Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolutions for 2015

I love making New Year's resolutions.  Each year at the end of December, I spend some time thinking about the things I'd like to accomplish in the upcoming year and the things I'd like to change (or improve upon).  While I know that I don't have to wait for a new calendar year to create goals for myself, I tend to think of a new year as a blank slate.  Maybe this goes back to all of those paper journals I bought as a kid with prelabeled pages that always started with "January 1," but at the beginning of the year I always picture an empty book ready to be filled with the details of the next 365 days.

Although I always try to put some thought into my resolutions, I don't always stick with them.  If I'm being totally honest, I usually give up on one or two of them early on.  This year, though, I'm a little more motivated.  Maybe this is related to getting older ... Now that I'm 30 I don't have that same "I have plenty of time for this" feeling I used to have when I was a teenager (or even in my 20s).  If I want to learn a new skill or write a novel or get healthier, now is the time to do it.

I've broken my resolutions up into categories in order to better organize this post.  And, in an effort to keep myself on track, I'm planning to make some posts throughout the year (maybe quarterly, though I haven't decided for sure) with updates on my progress.

Every year I claim I'll stick with my resolutions, but maybe this time I actually will.  (Or at least a good percentage of them ...  I'll be ecstatic if I can stick with at least 80-90% of these!)


Health/Fitness Goals:

I love this quote!  Image courtesy of 

1.  Continue going to yoga classes at least 2-3 times per week.  These classes have had such a positive effect on me (both physically and mentally), so I think it's really important to continue practicing regularly.

2.  Work out at least 3-4 times per week.  Yoga classes definitely count, but I should also supplement those classes with either another class (or two) and/or some basic cardio (treadmill, bike, etc.).  This is something I struggle with at times because it's so easy to come up with an excuse not to go to the gym.  Since I love yoga, it's not too difficult to motivate myself to go to those classes ... But if I'm trying to get myself motivated to go to another type of class or to go walk/jog on the treadmill, I can always think of something else I'd rather do.

3.  Lose weight.  This is literally on my list of New Year's resolutions every year, and I never lose as much as I would like (and keep it off, of course).  I lost a decent amount of weight before our wedding in 2013, but most of that was due to stress.  (When I'm really stressed, I completely lose my appetite.  While I'm glad I'm not a stress eater, this isn't really healthy either.)  Since I'm no longer a big ball of stress, a lot of that weight has returned.  I'm not going to set a specific goal weight to be reached by December 2015 because I don't want to feel discouraged if I can't reach it.  If I'm being completely honest, though, I'd like to lose at least 10 lbs.  I think that's a reasonable goal to start with, but I'm also not going to beat myself up if I only lose 7 lbs (or even 5).

4.  Continue utilizing MyFitnessPal to track my exercise and caloric intake each day.  I'm such an on-again-off-again MyFitnessPal user, but I've been pretty good about logging everything lately.  I set a pretty difficult goal for myself (lose 1.5 lbs per week), so my daily allotted calories are kind of pathetic.  I almost always go over, and that can be kind of frustrating.  Despite this, I've found MyFitnessPal to be a pretty good way to force myself to at least consider what I'm putting into my body.  (And it's pretty eye-opening on the days when the calories from my alcohol intake cover more than half of my daily allowance.  I mean, I know alcoholic drinks are filled with empty calories, but holy shit!)

Reading/Creative Writing Goals:

I found this on Pinterest, but couldn't find the original website it came from.  It was the
 perfect image for this section, though, so I had to use it!

1.  Read 50 books.  The 50 book goal has been on my list of New Year's resolutions every year since 2005.  10 years later, I still haven't reached that goal.  Yes, I think 50 books in 52 weeks is a lot, but I know plenty of people who have reached (or surpassed) that.  (My best year was 2012, and I only finished 32.)  My problem is that I don't stay focused.  I'll read something for a few days then get distracted with something else ... And suddenly I realize that I haven't opened that book in a month.  If I take a significant break from a book, I can't really get back into it very easily ... So I just never finish it.  It's an awful habit that I'd really like to break.  This year my plan is to start going to bed at least 30 minutes before I'd want to go to sleep and use that time to read.  Additionally, I'll devote at least one evening each week strictly to reading ... No TV, no music, no blogging.  It will still probably be difficult for me to finish 50 books since my life can get kind of busy at times, but I think if I stick to my plan I might actually be able to do it!

2.  Write creatively at least once a week.  For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to publish a novel.  I wrote my first "book" at a very young age (around 7 or 8), and while it's a terrible pile of shit, it's proof that I can finish a project if I really want to.  (I use the term "book" loosely because it was around 60 pages long ... Though I guess that's probably impressive for a child in elementary school.)  I also wrote another book when I was in high school, but it was also a terrible pile of shit that should probably never see the light of day.  After I finished that project, I started others ... I just never finished any of them.  I don't expect to write the next great American novel in 2015, but I do want to push myself to carve out some time (even an hour one day each week) to work on putting something together.  If I ever hope to write something that I would be proud to publish, I have to start somewhere!

Financial Goals:

Image courtesy of

1.  Continue putting money in savings every month.  I've been doing this regularly for the last 5 years, so this shouldn't be too difficult.  I'd like to eventually bump up the amount I'm saving each month, but that probably won't happen until I get some other stuff paid off (and that's totally fine with me).

2.  Become (mostly) debt free.  I don't think I can pay everything off this year, so I don't want to set a completely unattainable goal.  I think I can at least get the 3 credit cards I have balances on paid off, though, since none of them have a huge balance (I've just been lazy about it since they're 0% APR right now).  I'm also going to start making larger payments on my car when the cards are paid off.  I'd love to get my car paid off in 2015, but there's a good chance I won't get it paid off until the next year.  I also know I won't be paying off my student loans this year, but I should be able to get those paid off early if I don't have any credit card or car payments to worry about.

3.  Use Swagbucks more often.  I was using Swagbucks a lot for a while, but then I got busy and found myself just doing the bare minimum each day (answering the daily poll, clicking through the NOSO, and getting an occasional code).  I do have quite a few Swagbucks right now (almost 13,000!), but I'm trying to save for an Amazon gift card that's worth at least $250.  There's an expensive (like $600+) item I have my eye on, and if I could pay for at least half (or more!) in gift cards, that would be awesome.  (I have another $50 gift card to Amazon already.)  I can't even believe I'm seriously considering this item, but I'll share more if/when I take the plunge and get it.  In addition to getting this specific item, it's nice to earn Swagbucks for other stuff too.  We used another gift card I earned through Swagbucks for a dinner out a few months ago, and we paid almost nothing for an appetizer, two entrées, and two alcoholic drinks.  It was awesome!

