Monday, May 20, 2024

Episode #213: Favorite Things of 2023


2023 is coming to an end so today, we are discussing our favorite things from this past year. Plus, we are doing our book report, Feel Something, Make Something by Caitlin Metz.

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Show Notes:

Favorite book of the year:

Elsie – Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin and The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

Emma – This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

Favorite beauty item you tried this year:

Elsie – Moon Dew Eye Cream

Emma – UV LED Nail Dryer

Best budget finds under $20:

Elsie – Libby App and Radiooooo

Emma – Fabric shaver

Favorite splurge that was so worth it:

Elsie – Art and wallpaper (NEED LINKS)

Emma – Doc Martin sandals

Your personal favorite podcast episode of this past year:

Elsie – #182 – Knives Out – Comfort Rewatch

Emma – Bonus Episode: Handmaid Murder is Out!

Favorite movie and TV show:

Elsie – Succession and Harry Potter

Emma – Bob’s Burgers and Oppenheimer

Something you tried for the first time:

Elsie – Put Christmas lights on her house

Emma – Went to a stadium concert

Something you are proud of:

Elsie – Started painting again

Emma – Publishing her book

Favorite recipe of the year:

Elsie – Seven layer salad and Harry Potter Butterbeer

Emma – Detroit-style pizza

Favorite thing about Elsie moving back to Missouri:

Elsie – Ladies who lunch

Emma – Seeing her nieces a lot

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Episode 213 Transcript:

Emma: You’re listening to the Beautiful Mess Podcast, your cozy comfort listen. 2023 is coming to an end, so today we are discussing all of our favorite things from this past year. I kind of can’t believe it’s the end of the year. I’m always like, what day is it?

Elsie: I know, today is actually our last episode of December, and we will be back in January, so I know, I can’t believe this is the last episode either.

Emma: It’s wild. Yeah, the year really slipped by. I feel like this season too, like Q4 holiday season, especially right after Halloween, time just speeds right up and it’s just weird. 

Elsie: I feel like it was one of the longest years of my life, so it’s like different for everyone. Well, I moved, I renovated, you know. There were some parts of it that felt very, you know, it was like a big year.

Emma: Yeah, it was a big year, a big transitional year for you. Yes. Moving is a lot. Moving takes up so much space in life. It’s shocking. All right. Well, before we dive into our favorite things from the year, I thought I would just share something on holiday. So this actually happened some weeks ago. But I wanted to mention the very first time that Oscar met Santa because he’s only two and a half. So we’ve never done a Santa thing before and they happened to have a Santa. Elsie and I had taken our kids to this carriage ride in her neighborhood and they were just having little Christmassy things in the neighborhood and they had a Santa. I think it’s just a gentleman from the neighborhood, but he was so great. 

Elsie: He was a very realistic Santa, he was very into it. 

Emma: Yeah, he was into it and he was great with the kids. It was really cute. It was very cute. But it was just like in someone’s like someones decorated shed behind their house kind of thing. I don’t want to say shed, because that sounds like it’s not cute. It was actually very cute. 

Elsie: It was very cute. 

Emma: But yeah, it’s just like a little detached garage. 

Elsie: It was a very wholesome little neighborhood thing to ring in Christmas. They did it in November still, which I thought was cute because it put the kids in the spirit and I got to wear my big red coat and we got to go on the carriage ride. Anyway, talk about Oscar. 

Emma: And it was still kind of nice outside. It was chilly, but it was like not dying.

Elsie: It was beautiful. 

Emma: Yeah, it was a lovely day. So anyway, I didn’t know how Santa would go, because Oscar tends to be pretty shy, and timid. And just like a cautious kid. But I also was like, oh, we’re going with Nova and Marigold, his cousins, and he’ll see them, you know, sitting up there and telling Santa what they want. So I think he’ll be into it, because he’ll be like, oh, I’m not as intimidated, my friends are doing this. That’s always helpful. It’s helpful for me. So anyway, and we had walked there from Elsie’s house And any time Oscar and I are walking anywhere, our main activity is picking up rocks and sticks. So any loose rocks or good sticks around, Oscar’s gonna pick those up and those become Oscar’s property until he discards them at some point. And he really loves his rocks and sticks. It’s a very serious thing. There’s been times I like, subtly got rid of a stick, ’cause we’ve been collecting a whole bunch, like being on a long walk or something. And he gets upset. So I know not to do that. Anyway, so he had a rock, he’d already picked one up, and it was like his rock, he’s holding it, it’s now his comfort rock that he’s holding, and he sits on Santa’s lap, and I don’t think he said anything. He didn’t actually say anything he wanted for Christmas. I think Santa asked him at one point, Do you like cars? And he like, nodded his head vigorously, yes. And he was just like smiling but being, you know, kind of shy. But then as they were leaving, getting off the bench, Santa was like, take a candy cane. So they all took a candy cane. And then Oscar walked back to Santa and just handed him the rock. Like, didn’t say anything, just put it in Santa’s hand. I saw it and, you know, Santa took the rock. But I was just like, wow, that is, you have no idea what that means to this kid. Because he never gives me rocks, he loves his rocks. Once a rock is his. So I felt like he was kind of trying to say thank you to Santa, but he didn’t have any words, so he gave him the rock and I just loved it. It was cute. 

Elsie: It was so cute. Yeah, it was fun. It was so sweet. And then we went on a carriage ride around, it’s kind of just like around a couple of blocks, but we got to pass by the pink house, wave at our grandma, and yeah our aunt was on the porch and she got our grandma and it was so cute.

Emma: Yeah, it was really cute. 

Elsie: It was just like a very happy little day and I was really happy we got to do that. And it’s so fun doing things like that with Oscar now. 

Emma: Yeah, when we got off the carriage he was like, more, more! Yeah, I’d take him off. He was like, wanted to do it again. Like no, buddy, there’s a line. It was cute. He loved it. 

