus, I got these tissues that have lotion AND Vicks in them, and if I ever start feeling really congested, I just hold one up to my nose for a while and breathe real deep. It’s magical. And doesn’t make me look insane at all.

I think we’re going to pull through, folks.

For those of you not concerned with my bodily functions (humph…suit yourself), I GO TO ICELAND IN THREE DAYS.

Obviously, I am mildly jazzed.

For those of you not concerned with my life at all (in which case, what are you doing here?), it’s Valentine’s Day. I don’t celebrate it, but if you do, here’s hoping you haven’t already screwed it up. Or, at the very least, that you can still rustle up a $10 bouquet at the grocery store. (Hint: Get there early.)

Ok, can we go back to the Iceland thing for a second? (Listen, if you’re not concerned with my life at all, you should probably move along. It’s not you, it’s me.)(Literally.)

I’ve been looking forward to this trip since August of last year. For realz. And now that it’s finally here, it’s really starting to augment that feeling of “the year is pretty much already over“.

Because next thing you know, it’s March, which means it’s time to go to the hockey game that I bought Joey tickets for last fall. And then it’s time to FINALLY see The Hunger Games.

And then it’s pretty much April, which means it’s our one-year anniversary and Annie‘s bachelorette party.

And then it’s just about May, which means it’s time for our friends’ Bryan and Brittany’s wedding, and then oops, it’s summer. Surprise. Which means I’m officially 25. BAM.

I mean, I’m sure other stuff will happen in between there. I’m sure it won’t literally be like a quick blink and then suddenly it’s 90 degrees out. But I’m also sure it is going to go pretty quickly. And…I don’t know. I guess it’s weird when life starts to pick up so much. And honestly, I’m not even that weirded out about getting older. It’s just that 25 has always felt like such an adult age. You are officially, for real a grown-up.

I know that shouldn’t weird me out. I’m married. I have had a grown-up job for a few years now. But it’s still…weird. Am I ever going to actually feel like a grown-up?

This post has rapidly spiraled out of control. (Almost like my year! Full circle!)(?)

Oh well. Hopefully in all that madness, at least a few of you will read this and be like, “Yup. THAT IS HOW IT FEELS.” If not…well…then I’m alone as well as insane.

And just to end this post on a suitably random (and positive!) note, I bought the J. Crew pants. They were on sale, plus I got an additional 3 percent cash back from Ebates. (You HAVE signed up for Ebates by now, right?)(If not, please use that link there — I get rewards for referrals, so we BOTH win.)

And thus ends the most random post EVER. My apologies.

Treat yo self.

I’m not a particularly indulgent person.

I mean, sure, I can treat yo self with the best of ’em. But in general, my Practical Polly ways win out.

Like any good rule, though, there are exceptions.

Can I just express how much I love doing really indulgent things on my lunch break? I mean, come on. You’re sitting at your desk all day, and while life may not be miserable, it’s certainly not (most likely) the time of your life. (And if it is…well, you’re probably a circus performer. And some of us are uneasy around clowns, so that career path isn’t a viable option.)

It’s nice to know that you can escape for a bit and do something for yourself.

Remember that time I got my hair washed and dried on my lunch break? Greatest decision ever.

And today, I got my nails done. Boom, instantly more relaxed. (Although the color turned out a bit more “Barbie” than I intended. C’est la vie, amiright?)(SEE HOW RELAXED AND CHILL I AM NOW?)

Anyway. If you’re having a rough day, I strongly encourage lunchtime pampering. Anyone else do this? (Or am I the only occasionally self-indulgent one out there?)

Book Review: The Weird Sisters

Note: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review, but all opinions expressed are my own.

If you’re not a girl with a sister, you might not understand the relationships in The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.

There are a lot of books about brothers. Brothers solving mysteries together. Brothers soldiering through wars. Brothers rescuing brothers. There are fewer literary examples of sisters.

You might say, “Little Women!” And I say, “Please.” Because little women was a family of girls. I’m talking about the relationships between sisters. And yes, there is a difference.

Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean), and Cordelia (Cordy) are three sisters who live in what, at times, appears to be the kind of world you can only find in a novel. Small-town bred by a dreamy mother and a Shakespeare-obsessed father (thus the names), they each spiraled away from each other in an attempt to find their place in the world, only to be thrown back together by their own failures. At first, I admit, the whimsical way they seem to speak and see each other was a bit grating — does anyone actually talk/live like this? But as the book goes on, the characters become sharper, more real. And you learn that given their upbringing, it’s really more of a fantasy to think they could have turned out any differently.

In the end, though, it was the ties between the sisters that resonated with me (which was the point). As one half of a rather dynamic sisterhood myself, I share the sisters’ complaint early in the novel:

We see stories in magazines or newspapers sometimes, or read novels, about the deep and loving relationships between sisters. Sisters are supposed to be tight and connected, sharing family history and lore, laughing over misadventures. But we are not that way. We never have been, really, because even our partnering was more for spite than for love. Who are these sisters who act like this, who treat each other as their best friends? We have never met them. We know plenty of sisters who get along well, certainly, but wherefore the myth?