Food Goals:

I doubt I'll learn to make macarons this year (much less adorable macarons that look like
penguins!), but maybe one day.  Image courtesy of

1.  Create at least 3 original recipes.  I'm not awesome enough to come up with super creative recipes, but I'd like to make at least 3 things that aren't just simple changes to an existing recipe.  I've posted a few recipes that were adapted pretty significantly (as well as some that combined at least a couple of recipes to create one dish), but I've really only posted one "original" recipe ... And, as you can see, it's not really that groundbreaking.  However, I was really proud that I made something up as I went along without even using a recipe as a guideline.  I'd like to continue pushing myself to do that (at least occasionally).

2.  Bake a little more often.  I'm not going to set any specific goals for this since it will kind of work against some of my health and fitness goals, but I've wanted to work on my baking skills for a long time.  So why not do it a little more often this year?  (If nothing else, it will give me an opportunity to post some dessert recipes on Divulge and Indulge ... And everyone loves a good dessert recipe!)

3.  Try at least 12 new (to us) restaurants.  Eric and I both love food (in case you haven't already noticed), and I honestly think this will be one of the easiest resolutions to stick with.  There are a ton of restaurants in Omaha alone that we want to try, but any restaurant we try for the first time counts (regardless of location).  I didn't count the number of new to us restaurants we ate at this year, but I can guarantee there were at least 20 (but probably more).  I'll even attempt to be a good blogger and share pictures from our meals!

Blogging Goals:

I decided I should probably take at least one picture in this post myself.  This pretty much
sums up my blogging tools right now: my laptop and a cup (or several) of coffee.  I usually write while
 sitting on the living room couch, but the lighting was slightly better in the dining area ... So this is what
you get.

1.  Work on a blog schedule and really try to stick with it.  This worked for me for a while, and then I just started feeling uninspired.  I know that will happen from time to time, but I don't like feeling disappointed in myself when I don't post as much as I think I should.  Scheduling posts is the only way I can be even remotely organized when it comes to this blog, so I should really focus on that.

2.  Participate in more link-ups.  I've been participating in a monthly personal challenge link-up and I've definitely noticed some additional traffic based on my participation, but I think if I'd like to gain more readers, I should probably participate in a few more from time to time.  And, let's be honest, even though it's nice to see that more people are checking out my blog, link-ups are also just fun.

3.  Comment more often.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I read a really great post and think, "I really want to tell them how much I enjoyed this post, but I'll do it later," and then a week or two goes by and I realize I never commented.  I should probably just go ahead and comment even if a lot of time has passed (better late than never, right?), but I always second guess myself and feel like it will seem dumb to comment on an older post ... So I just say nothing.  I do try to make an effort to respond to all of the comments I get on my own blog (and I think I do a pretty good job), but I really need to start commenting on other blogs as well.  I mean, isn't that kind of the point of these things?  To create a community?

4.  Invest in Divulge and Indulge.  I'm not going to spend tons of money on this blog or anything ... It's just a hobby, after all.  I am considering upgrading to a Premium Wordpress account, though, because I think it would be nice to have my own domain name as well as the ability to customize my blog further.  I'm also considering paying someone to design a layout for me, but I know that's something I'll want to put some more thought into.  Finally, I've been thinking about sponsoring at least a couple of blogs.  I know it's a great way to gain exposure (especially if the blogger offers an opportunity for a guest post or "interview"), but I just haven't taken that plunge yet.  Again, this is something I'll want to put some more thought into.  (This will also probably be the last thing I do since I'd prefer to have my own domain name and a more customized blog before I start advertising on other blogs.)

5.  Make a new "About Me" page.  I don't really like the one I have now, but I've been really lazy about changing it since I never really know what to say.  Why is it so hard to come up with a simple introduction to myself and this blog?

6.  Work on my social media presence.  This is such a huge part of blogging, and I've been neglecting it completely.  When I first started Divulge and Indulge, I created a Pinterest account specifically for this blog.  I love Pinterest, and it makes sense to have an account linked to a blog (especially a blog that features recipes on a regular basis!) ... But I never really did anything with it.  In addition to Pinterest, I'd like to start an Instagram account for this blog.  I've never been an avid user of Instagram, but I can understand why bloggers use it.  I'm still not sure I'm willing to make a Twitter account, but I do understand that it can be a powerful tool when it comes to promoting posts and connecting with other bloggers ... So maybe 2015 will be the year that I get over my dislike of Twitter.  I'm also not sure if I'd want to use Facebook to promote this blog.  I mean, I rarely use my personal Facebook, so I can't imagine trying to keep up with another account.  I do think if I at least focus on Pinterest and Instagram, it could potentially help me gain new readers.  I don't really expect (or even want) this blog to become "big," but I think it would encourage me to continue posting regularly if I gained some new readers and knew that they actually cared about what I was writing.

I know my list of New Year's resolutions is ridiculously long, but there are just so many things I'd like to accomplish in the upcoming year.  I would actually like to add a few more goals to this list, but I wanted to be at least somewhat realistic.  As I said at the beginning of this post, I'm hoping I can at least stick with 80-90% of these resolutions throughout the entire year.  And if I somehow manage to stick with all of them, I'm going to be so proud of myself!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: The Top 5 Divulge and Indulge Favorites from 2014

As I promised previously, today's post will feature my 5 favorite Divulge and Indulge Tasty Tuesday posts from this year.

These 5 posts were chosen solely based on the recipe shared.  (I felt like I should probably mention that since some of the pictures aren't the greatest.  I also didn't want anyone reading this to think I believed all of these posts showcase my best writing.  They don't.)

I made some really good shit this year, so it was pretty difficult to narrow it down to 5 favorites.  I tried to choose the things I would eat over and over again (though even that was tough!), and I also stuck with recipes I tried for the first time in 2014 in an effort to narrow it down a little further.


1.  White Cheddar and Fontina Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

This is a big bowl of unhealthy goodness that's worth every single bite.  For years I've tried to find the perfect macaroni and cheese recipe, and this is it.

2.  Spinach and Artichoke Tortellini Bake

This is another completely unhealthy dish that's worth the extra calories.  Eric and I love spinach and artichoke dip, and the flavors in this meal make you feel like you're eating spoonfuls of it along with pasta and more cheese.  Delicious!

3.  Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Rice

This is total comfort food, and I could eat it most days during the fall and winter.  I've made this a couple of times this year, and I will definitely be making it again soon!

4.  Tilapia in a Jalapeno Cream Sauce with Rice

I had no idea whether this would actually be good or not when I first decided to try it out, but it was amazing.  The dish is unique and flavorful, and I'm so glad I decided it was worth trying!

5.  Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't post many dessert recipes on Divulge and Indulge because I'm still not very confident in my baking skills.  That being said, I was really proud of the way these cookies turned out.  They're definitely my new favorite chocolate chip cookies!

