Category: Holidays

Happy New Year! | Monthly Goals

Happy New Year!!

I know you’re all busy at the gym, or food shopping for fruits & veggies, but when you get tired of that next week (or tomorrow, if you’re me), I hope you will come back and read this.

We had a pretty good 2014, but I’m hoping that 2015 is filled with bigger and better things, mainly apartments and salaries! And ok, maybe some smaller things, like stomachs and stress levels.

Instead of doing resolutions this year, I decided to pick a few goals to accomplish monthly. It seemed much more manageable to me that way, although there are times that I do miss my weekly resolutions from 2013. What I don’t miss is the time crunch every week that came with choosing, planning, accomplishing, and blogging about each activity. I figure if I pick only three things each month and spread them out over 30ish days, I can take my time to really get into each one without rushing through it. Or, you know, leisurely wait until the 29th to start all three, giving myself the anxiety that I seem to thrive on from creating projects like these for myself.

SPOILER ALERT: Positive thinking is not one of this month’s goals.

But here’s what is:

2015 Monthly Goals - January

I think the first and second goals might end up tying into one another, but what I really meant to focus on was taking some time at the end of each night to wash my makeup off (I’m so bad at that), floss my teeth (I’m even worse at this), and do all those other routine-like things people do at the end of the day before crawling into bed with a book. I’m hoping it will help my skin, my mind, AND make dentist visits less terrifying.

The final goal is something I’ve been tossing around in my head for a few weeks. I’m not entirely sure how I’m planning to go about it yet, but I definitely need to cut down on syrupy lattes, holiday cocktails, and gum with fake sugars! Stick around to see how I do…

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? What’s on your list this year?

DIY Deco Mesh Christmas Tree

It’s become somewhat of a tradition for me to do a holiday-themed craft each year. You might remember seeing my ornament wreath as part of last year’s Holiday Bucket List?

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I still really love how that came out and it’s hanging proudly from a shelf in my living room. This year, I decided to DIY myself a Christmas Tree since my cats have forbidden us from bringing a climbable one inside the house. We currently have this little guy on the balcony that I light up and stare at through a closed door each night.

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I felt like I needed something for inside though. Something I could hang up (WAY up) high and enjoy every night without a pane of glass in between us. I found this pin on Pinterest, but it’s a dead link (big pet peeve!) and if you Google all combinations of “DIY” and “tree” and “wreath”, it’s as if the internet doesn’t want you to figure out how to make one. There are plenty of full-sized shapes, but I needed something that would lay flat against a wall.

And thus began my mission.

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Here’s what you will need if you want to make a tree of your own:

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  • A triangular-shaped frame ( I used an easel, but you can also look for a work wall cone – be sure it says “wall cone” as this will ensure it has one flat side to lay against a wall)
  • pipe cleaners (if you purchase a work cone, you won’t need these, as it will already have something similar attached)
  • deco mesh
  • ribbon
  • ornaments
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun

By watching YouTube tutorials on how to make a deco mesh wreath, I was able to get a good idea of the steps I would need to take to make my tree. If your frame doesn’t already have ties on it, you will need to start by wrapping a pipe cleaner 1-2 times around a section of wire at the top of your frame.

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You can cover the whole frame with these before adding the mesh, but I chose to do them as I needed them.

Next, secure the end of your mesh to the frame by wrapping the pipe cleaner around it and the metal. This step will be repeated over and over again to form your wreath. You want to gather small sections of mesh and tie them to the frame using pipe cleaners. You can use each pipe cleaner more than once, just be sure you wrap both ends completely around each gathering of mesh.

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I found it easiest to do a couple in one spot and then move left to right (and then back right to left) across the entire frame. You can make as many or as few gathers as you like and you can vary the size and shape of each one very easily.

When you finish doing this, you should have something that now resembles a tree. Yay!

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Now it’s time to decorate!

I lucked out with my ornaments because they have ties on the back of them that made it very easy to secure them to my frame.

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If you can’t find similar ornaments (mine were from a craft store in the floral section), you will need to use your glue gun. I had to attach my word ornaments this way since they had no backing or ties to them.

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I applied the “lights” the same way – by applying a drop of hot glue to the back of 2-3 per strand and sticking it to a relatively flat piece of mesh. I did NOT glue each bulb down as I wanted the lights to have a more realistic, dangling effect.