Elsie: Aww. Okay, so, I can’t believe we’re already to the favorite things episode. I love doing this. This is, it’s just like, random favorite things of the year. So we’re gonna do like our book, beauty item, budget finds, splurge, movies, TV, like all sorts of all things. And we’re going to show our favorite blog posts from the year, our most popular blog posts from the year. So it’s kind of just like a big fun wrap-up of 2023, which yeah, shortest and longest year of our lives. Okay. The first one is my favorite book of the year. What was your favorite? 

Emma: So I had to really narrow it down. Cause I actually had a great book year, so many good books this year, but I decided on the one that rose to the top as I like thinking about all the ones we’ve read for the podcast. And I also post on my Instagram, most of the books that I’m reading. So if you ever want to know what I’m reading, it’s on there usually. And when I decided to pick out of everything, even though it was such a good book here was I really loved This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub, which is kind of like a little bit of time travel, it’s like a daughter whose father is aging and she’s coming to terms with he’s likely going to pass. And yeah, it’s got time travel, it’s got a lot of like, just learning to appreciate life and look at it a different way. I think this makes the book sound kind of serious, and I think it has some serious themes. But it’s also just a really fun page-turner and I really enjoyed it. 

Elsie: I thought it was a really good book also.

Emma: Yeah, I love that author. I’ve read all her books and I love them. 

Elsie: Okay, I couldn’t pick between two. So, I have definitely talked about these already, but whatever. Okay, so my first favorite book of 2023 was Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I don’t think I’ll ever read another book just like it. I immediately read her other book afterward and it was completely different. I just feel like it has a special something that is like once in a lifetime in a book. So yeah, if you haven’t read it, it’s a lot of stuff about video games. You don’t have to be interested in video games yourself. It’s more about the creativity of them making the video games, which I was very into. Yeah. It was just something I never thought I would be obsessed with. And it is like the prettiest cover too, in the whole bookstore. It’s just like a stunning cover. And a lot of times I don’t feel like that matches like how much I love a book when I pick them for the covers, but this one, it’s everything.

Emma: Yeah. That book rules. 

Elsie: And then my other favorite one is The Wishing Game by Meg Schaefer. I just like, I don’t know, I think it was the houses, Elise sent it to me originally and it was like, she sent me a picture of a page that was like, describing like a secret passageway and I was like, okay, immediately yes, I immediately ordered it. It has a lot of stuff about art in it, it has a lot of stuff about children’s literature, and then it has a lot of magical house stuff, and honestly, like, the book isn’t perfect, it’s a weird book. It’s weird. I don’t know. It really got me in a special way. I hope they definitely make a movie of it. I think that that would be a whole great. And I think they could like even one up it a little bit more. 

Emma: I’d love to see Clock Island. Honestly, I’m like, I love Willy Wonka, but I’m like, stop remaking that and make this. 

Elsie: Oh, I’m so excited about the Chalamet Wonka. I think this would make an amazing kids’ movie. It would hit me in a lot of good places. And I think it was her debut novel as well, which is so rare. 

Emma: I feel like I read in the book that she either is from or is currently living in Columbia, Missouri, which is not very far from where we are right now. I don’t know. I always notice when people are from Missouri. Missouri? Me too. 

Elsie: It’s pretty noticeable. Yeah. No, that’s cool. Okay. So yeah, that was my favorite book of the year. I agree, it was a great book year. And there were so many more. I think I’m going to make a Reel of all my favorite books of the year because there was a lot more.

Emma: It was a good book year. I feel like a lot of great stuff came out and then I just got a lot of good recommendations and it was a great book year. Looking forward to next year. Okay, what about a favorite beauty item that you tried this year? So this is like a new to you maybe or I don’t know something.

Elsie: I’m actually scared. I might have said this last year, but I am too lazy to look it up, but I might have. Okay, so this is like the one thing that I always buy is Moondew eye cream from Herbivore. It’s like this little purple eye cream. And if you’ve ever had dark circles or puffy eyes. You just have to try it. It’s really good.

Emma: I love it. I like all their stuff too. I like that brand. So, mine is one I’ve definitely mentioned before. I feel like I don’t shut up about it, but I don’t know, maybe I don’t talk about it as much as that. I don’t know. But, I love my UV LED nail dryer. I bought a nail dryer because one of the last times I was in a salon, which I don’t get my nails done all that often, maybe once or twice a year, just being honest. I don’t make the time for it. I get my lashes. That’s all I have time for anyway. But I was like, you know, these aren’t like crazy fancy. I bet I could buy one of these on Amazon. That’s what was going through my mind. So then I got on Amazon and I bought one that had good reviews, but it wasn’t super pricey or anything. And now I just use it as I’m like watching TV and paint my nails and I love it and it does make your nails dry way faster because I have that thing where like I paint my nails at night, you know, my son’s already in bed. I’m watching TV and sometimes it’s not too long before I go to sleep. And it’s so annoying when you get blanket wrinkles in your nail polish the next morning. So anyway, I think this makes a big difference and it’s like 20 or 30 bucks. It was like nothing. So you could probably buy two, but I just do one at a time, you know? 

Elsie: Yeah. You’ll have to link the exact one on our show notes that this will be, yeah, we’ll put all this stuff in the link.

Emma: It’s very random and it’s very, it feels very like, do you really need one of these at home? But I think it’s great. And it’s so annoying when you take the time to paint your nails and then they get messed up, like in your blankets at night. 

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Elsie: I think you’ve sold it. I think you’ve sold it. I think that people are going to want that now.

Emma: It’s worth it. It’s worth the 25 or whatever it is. And it feels like your living room’s a spa now. 

Elsie: I love things that make your house feel like a spa. 

