Stocking stuffers under $25

I have always loved little things. When I was a child, I used to make my brother play a game called “Little Things.” We would drag out all of our tiny toys into the hallway and basically cage match them with each other. It was amazing.

So stockings were also always a big deal for us (me, anyways). I love finding fun little gifts in my stocking, but what I love even more? Filling stockings! I fill stockings for all of my nieces and nephews every year. I fill a stocking for Brian. And sometimes, I fill a random stocking for someone else on my gift list.

Stockings are basically a super versatile gift wrap. And I love them. So here are some fun (and some practical) stocking stuffer ideas. The usual note: any purchases from links may or may not be affiliate links that I earn a commission from. It costs you nothing but makes a huge difference for me and this little blog. So thanks for supporting my dreams.

Fun stocking stuffers

For games to pop in the big sock, check out my travel-friendly games gift guide because any of the 15+ games I talked about will fit in a stocking. For more ideas, read on.

Funko Pop Keychains

$4-$11

Funko Pop mickey and minnie key chain

Pick your favorite fandom and go wild. I used to think Funko Pop dolls were weird, but then they grew on me, and now I’m hooked. Plus these Funko keychains are so cute!

Tiny plush sloth full of happiness

$7

Plush sloth

I just love this little guy. Also, I love Christmas with cute little sloths all over my house. You can also find other tiny plushes from Aurora World to fit the needs (and favorite animals) of your giftee.

Fairy lights

$7 for two sets

Fairy lights

These silly little lights are mult-functional and perfect for anyone who likes to decorate with lights, create fun crafty projects, or wants to make their own light-up clothing.

Metal Earth metal puzzle kits

$6-$18

Praying mantis metal earth puzzle kit

I bought this praying mantis for Brian a couple of years ago, and it was SO COOL. Also, it was fun to watch him put it together. You can also find a Cinderella pumpkin carriage on ShopDisney.

Nostalgic stocking stuffers

You didn’t think that I was done with games, did you? I have a couple more silly and fun toys and games that I received from my friends at Goliath Games up my sleeve that are PERFECT stocking stuffers for anyone who grew up in the nineties.

Legends of the Hidden Temple game

$13

Legends of the Hidden Temple is a super fun party game

This game is ridiculously fun. If you remember watching the Blue Barracudas dominating on Nickelodeon, this is a must-get gift. It’s a party game with activity task elements that pull from some of your favorite college drinking games for a double-down on nostalgia. Alcohol not required or included…but maybe encouraged.

Oregon Trail: Hunt for Food

$15

The Oregon Trail: Hunt for Food

The follow-up to the first Oregon Trail card game, Hunt for Food now with five new ways to die! There’s something about The Oregon Trail that will never stop getting me, and I love that these games from Goliath do my favorite childhood computer game memories justice. Don’t worry. You’ll probably die of dysentery.

Glowbots

$25

Goliath Games Glowbots

These little DC dudes are like Funko Pop meets Litebrite and I am loving them. Obvi, Wonder Woman is a star, but the joker is also a winner because everyone loves villains.* They’re ideal stocking stuffers for kids, grown-ups, and everyone in between. These are perfect for anyone who loves superheroes, the DC universe, and collectibles.

*Chrissy loves villains.

Practical stocking stuffers

When I was a kid, socks and underwear seemed like the worst gifts ever. But then I became a grown-up with a job and life, and all of a sudden, I wanted socks and underwear as a gift. Particularly socks. So these stocking stuffers are practical and useful and awesome.

Sheec no-show socks

$10 (Save 15% off your first order with my code: Quirky)

Sheec no-show socks that won't slip off

I am obsessed with these socks. Obsessed. They are truly the best non-slip, no-show socks ever, and I’ve tried quite a few brands. They are available for both men and women in two different fabric types: the Secret 2.0, an ultra-thin nylon material with a cotton sole for dress shoes and The ActiveX, an antibacterial modal for casual sneakers. They come in varying visibility from ultra-low to high (which is still low enough to hide inside most of my shoes). These socks would make a perfect gift for just about anyone who wears sneakers, dress shoes, and even sandals. I did receive some samples from them as part of an affiliate partnership, but I was already a huge fan when I reached out to them earlier this year.

Aqua Notes Waterproof notepad

$10

Aqua notes waterproof note pad

Practical AND fun. This is great for a writer or doodler. I initially bought these because some of my best ideas happen in the shower (don’t everyone’s?), but it turns out, they’re also really fun for leaving messages for anyone who shares your shower. I’d like to tell you Brian and I leave cute little love notes for each other, but really, when my bestie comes to stay at our house, that’s when the magic happens. Brian has his own shower, but Ally uses mine. And then she leaves me love notes. Because of course, she does. Anyways. Kick-ass stocking stuffer right here. Fun for everyone.

Multitool

$13

Multitools make great stocking stuffers

I always end up getting Brian some type of multitool in his stocking. He loves the functionality and portability of them…even if it means he has half a dozen on hand at any given time.

