A blog by Maddie Brady

Recent Posts

All of my Feelings About Marie Kondo’s Famous Cleaning Method

All of my Feelings About Marie Kondo’s Famous Cleaning Method

Over New Years weekend I embarked on a cleaning mission: to clear out my entire apartment using Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method. If you don’t keep up with the latest in Japanese tidying trends, the KonMari method is a quirky style of cleaning that touts the […]

Why I’m Doing Resolutions A Little Bit Differently This Year

Why I’m Doing Resolutions A Little Bit Differently This Year

This year, I’ve decided to forgo big, yearlong resolutions because they simply don’t work for me! Making a huge proclamation at the beginning of the year is simply setting myself up for failure. I know myself well enough at this point to know that I […]

My Favorite Moments of 2017 & A Few Things I’m Really Proud Of

My Favorite Moments of 2017 & A Few Things I’m Really Proud Of

I actually can’t believe this year is over! It’s gone by so fast, but, not gonna lie, I feel like it lasted forever. Hands down, I have grown more this year than any other. The person I was in January is completely different than the person I am now in December. I’m more independent and confident in every aspect of my life and I’m so proud of that. But, wow, did it come with some challenges.

2017 certainly wasn’t the year that I wanted, but it was absolutely the year that I needed.

A few things that I’m particularly proud of myself for this year:

  • Doing more things by myself. Moving to a new city can be intimidating, but I feel like I really rose to the occasion. I’ve spent the year going to bars alone for an after work beer, taking classes at UW-Madison in dance and writing by myself, and going on walks by the lake on my own. I have always loved hanging out with myself and I feel like I got to cherish that this year.
  • Facing my fear of living alone. Although I’ve always enjoyed doing things by myself, I have always harbored a fear of living alone. I often have trouble falling asleep and get nervous when it’s time for bed and, although I still get it sometimes, I feel the anxiety subsiding a lot these days. It may not be perfect, but I’ve lived alone for over a year now and that feels pretty good.
  • Feeling like a young professional. When I started at work, I had total imposter syndrome and for good reason! I was an arts grad doing really technical work in an industry I’d never even heard of. But I’ve learned a ton and really embraced a logical side of my brain that had apparently gone dormant. I’m now comfortable giving big presentations, confident voicing my opinion about technology and business, and have a level of professionalism that only a corporate job can unwillingly instill in you. Work has been fraught for me this year, but I’m definitely better for it.
  • Getting into a more consistent workout routine. I’ve been pretty active ever since I started exercising back in high school, but I really found a routine that works for me this year. Running has always been my staple, but mixing it up with hot yoga and HIIT workouts has made me stronger, more toned, and more challenged than I’ve ever been. I’m more consistent and more excited to workout these days, which feels really good. Next year, I want to branch out even more and try boxing or strength training – they feel so much more approachable now.

On top of all that, my year was punctuated with some pretty amazing moments. I’ve gone on some amazing trips, I’ve enjoyed Madison soooo much, and am constantly reminded how amazing my friends are and how strong my family is. I picked out a few photos of some of my highlights, if you’re interested…

The Women’s March

What a way to start the year! It was the first time I felt proud of my country in a long, long time. Who’s ready to march again in 2018?

A Quick Trip to Florida

A short trip, but it was certainly some much needed sunshine after a long Wisconsin winter. I spent most of the trip drinking coronas and reading on the back deck of the hotel and, honestly, it was perfect.

My Graduation from Trinity College Dublin

Definitely my proudest moment of 2017. I almost didn’t go back for graduation, but it was such an amazing bookend to my time at Trinity. It was great to see all my grad school friends, to be back at all my favorite Dublin spots, and really let it soak in that I got a Masters degree! Cheers to that!

The Most Amazing Trip to Japan

Hands down, best trip I’ve ever been on! I would probably do 2017 all over again just to go back. Seeing my best friend from college, Betsy, was so great – it had been almost 3 years – and getting to experience Japan through her eyes was incredible. Japan is seriously magical. I don’t know how to explain it, but if you ever get the chance to go – do it!

A Great Summer in Madison

After all my travels in the Spring, I was sooo ready to hang out in Madison for the summer. My friends and I spent every Monday night watching The Bachelorette at the local bar, we drank pitchers at the Union Terrace, went to street festivals, hit up the farmers market every Saturday morning, ran a 5K with my mom (her first!), and spent Sunday afternoons going on long runs around town. It fucking rocked.

A Fun (But Challenging) Trip to Colorado

My biggest work accomplishment of the year was this trip I did to Colorado: it was a week of big customer presentations that I organized and moderated myself. It was really nerve racking, but I ended up doing really well, got great facetime with customers (I usually talk to people on the phone), and was really proud of myself for taking on such a big challenge. Was definitely happy to relax with a weekend in Boulder with the parents after all that!

