Lauren Lately | February 2017

Posted February 16, 2017 / Features, Lauren Lately, Wrap-Ups / 8 Comments

header-llBecause my Bookmark Lit Bulletin wrap-ups got out of hand, I wanted to break up my monthly wrap-ups into two posts: one personal and one bookish/bloggy. I created Lauren Lately here to highlight all of the personal happenings in my life: events, activities, shows I’m addicted to, things I’m obsessing over, recipes I’ve loved, and goals for the next month. I decided to space them out so this wrap-up happens around the mid-point of the month and the bookish one happens at the end of the month.

✨ Check out my most recent bookish and bloggy wrap-up HERE ✨



More hiking | It was 50 degrees a few weeks ago, so we went on a nice hike in one of our new favorite spots. There are so many different trails throughout, so you can really choose how long you want to be out there. The weather was perfect and I was able to try out my new Vans All-Weather MTEs. So good!


Busy weekends… | The last weekend of January was a busy one! We went hiking and had all-you-can-eat sushi for Chris’s dad’s birthday on Saturday. It was a mess at the end of the night because LONG story short: they left the car key at home when we drove an hour and a half away, so Chris’s uncle had to drive us home at the end of the night. Sunday, our LUG and the New England Lego Users Group got together for a display at the Railroad Hobby Show on the Big E fairgrounds at the end of January. We went over there and helped out for most of the day, then relaxed at home with the Pro Bowl and Shameless.


…and Lazy weekends | The following weekend was a low-key one, which was a nice change. We went out to Korean BBQ with some friends and then grabbed smoothies for dessert. The rest of the weekend, we were basically lumps on the couch. If you ask me, it was well-deserved! We went skiing in the middle of the week, when we’d usually be lazy lumps, so I felt good about switching up our “schedule.” We felt productive during the week, so we allowed laziness on the weekend. It was a nice trade-off!


SNOW THINGS | We got a shitton of snow on the 9th. Chris and I didn’t leave our apartment for the entire day because it was impossible to travel. I had to work from home for most of the day, but I was able to be productive in house-related ways too. I did laundry and dishes, plus got a chuck roast in the crockpot for dinner. The only bad part was digging Chris’s car out. They say we only got 9 inches but we live on the border of a different town that got 14 inches, plus we’re on top of a mountain. I think we got over a foot of snow. We watched shows, had a lot of good food/snacks, and relaxed. It led to some great ski conditions over the weekend too! I finally was successful on the trails instead of just the bunny hill too. I went up to Mass for a coworker’s surprise birthday party on Sunday and had a fun, rap-music-filled carpool with my boss and her boyfriend. (The coworker whose birthday it was is my boss’s dad and he’s a sweet grandpa-type guy.)


Valentine’s Day | In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, I got Chris tickets to see Book of Mormon in Hartford for Christmas, and the show date was Valentine’s Day. We decided to get dinner in the city before heading to the show and it was a lot of fun! We went to this restaurant my boss suggested – Republic at the Linden – and it was way fancier than we wanted lol. The food was pretty good but we split two appetizers because we really couldn’t understand half of the names! The show itself was unreal – so, so hilarious! I want to go see it again already.


TV Shows

shameless jeremy allen white lip gallagher

Shameless | UGH THIS SHOW IS TOO PERFECT. I mean, this family is terrible but you can’t help but root for them and/or love them most of the time. Lip is my favorite and honestly I have such a huge crush on him I just can’t talk about it. We put Unfortunate Events on the back-burner once we got going on Shameless. Seriously, too good and too addicting to EVER STOP. If Chris and I weren’t watching together, I would be halfway done by now. I obsess over it constantly and need to get off Tumblr before I spoil myself even more.

NETFLIX neil patrick harris parenting nph a series of unfortunate events

A Series of Unfortunate Events | I loved these books, reread them last year, and eagerly awaited this show on Netflix for 2017. I have to say, it really did not disappoint. I think NPH did a good job with Olaf. I think he was sillier at times than I wanted, but overall very good. I also think it’s weird that they changed the story around from the book (at least from what I can tell so far…). We’ll see what happens!

The Mick kaitlin olson themick themickfox snitch

The Mick | I don’t know if I’ve talked about this before, but we’re really enjoying this one! I like Kaitlin Olson from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so it was a no-brainer we’d watch this show too. It’s a lot of fun and way funnier than expected. The kids are crazy and they all get into the WEIRDEST stuff together.


trailer rogue one felicity jones rogue one a star wars story rebellions are built on hope

Rogue One | Yesss we finally saw Rogue One! I got my dad tickets for Christmas (well, essentially coupons for tickets because we didn’t pick a showtime) and we went at the end of January. It was SO GOOD. I was surprised by the ending but then I realized it made sense because View Spoiler » We had some annoying talkers in the movie theater but I shhh’ed them enough to enjoy it 😉


Image result for finding tammy jo Image result for accused podcast Image result for up and vanished podcast

Finding Tammy Jo podcast | I blazed through this short podcast in two days. It’s technically over for now, but they will and do have update episodes if information comes out. I liked this one because it introduced interesting topics to the true crime arena for me. I won’t spoil anything, but everything about missing person reports was fascinating… they make a huge difference in finding people!

