Reading, Watching, Listening, Eating, Doing // Catch Up Edition

My last post was in early December – where does the time go? My focus shifted to work, organizing my life, spending time with friends, and getting healthy. It would have been nice to document progress here, but I knew I needed to prioritize in order to meet my goals. A friend recently shared with me that it takes 66 days to make or change a habit – I’m testing this theory by building and changing my own healthy habits. I’m looking forward to fine-tuning my goals with my Passion Planner (expect a post about that process at some point), but this time I started small and re-focused myself over December, January, and February.


Reading // Finished The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. Didn’t live up to the hype, but I enjoyed it.
Watching // In addition to all the Christmas movies I binge-watched, Alex and I finished up HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Nucky Thompson – played expertly by Steve Buscemi – is one of my favorite anti-hero characters of late (side note: I hated Gillian throughout the entire show, but she’s the character who has stuck with me the most). HBO just doesn’t disappoint, which is why I’m now working my way through all of their acclaimed series.
Listening // You aren’t truly celebrating Christmas until you add some N’SYNC and Elvis Presley to your playlist. A new favorite this past year was Merry Mixmas – I came across it by chance and it ended up being perfect for entertaining.
Eating // Eeesh, what wasn’t I eating. So many holiday celebrations, Christmas cookies, and birthday surprises (check out the goodness below, a special birthday lunch made especially for me by my BFF Ashley).

misty birthday lunch
Doing // December 2014 was stellar! I traveled to visit my BFF’s grandmother, celebrated New Year’s with friends, had a terrible cold, got wonderful gifts, gave a few myself, and had the best birthday of my life. Let me explain.

I turned 30 on December 18 (on a Thursday this year) and the plan was to celebrate with a special dinner during our weekly Girls Night, Friday night would be a special Date Night, and Saturday was a small get-together with local friends. Sounds perfect, right? Well, my BFF Ashley – with help from Alex – planned the most amazing birthday surprise (see timeline below):

  • Wednesday Night: Alex took me to a delicious dinner as an early birthday present. I thought it was just a bonus date night, and it was lovely.
  • Thursday Afternoon: Ashley brought over a special-made lunch (did you see that picture?) – strawberry salad with candied almonds, feta, and homemade dressing, grilled garlic bread, and the best ever egg salad. Hands down, one of the best lunches ever.
  • Thursday Night: As if Ashley hadn’t already done enough, she made the cheesiest lasagna with Caesar salad for my birthday Girls Night. We had such a fun night filled with great food, good convo, and lots of laughter.
  • Friday Afternoon: I went to lunch with some coworkers. Ashley and Alex both had errands. so I did some work and took it easy at home.
  • Friday Night: Alex told me we were going to get dinner somewhere, but first had to stop by Ashley’s because I had one more gift to open. I knew she was hosting two friends for dinner, so I walked in and heard them say hi. I went to take off my shoes, but Alex guided me into the living room… where I saw friends from all over the country ready to surprise me! I was so overwhelmed and overjoyed – I couldn’t believe they’d all made the effort during the busy holiday season and I couldn’t believe they were able to pull off such a huge surprise! We had so much fun catching up, playing games, and eating great food.
  • Saturday Afternoon: Having friends in from out of town was such a treat – we spent the whole day together, laughing until I actually hurt. Then, it was time for the big party.
  • Saturday Night: I took the blindfold off and saw my friends gathered around me in my favorite karaoke bar in downtown Baltimore. They had transformed the bar into the perfect princess karaoke birthday party – I was so excited that I missed a few new faces in the crowd, friends from California! After I’d hugged everyone, I had to step away and collect myself (I’m a crier). Walking back into the room, I was able to scan around and see almost all of the people I love most in the world in the same place. I can never thank them enough for making that moment happen for me – I have never felt more loved and I hope everyone gets to experience that feeling, too. My husband and BFF are the best! I just want to give a special thanks to Ashley – not only is she the best BFF ever, she also happens to be the most thoughtful, sweetest person I know.




Reading // My goal is to read at least one book every month in 2015. First up, Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. She is my hero. Have you heard about her project Smart Girls? She’s inspiring and empowering young women everywhere.
Watching // Like I said, I want to work my way through all of HBO’s great work. We started The Sopranos since it’s widely recognized as one of TV’s best series. I also saw The Ref for the first time, apparently the best Christmas movie according to every guy I know. And this – it still makes me laugh every time.
Listening // I put out a call for help when trying to update my music playlist for work – I assume everyone has a different playlist for working, cleaning, showering, getting ready, etc. like I do. Via that Facebook thread, I discovered a ton of new artists. On repeat: “Gooey” by Glass Animals and “Gold” by Chet Faker (video below, because it’s mesmerizing).

