2016

Happy New Year!

This is the beginning of 2016.  We all have hopes and dreams for this year, and I just know they are going to come true.  Some are “investment” dreams…meaning we can work on them this year and they will develop within the next few.  Others are “soon-successes”…meaning that sometime soon, this year, with effort and hope, they will be achieved.  (I am particularly hopeful that my blog resolutions will come to fruition this year!)

I can’t wait for all the blessings that this year has in store for us all!

Happy 2016!

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2015 Finale

It’s that time of year…the last day of the year to be exact.  In a way, it’s the finale of the year.  But most of the time, I think people focus on the fact that the new year is about to begin.   Today I just want to recall that it’s the final day of an absolutely amazing year.  2015 saw so many blessings for me:

  1.  My husband and I moved in to our first apartment. <3  Even though it was romantic living in hotels, there is nothing as romantic as setting up your house together for the first time, and calling it your home.  We did, and it was so special.  It was everything we had been dreaming about for the past four years.
  2. I got pregnant.  I can’t even describe how happy and even a bit surprised I was when I discovered there was a little baby inside of me.  Even though pregnancy comes with it’s ups and downs, I have to say that my pregnancy was a blessing in 2015.  Watching my baby grow (inside me!!!) was a life-changing experience and a beautiful testament to the beauty of life.
  3. Our little precious baby, Sophia, was born.  I could write post after post about the experience of giving birth…an experience like no other!  But I think what really and truly is something like no other is gazing into the tiny eyes of a little person who is the image of yourself.  Feeling a little beating heart pressed up against yours, snuggled deeply and full of trust…it’s truly breathtaking.  I discovered myself in an even greater way when I discovered my baby Sophia.  The saying about babies is completely true…love at first sight.  Dear little Sophie…your first breath took ours away.

I don’t think that 2016 will be able to top my 2015!  Then again, when 2015 began, I had no idea that so many blessings would be in store for me.  I am so excited to discover all the joys that lie in wait just around the clock.  Cheers to 2015, and greetings to a new and merry 2016!

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Wet-combing

It’s a tough decision for those of us with hair that is anywhere past shoulder-length…at what point during my washing ritual should I brush out my hair?  I’ve tried timing it in everyday possible.  I would brush my hair out before washing it, or after putting conditioner in it, or while it was still wet after my shower, and even sometimes not until it was mostly dry. Naturally, these all yielded different results.  I definitely have a preferred method, which I’ll reveal at the very end!

  • Brushing hair before the shower.  I recommend this.  It removes tangles before your hair gets hit with water and rubbed with cleansers.  But of course remember, this can’t substitute brushing your hair out post-wash.
  • Brushing hair with conditioner in it.  This is done best with a wide-tooth comb.  Using a regular hair brush (even a fabulous “wet brush”…LOVE those) can risk pulling out delicate hair that is made even more delicate by the water.  But using a wide-tooth comb to detangle hair while conditioner oozes through your locks…a good idea!
  • Brushing hair out after toweling it.  It’s the way you probably first learned.  After washing your hair, you towel off your head and then comb through your hair.  Again, you hair is wet and this is a sensitive (read: DELICATE) time for your hairs.  They are more prone to breakage when wet, so proceed with caution.  You should use a wide-tooth comb here too.  In my experience, this can sometimes pull out more hair then the brushing-while-conditioning process because the constant run of water (and silky conditioner) frees tangles better than simply combing through wet/towel dried hair.
  • Last but not least, there is letting your hair air-dry, and combing it out once it’s dry.  *Nobody would ever do this if they were using a drier, which is why this applies to air-dryers only.*  I have done this, and once upon a time it was my “preferred” method.  But that was when I was twelve.  Point in case.  I used a regular brush and dragged it through until all the tangles were out.  BAD IDEA. Also, this makes it INCREDIBLY hard for your hair to dry attractively because it dried tangled and then was brushed out.  So yeah…this is a “possibility” but definitely not a recommendation.

So, all in all, when do I recommend you brush your hair out during the washing-drying process?  Whether you are blow drying or not, your going to need your hair detangled.  And the winner is…combing in the shower!

I have found this to be my most tried-and-true healthy way to detangle my hair.  It allows me to pat it dry with an old tee-shirt (terry cloth towels make your hair frizzy) and then do a touch-up combing before putting on my leave-in products.  It feels gentler and is much easier than trying to detangle after the shower when your hair is partially towel-dried.  Honestly in the end, I think it dries better too!  If you haven’t tried combing through your hair after putting conditioner on it…grab a wide-tooth comb and watch your hair transform into a silky waterfall of luxury.  Or something like that. 🙂

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5 Ways to Instantly Feel Beautiful

Do you ever walk by the mirror and surprise yourself with a more-than-expectedly-disheleved appearance?  This sometimes happens routinely.  🙂  I remember how I did my makeup, but I forget that my hair was in that nursing-topknot and crying/laughing watching youtube videos washed said-makeup down the corners of my eyes. I look in the mirror.  SURPRISE.

