35 Small But Important Facts I Learned In 30 Years

Unsolicited wisdom, from me to you.

35 Small But Important Facts I Learned In 30 Years - Sarrandipity

Photo: Josselyn Imhoff

I’ve seen more than my fair share of articles spouting profound realizations shared by people who just celebrated milestone birthdays. This is not that. For one, I turned 30 six months ago. (Bonus fact: Procrastination may forever be my greatest vice—I wrote this list back then, and am just getting around to posting it now.) And the wisdom I’m about to share with you probably can’t be categorized as profound…but I’ll let you make that call. Here, some of the most important facts I’ve learned in my 30 (.5) years on this here Earth.

  1. Crockpots really are magical.
  2. You can pull off leather leggings if you put your mind to it. (Same goes for boyfriend jeans; just be prepared to then want to wear them every. single. day.)
  3. Sometimes Pinterest failing is more fun than Pinterest succeeding.
  4. It’s okay to download multiple Kindle books at once, but you should probably cut yourself off around number 5. (Once you read one, though, you can buy 5 more.)
  5. Packing light is overrated.
  6. Capsule wardrobes aren’t for everyone.
  7. Neither are sky-high stilettos. Or medium-high heels, for that matter.
  8. Naps get better with age.
  9. And naps in the sun and/or on a beach are the best kind.35 Small But Important Facts I Learned in 30 Years - Sarrandipity
  10. There’s no “easy way” to clean a litter box.
  11. And the self-cleaning, fancy litter boxes are basically bullshit.
  12. Goat cheese cheddar exists, and it’s every bit as magical as it sounds.
  13. There is a delicious beer out there for those who hate beer, and it’s called Not Your Father’s Root Beer.
  14. I may never really learn about wine.
  15. I may also never learn that just because I love a shirt, doesn’t mean I need to buy it in every color.
  16. Moon cheese is a gift from God.
  17. Sometimes you just need to pass out on the couch while watching TV and let yourself stay there all night.
  18. Wake-up lights are worth every penny, but they’re not magic.
  19. It’s okay to drink champagne when you’re not at a wedding, or celebrating something. In fact, it’s encouraged.35 Small But Important Facts I Learned in 30 Years - Sarrandipity
  20. My limit for number of days in a week I can eat pizza is 5. Mexican food: 4. Cheese: unlimited.
  21. The Nordstrom anniversary sale is the best sale of the year. Period.
  22. Being among mountains never ceases to be and feel amazing.
  23. A too-short haircut is never a reason to be devastated.
  24. And when you find a good hairstylist who gets you, you should hold on to her for dear life.
  25. Not having an assigned seat on an airplane is modern travel’s version of torture.
  26. Hawaii doesn’t get the love it deserves from millennial travelers and honeymooners. It’s goddamn paradise.
  27. It’s perfectly okay to never want to advance beyond the blue squares on the ski slopes.35 Small But Important Facts I Learned in 30 Years - Sarrandipity
  28. Just because you keep your head down while swinging a golf club doesn’t mean the ball will go where you want it to.
  29. When you’re feeling down in the dumps, all you need is a cat to head butt you, purr in your face, or fall asleep in your lap to feel validated and loved and alive.
  30. Polar vortexes never get easier. Neither do humid heat waves.
  31. Candles bring happiness to every room.
  32. Self-serve froyo was one of the greatest inventions of this decade.
  33. I don’t know what to call this decade. 10s?
  34. Noodle kugel is the greatest comfort food of all time.
  35. Sometimes you set out to make a list of 30 things and end up with 35.

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Blogs to Bookmark: Personally Paleo

I’m baaaaack. Before the madness of the holidays and our Thailand honeymoon (more on that later!), I launched a Blogs to Bookmark series, featuring other bloggers and blogs I admire. Read on for the second installment, all about Personally Paleo and its founder, Katie.

