Three bits of sunshine

Class starts!

For most of last year, I was part of a writing group that met at our local senior center. I love being in a school/classroom setting and my fellow writers were so encouraging and talented, so it really filled my cup. But last fall, I decided to take a break and what a mistake that was! My class starts again today and I can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to and read their incredible short stories and prompts.


While the internet can sometimes be the worst (hello, trolls), it can also allow us to connect with loved ones far away in ways we couldn’t otherwise. This week a good friend received some really bad news and I felt so powerless and wanted to do something nice. If the physical distance wasn’t so great, I would have whipped up a good old fashioned Midwestern casserole to drop off. That wasn’t an option, so instead I was able to have some food and other items delivered to their door. I used Prime Now, but Like Neighbors or a similar service are all great ways to help out if you find yourself in the same situation.

New vacuum!

After debating whether to get a new vacuum for way too long and then which one, I finally bought one! I chose to go with a Dyson that was on sale, and I’m glad that I did. It does a very good cleaning the floors and the couch. It was horrifying and fascinating to vacuum a few rugs that were recently cleaned with our old model and see how much yucky stuff came up! Ew. I think this will work wonderfully for every day cleaning jobs (I tend to vacuum about every other day because I have long hair plus two very furry puppies), but we’ll still keep our ‘ol reliable plug in vacuum for big jobs like when we baking soda the couch and rugs every once in a while.

Tips for the best binge watching experience + 11 shows you need to watch

This coming Friday marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. If you're young and hip, that means more socially acceptable time for cocktails — yay for youthfulness! — but for the rest of us, that just means extra darkness. It’s a nice contrast from the typical gray days of the PNW this time of year if you ask me. 👋 If you don’t have holiday party plans this weekend, here are my best tips for binge watching your way through 48 hours.

The setting

I much prefer binge watching on a couch to chair or a bed. Our is this one from Crate & Barrel, which is pretty large and can comfortably fit three to four dogs and a sprawled out human.

Dog sitting my parents’ dogs plus our two four legged friends

Dog sitting my parents’ dogs plus our two four legged friends

We have new-ish vertical blinds since the dogs destroyed our old ones (shown in the pic above) while trying to terrify our kind neighborhood mailman. It gets so dark and cozy in our living room now that we don’t have gaping, dog head sized holes in the corners! I like to turn on the electric fireplace and cuddle under a blanket.

You’re the Worst. No, not you. It’s the name of the show I’m watching.

You’re the Worst. No, not you. It’s the name of the show I’m watching.


Here are a few must-haves for optimizing your binge watching experience.

Best pajamas ever for binge watching TV

Soft, comfy, and classy looking enough to fool you into thinking you’re not a slob after hour four of Billions.

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Luxurious and the perfect weight. Available in Costco for about half the price if you can find it in store.



A few add ons to upgrade your experience.


Sometimes you binge a show that your spouse is more into than you are (love you boo), and a puzzle is your saving grace. Sci-fi shows be damned!


Puppy cuddles! Barks & Thor are not currently for sale (unless they break the new blinds — I kid!). If you don’t have a pup, it might be time to get one!


It’s v. v. very important to keep your energy up, especially if you’re watching a thriller.

Snacks for binge watching TV

This is my current go-to bev. Most days, it’s a mocktail, but occasionally I like to add a splash of tequila (stop judging me, Charlene).

Put ice in your glass, fill up one third of the way with pomegranate juice, top with Italian soda (Trader Joe’s lemon is my favorite), squeeze a wedge of lime, and then a splash of tequila if you’re feeling feisty. Enjoy!

Snacks for binge watching TV

I like to make a snacky plate for watching TV. A little cheese, some crackers, a few nuts, olives, and something sweet is a perfect combo. The goat cheese selection at Trader Joe’s is my favorite and you can’t lose if you pick up some dolma while you’re there.

Other fantastic options: pita and hummus, chips and salsa, apples and peanut butter


Here are my favorite binge-worthy shows. Some are current with recent or upcoming seasons. Some are oldies but goodies.

What to watch on Prime Video

Hilarious, endearing, and occasionally naughty. We’re saving season 2 for our next road trip.


Delightful even if slightly predictable, I was sad when this three part series concluded.


This fast paced and thrilling show will make you have very confusing feelings about Jim Halpert.


What to watch on Netflix

I’m typically not a fan of sci-fi, but I can watch this show puzzle free.


Hilarious and absolutely absurd. I worry in my most dramatic moments that I’m Moira.


Super weird! Can’t wait for season 2, which was filmed in my public library (RIP).


Shows on Hulu

Holy geeze oh petes! Addicting, super freaky, and a little mentally draining. Take a Golden Girls break after each episode.


Supe supe super inappropriate, so if you’re reading this Mamaw: please stick to Parenthood.


I had a teensy bit of an emotional breakdown when this series ended (sorry, hubby). Worth a watch or a rewatch.