Running My Fifth Half Marathon

I hadn’t run a half marathon in over 2 years, so this was the most nervous I’d been about a race in a long time. Despite getting sick the week before the race, I trained really well and was really happy with the experience overall. I actually enjoyed my long Sunday runs around Madison and nothing beats running onto Lake Shore Drive on a beautiful morning to hundreds of people cheering you on. The pizza and beer at the end didn’t hurt either!

Home for the Holidays

I ended the year on a high note. A great, chill week at home catching up with my family and friends was exactly how I wanted to spend my Christmas. A lot has changed this year – and a lot more will change next year, I’m sure – but that feeling of driving through the town I grew up in feels exactly the same every time.

What were you favorite (or most challenging) moments of 2017? I feel like we all sort of got bowled over this year, so I’m happy to to have a fresh start. And I don’t know, I have a good feeling about 2018. I feel like I’ve gotten through the worst of things for a while and I’m really ready to dive into the new year. Would love to hear your highlights, too!

Also, here are a few blog posts about some of my favorite moments, if you fancy reading more:

  • Read more about Japan here, here, here, and here.
  • Learn more about my summer in Madison here.
  • See some of my favorite snapshots from my Colorado trip here.
  • Check out all my favorite spots in Dublin here.
  • Read more reflections on my first year in Madison here.
Toast’s Last Minute (& Under $50) Gift Guide

Toast’s Last Minute (& Under $50) Gift Guide

  I am a pretty notorious last minute shopper. I’ve never been on the ball when it comes to gift giving, so it’s always a bit of scramble come crunch time. But since I do this literally every year, I have a few tricks up […]

4 Guilty Pleasure Christmas Movies to Watch This Weekend

4 Guilty Pleasure Christmas Movies to Watch This Weekend

I’m such a guilty pleasure pop culture junky and I make no exception at Christmas. There are so many awesomely bad Christmas specials out in the world and nothing makes me happier than a totally cringe-worthy celeb-filled holiday TV nightmare and God bless that we […]

My Favorite Christmas Traditions + A Festive Jumpsuit

My Favorite Christmas Traditions + A Festive Jumpsuit


Christmas Tree Model

I started celebrating Christmas a little earlier than usual this year (because Lord knows we need any excuse for some joy these days) and I’m starting to get so excited, guys! I broke out the decorations, put up my little Christmas tree, tuned into the local Christmas station – I’m totally admiring my handiwork as we speak!

I’ve even done a good amount of my gift shopping, which has to be some kind of record because I famously wait until the last minute every year. All this holiday spirit made me want to share some thoughts on the holidays including the best Christmas tree ever and where not to see the Nutcracker this year…


Christmas Tree Ornament

Putting Up the (Aluminum) Christmas Tree

My mom’s never been one to do things the traditional way, but when it came to buying a new christmas tree she really outdid herself. We’ve always had fake trees because she’s allergic to pine (it’s actually a secret dream of mine to get a real one just to see what it would be like – sorry mom!) so we grew up putting the tree together, untangling the lights, the whole nine yards.

A few years back she said she’d ordered a new one online – let’s say we were not expecting it to be silver and made out of metal. My brother and I thought she was insane! But of course, now it’s my favorite thing ever and I can’t wait to have one of my own some day.


Laughing Christmas Wine

Drinking Mulled Wine at Christkindlmarket

This is definitely our newest tradition, but it feels like one we’ve been doing for years. My mom moved downtown a few years ago and I have to say that nothing beats Christmas in the city. Everything is lit up and Christmas is everywhere – I literally went to a random bar last last weekend and Santa was there! (I got so weirdly star stuck!)

Christkindlmarket on Daley Plaza has become our go to for a dose of Christmas spirit. We get mugs of mulled wine, eat potato pancakes, and browse through the incredible collection of handmade glass ornaments. They seriously have everything. My dream is to one day have an entire Christmas tree of alcoholic beverage ornaments and this is definitely where I’ll start – the Germans know what’s up!


Laughing Christmas Model

Seeing the Nutcracker

I’ve been a longtime fan of ballet – I danced all the way up until senior year of college and always felt really lucky to have one of the best ballet companies right at our doorstep, the Joffrey. So, of course, we frequented their version of the Nutcracker every year. I remember crying the first time I saw it (I know, cheesy lol) because it’s just a really incredible production.

Unfortunately, they decided to change things up last year and maybe we’re just curmudgeonly creatures of habit, but we felt like it missed the magic of the old version. We’re going to give the Madison Ballet’s version a try this year so fingers crossed! Regardless of the production itself, it’s just so nice to get dressed up, people watch, and drink champagne at intermission. Really looking forward to it this year!


