Is boarding school REALLY where the naughty kids are sent?

Hi friends! Welcome to my very first “Tea Break Tuesday”!

You may recall that I went to boarding school from grades 3-12.

I have noticed that when I tell people that I went to boarding school, they sometimes give me a funny look. It turns out that apparently there are some stereotypes around boarding school… the most common stereotype I have heard is that boarding school is where the naughty kids get sent! Another one I’ve heard is that boarding school is for elite rich kids.

As someone who spent a number of years at boarding school, I thought it might be interesting to share some of what that experience was like for me.

So a few basics: The school is a Christian boarding school called Rift Valley Academy (RVA), and is located in central Kenya.

Homesickness. In my school, students lived in dorms in much the same way that university students live on campus. RVA is only about an hour from Nairobi, and between away-games, weekend trips to ‘town’, and mid-term breaks, I was in Nairobi on a frequent basis. Some kids experienced homesickness, but to be honest, I never did, not even a little bit. That may also be due to the fact that when my parents divorced, school was a welcome respite from all of that. I found the culture at school to be supportive and inclusive, and not only that, but I had a great group of friends (still friends to this day!) with whom I had a strong sense of “belonging” — they were closer than sisters. Plus, I was always too busy with school, sports, and other extracurriculars to be homesick.

Weekend activities. I don’t know if other boarding schools are this way, but RVA always had activities going on every single weekend. These included sports tournaments, plays/musicals, concerts, movie nights, banquets/dances, dorm/class trips, and also planned activities for dorms and/or classes to do together. There was always something going on. I won’t say I never got bored or that I never complained (what kid can say that?), but in hindsight, there really wasn’t much to complain about!

Strict. Like a lot of private and/or religious schools, there were a lot of rules at RVA… curfew, chores, attendance at chapels during the week, attendance at church on Sundays, no kissing, no short skirts, no spaghetti straps, no drinking, no drugs, etc… and yes these rules generally make sense and I probably wouldn’t have broken them even if they didn’t exist. But hey, as kids we still managed to complain about #alltherules.

Playing sports. Every term (trimester) constituted a different sport season. I played soccer, basketball, and volleyball. Other sports included field hockey (girls only) and rugby (boys only). Since RVA is located at elevation, this meant we were usually more fit and had better endurance compared to teams in Nairobi that trained at lower elevation.

Cafeteria food. There was one cafeteria on campus that all students ate at for every meal. Age groups were separated into 3 different dining rooms (1st-6th grade, 7th-10th grade, and 11th-12th grade). Bear in mind this was decades ago, so things may have changed or been renovated since. Meals were slightly predictable and on a rotating schedule. Boy did I used to complain about the food! But in reality, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, there were meals I absolutely despise even to this day (looking at you shepherds pie!), but overall we had plenty of wholesome and healthy options. The food was all prepared on-site, so no packaged or processed foods were provided as far as I am aware.

Walking everywhere. Even without playing sports, most people there had active lifestyles. Everyone walked everywhere on campus, and there were plenty of hills (plus high elevation). The campus is spread out enough that between walking to the dorm, class, cafeteria, or elsewhere, you could easily get all your steps in for the day.

Dorm parents. Every dorm had “dorm parents” who lived in the building and took care of the students who lived there. This meant organizing weekend activities for the dorm as well as nightly group meetings for devotions. Dorms were always separated by gender and generally also by grade or age group. For example, 7th-8th grade girls lived in one dorm, while the boys lived in another. Students addressed their dormparents as “uncle” or “aunt” (in contrast, teachers were addressed as Mr., Miss, or Mrs.). Sometimes dormparents were also teachers, which was the case with our awesome junior high dormparents, Uncle John and Aunt Pattie. Uncle John also taught 9th grade biology (when I took his class, I called him Mr. Schuit). Side note, I LOVED that class – it was one of my favorites in all of high school, and it was because of his class that I decided to major in biology in college. 🙂 Another side note, Uncle John and Aunt Pattie also came to my wedding reception 🙂

TV? Internet? I’m not sure how it is nowadays with the advent of smartphones and streaming, but back in “my day”, there was little to no TV of any kind, and no internet access. We sometimes watched movies with our dorm or class, but not much else besides that. And as far as internet, no one had computers or even smartphones. If we wanted to send emails, we had to go to the computer lab. I’m sure that things have changed now that every kid probably has a smartphone and laptop.