If anyone reading this would like to comment, I'd love to know what your favorite Tasty Tuesday posts were.  I'd also like to hear any suggestions for future Tasty Tuesday posts ... Is there something you'd like to see on Divulge and Indulge?  I'll do my best to try something out if there's a specific type of recipe you'd like me to post!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Playlist: December 2014

We're nearing the end of the month, so I thought it was time to post my December 2014 playlist.  As I was trying to determine what my theme should be, I started looking through some of my old playlists on Grooveshark only to realize that several of them were missing songs.  I spent some time adding the songs back to those playlists and properly reorganizing them, but I was really annoyed by this.  I mean, it doesn't take that long to throw a playlist together, but the fact that I did take the time to do it only to find out a few months later that some of the songs mysteriously vanished bothered me.

I liked using Grooveshark for blog playlists, but if this is going to continue to happen, I don't want to use it anymore.  (Not to mention the fact that some of the songs, albums, and even band/artist names are misspelled ... Though that probably only bothers me since I'm such a freak about that sort of thing.)  I'll be using that site for this month's playlist, but I'm definitely open to any suggestions of a better, more reliable site for future playlists.

I would like to note that while I love Spotify (and use it on a daily basis), I'm not open to using it for blog playlists.  My account is linked to both my personal Facebook and full name, and, despite the fact that I'm pretty open about a lot of things on my blog, I'm not comfortable sharing that information.  There may be an option to create a new account, but I'd prefer not to.  I am, however, open to any other suggestions!

Okay, now that that's out of the way, I'll return the focus to my December playlist.  I decided to turn this month's playlist into a sort of soundtrack for my life in 2014.  Each month has its own song that describes the events from that time in some way.  It may be a song from a band I saw in concert that month, a song I couldn't stop listening to that month, or a song that describes a major life event from that month.  It was actually harder than I initially thought it would be to come up with 12 songs that somehow describe the last 12 months of my life, but I really enjoyed putting this playlist together.  Hopefully you'll enjoy listening to it!

Click on the link below to listen to this playlist.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Divulge and Indulge 2014 Year in Review

I told myself I wouldn't make a "year in review" type of post since everyone does this, but then I was like, "Fuck it.  I like reading those posts, so why not write one myself?"

This isn't going to be all about my favorite Divulge and Indulge posts, though.  I'll definitely include those, but I also just wanted to cover my life in 2014 in general.  I decided I really wanted to do this after reading some of my "year in review" posts from my LiveJournal days.  It's kind of fun to go back and see how much I (and my tastes) have changed over the years.  To be perfectly honest, this post is probably going to be more for me than for any readers I may have, but that's okay.  Maybe someone will enjoy it anyway.


5 Favorite Songs:

The criteria for my favorite songs is simple: it must have been released at some point during 2014.  I hate to admit this, but it was really hard to come up with even 5 awesome songs from this year.  As you may have noticed from my monthly playlists, I'm not exactly a huge fan of popular music ... And unfortunately, a lot of my favorite bands and artists didn't release new stuff this year.

1.  "Make You Better" - The Decemberists

This is by far my favorite song released this year.  I've literally been listening to this on repeat for the last several weeks.  It's a beautiful song that moves me to tears almost every time I hear it, and I can't wait until the album is released next month!  (Side note: I really wanted to include this on my December playlist, but it's not available on Grooveshark for some reason.)

2.  "Breaker 1" - Interpol

I was pretty excited for the new Interpol album this year (though they didn't come back to Omaha on this tour, so that made me sad).  Although nothing they put out ever seems to top Antics for me, El Pintor has some really great tracks.  After listening to this album every day for several weeks, I determined that "Breaker 1" was my personal favorite.  It's classic Interpol: dark, haunting, and addictive.

3.  "Evil Voices" - The Faint

This was by far my favorite song on Doom Abuse, and I may or may not have played it over and over in my car at a ridiculously high volume while I danced like an idiot after its release.  (Side note: Eric hates The Faint, which is just crazy to me.  Not only are they awesome, they're also local ... How can any true Omahan hate them?  They're also playing at The Waiting Room for two nights this month, and I'm totally bummed that my friends that also love them no longer live here to go with me.  Eric obviously won't be going, and I didn't want to go alone.  Whomp whomp.)

4.  "Promise" - Tori Amos

I'm a huge Tori Amos fan, but I've admittedly been disappointed with a lot of her newer work.  There are usually a few really good songs on the newer albums (which, for me, means anything released after Scarlet's Walk), but I haven't been blown away by them in the same way I was with Scarlet's Walk and everything preceding that.  Unfortunately, her latest album also fell a little flat for me.  The songs aren't bad and some of the lyrics are really great ... But they're just lacking a passion I've come to expect from her.  Regardless, "Promise" really stood out to me because it's just such a sweet song.  It's definitely not her best work, but I really liked it for two reasons: it's a great song about a love between mother and daughter and she performs it as a duet with her own teenage daughter, Natashya.

5.  "Ultraviolence" - Lana Del Rey

I think there are a lot of really good songs on Ultraviolence, but this song really stands out to me as the best.  (Though "West Coast" takes a close second.)  I think I really appreciate the cinematic quality ... I can easily picture scenes playing out when I listen to it, and I'm a huge fan of music that tells a story.  (Side note: It's kind of shocking that I like Lana Del Rey as much as I do.  Her music isn't what I'd typically listen to, but I find myself liking her more and more.  While I don't love all of her songs, the ones I do like are so damn catchy that I find myself singing them constantly.  I also really love her voice.)

5 Favorite Books:

I'm making this section a little easier on myself because I honestly don't even know if I've read 5 books that were published in 2014.  In order for a book to be included on this list, it had to be read during 2014 (but could have been published at any time).  I really slacked on my reading this year, so coming up with 5 favorite books was probably harder than it should have been.

1.  The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald


It took me a long time to read this book because it's 811 pages long, but it was well worth the time.  I read another book by the same author a couple of years ago (Fall on Your Knees), and I fell in love with it.  The Way the Crow Flies was similar in that it focused on a family and their experiences over the course of several years, but the story itself was completely different.  Her novels focus on some of the darker aspects of human nature and she definitely doesn't shy away from making her readers uncomfortable, so if that's not your thing, this probably isn't the book for you.  If, however, you're okay with disturbing subject matter and are looking for an interesting, beautifully written novel, I highly recommend The Way the Crow Flies.  This was by far the best book I read all year.

2.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


I feel like everyone in the world had already read this book before I got around to it.  This is actually pretty surprising since I'd already read (and loved!) Gillian Flynn's first two novels a couple of years ago.  I have also seen the movie, but I definitely preferred the book.  Don't get me wrong ... The movie isn't bad or anything.  I just felt like there were some important details that were left out (which is typically the case since most adapted movies would be 5 or 6 hours long if everything from the book was included).  And, if I'm being totally honest here, I'm not a huge fan of Ben Affleck.  He was actually a good choice for the role of Nick Dunne, but I would never go see a movie just because he was in it.  But anyway ... I'm getting way off track.  I really liked Gone Girl, and I loved the way the author chose to reveal information throughout the novel.  I thought it was really effective, and it definitely kept me interested.