Christmas Tree Ornaments

Getting Baked

I need no excuse to bake, but Christmas makes baking seem extra cozy and wonderful. I pour myself a glass of red wine, put on a Christmas movie, and I’m a happy little clam. Plus, I have an office filled with hungry developers to eat all my leftovers!

My go-to are classic chocolate chip cookies (I swear by the Martha Stewart recipe – they stay soft for days), but I’ve been trying to branch out lately. This year, I want to go total classic and do gingerbread. I’ve never actually made them before, but I think I’m ready for a little bit of a challenge. Frankly, I’m more worried about the decorating than the baking – I’m honestly tragic at that sort of thing. Keep an eye out for some total fails!


Christmas Tree Wine

Spending Time with My Family and Friends

I know, I know this is the most cliche answer ever… But it is genuinely my favorite part of the holidays. As I mentioned on Instagram recently, the holidays can be really tough. I know the years after my parents got divorced I dreaded the holidays – it was hard to see our family traditions change and I always felt like I was letting one parent down by being with the other.

But we all got older and made new traditions and I’ve really come to learn that home can be anywhere when you have the right people. It’s still not perfect and we always manage to find something stupid to fight about, but we also always figure it out and I feel lucky that I have a family who loves me enough to fight for our time together. Sappy, yes, but true!


Christmas Tree Wine

Last thing: can we talk about this jumpsuit for a second?! I love that it’s subtly festive and can totally be dressed up or down – I might wear it with heels to the Nutcracker next week or with slippers to lounge around in on Christmas Day. It’s the perfect cross between formal wear and pajamas, which is my ideal holiday outfit aesthetic.

I stopped into Anthropologie last week do some Christmas shopping and of course immediately found something for myself… I’m not sure if it’s still going on, but they were having a 40% off sale on sale items in store, which is a whopper for them. If you love Anthro, but gawk at their prices it’s a great time to pick up some goodies as gifts or, if you’re like me, as a little secret santa to yourself.

What are you guys up to for the holidays? Do you have any fun holiday traditions that have stuck? Funnily enough we don’t have anything in particular we do on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, we focus mainly on the lead up to Christmas, but I always love to hear what other families do!

21 Things I Learned My First Year in Madison

21 Things I Learned My First Year in Madison

I can’t believe it! It’s been a whole year since I moved to Madison! I feel so incredibly different than I did a year ago. I’ve started my career, I’ve made a life for myself in a city where I didn’t know anyone, I’ve experienced […]

What’s on Your Human Reading List?

What’s on Your Human Reading List?

A few weeks ago, my mom and I went to the Art Institute of Chicago for a little field trip. We dropped into Cauleen Smith’s exhibit Human_3.0 Reading List while we were there and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. In the exhibit, Smith offers a […]

My Game Plan for Surviving the Autumn Blues

My Game Plan for Surviving the Autumn Blues

It happened all at once, didn’t it? Suddenly it’s that time of year when the days are shorter and the nights are dark and quiet. Even living in the heart of Madison the mood is starting to shift – kids wrapped up in sweatshirts instead of cruising in tank tops, coming in early and staying in often. I love the bittersweet feel of fall and it’s relief from the exhausting summer heat, but I also get the fear around this time of year, too. I’m dreading those long winter nights and my skin is already craving Vitamin D.

In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m the kind of person who likes to have a plan, especially when it comes to self care. So, I’ve decided to strategize my fight against the autumn blues and share some ways I’ll be embracing the season and focusing on the positive this fall.

Lean Into the Season

There are actually so many fun fall things to do, but I think I get so hung up on the fact that it isn’t summer anymore that I automatically rule them out. This year I want to get my head out of my ass and go out and do things! Here’s an abridged list of fall activities previously neglected over the years, but will hopefully be making a comeback:

  • Apple picking – Classic!
  • Pumpkin carving – We actually hosted a pumpkin carving competition at my house in high school once and it was hilarious – but alas haven’t touched a pumpkin since.
  • Making mulled wine – I got into this last year in Ireland because it was always so dreary and it’s so delicious and easy. Perfect for Thanksgiving or any other weekend when you’re laying around drinking all day.
  • Haunted house/hayride/literally anything Halloween related – Confession: I hate Halloween. I don’t know what it is about the holiday, but I’ve avoided it for years. I think I’ve dressed up like twice since I was 18? I’m not committing to dressing up for the actual day, but I will go out of my comfort zone and do something spooky.
  • Tailgating – Anyone who knows me well is probably laughing at this one because I don’t sports. I like hockey and that’s about it. Football has always mystified me. But what’s not to like about day drinking with your friends, right? It’s not like I can avoid it living in Madison, anyhow. You know what they say: if you can beat them, drink with them.
  • Baking – What’s cozier than a hot oven and a tray full of fresh chocolate chip cookies or a crispy pumpkin pie? Probably only the womb.