Accused podcast | I also went a little crazy with Accused over the last month. Both of these podcasts involve cold cases from the late 70’s where young women were killed with no real prospects for who the murderer was. I love the way Accused is set up. The delivery of information is well-done and there are SO many pieces of the puzzle that keep me listening even when I should be working (i.e. lots of theories!).

Up and Vanished | Right after Accused, I moved on immediately to Up and Vanished. GAH. I have never been legitimately creeped out or scared while listening to a true crime podcast until this one. The music and some of the voices (his friend comes on and does a pretty creepy voice to explain character bios/backgrounds) totally freak me out. I can’t listen to this one while I’m in the shower or at night because I’m afraid I’ll be kidnapped or murdered or something crazy. SO GOOD THOUGH. The production on this one is top-notch.


Have a Good Day Playlist | I’m not a huge music listener and never actively look for more, new music. This is one of my go-to playlists when I really do want to have a good day. Sometimes I even make a playlist radio from it to get more feel-good songs. Everything is so upbeat and/or nostalgic.

High School Class of 2007 Playlist | So even though I’m not big into new music, I only like nostaglic songs from high school or even younger, plus classic rock. These playlists that bring me back to the high school days are my FAVORITE. I like this one a lot even though I was class of 2009 😉


Food & Drink

Crispy Ranch Chicken four-half-stars I found this recipe on Pinterest really quickly when I was looking for something super easy for dinner. It’s from the Hidden Valley website – my favorite ranch dressing, my favorite thing ever basically – so I was drawn to it right away. You mix together some mayo (maybe you could substitute in yogurt to be healthier) and ranch dressing mix. Coat the chicken in the ranch/mayo mix, then cover it in the breadcrumbs. It’s sooooo tasty and easy.

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup two-half-stars Damn Delicious is one of my favorite food blogs and often a go-to for meal inspiration. I’ve been wanting to make more soups in the crockpot and this recipe for some classic Chicken Noodle Soup was a must-try for me. I didn’t use all the exact spices because I’m too cheap to buy them, but I ended up using some “variety spice” thing and Italian Spice/Seasoning to do the job. We put in too many noodles so it soaked it up too much and it definitely needed more flavor. Not terrible for the first night, but the leftovers were too mushy to eat.

Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili three-stars I was in the mood for butternut squash AND had ground turkey hanging around, so I went to town on this recipe from Pinterest. I usually make regular beef or turkey chili, but I’ve been looking for a still-wintery variety. I’m lazy with squash because I don’t want to chop it or anything so I get the pre-cut kind from the grocery store. It turned out pretty good! It was more liquidy and didn’t feel like chili though; I kept checking the recipe to make sure I used enough of the thicker ingredients. Good flavor but I’m not sure I’d make it again.

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken four-stars I love making some kind of shredded chicken in the crockpot because the applications are endless. I use the chicken for tacos, quesadillas, and salads because it makes a good amount. I liked this new version a lot because I don’t use salsa verde nearly enough. It was something different! I also added cut up cubanelle peppers because I wasn’t going to use them in a different recipe I purchased them for. It added a little extra something to it.


Do It All Planner | I recently bought yet another planner (this time on sale for $7 at Barnes & Noble AND I used a gift card). It’s been working well so far! It’s basic in its setup, for the most part. It has months, weeks, notes, and to-do list sections. I love the weekly layout because each day is broken into 6 boxes. One box (at the top of the day) is long, while the other five are smaller. You can’t really tell from the photo but I basically use the boxes, in order, like this: the large box is my daily to-do list. The small boxes are morning, work, lunch break, afternoon/night, and “today” (for notes on birthdays or other all-day events happening). This gets adjusted a little on the weekend because I don’t have work or lunch breaks. I split it out based on what I may be doing on the weekend during certain times of days: to-do, breakfast, lunch, dinner, night, and “today.” It works well because it breaks the day into multiple parts where I’m more likely to book meals with friends or do something with Chris. I’ll be posting more about this later, but this is a basic recap of my new planner and how I use it!

