One To Nothin'

We're leaving California!

Seven years ago I did the scariest thing of my life when I packed up all of my things and my dog into my car and drove across the country to start a new adventure in California. Since then I've experienced so much more than I ever could have imagined—breakups, lay-offs, promotions, friendships, losses, excitement, loneliness, fires, earthquakes, break-ins, incredible kindness, unthinkable hatred, the most amazing food/concerts/events/cocktails, and some of the most breath-taking scenery I've ever seen. I landed an awesome job, found the love of my life, made lifelong friendships, and now it's time for me to return to my swampy roots.

This weekend I'm packing up my life and driving back to Florida, except this time with a 10-year-old dog and a fiancée. We're not sure when or where we'll go next, but this season is all about family, wedding planning (content coming soon!), and reuniting Ziggy with her long-lost sister, Scout (my parents' dog). It feels like I wrote this post about why I don't miss Florida just yesterday, but I'm excited, nervous, and ready for all of it (mosquitos and all).

In case you're curious, here's a glimpse at my last year in California told one second at a time.



If you follow me on social, you probably already know, but... I'M ENGAGED!!!!!

You guys, I have been dreaming of writing a post like this since I first started blogging (aka when my friends first started getting married ha), and I dreamt of how it would happen for far longer than that, so here we are. A post that's about 30 years in the making. I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS REAL. 

Here's how it happened:

J and I flew into Florida late the Friday before Christmas, so I spent the next couple of days watching Christmas movies, decorating gingerbread cookies, and introducing him to ALL my childhood friends. Since we'd been full-on with the fam for a few days, I was only a *little* suspicious when my sister said she wanted us to have a sister date to get our nails done, but I didn't want to get my hopes up so I kept my mouth shut. Jason stayed back to "get work done," so I was slightly confused to return to him and my dad drinking the good whiskey and bonding on the couch. It all seems very obvious that he was using this time to ask permission now, but at the time I was just like, "Okay, help me make dinner now."

The next day was the 24th, and we take Christmas activities very seriously in my family, so after watching "The Snowman" (introduced by David Bowie) and convincing my mom to read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" out loud to all of us, we started making our traditional Christmas Eve meal: spamburgers. Yes, you read that correctly. They're delicious, trust. So naturally you can't make spamburgers on Christmas Eve without wine, so I went to get the large bottle of rosé (like 2 liters large) out of the fridge and somehow managed to drop it directly on top of my foot, splattering pink liquid, blood, and shattered glass all over the kitchen. Classic.

I learned later that this is when J started panicking and coming up with Plan B, but at the time I was just hoping I didn't ruin Christmas, so I got bandaged up, changed out of my blood-soaked pants, and carried on with the games Britni planned for the evening (note: it hurt like a mofo). First up was trivia, then charades, and then caroling in the back of my dad's truck. Brit had been planning all this for weeks, so at this point I was not the least bit suspicious. I was just hobbling around with an ice pack on my foot and singing Christmas carols at the top of my lungs. After Brandy crushed us all in trivia, we headed to the living room for charades.

Right away my mom started recording everyone's performance, so I wasn't weirded out when, several rounds in, it was Jason's turn and there were three cameras recording him all at once. I was just tipsy enough to only be concerned with guessing the answers correctly. I should've noticed he was staring directly at me as he mimed out the following:

*J starts making hand signals*

Me: "...Four words!" "First word... One syllable.. Sounds like... stab? Kill? KILL!" "...Still? Will? WILL!"

"Fourth word!" 

*J points to himself*

"Me? ME!" 

"Second word!"

*J points to me*


*thinking to self: what Christmas movie is will you something me? Strange*

"Third word!" 

*J gestures for me to come up to join him*

"Is this allowed?"

*I hesitantly join him on "stage"*

*J mimes putting a ring on my finger*

*thinking to self: WHAT IS HAPPENING*



Grandma: "WILL YOU MARRY ME!!!!"

*thinking to myself: there's no movie called will you marry me.......*

Me: "...will you...marry me..?"

Jason: "Yes."

*J gets down on one knee and says sweet things*

My nephew: YAY! UNCLE JASON!!!!

I black out and ugly cry and say yes a million times and admire this gorgeous ring and drink champagne and cry some more. 

Later on we realized we had no idea what the slip of paper J picked out actually said because of course he didn't read it. Some of the prompts were "Die Hard," "three wise men," and "snowman," so we were excited to find out he picked "Mrs. Claus," the ONLY one that was even remotely related to marriage. Meant. To. Be. 

I'm so glad my family was there. I'm so glad he picked me. I'm so glad he's excellent at picking out jewelry (we did not look at rings together!!). 

And I'm so glad I get to be a RAINBOW. 

I love you so much, Jason.

This was truly the best Christmas ever.

Our Christmas Card!

We actually did a Christmas card this year! Isn't she cute?

