best of 2014

hey friends. want to know a weird medical fact about me?

(you all respond with a resounding no but I continue regardless)

I break out in hives whenever a family member is about to have a major surgery.

is this a bizarre thing? I feel like this is a bizarre thing.

we discovered this when I was four and came downstairs complaining of itching at 10pm a few days before my brother's skull surgery. when we arrived at the ER, they couldn't find anything wrong and told my parents it was nervous hives because of the surgery.

fast forward 15 years, my mom is about to have a surgery. I notice 3 "mosquito bites" on me and tell my mom. the next day, Jordan points out that I have a weird rash on my neck. then I notice that hives spread to my whole body. boom, surgical-nervous hives. perhaps the silliest thing ever. I don't feel mentally stressed about the surgery, but my body apparently is sympathy-stressed.

because of this, I have been taking it easy lately. I watched season 6 of Parks and Rec a second and third time. I have been snuggling with my puppy A LOT. In fact, I am snuggling with my puppy/watching Parks and Rec as I write this post. I finally got around to watching Silver Linings Playbook, which was WONDERFUL, but VERY STRESSFUL. immediately turned P&R on after and breathed a sigh of relaxation.

my mom had her third surgery today and she killed it, as always. she is my hero. I just talked to her on the phone and she sounds great. thank you to everyone who has texted me today in support. families have volunteered to make dinner for us for the next month, which is so generous. the Neff family support system is amazing. these last few months have really shown me how lucky my family is to have such giving and caring people surrounding us. thank you for all of your prayers and thoughts.

today we're talking about the best of 2014. there is a YouTube tag about this, and some of my categories are from that, but others are things I thought of.

**none of these photos are mine unless specified. I do not claim any copyright**

favorite album released in 2014


This is All Yours - Alt-J∆

Alt-J is one of my favorite bands of this millennium. An Awesome Wave is a seminal album for the alternative genre. it is utterly indescribable. Alt-J often uses indistinguishable lyrics, but the complex melodies still craft emotional stories of their own. This is All Yours has a completely different sound, but still maintains the uniqueness that brought the band acclaim from their first album. Warm Foothills is my favorite song off the record. it creates this feeling of childlike contentment that you have to hear to understand. Pusher is also amazing, as well as Left Hand Free, a great windows-down tune.

favorite pop single of 2014

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Fixed Show
2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Fixed Show

Drunk in Love - Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z

my absolute favorite radio jam of 2014. how many times did I sing along to this with Jordan in the car? not sure. Beyoncé is someone I admire in general, the fact that she has talent gleaming from every gorgeous pore on her body is just a perk. she brought feminism a new generation of many unacquainted, and she fully embodies the ideal that women can be talented, intelligent, sexual, beautiful, multi-faceted beings, unlike the flat, sexy OR smart exclusive women often portrayed in the media. her talent and poise is admirable, and she seems like a loving parent.



I'm done

favorite film of 2014



I first saw a poster for this when Trey and I went to see Palo Alto. immediately I was intrigued, but did not expect this to be an unprecedented cinematic accomplishment. J and I went to see Boyhood at an independent theater downtown and left feeling so light and young and happy. we spontaneously held hands and ran around the Krispy Kreme parking lot after. this is an absolutely beautiful film following a group of actors for 12 years. the story follows a boy from ages 5 to 18, catching the important milestones of his transition from child to adult. because of this, every audience member can relate in some way to the main character and it creates a poignant dynamic. it has a perfect 100 on metascore, which is essentially unheard of. Obama declared it his favorite movie of the year. it is ranking high on several "movie of the year" lists with much more prestige than mine. basically, you need to see it. it will make you feel every emotion in the spectrum and you will walk out a more appreciative and nostalgic person.

I feel like a sinner for not putting my favorite director's newest film as my number one. Grand Budapest Hotel, you are a strong runner-up.

favorite restaurant discovery of 2014

Joule Coffee

I stumbled across Joule almost as a character would in a film. it was an incredibly rainy night in January and J and I had just finished dinner at a neighboring restaurant, Busy Bee Cafe. we walked outside in the rain, not quite ready to head home. it was then we saw Joule, gleaming with warm light and a promise of refuge from the drizzle. we ran in and ordered iced vanilla lattes. we fell in love with the place.

I have been back countless times in the past year for brunch with friends, after dinner coffee, dessert with family, meetings for my senior project, etc. it's the perfect meeting place for any occasion. the real treasure is Joule's weekend brunch menu. my absolute favorite is "the hangover", cheese grits with sour cream, salsa, and bacon, which I substitute for avocado. it is a delight. another amazing breakfast item is their seasonal hotcake, which rotates from blueberry lemon to apple to peach to... something new next season!

this is also a wonderful place to people watch!

favorite theatrical production of 2014

Parade, produced by Theatre Raleigh.

holy moly, this show was the real deal. when I went, I saw several former acting teachers in the audience and many of my peers. that's when you know it'll be a great production.