Eco-friendly stocking stuffers

I’ve been trying really hard to make my life a little bit more sustainable. Nobody’s perfect, and it is a constant learning process, but these are a few things I’ve been using to be a little more conscious of my single-use plastics and the environment overall. They’ll all make fantastic gifts for people looking to make changes in their shopping and consumption habits. Okay, fine, these are practical too.

Reusable travel silverware set

$13

Reusable stainless steel rainbow silverware trave set

This exact set is on my wishlist right now because 1. it’s ADORABLE and 2. it matches my actual rainbow kitchen flatware. You’re welcome. Anyone trying to minimize their carbon footprint will appreciate a travel silverware set in their stocking.

Makeup Eraser

$20 (Use code SUSTAINABILITY for 20% off)

Makeup eraser reusable makeup removing cloth

I have not tried this particular brand yet (I use a similar product: the Norwex face cloths right now), but I have friends who swear by it. I do want to try this cloth because it looks a lot softer than the Norwex (which has more of a leathery texture). Both are lovely gift ideas and stocking stuffers to boot.

Reusable produce bags

$20

Reusable produce bags fit nicely in stockings

I love fresh produce, but I hate that every individual item needs to be in its own separate bag. Once I discovered these reusable beauties, though, I was hooked. I can pack my produce, store it, and then wash these bags when the surplus of produce inevitably goes bad in my fridge (I know. I already mentioned there’s a learning curve).

Well gang, that’s a wrap for gift guides this year (though I will be pulling several of the items from this year’s guides for a YouTube video next week). Thanks for joining me on this super fun online shopping journey. If you’re looking for more gift ideas, you can always check out all of the previous gift guides.

What types of stocking stuffers do you like to see when you wake up on Christmas morning?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I love you 3000

Yesterday was truly one of the most exciting days ever. I woke up to my Disney alarm at 3:20 AM, brushed my teeth, got dressed, grabbed a camp chair, and jumped in the car. I made it to the Bucktown Best Buy before 4:30 in the morning and prayed I was among the first 100 people in line to pick up my preorder copy of Avengers Endgame, which, after seeing it four times this summer, I can safely say is my favorite movie of all time.

I waited in line with other Avengers superfans and the hours flew by. I sat in my comfy camp chair, took a Cap nap, even walked to the Mariano’s a few blocks away for a bathroom and breakfast break. There seems to be a gentleman’s agreement that the people in line will respect your place in line so you can take care of human needs etc. I was very glad of that being by myself on this particular adventure. It was surprisingly cool when I was napping, and in hindsight I should have brought a light blanket, but otherwise I had everything I needed.

I was in line to meet Joe Russo, who is probably the first director to ever have such a huge impact on me. He was in Chicago as part of the We Love You 3000 tour. With his brother Anthony and writers, Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, they make a dream team of storytellers that inspire and delight me as an audience member and fellow storyteller.

I kept thinking about the Q&A I had the honor of attending, sitting smack in the center of the front row, on Monday with Joe Russo at The Second City and some of the nuggets of wisdom he imparted on an audience of artists, performers, creators, and filmmakers.

Make the story you want to tell. Make what you believe in. Make what you care about.

-Joe Russo

As someone who is deep in the throes of writing a novel, this particular advice was meaningful in ways I didn’t expect. Hearing it from someone who capped off one of the greatest storytelling events in this lifetime gave it so much more weight than I could have imagined. Avengers Endgame was the twenty-second movie in a ten-year saga of 23 movies. I still get emotional thinking about the events that transpired and the way they were able to truly payoff the set-up they started a decade ago.

He talked about long-form storytelling being the future, as it helps audiences connect with the characters for an emotional payoff you can’t get out of a singular movie. How the actors know their characters better than he ever would and the trust he puts in them to bring those characters to life. This is something Brian and I talk about a lot. We both really hope to see more movie studios picking up on this idea that a series of interconnected stories in a single world can truly immerse audiences and drive interest and excitement.

He answered my question about “I love you 3000” – where it came from (Robery Downey Jr. told them it was a cute thing his daughter said, so they used it) and if they realized the impact it would have on the audience and eventually their marketing plans (they actually found that test audiences loved it so much, they added it to the hologram later, unaware of its potential at the time. He claimed meme culture helps bring one-off lines like this to the front line of movies and TV).

Joe Russo inspires me. And so when I had the opportunity to wait in line to meet him, I took it.

Which returns us to his appearance at Best Buy yesterday.

As they handed out wristbands, I anxiously watched, hoping our counts had been close and we were under 100. It didn’t feel real until they wrapped a blue paper wristband with the number 075 around my left wrist.

They handed out pins and Chicago themed posters with Iron Man (my favorite Avenger) that had me tearing up. They gave out gift bags with McDonald’s toys and Funko Pops for everyone.

In addition to the meet and greet, autograph, and goodie bags, they had actual props that had actual screen time in the movie.