Emma: Yeah, it’s just random little things that are honestly not expensive, but make you feel like you’re fancy, that’s like my wheelhouse. Okay, what about the best budget finds? So this is something 20 dollars or under. 

Elsie: Okay. I have two and they’re both free. So, I just couldn’t think of anything that was under 20. Two free things and these are both amazing, you should definitely try them. So, the first one is Libby app. I know I mention this every year, but just for people who haven’t heard it. It is an app where you can put in your library card and you can check out audiobooks for free. And sometimes you do have to wait a little bit for them, but then it’s like this little gift, you know? You just see what’s appeared. I think you can put about ten or so in at a time that you’re waiting for. Yeah. I always have mine full. I always am like getting new books and you know, it’s like if you’re not in the mood for it, you can say deliver later and yeah, it is nice because it also cuts down on the number of audiobooks that I buy because I’ve read a lot of audiobooks. So I usually try to use Libby up first and sometimes you can get them right away that day, and just start listening to it. And then sometimes, you know, you have to wait a few weeks and that’s fine too. And then, yeah, sometimes books aren’t on there or whatever, and then I use Audible for that. So, Libby app, for sure. It’s such a great thing. And if you ever just want something right then, like how I found Tom Hanks, I started reading Tom Hanks’s new novel, and I found it just by like searching for books that you could rent right then. Like they have a whole page of books that are available now. So you can just kind of scroll through and find something. And a lot of books, like the first time I read an Emily Henry book and a lot of other books, I found that way too, just like, I want something now, and I’ll just see what’s.

Emma: Yeah, that’s a good search feature.

Elsie: Yeah. And then the second one is also an app. It’s called Radio with Five Os. My husband found this for me, and it’s so cool. You’re gonna freak out. Like, you’ve never heard of this? 

Emma: No. 

Elsie: Okay. So, it is an app where you can choose a location and a year, and you can hear, or maybe it’s even like a date. But you can hear music that was playing on the radio at that time, like, just from this app. And you can do the whole world. So it’s like a very cool thing to use for children since our children are from China. It’s like, that’s, you know, super cool. It’s a cool thing when you’re learning about other countries, when you’re, you know, like you’ve just watched a movie about, you know, England or whatever, you can see what they were listening to on the radio then.

Emma: Yeah, that’s very interesting. 

Elsie: And it’s just very cool because like I love 60s music and I find it hard to keep finding new things. Like there’s so many things from that time that are super famous still and then a lot of them that like, no one talks about anymore. So it’s like hard to find right again. So yeah, I found it interesting for that, and it’s just a different way to listen to music, especially if you like old music or a certain era of music or a certain country, any of those things.

Emma: And it’s an app and what was it? It’s called radio? 

Elsie: Radio with five O’s.

Emma: It’s five O’s.

Elsie: Yeah, the icon is pink with like a little black area so you’ll see it and you’ll get it. It’s free. I think it may have an optional subscription, but you can use it for free too. So it’s great. 

Emma: I love it. Okay, mine’s very different. Mine is, I bought this like a pink fabric shaver on Amazon. And basically, I love thrifting, and probably the number one thing I thrift is sweaters. But sometimes you see a beautiful sweater, but it’s already kind of like pilling a little, and you’re like, is it saveable? Is it, I don’t know. So I bought this fabric shaver, and I used it on like a sweater vest. I had drifted, and it made it look like maybe not new, but like really good compared to how it looked before. So, anyway, I was like, this is nice, because I tend to thrift a lot of sweaters, and just my sweaters, too, will pill over time, or whatever. And you can use it on couches or things like that, too, but I honestly mostly just use it on clothes. 

Elsie: Also, like, sweatshirts. Like, I always get it in, like, the armpit of my sweatshirts and stuff. 

Emma: Anything you wear a lot and you wash a lot, you know, over time it happens, so anyway. 

Elsie: Yeah. No, those work. Everyone needs to have a fabric shaver. It does keep your clothes looking newer for longer. 

Emma: Yeah, it’s nice. Okay, what about a favorite splurge that was so worth it? 

Elsie: Well, okay, so we moved to a new house this year, and I’m not gonna lie, my whole year was splurging. It just was, like, it was a big spinning year on expenses that we won’t have to repeat again for a very long time. Which I think is how moving is, and why it’s bad to do it every year. Okay, my two big splurges of the year that were so worth it are, first of all, art. Before this year I collected a little bit of original art, but this year, I collected a lot. And I kind of made it like my new thing, because it was like, this is our home that we’re planning to stay in for a long time, and I want to, you know, make every nook and cranny special, and I also bought a ton of vintage art. So yeah, a ton of original art, a ton of vintage art, and it kind of became like my new thing where if we, you know, had something we were celebrating, or a birthday, or the holidays, it’s like, instead of looking at some other kind of fancy thing, like a bag, or shoes, or something I would have looked at in the past, I’m looking more towards art, now. Which is exciting, and it’s just really different. I think it’s fun. 

Emma: Yeah, no, I love it. We were talking about it, and I was like, oh, I think you should do a post for our blog that’s like, all the art in my house. Or I don’t know what you’re going to name the blog post. Because essentially it’s like, there’s all these amazing independent artists that are in your home. And then also, where to find great vintage art is also awesome. But yeah, it’s just supporting people who are making beautiful things. It’s really cool.

Elsie: Yeah, I love it. And my second splurge of the year was wallpaper. We did so much wallpaper, and of course, you have to pay for the wallpaper, and you also have to pay for the installation. I mean, you can learn to do your own wallpaper, and I think it’s so cool for anyone who does. But for me, I would never. 

Emma: That is not my skill set, but it’s very cool if it’s yours. 

Elsie: I don’t like jobs where I feel like it has to be perfect, and I have to learn something that people get paid a lot of money to do.

Emma: And if you mess up, it’s kind of expensive, because I have to buy more wallpaper potentially and it’s pretty pricey. I will paint all day long. 

