Writer's Block: A Gin & Lemon Thyme Summer Cocktail

Thursday, September 3, 2020

london dry gin, gin cocktails, lemon thyme and gin cocktails, summer cocktails
summer cocktail recipes, gin cocktails,
Yield: 1 drink
Author: Meryl Franzos
Writer's Block: A Gin & Lemon Thyme Summer Cocktail

Writer's Block: A Gin & Lemon Thyme Summer Cocktail

Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 4 HourTotal time: 4 H & 10 M
A quietly strong, herbal summer cocktail with rare ingredients that will send you on an a scavenger hunt to obtain, is a challenge to make, but a delightful experience once crafted – basically, just like writing a novel.


  • 2 fistfuls of lemon thyme sprigs (divided among the infused simple syrup, muddling, and garnish)
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 True Lime packet
  • 1 fresh lime wedge
  • 1 Tablespoon Turbinado raw cane sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur (I must insist you used this brand of elderflower liqueur - all others aren't right. I've tried)
  • 2 1/4 Teaspoons of Lemon Thyme simple syrup
  • 3 ounces of Gin (highly recommend only London Dry style Gin: Bombay Blue Sapphire, Regular Bombay, or Beefeater only)
  • Lots of fresh ice
Kitchen equipment needed:
  • Whiskey glass with straight sides
  • Small sauce pan with lid
  • One ounce shot glass
  • measuring spoons 
  • shallow bowl
  • wire mesh strainer
  • small container for storing simple syrup


  1. Obtain a Lemon Thyme plant and fertilize it so that you have plenty of Lemon Thyme throughout the summer.
  2. Bring the water and white sugar to a boil in a small sauce pan until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat. Throw in a large handful of lemon thyme sprigs (pre-rinsed and cleaned) put a cover on and let the lemon thyme steep for a few hours, stirring and swirling every so often to help the essential oils infuse syrup. Stronger the better! Pour through a strainer to keep the leaves out of the final product. Store in in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a two weeks.
  3. Get a low ball whisky glass with straight sides. Wash your hands and rinse 3 sprigs of lemon thyme, gently pat the herbs dry. Set aside 1 nice sprig for a garnish, and use the other two to smush and muddle on the insides and bottom of the glass. Really work the essential oils onto the sides. You should be able to smell it. Discard the smushed sprigs.
  4. Get a shallow bowl and empty a True Lime packet and the Turbinado sugar into it, mix. Get the lime wedge and moisten the rim of the glass with it. Dip the glass rim into the sugar/True Lime mixture until it is covered.
  5. Add the Lemon Thyme simple syrup, St. Germaine, and one ounce of gin. Mix. Add enough ice so that it almost reaches the top of the glass, then pour in the remaining two ounces of gin. Stir until combined. Add more ice if needed.
  6. Add a sprig of lemon thyme and serve.
  7. Marvel at how easily and enjoyably all that gin goes down the hatch.
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @theicecreamsocialistparty on instagram and hashtag it #thewritersblockcocktail
Created using The Recipes Generator

Gin & Lemon Thyme Summer Cocktail, Joshua Franzos
photo by: Joshua Franzos

It took over two years of experimenting with different gins, different liqueurs, tinkering with amounts, adding lime juice and taking it away again, shaken not stirred, stirred and not shaken, until I settled on the perfect combination of flavors and fuss in this recipe. I'm very proud of it, everyone I make it for, likes it, (even the non-gin people.) I realize Lemon Thyme is not the easiest thing to find, but if you see it that farmer's market or at a nursery PICK IT UP.  It's so worth it. It would be like me to post a recipe you probably couldn't immediately make, right?

I'm usually a red wine and whiskey on the rocks type of gal, but this quarantine has me wanting fancier, complicated libations at the end of the day. I shook so many manhattans May through July that I broke my shaker. I'm trying not to drink away my quarantine and upcoming election anxiety, but this cocktail is too tempting. Hope you are well.

Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh,

The Book of I Regret Nothing: A Quarantine Love Story.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

magenta lips and polka dot scarf
photo: Joshua Franzos

I started a short-lived journal in 2018. Bought at Kards Unlimited, it was trompe l'oeiled to look like a beat-up ledger. The cover is confidently titled, I Regret Nothing. I was embarking on a hormonal journey of assisted fertility and reproduction at the time. The journal was mostly medical in nature with the occasional glimpse into my head. It documented exact times I took certain pills and hormone shots and assessed how real the ghost-like the ovulation line looked on my daily urine strip test.Then the medical notes and mental check-ins became less frequent, then, stopped all together when the medical procedures and first course of expensive treatments didn't work. The book was only filled 25% of the way through.