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Finally, I watched this video to find out how to make a bow and applied the finished product to the tree (with hot glue) as my star.

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I debated covering the bottom of my frame with cutouts of presents, or finding wire cutters strong enough to take them off. You won’t have this problem if you use a work wall cone, but since I used an easel, I had a lot of extra space at the bottom. In the end, I decided to leave them as is because it worked well to prop the tree up on the top of a tall bookcase behind a photo album and some holiday decor.

_DSC0092editWhat do you think? Cat-proof? Is this something you would attempt for your own home? If you do, I would love to see photos of how it turned out!

 

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

December 7th? What? WHAT?!?

It feels like just yesterday that I posted my Winter Bucket List, but I’m now in a mad rush to get things crossed off before Christmas. Including things that are not even on my bucket list, like decorating, sending a holiday card, buying gifts, wrapping those gifts, and trying not to lose my sanity (too late?) when I see that there is only slightly more than two weeks left until the big day.

While some things on my list can be done any time this season (splurge on ice wine, try a new winter sport), there are a few that have time limits on them due to the nature of the task, and a Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt is one of those things.

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

If you search for these on Pinterest, you will find tons of printable lists ready to be taken along on a night time drive. Since I can’t make anything easy on myself, I decided to create my own. I picked several of my favorites from the existing lists and made the one you see above. I plan to take it with us one night this week as we drive around the neighborhood admiring the displays.

Feel free to print out my list and conduct a scavenger hunt of your own! Maybe you want to have a contest to see who can be the quickest, or maybe you want to split up and see who can find and photograph the most things in one hour. Maybe you just want to make paper airplanes with it. There are no rules, anything goes!

Actually, that’s not entirely true. There is ONE rule:

You absolutely MUST bring a cup of hot chocolate with you on your hunt. Bonus points for whipped cream.

Happy hunting!

Winter Bucket List 2014-2015

Happy December!!

I’m so excited for this one! I love how the design came out, and I think that makes me even more excited to complete the things on the list. Can you find all 15 items?

Winter Bucket List

I tried to branch out a bit this year and stay away from just holiday-related things. I also tried to do a few more unusual things, instead of just “drink hot chocolate” or “bake cookies” 17 times, not that I wouldn’t enjoy that, but because a bucket list should be things you’ve been wanting to try as opposed to things you’ve already done. That being said, I also threw in a few traditional things as well because it wouldn’t be true to the season if I didn’t add them. I tried to add a new twist to those things, for example, instead of just taking a drive to look at Christmas lights, we’re going to do a Christmas light scavenger hunt! (More on that in a future post!)

What things made your list this year? What would you really like to try this winter, or what’s one tried-and-true thing that you do every year?

Fall Bucket List Recap

I hope everyone has stuffed themselves full of delicious Thanksgiving food and unstuffed their wallets on all kinds of great Black Friday deals! Now that this holiday is behind us, I feel it’s completely appropriate to retire the Fall Bucket List and bring out the Winter version!

Before I reveal my Winter list, I wanted to share how I did with Fall. Here’s what my list looked like:

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And here’s how I did!

[[Go apple-picking & bake something with the apples]] – I did this one early on. We had more fun picking the apples than I thought we would, but I mistakenly added mint extract to my apple crisp instead of vanilla. I still ate it though! Thumbs up

[[Horseback riding]] – Loved this one after I got over being terrified! Thumbs up

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[[Wear a Halloween costume out somewhere]] – I dressed as Gronkowski with a mask and a jersey for work, then made myself into some sort of spider thing for going out at night. Thumbs up (but thumbs down for the tiny cell phone picture)

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[[Decoarate a pumpkin]] – Also a Thumbs up

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[[Take new fall foliage pictures]] – Did this one several times and also found a few new places to photograph! Thumbs up

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[[Make Butterbeer]] – Made 4 glasses to split with Dan, but somehow drank….4 glasses. Thumbs up

[[Donate to a food drive]] – Have a bag full of canned goods in my car right now waiting to find a food drive. Thumbs half up

[[Find a favorite pumpkin drink at Starbucks]] – Turns out my favorite pumpkin drink is no pumpkin drink at all. I tried a pumpkin latte and a squirt of the flavored syrup in my chai latte, but it’s just too sweet and too…pumpkiny? for me. I consider this a win though because I just discovered caramel brulee lattes, so I can change up my drink order when I want to now. Thumbs up

