So I somehow talked myself into watching Midsommar, the aesthetic horror film everyone was going on about awhile ago. I think the combination of darling Florence Pugh and the beautiful floral production art convinced me that maybe, just maybe, I would like this movie. And I still can't figure out if I did or not. 

(spoilers follow)

The plot of Midsommar is a slightly twisted version of The Wicker Man. I actually just recently saw the 1976 version of the film (I passed on the Nicolas Cage version) and so it was very fresh in my mind when viewing this film. It has the same sort of "stranger happens into a charming but sinister-seeming cult" storyline, though how they set up Midsommar is different.

Dani (Florence Pugh) starts the film in a crappy long term relationship with Christian, an emotionally distant guy who is on the verge of breaking things off. Then Dani's sister kills herself and their parents and he figures that he can't break up with her now so instead reluctantly invites her along on his guys trip to Sweden to attend a Midsommar festival for their anthropology thesis projects (???). 

Things at the festival are strange from the start and creepy events start unfolding including a cliff dive double suicide so brutal that I felt physically sick for the rest of the movie. The friend group gets picked off one by one as the cult members drag each of them off in different directions. Dani's boyfriend gets selected to have sex with one of the members and then is bludgeoned immediately afterward leaving him paralyzed, and Dani wins a dance competition and becomes the May Queen, leaving it in her hands to decide who the final sacrifices will be. Having witnessed his cheating, she ultimately chooses to sacrifice Christian in a final act of revenge and smiles as he and all the other victims burn to death. 

What I liked

The aesthetics of this film were on point. The bright, sun-drenched atmosphere makes the horrible acts being committed that much more unsettling. It drags on in a way that feels akin to what the group is experiencing as they live through the "longest day" with the most sunlight. Florence Pugh was very convincing in her role and I think as a horror, it worked. It gave me the creeps and left enough disturbing imagery in my head to fuel dozens of nightmares. While the horror for some people might have been the relationship plotline, the grisly deaths turned my stomach upside down.

What I didn't like

Honestly, and this is just my personal thing, it was too grossly gruesome for me. I just can't handle that. Apart from my own hangups there, I couldn't really understand the protagonist's motivations. She just suffered a highly traumatic life event and goes to Sweden on this trip to try to escape her feelings (got it) and then somehow is convinced by the cult members that she "finally has a family and isn't alone anymore" (what about her friends back home? Other relatives? They make it seem like she is now totally alone in the world) and ultimately becomes so hateful of her boyfriend, (who definitely sucks but they should have just broken up) that she watches him be murdered with glee. I just don't really follow - it goes from like 0 - 60 with her in the course of like a week. And the whole movie is just a weird allegory for how much relationships can suck and how you want to kill your ex or something, which is kind of shallow in my opinion. 

Okay anyway, I'm going to go throw up now thinking about all those death scenes again...

My Overall Score: B-

the source for this photo is an interesting read

We all need some little distractions and joys these days, so I want to start sharing a few of mine on the blog. The world feels very heavy and I've definitely cried on my way to and from work several times (heyyy essential workers). Whatever you need to keep you getting up and going, do it. 

Lately Harry and I have been dreaming about owning our own home, something I honestly was really against until the last couple of years. I grew up with two parents in the home industry (realtor and contractor) and knew how much of a pain home-ownership can be. I didn't want the responsibility of maintaining a yard or fixing a leaking sink - having a rental company do that for you was appealing! But fast forward to now and we've had some traumatic experiences with landlords and the sad empty feeling that there's really no point in doing any of your dream renovations to your home because your rent could be jacked up at the end of your year and you might have to leave it all anyway. There's so much uncertainty and knowing that "your house" isn't really yours is depressing. And for some reason now I'm excited about yard maintenance, so go figure. It's like one day you wake up and just suddenly like cauliflower or something. 

One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is peruse Zillow and check out houses in Portland and the surrounding area. We're still not sure what neighborhood we'd like to be in or could afford (maybe deep Gresham at this point) so I like to look at everything. I even like to check out really expensive homes just because I'm a nosy snoop. 