At that point, we were on the verge of doing IVF because of "momentum," but then we didn't. Already stinging with failure, I didn't believe in myself enough to beat the 30% IVF success rate. If we spent $100K on IVF and didn't have fat baby in our arms at the end, I didn't see myself bouncing back from that, and I'm not talking financially. I saw nothing, just game over black. And that was a huge red flag to me. Here Be Dragons, And Death.

orange dress against blue bricks
Photo: Joshua Franzos

I spent a year + recreating, rebuilding, reinvesting in that hollowed out shell of my former self. I busied myself with New Meryl. Who was she, who she wasn't, what did she wear? I started posting my daily outfits on instagram and that simple act of getting dressed but never wearing the same thing gave me a routine, re-ignited the creativity pilot, and gave me hope for the future. I began to plan.What would she do? Where would she travel? New Meryl got accepted into a writing workshop in Boston. She also booked a February trip to Mexico, and a European vacation in April. Edinburgh, London, and Paris. It was all going to happen. If we can't have kids, we'll travel the world, we said, and looked forward to trying the jet-set lifestyle on for size.

photo: Joshua Franzos

At the end of February, we had a little trouble coming home from Mexico. Airport officials were cross questioning us. "Have you been to China?" No. "When was the last time you were in China?" Never. "Let me see your passport." *hands passport over.* "Okay, you're fine." Trust no one. "Excuse me?" Yes, I'm fine.

photo: Joshua Franzos

On March 3, 2020, the administrator of my writing conference cancelled it. I could not believe it. I thought they were being weak babies. Around this time, I pulled the I Regret Nothing journal off my bedroom shelf and read the last entry.

"May 30, 2018 - A lot of time has transpired since the IUI. Call me a hypochondriac, but I haven't felt normal since the IUI. I've felt crampy everyday, not painful, just weird, like something is tugging on my insides. And of course I'm micromanaging all my "early pregnancy symptoms" into my usual hopefulness. I am actually terrified to take this pregnancy test on Sunday. I wish I hadn't told anyone because I don't wan't to be watched and questioned like the office science experiment. I'm terrified that the test will be negative and all this will be fore nothing. Money, time, health, weight gained, emotional stress, months of juggling our schedules around my cycle, HERE pay thousands of dollars for this supreme stress package! Part of me is excited that this could be it, but part of me wants to squash that optimism so I don't get my hopes so high that they crash down and shatter into a five million unrepairable pieces. I need a break from this awful headspace I've been occupying."

On the page opposite this, I decided to write my first Covid entry.

"March 8, 2020 - The Work Conference was cancelled. A lot of stuff going down this week. Daylight savings starts today. Full moon. Friday the 13th. The ides of March on Sunday. The corona virus is coming for us all."

"March 9, 2020 - My foot and ankle have been hurting. I got an inconclusive X-ray. The doctor says that is consistent with most stress fractures. I'm now the not very proud owner of a storm trooper boot. Work is preparing us to start working from home at some point, wtf. Also, my boss quit."

Then Friday the thirteenth happened. We had our last, in-person, all staff meeting. By 2p.m. I was packing my desk into a wine box to begin WFH on the following Monday. COVID-19 was in the US and spreading like, well, an un-contained virus. 

"March 14, 2020 - I went to the gym. Josh didn't want me to. He got a lot of food supplies from Costco including a prime rib. He thought we'd be able to have dinner parties. Our friends all say no. We learn we're all on our own, and isolation really means isolating. We put the slab o beef in the freezer."

"March 18, 2020 - Gyms are closed. I haven't worked (cardio) out since March 14th. I do yoga, but with the stress fracture I can't do much, not even walk the dogs. I'm getting stir crazy so I ordered a "cheap" spin bike $330 off Amazon. Got take-out from Spice Island. Did a facetime happy hour with Amy. It was nice."

"March 21, 2020 - Josh was getting melancholy so I put his brain to work with a short film. It occupied us from afternoon to dinner. We edited into the night. Last of the whiskey consumed. 1st corona virus death in Allegheny County."