  • Cap’s broken shield.
  • Thor’s axe, Stormbringer.
  • Iron Man’s power source.

I died.

It was truly a dream come to life, and it got even better when it was time to get back in line to meet the storytelling legend himself.

I walked up and shook his hand and told him it was an honor to meet him. He made polite conversation and seemed genuinely kind. He complimented my Captain America shirt twice. He signed everything he could in and on my Bluray case and then told me he would sign an extra poster, “just in case.” It really seemed he knew what it was like to be a fan getting autographs andhe did his best to make it a magical experience for everyone in line, so I like to believe he was there once upon a time too.

I didn’t embarrass myself this time. I didn’t fawn all over him, ramble like a fool, try to touch his chest, or let Brian come so he could say something that gets us death stares. I didn’t cry like I did when I met John Grogan (I should really tell that story). I was cool. I was collected. I was still me and talked the whole time, but would you expect any different?

Overall, this was one of my favorite meet and greets, and it was worth every second of sitting out in the strangely cool humidity for 6 hours.

Have you ever met a celebrity? What was it like? Would you rather wait in line for hours or pay money at a convention to meet someone? Let me know in the comments!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Princess for a day in Kinnitty Castle

After our adventures in Dublin, it was time to kick back and relax in a haunted castle for my birthday (as one does). We rented a car as we made our way out of the city center, and I took the right-sided helm.


A two-minute look at some of our adventures in Kinnitty Castle

For better or worse, we were on our way to one of the many haunted spots in Ireland — and planning to spend two nights in said hotel. Because I had every intention of spending my birthday like the high-maintenance princess that I am.

The drive itself was uneventful, but upon arrival, we got a glimpse of our lodging for the next couple of days.

Why yes, this is where I spent my birthday

With an epic view from the road, Brian and I just kept “holy crapping” our way up to the front gate. This was where we were staying for the night?

We were welcomed to Kinnitty Castle Hotel and told that our room wasn’t quite ready yet, but we made reservations for my birthday dinner the next evening in the hotel restaurant and made our way to the first of two bars in the castle. The Library Bar was a welcoming mish-mosh of weathered furniture (sofas, tables, and chairs) and old tomes lining the shelves.

We quickly discovered the entire place was full of quirky antique decor that added charm to an already incredible venue. I was here for all of it.

We had drinks in the library while we killed time before the Dungeon Bar opened. Upon opening, we made our way downstairs to the dungeon for lunch. Embracing the kitschy theming, we found a dark dungeon nook just waiting for us to occupy it.

Kinnitty Castle Dungeon Bar cellar table
Kinnitty Castle Dungeon Bar

Our bartender/server ended up being our favorite staffer in the hotel (everyone was truly kind, though!) and she spent time telling us about the hotel and just chatting with us about anything and everything. We saw her a few more times throughout our stay and she was wonderfully sweet and engaging. She also promised that the hotel was indeed haunted and that she had her share of spooky moments. I knew then I was going to scare myself into imagining something if nothing ended up being in our room…

Before dinner, we wandered the grounds and planned to take one of the walking loops. We found all sorts of neat slugs and snails (you guys there were seriously slugs every couple of feet and inches in some areas! It was so weird and awesome).

Slugs are so creepy, but they’re also so cool!

And then we accidentally hiked through part of the Slieve Bloom Mountains (we kept getting higher with no turn in sight. Eventually, we turned around to make it back in time before dinner service ended — this turned out to be a common issue in our Ireland travel…food service stops at 9 in most restaurants). If there’s anything Brian and I are good at when we travel, it’s getting ourselves a little lost and calling it an adventure!

That night, we played card games in the Dungeon bar until it closed and then in the library until well past midnight before quietly tiptoeing the creaky floors of our room.

I am kind of obsessed with this gif Brian made. I was deep in focus, and he was royally kicking my ass (hence the death glare). I don’t know if he said something or what, but I just love him.

It was at this point that I started worrying myself into a tizzy. What if there ARE ghosts? Throughout the night (including one wake up in the middle of the night bathroom check), I thought I may have heard creaks and noises, but I am about 90% sure they were all in my head. No hauntings for us. Which, to be honest, was probably for the best since we still had another night left in us.

I woke up the next day to embrace that birthday princess life, and what a magical day it was. I disneybounded as Princess Aurora in two different outfits (of course).

Living that Nap Queen life. Wake up in a castle. Eat. Nap. Repeat.

First, up was breakfast in my Ralph Breaks the Internet loungewear. Breakfast at Kinnitty Castle was amazing. It was definitely the best Irish fry that we had throughout our trip (and omg the brown bread was addictive here). For those who don’t know what an Irish breakfast consists of:

  • Eggs
  • Bangers (Irish breakfast sausage)
  • Rashers (Irish bacon — imagine marrying Canadian bacon to American bacon in one full slice)
  • Black and white pudding (bready sausages, sliced and fried)
  • Some combination of tomatoes, mushrooms, and or onions
  • Baked beans in tomato sauce

Basically, happiness.