Evol Frozen Meals | I’m always looking for healthier meals for work that require minimal effort. I usually eat leftovers, but I like to give Chris precedence on those because I have freer lunch breaks to buy things if needed. Lindsay had mentioned the Evol brand before in our group chat but I never really ventured out to try it. Big mistake. This shit is so delicious! The thing I hate about frozen meals usually is that they always taste like frozen meals. Lean Cuisines and the like don’t do it for me. These meals never taste frozen; they taste fresh and delicious. Pictured are the Korean-style beef tacos with kimchi and sriracha. Can you believe these were frozen?! UGH SO GOOD. I started with the gouda mac and cheese and then immediately bought more meals. These are my new go-to for work. They hold up well after a few hours in the fridge instead of the freezer (from when I get to work until lunchtime) because we don’t have a freezer at work. They’re really good for you too, if you check out their website linked above. I haven’t seen any over 400ish calories, which is a good hearty lunch of mac and cheese or butternut squash lasagna. These tacos are around 250, so you could even eat two kinds at once. There are usually coupons because they’re slightly pricy (I got these on sale at Target for $3.50 or less depending on the type of meal), but so worth it! Better than eating out for lunch.

Around the Blogosphere

Best True Crime Podcasts in 2017 {Dear Crissy} I recently followed the Accused podcast on Twitter because I was so addicted in January. I saw they linked over to Crissy’s blog, where she included them a list in True Crime podcasts to check out. I immediately bookmarked it because apparently these are the only podcasts I listen to.

To My Friends Asking Questions About the March {The Daily Tay} I’m a big fan of Taylor’s blog because she finds a way to bring humor to all kinds of situations, from boring daily activities to really important things. I went to a party the night of the Women’s March(es) and heard people asking what the point was. Of course, a few of those people supported Tr*mp so I can see why they asked… but I think there are many non-Tr*mp supporters that have resigned themselves to THIS reality that he’s created and don’t get the point of the protests. I liked Taylor’s summary of why we march and why people won’t give up.

Women’s March: Book Recs to Continue the Conversation {Llady Literary} Can you tell how empowered I feel after the Women’s March weekend? I usually get very annoyed when Bloglovin slips a post of someone I don’t follow into my feed/reader, but this one made me so happy. It shared some feminist books to keep the momentum going and keep learning about why we have to keep fighting for what we deserve.

If You’re Going to Read Just One… {Not Entirely Perfect} I love Stephanie’s book recs here! They cover a variety of self-help topics I’ve been interested in. I have to say, I added each book to my TBR. She recommends them based on the premise “if you’re going to read just one book about [insert topic here], read this one.” She also did a part two that you can check out as well.

The Best Flowchart EVER For Book Bloggers {Books Bones & Buffy} This is another post that appeared randomly in my Bloglovin frame, but I’m not complaining. I love this flowchart! It shares all of the major publishers and their imprints, so you can track where books came from. I always google this when putting together reviews, so this is extremely helpful.

The Art of the Binge {Girl in the Pages} I love this post by Cristina because it perfectly reflects my feelings on series binges. I always WANT to do them – and used to do them quite a bit before blogging – but I never make time now. I’m too focused on reading things with “due dates” and always having the next ten books picked out. I’d love to focus on binge-reading some series over the next couple of years.


Since Last Time…

1. Finish cleaning my closet and desk; pare down everything | MOSTLY PASS I did finish cleaning out my closet, as well as my underwear and sock drawers (lol). I wanted to finish filling that one last garbage bag and then drop it off at the donation bin (don’t worry, not my underwear). I did an okay job of cleaning off my desk, but the rest of my apartment hasn’t been touched quite yet…

2. Develop a cleaning schedule and stick to it | MOSTLY PASS So… we have a schedule. We just haven’t implemented it yet. We’ll go in the order of living room, kitchen, bathroom, then bedroom for each month. I hate cleaning so the motivation to clean is just SO not there right now. It should be, since we hibernate a lot during the winter. Oh well. Sometime soon we’ll be better!

3. Focus hardcore on reading from my shelves | FAIL In January, I read one book from my shelves. And it was a new book that I had just bought in December. SIGH. I hope to get better with reading my ARCs – so far so good – and other backlist books that weren’t so backlist when I bought them! Someone needs to take away my library card and ARC tour websites and borrowed ARCs…

4. Bring unhauled books to The Book Barn, then donation bins; audit my Goodreads shelf for owned books | FAIL I kind of knew I wasn’t going to make progress on this one. When it’s cold outside, I have no desire to shuttle books into the garage and down to the Book Barn. I think I should work on the first part of this though. I’d like to pick out more books to get rid of and then audit my Goodreads shelves. Next month!

5. Prepare a monthly TBR post for the blog and actually follow it | PASS It’s only been a couple weeks since I posted the TBR, but I’m doing a good job so far! I want to make sure I follow these TBRs to focus on more on my shelves in the future too. I like having an idea of a few books I want to read, but not fully planning out 100% of my TBR.

