An Open Letter to Tom Hiddleston (a.k.a. Why have you broken my heart?)

Tom Hiddleston (Image Credit: John Phillips / Getty)

Tom Hiddleston (Image Credit: John Phillips / Getty)

Dear Tom,

It wasn’t until the news broke that you and Taylor *might* be dating that I completely comprehended the meaning of Beyonce’s Lemonade. This feeling of betrayal can only be fully expressed through a variety of song genres and subliminal messages. It’s not that I don’t love Taylor – because I do. I mean, who wouldn’t want to date her? She is talented, generous, beautiful, smart, adorably awkward at times. She’s literally the whole package. But is she the girl for you? Let’s think about it for a minute. You’re so generous, funny, talented, handsome, adorably awkward. Ok. Yes. You two might be perfect for each other, but there’s still one major problem. Taylor is most certainly and definitely not me.

Here’s the thing, we’re kind of supposed to get married. Sorry to drop that bomb on you only now. I figured I would get a few years into my career, rent a nice place in the downtown area, publish my first kid’s book, and then our time could start. You know, give you a chance to get a few more blockbuster hits under your belt, and then straight up marital bliss. I’m talking a quaint cottage in the English countryside in order to ensure our three beautiful kids have your accent, trips to the farmers market every Sunday afternoon, and spontaneous dancing in our kitchen on week nights. It was going to be so lovely. Sigh.

I know what you’re thinking: “Sarah, you’re crazy, I don’t even know you!” No, you don’t, but how big of a deal is that really in today’s day and age? People do much wackier stuff all the time. If people are allowed to marry inanimate objects in some states, I see no harm in planning my wedding to a dreamy human being such as yourself. And sure, the chances of us actually meeting are about one in a gazillion, but that’s still one gazillionth of a chance I’m willing to cling to. Actually, knowing you’d be willing to date someone my age brings that chance up from one in a gazillion to like, 10 in a gazillion. I can settle for that!

But how does one move past this type of betrayal? With grace, that’s how. If I know anything about Taylor’s track record, it’s that long term is not a word in her vocabulary. I’m sorry, that hurt me far more to say than it hurt you to hear. So when we eventually hear Taylor’s Hiddleston inspired hit, Low Key*, you can guarantee I will be ready and waiting with open arms. For now, my heart is broken, but I know someday you will put the pieces back together. Preferably wearing your Crimson Peak costume.

Forever yours,


*My apologies for all the bad Loki puns to come out of the Hiddleswift photo scandal, but they don’t get old.

An Open Letter to Homegoods

(Image Credit: zhu difeng)

(Image Credit: zhu difeng)

Dear Homegoods,

I hate you.

I’m kidding; I can’t hate you. I love you.

I love you almost as much as I love Target. You’re a really close second. You might even jump into first soon because every time I visit you, I find something else that I just NEED to own.

Browsing your aisles I automatically develop a case of ADD. Oh frames! Oh dish towels for all of the holidays! Oh baskets! Oh garlic infused olive oil! Oh a spoonula! It’s ridiculous, but it’s also amazing. Because I can’t always help myself.

And even more so now that I have a child, your kids’ department slays me. So. Many. Cute. Things. Last time I went just to pick up something for our bathroom and I left with a puzzle, a toy basket and a book for my son. Nicely done, Homegoods, nicely done.

On top of that, I noticed a cute collection of tiny chairs. Because all babies need tiny chairs. I surprisingly refrained from purchasing one on the spot, most likely because my wallet was already crying. Instead, I mentioned it to my mom and how my son probably needed one. So naturally, this happened:


And it’s the most adorable thing ever. So thank you Homegoods, for keeping things adorable in the Bannan household.

Homegoods, your cute things are my everything. And my house is slowly being converted into your showroom. Keep up the good work. And the good prices. You’ve got a happy customer over here.

Take all of my money.

