Holiday Favorites

One of my favorite parts of the holidays are all of the traditions, but truth be told, life is always changing so traditions are changing. I wrote this post a few years ago about my favorite holiday traditions, and many of them still hold true. In fact, as I am writing this, I am held up on my couch watching the Holiday for the second third time this season.

This year my cousins, aunts and I got together to do a Christmas paint night. There are so many parties and things going on with our friends, it was nice to get together as a family and do a holiday activity together. Our amazing teacher (also a friend of mine so I may be biased) came up with the cutest picture for us to follow along and have a new holiday decoration each year. After we all went back to my mom’s for a soup party. I made this appetizer to bring and it was a hit, and super easy to make. So much of a hit I shared it with you earlier this week.

My girlfriends and I, for the past few years, have been getting together and doing an annual cookie swap. It’s a great way for us to get together, sit around a table, chat and eat all night and not have to worry about any responsibilities. This year we added in a Secret Santa ornament swap also. We don’t get each other girls for the holidays usually but it was a fun way to think of each other during the busiest time of year.

One of my favorite traditions every year is giving back. With work, I’ve always organized Adopt a Family, but this year we are doing a warm weather clothing drive. We’ve partnered with our local homeless shelter and the community to collect hats, gloves, scarves, and jackets to give to the people in our community that truly need it. Although I hate that we mainly focus on this around the holidays, I think it’s amazing to give back locally to your community.

This Christmas I picked up a few Christmas goodies that I am absolutely loving.

Christmas candle – I snagged this candle at the Newport Mansions a few weeks ago. As I walked into the souviner shop the scent of Balsam and Cedar filled the air and I was hooked. Lucky for me, I found it on Amazon at an even better price, and now I don’t need to drive two hours to pick up a replacement. And do you see that artwork on the outside of the candle.
Defined Dish cookbook – My favorite food blogger has finally gotten her own book deal. I don’t have it yet but this girl has been preordered for a while and I cannot wait for it to show up at the beginning of the year. Check her out, order her book, make her food. You won’t be disappointed. Promise.
Elin Hiderbrand Winter Series – This summer I got hooked on Elin Hilderbrand and her books about Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. This winter I’ve started her four part winter series. They are the perfect way to escape to the islands and stay in the holiday spirit. (Talk to me in February, I’ll be wanting her summer books ASAP.)
Old Navy Cozy socks – This is a tradition I have every year. Old Navy has their cozy socks on sale for $1 every black Friday and I stock up. They are great coworker gifts, paired with a candle and some tea, or a quick little way to make a bottle of wine and face mask night a little more special.

Favorite Chick Flicks

Is there anything better than a movie night? Now a days we get so caught up binge watching the most recent Netflix or Amazon series that we don’t always sit down and watch a movie. Last weekend I dedicated my Sunday to sitting on my couch with some popcorn, in my sweats, with a cup of tea (which turned to a glass of wine as the night went on). It was good to get lost in some of my favorite movies. Bring on the couple that falls in love that you would never expect (but you always knew), the strong woman who is stronger than she knew herself, and the girl gang who you wish you were a part of. I ended up putting together a list of my favorite chick flicks for any occasion. So grab a glass of wine and enjoy. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Hello 2018!!

I usually don’t say things like this but I am more than happy to bid 2017 adieu. This past year was a big test to me. A test of strength in myself, friendships and trust, patience in my career, and prioritization of my life. This was also a year of exploration and travel. A year full of monthly weekend getaways.

I don’t mean to sound negative because I don’t look at this year as a bad year at all, just a year of growth and learning. And I am glad to put a lot of the year’s hurdles behind me and keep moving forward. I started this year in Scottsdale with my fiancé. Flash forward six months and I was packing up my life into my car with my sister and best friend moving back home to Connecticut. And now six months later, I am ringing in the new year in Newport, RI with the people who truly have been there for me for my entire life.

What I love right now:

I always try to stay away from trendy shows but somehow always fall on the bandwagon against my will. It took me two seasons to get into Walking Dead and six seasons to drink the Game of Thrones kool aid. But only halfway through season two I am fully on board with This Is Us. I binged all of the current episodes in 5 days. Obsessed! I cannot wait for the season to start again next month. Does anyone have any other good Netflix shows to watch?? I hear Riverdale is mindless and great. What do you think?