Goals Until Next Time

1. Organize and get rid of books, then update Goodreads shelves | I’m including this here again so I actually do it this month. I want to get rid of older books, move some into my closet if I’ve read them and want to keep them, and try to avoid piling new books on the floor. Then, I need to fix up my owned shelves on Goodreads to make sure it reflects only the books I’m keeping.

2. Focus hard on work and get some placements made | I’ve been wearing more hats than usual at work, which means I have less time to actually recruit, which means I have less commission. I make a salary plus commission, so it’s okay, but I want to beef up my placements ASAP so I can start saving more money for THINGS in the near future. We’re filling our Office Coordinator role so I’ll have more time to recruit and won’t have to deal with payroll, timecards, and resume parsing.

3. Get back into audiobooks and balance podcast time | The end of January was chock-full of true crime podcasts instead of audiobooks. I want to make it a goal to finish 1-2 audiobooks per month. I need a better balance with those forms of media! I planned on two audiobooks in my February TBR so once I finish them, I can dive back into podcasts. It’s a good way of not overdoing it but also allowing for flexibility.

4. Build a Lego MOC | I’ve been really bad about building lately. I hope to make a MOC (my own creation) or two between now and March. We have some build challenges for the club that’ll hopefully inspire me. I just haven’t felt Lego-y lately, even though I love seeing other displays and thinking about events. It’s the actual planning and building timeframe that doesn’t happen!

5. Get another blog up and running | This may be a pipe dream while also somehow already half-complete. I currently have three blogs, including this one. I have one personal/lifestyle one that I haven’t updated in a long time because I don’t really think I like it. I also have another one for Chris and I to document our upcoming adventure (more info soon, sorry for teasing so much!). I want to get something like that up and running and actually have some posts flowing between both of us. Time will tell!

Clever Lego display // My cozy reading spot // My favorite kitty getting attention // Book of Mormon!

Coming Up in My Life

End of February | We’re hoping to squeeze in as much mountain time as possible before the end of the season, so I’m gunning for a few ski trips overnight (hopefully) as well as night skiing during the work week. We don’t have much else going on, friend-wise, I think! Hopefully we’ll get up to Portland to visit Chris’s sister very soon as well. Either end of this month or next month…

Early March | Chris is going with a group of guys (my best friends’ boyfriends) to see wrestling while we have a girls night with Mary Kay (sigh). It’s going to be fun for all of us and I love Chris spending alone time with those boys. Otherwise we have my dad’s birthday and one of my friend’s birthdays!

Talk to meeeee! What’s new?

8 responses to “Lauren Lately | February 2017

  1. Ugh, my hopes to you for a relatively low-snow rest of the winter. We’re in the zone that got annihilated with 12 inches on both the 9th and almost the same again on the 13th… so I feel your pain! It sounds like you’ve had a lovely couple weekends, though! I’m also loving the ASoUE (NPH = much less silly than Jim Carrey. Also less creepy).

    It’s hard to upkeep so many blogs! You do a great job here – I only actively update a personal and writing/reading blog, and sheesh that’s enough (and neither are half as graphically pretty as yours). If you decide to launch your running one… good luck!

    • I’m a huge fan of getting a lot of snow because it means great ski conditions AND working from home in my PJs!

      Thank you 🙂 It wouldn’t be a running blog, but a blog I want to get “up and running” haha! It’ll be about something different 😉

  2. Oh hiking is something I want to do more of!! Your Valentine’s Day sounds like it was great. I really want to see Book of Mormon but it is still expensive on Broadway. Your planner looks pretty. I love planners so much!! Goos luck with your goals 🙂

  3. ooh you have an amazing february! i love hiking, but the weather has been really bad lately. also, an all you can eat sushi restaurant and korean bbq? my favorites lol 😀 i’m so glad you loved rogue one, that movie blew me away! i think cleaning up will also be my goal next month, my shelf is in dire need of some space!

  4. Ahhhhh you are killing me with all of these hints about your upcoming “adventure!” I also love that 50 degrees is “warm enough to go hiking” weather. It’s been in the 50’s here for like 2 months and I have been freezing my behind off lol. Have you thought about doing a post where you compile all of your podcast reqs in one place? I always love to see your recommendations and I REALLY need to start getting into podcasts since my commute is so long and I am not an audio book fan.

    Also, thank you for the shout out! <3

    • Haha yesss I know it’s crazy how different 50* can feel depending on where you live 😉 I will totally take it in the middle of winter in CT!

      Yes, I’ve been thinking a lot about a podcast post!! I’d be happy to send some recs your way via DM as well if that works haha.

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