Roommates. Similar to university life, we always had roommates (usually 2-4 per room depending on the room size). We usually chose who we wanted to room with for the term, and my group of friends pretty much always stuck together. One time in 3rd grade, a bunch of us snuck out of our rooms after lights-out and decided to hang out in the bathroom (such rebels). I don’t know what we were doing, but probably just being mischievous, staying up past when we were supposed to. Our dormparents heard us whispering and giggling, and when I poked my head around the corner to see if they were still there, they saw me and had us get right back into bed! Another time in junior high, my friend Kristi got mad at me because she could hear the skittles in my mouth — I had a thing for skittles while doing homework — so she went and did her homework somewhere else. After that I always made sure to enjoy my skittles quietly. 🙂  Kristi and I are still friends to this day… she’s the blond one in this photo. When I went to college, the adjustment to dorm life and roommates was pretty seamless, probably because I had similar experiences growing up.

Scenery. I mentioned earlier that RVA is on one of the rift valley’s escarpments. The views were always incredible. Mount Longonot was in clear view, and we had the most unbelievable sunsets. Sometimes my friends and I would go for walks or sit on one of the fields that overlooks the valley and just hang out. I miss that view a lot!

There’s a lot more to say, but I’ll save that for another day. I loved my boarding school experience and would not change anything about it. Those were some pretty awesome years.

Know anyone who went to boarding school? What was your school like? 

Advertisements

Discussion: What the health? Should sicker people pay higher premiums? 

Around 12 years ago, when we lived in Houston, we were out to dinner with some friends.

Over the course of dinner, we had a lively and interesting discussion about healthcare. Talk of health insurance was all over the national media, and as many of our friends are health professionals, there were a lot of opinions.

I can’t remember exactly how the conversation went, but at some point, our one friend Mike (not his real name) said that he was firmly and adamantly against universal healthcare.

Mike went on to say that healthcare premiums should be based on the person’s health status… that healthy people should pay less than “unhealthy” people.

His perspective was that healthy people aren’t a huge burden to the system, and therefore shouldn’t have to pay as much as their sicker counterparts.

Mike also felt that incentivizing healthcare by offering lower premiums to those who are healthy would encourage everyone to do things like exercise, avoid excessive drinking, smoking, etc.

Our other friend James (not his real name either) was in complete disagreement with Mike.

James argued that it would be unfair to expect the sickest people to pay the highest insurance premiums. After all, these individuals are also most likely to be too sick to work or generate income.

Listening to Mike and James go back and forth was interesting and thought-provoking. I realized then that there were good points to be made for both.

I would love for you all to share your perspectives on this topic. There are no right or wrong answers! 🙂

Are you Team Mike or Team James? 

Half Marathon Training – Week Recap

In keeping with my plan to write daily on a specific topic, in today’s “Sunday Runday,” I am recapping my week of training!

I have mentioned that I run most mornings. Usually, this means running Mon-Fri. I’m usually pretty good about that, but this week was just “meh”, training-wise. As you’ll see, I started off strong, but couldn’t keep up the momentum.