Shows on Premium Channels

I dislike all of the main characters of this show, but I can’t walk away. We have cheap access to Showtime thanks to this student deal through Spotify, but for everyone else here’s a free week trial.

I am only mildly embarrassed to admit that I watched 90% of this show one Sunday. Here’s a free week trial to HBO. I will happily pay for a (short-term) subscription when season 2 comes out.

Four things I can't stop thinking about

Too many women are dying in childbirth

This post terrifies me as someone who hopes to give birth someday. US maternal mortality rates are much higher than those in the developed world, especially for black women. California is the seeming exception to the rule, leading the way to healthier outcomes for women with a 55% reduction in maternal deaths due to protocols adopted in 2006.

This book has everything. Self reflection. Deeper understanding. The answer to the questions you didn’t know you know you wanted to ask.

In all seriousness, I read this book last weekend and found it to be incredibly helpful and worth a mention in case there are any fellow Obligers reading this.

Check it out from your local library and let me know what you think. I’ve already requested a few of her other books.

My favorite pajamas of all time

They are so soft and comfy. I have worn them at least once weekly for almost a year and a half and they’re still holding up. I like to wear them with a tank underneath. (Not an announcement. I just like the length for layering)

Pro tip: buy PJs in a color that complements your skin tone. For someone pale like me, jewel tones work. Mine are in purple, which doesn’t seem to be available at the moment so go with solid green instead.

You bet your boot(ie)s

I have spent two years searching the internet and shoe stores far and wide for a pair of comfortable, cute, affordable, and waterproof-ish (because Oregon) booties. If you have a pair that you’d like to nominate, please leave a link in the comments!

Four things I can't stop thinking about right now

This four part post on @humansofny

These posts gutted me. I kept waiting for the next one to be uploaded so I could read the rest of the story. Click on the image or this link to @humansofny’s page to read the other two parts.

Brandon Stanton, the person behind the camera, is such an amazing story teller and humanitarian. I love it when he leaves New York to travel and tells the stories of those he encounters along the way.



I’m taking a break from coffee at the moment, which is going surprisingly well. Only one raging headache so far!

So I’m making tea my new best friend. My favorite place to pick up tea is from Tea Chai Te in Sellwood. It’s located inside of a historic red caboose, and it’s precious. My current favorite is their rose peony tea, which has a delicate flowery flavor. Get your tea there then walk across the street to Jade and grab a dessert. You won’t regret it!

A post shared by Assembly (@assemblypdx) on

Basket case

I’m taking a basket weaving class later this week and I’m super excited about it. I signed up for a three class pass through Assembly PDX, and it has been so much fun! If you’re like me and tend to purchase a lot of arts and craft supplies, but then don’t actually know how to use them — and therefore don’t — taking classes and then deciding if it’s worth the investment might be a really good idea. So far, I’ve taken punch needle and weaving classes, and I’d highly recommend both. Cheers to getting crafty!

Book club

I told my husband earlier this week that I’m hosting book club at our house and he responded, “What book club?” So I guess that means I should probably both read the books and attend more often. This month, I’m managing both! So maybe that will start a streak for me.

Our book this month was Notorious RBG and conveniently the new RBG documentary is out on Hulu. Might be time to give it a watch!

My favorite day of the week

We really know how to do Sundays around here. Despite our best efforts to sleep in, we usually wake up early and are sipping coffee by 7. On goes the electric fireplace and a nature documentary, and we snuggle with the doggies on the couch. When the weather is nice out, we sit on the back porch while Barkley chases butterflies. As you can probably imagine, it’s my favorite day of the week.

Please note that we have moved on to watching Crocodile Dundee, which is practically a nature documentary if you ask me.

Please note that we have moved on to watching Crocodile Dundee, which is practically a nature documentary if you ask me.

Terry the terrarium

Meet Terry

I stopped by my favorite local shop last week to buy myself a little happy during kind of a cruddy week. It's an apothecary called Milwaukie Mercantile and they sell the best chapstick along with herbs, soaps, and plants. This is the place where my fun money budget goes to die. They had an adorable terrarium there, but I was a babe with an already full basket. I already have plenty of succulents to kill at home, so I decided that I could make it myself. 

Next up was a quick run through the aisles of my corner Salvation Army. The pricing there absolutely kills me sometimes. 🤦🏻‍♀️


I picked up a glass bowl there for about $6 and two packages of rocks from the Dollar Tree next door. $8 for this beauty! Not bad. I'm trying to find a dinosaur or some other little creature to add to the mix for some flair. What do you think?


Barkley’s Birthday

Sweet, sweet Barkley turns two this week!

This poor guy is battling a little bit of an eye infection, but worry not: he gets the good treats after his twice daily eye meds. 

This is my one of my favorite pictures of these two guys right after we first got Barks. Thor was a wee bit apprehensive — can you spot him?! — but you’d never know it now. They’re best buds!