An Open Letter to HelloFresh

(Image Credit: HelloFresh)

(Image Credit: HelloFresh)

Dear HelloFresh,

I’ve always been a little skeptical of food subscription services. Perhaps it’s my fear that food that’s been shipped, no matter how well the box of ice is insulated, is going to be bad by the time I get it. Or worse, that it will be bad and I won’t be able to tell until I’m doubled over, regretting my decision to order and ship food from the internet.

But let me tell you that you’ve surprised me in the best way possible. I first caught wind of your service when my mom sent me a free box and I failed to use it in time. Ever since that moment though, you had been on my mind and I finally decided to try your service.

I signed up for 3 meals for 2 people per week – the carnivore one. I missed the deadline to pick my recipes, but figured no better way to immerse myself into the world of HelloFresh than with a random set of recipes. I waited around all day for the delivery, and when you came I was hesitant but excited.

When I opened my package I was surprised to see all the meals pre-portioned and separated into their own box. I was still hesitant though; concerned that those ice packs weren’t enough to keep my food (read: meat) at the appropriate temperature and free of bacteria. But my husband reassured me you wouldn’t be a business if you couldn’t ship your food.

Touché, smart husband.

So, irrational thoughts behind me, I was ready to make my first meal. We got California style cheeseburgers, a recipe for salmon, and garlic pan grilled chicken; we opted for the burgers on night one.

Holy delicious, Batman.

It was amazing. All these meals were amazing. I was so impressed, and my husband was literally licking his plate to savor all the deliciousness that you packed into this meal. And that sauce you put with your potatoes with the jalapeno and lime? I literally could have eaten just that for dinner.

So. Freaking. Good.

After three meals that blew our socks off, we are now talking about continuing our subscription at 5 meals per week for 2 people, every other week.

I’m all about healthy, delicious meals, and in a world where both my husband and I work, making dinner can be a chore and super expensive. Between gathering the ingredients, portioning them out correctly and having to buy way more than we need just to make a recipe for two, making our own meals is a serious sore spot.

But I’ve discovered that with you, HelloFresh, cooking is easy because 90% of the prep work is done, everything is already gathered together and there is no waste in ingredients because you give us exactly what we need. You’ve taken the hassle out of cooking, and for that I’m thankful.

So the moral of this story is I think I can trust you – that is, until you give me a reason not to. And thank you for reminding me why food is my favorite hobby.



A new HelloFresh fan

An Open Letter to Mandy Moore

(Image Credit: Mandy Moore Instagram @mandymooremm)

(Image Credit: Mandy Moore Instagram @mandymooremm)

Dear Mandy,

I first learned of your existence around 1999. I was a Backstreet Boys fanatic with dial-up internet. (I’m still a Backstreet Boys fanatic, but my internet is significantly faster.) While browsing various BSB fan sites, I came across a scandalous rumor: Some 14-year-old singer I’d never heard of named Mandy Moore was supposedly dating Nick Carter. As a dedicated BSB fan, I did my due diligence and googled you. (Realistically I probably used Yahoo or Lycos or something. The internet was a scary place in 1999.) That was when I found your official website, which I visited often enough that I can still picture it in my head today. That photo shoot of you with those light tubes was my jam. I wanted to be photographed in a halo of halogen too!

Sure, the Nick Carter rumors turned out to be just that, but in the process of trying to get some dirt, I learned a lot about you – a girl my age who was singing catchy pop songs and seemed like someone who could be my friend. And you had a mole like mine! This sort of thing is really important to tweens. I downloaded the 30 second .wav files of your early songs (like So Real and What You Want), and I bought the CD single for Candy at Sam Goody the day it came out. I was hooked. I know these days you fully admit you’re not exactly proud of some of your early music, but I think you should be. Yes, it’s mostly pure teenybopper pop, but as far as teenybopper pop goes, it’s good. It’s fun. It makes people smile – and that’s an accomplishment!