Summary:

  • Monday. 12×400. 7 miles total.
  • Tuesday. 7 miles easy.
  • Wednesday. 4×1600. 7 miles total.
  • Thursday. 0 miles.
  • Friday. 0 miles.
  • Saturday. Planned rest day.
  • Sunday. Planned rest day.
  • Total mileage: 21 miles

Details:

  • Monday.
    • Workout: 1 mile warmup, 12×400 with 400m recovery, 1 mile cooldown. 7 miles total.
    • What is a 400m workout? Here is a nice description of 400m workouts. …Essentially, you’re running fast for 400 meters (.25 mile), then allowing yourself to recover by jogging slowly. And repeat! 10×400 means you ran 10 sprints.
    • The original workout was actually 10×400, but I felt so good by the time I completed, that I did an extra 2 repeats.
    • I did this workout on a treadmill.
    • 400’s are my absolute favorite running workout. I love feeling strong and fast.
    • My last 3 repeats were the speediest I have EVER consecutively run 400 meters.
  • Tuesday. 
    • Workout: 7 miles easy.
    • Easy running can sometimes feel boring, but this time I was struggling. My legs were tired from Monday’s speed workout. I kept wanting to quit.
    • I finally loosened up around mile 3 or 4, then the rest of the run was fine.
  • Wednesday.
    • Workout: 1 mile warmup, 4×1600 with 400m recovery, 1 mile cooldown. 7 miles total.
    • I find mile repeats intimidating. I doubted myself from the very first repeat, and wondered if I should just call it off and run easy. It was clearly all in my head because I managed to stick with it and complete all 4 repeats.
  • Thursday.
    • No workout.
    • I always have a harder time sleeping when Joel travels, and this was no exception. I tossed and turned all night.
    • When I woke up on Thursday morning, I did not feel rested in the slightest. I opted to skip my run and catch up on some needed sleep.
  • Friday. 
    • No workout.
    • I had planned on 10 miles, but had another sleepless night, so chose to skip it.
  • Saturday. 
    • Planned rest day (no workout).
    • I used to do my long runs on Saturdays. The hours of running, rolling, and stretching didn’t leave much flexibility for other daytime activities. Recently, I have been focusing on family and friend time on weekends.
    • I love having my Saturdays back.
  • Sunday. Planned rest day.
    • Planned rest day (no workout).
    • Another day of no running around here. 🙂

Overall, I’d say this week was mediocre. I ran a total of 21 miles, comprising 2 decent workouts and an easy run. I should be in the mid-30’s mileage-wise, so I can’t say I’m thrilled with how the week went.

That said, I’ve learned the hard way that running without proper rest can lead to injury and burnout. So I am comfortable with the decision to skip my runs on Thursday and Friday.

Do you run? What is your favorite workout?

Ideas for blog topics & themes, and my plan for posting

In thinking about my little blogging corner of the internet, I thought it would be good to plan a writing schedule for myself. I’m at my best when I establish (and stick to) a daily routine.

The idea is to have topics in rotation that will inspire content that is both fresh and varied, while also staying relevant to a particular theme.

As I started to create a bank of ideas for topics and themes… and in doing so, I realized that coming up with viable ideas can be tough.

After all, I want topics to be simultaneously: (1) interesting, fun, or thought-provoking to me, (2) interesting, fun, or thought-provoking to readers, (3) broad enough that I won’t run out of things to say right off the bat, and (4) focused enough that I’d have some framework to work with.

Kind of a tall order.

After a bit of time and a lot of thought, I generated a list of themes, which I have divided by day as well as by month. These are listed below.

Having a couple different themes to choose from on any given day day will be helpful, in case I don’t have anything new or interesting to say about one of the topics. I don’t anticipate hitting a writer’s block anytime soon (then again, who does), but doesn’t hurt to build in a fail-safe or two.

*The general plan is to publish one post each day* 

Mondays: You’ll either see a post about a memory or a discussion.

  • Memory Monday. I have a lot of memories knocking around in this head, and I’d love to share them with you. Stuff like: The time I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. My little brother falling off the top of a building. Me killing a rabbit with my bike. My friend eating bowl full of fried ants. My sister and I getting terrorized by the hockey-puck-sized spiders at my grandmother’s farm. And more.
  • Discussion Monday. This is where we as a community get to engage in what I hope will be lively discourse on a given topic. Here’s one: if you had the chance, would you delete someone from your life or memory? Share your thoughts and opinions! All perspectives are welcome.