It's fun to think about what I like and don't like, what I'd change about places, what's too big of a job and what's manageable. I also especially like finding weird things in real estate photos and strange homes in general. Some people really think their particular taste is everyone's taste and it shows...

Some gems:

an onsite replica Hobbit house

a depressing marriage

open concept bathroom???

i hope he comes with the house

I'm not sure when we'll be able to afford a house but it's a fun goal to have and certainly a wonderful little dream to hold on to while we struggle through the pandemic era. 

What's keeping you going lately?

I’m 30. 

It feels so surreal to even write that. 30 always felt far away and so terrifyingly adult. My twenties were difficult for the most part between family deaths, losing friendships and important relationships and cross-state moves, but also filled with some amazing things. I got to graduate college, start new career opportunities and meet the love of my life in my 20s – so it hasn’t been all bad.

Even more strange than turning 30 is turning 30 during a global pandemic. No party, no dinner reservations, no friends or family over. This week has been so full of worry and ever-present anxiety that it’s barely even registering that I should be celebrating. It’s a very scary time in the world – especially when you still have to go to work like I and so many others have to. Driving up nearly empty freeways with giant digital road signs that say “STAY HOME” feels dystopian. I’m trying my best to put on a brave face each day and not worry too much, but I’m starting to feel like Nausicaa from Valley of the Wind where the whole world outside her little village is full of poisonous air.

Me, sometime in the future

Even though things are uncertain right now, I’m trying to go into my 30th year with gratitude. I’m so grateful to be alive and have a home, to have a very mischievous dog to always keep me laughing, to have a boyfriend who I love and is the best teammate through tough times. I’m grateful for my family and friends that have stuck it out with me and for being healthy enough to work and keep my little world afloat. And I’m grateful for Breath of the Wild on the Switch, for my new dutch oven and homemade bread recipes and for all the little things that make every day worthwhile.

My birthday celebration consisted of takeout from Pastini – with a tiramisu included! Harry and I felt lucky they were even open, let alone making my favorite dessert for pickup. We had a nice dinner and hung out with Ada, and then I played Animal Crossing in bed, which Harry downloaded onto my Switch while I was at work. It was really low key but really nice.

Hang in there, friends.

Ada turned 1 in November and it has been the craziest year of our lives. Having a dog changes everything, but I think having a bull terrier especially flipped our world upside down. We've had some high highs and some low lows but we couldn't imagine life now without her. Here are a few things we learned from the first year:

Other people have a dog, we have a bull terrier

Initially, we compared our experiences to those of friends who also had puppies and asked advice from other dog owners that ultimately just made us feel crazy. The things that worked for other dog owners didn't work for us, and the issues we were having seemed confusing to our friends (what do you mean your dog doesn't obsessively chase her tail and crash into the walls over and over again???) . What we were going through with Ada was very different from the average dog experience and once we started comparing ourselves to other bull terrier owners (via friends/blogs/strangers/google) we figured out that most of her crazy behavior was normal for her breed.

You will have a different dog in a year

I remember crying early on in our dog journey because Ada never relaxed, and all I wanted was a dog that was going to cuddle on the couch with me sometimes. She literally would never lay down unless we made her go to bed in her kennel. Fast forward one year and she will now fall asleep on the couch on her own - something I thought would never happen! While we're still waiting to see if some things go away (she's destructive when she's bored which is always), we know she's changing all the time and won't be a crazy puppy forever.

Patience makes perfect

Ada is really smart, really dumb and really stubborn all at once. It's been a challenge to figure out what things she's actually not getting and what things she's willfully refusing to do. There were times when she wasn't learning something as fast as we thought she should be and we had to slow down and really break things down for her. There were also times when she would decide she didn't care to do something she had been doing well before. Learning the difference and being patient with her and with ourselves has really helped.

We love our grumpy, stubborn, goofy, funny, needy, crazy girl and can't wait to see what year 2 brings. 

Oscars Apathy

I have to confess, for the first time in awhile I am feeling a little apathetic about the Oscars this year. Usually the Oscars is MY THING every year, but I think this year the films on offer + some things going on in my personal life have left me uninspired. So below are my top picks this year, as well as some that I would skip. And there are still several movies I haven't watched yet (please don't make me watch 1917- I don't care if the cinematography is good, no more way movies pleeease) so if there's a fantastic movie I missed out on, please tell me! 