After breakfast, I realized I was still beaten up from jet lag and opted for a two-hour nap. Because it was my birthday and I was wearing a shirt that said Nap Queen. It felt appropriate.

Nap time for this princess

We then left our castle to go to another castle (appropriate), Birr, where we toured fancy gardens that reminded me of our arboretum and saw what was, for over 70 years, the largest telescope in the world (science!). The castle itself was still lived in – remember our awesome server in the Dungeon Bar? She told us that her friend used to work at the cafe of Birr Castle and said that the residents of the castle insisted on being called Lord and Lady, and the way she said it had us giggling a little too much.

Princess for a day in Kinnitty Castle

We returned to our home castle in time for an incredible birthday dinner at the Sli Dala (the fine dining restaurant open on the weekends for dinner). This was the best meal that we had in Ireland, and I was in absolute heaven. When they arrived with dessert, they came in singing with a candle in my torte, but Brian was nowhere to be found. They stopped halfway through the first line, and I started laughing.

The server who was holding the cake looked at his empty seat, said, “uhh this is awkward,” and blew the candle out. I told him my husband had stepped out for a minute. Just as they turned around to leave, with me laughing like a hyena, Brian returned to his seat. They started again and I just laughed through the entire thing. It was perfect.

We finished our meal and went down to the bar for live music and after dinner drinks before calling it a night and preparing for the third leg of our trip. Overall it was a fine birthday adventure for this girl, and definitely one I’ll never forget. Level 36, bring it on.

Woke up in a castle. Went to sleep in a castle. Best birthday ever.
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Strangers who are mean to me are basically kicking a puppy

I like to think I’m a pretty nice person. I try to find the positive side of just about everything. It is known that I have a penchant for loving terrible things. It’s part of my charm, according to Katie. I love dogs and cats and babies and even adult humans, though the consensus seems to be that adult humans are the root of all the problems.

And yet…

Strangers scream obscenities and call me a fat ass across a busy parking lot because my husband stopped to let me out of the car in front of the grocery store.

Strangers in a movie theater call me horrible names and repeatedly tell me I need to be put in my place because I politely asked them to quiet down in a movie theater.

Strangers on the internet call me names and judge me without knowing anything about me.

Friends say things to me or about me that are hurtful. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. Sometimes to my face and sometimes behind my back.

Adult humans are constantly breaking my heart.

But I’ve survived heartache before. When your heart is openly exposed on your sleeve, it tends to take a beating. Mine is no exception. But I’ve learned to manage the bruises.

And with that, I wanted to show you guys my process. Because I know I’m not alone in experiencing hurt. I know that many of you deal with so much more than a few spiteful strangers proverbially spitting on you. And I wanted to share how I deal. And how I continue to stay positive despite the bullies and meanies that I occasionally engage with. It’s a process, to say the least — and one that’s not without a pity party for one. But it works for me.

Survive

The first step for me starts while I’m dealing with the initial incident. My body takes over, so my brain busies itself by running simulations to help choose the safest route for getting out of a given situation. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t always listen to my brain. Sometimes fight wins in the fight or flight response, and I yell back. In the most recent conflict, I panicked and froze and eventually took flight instead of going for a fight. I’m not mad about it.

Calm myself down

The rush of adrenaline that spikes, when someone is verbally accosting me, can take its toll on my ability to think. I try not to do anything while I’m in this phase. Instead, I’ll sit in my car or away from others and work things out in my head to remind myself that I’m okay. I’m safe. I’m away from the conflict. Sometimes I’ll call Brian, or I’ll tell you guys about it in my Instagram stories.

Get angry

Once I’ve calmed myself enough to rationally think about whatever it was that happened, I usually get angry.

I start thinking things over in my head. Replaying the situation on repeat, wishing I had said X, Y, or Z. Trying to understand how someone could say whatever it was they said, especially if it was a stranger who knows absolutely nothing about me. I may even hide in my car or house and scream at the top of my lungs to let the emotions building up inside of me out. Anger is something I understand. But taking that anger out on another person, especially one you know little to nothing about? I can’t fathom how anyone can do or say cruel things to strangers.

Allow myself to be sad

It takes me time to get over the hurt. For long-term heartbreak, it can be weeks or months or even years. For a slew of slurs? It may take hours or days. For me, it’s kind of a grieving process. I don’t know what exactly I’m grieving when someone verbally assaults me, but it gives me time to let the insults wash through me. The more hurtful, the longer it takes. My eyes live on the verge of tears, but we already know I’m a pretty regular crier as it stands. Brian already calls it my superpower – just like the Hulk, but instead of being always angry, I’m always ready to cry.

Limit social media

If you notice me going dark on social media, it’s likely because I’m taking time for myself. I’m allowing my heart to recuperate without adding the stress and expectation of social media. There’s no contract that says I have to be “on” all the time, and when I turn myself “off” I can recharge in a way that doesn’t add to my anxieties. I think we all need a little bit more of this, honestly.

