Is part of getting older just falling into a well of true crime obsession? Or is this just the fad-du-jour? What I mean is, everywhere I look there's some new exciting way to get into true crime - novels, documentaries, dramatized true-life series, and podcasts. I saw a joke someone made about their wife only liking two things on Netflix - baking shows and murder. And I've got to admit, sounds like me!

My favorite way to indulge in the macabre side of life lately is to listen to a podcast - usually in the car to and from work or on a walk with Ada. Here are my favorites lately:

1. Crime Junkie

This is by far my favorite right now. Ashley and Brit host this true crime show which usually focuses on one story per episode, featuring a murder, missing person, or a serial killer. They have great hosting chemistry and their storytelling abilities draw you in and keep you engaged. And they also have a little recurring segment at the end of some episodes where they feature a heartwarming dog-related story, which is a nice palette cleanser.

2. Criminal

There's just something about Pheobe Judge that makes me feel completely comforted - the cadence of her voice makes me feel safe. Criminal is a fascinating podcast where each episode is completely different, focusing on different aspects of the world of crime.

3. Man in the Window

If you've already read I'll Be Gone in the Dark, this might feel a little bit like a repeat, but still worth listening to! This podcast follows the Golden State Killer, through the stories of the victims. It's a terrifying look at one of California's most notorious serial killers.

4. Dirty John

This podcast will literally have you shouting "NO!" out loud while you're listening to it. It tells the story of a scam artist and how he fooled numerous women and it's HORRIFYING in a "how could anyone be so blind?" kind of way.

5. Atlanta Monster / Monster: The Zodiac Killer

Season 1 follows the Atlanta child murders, and then they switch gears for Season 2 and follow the Zodiac Killer. Really interesting if you don't know much about either of these cases, and also *spoiler* deeply unsatisfying because they still don't know who either of the killers were.

6. Cold

This podcast follows the story of the Powell family disappearance and murders and IT. IS. CRAZY. While this case is covered in other podcasts, I find this one to be the most comprehensive.

That's it for now! Inevitably once I listen to every episode of one, I go searching for another so I'm sure I will add more to the list soon. What's your favorite true crime podcast?

Hello friends! It's been a minute since we've chatted. I hope you're doing well. Life has felt very hectic since Ada came into our lives, and my social life and free time have both hit a real dry spell.

Ada is now 7 months old (???HOW???) and is a little terror and love at the same time. She's spunky and grumpy and loves other people and wants to play with every dog. She chews up weird things like my exercise bike and the slats under the couch, and destroys every single toy with stuffing except her little wolf we named Peebo.

Our days are mostly spent going to work, getting home, running Ada outside and then on a walk or to the dog park, shoving some kind of food in our mouths while we watch one episode of something or other (food competition shows, Pretty Little Liars, or if Harry gets me on a good night, a horror movie) and then passing out. I've lost the ability to keep up with any of my hobbies, including photography and this blog, which is bumming me out! I'm hoping things will sort of even out soon.

I'll level with you - having a dog (well, a puppy) isn't exactly what I thought it would be. Ada is her own dog, with all her own thoughts and she's definitely opinionated! Getting her to even walk with me is sometimes a huge pain, she'll just decide she doesn't want to anymore and plant her feet. It's frustrating because I'd imagined going on long walks and cuddling with her on the couch, but she hasn't been so enthusiastic about those ideas. And I've had more than a few crying meltdowns wondering if we made the right decision (should we have gotten an easier breed? I often wonder). But we're working on it, and housetraining seems to have finally clicked so that's one less thing to worry about! We do love her - there are just some good days and bad days.

We're starting to make plans to move to a house with a yard for Ada sometime in the nearish future. I'll keep you posted!

If you know me in real life, you know that I've wanted a dog for at least the last 5 years (more really, but I think 5 years ago is when I really started trying to figure out how to have a dog-friendly lifestyle). Specifically, I have wanted a bull terrier. I grew up with Australian Shepherds and they are amazing dogs, but we always had plenty of land for them to run around on. I knew an Aussie wouldn't suit my future non-farm lifestyle so I started researching other breeds. And for some reason, I fell head over heels for bull terriers.