So since I *actually* completed this task for the first time since 2013 and the first time with anyone besides Ziggy (huge thanks to my roomies and Jason for humoring me), I thought this might be a good time to reflect on 2019. 

It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that I was about to throw a celebration of life party for one of my best friends this time last year. I was in such a blur of emotions from October 2018 on that it feels like yesterday and also forever ago. Time is confusing and grief is weird. 

But while I spent a lot of 2019 feeling anxious and figuring out how to take care of myself while also depressed AF, I also spent it with the most supportive partner I've ever had. I'm so grateful that I found him when I did. 

We went on so many adventures, some were a leap of faith, like when we flew to Seattle only a couple months after we started dating or when we drove across the country together even though he had never driven on the right side of the road before. And some I already knew would be great, like when he met my entire family, most of my best friends, and was my date for four different weddings. Then there were the mundane adventures, like doing approximately 140 jigsaw and crossword puzzles, watching about a million music videos in my living room, getting vegan pizza/treats at Timeless at least once a week, and spending Idon'tevenwannathinkabouthowmuch money on local bar tabs. He even broke his wrist/collar bone on my 30th birthday trying to get me a vegan cake and organize a surprise dinner (and STILL went camping with us next day). And, perhaps most importantly, he proved himself to be the best, most loving doggie step-dad who puts up with her extreme snoring every night. 

He hugged me while I cried, he didn't judge me when I screamed in frustration (because I was hangry or otherwise), he celebrated the wins, encouraged me when I was feeling less than, and helped me bounce back after losses. He met me at the train after work almost every day and calmed me down when it almost gave me a panic attack for the umpteenth time. He told me I was beautiful when I felt anything but, and he doesn't even mind that I've been a music tyrant from day one.  

We've been through a lot in the past 15 months, and it's because of him that I'll always remember 2019 as the beginning of something epic. 

Thank you for turning a year that could have been a somber ending of a chapter into my favorite love story of all time. 

(Ok, I know that was gross. You can vomit on me now.)

Why Netflix Christmas Movies are Everything

What I'm about to say might shock you... But just hear me out, k?

Netflix Christmas movies are brilliant.

I know what you're thinking. And yes, I am referring to the likes of A Christmas Prince and Merry Kiss-mas. And yes, they are terrible, but they're terribly wonderful.

I know that some movies are just objectively bad. I get it. These films certainly won't be winning any awards, but there's something satisfying, humbling, and—dare I say, self aware?—in the way these ultra-low budget films put a PG-rated lens on your life for approximately 90 minutes. 

They conjure a simpler (read: fictional) time, when financial woes could be turned around with a simple backyard concert, when the most scandalous thing that a person could do was get caught kissing, and snow storms were nothing but warm, cozy excuses to fall in love with someone you met mere moments earlier. You don't need to be witty or charming or even that cute, it just happens because Christmas! 

They all follow a familiar, tried and true template: two straight, beautiful-in-a-basic way people meet somewhere Christmassy, solve a problem together (usually with miscommunication and magic) and they always end up madly in love at the end. It's not rocket science, which is never more evident than when listening to the actual dialogue of these movies. I heard a "British" character say, "Keep calm and carry on," IN TWO DIFFERENT MOVIES. 

The point is, they're trite, they're exceedingly unrealistic, and they're packed with actors who are desperately trying to fill their IMBD pages (or make a comeback after a scandal), but I simply cannot get enough of them and neither can the rest of America apparently because they just keep on coming. Hallmark created 40 original Christmas masterpieces this year, and Netflix just made A Christmas Prince into a trilogy by releasing The Royal Baby the other day—and having just watched The Royal Wedding for the first time, I can assure you that the two main characters have the least chemistry I've seen on screen maybe ever. The prince's face is far too slappable. But am I going to watch The Royal Baby? You can bet your ass I am.  

So what is it about these cringey movies full of plot holes and failed engagements that we love so much?

For one, the low budget-ness almost makes it feel accessible. Like, I'm watching these movies and thinking, "I could act in a movie like this," and "I could write a movie script like that!" and "OMG that's exactly how I used to pretend to take serious, journalistic notes when I was 10 years old!" 

Then there's the occasional super hot guy! And you just know the heroine-wearing-off-brand-Converse will walk into a room, totally not expecting to see him standing there naked as can be except for his little, tiny towel. Oh, and how bashful he is! What a damn gentleman. It reminds me of being a middle schooler with hormones raging, dreaming of a sweet, beautiful man-boy who would only ever try to get to first base because the other bases were terrifying. 

Next there's the story line popular in pretty much every Christmas movie that has ever existed—the transformative properties of the Christmas spirit: the magical moment where a sad, holiday-hating fool changes into the jolliest holiday hero who ever lived. Because people DO change. And all hope is NOT lost.