Then comes the scramble when I take the clips out of my topknot and begin dabbing the corners of my fallen mascara away.  It’s an easy fix, and I look like how I meant to again.  Not a crisis.

But then there are those days that ARE a crisis.  It doesn’t matter how you did your makeup, and even though your topknot is cute-in-a-messy-way to everyone else, it doesn’t look cute to you.  And THAT t-shirt…now you’re just not feeling pretty.

STOP. Don’t doubt your beauty.  Just stop and do a few things to remind yourself how beautiful you are.  And honestly, feeling beautiful is more than half the battle.

  1. Pour yourself a glass of ice water.  Take a long, deep sip of ice cold water and let it run through your body.  Water makes you feel (and look) slimmer, and will boost your mood while lowering your appetite.
  2. Change your hair.  If it’s down, put it up.  If it’s up, let it down.  The opposite of what you currently have going on will make you feel like you did something nice to yourself in just a matter of seconds.
  3. Make sure what you’re wearing fits.  If your t-shirt is comfy but just waaaaaay too baggy on the sleeves, pop on something else.  Whenever I feel less-than-good, clothing is almost always the culprit.
  4. Put on a few touches of makeup, (and that DEFINITELY includes perfume).  It doesn’t have to be a ton, it can be as simple as moisturizer and lip balm.  But put something on your face that makes it feel softer, more luxurious, and if you’re feeling up to it…highlighted.  Some dark kohl liner under your eyes, or some long sweeps of mascara to your eyelashes can be enough to pop a feature and make you feel good.
  5. Do 1 thing you need to do.  This isn’t totally beauty related.  But oddly enough, it will make you feel better.  Sometimes feeling successful is trait we associate with beauty–because beauty makes us feel good and put-together, and getting something done does the same thing.  Related?  I think so.  For some reason, you feel incredibly amazing, sipping that cold water with your hair in a newly done ponytail, with a good fitting tee and some bold mascara while sending THAT ONE EMAIL that you’ve been putting off.

 

Feel more beautiful?  Me too!

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What to Buy After Christmas

What to Buy After Christmas

You’ve seen the sales.  It’s all too tempting.  Though there are remarkably less piles of merchandise spilling out of stores the day or two after Christmas, they’re still there.  And they’re calling you.  Or at least, they are definitely calling me.  And every year I’m faced with the same opportunity to make a mature decision, or just blow all my money on sales.  The thing is, how are you benefiting from a “sale” if you are buying things you don’t need?  Sure, they are discounted.  But if you don’t need them, are you really doing yourself a service?  I say in some circumstances, yes!  These are things that I think you can easily (and in good conscience) purchase post-Christmas:

  1.  Wrapping paper, tissue paper, bows, string, etc.  Even if you can’t use the wrapping paper til Christmas, you won’t regret having beautiful new rolls of it lying in wait under your Christmas ornament bins.  There is nothing wrong with having a good supply of this, especially if you’re The Wrapping Paper Police.
  2. Ornaments, wreaths, baubles, etc.  I know you probably already have enough decorations, but then again, is there ever enough?  Christmas decorations actually do come in “styles” and sometimes your style might go-out so to speak and won’t be readily available next year!  Point in case…look at popular pinterest pins this year.  They won’t be the same in a year or two from now.  So if that canvas-feather anthropologie-vibe woodland animal ornament collection is your thing, buy it.  Because next year we might be doing vibrant jewel-toned trees and decor.
  3. Christmas gifts!  If you haven’t exchanged gifts with someone, as crazy as that sounds, then buy their gift after Christmas.  Depending on the gift, there is a likelihood that it will be on sale.  And even though you’ve probably given almost everyone their Christmas gift…you still may have one or two people that you haven’t seen yet that you’re planning to give to.  Now’s the time to get their present!
  4. Warm-weather gear.  This only applies to my northern friends. 🙂  Often the warm-weather clothing/accessories goes on sale after the holidays because everyone has had a crack at giving it as gifts.  But the cold weather has only just begun!  Buy it now because you’ll still be wearing it two months from now.
  5. Last but (duh!) not least…MAKEUP!  All the sparkles and special-edition makeup, nail polish, and hair accessories are out right now.  And many of them are on sale.  Get the glitter now because the spring is for clean and fresh colors.  Later on in the summer, you’ll want to start pulling out the sun-kissed sparkles, and now is your chance to stock up.