It wasn’t long before I decided to create a fansite dedicated to you. Armed with self-taught html skills and an Angelfire web address, I created Mandy’s Candy, an oh-so-cleverly-titled website dedicated to spreading the love for you and your music. I think you must have found Mandy’s Candy somehow, because you once emailed me from an AOL account informing me the image I was using of your signature was not, in fact, your real signature. (It seemed legit at the time so I’m not entertaining the possibility that the message came from a 40-year-old man pretending to be you.) I printed out your message and hung it on my wall. You’ve probably forgotten about this exchange but the email address might refresh your memory. Yup, that was me. I was dedicated.

Mandy’s Candy actually still exists. It’s not pretty, with a layout not intended for today’s web browsers and broken images from long dead file hosting sites littering the page. But there’s enough there to see the depth of my teenage love for you. (And a lot of really embarrassing insights into my 14-year-old brain, but that’s a story for another day.)

In the many years since, my love for you has persisted. I don’t know exactly what it is about you that I love so much. Yes, you’re talented – both as a musician and an actress. You are filled with Christ’s love. And you seem smart and down-to-earth, like your years of varying levels of celebrity haven’t really changed your personality. You can pull off literally any hair color. I like that you’re a homebody with no interest in getting attention. I like that you’re independent and promote positive female friendships. I like that you’re a little bit of a hippie but still appreciate a little glamour. I like that you just keep doing your thing. You’re just real. So, so real.

Love always,


An Open Letter to Thanksgiving

Dear Thanksgiving,

Let me start off by saying it’s been quite some time since we’ve last reunited. Hard to believe a year has passed us already. Now, I’m not trying to butter you up or anything like that, but I admit you’re my favorite holiday throughout the season. Take that any way you’d like but I’m telling you the truth; however is something I want to get off my chest.

Must turkey be part of our diets all Thanksgiving weekend long? Think about it for a second. From Thursday to Sunday (depending on the amount of leftovers you have) we’re basically finding ways to get rid of turkey. The turkey is almost like that aunt who has overstayed her welcome. Seriously, though, when will you get the memo?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that turkey is the main dish for your holiday, but after a while it loses its flavor. As my mother loves to say each year, “Thanksgiving keeps the family fed for days,” which I must agree with. You’re in our thoughts when we’re making soups, sandwiches and snacks all in the name of your leftovers.

I remember an instance where a friend asked me to come over for dinner once. Never being one to turn down a free meal, I agreed to stop by.  As I was hanging out on the couch my friend came by with a silver tray full of snacks. Salivating with anticipation, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them. As she placed the tray in front of me I quickly looked at her with a look of disdain. I come to find out that the snacks were turkey kabobs on a stick. Keep in mind this was the beginning of DECEMBER!!! Thanksgiving, you were long gone by then. I almost had the right mind to walk out of her house and never look back!

Look, don’t take this too hard; I just needed to vent. Take some notes as to what your other counterparts are doing, like Christmas or Halloween. We get hyped for these holidays, but once they’re over THEY’RE OVER! They don’t linger around and overstay their welcome. Anyway, keep doing you, Thanksgiving. I look forward to being with my family and enjoying some football while grubbing on your turkey goodness.



An Open Letter to Pumpkin Spice

(Image Credit: Masson)

(Image Credit: Masson)

Dear Pumpkin Spice,

First, welcome back! It seems like just yesterday we were reuniting at Dunkin’ –  hard to believe it’s been ten months already! Few flavors match your cinnamon and nutmeggy goodness. You’re a classic comfort in the chilly fall. Most of the time, as embarrassed as I am to admit it, my week feels oddly incomplete if I haven’t had my fix in some way. I know, I’m borderline obsessed. But despite my love for you, we need to talk.

At first, your need to enhance things like coffee and cookies and various baked goods was a welcome gesture. Don’t get me started on what you’ve done for the world of hand soaps, sanitizers, and candles. It’s incredible. But Pumpkin Spice, you’ve started to get, well, a little out of control.