Elsie: I’m just afraid I would feel like I had to accept it looking kind of bad just because like you made your bed, now you have to lie in it kind of attitude. So anyway, whatever I think it’s very very worth it to pay for installation and I will link the wallpapers that we did this year. But, it brings so much to a home. I don’t think our home Oh, it had the monkey wallpaper, it had one wallpaper and we bought it. But now, it’s probably, what, more than five? Maybe getting closer to ten? I think ten is the right number, where I want to be. So yeah, I love spending money on wallpaper and I just think it’s like, it’s so custom, it’s so classic for the era of home we’re doing. There’s just nothing like it. I like painted walls too, but, there’s just nothing like the feeling of an interesting warm, beautiful wallpaper.

Emma: No, the wallpaper’s cool. I’m glad it’s back. 

Elsie: Yes. Okay. What was your splurge? 

Emma: Well, my spending year for moving was last year. So this year I really didn’t buy anything crazy, to be honest. But I did buy myself some Doc Barton sandals in the summer, and I wore them all summer long. And honestly, my therapist was wearing the same pair in a different color, and that’s why I bought them. She’s a really great dresser. And I was like, those are cool, so then I went and bought myself some. Okay, what’s your personal favorite podcast episode of this year? 

Elsie: This is supposed to be our podcast, right? 

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: Okay, I looked through our episodes from the past year and I think my personal favorite is number 182 The Knives Out rewatch. Knives Out is kind of like you know, one-fourth of my personality is inspired by that movie. I just really like it in a weird way and my favorite movie, so I’m glad that we started doing the rewatches too. I will say in general, they’re my favorite to record just because it’s like you get to geek out on something that you truly love. 

Emma: I like being a fangirl. I think it’s fun. Yeah, I agree. So I shamelessly put the bonus episode that I recorded when my book came out because I read chapter one and it was fun to share a chapter from my book. And we also don’t have a lot of weird bonus episodes that are just random. So it was just kind of fun to like make one and put it out there.

Elsie: Yeah, I loved that this year was such a big year with our audience supporting your book and reading your book. And yeah, if you have read it, leave her an Amazon review, or a Goodreads review. It’s a good gift for people who love true crime.

Emma: Yeah, it was a big thing for me this year, and I’ve read so many of the reviews, probably all of them, I guess, I don’t know, and it’s meant a lot to me. It’s very, very kind. Okay, how about your favorite movie and TV show? 

Elsie: Okay, so I feel like for my favorite TV show, I have to say Succession. Because the series ended, I loved it so much. I think everyone who watched it just got like, mildly obsessed with it. What was your favorite? 

Emma: They really took a twist with it too, which was fun towards the end there. Mine is an endearing show that I’ve watched forever and love, which is Bob’s Burgers. They’re still coming out with new episodes, and new seasons happening, and I still love it. I actually saw a meme the other day, because you know, our phones know us. And it was like If you’re not going to go to therapy, at least watch Bob’s Burgers. And I was like, this is my whole personality. 

Elsie: That’s funny. Oh my god. 

Emma: Pretty much.

Elsie: Oh, that’s cute. Okay, so, I just like, couldn’t think of a new movie. I mean, I guess I liked The Glass Onion movie. But what I’m going to say is the Harry Potter. It’s my Harry Potter era, because for my birthday, I asked Jeremy to watch all of the seven Harry Potter movies with me, and he couldn’t say no. 

Emma: No, he can’t! It’s your birthday! 

Elsie: And it was the most genius thing I could have asked for anything, and I swear to God, I think I picked the best possible thing. We were on movie five last night. And, yeah, it’s just like bringing me so much joy. I haven’t watched them for a few years. 

Emma: Do you think he’s becoming a Potter fan or he’s just like, these are fine? 

Elsie: He has a favorite character. He like, had a least favorite movie. So I think he like, had enough opinions to show he’s a little bit interested in it, which is all I ask.

Emma: Yeah. No, that’s good. I’d, I’d say he’s in. Okay. I put a new movie that came out this year. I really didn’t see that many movies this year, but I did really enjoy Oppenheimer. It was just really good. It’s historical. Obviously, it’s based on real events from World War II. And I just thought it was really well made. It’s very interesting. It’s a Christopher Nolan. If you like his movies, a lot of Christopher Nolan stuff in it, you know, the soundtrack is kind of the way he does it and things. And I tend to really like his movies overall. Some I like more than others, but I really enjoyed this one. I thought it was really well done and I felt like I learned things and it was cool.

Elsie: Yeah, I haven’t watched that yet, but I probably will now that you said that. 

Emma: Yeah, it’s really good. I liked it a lot. Okay, something you tried for the first time, this is not really like a favorite thing, but it’s like, something from the year that you tried for the first time. 

Elsie: Yes. Okay, well, I couldn’t think of one that was like personal development or anything like that. 

Emma: Mine is not personal development. 

Elsie: Okay, good. For the very first time in my whole adult life put Christmas lights on our house. I got it done early like the end of October, it was already done and it made me feel like such an adult I love it. It was just like, it was kind of, you know, like you have these things where you’re like, someday I want to do that or you’re like, next year I’ll do it. I feel very settled. I feel like this is the first time probably definitely since we’ve started the podcast that I know that we’re not going to move. I know that this is just like where we are staying and it feels really good. It feels really, sort of like it can rest, you know, so I think it’s been like a very pivotal year in our family, but yeah, I can’t really say I, like, learned anything profound, I definitely didn’t. 