Power up

I have a Power-Up playlist on YouTube that re-energizes me when I need a pick-me-up. It has empowering songs, like “Brave” by Sara Bareilles. It has happy songs like, “Can’t Fight the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. And it has songs that just bring me personal joy, like “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. It’s a fun collection of party pop, alterna-rock, Disney songs, and musical numbers that makes me ridiculously happy. I also use this to rev myself up before a show. It’s amazing what music can do.

Remember the good in humans

You guys are pretty much the best, did you know that? If you’re reading this, you’re probably already on my list of favorite people. My village lifts me up so hard. You remind me that for as many mean people in this world, there are a hundred or even a thousand times as many kind, generous souls ready and willing to share and spread joy. To love. To pass good vibes on to everyone around you. Keep doing that. Because the world needs more people like you.

How do you stay positive when people are mean? What are some of your coping mechanisms for heartache? Let me know in the comments, because I’m always looking for new ways to stay positive.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Some people make me feel uncomfortable

I am often surprised by that which makes me awkward. JK guys. I am the queen of awkward. For all my self-love and confidence, I also know what drops my confidence like it’s hot. I am also acutely aware of things that make me uncomfortable, and I feel like I can’t be alone in this, guys.

As someone who genuinely loves people and surrounds herself with them whenever possible (hello extrovert life), it’s hard to find people that truly make me uncomfortable. I talk to strangers at the grocery store. I get in full-on conversations about Disney with my dental hygienist and physical therapist. So really this list only has a few offenders.

Door-to-door salespeople

Yes, even you, adorable Girl Scout peddling your caramel delights and shortbreads

I really don’t like it when people come to the front door unannounced. Unless you are like family or one of my friends who is like family (at which point, cue DJ Tanner shouting “It’s always open!”), I get a surprising amount of anxiety. Maybe it stems from my very first night alone in our house…or my inability to easily, breezily say “no thank you,” but I cannot handle people at the door.

If Brian (reminder: Brian is an introvert) is home, he is the one to answer the door, because I would much rather hide on the floor, in the back of the house than answer the door.

When I’m home alone, or I’m caught off guard…Or worse, sitting right there with the curtains open…I open the door to find everything from teenagers selling coupon books or kids selling candy to guys wearing neon yellow vests asking me to show them my ComEd bill. It’s really hard to say no to any of them, but the pushy ones (always adults) don’t just take no for an answer. They keep coming at you with details. They compliment your hair or your dog. And distracting you from saying, “goodbye. No thank you.”

So I printed out a sign and taped it to my front door. Because I’m classy. (Mostly because I’m a terrible decision maker and couldn’t find the right sign that compelled me to pay $15, and until I do that, my free print out will do).

Police officers

Especially police officers in cars that are behind me while driving

It’s no secret that I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the law (all driving related, obvi). And maybe it was that last speeding ticket that really did me in because that police officer was terrifying. But I get SO. MUCH. ANXIETY. when I’m driving and a police officer pulls behind me on the road. I’m just waiting for the lights to flicker and the siren to sound and then I have to come up with an excuse for why I was doing whatever it was they pulled me over for in the first place.

Even when the siren sounds or the lights flicker and I KNOW it wasn’t me (because I’m a surprisingly good driver now), that doesn’t stop the angry tummy of anxiety from greeting me with open arms like a long lost friend.

The other day I was driving home, and I noticed a police officer behind me. And he kept driving behind me as we moved into the next town over…and I was just like, fuck it. And I made my escape. I turned onto the tollway (an unnecessary route for me to drive the few miles to my house, but for me, it was well worth the 70 cents to avoid any further anxiety from being tailed by Chief Wiggum for another three miles).

This morning? Driving Brian to the train, and I drove through a yellow light right behind a police officer. I immediately pulled into the bank on the other side of the light just to let the police officer get a good mile ahead of me before continuing on my route. Illogical, maybe. Unnecessary, definitely. But my peace of mind is important, guys.

Okay gang, now that I’ve rambled on about people that make me feel uncomfortable, let me know in the comments what types of people make you uncomfortable? Or are you an impenetrable fortress of comfort and security?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

High-maintenance birthday princess

Guys, it’s May 1st. Which means several things, but mostly, to me, it means the month of my birth. I am finally 100% owning the crap out of my high-maintenance needs as a birthday girl (because this is how I intend to combat birthday anxiety).

Every year on the first day of May, I get inundated with magical emails that offer me free meals, coupons, and gifts for shopping and dining at my favorite businesses.

a list of restaurants and stores that offer free birthday coupons in your email for signing up.

And I am reminded that I’m soon to be another year older.

Another year has gone by in which I haven’t accomplished every goal and dream under the sun. Another year in which I am waiting for X or Y or Z.

And fuck that, you guys. I am done worrying about what hasn’t happened. I am living for what I’m doing right now.