Tuesdays: You’ll either see a post giving tips or a “tea chat” post.

Wednesdays: You’ll either see a post about a “what if” scenario, or a ramble.

  • What if Wednesday. I love to think outside the box, and I’m super excited to exercise my creativity muscles. I’m already working on my first “What if Wednesday” post about time travel! ooOOoOOoo
  • Wednesday Rambles. Ramble posts will be exactly what they sound like… rambling! Here’s an example, a post about friendships I’ve made in my life.

Thursdays: You’ll either see a post about my thoughts or a post of reasons.

  • Thursday Thoughts. This one is self-explanatory – just posts about my thoughts! Here’s an example of what that looks like… a post about rain, written on a rainy day.
  • Reason Thursday. I think it would be cool to write about reasons for making (or not making) decisions. For example, I have plans to write up my reasons for getting a PhD, as well as my major reasons for being a long distance runner. Stay tuned!

Fridays: You’ll see a post about my favorites or a review.

  • Friday Faves. I’m very picky, but when I find something I love, I stick to it like glue. Here is one of my first posts on my favorites. It’s a pretty random collection of things that I genuinely love!
  • Friday Review. I love to throw in my 2 cents on everything from technology to makeup products and everything else. I’m excited to write thoughtful and honest reviews every now and then. My first review is on the Saltaire restaurant in Port Chester, New York – we went there for our date night last week 🙂

Saturdays: You’ll see a post showing “what’s in my___” , or just a brief story.

  • Saturday What’s in My. I like the idea of sharing various “what’s in my” posts. Such as what’s in my… bag, desk, fridge, pantry, pocket, recent calls list, notebook, playlist, netflix queue, wishlist, etc.
  • Story Saturday. Another theme I’m interested to write on is “stories.” This is where I share a story or poem that I have written. Or excerpts thereof. Here is a poem I wrote, called The Knight’s Rose. I find creative writing to be an incredibly vulnerable process. This is probably why “Story Saturday” is the theme that I am most intimidated and excited by.

Sundays: You’ll see a post about my running, or a rundown of the week.

  • Sunday Runday. This is a running-centric theme. I will recap my weekly miles in preparation for my upcoming half marathon, share thoughts on running, and maybe even tell you about marathons or other races I have completed.
  • Sunday Rundown. Other Sunday posts you’ll see are rundown posts where I do a “catchup” of the week, and tell you anything exciting (or not) that happened during the week. 🙂

That’s the plan… one post per day!

As far as monthly…

You will see each of the following once a month:

  • Reader spotlight. I highlight one of YOU and your accomplishments, your blog, your product, etc. The first installment is coming up in the first week of October. You can nominate anyone (even yourself) in a comment. I’m excited to showcase YOUR talent!
  • Tag. Admittedly I am new to the tagging game. I don’t even know what tags are out there (clearly I have some research to do)… but please tag me in the ones you’re interested in!

Also, every now and then, I’ll do a giveaway 🙂 

  • I’m working on my first giveaway right now, so stay tuned!

Friday Review: Saltaire Restaurant in Port Chester NY

Last week, our date night adventures took us to Port Chester, New York. We have been to Port Chester several times over the years because my brother used to live there. He and his wife gave us a gift card to one of their favorite places, a restaurant called Saltaire.

wp-image-109928700

We timed the drive perfectly to miss traffic and the dinner rush. Thus, it only took an hour to get there, and we found street parking right in front of the restaurant. We had a reservation, but since it was pretty early when we arrived (5pm ish) the place was fairly empty. It filled up quickly over the course of our meal.

The atmosphere is what I would describe as a rustic nautical chic. Lots of exposed brick, wood beams, and refreshing water-themed wall art, like nautical maps and photographs of sailboats.

wp-image-957576984

Our server was very knowledgeable and attentive – the most “on it” server we have had in a long while. The whiskeys looked good so we both opted for neat glasses instead of going with a wine or beer like we normally would.