this show blew me away. it was at the caliber of a Broadway show, but graced the stage at the Lincoln Theater in Raleigh. The plot follows the murder trial of a thirteen year old girl in Marietta, Georgia in 1913. Leo Frank, her supervisor at the pencil factory at which she worked, arises as the main suspect. I won't spoil anything. this is based off of a true story, which is all the more heart-wrenching. there is a moment at the end that will have you bawling. if you can find this on youtube, please watch it! the actors were incredible and the music fit in believably with the plot.

it was extremely ballsy of Theatre Raleigh to produce this because the underlying theme of the show is a critique of Southern culture. The main suspect, Leo, is a transplant from the North, which presented a new perspective on the town of Marietta. I personally enjoyed it because I was born in the North as well, and I see a lot of differences between the two parts of the country every day. the different perspectives the show gives are fascinating.

the minimalistic set was also a perfect companion to the plot! this was a groundbreaking show for the Raleigh theatre scene. I am excited to see what Theatre Raleigh does next.

favorite memory of 2014


the trip to Greenville, South Carolina with my dad.

my dad and I took a trip to Greenville back in April because I was interested in looking at Furman University. we spent the whole car ride talking about his adventures when he lived in Paris for a year and the importance of seeing the world. my dad and I are cut from the same cloth. we both have similar working styles, love history and literature, and both of us get really dry eyelids in the winter. thank you, genetics.

after an hour at Furman, I realized I could never see myself there. Dad and I ditched the day of events and headed to downtown Greenville, which is stunningly beautiful. Dad told me that the town was once in ruins, so the state lowered taxes for businesses. A decade later, the area is booming. there is a beautiful river with a waterfall running through the center of town. we went on a day with tons of sunshine and families walking around. we went to a delicious coffee shop and ice cream parlor overlooking the river. it is what I'd imagine heaven to be like. if you ever have a chance to visit, please do!


favorite beauty product discovery of 2014

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

my best friend Lyd turned me onto this and I have been using it ever since. it hides dark circles, blemishes, and it blends perfectly. I have to use Chantilly because I am paler than paper. NARS is a consistently impressive brand, and this product is no exception to their rule of excellence!

favorite fashion trend of 2014

fur vests

this started out as a trend I hated, but it grew on me and now I wear my faux fur vest constantly. with this one simple piece, your outfit can go from standard stylish human to someone from the cast of Gossip Girl, and that is pretty mindblowing to me. I like to layer mine over a blouse and jeans or my black Piko dress. it has endless possibilities and it also helps to retain heat in the winter! score. obviously I find real fur vests abhorrent. I am a vegetarian and I could never buy real fur without feeling like a bad person. I realize that this is hypocritical because I have a tragic addiction to leather items, but I'm working on it. buy a substitute when you can, friends!

my fur vest is from Jack by BB Dakota and will make its debut in the next post!

favorite TV program of 2014


Parks and Recreation

okay, if you have read this blog before, you guessed it. I am a freaking evangelist about this show. yesterday I watched it with my 9 year old brother, 14 year old brother, and my dad, and all of them laughed out loud several times. this is such a hilarious, feel-good show. I recommend binge watching starting at season 1 because watching the character development is a lot of what makes the show great. the situations on the show change, but the continuity is amazing. the characters feel like your own friends. you will laugh, occasionally cry, and become totally attached. I enjoy The Office, but honestly, Parks and Rec is a thousand times better. I realize this is a controversial statement. The characters grow more, the plot changes more often to keep you enthralled, the characters travel to different countries in some episodes (the setting never feels constricting), and overall, it is just so much happier. I don't know what I'm going to do when the show ends in February.

this show has also made me realize my intense infatuation with Adam Scott. his character, Ben, is the ideal spouse/human being. the unrealistic ideal has been set.

favorite store of 2014


a breath of fresh air into my closet. at 17, I'm walking the line between teenage and adult styles. I feel much too mature to be attracted to Hollister, but I feel too experimental to settle down with good ol' JCrew permanently. Madewell is the happy medium. the perfect intersection of trendy and classic, Madewell helped me bridge the gap between teenage and adulthood this year.

favorite app of 2014


Evernote has gotten me through high school. you can make lists, notes, to-dos, etc, and you can split your notes into folders and tags to make things easier. I use it to organize my personal life, clubs, work, college, and school ideas all in one place. I've used it for 2 years now and I highly recommend it if you want to get your life more organized.

bonus: you can access it from anywhere! they have apps for Mac and iPhone. probably android too, but I am unfamiliar.

I have a few posts queued up in my brain. the next post will most likely be about a couple of events/adventures my friend Lauren and I have attended in the past few days. I've also taken on the project of renovating my room and closet recently. I don't want to post about it until it is 100% complete, which will probably be a few more weeks. I'm really, really excited to show you guys.

once again, thank you for reading. writing these posts is gratifying and time consuming all at once, and I love that many of you are giving feedback.

I tag all of you to do this tag! if you decide to write about your favorites of 2014, tag me on twitter or instagram so I can read them! can't wait to hear your thoughts!

love, emily

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