"March 24, 2020 - Got first workout in on the new spin bike. I don't like it as much as walking or HIIT, but it's something. It feels great to be tired from it. Maybe I'll sleep tonight. Called Delta and canceled flight to Boston. 851 cases of Corona in PA as of 12:10pm."

"March 30, 2020 - our CEO said we'll probably be doing this work from home thing at least another month. But probably two."

Meryl Franzos orange dress and blue bricks
photo: Joshua Franzos

I documented the daily death tolls, the climbing number of cases. I note our cooking menus, I note work gripes. I note how silent Shadyside has become with all the bars closed that we can sleep with our windows open. I noted that I hope an estranged family member is doing alright, but I don't ask, and neither do they. Sometime between April 9 and April 18, I start having weird dreams about owls and cuckoo clocks.

"One owl in one hand and a bat in the other. The bat bites me and I wake up thinking, 'How do I get a rabies shot during Covid-19?'"

"I'm standing in my driveway and hundreds of owls, all sizes and colors are swarming into my driveway. I can see sunlight illuminating the tips of feathers on their extended wingspans as they swoop down over my head. I'm a little scared, but I also can't stop looking at them staring back at me. They're so beautiful and curious."

April 26, 2020 - Josh, my friend Dana (whom I haven't seen in years), and I walk into a cuckoo clock and the wall is filled with more cuckoo cubbies. The cubbies are filled with money, treasure, old jewlery. There was also a big cupboard filled with fabulous fur-trimmed caftans and floral girdles – apparently weird dreams are a thing during COVID, for everyone – our brains are unstimulated by our lacking daily routine, or we're anxious so our brains dig deep into our subconscious and past to provide fodder for REM sleep to repair us, or something like that."

Uh oh, I thought. I'm typically a: working my routine, routine-ing my work, block out everything, keep my head down, and definitely, absolutely, a keeper of emotions on a distant island (like Alcatraz,) where you can see, not touch, not make out specifics... but hopefully it's just always foggy and you never even know they're there. What am I in for? I haven't processed shit. 

Meryl Franzos golden hour
photo: Joshua Franzos

By the end of April I'd tiled the fireplaces, made and installed my curtain pelmets, painted the  north wall and closet doors, cleaned the basement, given away the toys I hoped to give to my kids, perfected macarons, and ultimately run out of house projects to occupy the moments where I couldn't sit in a chair a second longer. Now I was alone with my thoughts. Who would've ever guessed that our thoughts would make such horrible companions? The effects of social isolation, a cancelled trip to Europe that I'd spent months planning our daily itineraries for, plus watching the joyful chaos other peoples' children wreaked on zoom meetings was starting to intensify the feelings of everything we were missing out on.

"April 29, 2020 - 30 min of yoga. Very challenging day. I decided to add an element of a friend announcing her pregnancy to my main character in my book. Which was emotional for me because of all the times I've had to pretend i'm overjoyed when all I see is what I can't have, then work was super intense and challenging with cloud issues plus demands from ALL the people I'm supporting [Post note: I was doing the work of three support staff at the time.] Then I get a group text where redacted announces she is pregnant with her fourth child and how old she feels at 40 and how it will be her last 'planned pregnancy.' My phone was exploding with this and the congrats while I'm on a zoom meeting and I JUST LOSE IT. I actually left the text conversation like a big ole drama queen, and I walked off screen of the work zoom to go muffle my sobs in the powder room. I didn't want Josh to see/hear this mental breakdown. I feel bad now. I've been apologized to, which was nice to hear, but honestly, I should be the one apologizing. But I couldn't do that, or even respond." [Post note: Redacted, if you're reading this, I'm sorry. I love you, I'm going through some stuff and I hate that my pain diminished your joy for even a millisecond.]

As the months wore on and death tolls mounted, I began to obsessively revisit the topic of family and IVF and my own one day demise. Once again, the guilt about not being able to give Josh something that he is so suited for surfaced. Maybe it wasn't too late for IVF? Maybe we still had a shot? Maybe there was a clinic with a better track record than the one in town? For three weeks I drug my husband through the awfulness all over again. I googled IVF statistics, and was dismayed to learn by taking a year off to screw my head on right, I effectively cut my chances of ever getting pregnant down from 30% at age 38 to about 5% at age 40. I ordered the Modern Fertility hormone test that further spelled out the unlikelihood of me conceiving a child of our own flesh and blood. It seems a literal miracle is my last option.

photo: Joshua Franzos

All the well meaning people came to mind, the ones that say "God has a plan, or, life tends to work out the way it's supposed to, in the time its supposed to." Meaning what? I don't know, but I obsessed. why oh why oh why did I wait until thirty-six to get serious about kids. And why oh why did I pick this journal, this Domesday Book accounting of some of the lowest points of my life? The only thing I knew was that I'd fucked up, and contrary to the book's braggadocios title, I REGRET SO SO MUCH.