The food was incredible – check out the amazing menu.

wp-image-157573192

Joel had the tomato soup and I had clam chowder – yum. I love clam chowder. He also ordered oysters, but I’m not a fan so I passed on those (something about the texture does not float my boat). We both had the halibut special for our meals. So good! And dessert consisted of vanilla gelato for Joel and hot tea for me. Perfection! We couldn’t have been happier with it all.

wp-image-1064907818

Oh and another thing. This is a little on the random side, but I appreciated that the music wasn’t overwhelmingly loud. I never felt like I was yelling or straining to hear Joel. It was easy to have a conversation, and that made the experience enjoyable for us. It’s possible that as the night progresses, the music volume increases (as is the case with most places we’ve gone), but we didn’t have any issues with that.

We were seated at a table near a window, and I felt a bit of a draft. I assumed it was coming through the window, but it could also have been a vent. I was a little cold, which is partly why I went for hot tea with dessert. I was wearing a dress and had bare legs, oops. Seeing as it is September in New England, the temperatures have started to feel more fall-like. I probably should have worn trousers, or at the very least some nylons. I suppose I’m still in denial that summer is over.

One of my favorite things about this particular evening was that over dinner, Joel and I got to discuss some cool ideas that he has. He’s been thinking about the possibility of starting his own business. It was fun to think of all the “could be’s” and toss around some ideas. Who knows if they will come to fruition, but it was fun to talk about! The combination of great conversation, delicious food, and smooth whiskey made this a perfect evening.

We loved the Saltaire experience and would gladly go back. The only two downsides for us are that (1) it is an hour away from where we live, and (2) it’s fairly pricey. But, we drive past Port Chester whenever we head to NYC, so it would be pretty easy to stop in for lunch or something on the way.

Ever been to Saltaire? Do you like oysters? What about whiskey?

13 tips: How to be a 5 star SuperHost on Airbnb!

Joel and I have hosted over 100 airbnb “trips” in our home. We reached “superhost” status within just a couple months of starting. To date, we have a 97% 5-star track record. Not bad, right?

Sure, we had our share of hiccups and made our share of mistakes along the way. But we have learned to adjust and course-correct. We want the experience to be a good one for anyone who enters our home.

For anyone thinking about hosting on airbnb, here are some tips we picked up along the way… I hope this helps to make your experience as a host as awesome as ours!