Sarrandipity highlights the food & fitness blog, Personally Paleo

I met Katie, the blogger behind Personally Paleo, through the Windy City Blogger Collective. Katie, a Chicago-based blogger, had reached out to the group asking for volunteers for her new series, Core & Coffee, in which she meets up with other bloggers for a workout and a bevy of sorts. I jumped at the chance to meet someone new and get a good workout in, so we huffed and puffed through an Orange Theory class, then rewarded ourselves with wine, beer, and a good chat. (You can read all about it here.) Though it’s always a gamble going on a blind date of sorts, Katie was cool, funny, and interesting, and that experience in part inspired me to start this here series of my own. As for her blog, as not-a-Paleo-person, I was pleasantly surprised to find that her posts are relatable to pretty much anyone who likes eating, fitness, and exploring.

Sarrandipity: Describe your blog in one sentence.
Katie: Delicious, healthy Paleo and gluten-free food that work for you and your lifestyle.

S: When and why did you start your blog?
K: I started my blog in late October 2014 with [encouragement from] my family and friends. I loved trying out new recipes in the kitchen and was always sharing them. On top of that, I’d had such a great experience with paleo that I was feeding information about it all over the place. This gave me a source to streamline it.

S: How did you decide on your blog name?
K: That was one of the hardest parts. I was agonizing over it before I even had my first post finished. My boyfriend finally looked at me and said, “Do you think authors name their books before [they’re] written?” So, I started writing my first post. I realized that what I wanted to talk about was my experience with paleo. I didn’t go the super strict route but I didn’t go casual. I figured out what worked for me and wanted to encourage everyone to do the same. Every time I started to write about it I started with, “Personally, paleo…” and thus, my blog was named!

Sarrandipity highlights the food & fitness blog, Personally Paleo

S: What has been the biggest surprise you’ve faced with blogging?
K: Definitely the reach. I’ve had some readers … email me with questions or comments from as far as South Africa! It’s crazy to know that I’m reaching people that far away.

S: What’s your favorite post you’ve ever written?
K: It’s really hard to choose just one post, but I think it would have to be the first post I ever wrote, called the Name GameAs a whole, I have a lot of fun with my Core & Coffee series. It’s introduced me to new ways of fitness and I’ve met some really cool people through it.

S: What do you hope readers take away from your blog?
K: There is no one lifestyle fits all. It’s important to learn what is right for you, your body, and your life. It’s unrealistic to think you will be 100% on at all times, because sometimes life gets in the way. Do your best every day with a little give and take as needed.

There is no one lifestyle fits all. It’s important to learn what is right for you, your body, and your life.

S: Why did you decide to start following the Paleo diet?
K: I had been working out with a personal trainer and had adopted a low-fat, low-cal, low-everything lifestyle. It sucked, but I had lost 60 pounds. Unfortunately, I was still struggling with so many other things. My skin was broken out all the time, I wasn’t sleeping, I couldn’t run more than two miles without having to stop, my self-confidence still sucked, and I became a very obsessed calorie-counter. My boyfriend, Kyle, brought the idea of paleo to me. He struggled with focusing at work and had researched paleo as a homeopathic way of dealing with it. I began looking into it and read tons about experiences people had that were just like mine. Paleo worked for them and I was hoping it would work for me. We decided to try it for one month. That month came, passed, and we never looked back.

S: What’s the hardest part about Paleo?
K: I don’t think Paleo is any harder than any other dietary lifestyle. Some days you want to curl up and eat an entire box of cookies, knowing you will feel crappy afterward. People may question what you eat or why you eat certain foods because they think it is gross or weird. That’s not just paleo though; that’s life. Not everyone likes broccoli and not everyone feels good after a billion grams of sugar.

Sarrandipity highlights the food and fitness blog, Personally Paleo

S: Do you ever “fall off the wagon?” Is it hard to get back on track if you do?
K: Absolutely! It’s easy to get caught up with vacations, holidays, etc. The most important thing to remember is that one setback is not an excuse to continue on that way. If I eat a candy bar in the morning (because chocolate at 10am is totally fine), I can’t continue on my day with the philosophy of, “I already messed up, so why not?” The important part is to be okay with it and set up a plan to get back on track.