3.  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


This is another book that everyone has probably already read, but that doesn't make it any less amazing.  I usually don't read young adult fiction, but this book was just so good.  (I actually haven't seen the movie yet, so I can't comment on that.)  Although I knew what would most likely happen by the end, I still cried throughout the last part of the novel.  The book is funny and sweet and heartbreaking all at once, and I'm really glad I didn't let the young adult fiction label turn me off from it.

4.  The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis


The Boy in the Suitcase is a crime thriller with an interesting premise.  Although I thought the character development could use a little work, it definitely kept me interested.  I liked the fact that the authors didn't reveal why the boy was kidnapped in the beginning, nor did I correctly guess why it had happened.  I always appreciate an element of surprise in novels (particularly when it comes to thrillers!), so I thought the authors did a great job revealing important information little by little.  It wouldn't be the first book I'd recommend, but if you're a fan of crime thrillers, I'd say it's worth a read.

5.  Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk (reread)


I wasn't sure if I should include this since it was a reread, but I did read it this year ... So we'll go with it.  I'll admit that I'm kind of a fangirl when it comes to Chuck Palahniuk (okay, let's be real, I'm more than "kind of" a fangirl), so my opinions of his work are probably horribly biased.  That being said, Lullaby is, for the most part, a fantastic novel.  Yes, some parts are a little repetitive, but it's an overall enjoyable read.  I love that a lot of his work contains these incredibly beautiful lines that stick in your mind long after the last page is turned.  This isn't my favorite Palahniuk novel (that award goes to Invisible Monsters), but it's definitely worth reading at least once.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering how much of a fangirl I am, here is a picture of me with Chuck Palahniuk back in 2007 during his Rant book tour:

The wedding stuff is related to the book he was promoting, so it's not really as weird as it looks.

I drove 3 hours to attend that signing.  I also look like a deer in the headlights in this picture.  I mean, I was fucking standing next to Chuck Palahniuk!  I'm also sure I dazzled him with my great conversation skills since I think the only words I could come up with were, "Hi, it's nice to meet you!"

Anyway ... Back to 2014.  We'll leave 2007 in the past.

5 Favorite Movies:

I can almost guarantee I didn't see 5 movies that were released in 2014.  Since that's the case, I'll make my criteria for movies the same as my criteria for books: I just had to see it this year ... It could have been released at any time (though a couple of these were actually released this year!).

1.  Stoker

From the moment I first heard about this movie, I wanted to see it.  If ever there was a movie that seemed specifically tailored to my personal tastes, this would be it.  I was actually nervous about watching it because I was so afraid I'd be let down.  Thankfully I wasn't!  Stoker was just as dark, beautiful, and haunting as I'd hoped it would be, and although it's definitely not as over-the-top fucked up as some of Chan-wook Park's other films (like Oldboy), it has its moments.  This was by far the best movie I watched this year.

2.  I Origins

I've mentioned before how much I love Michael Pitt, so it's probably not surprising that one of his more recent films made it onto this list.  The imagery in this film is absolutely stunning, and I loved all of the questions it raised about reincarnation.  While I don't personally believe in reincarnation, the way in which the movie presented the idea was fascinating.  The movie wasn't perfect by any means, but I thought it was definitely unique and beautiful and featured some great performances.

3.  The Seasoning House

I've already written about this movie, so I won't bore you by writing too much about it here.  I do want to say, though, that I really didn't have any expectations when I started watching The Seasoning House so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a really tense and interesting thriller.  I was also really impressed with Rosie Day's performance (and yes, I know I mentioned that before, but she was really fucking awesome), especially since you don't always see such incredible performances in low budget independent thrillers.

4.  Broken

This film is based on a book of the same name by Daniel Clay.  I read the novel a couple of years ago and it quickly earned a spot in my favorite books of all time.  Although I found the novel to be far superior, the movie was still great (despite the fact that a lot of details were changed or completely omitted).  This definitely isn't a "feel good" kind of movie (in fact, I'd say it's exactly the opposite), but it's well worth watching.  I'd highly recommend both the book and the movie, though I'd also recommend grabbing a big box of tissues ... If you're anything like me, you're going to need them.

5.  Gone Girl

I know I already mentioned the book, but I think the movie does deserve a place on this list.  Yes, it didn't live up to the book for me, but it was still a damn good movie.  I saw this in the theater with Eric and my brother-in-law, Jake, and it was totally worth the ridiculous price of a movie ticket.  I love that this is very much a "Kristen movie" (as the people in my life tend to call really dark and/or fucked up movies), but it's also a movie that really appealed to the masses.  If you haven't seen this yet, you probably should.

5 Favorite Divulge and Indulge Posts:

I've loved working on my blog throughout this year.  Although I don't anticipate ever becoming a "big blogger," I do hope to gain some new followers in the new year.  The posts I'm including in this list are the ones that I'd want to direct any new readers to in the hopes that they'd want to stick around to see what else I have to say.

1.  Crawling Back To You (originally posted 05.26.2014)

This was the first post I was really hesitant to publish (and not just because my husband reads this blog).  It was hard for me to put all of that out there, but I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and share something really personal.

2.  Thoughts On #yesallwomen (originally posted 06.01.2014)

I typically write about more personal things and less about current events, but I was really inspired by the #yesallwomen phenomenon (despite my dislike of Twitter).  I knew I wanted to write something on the topic and share a few of my own experiences, and this post was the result.

3.  The Divulge and Indulge Guide to the Best Scary Movies (originally posted 10.27.2014)

This was one of my favorite posts to write because I really love horror/thriller movies, and, of course, I love sharing cool shit with other people.  I had a lot of fun trying to compile a list of movies that were worthy of being called the "best."

4.  I Love You More Than I Have Ever Found A Way To Say To You (originally posted 11.09.2014)

This is my mushy one year wedding anniversary post that shares the story of how Eric and I first met way back in 2007.  (Yes, 2007 was a big year for me.  I met both Chuck Palahniuk and my future husband!)  I always have fun sharing our love story with others because it's not the typical "we met in school" or even "we met on a dating site" kind of story.

5.  How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work: 7 Tips from Someone Who Has Been There (More Than Once!) (originally posted 11.20.2014)

If there's one thing I feel qualified to give advice on, it's long distance relationships.  (I was "The Queen of Long Distance" for a while, after all.  I gave myself that title, but still ... It wasn't inaccurate.)  Although the advice given in this post was mostly common sense, it felt good to share the things that really worked for me in the past.  I know this post has gotten quite a bit of traffic, so hopefully at least one person found it useful or interesting!

General Favorites in 2014:

1.  Favorite Trip: Obviously this award goes to my late honeymoon/one year anniversary trip to New York, The Netherlands, Belgium, and France.  If you're new to this blog and want to check out some pictures and information, posts about our trip can be found here, here, here, and here.