Eating // I remember more egg salad… I basically forced Ashley to make me another batch because my birthday lunch was so good. I also learned how to make the perfect poached egg – it’s best on some toast with avocado!
Doing // Puzzles! I finished two in January and have a couple more that I got as Christmas gifts that I’m looking forward to tackling. January was the month I started breaking my healthy habits into small, easy-to-achieve mini goals. That approach has worked well so far, I hope to keep it up and report on my progress.



Reading // A work trip gave me extra down time, allowing me to fit in two books this past month. I read Alice Sebold’s other novel, The Lovely Bones, a while back and thought her memoir, Lucky, was chilling. Ross Raisin’s debut, God’s Country – or Out Backward – was an interesting look at a troubled young man. I don’t know what drove me to pick such disturbing novels, I made sure my March pick is a lot less dark.

February #book finished. This one was tough #lucky #sebold

A photo posted by Misty (@mistymorningdesign) on Feb 14, 2015 at 7:32am PST

Watching // Most of my TV shows are back on schedule – Walking DeadGrey’s AnatomyNashville… I’m back with familiar friends. We also started Better Call Saul and I’m already hooked. And in more embarrassing news, I’m re-watching old episodes of Gossip Girl.
Listening // I tried with that new Drake album… not my style. I’ve been more into Ed Sheeran’s cover skills and Lady Gaga’s killer performance artistry.
Eating // Protein shakes. Part of my struggle with food is that cooking has become a chore for me – and we all know that healthier food requires a bit more work on a more consistent basis. Drinking protein shakes for breakfast/lunch and cooking a healthy meal for dinner has been a consistent way for me to continue to make good choices.
Doing // Working. A lot. I recently got back from a trip to Scottsdale, AZ – it was super productive and felt great to spend some more time with my coworkers (I am so lucky to be on their team!).

I’m ramping up for an exciting March – tons of content I want to share, trips to take, and spring to celebrate. Feels good to be back!

Christmas Traditions

Christmas traditions have always been important to me. My family had a few over the years that stuck with me and now that we’re getting closer to starting our own family, my husband and I are starting our own to share with our kids. While some of these may not stick, here are some ideas for Christmas traditions to bring everyone together during the season.

Drive around to see Christmas lights
This is something we did as kids – packed up in the van and drove to the fancy side of town to see how the big houses were decorated for the holidays. Now that we’re out of the city and in the nice suburbs, this is something I look forward to doing.

Start a Christmas Village
My great-grandmother had a big Christmas village with sweet, lit homes and an ice skating rink with magnetic skaters. I have one of her old churches and plan to build upon that over time. I love having it next to me on the shelf and keeping it lit next to my favorite candle.


Buy new Christmas pajamas

What better way to look your best on Christmas morning than in a brand new pair of themed pjs? Last year I got a nice Tommy Hilfiger pajama set from my mom that I wore to open all my gifts.

Make (or commission) personalized holiday cards

Every year we try to send out custom holiday cards, it’s always a fun project to work on for me. My favorite one (so far) has been our gingerbread men from 2011.


Host a Christmas movie night
I’m planning to add this tradition to the list in 2014 (and will blog about it later!). Grab a group of your friends, make some shareable snacks, and pop in your favorite holiday movies. I hope it will be a great, low-key way to celebrate with loved ones.

Add something new to your Christmas decor every year
This is a new tradition that my husband and I started when we got married. Our first year together, we bought a Mickey and Minnie newlyweds ornament while on our honeymoon at Disney World. For our second Christmas we added a musical snow globe. Year three was the addition of our handmade ceramic nativity set. This year we bought a beautiful hand-crafted ornament from Poland while visiting Bronner’s in Frankenmuth, MI.


What are your favorite Christmas traditions?


December 2014 Edition // Wonderful Christmastime


Twinkling lights. Mistletoe. Cookies. Stockings. Parties. Carols. Presents. What’s not to love about the holiday season?

This month is about celebrating and spoiling the people you love. It’s especially celebratory this year as both my BFF and I are turning 30 (what?!) in a handful of days. There isn’t a free weekend between now and New Year’s – and I couldn’t be more excited.

I have a lot to look forward to this December:

  • Holiday party in downtown Baltimore (I love getting dressed up!)
  • Getting my first real Christmas tree (hopefully a big fat one)
  • Singing along to Christmas carols (N’SYNC has the best holiday album ever – haters gonna hate)
  • Buying special presents for friends and family (I’ve been keeping lists of ideas all year long)
  • Watching all my favorite holiday movies (it’s too hard to pick just one)
  • Celebrating Ashley’s birthday – twice! (day drinking/movie/hookah lounge and then a night of clubbing – can’t wait!)
  • Celebrating my birthday (it’s a surprise)
  • Baking the best Christmas cookie recipe in the world (I’ll post it later this month)
  • Having our annual Married Christmas celebration (it’s a tradition I look forward to, matching shirts and all)
  • Visiting friends in St. Louis for New Year’s (days of good food, awesome people, and lots of laughs)

What about you – what are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Insert Snappy Title Here // Monica Geller-Bing is My Spirit Animal

I didn’t start watching ‘Friends‘ regularly until it was in syndication. The reason this show is still relevant is because each character is relatable and funny (except for Ross, does anyone like that guy?). But in watching and re-watching every episode I realized that not only was Monica Geller-Bing relatable, I was just like her.