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Emma: Oh, mine is not about learning. The thing I tried for the first time, I really thought about it, and I think this year was the first year that I went to a stadium concert. So a concert that was in a stadium, because I went to one of the Taylor Swift concerts in Kansas City, and I’m a person who does not do very well in crowds. I get a lot of anxiety. And I do okay if we’re like, traveling, and you’re like, kind of getting through the airport, or like, you know, that kind of thing, and also like, when you’re in an airport, no one’s expecting you to have fun, so there’s not a lot of pressure there. But, I think the concert, you know, for me, I don’t know if I’ll do another stadium concert ever, maybe I will. I was really in it for my friends. Like all my friends were going, and that was fun. So I would do it again for that reason. But I am not a crowd person. So, yeah, but it was cool to be a part of a cultural moment. Because I feel like this year was the year of Taylor Swift. And so it was neat to be a part of something that you’re like, everyone’s talking about this, and I’m like, well, I did it too. 

Elsie: Yeah, no, that’s cool. I’m glad you did. Yeah. I’ve only been to one concert like that. That was when the Harry Styles one with Keely and it kind of like scarred me a little bit. I think I’m on your same wavelength where I don’t know if, like, very big gigantic concerts with that much screaming is something that I can… 

Emma: We’re pretty introverted. 

Elsie: I think maybe when our kids are older, maybe it will feel like something that you do for them. That’s probably the next time I’ll go to one of those.

Emma: Yeah. I would definitely do it for a kid, or for a friend. But I think that’s it, is I was like, just for me, like, for like Emma’s enjoyment. This is really not my bag. So, you know, there you go. I guess I did learn something profound. No, not really. Okay. How about something that you are proud of from the year?

Elsie: Okay. I’m super proud. I started painting again and I felt like I had like a breakthrough. So in like history of my life, I have always been trying to be an artist a little bit. There was a time in my twenties when I tried to do it professionally. And it didn’t work out at all. It was like, probably the most financially insecure time of my entire life. So this year, I don’t know, I feel like I’ve always been like hoping to get back to that though at some point. Sort of like being an artist, you know, I know people are always like you are an artist, but it’s like to be a working artist, to be like, you know, doing it consistently and like something that I’ve always seen for myself at some point in the future. So this year I actually started taking steps towards making it happen. I think I’m going to talk about it more in our New Year’s Goals episode next month, but yeah It has been like a good year. I’m proud because I feel like I overcame a sort of like when you have a path in your mind of failing at something or of like setting a goal and not completing it. I feel like I finally overcame that which yeah exciting. 

Emma: Yeah, a lot of goals are very mental, you’re like, I can’t do it or I’m not good enough. You know just whatever you really get in your own way. So yeah the feeling of like I’m doing it. I’m in the arena I’m I’m getting there. I’m taking steps. That’s like a good feeling. 

Elsie: Yes. What are you proud of thing? 

Emma: I’m most proud of for the year is publishing my book. I’ve been wanting to be a fiction writer and I’ve, you know, been writing and I submitted it a whole bunch and got quite a few rejections and I decided in the end to self publish and I did it and it was really fun and I’m still working on the audiobook. I’m going to share a little more of an update on that in probably the next episode. Yeah, publishing the book was so fun and felt so good and it did feel like, Hey, I’m in there. I’m in the arena. I have a book that you can buy, and it’s, like, in libraries, and it’s out there, and it’s sold, like, over 800 copies. I feel like some people will be like, that’s amazing, and some people will be like, that doesn’t seem like very many. I have no idea how to gauge it personally, but for me, my life, and my goals, I was really wanting to sell a thousand in the first year. I was like, just to give myself a goal to like, keep going with my marketing. And so I feel like I’m very on track for that. So maybe it was too small of a goal. I don’t really know. It’s my first book, so I didn’t really know what to set, but at any rate. 

Elsie: Let’s all buy a gifting copy for Christmas and then she’ll be on her way. I’m going to buy a whole bunch for the pink-free little library. I haven’t done that yet. I’ll do that this week.

Emma: Oh, sweet. Yeah. So I’m very proud of the year. 

Elsie: Yeah. That’s amazing. And I know we’re all so proud of you. So favorite recipe of the year, and this would be like a recipe that you wrote for the blog. Cause if you haven’t checked our blog lately, it’s mainly recipes. We publish recipes almost every day.

Emma: There’s going to be a little more home stuff next year. Cause Elsie’s been, her house is beautiful and she’s going to share a few things. 

Elsie: Yeah. After I get Christmas torn down, I’m going to start staging it to photograph the full tour. I think that’ll be so much fun. 

Emma: But I like our recipes and we can see our traffic. So I know people like them too. 

Elsie: The recipes have been, I think we’re going to talk more about this in a future episode, but it’s been a huge game changer for our business and something really positive for us. So anyway, what recipe are you most proud of? 

Emma: The one I’m most proud of slash love the most, want to remake. Trying to find excuses to make it all the time. Is my Detroit Style Pizza. Which, if you’ve never had Detroit Style Pizza or you haven’t made this particular recipe, it’s kind of like if you’ve ever had focaccia bread, the crust is kind of like that, like it’s airy but it’s like a thicker crust and very like crispy on the bottom, crispy on the sides and the cheese, you push it all the way to the edge so the edges get very crispy. And sometimes when I make it, the one on the blog, I photograph with Racing Stripe Sauce, which is a thing they do in Detroit sometimes. It’s a very like, car city, because that’s like where so much car industry used to be. Yeah, there’s a whole history, you can read it on the blog post if you want, that’s kind of like why it’s Detroit-style pizza. It was originally made in like, car drip pans, and it was like this bar that wanted to do some food. Anyway, it’s actually really interesting and fun to read about, but at any rate, they have like, Racing Stripe Sauce, which I think is really fun. And it’s pretty, but sometimes I make it just the sauce on like you traditionally would. But it’s just really good, and it kind of reminds me, like, in childhood, a pizza we would order a lot with my family was the thick-crust Pizza Hut pizza. And it was almost a little oily and crispy on the bottom. And so it kind of reminds me of that, but just, I know it’s going to sound like a brag, and I’m sorry, but it’s kind of better, because I love focaccia bread, so like, if you’re like, focaccia bread pizza, I’m like, sign me up immediately!