2.  Favorite New To Me Restaurant (in Omaha): This is a tough one because we tried several really great places this year, but I think this award should probably go to Dario's Brasserie.  Eric took me there for my 30th birthday dinner, and everything was absolutely delicious.  I also appreciated the fact that I was able to try something completely new (rabbit).  It was definitely one of the best meals I ate this year.

3.  Favorite New To Me Restaurant (in any other city): We ate at so many great places while we were on vacation, but one meal really stood out as being the best.  That meal was the one we had at A La Petite Chaise in Paris.

4.  Favorite Concert: I didn't go to as many concerts this year as I have in the past, which was kind of disappointing.  I was trying to stick mostly to the Omaha area for shows since we were already spending a lot of money and using a lot of vacation time to go to New York and Europe.  Unfortunately, some of the bands and artists I wanted to see didn't come to our area ... And, like I said, this year I really couldn't justify using the extra money and vacation time to travel for a concert.  I was still able to go to a few shows, though, and I really enjoyed all of them.  This year I saw Neutral Milk Hotel (twice!), Arctic Monkeys, and Death Cab for Cutie (my second time seeing them).  It's hard to choose a favorite, but, since I'm making myself choose, I think the first Neutral Milk Hotel show in Kansas City was the best.  The atmosphere was great, the acoustics were fantastic, and I was just so fucking ecstatic to actually have the opportunity to see them perform live.  I never thought that would happen.  (I was lucky enough to see them again about a month later in Omaha, but the venue/acoustics weren't quite as good and I think some of my excitement faded with the headache/stomachache combo I was dealing with that day.)

And because I think this post needs another picture:

I bought these tickets as a birthday gift to myself in August 2013, so I had literally been looking forward to that show for months!

5.  Favorite Purchase: For this category, I'm not including anything related to meals out, concerts/other shows, or travel.  (If I did, I probably couldn't choose just one thing!)  The best purchase made this year (excluding items in the aforementioned categories) was definitely my Beats headphones.  Eric and I both got some before our trip (and agreed that they would just be our Christmas gifts to one another since we probably would have bought them for each other for Christmas anyway if we hadn't needed/wanted them a month earlier), and they were worth every penny.  I got a pair of the urBeats earbuds because I'm not a huge fan of the bulkier headphones.  The sound is great, and the best part is that I can't hear anything else when I have them in.  The music doesn't even have to be turned up loud to drown out the noise around me!  (This really came in handy during a flight that included no less than 5 babies.  I heard no crying until I removed my earbuds.  None.  It was glorious!)  I'm not going to say that you should run out and buy these now (this isn't a sponsored post, after all!), but I will say that I love my Beats and I'm really glad I got them before our trip.

I know this post is long, so if you made it to this point, thanks for reading!  Next Tuesday I'll be sharing my 5 favorite Divulge and Indulge Tasty Tuesday posts, so if you like these "year in review" posts be sure to check that out!  I'll also be posting my New Year's resolutions in an upcoming post.  Hopefully I can come up with some great goals for myself for 2015!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Crockpot Peanut Butter Chicken

Yesterday's post got kind of heavy, so if you read that ... Thank you.

I promise that today's post won't be anything like that.  Today's post is all about food (as any good Tasty Tuesday post should be).

Since my last two main dish recipes have featured beef, I decided to change things up and share a chicken based meal.  This recipe is extremely easy since you're basically just throwing everything in the crockpot and letting it work its magic.  It's also somewhat healthy (especially if you use reduced fat peanut butter), so it's probably a good recipe to share right before the new year because, let's be honest, most of us are going to resolve to lose weight or start eating better or start working out more often or some combination of these things.

The peanut sauce in this dish is rich, creamy, and slightly sweet.  It's not spicy like some peanut sauces, so it could be a good option for you if you want to try a peanut sauce but don't really like spicy food.  And while it's not my absolute favorite chicken and rice meal, it's a great option when I'm in the mood for chicken and rice but want something a little different.

I know that the color of the sauce isn't overly appealing, but at least it tastes good!

Crockpot Peanut Butter Chicken

Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Family Fresh Meals.

Ingredient List:
  • 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 5 and we had plenty of leftovers)
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup white onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (I used reduced fat and it worked just fine)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 of a lime
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 6 cups cooked rice (I used jasmine rice and I thought it really brought out the sweetness of the peanut sauce)
  • Peanuts for serving


1.  Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray.

2.  Place the red bell pepper and white onion in the bottom of the crockpot.  (The original recipe recommended this because they can act as a "stand" for the chicken to prevent it from drying out.)  I've never had an issue with chicken drying out in the crockpot, but I did follow these instructions since there isn't a ton of liquid in the peanut sauce.  You're also not adding any additional water or chicken broth, so it's definitely not a bad idea!  (If you're wondering, my chicken was tender and juicy when I followed this method.)

3.  Place the chicken breasts on top of the pepper and onion.

4.  Mix the chunky peanut butter, chicken broth, soy sauce, juice of 1/2 of a lime, and honey together in a separate small bowl.  Once everything is fully combined, pour the sauce over the chicken.  (I'd recommend trying to cover as much of the chicken as possible since, as I said before, you want to prevent it from drying out.  In order to do this, you may have to lightly stir the chicken and sauce around in the crockpot ... Just remember not to stir the peppers and onions up from the bottom.)

5.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6 hours.

6.  When approximately 15 minutes of cook time remain, shred the chicken with two forks.  (Although I usually remove meat from the crockpot when I shred it, I left it inside the crockpot for this step so I wouldn't lose any of the sauce.)  After shredding, replace the cover and continue cooking for the remainder of the time.

As I said earlier, I served the chicken over jasmine rice and topped everything with lightly salted peanuts.  I highly recommend using a peanut topping because it balances out the slightly sweet sauce with some saltiness.  I also served this with a side of Steamfresh vegetables (I used an Asian medley).

Monday, December 22, 2014

When Christmas Loses Its Magic

When I first started to write this post, I wasn't sure how I should go about it (or if I should even publish it at all).  I didn't want to write the most depressing Christmas related post ever, and I didn't want the post to read like a journal entry.  But every time I started to write, that's exactly what would come out: really long depressing paragraphs worthy of my LiveJournal circa 2005-2006.  Trust me when I say that no one wants to read that.

I then decided I'd turn the post into a list.  I think the things I wanted to share will be a little easier to digest if I write them out this way (versus rambling on and on about a bunch of random shit).

Below you will find some of the reasons why Christmas has lost its magic for me.  I'm sure I'll still ramble a little, but hopefully the list format somehow makes my thoughts seem slightly more organized.

Image provided by Unsplash ( and edited by me.