Veuve Clicquot orange
photo: Joshua Franzos

At the end of May I was extremely tired and nauseous for several days in a row. Stress will do that to you.The outer layers of my hell heart started to get excited that maybe, I was pregnant. There has been an awful lot of cohab nooky. And, those people. The people that say the things about timing and life. What if something amazing came out of this awfulness? Wouldn't that be the most amazing idea for a romantic covid comedy? The section of my brain that recognizes a good story idea started blaring an air horn.The Book of I Regret Nothing: A Quarantine Love Story.

magenta lipstick and 3rdEyeView Eyewear
photo: Joshua Franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

Despite all the fluttering hope and beautiful literary parallels, the faithless knowledge that I wasn't pregnant sat frozen in a lake of ice at the center of my hell heart. Judas and Jack Torrance are frozen there too. A few days later, my period came and once again proved myself right. The journal contributions grew fewer and fewer, and on May 27, I put in my final entry, our dinner menu.

"May 27 - Seared tuna with wasabi sesame crust. Watermelon and arugula I planted by seed in the early spring, tossed in a blood orange vinaigrette. Green onion and Korean pepper salad. Al Fresco dining. Fresh and amazing dinner, best in awhile. My husband has the most beautiful green eyes at sunset, like jadeite at 7pm, like celadon at 8pm."

Now that my short-lived journal is only 1/3 blank, I wonder what, if anything will convince me to put a pen to it again? If only life could be so kind as to conveniently tie all the loose ends up or frame the suffering with a golden lining. I guess that's why fiction is so compelling. Three acts, the heroine gets her hearts desire after a bit of trouble... Despite all my rage, I'm still getting dressed in the morning. I'm just tromping down two flights of stairs to go sit at our dining room table, but it's part of my mental health routine. I'm especially loving cotton dresses with roomy skirts that allow me to sit cross legged or lay on the floor while I type. White and cheery colored dresses are my favorite. Pre-covid, I would never describe myself as feminine or as a "dress lover." I didn't know what was happening until I read a vogue article. Michelle Ruiz wrote, "But it doesn’t take much self-psychoanalysis to realize I’m dressing the way I want to feel—happy and colorful—in throwback pieces that remind me of simpler, more innocent times."

photo: Joshua Franzos

I'll say. It doesn't get more simple than a dress and slip on shoes. While it has been impossible to escape this time unscathed, I know you've had your dark moments too. I hope my sharing of this makes you feel less alone. In some ways, this time was a curse, in others, the forced self-reflection was a gift. We sorted, confronted, and hopefully made peace with our demons and acknowledged that our thoughts, pains, traumas, and our regrets are valid. It helps us recognize it and empathize with others. But we must never forget the joy and to actively seek it out if necessary. It's more important than ever to preserve, and celebrate life, and cling to those "just because" moments. Oh, and one last thing. Go, drink that special bottle of something you've been saving. You're special now.

photo: Joshua Franzos

Your bosom friend in Pittsburgh,

Details on what I wore:

Lipstick: Urban Decay Vice lipstick in comfort matte. Color: Menace.

Sunglasses: Elton in black/sherbert at Black owned business 3rd Eye View

Dress: ASOS Design tiered broderie maxi, out of stock, unfortunately.
This dress is so comfortable and perfect for sitting cross-legged while I WFH. Wish you could experience the comfort of this stylish dress that feels like the softest t-shirt. This dress is likely the same feel, but in white...I kind of want to buy it.

Sandals: Adidas, here.

Earrings: resin hoops from Banana Republic, here.

Scarf: 70's polyester skinny scarf I inherited from my mother:)

Bottle jacket: Veuve Clicquot, I bought this in New York, but it's hard to find in the wild. You can buy the jacket used on Ebay, Etsy, and Mercari.