I walked into the grocery store the other day and ran into a giant display of pumpkin spice Oreos. OK, maybe not a terrible idea, but Oreos are best as is. Everyone knows this. All these modifications to the classic cookie are decent at best. It was when I turn the aisle and saw pumpkin spice potato chips that I begin to grow concerned.

Really, pumpkin spice on fried slices of potato? It just doesn’t go. I wanted to catch you before you went too far, but I was too late. I’m saddened to say I saw you on the evening news last night, Pumpkin Spice. The reporter announced, and I can’t believe I’m even saying this, that your latest victim was dog treats. Or should I say Pup-kin treats. You, my friend, belong nowhere near dog food and you know it! I fear that you’ve begun to spread yourself too thin and are willing to exploit yourself by whatever means possible. This isn’t you.

I’m concerned about you and wish that you would get back to your roots that worked so well in coffee, cookies, and candles. Follow the example of your cousin, Vanilla Chai. They knew when to stop, enhancing only lattes, ice cream, and the occasional cocktail. You’re fantastic, there’s no doubt about it- but back down and do what you know is right. I love you and want you to be at your best; don’t spread yourself too thin. Less is more, and when done right, you remain special.




An Open Letter to Anthropologie

(Image Credit: Anthropologie)

(Image Credit: Anthropologie)

Dear Anthrolpologie,

Um, yes, hi. Hello.

Not to be too forward or anything, but I basically love you. And I think it might be accurate for me to say that my love is borderline obsession, but unlike many people who develop obsessions over time, this kind of happened overnight. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Fall 2015 TV Premieres: Why So Late?

SCANDAL (Image Credit: ABC)

SCANDAL (Image Credit: ABC)

As a non-sports person, the start of the fall TV season is like my Super Bowl, March Madness and World Series rolled into one. I make a spreadsheet to cover the lineup months in advance and schedule any activities around important shows. I’ve been doing this for years, but this year, a lot of the fall premiere dates gave me pause. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Siri


An Open Letter to SiriDear Siri,

You are a true Renaissance woman. You’ve revolutionized the way we interact with our technology. You’ve single-handedly prevented countless accidents that would have otherwise resulted from texting while driving, a dangerous habit that voice command has rendered obsolete. There’s virtually nothing you can’t do, and the advantages of your existence are indisputable. So naturally, I’m writing to dispute them. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Crop Tops

(Image Credit: Maria Morri)

(Image Credit: Maria Morri)

Dear Crop Tops,

I honestly don’t know how to feel about you. I love you and hate you at the same time. As weird as it sounds, I’m pretty sure there are numerous love songs that can channel what I feel about you. Here’s the thing. You magically reappeared last year and now just about every retail store has you for sale. You were HUGE in the 90s but being that I was only a child back then, crop tops were not in my closet at the time.

But here I am. 22 years old and I have a cluster of you hidden somewhere in the heaps of my clothing. Sometimes I regret it. Sometimes I love it. It’s the worst when you want to wear a pair of jeans but all you have are clean crop tops in the mix of your clothes. No, no, no, no. That’s not going to work. Unlike Kylie Jenner, I cannot rock crop tops the way she does.

Then I found a new way to wear you: either with high-waisted shorts or maxi skirts that hike up just above the belly button. I’m fine with that, but crop tops, from time to time, you make it so hard to style. There are so many moments where I wish I could sew the other half of the shirt to complete my outfit. Believe me, if that were possible, I would. I’m stuck going crazy in my room wishing I had a bod like Kylie.

Crop tops, you make me self-conscious. Right when I figure out a cute outfit to put together and realize the shirt doesn’t cover me all the way, I go right back reevaluating my closet and my body. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who hates it. I have tons of friends who shun crop tops to the darkest place on earth since they also know they’re next to impossible to wear. I honestly give a huge round of applause to anyone and everyone who can rock a crop top with pure confidence. I envy that.