[[Watch 1 new Fall TV premiere]] – Started watching Scorpion, which was good, but it didn’t hook me. Stalker on the other hand? Obsessed. Also loving How to Get Away with Murder. Thumbs up

[[Get apple cider donuts]] – Obviously done. Thumbs up

[[Make an appetizer for Sunday football]] – Just bought the ingredients to make these for tomorrow’s game. Salivating. Thumbs up

[[Make a fall craft]] – Made some paper pumpkins that my cats promptly destroyed. Also helped make fall-themed decor for a friend’s October wedding. Thumbs up

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[[Watch a horror move that I’ve never seen]] – You’re Next. Still terrified. Thumbs up

[[Make a Crockpot meal]] – You guys already know how this one turned out. Thumbs up

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[[Cook a dish for Thanksgiving dinner]] – Sort of? I made corn dog muffins (corn bread with hot dog pieces), but I’m not sure if this can be considered a “dish” so we’re going halfway on this one. Thumbs half up

[[Try a new fall makeup trend]] – Tried matte lipstick in a fall-ish wine color. Not a fan of the matte, it felt very 90s, but I did like the color! Thumbs up

[[Try a new brand or flavor of cider]] – Found a pumpkin cider I loved at a brewfest in September. Was slightly drunk on samples, came home and bought a 6 pack, but it just doesn’t taste the same. Thumbs up

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[[Go to a haunted house]] – This one was a bit of a fail? I made an attempt, but got uncharacteristically scared about 2 feet in and forced Dan to turn around and walk back out with me. Ugh. Still annoying. Thumbs down

[[Visit a local winery]] – Conveniently, there is a winery about two minutes down the street from us. We’ve already done two tastings in the past month and purchased several bottles. Thumbs way up

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[[Bake something with pumpkin]] – Made pumpkin muffins, but promptly got sick of pumpkin this year and haven’t had much since. Thumbs up

So there it is! 18 thumbs up out of 20, and once I find that food drive, it will be 18.5. Not too bad, but let’s see if I can get 100% of my Winter list complete this year!! Stay tuned tomorrow for the big release 😉

What was your favorite thing you accomplished this fall?

You’re (sort of) Invited!

I’m having a party!

But don’t get too excited – the party is in my head. Sometimes it really does feel as if there’s a party in my head and people are very, very drunk, but that’s neither here nor there.

This party is a product of Halloween envy and nostalgia. A few years ago, Dan and I threw a pretty fun Halloween bash in our apartment and, due to timing and just, well…LIFE, we haven’t been able to have another one since. Our decorations are up, our costumes are somewhat planned, I’ve eaten just about every pumpkin creation ever made, and I’m dying over all the cute decorations I see, but still no party this year.

So I threw this one for you! Here’s your invitation:

Halloween Party Invite

I hope you can make it! There will be plenty of decorations, like this adorable banner from Paper Source:
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The best thing about that banner is that it would be so easy to make your own if you wanted to. Some burlap, stamps, craft paint, and you’re good to go! Just punch holes in each side, string some twine through each letter, and hang it for your guests to admire.

Side note: This is a non-scary party. It has to be that way because I’ve gotten rather old and well, neurotic? so I can’t handle scary things anymore. Last night, we went to a haunted corn maze that we had paid a decent amount of money for, and I got past the first creepy-looking thing that jumped out and shouted at me before I decided that this was NOT going to happen, NO way, NOPE. I used to live for Halloween and all its haunted houses and scary movies, and in fact I had done this SAME haunted maze just last year, but this time I was just not having it, so we turned around and headed right back out of that maze and sold our tickets to someone in line. I’m still annoyed at myself.

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What this party WILL have are some cute, non-threatening, mummy pumpkins.

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This party may be fake, but in real life, I will be attempting to create one of those pumpkins tomorrow. I recently crafted a couple of paper pumpkins, found in this tutorial, but there is only this one left standing on my bookshelf because CATS. It’s not just the black ones that are evil.

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Another quick and easy decoration idea is to blow up a black balloon, stick it to your wall or ceiling, and add crepe paper “legs” as seen here. Or stick some googly eyes (found at any craft store) onto your plastic drinking glasses. The possibilities are endless and I could easily get lost in decorating for my fake party.