Per the usual during the winters I am stocking up on cozy sweaters and yummy candles. My new favorite are these DW Home candles that I found at Home Goods. I even picked up a few Rose Quartz for the spring. January welcomes back my weekly yoga classes that have become a good go to during my crazy weeks at work.

Where I went:

Like I said, 2017 is the year of the weekend getaway. I took only one week off over the entire year and it was completely consumed with my move across the country. Most of my other weekends were filled to the brim with weddings, bachelorette parties, visiting family, and exploring new cities. I have been so blessed to have lived in two amazing locations this year where I could take quick road trips.

Besides my west coast to east coast road trip this year I also road tripped to Scottsdale, Las Vegas, Vermont, Salem, MA, Boston and now this weekend in Rhode Island. I also took further trips home to Connecticut at the beginning of the year and down to Atlanta and Orlando this fall.

What I’m looking forward to:

One thing I learned in 2017 is to not plan too far ahead. This year I have two international trips lightly planned and that it so far. (Dates set, but not tickets bought yet.) Last year at this time I had bought and paid for 5 of 6 of my cross-country trips. In 2018 I plan on going with the flow and taking the year as it comes.

Today I started a new job, a promotion in an office much closer to my house. (I’m talking like a mile from home.) I’m excited for this next chapter since this is what I’ve been working toward for the past two years. Truth be told I tried to put this off as long as I could. My manager in California tried to make me take the plunge to the next step but I have this thing about really wanting to know everything about every job that I lead, so I decided to stay in my position and learn more. But sometimes you need to step outside of your comfort zone.

2018 Goals:

I have a big list of goals for 2018. I have personal goals, financial goals, and professional goals all written down in my daily planner where I can see them and be reminded of what I’m working toward each day. I do this every year and somehow, they tend to fizzle away mid-March. This year I created a few lifestyle changes to set me up for my goals. I’m hoping these will keep me in check for the rest of the year.

-Be better about self-wellness

Like I said earlier, I have been doing yoga once a week and since I’ve been back on the east coast, gym has been a semi regular part of my schedule. Both are great me time where I don’t think about anything and just work on myself. I defiantly plan on upping that in 2018.

I am also kicking off January with my third time doing Whole 30. My first time was in April 2016 which was super successful. I felt great and lost a lot of water weight. Then last January I did it again for about two weeks before going on a quick vacation where I blew it all. Plan is to get through the whole 30 days this time around. January 2 through January 30.

-Make a morning routine

Part of my self-wellness is removing the stressors in my life and one of the silliest stressors I have each morning, is not getting out of bed after my first alarm. It’s a terrible habit where I roll out of bed 10 minutes before having to leave for work. It has got to stop! New week, new year, new job. Since I live a whole 3 minutes from my new office I am going to keep waking up when I was before. That will give me almost an hour to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee, while I get ready instead of rushing it on my way to work. It will also give me time for a second cup of coffee so #winning. The extra time will defiantly make mornings more relaxing.

-Create a weekly schedule

It’s been damn cold here in Connecticut and once I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is go out again. All I want to do is put sweats on and watch TV from my couch. But not this year. This year to encourage me to GSD (get shit done) I am going to schedule my weeks. Something like this: Sunday-gym, Monday-write, Tuesday-yoga, Wednesday-gym, Thursday-write, Friday-gym. I usually do pretty well on a schedule but this is a little much. We will see how it goes.

Most of all, in 2018 I just want to grow. Year after year, it doesn’t matter what happens to you, as long as you continue to grow as a person. 2017 you sure kicked my ass. Sayonara!

Friday Five: Christmas Traditions

I’ve been talking a lot about Christmas this year. Here, here, and all of those gift guides. But I’m still not Christmased out yet.

With just over a week until Christmas, I’ve been making sure I’ve checked off all of my holiday must dos before December 25. This year I really made it a point to take in every moment of the holiday season. This is the first Christmas I’ve spent with my family since 2010. This is also the first holiday I’ve been out of the retail world since 2008. It’s been a good past few months to just sit back and take in everything around me.

I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite holiday traditions I’ve been able to enjoy this season.

Holiday Cookie Swap

Next week my girlfriends and I are getting together not to swap gifts, but instead something everyone could enjoy: cookies. Now I suck at baking, so my boozy hot cocoa bar will be my contribution to the group. More about that next week on the blog, but trust me, I was doing everyone a favor by not baking. (Although I can make a mean biscotti, but that’s about where it ends.) This was just such a great way for all of us to get together, not spend a ton of money on gifts or dinner, and relax.