S: What’s your favorite Paleo recipe?
K: I am obsessed with breakfast food. When I was growing up, we always had quiche at family breakfasts. One of the first recipes I created was my Quiche Kathleen, which has an almond flour crust and uses coconut milk instead of heavy cream. I could eat this everyday. I also [love] brussels sprouts and bacon. I never even tried brussels sprouts until paleo, and they have quickly become my favorite.

S: What do you say to people who think Paleo is just a “fad” diet or it’s not sustainable?
K: This is always interesting to me. Paleo is just the name. My lifestyle is choosing to eliminate something from my diet that harms my body, that I can’t digest appropriately, or is highly processed. People don’t go up to vegans or to someone with a food allergy and question their avoidance of certain foods or its sustainability. Each person does what works for them. I know my body and how it tolerates certain foods and I choose to avoid eating those foods, just like others avoid eating vegetables they don’t like. As far as saying anything to them, it’s not my place to try and convince someone that what they are doing is right or wrong. If there’s a specific question, I’ll answer it, but I don’t like when people nag me about my choices so I refuse to do the same to anyone else. This is what works for me and makes me feel my best. For me, that’s what makes it sustainable.

Sarrandipity highlights the food & fitness blog, Personally Paleo

S: You’ve been trying out a lot of different fitness classes/studios with your Core & Coffee series. What’s been your favorite so far?
K: Good question. For atmosphere, SoulCycle. It’s dark in there and you really can’t see anyone except the person in front of you and the instructor, but it has an intimate and connected feel. It’s also a great place to pick up some new music. For a good-sore-the-next-day type workout, OrangeTheory. I love high intensity interval classes so much and this one was a lot of fun with the added heart rate feature.

S: What advice do you have for people who are overwhelmed by the idea of starting a new diet or fitness routine?
K: Always start off with a plan and prep for it. If you’re going to change your eating habits, then clear all the garbage out of your cupboards. If you’re going to start a fitness routine, go get a membership and sign up for a consistent class schedule. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Those 3 weeks won’t be easy. They’ll suck and you’ll probably want to give up, but it’s important to remember why you are doing this. Don’t lose sight of that. If you can, find a friend, family member or significant other [who] can make this change with you. Holding yourself accountable to someone else is a big motivator. More than anything, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether it’s a fitness instructor or an online community, there are people out there willing to help who have been exactly where you are. They’ve done it and so can you.

Catch up with Personally Paleo on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Photos courtesy of Personally Paleo

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Party For a Cause With Me at Tickled Pink for Bright Pink’s Annual Fundraiser

Join me at Tickled Pink for Bright Pink's annual fundraiser, and use my promo code for $25 off tickets.

February in Chicago pretty much sucks, and it’s admittedly the best month to hibernate and leave the house as little as possible. But this year, I’m inviting you to join me on February 19th for an awesome event that will basically be a beacon in the midst of February’s dreariness. I’m partnering with Chicago-based non-profit organization Tickled Pink for Bright Pink at their annual fundraiser as a Chicago influencer, and I think you should come, too. Proceeds from the event, which will take place at the killer venue, Morgan Manufacturing, will benefit breast cancer research. Check out the info below, use my promo code (ESTP4BP) to get $25 off your tickets, and prepare to party for a cause.

The When: Friday, February 19th from 8:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.

The Where: Morgan Manufacturing – 401 N. Morgan St

The Why: Aside from the most important reason—helping to raise funds for breast cancer research—come for the chef stations from 50 of Chicago’s best restaurants, live music, open bar, raffles, and more.

The Tickets: Get them here, and be sure to use my promo code, ESTP4BP, for $25 off.

About Tickled Pink for Bright PinkTickled Pink is a Chicago-based group of marketing, event, and design professionals driven to help those affected by breast cancer; it was started in 2004 by Jodi Fyfe, whose cousin, Carrie Kenney, lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 35. Fyfe wanted to find a new way—outside of breast cancer walks and the like—to raise money for research. In 2005, Tickled Pink Chicago threw its first fundraiser and raised $35,000 for the cause; each year, it only gets better. To date, the organization has raised more than $1,000,000. In 2013, the organization announced its partnership with Bright Pink, the only national non-profit organization focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer.