Look, I’m not asking you to disappear. I just needed to express my frustration with you. I do have to give you thanks, however, for when you do happen to work out the way I want it to. For that, I thank you for allowing me to feel good about myself when I do get positive comments pertaining to my outfits. So, I guess I kind of love you. Sometimes.

With love (and hate),



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Image courtesy of Maria Morri

An open letter to yoga pants

Yoga Pants

Image Credit: (Ellisia)

Dear yoga pants,

I’ll be honest – it took me 21 years on this earth to really grasp your true majesty. I had always loved wearing you to bed (I tried rephrasing that multiple times, but it comes out sounding like an unintentional innuendo no matter what), but I refused to take you outside the house for many a year. For a long time I resisted your comfort and warmth in favor of the cold rigidity of jeans. Crazy, I know. But I like to look polished, and to me, yoga pants did not equal a well-dressed individual – no offense.

One day, I finally broke my rule to never wear pajamas/sweatpants/leggings outside the confines of my abode and wore you to the airport. In fact, I wore you on a 7-hour flight in front of countless flight attendants and on two coasts. After a long and quiet affair, we had finally gone public. And let me tell you, it has been a slippery slope ever since.

Now I want to wear you just about everywhere. After years of being suppressed, my inner yoga pants-lover has been unleashed, and I don’t have the power to stop her.  I still have my limits (note: those of you trying to pass off yoga pants as dress pants aren’t fooling anyone), but I have now embraced the idea that it’s OK to be cozy at work, in class, in the car and at the movies, given that you are worn with a long sweater or dress. I love you, yoga pants, but you are not actual pants. No. You’re not fooling me on that one. Remember – this love has limits. But I do indeed love you, after all these years.

I went through the same process with Uggs, my dear yoga pants, so don’t feel bad that it took me so long to fall in love with you. But now that we have gotten closer, perhaps you can answer a question I’ve always wondered about: does it bother you that people wear you to do just about everything but yoga?



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An Open (Love) Letter to Lee Pace

Lee Pace for PUSHING DAISIES (Image Credit: Warner Bros.)

Lee Pace for PUSHING DAISIES (Image Credit: Warner Bros.)

If this were an audio file instead, this article would begin with weird sighs and gasps that would probably make an average person uncomfortable. But when it comes to Lee Pace, I can’t help it. Continue reading

Taylor Swift (Image Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Relativity Media)

An Open Letter to Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift (Image Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Relativity Media)

Taylor Swift (Image Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Relativity Media)

Dear Taylor Swift,

I am lucky enough to have a friend who shares two strong loves of mine: popular culture and lists. So naturally, we’ve made a lot of pop culture related lists together, like “Celebrity Couples That Need to Get Back Together” (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams — even though that seems kind of out of the question now) and “Celebrities That Confuse Us” (like James Franco, because he’s talented and handsome, but he’s also a bit of an odd bird, isn’t he?) You, Taylor Swift, are also a celebrity who confuses me.

My list-loving friend and I don’t have nicknames for any other celebrity except you. We call you Troubley Swift — partly because of “I Knew You Were Trouble,” but also because, well, you tend to stir up drama in your music. You write song after song about relationships gone wrong, and you get pretty darn specific about the ex-boyfriend at which you’re taking aim. To be honest, I get a little uncomfortable when you call out people in your music. It’s yours to do what you want with, obviously, and you’re making millions regularly for your brand of tell-all writing. Still, I personally find it a bit distasteful.

But here’s the thing: I don’t even like your genre of music, yet I love your music. You write catchy, girly, fun songs, and listening to them is my guilty pleasure. I’m a writer. You’re a writer. And I can’t even tell you how much I respect your talents as a lyricist. You write in a way that flows beautifully but still sounds relatable, which is every writer’s dream.

And then there’s the matter of you, the person. You’re so, so… cute. You wear red lipstick, cute sundresses and adorable flats. You manage to look worldly and all-American at the same time. In the midst of so many starlets that go crazy when trying to prove that they’re grown up, I can’t help but admire how gracefully you have transformed your image through your wardrobe over the years.