Then there's the fact that things like politics (unless they're relating to a fictional country *cough* Aldovia *cough*) are never mentioned. Sure, most parents and partners are dead in these movies, but that's the extent of the real-life issues that surface. It's usually a beautiful moment where the two main characters are getting to know each other that it's revealed that their mom/dad/wife/husband choked on fruit cake or fell off of a reindeer and the holidays have just never been the same since. While missing a loved one during the holidays is oh-so real, these moments take up about three minutes of the movie, never involve big, fat wine tears, and usually don't come up again, so you can go right back to baking sugar cookies and walking in on that hottie in a towel. 

These movies don't have much to offer on the surface, but they're the metaphorical equivalent of a warm, cinnamon-bun-scented blanket with an image of a golden retriever puppy wearing a Santa hat that we all need this time of year. 

So, in the words of the great Mr. Dickens himself:

...though they have never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that Netflix Christmas Movies have done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless them!

So if you're also a fan and want to turn your Netflix Christmas Movies into a drinking Bingo game (and why wouldn't you?), I have just the thing for you. With the help of my friend, Ashley, we created about 20 versions of this bad boy. I highly recommend mixing up some Christmas cocktails or Santa Claws and taking a drink any time you get a space on the Bingo card. Be sure to bring prizes for the Bingo winners as well. We will be playing this this weekend, and I am quite excited. If you do download and play, please please tag me so I can see. It would make my heart VERY happy. 


10 Christmas Things

1. We had our third annual Christmas party over the weekend and it was so much fun. I made this Pinterest pull-apart Christmas tree bread (I subbed extra sharp white cheddar cheese, lactose-free cream cheese, and raw, super-aged parmesan, and brushed the top with olive oil instead of butter to make it low in lactose) and not only did it turn out cute AF but it was DELICIOUS. I think it lasted about 10 minutes before it was gone. I also went with this tomato and mozzarella wreath (buffalo mozzarella for me!), this mulled wine recipe minus cider, and this Christmassy pomegranate and rosemary gin fizz recipe.
2. Shitty Christmas Movies—for some reason this is all I want to watch this year. Usually I stick to my go-to, wonderful wintry wonderland movies like White Christmas and Love Actually, but this year Netflix is bringing me all my hilariously bad movies in a major way. So far my favorite has been a Christmas Knight starring Vanessa Hudgens, closely followed by Christmas in the Rockies and Merry Kiss-mas (so so incredibly bad). I am going to create a drinking game/Bingo board to play while watching these bad boys, so stay tuned and you, too, can get wildly drunk while watching terrible actors fall in love in five minutes
3. We're going to go see the Zoo Lights at the Oakland Zoo next week! I've lived in Oakland for almost six years and this will be my first time seeing the zoo all lit up, so I am pumped. 
4. Last year we went to the Dickens Fair and it. was. EPIC. Not sure if we'll make it this year, but... if you're local, I highly recommend. The Queen even made an appearance. 
5. I got Jason this boozy advent calendar last month (of course now it's on sale), and it's been so much fun trying all the unique liquors. So far the best one has been the brown sugar bourbon. 
6. Not to be outdone, Jason got me a candy calendar, but he did a little game of Operation to remove all the dairy-filled products and replace them with lactose-friendly options. He's the best. 
7. I've mentioned this a few times on Instagram, but J is British and therefore somewhat new to American chain restaurants. After one too many, "OMG you've never tried ___?!"s, we started a tradition where any time we take a road trip, I introduce him to a chain that we would *never* visit otherwise. So far we've done Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chili's, Arby's, Chick Fil-A, and Buffalo Wild Wings. I think Applebee's is up next, but please let me know if I'm missing anything crucial (chains they have in the UK don't count, like KFC or TGIFridays, and apparently Taco Bell was first on his list when he moved here four years ago). This weekend we're going against the rules and double dipping at Buffalo Wild Wings because a) I had never been there before either and I was v impressed and b) we're going to go see Candy Cane Lane, which is apparently where a neighborhood goes all out with Christmas decorations in San Ramon, so we're making a day of it. I'm way too excited about it.
8. Gingerbread Decorating! I'm taking J to Florida with me in a couple weeks for his first Gibson Christmas and the first thing we'll do (after making white Russians) is have our annual gingerbread party. Attendance is lookin' good this year and I can't wait to see what he comes up with for his first time. 
9. Ziggy hates Christmas outfits. This is a recurring theme, but I can't help but keep trying. How amazing does she look in this Santa hat? (Looks like she had one too many white Russians). Also, this weekend I'm taking her to sit on Santa's lap... I'll let you know how that goes.
10. My roomies, Jason, and I may or may not have all gotten matching Christmas jammies (including Ziggy), so if we can get it together in time, holiday cards are forthcoming. 

So those are just some of the ways I'm getting into the spirit this year. How are you celebrating the holidays?

Need more holiday inspo? Check out the Christmas bucket list  and a last-minute, budget gift guide.

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