At our last party, we had a few games for our guests to enjoy, including guessing the amount of M&Ms in a jar, or naming the movie that a selected iconic image was from. For the party in my head, I think it would be fun to have a “photo booth” set up where guests can use different masks or props (stock up at the local dollar store, or make your own with printables like the ones below) and then take photos against a backdrop with a cell phone or Polaroid. You could also create a specific hashtag for your guests to use when uploading their pics to social media, such as #myfakeparty2014.

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If kids are invited, you could put together an inexpensive craft table complete with foam paper, stickers, ribbon, glitter, markers, and glue so that they can create their own masks to wear.

You can bet there will be plenty of themed food, just like we had last time.

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Finally, you could easily DIY some treat bags for guests to take home candy or other items. Just use any small paper bag and go crazy with black and orange designs, lots of BOO!s and EEK!s, or maybe some fake blood.

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I hope you have a great time at my party! The best thing about parties that aren’t real? No hangovers or sugar crashes when you get home!

Fall 2014 Bucket List

Well. August was a rough month. In some ways I feel like August didn’t even happen and I jumped right from enjoying my summer into mild, fall-like temps and I’m still pouting a bit. Between a family emergency that meant several nights away from home (everyone is doing well now!), an ongoing battle with bronchitis, and not too many warm, sunny weekends, my Summer Bucket List definitely suffered. Since I can’t really request a do-over, I’ve decided to save the few things that I didn’t get to and make sure they get back on the list next year.

In the midst of kicking and screaming about the end of summer (I’m not dramatic at all. Really.) I managed to stir up some excitement for fall things, like leaf-peeping, the Patriots, and my favorite month-long holiday – Halloween!

Halloween 2010 - Popeye  Facebook  - Olive Oyl made an appearance on a different night
Halloween 2010 – Popeye and Facebook – Olive Oyl made an appearance on a different night

Instead of the 40 items that I had added to my Summer Bucket List, I decided to be a bit more realistic this time around and ended up with 19 fun things to do this fall. Without further ado…

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I’m jumping right in on this Fall Bucket List and can’t wait to stuff my face with cider donuts and pumpkin EVERYTHING. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin toothpaste. What? It would be awesome, I promise.

The Soundtrack of My Summer

Happy First Day of Summer! This rivals Christmas and Halloween as one of my most favorite days of the year. I think I’ve told you about my (over the top) love for all things summer, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve already completed 12 things on my Summer Bucket List since kicking it off on Memorial Day weekend. 10481940_10152521936454708_3613769227301481222_n Go Sox! Oh, p.s. Did anyone realize I wrote “go to a baseball game” twice on my bucket list? Oops. Guess I still have one more to go to! 😉 One of the things I wanted to do this season was to make the ultimate summer playlist. I planned to do this early on so that I could blast it in the car when we take our road trip to DC and Hershey, PA next month. There are a few things you need to know about this list before we begin:

  • It started as a list of 20 songs because I wanted to make sure it fit on a CD (how archaic of me), but quickly grew to 25, then to 30, then to 33 before I cut it back down to 31, which drives me insane because it’s an odd number. Clearly I have some issues? But really, could you cut just one of these songs?
  • While some of them are part of a “summer” playlist for obvious reasons (#1, 5, 9, and 16 for example), others were a strange coincidence (#6), songs that remind me of summers in high school and college (#4, 19, 23), summer holiday themed (#24), or songs that Dan and I like to sing shout along to which remind us of all the summers we’ve shared together (#3, 12, 17, 31).
  • While making this playlist, I asked Facebook for suggestions and now I feel the need to make several other playlists with everyone’s suggestions that didn’t make this list. And also a Mariah Carey list because, man, I forgot how many epic songs that girl has.
  • Yes, I am embarrassed by close to half of these choices.

Without further ado:

  1. “Summer of 69” – Bryan Adams
  2. “This is How We Do It” – Montell Jordan
  3. “Ocean Avenue” – Yellowcard
  4. “One Way Ticket” – LeAnn Rimes
  5. “Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
  6. “She Looks So Perfect” – 5 Seconds of Summer
  7. “Cruise” – Florida Georgia Line
  8. “Love Shack” – B-52s
  9. “Summer Girls” – LFO
  10. “We Are Tonight” – Billy Currington
  11. “Heartbreaker” – Mariah Carey/JayZ
  12. “Thunder” – Boys Like Girls
  13. “This is How We Roll” – Florida Georgia Line/Luke Bryan
  14. “The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley or The Ataris ( ← like this one better)
  15. “I Made It” – Kevin Rudolph, Jay Sean, Birdman, Lil Wayne
  16. “Summer Nights” – Grease
  17. “Take You There” – Sean Kingston
  18. “All Summer Long” – Kid Rock
  19. “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” – Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg
  20. “Fantasy” – Mariah Carey
  21. “Kokomo” – Beach Boys
  22. “Weightless” – All Time Low
  23. “Sometimes” – Britney Spears
  24. “God Bless the USA” – Lee Greenwood
  25. “Paradise City” – Guns n’ Roses
  26. “Down” – Jay Sean, Lil Wayne
  27. “Summer’s Coming” – Clint Black
  28. “California Love” – TuPac/Dr. Dre
  29. “Escapade” – Janet Jackson
  30. “The Lazy Song” – Bruno Mars
  31. “Dammit” – Blink 182

There it is! Now I’m off to find every excuse to be outside. What songs would be on your list?

Summer 2014 Bucket List

I am actually jittery with excitement about this.

I had planned to start my summer bucket list on the first day of of the season, but I’ve been working on it for a few weeks now and I just can’t hold back any longer. I joked on my Facebook page a few weeks ago that I have some form of Seasonal Affective Disorder where instead of getting really bummed in the winter, I get overly excited in the summer, and I actually don’t think I’m joking. Seriously. Manic. Besides, everyone knows that Memorial Day is the REAL start of summer, so what better time to begin than this weekend!

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I will continue with my spring bucket list through the middle of June, just as I planned, but I’m so over the three days of spring that we’ve had and I’m already in full on summer mode. I’ve already sat by the pool in a tank and shorts, I have neon pink toenails, and every candle in my apartment smells like a beach or a fruit. My only question is, do I continue this list until the start of fall, or through the REAL end of summer – Labor Day?

Oh, who am I kidding? They’ll be done by next week.

Quick Little Updates

With my 30 Day Fun Fitness Challenge coming to a close, I thought I would just cram the results and a whole bunch of other updates into one post. I’m all about saving the internet environment.

30 Day Fun Fitness Challenge

So this was fun. At first. But like with all things, I started to get bored towards the end and just kind of…gave up. I’m the kind of person who likes to see results. It even makes me happy to clean my bathroom and be able to see how great everything looks after, even if it’s only for five minutes. But we all know that workouts don’t yield immediate results. And I do not have patience.

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I did pretty well up until the end, only skipping two days and eventually making them up on a different day. I’ve noticed that I really do NOT like going to the apartment complex (or any) gym and would much rather work out in my living room. I also noticed that I most enjoyed the workouts that included a mix of activities, like the ones in pink. Admittedly, some of these were fairly easy and I would probably make them more challenging if I ever did this again, but I liked having a set number of things to accomplish and pushing through them before I had a chance to get bored.

In the end, I didn’t lose any weight (in fact I’m up to 134!), nor do I really feel any differently, but maybe I just needed to give it more than 30 days (ok, fine, 25)? Or stop eating cookies? I’m not sure which is the better (or worse?) option.

Spring Bucket List

This one isn’t over yet, and let’s be serious, it really has just begun. I think we’ve had maybe four actual spring-like days so far, so I’m going to be cramming a lot of these in within the last five weeks left of the season.

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You may notice that coloring Easter eggs is not crossed off. Is it acceptable to do this long after the Easter Bunny has packed up and begun his 364-day vacation from delivering baskets? I just wasn’t in the mood to make a mess of my kitchen, and then I couldn’t find a half-dozen white eggs at my grocery store, and then we decided that no one would even EAT hard-boiled eggs, yadda yadda yadda.

I’m working on my Summer Bucket List right now, but I’m not sure how practical it is to have 100+ things to do in a 93-day period (I counted.), so I’m trying to narrow that one down a little. It’s soooooo HARD. I add seven for every one I cut. Typical.

Weekly Photo Challenge

This is definitely my favorite challenge. We’re only three weeks in, but we gained a friend, so now there are three of us taking and sharing photos every week based on a changing theme. The first week’s theme was Spring:

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Followed by Architecture:

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And here’s a sneak peek at the current week, Transportation:

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That’s what’s up around here! Have any updates of your own? Leave them in the comments below along with your picks for what absolutely MUST be on a Summer Bucket List!