Limericks, Love Letters, and Turning Forty

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

photo: Joshua Franzos

If you'd asked me when I was ten years old, what or where I'd be at by age forty, I'd probably have told you some pie in the sky dream, like, I'd be a big time fashion designer with a gorgeous model of a husband and three kids, and and we'd all wear white clothes and chase each other through the white sheets air drying in the sunshine at our country home -- or something that looks like domestic bliss in a 1980's laundry detergent commercial.

nike vandalized lx outfit, street style, 40+ street style
photo: Joshua Franzos

At age eighteen, some forward-thinking adult made us High School Seniors commit some words to paper. It was loosely along the lines of, Where do you see yourself at age 30? But we were told that we could write whatever we wanted, because only we would see what was written, the caveat being, we'd see it when we were thirty years old. 

photo: Joshua Franzos

In 2010, an email went out, reminding the class of '98 of this endeavor, and would we kindly send our current mailing addresses? Our documents had been sealed and stored for twelve years, and now they needed to be mailed to us.

Meryl Franzos, style blogger, yohji yamamoto
photo: Joshua Franzos

Meryl Franzos, color blocking outfit
photo: Joshua Franzos

I held the crisp envelope in my hands, noting the strangely familiar penmanship on the return address, my old home, written in my hurried, all caps (except for a few letters) print. By Jove. I couldn't even remember what I'd written, but I fully expected this time capsule to flood me with wunderkind wisdom and hammer me with blast from the past memories.

 Instead, I got this:

There once was a girl from Nantucket.
Who got a stupid homework assignment, so she said fuck it.
She did what school said, 
and after twelve years wasn't dead,
Then her old, saggy ass got mailed a poem that sucked it.
(By the way. Your thirty now and therefore can't be trusted. Ha HA)

My initial thoughts were thus: Come here you eighteen year old cockadoodie brat. 
Your grammar is poor and Charlton Heston is not a counter cultural icon. You wasted too much time on TV, computer games, and sleeping in until 1pm. You were emotionally gorked. You shirked responsibility. You had talent and potential, but contributed the very minimum because you had zero stamina for hard, uncomfortable, tedious work. As a result, you have very little to show for anything. Eat my whole ass.

Meryl Franzos, turquoise glitter, turquoise eyeshadow, orange lipstick
photo: Joshua Franzos

Thinking of it now, I kind of wish I'd kept this letter from myself. But at the time I immediately crumpled it up and tossed it. I have enough mischief and juvenilia betwixt the diary covers of my misspent youth. 
photo: Joshua Franzos

sooooo. (buttons on your underwear)

As I wind down the eleven days I have left in my thirties, I find myself occupied with thoughts about letters written for the future.The kind that are so targeted and poignant in the moment they're read, that the music swells and all readers are reduced to tears because they're filled with love and truth bombs....and a flash of that shining verisimilitude of the beauty, agony, and brevity of life.

pittsburgh fashion blogger, Meryl Franzos, 40+ style
photo: Joshua Franzos

meryl franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

I'd hoped to be the kind of parent that would write one of those read-upon-my-death, time traveling sock-you-in-the-gut-with-love letters. Where I make some anecdotal observances about you as a toddler and as an adult, express my hopes and dreams for your future and the kind of person you'll be, and finally bequeath you with the task of returning an ancient, mystical necklace to its rightful owner. (Or something that would send you on a journey fraught with adventure and intrigue and romance.) I have no idea where this came from. But just after my father died when I was sixteen (going on seventeen) it was my heart's most ardent wish that a letter from him would fall out of leather bound book I pulled off a shelf, or would be delivered to me by a lawyer on a designated birthday like a Wes Anderson film. I would be enveloped in parental love and machinations from beyond the grave - perhaps exposing that naive and fatalistic wish that God was an actual heavenly father and I wasn't the master of my own destiny. It seems like it would be so much easier. Ahhh, but I never got any letters.  Dammit, those unrequited loves and wishes have inspired literature for millennia...the novel I'm writing (editing) is no different, as it is filled with those letters I never got, and so it will also have to be that love letter to the children I never had. But as to me still pining for those letters I never received, well...As I lean from the threshold of thirty-nine into the heathery glen of forty, wisdom and experience are showing me that I am responsible for obtaining what I want. That's on me and no one else.

turquoise tights outfit, turquoise wayfarers, thredup
photo: Joshua Franzos

Without further adieu, here's a love letter to myself for when I turn fifty. 