Elsie: I agree. In Nashville, we have a restaurant called Emmy Squared. It’s in other cities as well. I know it’s, for sure, it’s in New York. Anyway, they do Detroit-style pizza. It’s so good. It was my first time to ever try it, and it was on Uber Eats. We ordered it all the time, and I miss it so much. So yeah, I’m excited to try that recipe because we definitely don’t have Detroit-style pizza in Springfield where we live.

Emma: No, I don’t think so. I’ve never seen it around, so. 

Elsie: No, no, no. And her recipe looks perfect. 

Emma: It’s really good, and there’s a lot of different ways to make it. I try to make my recipes where it’s like the most straightforward. So like, not the hardest way, and not all the weird ingredients, but like, hopefully, things that are very accessible and like, very straightforward. But it is a pizza crust that has to rise, so there’s more to it than like, just, you know, rolling some out from a can or whatever. But it’s worth it. It’s so good. Okay, I’ve tried to sell this pizza. So now you know, I’m obsessed with it. 

Elsie: It’s a really good pizza. Would you say it’s easier to make than what like a traditional pizza crust?

Emma: I’d say it’s the same, and way better than traditional in my opinion because I just like a thicker crust with crispy edges. All the different textures just are something to me.

Elsie: Yeah, no, I would love to try that because we don’t have a pizza oven right now. 

Emma: What’s your favorite recipe of the year? 

Elsie: So, I have so many, it’s so hard for me. But if you just want like straight very delicious recipe, I will make this like a hundred times in my life. There’s this recipe called seven-layer salad. It’s so good. Like, however good you think it looks, it’s even better. It’s really good. 

Emma: Yeah, that’s a good salad. 

Elsie: Yeah. It’s supremely good. 

Emma: It’s very pretty, too, because it has different layers, like, if you serve it in a glass. 

Elsie: Yeah. For A Beautiful Mess, I mainly write cocktails, so I wanted to pick something that wasn’t a cocktail because I feel like the cocktails are my children. I can’t pick a favorite. I love them all so much, and I could seriously talk about them for 15 minutes, and you probably don’t want that. So, what I’m gonna say is, that I did a recipe for Harry Potter Butterbeer, which is a nonalcoholic recipe, it’s a treat for children. I would say it’s perfect for making, so that you, like, do a watching party for Harry Potter like serve it with popcorn and the every flavor jelly beans. Anyway, so yeah, please make my butterbeer recipe. Please leave me a review of five stars only. I made the topping because a lot of the recipes that are online are just whipped cream, and mine is like the cold foam like you make for a coffee drink, and I think it makes it so good, it’s just like creamy and nice. So anyway, I don’t know, I feel like I’m definitely in my food blogger era now and I’m excited. We made such big goals for the new year. So fun. 

Emma: Yeah. I love cooking. And I also really love food photography. I know people don’t always think about it as an art form and things, but I very much enjoy it for like my own personal creativity. 

Elsie: It’s really, really challenging sometimes.

Emma: Yeah. We’re just thinking of different ways to photograph this sauce or you know, whatever. It’s fun. It’s just an interesting challenge. 

Elsie: Emma and I are planning a day to shoot all of my shot recipes because there are ones that you have to drop, you know, the boiler maker and all those. Those are really hard to photograph. And there’s also one that’s supposed to be on fire. And I was like, I cannot do this alone. It’s like, this is a two-person job. 

Emma: I don’t know if it’s you can’t do it alone or you’re scared. 

Elsie: I can’t and I won’t. 

Emma: Stand there with a fire extinguisher. No, it won’t be that bad. 

Elsie: It’ll be fine. It won’t explode. Okay. And then I wanted to do the last thing, our favorite thing about me moving back to Missouri, because I feel like it’s such a big life change for us, though. If you only knew for the entire time we did the podcast we recorded, would you say like 95 percent of them on Skype?

Emma: Yeah. Until this summer. 

Elsie: And now we record 100 percent of them in person, and we go to lunch afterward. It’s just like a completely different lifestyle. 

Emma: Yeah, I’m like, I have a friend in real life now. I’m not just home alone all day. Which I like, but, you know. 

Elsie: It’s so great. So yeah, my favorite part of it, is I put ladies who lunch. I feel like I’m finally a Ladies Who Lunch. I wanted to always be that, and now, I feel like I’ve achieved that with you. 

Emma: Yeah, I mean, you’ve already told people my secret Chardonnay at lunch every time. 

Elsie: I said that? 

Emma: Yeah, you did one time. Which I like, it’s not really a secret. 

Elsie: Secret’s out. 

Emma: It’s not really a secret. I think it’s very cool of me, so. It’s cool. 

Elsie: What’s your favorite part? 

Emma: Of you moving back? Well, other than getting to see you a lot and Jeremy, I do love getting to see my nieces a lot. I’ve been telling Elsie, I really want, I have to have her help with this, like, call the school and like, I want to go bring them lunch one day. You know how you’re allowed to bring kids lunch at elementary school? Maybe not all elementaries do that. I don’t really know, but yeah, it’s a thing that grandparents can do or parents can do and it’s special for the kid because then it’s like they’re getting their own special lunch that the other kids don’t have, and you know, it’s just cute. 

Elsie: They’re gonna love it. 

Emma: So, just small things like that, just little things that really aren’t even like a big deal. It just feels like we can do those all the time, even coming over on Sunday mornings just to hang with Oscar and let the kids play. It’s like, I just love it. I love that our kids are going to grow up together. It’s fun. 

Elsie: Oh, yeah. I mean, I feel like our cousin’s time has risen exponentially, which is the most important and best part. 