Will I see you there?


2015 Gift Guide: White Elephant Gifts That Don’t Suck

Please, think outside the nearest drugstore.

White Elephant Gifts That Don't Suck - Sarrandipity's 2015 Gift Guide

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the whole “white elephant” thing—usually because the whole buying-gifts-for-unknown-recipients means that everyone receives cheap, random tchotchkes that they’ll never use (but will collect dust and add to stressful household clutter). That said, if you’re part of a group who commits to doing the blind gifting tradition right, it can work. In my opinion, that means setting a budget of at least $15—but ideally $25—and making the effort to find cool, usable gifts rather than frantically shopping the “As Seen On TV” aisle at CVS. Here, my second-annual list of suggestions (I still stand-by the first annual round-up, too) for some quality white elephant gifts you can bring to your next exchange. (Just use your judgment: If the exchange is with your officemates and half of them are dudes, probably don’t go with the jewelry dish.)
White Elephant Gifts That Don't Suck - Sarrandipity's 2015 Gift Guide

1. Telestrations
This game is AMAZING. I recently bought it and tested it out with my (sometimes difficult-to-impress) friends at our last game night, and it was a hit. I’m obsessed.

2. Wine Glass Writers
I bought these because I have stemless wine glasses and thus can’t use the typical wine charms, but I love them more than the charms anyway. The metallic colors are pretty, they’re fun and easy to use, and three pens suffice for any number of people.

3. Umbrella Ring Dish
White Elephant Gifts That Don't Suck - Umbrella Ring Dish - Sarrandipity 2015 Gift Guide
These little trinket dishes are endlessly handy for anyone who wears jewelry (PSA: it holds more than just rings).

4. Ponytail Holders (Set of 15)
A slightly prettier, snag-free alternative to those ribbon hair ties that are everywhere (and that sadly, lose their elasticity too easily for my thick hair…).

5. Silicone Popsicle Molds
I know, I know, the listing says “For Kids.” But trust me, these things are awesome. Fill them with some mashed up fresh fruit (I highly recommend watermelon), or any other food and/or drink you want to experiment with, pop ’em in the freezer, and get some tasty treats out of it.

6. BeeSpa Hand & Foot Cream
This stuff is a dream, especially for those of us who live in cold-weather climates and have to deal with dry air and dryer skin for multiple months out of the year.

7. Country or State Slate Cheese Board

White Elephant Gifts That Don't Suck - State or Country Cheese Board - Sarrandipity 2015 Gift Guide

Go state-specific if the whole group is big on local pride, or keep it general with the USA version.

8. ‘Maison Holiday’ Petite Candle Set
Voluspa candles are my absolute favorite. They smell so good; they’re pretty much impossible to resist.

9. Wood Appetizer & Dip Tray (With Glass Bowl)
Who doesn’t need a good chip-(or appetizer)-and-dip vessel? Even non-entertainers can use it to class-up their post-work snack times.

10. 90s TV Trivia Game
May as well buy one for yourself while you’re at it because, come on.

Related Posts:
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This post contains affiliate links. You won’t pay more by using them, but Sarrandipity may receive a (very) small commission if you click on a link and purchase something. Please check out my policies for more info. 


Giveaway: A Stylish Soiree Gift Basket From Windy City Bloggers

Because who doesn’t like winning cool things?


It snowed in Chicago this morning, so allow me to counter that with some better news. This year, I’m participating in The Windy City Blogger Collective’s holiday gift basket campaign. The group, which is an awesome network of Chicago-based bloggers, is giving away five baskets, each with a different theme, like “In the Kitchen” and “Work It Out.” For my part, I was able to connect with Milk Handmade—a boutique in Andersonville that carries everything from handmade jewelry to beauty products, mainly from Chicago-based designers—who so kindly donated three delicious-smelling candles to the “A Stylish Soiree” gift basket. The basket is packed with a ton of other seriously amazing swag, listed below, so do yourself a holiday favor and try to win it (Just go down the list on the Rafflecopter to rack up as many entries as you can).