There once was a woman in Pittsburgh,
who drank like she lived in a vineyard,
she loved with all her might,
and her looks, they put up a good fight, 
but it was her writing for which she would be remembered.

My Dearest Meryl Aja,

You've grown so much since you were a bold and adventurous toddler, and a frightened and anxious teenager. Where you used to be afraid of showing any sign of weakness, you've pushed past that.While it's true, that a few have taken advantage when you showed a vulnerable side, you've found they were an exception to the rule.You've found more comfort and friendships because of your openness than anything else, so you should continue with it. You're starting to learn about boundaries. Keep leaning into that.

You're getting antsy about looking as old as you feel. Right now you feel like you're fifteen years old in the head -- Just some dumb kid that finally figured out what she wants in life. Is that still true? It's pretty difficult looking like you're fifteen right now, if not impossible. You don't really want to look fifteen, you just want it to stop. Though, it won't. It's possible you're still fighting the good fight in maintaining a youthful appearance, you might have taken some drastic measures, or you may be aging more gracefully than a French woman, because you don't smoke, Great Job on that by the way! Whatever you do, always do it for you, and Always Always Always do your research.

I'm so happy you and writing found each other. You came to it with late, but boy have you learned by doing. I don't think you've stuck with anything as long as this, so it really must keep your interest and be special. Please, never tire of it, and keep doing it. It gives so much meaning to your life because you don't process emotions like normal people. When you write, you get so much more clarity for yourself, and then for your loved ones. You're a ways off from publishing at the moment, but when it's time to look for a publisher, don't let rejection derail you from doing something that makes you whole. Keep doing it. Writing is your salvation.

I'm so ecstatic that you found  true love in Joshua. The push and pull of your relationship constantly takes your breath away, keeps things spicy (and you on your toes), floods your being with so much joy and gratitude that you sometimes find yourself weeping happy tears in the shower.You inspire each other aesthetically and to be better people. It is a union you didn't think possible, but you have it. You have no idea how many people walk around looking for what your father in law called "that special kind of sauce" and never find it. But you did. Never stop showing your love and appreciation to that gorgeous man of yours.

And Honey, if there's one sentence I want you to walk away with from all this, it's this:
 I believe in you.

What I wore: 

Sunnies: fake wayfarers, Amazon here.
Trench: Old, Yohji Yamamoto, worn previously here.
Shirt:  from Thred-up.
Denim skirt: Levi's, sourced from Thred-up.
Tights: Amazon here.
Shoes: Nike Vandalized LX, try here.
Quilted patent leather bag: Christian Dior

Meryl Franzos, outfits with turquoise tights
photo: Joshua Franzos

Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh,

Achieve Your 2020 Goals With a Morning Routine

Thursday, January 9, 2020

red lipstick, pink eyeshadow, red and pink outfit, valentine makeup
photo: Joshua Franzos
If you didn't know I had a day job, let me clear that up for you. I do. In 2012, I left my career in the auction world for a job better at accommodating my desire to write. I have been working in a 30 hour a week administrative position at a nonprofit that primarily focuses on the Jewish community. This outward focusing on the community was especially true in 2019, during the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. But this year, my employer is re-focusing energy on the training, coaching, and mentoring of its employees. We're initiating a work culture of setting both work and personal goals and figuring out how the two can help each other. It's scary and exhilarating. 

photo: Joshua Franzos
In the wake of all this interoffice zhuzhing, there have been a few "lunch and learn" seminars. I attended one called "Creating Powerful Morning Routines," mostly because there would be a free lunch (score!) I was a bit surprised that "Morning Routines" are a thing. Upon further research, I'm noting that the internet loves to fetishize them, as the internet does.

red and pink outfit, red blazer outfit, valentine's day outfit
photo: Joshua Franzos

The lunch seminar came and went.I found it interesting to look over how the "successful" and famous people started their mornings. It's so humanizing. Anna Wintour plays an hour of tennis everyday at 5:45am. Eva Chen rises somewhere between 5:45am and 7:30am and starts by checking social media. Oprah starts her day between 6:02am-6:20am by taking her dogs for a walk. So I ask you...Does looking at someone else's morning routine add value or context to our own lives? Other than satisfying low level curiosity and being mildly amusing? 

photo: Joshua Franzos
I already have a structured morning routine. It's pretty rigid, and it's been various incarnations of my current morning routine (shared below) since I started a devout writing habit in 2013. I have to be honest, I didn't expect to learn much. There was one thing that really grabbed my attention at the seminar. Ben Franklin's daily schedule. I was inspired by how he started his day at 5am with the question, "What good shall I do today?" and in the evening, after the day's work was done, he'd circle back and ask himself, "What good have I done today?" I thought I was a jedi master of the morning routine, but it turns out that my obsession with time and efficiency, quite often lacks gratitude. I think it's important to start weaving more of that in because I believe it will help tone down my frustration with my slow progress.

