Longer Weekend

Thanks to a whole bunch of Presidents that I wasn’t around to vote for, I had today off, but as everyone knows, “long weekend” is one of the truest oxymorons there is. Or, untruest I guess, by definition.

Let’s start with the part where I make sense.

Friday was Valentine’s Day, so we went out for a nice dinner and then came home to watch a movie. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know this roughly translates to “added another title to my list of Movies That End with a Scene from the Back of My Eyelids.”

Saturday we went out for breakfast and to do a few errands before the big snowstorm. Which big snowstorm you ask? I have no idea, I’ve lost track. I did end up finding some mats for our bathroom floor, smoothie ingredients, and a bridesmaid dress for my sister’s upcoming wedding.

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Sunday we decided to be a little adventurous and head to Twin River Casino. The “adventurous” part has to do with seeing how much secondhand smoke you can breathe in before giving up and going to the local mall instead. It was there that I finally ended my two-year long search for brown boots!

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I got a great deal on them, even if I didn’t buy them with winnings from our casino adventure!

From there we drove back up to Boston to check out the Frost Bar. Because it’s not cold enough OUTside.

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It is a bit expensive (and a LOT cold), but we knew going into it that it was likely a one-time thing. It was still fun to see all the sculptures and enjoy the experience, even if the glasses were made from ice and I was more than a little concerned my lips would end up stuck to them.

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After that full day, we came home and said “well I’m exhausted, let’s discover that our cat needs to be taken to the emergency vet where we will stay until 1am yayyyyy!” Actually, I don’t remember saying that. This little guy was such a trooper though, and he’s feeling much better today.

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To enjoy my final day off today, I met my mom for some shopping, lunch, chatting, and gelato. I bet you can’t guess which one was my favorite? Wrong! It’s my mom 🙂

Back to the office tomorrow, unless snowstorm #793,062 can pull through for me. How did you spend your “long” weekend?

14 Days of Valentines

You’ve heard of The 12 Days of Christmas? Well, here we’re doing The 14 Days of Valentines.

Because I don’t live with a small child (I suppose this is arguable), Dan tends to be the one to benefit from these silly little projects that I get myself all excited over. Side note: STILL upset about not having an Elf on the Shelf and am thisclose to buying one for next Christmas so I can create obnoxious and un-kid-friendly scenes all over our apartment. I’m not even sure if I would rather be the one hiding the elf, or the one finding him, so I would have to coerce Dan into participating at least half the time. I know there must be other 30somethings out there that hide elves for each other even though they have no children and one of them is Jewish. Please email me and we can start a support group.

Anyway.

This project came about while I was shopping at The Paper Source and finding millions of cute things for Valentine’s Day. I originally thought of putting together a little basket, similar to a Christmas stocking, but hey, why do that when you can complicate things and do 14 days of gifts instead of just one?

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Each gift was under $5 with the exception of the coffee above and a cute little book from The Paper Source that I will show you below. Lesson learned = do not step foot into Paper Source unless you are prepared to want EVERY.THING. Oddly enough, I had never been to a Paper Source before this shopping trip and figured it was mainly stationery. Surprise! It’s not. Tons of small little gifts, games, home decor, food items, etc. I used to think the same thing about The Paper Store until I actually went inside and discovered they sold books, clothes, shoes, jewelry, and candles there, too. I kept confusing The Paper Store with The Paper Source, but now that I’ve been to both, I know it doesn’t matter because I just want all of it.

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These books are just adorable. There are 50 pages with fill-in-the-blank phrases and sentences where you can personalize everything for the person you’re giving it to.

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Positive reinforcement, right? Dan actually IS very good at vacuuming and goes over places multiple times and even does the closet, which I would totally be lazy and skip.

There are several different versions of these little books, and I actually bought the one above for Dan and the What I Love About Mom journal for….wait for it….my mom.

Every gift had a Valentine’s Day theme to it, or was red and/or pink, except for Dan’s favorite kind of muffin because they’re blueberries, not redberries. I can’t change nature.

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A few were food-related because, hello, have you met me?

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Others were more practical.

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Some were fun!

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Some ended up being a bit disappointing.

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And some were cute, if you can consider The Dark Side cute.

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Today’s gift was a Valentine’s Day card.

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Does that seem lame after all of the other gifts? Like I should have ended with a grand finale of pink confetti and stuffed (or live) snuggly animals with a trail of rose petals to the door where one of The Avengers was waiting with flowers? Oh well. But! We will also be going out to dinner later at a new restaurant we’ve been wanting to try and food is always exciting, right?