1.  I made the choice to move away from my family.  I was never happy living in my hometown, and I always knew I wanted to move away (even at a young age).  It just wasn't the right place for me.  If I'm being completely honest, the only things I ever miss about it are my family and close friends who still live in the area.  I know that moving away was the best thing for me, and I've never regretted it.  That being said, I sometimes get really depressed around Christmas because it's not always feasible for me to fly to my hometown to spend that time with my family.  I may have chosen to move halfway across the country, but that doesn't mean I don't get to feel at least a little sad when I can't spend time with my family.

2.  Eric and I haven't really created any Christmas traditions yet.  (Well, Christmas traditions for the two of us as a family.)  This is generally okay with me since we do a lot of stuff with his family for the holidays and I'm not sure if I want to add on even more stuff.  However, since we don't even decorate our apartment, exchange gifts on Christmas day, or do any other special things, it just feels like any other day.  I will say that this year we're planning to make a special holiday dinner for the two of us (which I'm really looking forward to!), so hopefully that will help make the day feel a little more like Christmas and less like a random weekend day spent around the apartment in pajamas.

3.  As an adult, holidays in general become more stressful.  But Christmas?  Christmas is a fucking nightmare.  I know I stress myself out more than I need to because I'm such an awful procrastinator when it comes to buying gifts, but I think I'd still be stressed even if I finished my shopping in September.  I used to love giving gifts, but I think it's gotten more difficult to come up with thoughtful and unique ideas ... So I usually default to a gift card.  Don't get me wrong ... There's nothing wrong with a gift card.  In fact, I think I sometimes prefer that to an actual gift because I can go shopping at a later time when I think of something I really want or need.  (And I know some of the people I exchange gifts with feel this way as well.)  However, that doesn't change the fact that I used to pride myself on giving awesome gifts for Christmas and now it's like, "Merry Christmas!  Here's a gift card because I couldn't come up with anything better for you."  Yes, it's harder to buy gifts for people you don't see every day, but I still feel guilty when I go for the gift cards.

4.  I think the main reason I feel like Christmas has lost much of its appeal, though, is because I can no longer spend it with my grandparents.  They were very important, very special people in my life, and now that they're both gone it's hard to imagine going on with the holiday traditions without them.  I actually haven't been back to my hometown for Christmas since 2008 ... My grandmother passed away the following month.  (My grandfather passed away in May.)  I've almost been too afraid to go back for Christmas because I know it won't be the same.  Every year we'd spend Christmas at their house and share a huge, delicious meal that included my mom's awesome cheesy potato casserole and my grandmother's famous red velvet cake.  (Okay, it was just famous in our family ... But it was amazing and one of the highlights of the meal!)  I'm thankful I was able to spend so many years getting to know them and that I have so many wonderful memories, but I still miss them all the time.  And it's even harder to deal with around Christmas (especially now that they're both gone).

I hope that one day Christmas will regain at least some of its magic.  But for now, it has to just be another day for me because if I focus too much on the holiday itself and how much I miss the years I spent with my family when I was younger, I may never stop crying.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: The Easiest Chocolate Fudge You'll Ever Make

I've made it no secret around here that I'm not much of a baker.  It's not that I don't want to practice and become a better baker (I do!) ... It's just that I either don't want to have a bunch of baked goods lying around (I am trying to lose weight, after all!), I don't have the time and patience to deal with the inevitable mess that goes along with baking, and/or I just feel like our money would be better spent on ingredients for our main dishes.

And, to be honest, I also don't like the fact that it's much more difficult for me to get creative with a dessert recipe.  I have some knowledge when it comes to cooking, so I understand how different cooking methods might change a recipe.  I also feel confident when it comes to changing up ingredients and spices because I know what flavors work well together.  This knowledge allows me to find a recipe and either tweak it to suit our tastes or use it as a general guideline for a completely adapted recipe.  It also allows me to occasionally come up with my own dishes (something I still get really excited about!).

My mother-in-law and her sisters hold a cookie exchange every year around Christmas.  I've been going to the exchange since Eric and I got engaged in 2012, and it's always a little stressful for me because, as I said, I don't really bake that often.  I mean, I obviously want to make something that people will actually like ... And since I'm not really that confident when it comes to making cookies (with the exception of these), I'm never sure what I should bring.

Luckily this year they asked for something specific: fudge.  (And hey, I didn't even have to worry about baking it!)  Fudge isn't something I've made often, though, so I was a little worried that it wouldn't turn out well.  (I'd only made it twice before making 3 batches for this exchange.)

Since I don't really have a go to fudge recipe, I started searching Pinterest for something that looked like it would be both easy and delicious.  And let me just say that there are a shit ton of fudge recipes on Pinterest.  Seriously.  I started getting a little overwhelmed because there were just so many options.

After several hours (I wish I were joking), I finally settled on 2 types of fudge.  One has a white chocolate base and the other, which I'll be sharing with you today, is a more classic fudge.  (Don't worry, I'll share the white chocolate fudge in a future Tasty Tuesday post!)

It really is as rich and creamy as it looks in this picture.  (It's also in a clear plastic container, so please excuse the somewhat odd picture.  I probably should have put it on a plate, but oh well.)

I was really hoping this fudge would turn out well, but oh my God ... It was amazing!  And the best part?  It was one of the easiest things I've ever made.

The Easiest Chocolate Fudge You'll Ever Make

A recipe from Real Mom Kitchen.

Ingredient List:
  • 1 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Any toppings you like (examples include sprinkles, chopped nuts, crushed peppermint candies, or chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups)


1.  Line an 8x8 inch pan with wax paper and spray the paper with cooking spray.  Set the pan aside.

2.  In a large saucepan, combine both types of chocolate chips, the sweetened condensed milk, and butter.

3.  Allow the mixture to melt together over low heat, stirring regularly to prevent clumping and burning.  (It's very important not to walk away once you start the melting process!)

4.  After the chocolate mixture is completely smooth and melted, remove the pan from the burner and stir in the vanilla extract.

5.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it as evenly as possible.

6.  Sprinkle on any toppings you want to use (as you can see from the picture, I used sprinkles in holiday colors).  You can also leave off the toppings if you prefer plain fudge.

7.  Place the pan in the refrigerator to allow the fudge to set.  (I left mine in the fridge for 2.5 hours, and that seemed like the perfect amount of time.)

8.  After the fudge has set, remove the pan from the fridge.  Lift the fudge out of the pan using the wax paper, then cut the fudge into pieces.  (I got 25 pieces out of each batch.)

If you're looking for a quick and simple treat to make for the holidays, this is perfect (unless you don't like chocolate, of course).  I'm sure I'll be making this again in the future!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Random Thoughts (Or What Happens When I'm Feeling Uninspired)

Image provided by Unsplash ( and edited by me.

I really should never talk about how great having a blogging schedule is again.  I should also never say that it helps me easily put together a post and cuts down on the staring-blankly-at-the-screen-hoping-coherent-sentences-about-something-even-remotely-interesting-magically-start-to-appear-in-that-empty-white-space time.  Yes, it's been great so far, but lately?  Lately it has completely failed me.