On that note, in case this helps, inspires, or even entertains you while you're on the john, here goes:

My Morning Routine

4:15-5:15 - My get out of bed time varies each day, but usually between 4:30 and 5. I check in with social media while I'm on the toliet. Brush teeth. Put gym clothes on in dark so I don't wake Josh or the dogs.
5:00am-5:30am - grab my pre-packed bag and go to the gym. spend 30 minutes doing yoga/strength training, then move on to cardio.
6:00-7:15am - 30-90 minutes fasted LIIT cardio/ or 30 minutes of fasted HIIT if my back allows. 
     During low impact cardio sessions, I spend this time thusly: 
  • planning outfits
  • listening to writing podcasts
  • watching Outlander on Netflix (obsessed)
  • brainstorming and/or troubleshooting plot and editing snafus in my book
  • making lists for personal projects, packing, grocery shopping,etc.
  • reading books (currently reading The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal) 
  • research
7:00am-7:15am go home, take dogs out, feed dogs breakfast, kiss Josh Good Morning. 
7:30am - shower, AM skincare routine, dress for work, hair, make-up.
8:15am-8:30am - take mirror selfie to document my OOTD for Instagram stories, post it.
8:30am -8:45am- quick breakfast with Josh if he's not at a shoot and we aren't intermittent fasting. 
8:45am-10:00am - edit novel
10:15am - probably still at home because I pushed the editing past 10, and need to leave ASAP.
10:20-10:35am - arrive at work, check and answer emails, check calendar, check list of things to do from prior day, add to that list, prioritize, act.
10:45am-12:00pm - check things off my list.
12pm-12:30pm - lunch. throw a Daily Harvest in the microwave (or blender), go back to my desk, eat while I edit my novel or write for this blog.

photo: Joshua Franzos
I've come to crave my routine. It supports me, my interests, my well being, and my personal goals. I wasn't always like this. In my twenties, anything routine or repetitive would weird me out. It bored me. I lived on chaos and novelty. but I guess in time, I got tired of being reactive as opposed to proactive. When you don't  pursue your own madness, it only seems to invite opportunities you don't want, or worse, a rut. 

I've definitely been in ruts, 2016-2018, most recently. I don't care to return there, so I'm keeping myself inspired and motivated by adding and slowly chipping away at stuff on my lists. It's quite satisfying to cross things off. I have a lot to look forward to this year, but I have a lot I want to add to that list too:

Some things I hope to accomplish this year: 
  • finish my curtain pelmet project. The fancy mouldings you see in these pictures will be used to box in our curtains on the 2nd floor. I want it to look like an old Parisian flat. 
  • Organize my home and get rid of "junk drawers"
  • cut 30k words from my manuscript and polish it up like a diamond. I'd like to do this in six months or less. 
  • do three unassisted pull-ups.
  • travel more. (we have 2 international trips booked! already)
  • express more gratitude
  • see my family in California
  • if I have time, I'd love to re-brand my blog

Do you have a morning routine? (Or a night routine?) How do you spend that time? Is there something you wish you could do in the mornings? Is there something that is so exciting, it gets you out of bed? Do you have any goals for 2020? Can your morning routine help you achieve them? Let me know in the comments.

photo: Joshua Franzos

What I Wore:
linen blend suit: last summer, Banana Republic.
Blouse: Dusty Daze, ASOS. Last spring.
Shoes: old, Christian Louboutin c/o eBay.
Lipstick: Urban Decay Vice Mega Matte lipstick in color 714
Eyes: Too Faced Pretty Rich Pallette, here. And an old Make-up Forever neon pink blush.
Fancy Moulding: Architectural Depot, here.

P.S. As always, any links I provide here have the possibility of generating income for me if you click or buy something through them, but I haven't been paid yet. Someone bought something once, $100+ pair of Nikes, and I got 15 cents. So like, knock yourself out. It may be ten years before I receive a $30 paycheck consisting of clicks.

Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh,

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