Things NOT to buy.  More toys, just because they are on sale.  You bought enough already.  More kitchen gadgets, just because they are on sale.  Your kitchen is full enough.  Christmas potpourri or scented gifts.  They will lose their scent before next Christmas.  (CANDLES ARE LIFE AND THEY ARE THE EXCEPTION TO THIS).  Perishable Christmas foods–mixes, kits, and tins of goodies.  These are fun in small, time-appropriate doses.  You won’t want to make a gingerbread house in March, so you don’t need to buy another kit just because it’s on sale.  That stuff will taste better (and be fresher) next year when it’s been 11 months since you last had it.

Then again, the whole point of shopping is to have fun and get things.  And the whole point of a sale is to feel good doing that!  So with that in mind, hit those sales and tell me what you picked up. 🙂

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Boxing Day

Boxing Day...please share what you do on this day!

Happy Boxing Day!

I thought today’s post might be a bit of a history lesson. When I worked at a jewelry store last year, our store was offering coupons to customers. The expiration date on the coupon was December 26. –for those of you who are worried, this isn’t the history lesson– I told the customers as I handed it to them, “This is good through Boxing Day.” And they would always be like, “What?” And they asked me what Boxing Day was.

WHAT?!

Or am I the only one?… Isn’t it marked on everybody’s calendars? Even if you don’t know how to celebrate it, don’t you realize you’re supposed to? Okay, so for the history lesson…

Well, there is a little history there, but not much. Basically, the day after Christmas means many things to many different cultures. To many Christians, it is known as St. Stephen’s day. To Canadians and Brits, it’s Boxing Day. The different names for it usually stand behind a different history, but I’ll share with you the history as I was told by my Polish grandmother (who was from Canada).

Boxing day is the day (in Canada) that you put out all your boxes from Christmas on the street corner. If you were a little kid, you would be playing with those boxes and making a fort or something out of them. It’s typically a day off, and basically just an extension of Christmas festivities and relaxation.

For my husband, it represents the day that all the Premier League teams play soccer (football). Go Liverpool!

Like I said, there are many other reasons to celebrate the day, depending on your culture. It means something different for everyone, and I guess that’s really the fun of the day. How do you celebrate Boxing Day?

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Merry Christmas

On this merry day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and King.  His birth is our greatest blessing, and that He gave of Himself is our greatest joy. To Him be all glory and honor, now and forever!

Merry Christmas, from my family to yours!

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Christmas Eve

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‘Twas the the night before Christmas…

  •       Sugar cookies baked. Check
  •       Presents wrapped.  Check
  •       Stockings Stuffed. Check

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

 

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The 10 Types of Wrappers

The 10 Types of Wrappers

Today was our traditional family gift-wrapping marathon.  It’s a little family tradition that my husband and I invented/embraced last Christmas, which was our first Christmas married.  He had been at Airborne school and had bought my presents and mailed them to me.  (I exercised enormous self-constraint and didn’t peek in a single one!…how mature of me haha)  I had been working and nannying and hadn’t wrapped any of his presents.  So when he came home just a few days before Christmas and we went on a little vacation to spend it alone together, we brought all the presents and wrapped them together for a couple of hours (still not peeking!).

This year, we had an almost proactive present buying season.  Mostly everything arrived on time, and there weren’t TOO many errors.  (It’s okay if the frame I ordered comes shattered in a million pieces…right?)  So I thought for sure that we would very naturally and responsibly wrap presents periodically, as we collected them.  In my mind, by the time Christmas day came, we would have accumulated a magical little stack of wrapped presents, and all we’d have to do is slip them under the tree.  ENTER REALITY.  My husband and I procrastinate.  Both of us.  About the same things.  And who says opposites attract?…:)  So today, only three days before Christmas we were faced with a stack of unwrapped presents and thus began the gift-wrapping marathon.  So at this point we are embracing it as a “family tradition” because there’s no fooling us.  Next year will be the same, people.

But all the wrapping got my mind on the different styles of Christmas wrapping I have encountered.  It inspired me to compose a list of the various wrapping-styles and stylists out there.  Maybe you’ll see yourself on the list!

1.  The Martha Stewart.   They spend quite a bit of money or time on wrapping the presents.  Sheets and sheets of tissue paper.  Big, thick, beautiful gift bags–the expensive kind.  They want the outside of the gift to look just as nice as whatever present it is that they bought.  I like being on the receiving-side of this kind of gift.:)

2.   The Fixer-Upper.   This happens more frequently with adult-to-child presents, but it can sometimes make its way into an adult gift exchange too.  It’s the person who dresses up a present to make it seem bigger and better.  They wonder, “Isn’t this present a little lame?”  And then suddenly an extra bow and some ribbon seems like a way to make it up to the receiver.  We’ve all been there.  Right?  Um…guys? Hehe, me neither.