I am so over thinking about what HASN’T come yet. Because it’s time to celebrate what has happened and what is happening. A year ago, I was just on the cusp of something magical — an adventure in improvisation and what a wild ride it’s been.

I’m going to celebrate like a rockstar this year. Because it’s been full of my favorite things. My friends. My family. My love. Improvisation. Writing. Reading. Learning. Dreaming. Disney World (thrice since my last birthday, you guys. THRICE!). Traveling. Adventure. PUPPY. 35 has been good to me.

So cheers to the last month of 35. I’m going to celebrate the crap out of myself this month. I’m going to own my self-dubbed high-maintenance birthday princess title and use all the birthday coupons. I’m going to have fun and enjoy every slice of life that I can grab.

And I intend to welcome 36 in the best way possible. In Ireland. In a castle. Spending my entire day as a princess, obvi. We’ve booked ourselves two nights in a (presumably haunted, because why not, right?) medieval castle B&B/hotel so I can wake up in a castle and go to sleep in a castle on my birthday. It doesn’t get much more high maintenance than that, amiright? So get excited about the coming adventures, because I know I am.

How do you celebrate your birthday? Are you a birthday prince or princess? Do you celebrate a birthday week or month? Let me know in the comments!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Our Disney adventure in ride photos

I’ve taken the liberty of downloading those bad boys from my last trip (with the indomitable Cletus, who also joined us for the Disney Wojcation in 2017) and placing them here for you to laugh at (or ridicule — either way, I’m going to assume you’re laughing with us…whether or not you are).

You can tell a lot about a person by the photos they take when they’re on a ride. Luckily, because I’m a Walt Disney World annual passholder, I get to keep and cherish all of the ride photos I’ve been on in the last year with Memory Maker.

Cletuses requested approval of any images that went into the video, and he agrees that these are some amazing photos (which is great, because I really didn’t want to have to edit each one with a Mickey Mouse emoji over his face). I have no contractual obligation to the other people in the pictures, so please, also enjoy the ones that made me laugh without their prior written approval. (If you are one of the people in these photos 1. I’m sorry and 2. I’m sorry).

When I was little, I used to count how many rides we got to go on in a day like it was a gigantic feat. Now with the Fast Pass system, Cletus and I are able to double the amount of rides we can get on in a day. And it made for some fun photo ops.

Chrissy and Cletus doing a pose on Expedition Everest
Yes, we rode all the big rides several times on a 5-day trip. We are masters of the Fast Pass+ system. One day, we’ll share our secrets. One day.

Without further ado, I present to you…

How to look awesome (or terrible) in Disney World ride photos

What do you like to do for ride photos (whether they’re at Disney, Six Flags, or another theme park with this option?)

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A playful year of fun and magic

If you’ve been here for a while, you already know I’m not a fan of traditional New Year’s resolutions. A few years ago, I even came up with a monthly list of ways to dominate next year without a typical resolution, which I continually utilize as a guide for success.

Now a lot of people who don’t do traditional resolutions like to choose a grounding word that they use to guide them through the year. I’m not that type of girl. I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-skirt gal, myself. Instead, I choose to label my year as it begins to play out or even at the end of the year. And this year was so perfect, you guys. I mean, not everything goes according to plan and things change and resolutions are hard to follow, but wrapping up your year with a bit of positive energy never hurt anyone.

And so I thought I’d tell you how I categorize my years.

In previous years, I’ve had The Experimental Year, a year of trying different stuff in the world of dating and boys, which was also the year that ended in a chance meeting with a handsome Irishman at a bar. I’ve had the Storytelling Year, in which I asked myself, “Will this make a good story in the morning?” and if the answer was yes, I did it, regardless of whether it was a “good” or “bad” idea. I’ve had good years and weird years and even bad years (like the Year I Didn’t Feel Good Enough; though I also came away smarter and more ready to tackle the world than ever before). And I always try to find the positive spin to the end of the year instead of wishing it away like just another fucking zit. (Side note: I hesitated in linking the aforementioned piece because there was a surprising amount of backlash to it. And that backlash made me want to stop writing, but I won’t self-censor any longer because that post wasn’t specifically about 2016. It was about every year.)

I take the biggest changes, most exciting adventures, and my highlight reel and try to find an underlying theme. This year started shaping itself before I even realized it was shaping. And it all started with a fake resolution.

I play games

At the beginning of this year, I thought I’d be cheeky and come up with a ridiculous New Year’s resolution. I made three. Two of which I’ll actually hit. 

  1. Play 365 games
  2. Play 100 DIFFERENT games (so that some of those 365 could be repeats)
  3. Play at least 25 different games that we own and have never played

Number one…that one is probably not going to happen. Unless we can play like 200 games in the next 3 days. Doubtful. But that’s okay. I had fun.

Number two…I have six more games to play. MUCH more doable.

Number three…DONE. Well, at least we made it through several of our untouched boxes (of course, we also bought a few new games…)

Silly resolution aside, gaming was a good start to a truly magical year.