Monica is witty (natch), beautiful (check), career-driven (duh), and loving (of course), but she also highlights some of the not-so-great qualities I’ve developed over the years – to an extreme degree.

Cleaning & Organizing
My mom would laugh at this considering the state of my room most days when I lived at home, but I am a stickler for having everything in its place. There are nights I can’t go to bed until everything is put away or there aren’t any more dishes in the sink. I wouldn’t say that cleaning is my thing — I can go weeks without dusting (yeah, I said it) — but I LOVE to organize and label. Come to think of it, I don’t have a label-maker… how is that even possible?!? This trait spills over into my work life, too – I consider it one of my biggest strengths. You should see some of the Excel spreadsheets I’ve created, they’re beautiful.


As much as I’d like to say I’m not competitive, I’ll scratch your eyes out if you beat me in a game. Well, maybe not that extreme… but I’m definitely not the most gracious loser. As a kid I’d take part in any contest, whether it was a spelling bee or pie-eating, just to beat someone. I’d be the first one to yell out answers in class (or Sunday School) and would race to finish my test so I was the first person to deliver it to my teacher’s desk. Even as an adult I  can get more into winning than actually playing… just like my good friend Monica.

Being Bossy
Especially when I was younger, if you asked my family to describe me in 5 words, bossy would definitely be one of them. I was older than most of my cousins and definitely louder than everyone. My poor sisters got the worst of it, though – they basically had to wait on me hand and foot (I’ve since apologized for that). I always wanted to decide where we were going to eat for family dinners, what we did during vacations, what we were going to rent from Blockbuster. I have now learned how to take the back seat and it feels good. But every once in a while that little control freak in me rears her ugly head and I force my husband to watch an episode of ‘The Voice’ with full commentary throughout. He still loves me though.

Bonus – Fat Monica
Monica was overweight growing up, something I can relate to (then and now). I will always be a fat kid at heart and will sometimes let myself become a fat adult before I snap out of it, start eating healthy, exercise regularly, and shed the excess. It’s a vicious cycle I’ve been in my whole life. Even now, though I’m not at my heaviest, I could stand to lose another 20ish pounds. I can still dance though, just like Monica.

Thankful for My Roots

Just before Thanksgiving Alex and I made another trip to Michigan – this time with my BFF Ashley in tow, to show her where we grew up, spend time with our friends and family, and eat at all our favorite restaurants (of course). Driving around our old neighborhoods brought back a lot of memories (some good, some bad) and made me stop and think about how much my hometown shaped who I am.

One afternoon at my parents’ house, my mom brought out a few boxes of old photographs. We sat on the couch laughing at changing hairstyles and silly faces, reminiscing about family members we’ve lost over the years, smiling as we remembered family vacations and holidays together. It was beautiful to share those moments with my husband and best friend, showing them a little more about who I am, where I came from.

Even though my family ties are much different now, I look at those photos and hold the memories dear. I’m thankful for those memories and grateful for the people I share them with, even if they aren’t an active part of my life any longer.

Below is one of my favorite family vacation photos (minus my mom, who was frequently our photographer). It was during a small hike in the Smoky Mountains, we stopped to wade in a creek. 


Thanksgiving Traditions

I remember celebrating Thanksgiving when I was a kid, so excited because it meant we could finally put up our Christmas tree (dad’s rule). Not that we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving (we did, my family loves to eat), but I just thought of it as a kick-off to my favorite time of year. As many cookies as I could eat, presents, time with family, Christmas songs on the radio all day, every day…

It wasn’t until I moved away from my family that I realized how much I treasured our Thanksgiving Day traditions. I try to sprinkle them in now, as we start to develop our own family traditions. Here’s what I’m looking forward to next week:

  • Catching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while cooking
  • Playing board games (most likely Last Night on Earth, although I miss playing Scrabble with my mom)
  • Setting the table – my favorite centerpiece is a collection of mismatched candles
  • Reaching out to family and friends (this year I plan to make more phone calls instead of texting cute turkey emojis)
  • Sharing a nice bottle of wine or champagne with Alex
  • Listening to jazzy Christmas music
  • Spending a few minutes talking about what we’ve been thankful for this past year
  • Watching Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Getting out just a few Christmas decorations (I’ve decided that tree-trimming deserves its own special day)

Looking over my to-do list above, I’m grateful I have a job that doesn’t require me to work on Thanksgiving (or the day after, for that matter). Because I spent many holidays away from my family due to a work schedule, I am more careful about how I support companies that have open hours on holidays. I get the fun of Black Friday shopping, but when you think about a mom who had to go to bed early on Thanksgiving so she could be awake at 4am to get to work the next day… 50% off a TV doesn’t really seem to matter. At least to me, I guess. Remember to laugh, love, and be thankful next week – even if your crazy uncle gets on your nerves.