It started last Wednesday.  I typically try to write at least a couple of blog posts in one sitting and then schedule them to be posted later in the week during the morning or early afternoon.  I wanted to make sure I wrote something on Wednesday evening because my brother-in-law was flying in on Thursday afternoon to stay with us for the weekend, and my blogging schedule forces me to make at least 3 posts each week.  (Well, that's what it's supposed to do, anyway.)

When I looked at the topic I'd written on my schedule, I just felt very "meh" about it.  It's not a bad topic or anything ... In fact, I'm pretty sure I'll use it in the future.  But I just wasn't feeling it at the time.  And, unfortunately, I couldn't come up with anything else off the top of my head ... So I just wrote nothing.

Then life happened and I didn't have even 20 minutes of free time to crank something out before the end of the week, so I was stuck with only 2 posts last week.  (I'm not really complaining, by the way.  I had a lot of fun hanging out with Eric and his family.  It just would have been nice to actually stick to my schedule, especially since I've really been trying to make an effort to post more frequently.)

When I sat down to write today, I was hoping I'd either want to use the topic I passed on last week or that I'd be inspired by the next topic on my list.  Well ... It didn't really work out that way.

So here I am, making an effort to stomp out my writer's block by forcing myself to just write something.  I'm not sure that this is the best method for inspiring myself to come up with a great post, but at least I'm trying.  (And really only succeeding in coming up with a shitty, rambling post ... But whatever.)

I don't get a lot of comments on this blog, but I'd love to start a discussion.  So, if you feel like sharing, please tell me some of your favorite tips and tricks to overcome writer's block.  Do you just sit down and force yourself to put some words on paper (or, in this case, on the screen)?  Do you take a step back and refuse to write until you have something interesting or creative to say?  Or do you do something completely different?

I'd love to know how other people (especially other bloggers!) deal with bouts of writer's block, so hopefully at least a couple of people will feel like sharing their secrets!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Shredded Beef Baked Burritos

Yes, I know I'm posting two beef recipes in a row.  As I said in my last Tasty Tuesday post, Eric and I just purchased 100 pounds of beef so there's a good chance there will be several beef recipes popping up on Divulge and Indulge over the next few months.  (Don't worry if beef isn't your thing, though ... I'll definitely be posting other types of recipes too!)

One of my favorite things to do with beef stew meat is cook it in a crockpot, shred it, and use it in some sort of Mexican or Tex-Mex dish.  It's ridiculously easy, and it always tastes fantastic.

I tried to make the burrito look pretty, but I only succeeded in making a "pattern" consisting of random drops of taco sauce.   Oh well ... At least it was delicious!

Today's recipe is no exception.  These baked burritos were packed with flavor and, as a bonus, they were super easy to put together.  This also made a ton of burritos (I think I got 8 out of this recipe), which was really nice since they reheat well.  I know some people aren't crazy about leftovers, but Eric and I love taking them for lunch (or just having them available on the nights we're too busy/too tired to cook).

Shredded Beef Baked Burritos

Adapted from recipes on Six Sisters' Stuff and Cooking Classy.

Ingredient List (Shredded Beef Filling):
  • 1-1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat
  • 1 14.5 oz. can beef broth
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions (Shredded Beef Filling):

1.  Place beef, beef broth, and all spices in a crockpot and cover.  (Please note that I typically try to season my crockpot meals a lot in the beginning and sometimes have to add even more after tasting the nearly finished product.  I think crockpot meals and sauces absorb a lot of flavor, but sometimes the flavor doesn't come through as much as I'd like by the end of the cook time.)

2.  Allow the beef to cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.

3.  After cooking, remove the beef from the crockpot and place it on a cutting board.

4.  Shred the beef with two forks (it should be tender enough that it pretty much falls apart).

Ingredient List (Burritos):
  • 1 package 10 inch flour tortillas
  • 1 16 oz. can refried beans (I used refried black beans)
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a cheddar Jack blend)
  • 2 tbsp low fat margarine or butter, melted (I used low fat margarine)
  • Taco sauce (I used Ortega medium taco sauce)
  • Sour cream for serving
  • Guacamole for serving

Instructions (Burrito Assembly):

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.

3.  Warm the flour tortillas in the microwave (I zapped mine for 15-20 seconds) to make them more pliable.

4.  Place a tortilla on the aluminum foil lined cookie sheet and spoon some refried beans onto the tortilla.

5.  Spoon a small amount of diced green chilies onto the beans.  Add some of the cooked shredded beef, a sprinkle of cheese, and as much taco sauce as you like.

6.  Roll the tortilla around the filling and place it seam side down on the cookie sheet.  (I used the melted margarine to seal the seams and brushed the tops of the burritos so they would be crispy.)  Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 until you've used all of the beans, green chilies, meat, and cheese, taking care to place an equal amount of filling in each tortilla.

7.  Bake the burritos for 25-30 minutes, or until the tortillas are a golden brown color.

8.  Top with sour cream, guacamole, and more taco sauce.

The inside of one of my burritos before it was folded up and baked.

I served these burritos with a side of Mexican style rice (from a box, of course).  While this isn't the quickest meal in the world, it is simple and delicious.  If you find yourself craving a beef burrito, please give these a try.  You won't be disappointed!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Late Honeymoon/One Year Anniversary Recap Part 4: Paris

It's now time for the final installment of my 4 part late honeymoon/one year anniversary trip recap, which is all about our experiences in Paris.


Before we left for our trip, I tried to keep my expectations low when it came to Paris.  This was a place I'd always wanted to visit, and I was really worried that I'd be completely disappointed when I actually got there.

I'm happy to say that I had absolutely no reason to worry.  The city was just as beautiful and interesting as I'd hoped it would be, and I had the best meal of the entire trip there.  The only thing I felt disappointed about was the fact that we weren't staying there longer!  (And, if I'm being honest here, I was also a little disappointed about the fact that I'm not rich and couldn't afford a shopping spree in stores like Hermès and Chanel.  But, since I already knew that before we left, it didn't completely crush my spirit or anything.)

Here are some examples of the gorgeous scenery:

The Arc de Triomphe was pretty close to our hotel, so this was one of the first major landmarks we visited.
And here are some pictures of the Arc de Triomphe that we actually make an appearance in.
I honestly had a really hard time narrowing down pictures for this collage because there were so many beautiful images to choose from.

And, of course, no trip to Paris is complete without a ton of pictures of the Eiffel Tower:

We took a ridiculous amount of pictures of the Eiffel Tower from different locations and angles.  These were a couple of my favorite daytime images.
This was my favorite nighttime picture.  You can kind of see just how crowded and crazy it is in that area.
On the left you can see the obligatory "kissing in front of the Eiffel Tower" picture.  On the right you can see just how excited I was about visiting the Eiffel Tower.  (Okay, I wasn't just excited ... I was really drunk.  Like a bottle and a half of wine drunk.)