I played in a Dominion Tournament at GenCon. I lost, but I had lots of fun!

I played in a Dominion Tournament at GenCon. I lost, but I had lots of fun!

I play with video

I’ve been dabbling with some different video styles on YouTube. I started a few things that could absolutely become the first of their own series (C-Rex Adventures, 60 Seconds of Chrissy), but we’ll have to see where 2019 takes us! It’s all in good fun which, for me, is super important. I can’t take myself too seriously, guys.

T-rex costume reaches for a ball at the bowling alley

I play dress up

In March, I took on something called The Disneybound Challenge. Every march, an Instagrammer/Blogger runs an Instagram photo challenge for people who DIsneybound (for those of you not in the know, this means dressing like Disney characters, something I apparently have a knack for. I nailed it for 31/31 days and continued to play dress up throughout the year (today, I’m wearing an outfit inspired by Moana’s Hei Hei).

This is a Disneybound of Olaf. The "buttons" are actually Olaf disney trading pins.

This is a Disneybound of Olaf. The “buttons” are actually Olaf disney trading pins.

I play pretend

In April, I began training at The Second City Training Center. In March, I’ll finish a year of improvisation and “graduate” from the A-E improv program at SCTC. Since August, I’ve performed in eleven shows (all student shows, but performances on Second City small stages nonetheless), with at least seven more shows before March comes to an end. When you’re improvising, you’re basically doing what small children do in free play — you make up stories. Sometimes you’re the mom. Sometimes you’re the baby. Sometimes you’re an accountant named Stan. But always, you should be having fun playing with your castmates and classmates.

Level D show photo from Second City Training Center Chicago

These crazy kids (a few of my SCTC loves are missing from this photo) give me life, you guys. This is one of the best things I’ve done for myself. And I’ve been saying that a lot lately.

I play house

Sometimes, I even pretend to be a grown up with my Grown Up. We have a really neat house that I have spent a lot of time in this year (thanks to the job quitting and the new puppy). I may make a terrible housewife, and I’m a horrible housekeeper, but I am good at playing house. You know. Pretending to be good at those things. On social media. And when we host parties. But definitely not in real life. There are rooms in my house where the clutter goes to die. I’m trying to fix that, but it’s a lot harder to get rid of clutter than I thought.

 

 

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I play with my hair

After years of planning and scheming, Kaitlyn and I finally took the plunge and dyed my hair hot pink. (Kaitlyn is my incredible stylist. She’s pure magic). We started with a super sweet gentle pink, and now it’s this hot pink, bold AF shade that I cannot get enough of. I’m never* looking back.

This poor man. I fangirled John Grogan so hard I cried. He is, though, one of the writers that made me want to be a writer, so I think a little obnoxious fangirling was to be expected.

This poor man. I fangirled John Grogan so hard I cried. He is, though, one of the writers that made me want to be a writer, so I think a little obnoxious fangirling was to be expected.

I play with puppysaurus rex

Adopting a puppy was one of the craziest things we did this year. Not only did this furball full of love and ENERGY enter our world, she dominated it. There is something magical about a creature that wakes up with the sun and says, “It’s time to play!” She naps when she’s tired and wants to play the other 77% of the day. This is a lifestyle I can get behind. Now if only her version of play was the same as mine. Unfortunately, two black lips and a few deep scratches later, we’ve learned the importance of training our sweet girl (but we always train with games and play and toys and treats instead of negative consequences. And boy does she love toys and treats! (I think I may have spent more on Nia’s Christmas than Brian’s…don’t tell Brian).

A sleeping puppy on your tummy is probably one of the greatest things ever.

A sleeping puppy on your tummy is probably one of the greatest things ever.

I play Disney (and that other park with Harry Potter [ and that OTHER park with Bugs Bunny])

After immersing myself so heavily in Disney Instagram, I became obsessed with needing to get back to the parks. I wanted to knock Dapper Day off my bucket list and asked my pal Laura if she wanted to go. When she said yes, I booked a hotel for November and started planning. When my cousin invited Brian and me to visit Universal Studios with him and his wife in October, it sealed a deal I made in my head. I was going to get an annual pass to Walt Disney World. (If you go more than once, the price of the pass is worth it (especially with added discounts and perks and such). I was lucky and able to use credit card points to reimburse my Disney pass purchase, so it was essentially “free” in my head, which makes it all the more logical. To me. And so I visited the happiest place on earth twice in a matter of two months, catching both the Halloween and Christmas seasons. And then…just for fun…because it’s close to home and the season pass was so cheap…we got season passes for Six Flags (Great America, but we can go to any of them with the pass). I guess I’m kind of a theme park addict…

Magic Kingdom Disney Photopass hub grass Cinderella Castle

Playing on the hub grass in front of Cinderella Castle seemed like a great idea.