  1. Photos. You should have at least one good photo of any space the guest has access to. I like to have multiple different angles so that guests can get a sense of the space. If you have free photography through airbnb in your area, you should do that. We didn’t have that option, so all our photos were shot on my phone. It was fine. It’s also good for hosts to have at least one photo and a brief description of themselves on their profile, so that guests can get a sense of who you are. Another thing: we didn’t originally list a photo of the front of the house… but changed this after a guest mistakenly ended up at our neighbor’s house. Adding a photo of the front of the house helped guests to locate us easier, and avoided annoying the neighbors with unexpected knocks.
  2. Listing. Be honest, succinct, and direct. Describe, but do not oversell your listing. It is better to under-sell and over-deliver! This lets your guests be pleasantly surprised during their stay.
  3. Pricing. Check out other local listings to get a sense of what price range makes sense for your area. We under-priced our space at the beginning, but were able to increase the price as we got good reviews under our belts. I also sent messages to local hosts to ask for their advice on pricing, how often they host, whether they notice a dip in bookings during certain seasons, etc. We got great advice and the bonus of getting to know other hosts.
  4. Keyless lock. We love our keyless lock. We ordered this Schlage lock from Amazon, and also this Wink hub (they work together) which allows us to easily create and delete codes from our phones. They are a pricey investment, but paid for themselves in no time. Each guest has a unique code which I delete as soon as they check out. Guests like the convenience of checking themselves in, and we like that we aren’t handing out keys (which can easily get lost or copied).
  5. Cleaning and laundry. We saw a pretty big increase in the amount of cleaning and laundry we were doing. There is no way around this, especially if you plan to host frequent and/or short trips. It’s a lot of work. But after a while, you get the routine down, and it all goes much faster. We prefer white sheets and towels so that we can bleach them.
  6. Signs! Having clear signs can go a long way to avoid issues. For example, our house has a delicate and expensive septic system, and we don’t want people flushing things like tampons. This can cause plumbing issues which are no fun for anyone. I made a polite sign to this effect and put it in the bathroom to serve as a gentle reminder. I also provided small plastic bags (super cheap doggy bags from any pet store) so that guests could place sanitary items in them before disposing in the bin.
  7. Establish contact with guests. Guests appreciate when hosts are responsive and available. Before guests arrive, I send a welcome message thanking them for choosing us. I also provide them with all details for their trip (eg, our address, house rules, their passcode for the door, etc). I also check in with them frequently during their stay to make sure they have everything they need. This also gives us the opportunity to address any issues asap, rather than getting ding’d in a bad review later.
  8. Additional amenities. We don’t provide access to our kitchen, but some guests have asked to store leftovers in our fridge, heat up dinner in our microwave, or brew a pot in our coffee-maker. After a few of these requests, we decided to spring for a mini-fridge, microwave, and small coffee-maker for the room. It didn’t cost much (craigslist y’all) and guests really appreciated it.
  9. Be part of the greater airbnb community. The airbnb community center is a great place to get connected with other hosts and learn from others’ experiences and/or mistakes. This will help you on your quest to become a superhost and maintain superhost status, because you can learn what works or doesn’t work for other hosts. You can also help support other hosts by sharing your own experiences. This can also be a way to get connected with hosts near you, and potentially establish relationships with people who might become co-hosts for your listing.
  10. Always, write that review. After guests checked out, I always wrote an honest review. When you complete the review, the guest gets prompted to review you in return, and can only read your review of them after they have written one for you. Getting reviews (good ones) helps to establish you as a host and add to your credibility. Plus, superhosts have to maintain a certain proportion of reviews AND a certain proportion of actual 5 star reviews. So it’s in your best interest to not only get reviewed, but to get favorably reviewed.
  11. Going the extra mile doesn’t have to be hard. I get huge bags of chocolate kisses for like $5 and keep a bowl stocked. I also use the airbnb app to send messages to guests each day, to check in, and also to ask if they need anything. It’s better to address those requests (e.g., an extra towel/blanket, or more toilet paper, etc) rather than get dinged for them later in a bad review. Also, during the summer, we sometimes have a fire in the backyard, and usually invite guests to enjoy it with us. We’ve had some really great conversations with people from all kinds of backgrounds. Another thing that guests seem to like is a list of things to do nearby. I include recommendations of our favorite eateries, museums, and hikes. It’s easy to print this out so that guests can take it with them if they want. Simple!
  12. Hang on to receipts. This one isn’t about becoming a superhost per se, but it’s a good practice to establish for yourself. Make sure to hang on to all receipts of anything you buy for the rooms! Come tax season, you’ll be able to write it all off.
  13. Don’t sweat the little things. Know that not everything is going to be perfect 100% of the time. Guests will be late checking in on account of delayed flights or traffic. People will forget to take their shoes off. There might be a weird odor lingering in the room when someone leaves. None of this signals the end of the world. There will be a few bumps in the road, but that doesn’t mean the ride can’t still be pleasant.

For us, hosting has been a positive experience. The obvious upside is the extra income, but we have also met some pretty awesome people that we would never have crossed paths with otherwise. Granted, there have been a couple weirdos too, but overall everyone is great. Anyway, there is more I could say about the experience of hosting, but let’s leave it at that for today.

Any tips to add? Have you ever been an airbnb host, or an airbnb guest? 

A few of my favorite things!

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite things! It’s a random collection of things that I genuinely LOVE.