Earlier I mentioned that I had the best meal of the entire trip while in Paris.  That meal was at A La Petite Chaise, which is the oldest restaurant in the city.  The three course dinner included unlimited wine (which probably explains the picture on the right above).  I may have been drunk by the end of the meal, but I could still appreciate it ... And it's definitely one of my favorite memories from the trip!

Because the meal was so special, I'm sharing individual photos of the food (as opposed to a collage):

We started off with an apéritif called "Kir" which is a mixture of blackcurrant liqueur and white wine.  This alone was delicious!
I went with the very classic French onion soup for my starter.  It was perfect!
Eric's appetizer consisted of asparagus and puff pastry with a delicious saffron sauce.
My main course was duck a l'orange.  The sauce was rich and flavorful, and the duck was perfectly tender.  So amazing!
Eric had the salmon in a beurre blanc sauce, which was some of the best I've ever tasted.  It literally melted in your mouth!
I had a dark chocolate cake for dessert.  I think the creamy custard sauce made it even better!
Eric had a panna cotta topped with caramel cream sauce.  It was thick and creamy ... Really good!
They served coffee with the desserts.  If you know me in real life, you'll understand just how crazy this next statement is: This is the only coffee I drank the entire time we were in Europe.  I honestly still can't believe that!

In addition to taking a bunch of pictures of the food, we also got a few of ourselves:

We took this in our hotel room before leaving for dinner.
That picture on the bottom right shows the beginning of the end.  That bottle was gone in no time (as was a good portion of another)!

Eric also got a few really good shots of the exterior of the restaurant while he was waiting for me to get out of the bathroom.  Here's the thing about really old restaurants (or this one, at least): the bathrooms are tiny and only made for one person.  And if you're part of a tour group that just finished a large meal which included unlimited wine, chances are you'll be waiting in line for a very long time.

At least Eric was able to make good use of his time waiting for me by taking these pictures!

After dinner and some sightseeing, I really wanted some champagne.  Eric and I were initially just going to go to the top floor bar in our hotel for drinks, but after looking at the prices on the menu, we decided we should go elsewhere.  (I'm not exaggerating when I say it would have been at least 85 US dollars for two drinks ... And that was if we ordered two of the cheapest options!)

We wound up across the street at a random restaurant/bar, which actually turned out well since we managed to get a few decent pictures of the exterior of our hotel:

The original pictures of us in front of the hotel show the full name: Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile.  It got cut off when I made a collage, though.

And, of course, we got pictures of our drinks (plus an oh-so-classy shot of me drinking my champagne):

I love how awkwardly I'm sitting.  It's almost as though I'm afraid I'll fall over if I let go of the table.

The next morning we woke up (hangover free, I might add!) and continued exploring the city.  We took a bunch of touristy photos, but, since I figured I shouldn't add 300 pictures to this post, only some of my favorites are shown:

This is another postcard worthy image, if I do say so myself.
This is the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte.
This fountain was in the city center.  I thought it was gorgeous, so we had to get pictures in front of it!

This was my absolute favorite touristy picture of us:

I love that it actually looks like we're jumping pretty high.  We've still got it, even in our old age!

We spent several hours in the Louvre that day as well.  I knew it would be huge, but holy shit!  (This made me think about the part in The Dreamers when the three main characters race through the Louvre, and I kept thinking, "They were nuts!  This place is way too big to run through!")  It was like a giant maze filled with the most beautiful, amazing things in the world.  Every time we'd enter a new room, I found myself saying, "Oh my God!  Look at this!  Wow!"

We both felt like we could have spent a week going to the Louvre every day and we'd probably still miss something.  I wish there had been more time to explore, but we still managed to see a lot of really awesome things.

This picture cracks me up because it looks like it was Photoshopped.  It's not.  I did edit it a bit, but I promise I'm really standing in front of the entrance.  There was a pedestal there that I was standing on (you can kind of see it under my feet) which explains why I'm so high off the ground.
The picture on the right is from Napoleon III's apartments.  Can you imagine living in a place like that, having a dinner party at that table?  I can't!

And, of course, the top priority for us once inside the Louvre was to locate the Mona Lisa (and, of course, take a silly selfie in front of it):

I still think it's really awesome that we saw such a famous and important work of art in person!

We took a ridiculous amount of pictures inside the Louvre, but I didn't want to post all (or even most) of them since I've already shared so many from our time in Paris.  I'm still going to share one of the pictures we took on our way out, though:

I was clearly really excited about the time we spent in the museum.  Eric clearly thought I was crazy and was probably sick of selfies by that point.

After our time in the Louvre, we spent the rest of the evening shopping and making our way back to the hotel.  Since it was a decent walk, we decided to just have dinner at a random restaurant we passed on the way back.  While it definitely wasn't as good as our meal the night before, it was still pretty good.  And that view!

I hate how chubby my face looks in this picture.  Please overlook that in favor of the Arc de Triomphe in the background (and the food to the right).

Eric had a leg of duck, which was served on a bed of potatoes (bottom right).  I had a small steak in gorgonzola sauce (which was delicious!) and a side of fries (middle right).  And, of course, no French meal is complete without some bread and wine!

After dinner, we picked up a few snacks and went back to our hotel.  And, since I haven't posted the pictures of our Paris hotel room yet, I'll throw those in here as well.  (And yes, that is a bidet in the bathroom.  I wasn't brave enough to try it, but Eric said he tried it once.  When I asked him how it was he said, "I think it requires some practice to do it right.  I'd do it again."  Maybe I shouldn't have asked.)

The biggest image is the view from our room.  I wish we'd been on the other side of the hotel because those rooms had views of the Eiffel Tower, but oh well.
Our delicious after dinner snacks: a pistachio and white chocolate chip cookie, macarons, and hot chocolate.  Everything was so good!

Before I end my recap, I just have to share one last picture.  I took this from our hotel room window to remember why I will never attempt to drive in Paris:


In case you can't see it that well, there are no designated lanes on the road in that clusterfuck of a circle.  (There are also no designated lanes in the circular area surrounding the Arc de Triomphe.)  I find that terrifying!

Everyone has asked me what my favorite part of the trip was, and I honestly never know what to tell them.  I enjoyed every city we visited, and would love to spend more time in each of them.  After writing these recaps and looking through my pictures again, though, I think I'd have to say that Paris was probably my favorite city.  (It was Eric's favorite too, in case anyone was wondering.)

I'm so glad that Eric and I were able to take this trip.  It was so much fun, and I know we'd both go back in a heartbeat!  I'm really hoping we'll be able to take some sort of anniversary trip next year as well (though I know that realistically it won't be another extended vacation like this one).  A girl can dream, though!