Embrace New York City during its prime

The holidays are one of my favorite times of year to visit the city. It’s festive and busy and oh so cliché. Give me all of the decorations, big cozy jackets, hats, gloves, warmed street nuts, and a vat of hot cocoa while strolling the streets of Manhattan. This year I was able to see the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular for the first time and it made my Christmas in the city experience that much better.

Take a trip

If you follow me on Instagram, you know a few weeks ago I went up to Boston. Being able to have a quick getaway thrown in during the busy holiday season was perfect. And going to a city like Boston, we were able to stay in the holiday spirit. A full post about our weekend in Boston will be up in the new year, but you can check out some of my past holiday getaways to Big Bear, Scottsdale, and California’s Central Coast.

Have a movie night

The holidays can be exhausting, stressful and crazy juggling the added holiday parties, dinners, and shows on top of your normal daily schedule. Take some time for yourself with a glass of wine and take out, turn off your phone and watch some o your favorite holiday movies. I make sure to watch Elf and the Holiday at least once every December but in the past few years I have really added to my Christmas movie favorites.

Take a drive to look at Christmas lights

Most cities have “that house.” In Los Angeles Christmas lights were at a new level. With so many people in the film and television industry, they had so many connections to lights and projections that aren’t really on the market. Each Christmas we made it a tradition to stroll Candy Cane Lane in off of Oxnard St in Woodland Hills, CA. Here you can see a group of about four streets that come together and put up elaborate Christmas decorations. You may have to sit through an insane amount of traffic to see the all of the houses, but it is absolutely worth it.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?? Post your answers below!


Things to do in New York City During the Holidays

I caught the Christmas bug a little earlier than normal this year. I think it was the lack of overnight shifts and finally being able to celebrate the holidays with my family that really got me excited to start celebrating.

Back in November, my sister and I took our mom to Radio City to see the Rockettes Christmas show. We spent the afternoon strolling Fifth Ave, checking out the holiday windows that were already on display. We were there the weekend that the Christmas tree got to New York from Pennsylvania this year and there were a ton of workers stringing lights and hanging ornaments getting ready for the big reveal.

There is absolutely nothing like New York City during the holidays and it has always given me all sorts of feels. I put together some of my favorite things to do in the city to get in the holiday spirit.

Skate in the middle of the city
There are amazing pop up skating rinks all around the city, and while the Rink at Rockefeller Center is in place all year, the best time to skate under the Rock is in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the most famous Christmas Tree in the world is looking down upon you. If you don’t want to skate in a not so packed, but still very packed and popular area, you can twirl on the ice at the Winter Village at Bryant Park, two rinks in Central Park and a few others scattered outside of midtown.

Visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
This is one of my favorite traditions. Even when I was in living in Los Angeles, I always made it a point to visit the Gove or Americana at Christmas to see the huge trees and all of the decorations. Even just driving by the beautiful decorations at the Citadel outlets along the 5 Freeway could put anyone in the holiday spirit. But nothing compares to Rockefeller Center. There’s something about this beautiful piece of nature being completely surrounded by cement and skyscrapers. It’s a little piece of Christmas in the city.

Winter Village at Bryant Park
I may have talked about how much I want to visit European Christmas Markets one day. It’s pretty high up on my bucket list. And while we may not have as magical markets here in the US, Bryant Park’s Winter Wonderland is pretty high up there. You can shop artisan goods and food, eat at one of the restaurants over looking the park or skate on the rink.

Stroll 5th Ave and window shop
One of my earliest memories of going into New York City is walking down 5th Ave. and being in awe of how intricate the windows were. (Ironic I was a merchant for 8 years.) Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Bergdorf Goodman are some of the most famous, but not all on 5th Ave. and you may have to venture out a block or two but they are defiantly worth it. When I went to the city in mid-November the famous Saks windows weren’t revealed yet – yes there’s a whole big to do around the windows being revealed – but last week when I went into the city I was able to visit Lord and Taylor’s windows and they were all the heart eyes!

Rockettes Christmas Spectacular
Every Thanksgiving I watch the Rockettes in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade but this was the first year that I was able to see these amazing ladies perform their most popular show of the year. It was beautiful. I didn’t realize how intricate the entire show was, with a few surprised guests at the end.

This year seeing the Rockettes was a new Christmas tradition but Friday I am going to be talking about my favorite holiday traditions.