And so with that, I give you Chrissy’s Year of Play. In which I truly embraced my inner child and let her help me find the joy I need to live this life and take the next steps on my journey. Being a creative is hard. Being an empath is FUCKING hard. Learning how to free yourself to determine your path? So hard. But so worth it. I honestly believe that my role in this world is to bring joy and laughter and share that light with you. And so when you see me behaving like a kid in a candy store with a light-up skirt and hot pink hair, remember that we all have a part to play. This is mine.

*I reserve the right to change my mind on the “never” at any time. 

If you could put a theme to your year, what would it be? What are your highlights from 2018?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Dog training is dangerous work

So my dog is becoming incredibly skilled at indoor parkour. If you don’t know what that is, Google it. I’ll wait.

Insane, right?

Well, Nia is a master. When she gets the zoomies, she jets around our house, side-swiping and jumping on everything with a flat surface.

 She can also clear 4-5 feet with a standing jump. Hopping on our couch, over the back? Child’s play. Jumping a gate to get to the top of our stairs? Piece of cake. Bouncing from one ottoman to the other like fucking Tigger? Done.

Clearly, all of these feats of strength means she’s an agility star in the making.

So the other night, after some serious playtime and even more serious zoomies, I decided that instead of trying to train the crazy out of her, I would help hone her skills.

dog with a toy in the middle of a living room

I’m a fool.

So I pulled out the small ottoman and started running to jump over it in the hopes that Nia would follow suit and chase me. She did, but she ran beside the ottoman instead of over it. Several times.

So I figured I’d try again.

I figured wrong.

As my right leg cleared the ottoman, my left foot caught on the back, making my landing less than a 10. I didn’t fall (for, like, the first time ever), but I did manage to feel a pop-pop-pop of bad. And also a searing pain in my left Flinstoe (Flinstone toe. It’s a thing) that turned out to be a broken nail.

I knew immediately something had gone awry and I stumbled to the couch, much to Brian’s confusion. He has never seen me actually injure myself, despite seven-plus years of experience with my injuries. I took a few ibuprofen, iced my knee, and made a bunch of Instagram stories about my foolishness, hoping there would be no pain when I finally peeled myself off the couch.

Much to my dismay (and with little surprise, if we’re being honest), I discovered that yes, Virginia, Chrissy hurt herself again. After 30+ years of injuring myself, I knew how to recognize the signs of a sprain:

  • Can move the joint in question
  • Difficulty with range of motion (which is strange for me because I have overextending joints, so my range of motion is a little crazy already)
  • Slight swelling (I don’t often swell)
  • Slight bruising (sprains don’t bruise much for me, even though I get rando bruises all the time)
  • Pain in certain positions (or many positions or when putting pressure on said joint)

And so I went to sleep with plans to visit the doctor the next day. I’m pretty confident they love me over there. This was the first time my doc saw my hair, and she was all open-mouth WOAH, but not actually surprised, since she’s been seeing me for years (basically since I got a job with health insurance). After I told her about trying to train my dog to jump over an ottoman by showing instead of telling (I mean, COME ON. How do you tell a dog to jump over an ottoman?), she laughed and told me, “At least you have a good story.”

“Doc, that’s pretty much my life. You should hear about the last time I sprained my knee…”

She laughed, and I made a few more jokes before she told me to chill out, rest my shit, and try not to reinjure myself like a fool (which is of course going to be tricky with several hours of improv classes and a show tonight (SHAMELESS PLUG: GO SEE MY ENSEMBLE, HAMMOCK FIRE, at the Chicago Second City Training Center Thursday nights through September 20!)

And so, I’m back on the injury train. Which is kind of funny, since I had finally stopped telling people that injuring myself is a key theme in my storytelling style.

Such is life.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

1979. Or melancholy and infinite sadness

Quick before you read any further! I want to know your first thought when you saw the title of this song. Got it? Great.

Last night, I was checking out after a quick trip to Trader Joe’s. A woman who I figured was close in proximity to me in age was running the register.

“Your total is 19.79.”
“Great song!”
She made a face and started humming to the music playing in the store.
“I can’t hear what it is.”
“1979? The Smashing Pumpkins?”
“What? Oh. Your total”
“Yep. Loved them.”
“Oh I don’t really know them much. I think anyone younger than me wouldn’t have known that at all.”
I bowed my head in sadness and dismay while facepalming.
“But I know Billy Cor…gan, right?”
“Yes. Billy Corgan.” Visions of magazine articles and album covers filled my head instead of photos on Facebook. Song lyrics on the inside of CD covers instead of lyrics.com. Surreal videos on MTV instead of YouTube. I picked up my bag and started to leave, my chin buried in my chest.
“I should get points for knowing that, right?”
“Have a good night, young lady!”
And I walked out of the store wondering where to get a walker and a bottle of prune juice.
I’m okay accepting my age, but MAN was I not ready to be worlds apart from someone no more than 5 years younger than me. I remember my friend Jane and I planning our escape to the MTV Beach House, where we hoped to stay in Room 1979. It was a thing. I swear.
And now I’m just melancholy. With infinite sadness.
You see what I did there? Fine. Go Google it.
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!