Emma: Yeah, he asks me all the time after daycare if we’re going to go to Goldie’s house. 

Elsie: Oh my gosh, just bring him over. 

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Emma: Or the pink house, Bumba’s house. He just doesn’t want to go home, I guess. 

Elsie: Yeah. We should put our grandma on the list. Our grandma moving into my neighborhood is one of the best things that’s ever happened in my whole life. 

Emma: I see her so much more. It’s so nice. 

Elsie: I see her all the time. Like the other night, we went over there and just helped her put up all her Christmas decorations and it’s so joyful. So I could not be more thankful. Okay. So we are going to do a list of the 10 most popular A Beautiful Mess posts. And this is posts that were published in the past year on our blog. So they will be linked in the show notes too, but go through the list. I think it’s just like, I always love hearing these because I actually know this one ahead of time. This one is very, very surprising, but they’re always surprising. It’s never what you would think. It’s never like your favorite post. It’s always like, oh my gosh, what? 

Emma: It’s true, yeah. And like, I feel like our podcast listeners know, but it’s surprising sometimes how often we’ll get people who are like, oh, you don’t really post anymore, or just like, questions, and I’m like, no, we have a new blog post every single day, and sometimes two times a day, and we’ve done that all year this last year, and we very much plan to do it all year next year, it’s very normal to us. Tons of new stuff all the time. 

Elsie: Yeah, we’re just not social media bitches right now, and I think it’s healthy and if you had lived the life we’ve lived, having, like, a year or two where we’re not on social media very much is so healthy and normal. And it’s not a bad thing at all, and it doesn’t mean anything bad. It just means that we’re, like, living a healthy, balanced life. So anyway. 

Emma: Yeah. And we’re still making tons of content. 

Elsie: Yes, I love blogging. I feel like this year I loved it more than I have in like 10 years because we kind of got like a, just like reconnection with it and inspiration. So anyway, say the top 10. 

Emma: So these are the top 10 most popular Beautiful Mess posts that came out this year. Number one, How Many Glasses Are in a Bottle of Wine? 

Elsie: Okay, this one like went crazy, and we don’t understand why, but sometimes a post just goes crazy. Like, remember a couple of years ago Emma’s like oatmeal thing? Everyone’s like, no, we don’t remember that. What are you talking about? It’s just, like, sometimes a post just goes crazy. 

Emma: It’s always so random. Yeah. 

Elsie: That is a very useful post, so I guess that makes sense. It’s a thing people search for. 

Emma: And the post actually has a lot of common wine questions in it, but that’s like the number one wine question, so that’s what we titled the post, but it has a whole bunch of wine information. Not if you’re already someone who visits lots of vineyards and you know a whole bunch about wine, then you already know all of it. But if you’re, like, getting into wine and you feel a little bit intimidated because I feel like it is an area that can be a little intimidating, it can be a little snobby, but if you’re, like, I’m interested in wine, I’d like to learn more, then these are a lot of the very common get you in their questions.

Elsie: How many glasses are supposed to be in a bottle of wine is actually a really good question. Because it can be so vastly different. And sometimes you can pour yourself like the kind of glass that looks like at a restaurant or you can pour yourself like the kind of glass.

Emma: That you have at home when you don’t want to get up from the couch again, but you want two glasses, you know?

Elsie: Yeah. Anyway, we’re over-talking this one, but read the post if you have a wine question. 

Emma: Okay. Second was Easy Peanut Butter Fudge, then Best Stuffing Recipe, How to Make Vodka Jell O Shots. This is a great post, and it has links to so many of her Jell O shots she’s done over the years. Laura’s kind of the Jell O shot queen. 

Elsie: Laura, I seriously feel like we should get her a trophy that says Jell O shot queen of the internet. 

Emma: The trophy has to jiggle. Eww. Moving on. Next was a turmeric latte, then old fashioned, then how to care for a string of pearls. We actually have a lot of plant posts that are like how to care for different kinds of plants and tips for taking care of lots of different kinds of plants. And many of them really popped off this year, but we have a bunch. That one did. And then also how to care for jade plants, and Grinch cookies, which if you didn’t see them, Laura made these Grinch cookies and they are so cute. 

Elsie: Yeah, I have to shout out, if you haven’t visited the blog this month. Laura’s Christmas recipes are unhinged. They’re really, really cute. 

Emma: It’s like the best, like, Christmas cookies. Just like delicious, but also really cute and like fun stuff to make with your kids and then like more advanced things. Like, I think the cake pops are like, maybe older kids could do them, not my kid, but anyway. And then also, Halloween jello shots. That was big this year, which is basically another Laura post because she’s the jello shot queen. 

Elsie: Jello shot queen of the internet. I loved hearing the top 10. It’s so random. The wine thing is so funny. I love it. I like writing informational posts every once in a while because, okay, what I’m working on right now is how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew. And there are like 20 different things that the internet says you can use. One of them is that you can bang it with a shoe, and it doesn’t fucking work at all. It’s like they’re lying to you. Like, I don’t think there’s a universe, and you know there’s a universe where everything exists. But this one thing, I don’t know if it universe. So anyway. It’s actually really fun to do this type of work, and yeah, it’s fun to share it with you, so. 

Emma: Yeah, and it’s fun to like, you know, have a challenge of like, how can I take a beautiful photo of this? You know, I don’t know, it’s fun, it’s interesting to me. I like it. It’s a very interesting creative challenge. 

Elsie: Yeah, I agree. All right, so we are going to do a book report for Feel Something, Make Something by Caitlin Metz. 