Giving Back

It occurred to me a few weeks back that I’ve never actually volunteered. For anything.

I could probably rattle off one hundred reasons why, but that’s not important. What’s important is I decided to reflect on my good fortune in life and dedicate just a couple hours of my time to a cause that helps others who are in need. Lucky for me, the company I work for organizes volunteer opportunities at the Maryland Food Bank – and that seemed like the perfect way to get involved.

The Maryland Food Bank is a distribution center that provides food to nearly 1,000 organizations that help feed families in need. It’s amazing what they are able to accomplish through donations and the right partnerships. Each year, they provide about 29 million meals – or 79,000 every day – and their mission is to continue until hunger ends. Pretty impressive, right?

I didn’t feel like a better person walking out of the Food Bank after 2 hours of packing boxes. That’s not how it works. Mine was a tiny contribution to an immense problem. But I know I could easily do more for the community I’ve chosen to live in and, eventually, raise my family in.

There are so many volunteer organizations to choose from. Do I want to help kids? Animals? Victims of domestic abuse? Fight for a cure? What about people who’ve lost everything and are now homeless? Or maybe veterans? Do I want to stay local in my county? Or maybe I want to help in the inner city? After thinking about it for a while, I know my passion will be helping children – it’s so important to empower kids with a sense of self-worth and teach them that education is the key to living the best possible life.

It’s literally the least I could do, to devote my time and maybe a little money to an organization that helps children in need. I’ve been researching different opportunities and think I’ve found a few that I believe in and would be proud to be a part of. What started as a simple project to give back has turned into a desire to really, truly help others and build the community around me. I hope to continue to document this journey to inspire others to get involved (and honestly, to keep myself accountable for the goals I have).

Have you volunteered for a specific cause? What was your experience like?

Gratitude in Writing


It’s a bit too early for New Year’s Resolutions, but a big focus for me in 2015 will be being better at keeping in touch with friends and family. More texts, more phone calls, more trips… and more letter writing. As technology has given us instant access to every person we’ve ever met, we’ve in turn forgotten the art of handwriting letters. Who wouldn’t swoon if they received a beautiful, handwritten love letter?

In spirit of this month’s theme, I thought it would be a great project to write thank-you notes and notes of gratitude to get started in the letter writing business. We have another trip to Michigan coming up, so why not send a handwritten thank-you to our hosts once we get back? With Veteran’s Day on Wednesday, I plan on writing a letter of thanks for one or two of our service men/women, as part of Operation Gratitude.

I remember writing our thank-you postcards after our wedding. It was important for us to write each one by hand and specifically thank each guest for their contribution to our special day. Here are my tips for writing the perfect thank you:

  1. Get the greeting right. Always triple-check your spelling of names, use nicknames when appropriate (my sister will always be “wee-butt” to me), include everyone from the household who contributed to your gift/good fortune.
  2. Begin with thank you. Focus on the purpose of the letter or note, why the recipient(s) are receiving your note. Thank you for the lovely glass bowl…  or I can’t thank you enough for attending my birthday party… 
  3. Include details. Describe how you’re going to enjoy your gift – or better yet, include a picture of it in use! If you received cash or a gift card, tell them what you plan on spending it on (if appropriate, of course!). If they showed up for an event, thank them for being a part of an important day for you. A small sentence of gratitude can pack a big punch.
  4. Make plans. If you will see this person in the near future, include that you are looking forward to spending time them again soon. If it’s a long-distance friend or family member, tell them you miss them and are thinking of them.
  5. Go out with a bang. I’m still working on my signature sign-off (so far, love+light is the frontrunner), but you don’t need one to end on a happy note. A good ole’ with love or many thanks will do the job.

I plan on making my own stationary, but there are plenty of options out there for beautiful paper products. I’m most excited about the new Happy Mail monthly subscription from A Beautiful Mess + Studio Calico. I pre-ordered the first month’s kit and think it’s such a sweet idea – a little motivation to help me maintain my year of staying connected. Do you still send letters or are you all digital? I’m curious if anyone out there is keeping an old tradition alive!