Oiselle Mac Roga shorts. I’ve mentioned before that I have run 2 marathons. I run almost every day, distances between 6-12 miles depending on the day. These Mac Roga shorts by Oiselle have been my favorite running shorts for a couple years. I own multiple pairs in several different colors. They are comfortable, flattering, and yes, short. I prefer short shorts as there is less fabric to cause chafing problems. Also, when they are short, they don’t do that horrible “riding up” thing in the crotch. They don’t go see-through when wet, which I appreciate. You can tell when the lighter colors are wet/sweaty, so if you don’t like that, stick to darker colors. Oiselle also makes longer versions, like the Roga and Long Roga. I own 2 pairs of the Rogas, which are awesome for casual days.

Jaybird Freedom bluetooth earbuds. I have used bluetooth earbuds for several years, and my favorites so far have been the Freedoms from Jaybird. There is a Jaybird app that allows me to control features like bass, treble, etc. The sound is crystal clear! I always amp up the bass. 🙂 There are also lots of Jaybird playlists that I can access in the app (it links to my spotify). I use them for running mostly, but sometimes I also use them when I’m doing chores around the house. Something to note though…I have owned several pairs of bluetooth earbuds, but none have lasted longer than a year. If my Freedoms last longer than that, I will be even more impressed.

Replica Lazy Sunday Morning perfume. I discovered this perfume about a year ago when I received a free tester from Sephora. I couldn’t believe how beautiful this scent was — simultaneously fresh and gourmand. It never feels heavy or “too much.” I love it during the warmer months. It was definitely my go-to summer perfume this year. I got many compliments while wearing it, which made me feel good lol. One guy asked me what perfume I was wearing because he liked it so much that he wanted to buy the same for his girlfriend lol! It’s pricey, but I happily purchased a big bottle because I love it so much.

Roomba vacuum cleaners. We got our first roomba 6 months ago (we now have 2 of the same model), and I can honestly say I wish I had gotten them years ago. It’s crazy how much dust they pick up, even in rooms that look totally “clean”. When we first got them, I realized that they sometimes choke on computer cables or phone cords if left lying around, and they don’t do well with random socks that are left on the floor. We now store any cables/cords off the floor, and make sure to pick up our socks, and voila, no issues! The roombas have smart sensors, which means they won’t throw themselves off the stairs. One of my favorite things is that can easily navigate under beds and dressers, no more dust bunnies!

Birkenstock sandals. When Birks came back onto the scene several years ago, I didn’t get it. And now here I am, not only wearing them nearly every day, but thoroughly loving them. They give me enough support that I can walk for miles in them with no discomfort. I have had this black pair for several years now, and they just get more comfortable with time. Maybe next summer I will get a pair of these to add to the collection.

Craigslist. I mentioned before that some of our antique furniture was purchased on Craigslist. It is a great way to find amazing deals on pretty much anything. We have sold a few things on Craigslist too, like our old loveseat, a mini fridge, a guitar, and a microwave. Of course you have to exercise caution and be willing to sift through some not-so-great things in order to find the treasures when buying secondhand, but we’ve had some awesome experiences with Craigslist.

Uniball Retractable Gel pens. Another random thing… but these are my favorite pens. Like most people who work in front of a computer, I type more than I write on paper. However, when I need to take notes on paper or write in my journal, these pens are my go-to. They just check all the boxes. I bought a box of 12 on Amazon! Even though I have a giant mug full of random pens that I’ve accumulated, these ones are now the only pens I reach for.

Dutch Blitz. I mentioned before that Joel and I love game nights. One of our favorite games to play is Dutch Blitz! This is a card game of speed and counting! It’s easy to learn and so fun to play. Four people can play with the original set of cards, but there are extender sets too which allow for up to 8 people (the game gets crazy with that many people though). My friends and I used to play this when we were kids, so it brings back all kinds of fuzzy memories. We got our set from Amazon and have brought it out on game nights with our friends – they liked it so much that they bought it too!

These are just a few things I sincerely and truly love. It’s a pretty random list, right? 🙂 But there ya go!

Got any favorites of your own to add to the mix?