Emma: So this was our one nonfiction book of the quarter. So it’s more of, it’s almost like a workbook mixed with personal antidotes and ideas and stories. And I will say, just partly because I guess it’s gift-giving season, this would make a great gift. As I was going through it, I was like, I could give this to anyone in my women’s book club, and they would probably love it. I also think our niece, who’s 13, would love it. Like, high school girls, college kids, not just women either, but anyone who might wanna, you know, is artistic, which I feel is everyone. So, it’s just a really really good book and also just brought me back to a lot of like fields for me of like high school and college of like just making stuff with paper, doodling, you know, I journal off and on but I feel like making has always been a part of my life and always been a part of my self-expression. And so this really was like bringing back all those fields for me. I was like, yeah, I want to make a zine. I want to, you know, like, it’s just cool. 

Elsie: There are a lot of different projects and homework in the book. And, yeah, I think Caitlyn does a really good job of inspiring you to just try things that you haven’t tried before. I haven’t made a zine. I’ve never done that, like, folded paper. It’s so cute and fun. I need to do it with the kids. So I was thinking, like, that would be such a fun project to do with the kids. 

Emma: Yeah. Or even a little paper book. There’s even a photo of them at the beginning of the book, in the intro, where they are breastfeeding their kid while they’re, like, doodling on an iPad or some kind of tablet. I don’t know if it’s an iPad. It’s just like, this thing where I’m like, Oh yeah, this has been a part of my life since high school. It’s a part of my life now, as a mom, and as an adult. You know, whatever. I just really connected with it and really liked it. I honestly recommend it. 

Elsie: Yeah, I recommend it too. I agree with Emma that this is like, the book to gift. It’s kind of good for all different phases of life because I could see myself in high school loving this and connecting with it just as much as I do now in my 40s. 

Emma: Yeah, honestly it’s really pretty too. There are so many Illustrations and little screen prints and pictures and different things throughout the book. It’s just very fun. 

Elsie: It’s gorgeous. And another thing I love about the book is I feel like it gives a lot of recommendations for other books, other artists, other like there’s a lot of like Mary Oliver quotes and like things like that in it like it just makes you feel like this is a great big world full of inspiration and we all get to live in it. And like, if I’m missing out on it, then it’s kind of my damn fault. You know what I mean? So. I don’t know. I think it’s perfect. I think it’s a perfect book. 

Emma: Yeah. And, as we said, it’s a little bit of like a workbook in a way. So I feel like when we’ve done our novels, there’s kind of like a linear way to talk about the book. Not so much with this. It’s more of a, you could jump around. But I think you’re getting the gist of it from much we’re loving it and recommending it but I think you get what it’s about. 

Elsie: Yeah, like it’s kind of reminiscent of the artist way, which I know we’ve talked about before and Big Magic is another one like it’s in the same category with those iconic creativity books that just like make you want to see the world in a magical way and be creative every day you know like do things that you haven’t done for a long time, connect with your inner child. So yeah, I’m excited about it. My therapist and my astrologer both have given me this, like, very strong, you need to be journaling. And journaling is something that I have always struggled with. And I think it’s because my dad read my journal in high school and he, like, ruined my entire life. But, yeah, no, I’m just joking, Dad. I get it. I get how journaling is so healthy, but I think it’s, like, very hard for me to, like, unleash and be honest and, like, put down things that I perceive as ugly or I perceive as, like, sad or, I don’t know. It is a barrier for me. So this book came at a really good time and I feel like I can, like, I don’t know. It’s inspiring for me to see someone like Caitlin who is making it such a big part of their life, and I want to do that too. 

Emma: Yeah, I do think journaling’s awesome, and if everyone’s telling you to do it, do it. But I also do feel like there are times in life where, at least for me, I don’t even want to put into specifics the things that I’m feeling. It’s not about the specific situation. Like, I just kind of want to, like, work through some, like, just the feelings, you know what I mean? And so I feel like, visual art could be really good for that because it can be kind of vague, and it could be any kind of art really, it doesn’t have to be visual, but like whenever you hear a song and you’re like, oh, this song’s about a breakup, and someone else might be like, this song’s about falling in love. You know what I mean? Like sometimes there are a lot of feelings in something, and I just think it’s sometimes nice to make things because although I might be feeling a certain way today because of a specific situation, I don’t really want to write about the specific situation in a journal. I kind of just want to move through the feelings of it, you know, and I think that that is a good time to utilize a book like this. And make something, a collage, a zine, a small film, I don’t know, do your thing, but, you know. 

Elsie: Aww. I love it. Yeah. So, we will put Caitlyn’s Instagram in our show notes, and if you haven’t picked up this book yet, Feel Something, Make Something, we recommend it, and I also think it would be such a fun holiday gift.

Emma: Now it’s time for a joke, or a fact, or maybe a meditation with Nova. 

Elsie: Hey, Nova. Our podcast listeners have often written to me and told me that you and your jokes, facts, and meditations are their favorite part of the podcast. Can you believe that? 

Nova: No. 

Elsie: That’s so nice. Are there any Christmas wishes that you want to give to our podcast listeners?

Nova: Well, I can give them a Christmas meditation, if they would like, another one. 

Elsie: A Christmas meditation? 

Nova: Another one. 

Elsie: Sounds good. I’m closing my eyes. 

Nova: Imagine, you’re like, Oh, it’s Christmas Eve! You’re so excited, you have to wait. But then you feel sad. Your elves will have to leave. You’ll miss your elves, but they all come back. So you go to bed, but before you do, you say goodbye to your little elves. And say goodnight and bye-bye. When Santa comes with presents, says, “Shh don’t wake anyone up. We must quiet. Then we went out very quickly, we got into a sleigh. They went out of the chimney. Santa said, Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas to one and all! Now we better head to another house because we need to give more presents to those who have none. So, let’s go! Go, Rudolph! Go! Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. Merry Christmas to all. Have a Merry Christmas.

Elsie: Thanks, Nova. Thank you so much for listening. We will be taking a little break for the holidays for a few weeks, and we will be back in January with new episodes. We hope you have such a lovely holiday season.





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