3.  The Scrooge.   This person puts the item in a gift bag (so much more low maintenance than cutting and taping paper) and veils the present with a  single sheet of white tissue paper.  And yes, it is possible that both gift bag and single sheet of tissue paper are recycled from a gift that scrooge received last Christmas.  And yes, it is possible that in a desperate circumstance I have found myself in a situation that lent itself (read:DEMANDED itself) to occur.

4.  The Thoughtful Planner.  Some people use the wrapping paper to color-coordinate which presents belong to which person.  This makes it easier and faster to sort through the pile of mixed-up presents so that opening can commence as quickly as possible.:)  A very kid-friendly tactic.  I remember one year waking up to a map-key that explained which paper coordinated with which sibling.  (But parents USE CAUTION as it quickly becomes a tool for children to assess which sibling got the most or biggest presents–not that I did that haha).  Another word of warning: make sure you don’t accidentally wrap someone else’s gift in someone else’s paper!

5.  The Traditonalist.  It’s Christmas.  That means no gift bags, or gift card holders, or sneaky little “I’ll-just-put-a-bow-on-it-jobs.”  If it’s a gift, it’s getting smothered in wrapping paper.  And they don’t care if it’s a car.  It will get wrapped.

6.   The It-Arrived-Too-Late-To-Wrap Person.  This is worse than the Scrooges.  This puts procrastination on a whole new level.  This is the person who basically has the “I’ll-just-put-a-bow-on-it” kind of mentality–minus the bow.

7.  The Squared-Away Wrapper.  It has to be square.  No matter what.  This person wraps everything in paper, and so obviously the only way to do that is to put whatever present they are giving in a box.  This can actually turn out to be super thoughtful and extravagant looking.  Who doesn’t love opening a present, only to find a pretty sweater box from a department store?  This can get out of hand though…when you unwrap a gift to find a Cheerio box staring at you, and the giver prompts, “No silly, open it up!”  But you’re thinking…”Why am I the silly one when I opened a Christmas present and see a box of Cheerios and look slightly confused?”

8.  The Wrapping Paper Police.  Each paper can only be used once, and it absolutely has to have a color coordinating bow and ribbon.  Presents that fail to meet expectations during the inspection period (because yes, there is on) must get redone.  There’s no purpose in buying someone a present unless it’s perfect.

9.  The Git-R-Dun Wrapper.  The goal for them is to just get that present covered, no matter the means.  Tape, a decent patch-job, a purposefully placed gift tag to cover up the gap between the paper.  This wrapper is sweet intentioned and tries their best to keep you from knowing what the present is.  But the object here isn’t attractiveness–it’s just getting the job done so you don’t know what you’re about to open.

10.  The Sneak.   This person is above and beyond wanting you to “not know” what you’re about to open.  They are out to get you.  Kind of.  They don’t want you to have even an INKLING about what they got you.  And if they can steer you off-course, even better.  This game can get pretty far.  As in triple-boxing a small item to make it seem big, and tossing a few marbles in to give it a random rolling-effect.  (True story…my husband lives to tell the tale).

Which kind of wrapper are you?  Did I forget someone?

 

 

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Christmas Traditions

The Christmas Traditions We've Made So Far in Our Marriage

As the most wonderful time of the year swirls around us, and Christmas week becomes a reality instead of a daydream, I find us embracing our family’s “Christmas Traditions.”  My husband and I say we are “creatures of habit” because it is just so true about us, but it especially becomes apparent around the holidays.:)  I’m sure we’ll add traditions to our Christmas repertoire over the years, as this is only our second Christmas married, but I already love the few we have started!

I guess decorating the house, gift giving, and a special family dinner are so embedded in the concept of Christmas Day celebration that we can’t necessarily count those as part of our “traditions.” haha  But they definitely make up a big part of this season for us.  I’m sure they do for you too!

But one thing we add when it comes to presents is that we have a gift-wrapping marathon and try to get everything wrapped in one day.  This one basically evolved from our propensity to procrastinate…but I guess you just have to embrace reality sometimes. 🙂 It is pretty fun, and we make it even more fun with Christmas music and little breaks in between to guess what each other have wrapped.   It’s one of our few little family traditions, and I look forward to it during the present-shopping period of the season!

A tradition we are trying to start this year is making a gingerbread house.  *Don’t tell Santa but…*  I’ve never actually MADE a gingerbread house.  The farthest I got was making big slabs of ginger cookies one Christmas as a teenager.  They never materialized into a house, as we ended up going on a trip for Christmas.  But they made excellent fuel for the road.haha

Maybe another tradition we will try down the road is opening up a gift on Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass.  I know sometimes people use that as an opportunity to gift pajamas for Christmas morning (and photos) the next day.  Is there any traditions that you want to try?  What are your family Christmas traditions?

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