Enter to win this gift basket organized by The Windy City Blogger Collective and stuffed with goodies to help you celebrate in style and pamper your hostess this holiday season! Valued at over $500 this basket includes:

Enter Here: WCBC A Stylish Soiree Gift Basket Giveaway

You have through December 9 to enter, and winners will be announced on December 11. Fingers crossed!

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Yum: Salted Caramel Chocolate (& White Chocolate) Chip Cookies

Blogs to Bookmark: Sweaty Reviews

Introducing blogs I think you should read (aside from this one). First up: Sweaty Reviews.

Blogs to Bookmark: Sweaty Reviews - via Sarrandipity

One year into this blogging thing, I’m still working on finding my mojo, if you will. I took a long break this past spring and summer when wedding planning took over my life, but now that I’m back, I still often struggle to find the balance between working on paying gigs for other sites and working on my blog. Every week, I come up with tons of new ideas for this here blog, but most of them don’t see the light of the Internet because I end up spending all of my time on my “official” freelance work. There are only so many hours in the day, amiright? Which is why I’m perpetually amazed by other bloggers, and their abilities—even when juggling full-time jobs, families, and social lives—to produce regular, quality, entertaining content. They’re inspiring to me, and give me jolts of motivation to put more work into my own blog, so I decided to spread the love and share them with you as well via my new series, Blogs to Bookmark.

First up: Lindsey, of Sweaty Reviews. Lindsey and I actually worked together in Nordstrom’s Men’s Furnishings department way back in 2009. We recently reconnected after realizing we both write blogs with a fitness angle (ie: I occasionally cover fitness on my blog; her blog is totally fitness-centric). She even re-posted my piece on Why I Pay For SoulCycle. Lindsey and two of her friends started Sweaty Reviews this past summer to give Chicagoans the low-down on the ever-evolving fitness scene, testing out studios and classes throughout the city, while sprinkling in some much-needed tips, inspiration, and deal alerts. I asked Lindsey some questions about Sweaty Reviews, blogging, and how she stays motivated to do so many workout classes. Here’s what she had to say:

Sarrandipity: Describe your blog in one sentence.
Lindsey: Sweaty Reviews is a website dedicated to reviewing workout classes, studios, and instructors as well as discussing fitness, health, and fashion as it relates to our readers’ sweaty lifestyle.

S: When and why did you start your blog?
L: I started Sweaty Reviews in June of 2015. I had begun using ClassPass in December of 2014 and fell in love. I became ‘the girl’ to go to for the best workout classes/instructors around Chicago. I figured it was my duty to share my knowledge with all of Chicagoland’s fitness enthusiasts and not just my friends. I then grabbed some friends who were just as passionate as I was, and the rest is history!

S: What’s your “day job”? How does it affect your blog/blogging?
L: I am a project manager for an insurance company and have been since graduation. I am not going to lie, it is sometimes tough to manage a full time job, daily workout classes, a social life, blogging, and sleep! Luckily I have my partners to lean on when I don’t have time to blog. We work together as a #sweatyteam. I couldn’t do it alone.

Blogs to Bookmark: Sweaty Reviews - via Sarrandipity

S: What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in blogging?
L: Getting it off the ground. Whenever something is new it can be scary, but we just plunged full force and haven’t looked back.

S: What has been the biggest surprise?
L: The biggest surpriseis how difficult and time consuming it can be to write an article. Sometimes I spend days on an article to make sure I do all the right research, vet it with my partners, and make sure I have all the right images. It is almost like writing a college paper every time, except more fun!

S: What’s your favorite post you’ve ever written?
L: One of my favorite posts so far is my interview with Tracy Chudnow, a Flywheel instructor. I am always so frantic when running into Flywheel (with only 5 minutes to get my bike setup) that her tips on bike setup are a lifesaver.

