While I like most of the characters on this show, Snow White was the one I really started watching the series for, and the main character I’ve most admired. Sure, she’s done some questionable things (like an affair with Charming, while they were both cursed), and even murder, that one time. But she was generally kind and selfless, and incredibly resilient. She’s the best version of Snow White there is – a princess who learned to fight, stand up for herself, and go after what she wants.
Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket
Of course one of my favorite characters would be the “conscience” of the show. Archie was more of an important character in the first few seasons, and after that he kind of faded away. But I loved his character every time he appeared in an episode. Archie was the voice of reason and kindness in the middle of all the chaos of Storybrooke, and his story was one of the first I fell in love with. Characters like this, with soft hearts and resilient optimism, always become my favorites. So it’s no wonder Archie did, despite not being a part of the main cast.
Jasmine was even more of a minor character than Archie, yet the little we did see of her was enough to make her one of my favorite of all the princesses that appeared on this show. What I really liked about Jasmine was that once she came to terms with the fact that she was meant to save her nation, she didn’t let anything distract her from that mission. A lot of other princesses got caught up in their own love stories, or the drama of their family, but Jasmine always had her priorities straight. She was one of the best political leaders on the show. And her story with Aladdin was pretty cute too, of course.
Honorable Mentions: The grown-up version of Henry Mills in season 7 (who is adorably sweet), Drizella (Regina 2.0, who I wish we could have seen more), and Sabine/Princess Tiana.
TOP 3 EPISODES
(From the top 3 seasons, since those are the ones I’ve been re-watching lately. Maybe someday soon when I re-watch the whole thing, I’ll make a post about my favorites from the whole series):
This is hands down my favorite episode in the entire series, and perhaps also the most iconic. It’s basically the story of how Snow White and Prince Charming fell in love. From Snow robbing Charming’s carriage, to the two of them trading insults and then saving each other’s lives, this is probably one of the best told relationship starts I’ve seen on TV. And it all happened in one episode. If you’ve never seen OUAT and are wondering if you should, I recommend starting with this episode, because it really sets the tone for the first couple of seasons.
Lady of the Lake
The best episodes of OUAT tell a good story while also advancing character development. This one did that so well. Not only was the story with Charming’s mom one of my favorites (and one of the saddest!), but we also get to see Emma start to process the reality of who her parents are here. From visiting Snow’s old palace, to realizing her mom knows a lot more about surviving in the Enchanted Forest than she does, it’s as if the reality of her parent’s background finally starts to come together for Emma. And that sets her up to finally truly accept her parents as family later on in the season. (Also, there’s a surprise important wedding in this episode).
Quite a Common Fairy
I love this episode because it’s all about one of the major themes of OUAT: redemption. In this story, a fairy by the name of Tinkerbell (yes, that Tinkerbell) takes a chance on the Evil Queen, in attempt to help her find happiness and abandon her plot for revenge. Spoiler alert: it goes terribly wrong and Regina goes back to her original plan. Which also means that Tinkerbell loses her wings and pretty much gets cast out of being a fairy. I think some of OUAT’s best moments are when they tell a story with a tragic ending and yet find a way to tie that back in to the main character’s development. And that’s exactly what this episode does.
Honorable Mentions: Skin Deep (Belle and Rumple’s origin story, which is one of my favorites) and There’s No Place Like Home (which has everything from time travel to a blossoming relationship to surprising plot twists).
TOP 3 PLOT TWISTS
(Spoiler alert for all of these, of course)
Neal Being the Dark One’s Son
I don’t think anyone suspected this twist when Henry’s father, Neal, was first introduced in season 2. It was such a great plot twist because it made Neal even more of an important character than he already was, and it brought Rumple into the core family in a way that’s lasted throughout the series (and made his constant betrayal of them even more terrible…). When Neal died, his death was also more impactful because it touched everyone on the show, and changed the lives of both Emma and Rumple.
Peter Pan is Rumple’s Father
Another twist no one saw coming because Pan was (seemingly) decades younger than Rumple. However, the show did a good job of explaining the history behind that. And it paralleled Rumple’s story with his own son, Bae, quite nicely. I also had to add this in here because I think that out of all the villains on OUAT, Pan was the best. The actor who played him did an awesome job, and I have never looked at Peter Pan in any movie the same way because he was truly awful here.