What I liked about this book — really liked about it — was the honest assessment of the competitiveness that comes with being sisters. I’m not sure brothers have this emotion. Whereas brothers tend to band together, sisters learn to define themselves by whatever their sisters are not. In the case of our weird sisters, Rose is the practical, responsible, achieving one; Bean is the pretty, boy-drawing one; Cordy is the rambling, undependable-but-loveable one. The sisters start to lose themselves in these identities to the point where they feel there can’t possibly be two smart ones. Two attractive ones. Two capable ones. Let alone three brave ones.

Sometimes, they are cruel to each other. At others, they are unbelievably gentle. But to be perfectly honest, I’ve never met sisters who didn’t behave that way.

Over all, I recommend the book. It has a sort of lilting cadence to it (which I have to imagine was inspired by the idea of iambic pentameter) that’s soothing to read, and though things manage to tie themselves up into an almost too-perfect bow in the end (heck, according to Shakespeare the only other option would be tragedy, in which everyone would have to die), it doesn’t discredit the rest of the story.

Has anyone else read this one? I’m sure I’m forgetting some other book about sisters (ahem)…anyone care to remind me? And if you want to read more reviews, check out these other responses from the BlogHer Book Club and join the conversation!

Things I couldn’t flesh out into full posts.

– The hubs and I went to the mall last weekend, where we scored some sweet deals (sup) and I saw at least three girls wearing belly-baring tops.

Sort of like this, but with a good 3-4 inches of belly showing:

Is this a thing? Does it have to be a thing? Am I just getting old in that it bothers me that it’s a thing? I pointed it out to Joey and whined something like, “Seriously? Weren’t baby tees like an early ’90s thing? Why is this happening? It’s not even like they have perfectly flat bellies. This should not be happening for so many reasons.”

His response was one of the best fashion critique/analyses I have ever heard:

“Hmm…maybe everyone saw, like, Beyonce with a baby bump, so they wanted to show off a bump too.”

– Can we just talk about something that really intimidates me? Reupholstering furniture.

True life: I think about home decor way too much.

But seriously, can you even wrap your MIND around that one? You have a chair. You have fabric. You presumbably have a staple gun. Now go.


Know why? Because that business is complicated. And this is coming from a girl who reads a LOT of decor blogs. And about 8 out of 10 of them have re-upholstered something at some point. The problem is that you usually get a picture montage like this:

Ugly chair:


They start taking the fabric off:


Then, ba-BAM! New chair!


And I’m left standing there all, “Wai-wha…? You…the fabric was ripped and…so you…huh.”

Which means every time I’m at a thrift store and see a chair with great lines but bad fabric, I always walk away bitterly thinking, “If [insert name of your favorite decor blogger] was here, s/he would totally have rocked that chair.”

– Have I told you how obsessed I am with Because really, I am OB-sessed.

If you like online shopping, it will be your new best friend. For virtually every online retailer, Ebates gives you cash back for your purchases. It can be anywhere from 1 percent to 20 percent, and all you have to do is access the retailer through Ebates. That’s. It. Then they send you a check for your cash back every couple of months.

Sound like something you would like? Click here to sign up.

And so ends my impromptu pitch for (But seriously. It will change your life.)(Ok, now I’m done.)

Taking the Plunge

As we lined up on the shore, I had an almost stifling feeling of, “I’m pretty sure I don’t want to do this.”

I buried my frozen toes in the equally chilly sand, some backwards part of my brain insisting that this would help keep them warmer. Spoiler alert: It didn’t.

My friend Heather was clutching my arm tightly, partly out of excitement, but I think partly to make sure I didn’t bolt back to my warm sweatshirt, lying in a sandy heap twenty feet back up on the beach. A puff of steam escaped her mouth as she turned to me and shrieked out, “Ready?!”

When you’re about to dive into the ocean in February in New York, it’s honestly probably better that you don’t think too hard about whether or not you’re ready.

{my plunging partner and me}

So without another thought, we both screamed out a war whoop and ran into the waves as fast as we could.

The thing is, I’m not really what you would call a “wild and crazy” person.

Well, okay, maybe crazy. We all have our crazy moments. I guess I’m just not someone who has ever been described (in earnest) as wild.

Which is why, when Heather and her husband Brett first suggested that a bunch of our friends join them in a Polar Bear Plunge on Super Bowl Sunday, my first thought was, “Ohhhh you guys. Sillies.”

But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like if I didn’t just do it, I’d regret it. After all, more than one person has since told me that taking part in a polar bear plunge is on their bucket list. (Who knew so many people were secret masochists?)

So I agreed. And I signed up.

And then suddenly it was Sunday morning. My friends, being the oh-so-funny people they are, riled each other up all morning commenting on how cold out it was. (Or, in the case of the more sarcastic among us, how it was “So nice out! Anyone want to go to the beach?!?”)