S: What’s your ultimate goal with blogging?
L: To keep spreading my knowledge of classes, studios, and instructors, to inspire people to become healthy, and to push my readers to try new workouts.

S: What is it like running a blog with two other people?
L: It is so awesome. The two other girls I run the blog with are my best friends. We proofread for each other and take classes together. It makes the blog that much more fun. I always intended to work with others; doing this alone just doesn’t have the same allure.

S: How many fitness classes do you do each week?
L: I try to go to about six workouts a week.

Blogs to Bookmark: Sweaty Reviews - via Sarrandipity

S: Is there any fitness trend or class you won’t try?
L: No! I want to/need to try them all!

S: What’s your current favorite workout?
L: This is such a hard question! [It] really depends what I am in the mood for. I love Yoga Sculpt on Saturday, a good cardio burst like Flywheel on Fridays, and during the week I like to mix in HIIT (like Kick@55 or SWEAT Chicago) and weights (like Sculpt at Lateral Fitness or Crossfit at ChicagoFitLife).

S: What’s your advice for people who may be nervous to try a new fitness class? 
L: My best advice would be to connect with the teacher/owner of the gym. I was terrified to try Crossfit, so I came in about 10 minutes early to chat with the owner. He made me feel so comfortable and gave me some extra attention during class. Now Crossfit is one of my favorite classes! Just take it slow [and] don’t psych yourself out; every classes has people of all different fitness levels. Most importantly, working out is about YOU, so just go and do your best; there is no where to go but up!

S: Do you ever just not want to work out? How do you motivate yourself?
L: Yes, I definitely have my days. I just tell myself it is ONE hour out of my day and remind myself how good I feel after. But, I won’t lie, sometimes I do skip and get Fro-yo instead 🙂

Catch up with Sweaty Reviews on Facebook and Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Sweaty Reviews

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Inspiring Things I Heard From Michael Strahan, Tom Arnold, and More at Chicago Ideas Week

Last year, my first week of being a full-time freelancer coincided with Chicago Ideas Week, a week full of talks, interactive “labs,” and experiences that can inspire even the most cynical. I covered it for Michigan Avenue Mag online, and it was the perfect way to kick off my new career. This year, I went back for more and it was just as amazing as I remembered. I recorded a commercial voice over at the iHeart Media offices, designed my own BucketFeet shoes, met and got books signed by Beverly Johnson and Michael Strahan (I nearly died), and teared up in public listening to Kristin Spodobalski (the late Stuart Scott’s girlfriend)—and that’s only a fraction of it. I compiled some of the most inspiring things I heard throughout the week into a piece for Michigan Ave Mag (it was hard to not make the article 8,731 pages long). Check out a couple highlights below, and click through to read the rest.

Inspiring words from Michael Strahan, Beverly Johnson, Tom Arnold and more at Chicago Ideas Week

Michael Strahan during his Chicago Ideas Week Talk

Michael Strahan, NFL Hall-of-Famer and Co-Host of ABC’s Live! With Kelly & Michael

On failure…
“I’ve had a lot of failures in my life. But I don’t look at them as failures, I look at them as opportunities that did not work out the best way that I would’ve loved for them to work out, but they also were opportunities for me to learn; opportunities for me to get better.”

Beverly Johnson, Supermodel, Actress, and Author of The Face That Changed It All

On opening up about being one of Bill Cosby’s victims…
“In 2014, as most of you know, women came out and talked about Cosby drugging and raping them. And I sat there watching these women tell their stories and realized that my story was very similar to theirs. And they were telling the truth. And they were being victimized and criticized and vilified, and… I couldn’t [stay quiet]. My conscience and my principles made me write an article for Vanity Fair telling about my encounter with Cosby.”

Continue reading on Michigan Ave Mag for more quotes from Strahan, Johnson, Spodobalski, Peter Sagal, and more. 

Photo courtesy of Chicago Ideas