Zelena Impersonates Marion
When Emma and Hook bring home a character from the past in an attempt to save her life, who could have predicted that she would have been the wife of Regina’s new love interest? That plot twist was already great because it upped the stakes in Regina’s redemption arc. But the fact that it was actually Zelena, Regina’s sister, impersonating Marion to make her sister’s life miserable was another twist no one saw coming. And then to top it off, she had a baby with Robin Hood… It was crazy and dramatic, but what makes it such an important twist in my view is that it challenged Regina’s quest to become a better person, which was such an integral part of the show.
Honorable Mentions: Snow and Charming are caught in the same, alternating sleeping curse (season 6), and Roni/Regina wakes up from the curse but has to keep Henry from breaking it in order to save him (season 7).
New Year’s Eve truly snuck up on me this year. My tree is still up, our stockings are still hung, and I’m just barely starting to use the gifts I received from family and friends for Christmas. And already we’ve only got less than 24 hours left of 2017…
Perhaps the holiday season in general snuck up on me this year. Our city has been going through a lot in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and not long after all the chaos, I started a new job which quickly became my focus for this last third of the year. Sometimes I can’t even remember what 2017 looked like before August. It feels like one blindingly fast blur.
I do remember some of my favorite moments, though. Like the week I spent in San Francisco serving with an amazing ministry and learning so much about God’s love. And the weekend I drove all the way to my hometown of El Paso, then spontaneously decided to spend the night in one of my favorite New Mexico towns. I do remember that though 2017 had its share of hardships and uncertainties, it also brought a lot of unexpected good. I got to start a new job at my church for example, and while its got its own challenges like any job, it’s truly amazing how comfortable and at home I feel there. God knew what I needed this year, and He led me right to it. He has an amazing way of doing that, of expanding my own small goals for bigger, grander ones that fit much better into my life.
Last year, I paid homage to 2016 by creating a list of 16 things I learned that year, and I’ve decided to continue the tradition (the inspiration for this actually came from this lovely blog). To me, the most important thing about a year is always what I learned because of it. If I can recognize an improvement in myself, a better way of dealing with problems or a more optimistic outlook on life, then by all accounts, I consider that year a success. 🙂
Here are just a few of the things I learned in 2017, and the things and people that taught me them.
1. Anyone can long for beauty in faraway places, but to have a true eye for beauty is to be able to find it in your own backyard.
– Getting reacquainted with my local beach on a few spontaneous day trips
2. You can stress out when things don’t go your way, or you can use it as an opportunity to reevaluate your routines and perspectives.
– My car breaking down on me on the other end of the state
3. Few things can awaken and restore you like nature.
– The crisp mountain air of Ruidoso, New Mexico
4. Inner peace begins with learning to accept, and on occasion laugh, at your mistakes. Failure is part of being human, but being miserable about it doesn’t have to be.
– All the mistakes I’m prone to
5. Even when we work as hard as possible and do our part, God finds a way of still exceeding our expectations.
– My sister getting into her top choice medical school
6. For all the heaviness in the world, we’ve been given so many light things to lessen our burdens (puppies, laughter, the ocean, and chocolate being a few of them).
– Morning drives on the way to work
7. Kindness is still one of the most attractive things in the world.
– I re-learn this every year, always thanks to different people.
8. The homeless person you see on the side of the street is more than just “a homeless person.” They’re a person with a unique backstory and beliefs just like you and me, and they deserve the same amount of dignity.
– A week serving with San Francisco City Impact
8. The more you have to fight for joy and peace, the stronger they both become.
– Finding joy and peace in the little things
10. People may be capable of extraordinary cynicism, but they’re also capable of extraordinary kindness.
– The local heroes that rescued many in our city during hurricane Harvey
11. A good story inspires you. A great story changes you.
– Writing this blog post
12. We are not immune to the sufferings and tragedies of life, but we’ve got a God who longs to be so near us in the midst of them.
13. The most natural result of gratitude and compassion is service.
– The ridiculously long lines of volunteers after hurricane Harvey
14. When our circumstances are unpredictable and stressful, the peace God gives is like a solid rock that never wavers.
– Transitioning to a new job and routine
15. Hard work, dedication and trust in those around you will help you triumph even when the odds are stacked against you.