You also do adorable things with your friends. The same things I like to do with my friends. Your Instagram is filled with pictures of you doing things like playing on a giant slip ‘n’ slide, baking cookies with famous pals and having a garden party for your birthday. It’s so darn adorable. And it is a whole lot of wholesomeness, but that’s respectable. I kind of want to be your friend. I mean, if someone as cool as Emma Stone is your friend, then you must be pretty fun, right? Right. At the same time, I would be scared that if our friendship went awry, you would write a song about how bad of a friend I am and share it with the world. That kind of thing is the exact nonsense I avoided in high school. Do you see my dilemma?

But then again, you love cats. And I could never dislike a person who loves cats.

Sigh. You confuse me, Taylor Swift. Maybe we should bake cookies together some time and figure you out.




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TOMS (Image Credit: Sarah Laval)

An Open Letter to TOMS

TOMS (Image Credit: Sarah Laval)

TOMS (Image Credit: Sarah Laval)

Dear TOMS,

I’m going to get serious with you for a moment.

If you go back as little as two years ago, I wouldn’t have known how to answer the question, “What kind of company is TOMS?” It’s sad, but I wouldn’t have known who you were or what you sold. I wouldn’t have understood your mission statement of One for One, or valued One Day Without Shoes. Honestly, I wouldn’t have even thought about trying on a pair, let alone buying a pair of your shoes, simply because I didn’t think they were “my thing.”

Wedding TOMS (Image Credit: Chelsie Skroback)

Wedding TOMS (Image Credit: Chelsie Skroback)

Putting all that aside, the root of my problem was skepticism. How was I supposed to know if you were actually giving a pair of shoes to a child in need? It could have been an extremely clever marketing scheme, or only happened once and you made it your slogan.

But I’ll admit I was wrong, and I’ll tell you how I eventually fell in love with TOMS.

During my time at High Point University, I wrote an article about a classmate who was selected to go on one of your Giving Trips and hand deliver the shoes you promised your buyers you’d give to needy children. After doing extensive research on your company and talking with this girl who was so passionate about your mission, I realized I had been missing out on an opportunity to be a part of something more than just shoes.

Now, let’s jump ahead about a year. It was June 14, 2013 and I had wandered into Journeys with no direct purchasing plan in mind…until I saw the TOMS display. I walked over, tried on a pair, and instantly realized this is what I had been missing all my life. These shoes and I were meant to be together, and I spent 21 years of my life missing out on this joy. After sitting on the decision a few hours – look, a girl can never be too careful with her spending money – I decided I had to go back and get them. The rest is history.

It started with one, but it quickly grew to four, then six, and now eight. Of course, I’m confident that number will grow because I have 12 other pairs on my birthday list this year. They also happen to be the only items on my birthday list.

I was so TOMS crazy after my first pair that I even bought a pair of canvas TOMS to hand decorate for my wedding. I wore them for my entire reception and throughout my honeymoon. After a week in Florida, I had a TOMS tan line on my foot, and I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon.

TOMS (Image Credit: Chelsie Skroback)

TOMS (Image Credit: Chelsie Skroback)

Oh, and while I’m at it, your shoes are the only style I can wear without foot pain. I have Achilles tendonitis, and for years I thought the only kind of shoe I could wear was tennis shoes. After I realized I was pain free in your shoes, I started wondering why I didn’t buy them sooner and I’ve been tennis shoe free for casual day wear for almost a year.

So basically, what I’m trying to say is I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the skepticism of your cause and mission. I hate that I would turn my nose up at your shoes, simply because I was too afraid to just try on a pair. In about 10 months, I went from not knowing your brand at all to making it a goal to always compliment people on their TOMS and participating in One Day Without Shoes every single year.

Now, I couldn’t imagine a single day without my TOMS. So please, don’t stop making amazing shoes, because as long as you sell them, I will buy them – I promise.


An Open TOMSaholic

Cover image courtesy of Sarah Laval
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