Breath of Joy

I wasn't sure if I should laugh or run out the door when my yoga teacher Elaine decided to share the breath of joy with us for the first time. She was kind of flinging her arms around and making weird sounds, and good gracious I'm a little granola but deep down inside I'm still a Midwesterner. 

I decided to go along with the rest of the class, and either the sheer silliness of how we all felt or the extra oxygen entering our bloodstreams made us all feel joyful. 

This is a great thing to do when you need a pick-me-up in the afternoon. I usually do this five times in a row and then stand still for 20 or 30 seconds before going about my day. 

Let me know what you think if you decide to try it. Videos encouraged! 

Thanks for making it this far! I’d love to hear from you. How are you doing?

Is it weird to throw a birthday party for a dog? Asking for a friend.

With love,

The long and shorts of it: my struggle with body image

If I'm being honest, I'm not crazy about my body. I've always hated my legs and these days, especially, they're not pretty. I've got cellulite running up and down the back of them. My thighs seem to explode up my legs after my skinny calves and knobby knees into a gelatinous mess. I avoided shorts for years, wearing flowing skirts or pants even in the heat of the summer. While this photo makes me cringe, it also makes me proud. 


It's easy enough to compare my body to other people's. I'm smaller than some, but bigger than others. And even when I was younger and thinner, I wasn't thrilled with how I look. 

I've been taking yoga classes regularly for a little over a year now. I'm breathing and sweating and downward dogging with people, mostly women, representing a wide variety of sizes and life experiences. Some are younger, but most are older than I am. Each and every class, the teacher reminds us not to compare ourselves to the person on the mat next to us.

It is a good reminder that I should appreciate the abilities of my body. Some classes, I can slide easily into a pose. Other times, it's a struggle and it hurts. I need to ease up and be gentle with myself, both in the yoga studio and in my everyday life.

My legs may not look like Gigi Hadid's in shorts, but they help me get from A to B. They're strong, and I like the way they feel when I'm stretched out in pigeon pose. 

When I (hopefully one day) have children, I don't want to miss out on chasing them around the beach in a bathing suit because I feel too fat. And I certainly don't want to pass on my own self-image issues. 

So I'm going to keep moving my body in yoga class because it makes me feel healthy and strong. Maybe one day I'll confident in shorts, but I'm going to keep wearing them either way. 

Memories from my Mammaw's house

When we took Della, the vintage camper, back to her parking spot on Sunday, a bunch of weeds caught my eye. Seeing them took my breath away. No, not because of allergies — although, they're really giving me a run for my money at the moment — but because they reminded me of my Mammaw's house. Those weeds were the scent of my childhood.

I spent so much of my early years at my Mammaw's house, wreaking havoc with a gaggle of cousins. Many of my happiest childhood memories are running free in her yard, picking persimmons, and doing things that would cause modern parents huge amounts of anxiety (but were perfectly acceptable for children in the 80s). 

After my sister taught me how to get sent home from school — go to the nurse twice in one day for any reason — I spent most of the first grade recovering from my "tummy troubles" and "headaches" at my grandmother's house. The school secretary would call her up, and she'd pull into the school parking lot in her ancient bronze-gold car and I was free. In between watching her shows and eating canned chicken and dumplings together, she taught me how to sew and quilt. 


My grandmother passed away more than a decade ago, and I can't tell you how much I miss her. Sometimes it hurts to think about it, and I wish she were around to meet my husband and be entertained by my crazy dogs and sew tiny quilts for the babies I hope to have someday. While she's no longer here, I'm still constantly learning from her.

My grandmother was still sharp as a tack when she passed away at 90, likely due in no small part to her daily word search habit. She kept her mind engaged and didn't let it turn to mush. Whether this was a conscious effort or just part of who she happened to be, I'll never know. I try to follow in her footsteps, and I think of her as I'm scanning the jumble of letters for the right word or when I try something new that scares me. 


My grandmother was the most generous person I've ever known. She grew up poor in an area that was poor long before the depression hit. She could have, and logic would dictate, should have been tight with her money. Instead, she spent all year crafting handmade Christmas gifts for her family and random strangers that tagged along, shared food and whatever she had with anyone who needed, and slipped me a $20 bill for gas money every time I came home from college. I am nowhere near as generous, and I would like to cultivate this same spirit of generosity in her memory.


My grandmother recognized the importance of family and always put them first, and they in turn loved and adored her. While she grew that family, she had 11 children after all — we're quite fertile people, sometimes you build your family in other ways whether that be friends, fellow volunteers, marriage, adoption, or procreation. I need to be better about checking in with my people, building them up, and loving and supporting them along the way. Sometimes I let distance be my excuse, but one of my goals is to be a better friend and family member.

These are just three of the many things my Mammaw taught me. What's the most import thing that you've learned from your grandmother?