Can't Miss

(Dok. CJ Entertainment/Korean Film Council)

Parasite: This way by far my favorite movie of the Oscar noms. Original, interesting and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I'm so ready to see movies with new storylines that aren't predictable, so this one smashed it. 

Knives Out: This movie completely surprised me. I went in expecting a fun, Murder on the Orient Express type who-dun-it, and got so much more! The plot kept me engaged, Daniel Craig's accent was hilarious and the lead actress Ana de Armas was incredible. 

Little Women: Little Women was wonderful and beautiful and I cried through almost the whole film and I don't care what anyone else has to say on the matter. Flawless costume design and loved the way Greta Gerwig chose a non-chronological flow for the story. 

Joker: Ok, honestly this wasn't my favorite movie. Superhero movies just aren't my thing and overall this film was pretty depressing. BUT, there's no denying Joaquin Phoenix's performance carried the entire film and it's worth seeing for his acting prowess. And the film score and cinematography is lovely. 


Marriage Story: Am I the only one who hated this movie?? What a self-absorbed film. It so obviously mirrored the experience of the director which instead of creating a story that felt universal, it made it this niche film about the lives of some detestable upper-class snobs. Maybe this is too harsh, but I just didn't get the appeal. Please someone reach out and explain to me why they loved it, I want to know.

The Irishman: Just go watch Casino instead. 

Still on my list to see: Jojo Rabbit, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Bombshell, Judy, The Two Popes
No thanks: 1917, Ad Astra, Ford v. Ferrari

2020 is finally here!

Not going to lie, this year has been really rough. Between losing a job, losing friends, trying to raise the most stubborn puppy in the world and just a whole lotta change, I feel a little beat up honestly! I'm not sorry to see 2019 go, but I am hoping 2020 will provide the fresh start I'm looking for. The end of this year isn't just about "decade glowups" and "best nines" - it can be a great time to instead look forward at all the possibilities that lie ahead. So with that in mind, I have a couple New Year's resolutions - goals, really - that I'm going to focus on in 2020. I try not to set myself anything too big and daunting, just some fun projects to work on.

This year I have two "use it up goals":

Project Pan

There's a concept in the beauty world of "hitting pan" - aka getting to the bottom of an eyeshadow pan. Project Pan is a sort of challenge to use up your makeup products. There are a lot of ways you can go about this challenge (only using a specific makeup palette until you hit pan on all shadows, ordering what you use by when it expires, etc) but I am just going to take what I want from the project and do that! So for me, I'm going to try to use up any makeup, beauty, skincare, haircare products before I purchase a new one. Only once I've used it up can I buy a new one. So I can only buy new shampoo once I use all the shampoo I currently have. I have so many duplicate products (check out all my concealers below) and I want to actually use the things I have. 


The other thing I want to use up is my film collection. As a photographer, especially a film photographer, people tend to give you old film when they find out you'll use it. Which is awesome, but I have accumulated so much film! This year I want to shoot more in general, so I'm making it my goal to shoot through my film stash. I'll probably do a film collection post at some point and will do some updates on how I'm progressing. I hope this will push me to be adventurous with my photography and try some new things. 

So that's it! I do have a couple other more personal goals for the new year that I'm keeping to myself just in case they don't pan out, but I think these two projects will be interesting to try. I will post some updates on how I'm getting along throughout the year. Let me know what your resolutions are and if you want to join me in my challenges! 

It's our first Christmas in our new place! To be perfectly honest, this year we've been dealing with a lot of stressful things like Harry's college graduation and my job searching, so there wasn't a ton of motivation to get a tree, especially since we'll be visiting my Dad for Christmas. tree this year. But I finally have a mantle, so I decided to go in on that! Here are some of the cute details:

Wreath and stocking holder: Target
Bells: Target dollar section
Glitter frame and part of my bottle brush tree collection

Magical lamp from IKEA

I'm in love with this mistletoe! It's from Target's Hearth and Hand line

Every year I try to get a new snow globe, and I chose a cabin in the woods for this year in honor of our first house together