– Our hometown Astros winning the World Series 🙂
16. The proof of a good time isn’t in the likes you receive on an Instagram photo, but in the peace (or lack of it) it brought you.
– A perfect, lazy Christmas break spent cozily indoors
17. Keeping a sense of wonder and unbridled optimism is underrated, but so much more powerful than most people would believe.
– Anne of Green Gables (the book, the 1980s movie and the Netflix series 😉
Here’s to next year. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s Eve!
Finally getting around to update one of my gift guides for you all. This was probably my favorite guide last year, because everything was just so cozy and supported my preferred lifestyle (at home in bed, reading or watching Netflix ;). But in all seriousness, while these gifts are all very introvert-friendly, I think anyone would appreciate them.
Again, this is not a sponsored post, these are just items I love and whose proceeds go to great causes.
I shared about Punjamees last year and wanted to include them again because they have some of the coziest loungewear out there. Sudara helps to provide sustainable living wages for women in India, helping them avoid sexual exploitation. They also focus on providing women and girls with valuable training and education.
Ivory Ella is all about helping save elephants in the wild by donating 10% of their products’ net profits to the cause. They’ve donated over $1 million so far to help preserve and protect these gentle creatures and other animals in the wild. Ivory Ella has tons of products featuring elephants (of course), but my favorites are the ones that make a relaxing day at home even cozier. Like these cute gray slippers and warm varsity joggers.
Soft Blankets & Pillows
A year later, Sackcloth & Ashes remains one of my favorite brands for cozy blankets. Their products are genuinely so soft, and for every blanket you purchase, they’ll donate one to a homeless shelter for someone who needs one. These are two of my current favorite styles. The geometric patterns of the Darling Gray blanket would make it perfect for a throw across a bed or couch, and I just want to curl up in that chocolate blanket.
Amani Ya Juu (which means “Peace From Above” in Swahili), is an awesome company that employs women in different parts of Africa who make beautiful products by hand. All their products are handmade from natural materials and help women rise out of poverty and adversity.
Well, I’m finally emerging from my blogging hibernation (don’t ask me why, because I don’t have an excuse other than life has been crazy) to share a few gift guides with you all. I loved making these posts last year, so I wanted to share a few more this season too.
Like last year’s posts, these will all include gifts that give back in some way. I’ll be posting some new ones (like today’s) as well as updating my old ones, so stay tuned. 🙂
As for today’s guide, it’s going to be a long one because it’s focused on fashion, and there were too many great finds not to share them all. This is not a sponsored post, these are just items that I love and whose proceeds go to great causes.
A few months ago I signed up to be part of the launch team for an awesome new book by Katie Davis Majors, who founded Amazima Ministries after moving to Uganda and adopting 13 girls (yes, 13). I loved Katie’s first book (Kisses From Katie), so I expected I’d love this one too. But I honestly didn’t expect just how much it would affect me.
Daring to Hope is a powerful read, and probably my favorite book I’ve read all year – which is why I really wanted to take the time to blog about it here. While it starts off a bit of a slow, it quickly builds up and by the middle of the book, you won’t be able to put it down.
Perhaps the most amazing thing is that all the stories in Daring to Hope are real. Some are inspiring and full of happy endings. And some are full of tragedy and pain that breaks your heart as you read them. But that’s exactly why this book is so powerful – it’s honest about the hardest things we face in life, and speaks on how to find hope in the midst of them. Though Katie’s living out life with her family in Uganda, her experiences are relevant to anyone who’s ever encountered loss, heartbreak, or uncertainty.
When I finished Daring to Hope (after, predictably, a night of staying up super late because I couldn’t put it down), I was so in awe of God’s grace and goodness, and how He draws closer to us in times of pain and sorrow. Though we can’t always understand why He allows some things, we can always trust in His love for us. It’s what carries us forward and what makes life beautiful even in the darkness. And Daring to Hope illustrates that so well.
If you’ve ever wondered why God allows pain into our lives, I think you will get so much out of reading this book. It’s one of the most honest and remarkable stories I’ve ever read about what it looks like to love the person in front of you, to give even when you’ve lost much, and to trust God even through heartbreak and pain. Here is the link to purchase it if you’re interested. You can also check out Amazima Ministries to learn more about Katie’s work in Uganda.
A few of my favorite quotes from the book…