Turns out, bull terriers are sort of hard to find! I had no idea until we really started looking. I checked Craiglist, PetFinder, Adopt a dog, and local shelters constantly (obsessively) and we kept our eye on a local rescue for months and months, but so many of the dogs that came up for adoption had dog aggression issues, which I wasn't super confident I could deal with. I also want to bring my dog into my office, and dog aggression definitely won't work for that. We had some weird experiences with Craigslist people - a strange woman who told me her whole life story for 3 hours and then gave her dog away to someone else, a man who sent me a photo of his bull terrier with a rat in its mouth (???) - so we gave up on that pretty quickly. SIDENOTE: If someone on Craigslist gets mad at you for asking questions and seem like the money is the most important part, RED FLAG. Don't buy from them.

So after a long saga of trying to find the right fit, we decided that a puppy might work the best for us right now. We started looking around at some breeders in Oregon, all of whom breed mini bull terriers and made some contacts. The price for a reputable breeder's puppy is quite high, but we felt like this was the only good option we had. And then weird fate intervened.

My friend Liz stumbled across a Facebook post from some people about 3 hours away from us who had a litter of bull terrier puppies, and after contacting them and chatting a bit we got a good feeling and decided right then, on that day, to drive all the way out to meet them and the puppies. There was one girl in particular that we liked and wanted to see how she was. The couple was really nice, answered all our questions (cue me googling "What to ask puppy breeders" and "how to pick a puppy" on the drive over) and we ended up loving the pup we had liked initially, so we put down a deposit and left. And then spent the whole drive home freaking out!

On Jan. 19, two weeks after we met her, we brought home Ada, our 8-week old bull terrier pup. She was so tiny and cried and pooped all through her first night with us.

She is now 11 weeks old (!!!) and has chunked out a little more, loves to play and bite us and is starting to really show her hilarious and stubborn personality. We have been on a roller coaster of emotions since day one - we have some really good days and some really rough days and feel like we're doing amazing and then feel like we're failing. Potty training and bite inhibition are HARD you guys. And having a dog in an apartment is also really tough. But we're working through it, taking it day by day and trying to really cherish the moments where she's having fun and loving on us (and not the ones where she's biting our hands or throwing a tantrum).

If you want to follow her adventures, I post a lot on my instagram and I created an instagram for her @ada_the_bullterrier 

The art of family photography is something I have always been fascinated with (Sally Mann being my photo hero) and something that my Dad was particularly good at. Our photo albums are filled with impromptu photo shoots of me as a kid doing all sorts of things - pretending to talk on the phone, wearing silly hats, playing with my shadow, etc. Those photos have always felt so precious to me, and are a big reason that the work of Shin Noguchi with his daughters particularly resonated with me. 

Shin began taking photos of his daughters after his father passed away and he discovered a cash of previously unseen childhood photos of himself shot by his mother. "They show me such beautiful moments, I think it’s a gift, the gift of beautiful moment they gave, these extreme gifts appear in front of me, I can’t help but catch them," Shin says on his website. 

The photos are charming, sweet and poignant, capturing a magical childhood. Here are some of my favorites:

I cannot tell you the last time I had a real Christmas tree in my home - maybe not since before I left for college? I bought a little white fake table top tree and called it good for all these years. But this year a certain guy got so excited about getting a real tree that I also got excited about it and off we went! We went small with a tree lot, but maybe next year we'll attempt to go cut our own tree down - who knows? I must admit it did feel super Christmas-y to be in a tree lot surrounded by the smell of fir trees and having a mini candy cane. Maybe my Grinch days are over :)

We're going to be going out of town to my Dad's for Christmas so we'll only get to enjoy the tree until the 21st and then hopefully it will still be ok when we get back! It's making our apartment feel so cozy and it smells incredible. 