Get Outside (Even When It’s Cold)

Working a 9-5 job during the winter means you don’t get a lot of exposure to the sun, especially when you’re in a windowless office like I am. So, this year I’ve set a goal of getting myself outside and into some sunshine at least once a day, even if it’s for 5 minutes. I’d really like to get in the habit of taking a walk at lunch time every day – it’s just so nice to get my eyes off a computer screen for a few minutes – and I think getting outdoors will help keep me sane.

On the weekends, too, I’d like to do a better job at not only hibernating in my apartment with Netflix and red wine. Although this is totally necessary sometimes, I’d like to go for walks along the lake, keep up my running a bit, and maybe even go for a hike in one of the nearby state parks if I’m feeling ambitious. If I can get myself outdoors more often in the fall, hopefully I can fend off cabin fever longer in the winter. Stay tuned.

Take Up Old Hobbies

Nothing feels better than doing something you’re good at. As part of my journey back into my creative life, I signed up for an Improvisational Dance class through the Continued Studies program here at UW – Madison. This may seem random, but I actually did a lot of movement and dance improvisation and composition in college. My theater major was very physical theater focused and I had the equivalent of a dance minor by the time I graduated so this is very much my element.

I haven’t been in a studio in years, though, so I decided to jump back in and take this class. Although I’m still warming up to the new surroundings and dance partners, it feels great to be back in my body again. I forget how freeing it feels and how easy it is for me to get in the improvisational zone. I think reawakening old skills will be a refreshing addition to my fall workout schedule and remind me that new beginnings can happen at any time of year.

Hygge the Shit Out of My Apartment

You’ve probably seen the hygge sensation sweep the hipster internet over the last couple of years – the Danish obsession with getting cozy. The whole premise is that winter doesn’t seem so bad when you find a way to revel in the comforts of the indoors. And that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m talking candles, tea, fuzzy socks, furry blankets, and old jazz music- it’s gonna be hyyge nation, bitches! To be fair, Denmark is probably hygge nation but I’ll take a close second.

I loved adding little touches to apartment for summer – light summer linens, fresh farmer’s market flowers, a continuous supply of vodka lemonade – so I think doing the same for winter will be sweet. It’s amazing what a Target run for candles and a fresh pair of flannel sheets can do for a girl. I’d also like to grab a few extra cozy sweaters and a new pair of shearling slippers for those frosty mornings. Feeling warm and fuzzy inside already.

The biggest part of hyggeing (?) for me, though, is definitely food. I love baking during the winter. There’s nothing better than a big glass of red wine, an old movie on TV, and a batch of cookies in the oven. It’s so heartwarming and lovely. I’ve also gotten into soup and stew making over the last two years. I made this stew, which is still one of my favorites, on a whim in Dublin and it quickly became my favorite meal to make. It felt great to have a hot, thick stew at the end of cold, wet day. I don’t have a crockpot yet, but this may be the year I take the plunge. Recipe suggestion welcome.

Make Plans And Keep Them

We’ve all been there: it’s 7pm on a winter night. You’ve made plans to meet up with a friend, but you just warmed up in your apartment after a long day so you cancel. Whenever I see a meme about the revelry of cancelled plans it’s like looking in a mirror. Although I know this will be inevitable sometimes, I want to push myself to go out more, even when it’s obnoxiously cold. Or better yet, invite friends to come to me – I’ve been threatening to start a book club for the better part of a year now so maybe the time is now.

It’s easy to feel isolated in the winter time. Madison is amazing in the summer because you can leave the house and there’s a million things going on, but in the winter it’s a ghost town. Everyone goes into hibernation and it’s tough to feel social. This will most likely be the hardest part of my plan, but I’d like to do better at initiating plans and following through with them, even if I’m not in the mood at first. More often than not I end up having a great time and I’m glad that I got out of the house, which in the winter is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Are you looking forward to winter? Or are we in the same boat dreading fall? If you have any favorite fall activities, especially in the Madison area, definitely let me know! Give me fewer and fewer excuses to stay in and be a total bum this fall, please.

Also, if you’re feeling hopeless or lonely with fall starting always feel free to reach out to those around you – send me a message, make plans with friend or family member, or call an organization that can help you through a tough time. It’s so important to take care of yourself in the winter months.

Sending love, friends!

Some Great Local Organizations to Donate to Right Now

Some Great Local Organizations to Donate to Right Now

With everything going on over the last couple of weeks – Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the earthquake in Mexico City, another hurricane in Puerto Rico – I wanted to share a few organizations bringing some much needed good to the world. One of my goals […]