For the record, it wasn’t nearly as cold as it could have been. The temperature hovered somewhere in the low 40s, and the ocean was supposed to be about the same.

When it’s early spring and people tell you the temperatures are going to get into the 40s, it sounds practically balmy. When you’re jumping into the ocean and people tell you it’s in the 40s, you feel…differently.

After we finally got to the beach and elbowed our way through a crowd of several thousand people to the waves, then it was time to actually remove the protective layers of sweat pants, sweat shirts, and boots. A few of our friends wore speedos. (Go big or go home.)

As we stood there in our swimsuits, hopping around to keep warm as much as to keep our adrenaline up, sneaking sips out of a few flasks passed among us (also for warmth…it’s science), it was hard not to wonder if maybe I was out of my element just a bit.

It’s no secret I hate being cold. More than almost anything. And now I was about to throw myself into what would probably go down as the coldest moment of my life. Right.

Before I could let my, you know, common sense get the better of me, we all moved toward the water.

There wasn’t really any ceremony to the actual plunge. There were too many people for everyone to run in together, so it was up to the individual to make their move.

Honestly, the whole thing happened really fast, and the water was so cold you didn’t really have the mental faculties to form a lot of concrete memories. I have a vague recollection of a few small waves hitting my shins and thinking, “Well dang. That is really, really cold.” The other thing I remember is that everyone was screaming around me. You would have thought we were storming the beaches of Normandy. Not simply going for a chilly swim for charity.

My biggest concern was that the ocean floor doesn’t drop off too quickly, which would mean I’d have to run about 20 feet or so (through frigid water) to get to a point where I could actually submerge my body. Which would then mean a 20 foot hike back to shore. (And therefore to my waiting towel and warmth.)

Fortunately, the ocean took care of that problem for me by knocking my feet out from under me about 10 feet out. I let my body roll under a wave for a second before popping up, letting out one good, “OH MY GOD!” and then bee-lining for the sand.

My friend Jessica (who had said under no circumstances was she getting in the water) waited on the beach holding our towels and taking pictures of the madness (and, let’s be honest, laughing her head off). As I ran up to her (still screaming), she snapped a quick picture of me post-plunge.

(Weird that you’ve all now seen me in a swim suit? Oh well, the entire country knows what I weigh, so it’s probably a little late to start being coy.)

My favorite part about this photo is how obviously pushed out of my comfort zone I am. And even though I would never describe the plunge as “pleasant,” I look crazy, silly happy in that picture.

Sometimes as life starts to get more figured out, as things start to settle and become routine, it’s nice to remind yourself that you can still do wild and crazy things. You can still be wild and crazy.

{getting steamy with the hubs}

And honestly, the whole thing wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It’s intensely bad when you’re actually in the water, but you recover pretty quickly. (Note to anyone planning on doing one: Your toes and fingers will still be freezing long after you’ve left the water. Prepare accordingly.) I’m definitely planning on doing it again next year.

Because, you know. I’m just that wild and crazy.

Less money, mo’ problems.

Ugh. Spending fasts are no fun.

I mean, I have zero problem bringing my lunch every day. Sure, there are days when I literally hate my turkey sandwich, but the days when I actually think ahead and have leftovers or make a rather tasty wrap, those days I don’t mind not paying for lunch at all.

The only time it’s really a pain is when I come across something that I really want and will use all the time, but isn’t technically crucial for life. Like the J. Crew pants I wrote about here. I would wear those all the time. I mean, I work in a corporate setting. And the office is cold 99 percent of the time. I would wear the crap out of those chic wool pants. But, alas, they have to wait until at least after Iceland to be mine. (But they will be mine. Just you wait…pants.)

Here’s a breakdown of everything I plan on spending money on before Iceland:

1. Rent (due today)
2. Car payment (on the 10th)
3. Haircut (on Saturday)
4. At least two “going out” outfits for Iceland (Apparently the nightlife is crazy fun and I’m the girl who once went to a club in a cardigan…obviously I need to buy something. But I’m waiting until at least the 11th to make that purchase, and I’m going to, like, Forever 21, so it won’t be too devastating a cost.)(Don’t you love how I obviously feel compelled to justify all my purchases to you guys? I’m pathetic.)

Oh, I also need to pay for a bridesmaid dress (I’ll send you the check next weekend, Annie, I promise!!) and a hotel room for the bachelorette party (but that will be split between at least five girls or so, so I’m less concerned about that one).

But after all of that, THEN those pants will be mine. And a pair of black pumps. Because I’ve been in need of those for over a year. (Anyone have a pair to recommend?)

Ugh. Obviously I’m disgusting in that my greatest concerns are shopping-related. I’m going to go in the bathroom and stare at myself disapprovingly in the mirror for a while, if that helps.

But the point is, I’m excited for summer. Because so far I have no big purchases I need to make. (Well, except that I want to visit my family in Colorado…and I need to buy two plane tickets to Indiana…oh, forget it, I’m going to be poor forever.)