My sister and I are currently trying to wrangle together our family Christmas party and I have a feeling we'll have more cheese than necessary, which is what the holidays are really about I'm sure. Harry and I are also going to two holiday parties, hosting an open house and going to the Nutcracker (and baking a ton!) all before we leave, so this month is feeling like crunch time. I'm trying so hard not to get stressed by it all but I'll admit that it's closing in on me a little. Wish me luck!

Here's a little sneak peak at my wrapping aesthetic this year - stars and holographic paper and ribbon! My love of stars is no secret so I'm sure everyone who knows me is rolling their eyes and saying "of course it's stars themed - like every year" but THIS year is HOLOGRAPHIC OK??? It's different I assure you...
From ALBMAdream on Etsy

This year, my Christmas list is mostly just fun little "nice to have" things - honestly I'm super happy with everything I have right now. The only thing I'm hoping for in the new year is that we find a bull  terrier to call our own! But while we wait for that to happen, here's a list of some cute things that are on my list this year:


+ A very "me" themed little clutch from Madewell

+ A cute little dog themed robe

+ This cozy flannel PJ set

+ This heavenly fragrance (which smells like encaustic wax to me - might not be a selling point for you but I loveeee it)

+ A cute little bluetooth speaker for playing tunes or these pretty rose gold wireless headphones

+ A starry night noodle bowl

+ These cool measuring scoops from Sur la Table

+ This set of pots and pans from Costco (or any good non stick set with a big rounded bottom pan)

+ This cheerful duvet set

Orrrrrrr everyone could just get me a Terry's Chocolate Orange and some peppermint hot chocolate and call it good. 

Sometime in the summer, my friend Adrian requested that I make one his favorite cakes - the Battenberg. Then in the fall, he helped me and Harry move into our new apartment, so I thought the time had finally come to make him this cake. 

I have never made a Battenberg cake before, so I decided to follow the recipe in this book and give it my best shot. This recipe actually ended up make two cakes and in the end was an adorable tea cake. For my first time I think I did alright, but I definitely almost gave up a couple of times along the way...

For the first part, I baked two different cakes, one colored with pink food coloring and one plain. Then once they're cool I cut them into long rectangular pieces which was surprisingly challenging. Getting them all even and not falling apart was tricky! Next I thinned out some apricot jam on the stove with a little bit of water and then used it to "glue" the pieces together into a square checkerboard pattern. This was so hard! I don't know how people make this look so easy - it's like building a little house or something. Finding pieces that all fit together with no gaps was near impossible. 

Marzipan Mishap

Then I tackled the marzipan that coats the cake. Following the recipe in the book, I bought "ground almonds" to make the dough - not realizing that you need blanched ground almonds. When I was making the first batch I kept thinking to myself "This doesn't seem right" but it took it getting to this stage - 

- where I said OK, this is nonsense. This isn't working at all and it doesn't look anything like white marzipan. So after some Google searching around I realized that you have to use completely blanched almonds. At this point I was so upset and frustrated I very nearly threw this and the cakes all in the bin. But after I couple of deep breaths, I grabbed my keys and headed to the grocery store to search for the almonds. 

I managed to find fine ground blanched almonds in the organic baking section and came home re-inspired to make this darn marzipan work. Here's attempt two:

This time it came together so much easier and didn't look like a bunch of strange granola. 
I then rolled out the dough into a thin sheet and carefully rolled it around the "cake stacks". The end result was a bit clumsy but not terrible considering I'd never done it before (is what I keep telling myself - secretly I am furious it didn't look neat and tidy and perfect! Does anyone else beat themselves up about silly stuff like this?)

I did some little marzipan decorations on top and gave Adrian the best looking of the two cakes. Hooray! I don't know if I'll ever make another one of these, but I definitely have so much more respect for everyone on The Great British Bakeoff who has! 

Pay no attention to the hole...

What's the most challenging thing you've ever made? I don't know if this is mine, but it's definitely a contender!