I knew we were internet friends for a reason.

What Are You Reading?

Another snow day for me today! My office NEVER used to close for weather, but in the last two years we have had several snow days. While I do enjoy them (not going to work, hello?!), I’ve spent a good part of the afternoon pinning things to my Pinterest vision board that make me think of summer. I’m just kind of over the snow and the cold this year. The unexpected day at home is the one good thing that comes from it, but I’m ready for the bonfires, flip flops, s’mores, and nights by the water with good company and a fruity drink.

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And obviously the ice cream.

With all of this free time, I’ve also been doing a lot of reading. It’s one of my goals for 2014 to read a lot more and I have an entire Goodreads list of books that I hope will someday make their way into my hands.

I’m currently reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I’ve read two of her other books and loved, loved, LOVED them both (Dark Places and Gone Girl), so I hope this one is just as good.

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I just finished Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy, which was a book I saw for sale at this place when Dan and I did an espionage-themed adventure there. I’ve been kind of obsessed with all things CIA since binge-watching three seasons of Homeland a few weeks ago, but the book was just okay. I liked getting the inside scoop on the life of a spy and some of the things they go through in training (I would crap my pants.), but I found the author to be kind of arrogant and off-putting, and a lot of it was just her whining about the job that she originally tells you is her “dream job”. It was a quick read though, and fairly interesting.

Next I’m thinking of reading one of the Rainbow Rowell novels because the entire internet won’t shut up about them and I need to know what I’m missing. Have you read one? I will probably go with Eleanor & Park first, but Attachments sounds like it might be fun.

Another book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time is January First, but I feel like it might be a little depressing. I just love true psych stories though, especially when it’s just a little bit twisted.

So that’s my list for now. What books are you reading, or wanting to read? I need to make a list for my next snow day (Monday?!)

The 2014 Organization Olympics

So I didn’t actually go to Sochi or anything, but I did go to The Container Store. This is hard to type because I have to alternate between sitting on my hands to keep from jazz-hand-ing all over the place and tucking my legs underneath me to keep from jumping up and down. This project made my LIFE. It made it so much better, so much easier to deal with opening a cabinet in this place, and just so much nicer to be at home.

Shall we begin?

My main goal was to organize our pantry cabinet because it’s a nightmare, as you will see in a minute, but when I was walking around The Container Store, there was this freak earthquake and all kinds of things just kept falling off the shelf into my basket. It was so scary. The craziest part was that an ice storm was happening outside at the same time and I needed something to weigh down my car in order to keep it from sliding. Once I placed the giant shopping bag of organizational tools in my back seat, I was safe. The Container Store saved my life!

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First up was our baking pan cabinet. There is not a cabinet in our house that requires more noise to remove one item. Somehow, the pans we use all the time seem to end up on the bottom (science?) and then you have to play Jenga with them to get one out.

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I wanted a way to organize individual pans so that it was easier to get things in and out of this cabinet and not send the cats running for cover every time. I like the result, with two small exceptions.

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Looks great, right?! The only things I’m not sure about are the pizza pans on the top right and the glass lids on the top left. We use the pizza pans the most out of anything in that cabinet, so I was hoping to make them a little more easily accessible (picking up a frying pan is sooo hard), but they don’t fit standing vertically. The glass lids just seem like an accident waiting to happen when someone puts one back too quickly and they bang into each other.

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I think I can deal with both for now, but I’m keeping my eye out for other solutions.

Next up was the cabinet under the kitchen sink. This is another place where everything we use seems to end up underneath/behind something else, and I had no idea what was even in the back.

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Two simple shelves and this cabinet looks neat again. And I can see everything in the back!

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Underneath the bathroom sink was another problem area. We are going to quickly look at a before and after here without paying too much attention to what’s in this cabinet, for obvious reasons.

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I know it doesn’t look shockingly different, but having my straightener and curling irons standing in that little basket rather than having to untangle them from a pile has been amazing! The best part is that I was able to fit so much more underneath here that I cleaned off a whole other shelf in my bathroom. I’m still struggling with what to put above the towels, but I’m sure I will find something.

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I also bought two small gift boxes for under $1 each and turned them into dividers to organize the little things floating around in this dusty drawer:

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and turn it into this:

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On to my final project. I saved this one for last because I thought it would be the most time-consuming and overwhelming, but it was surprisingly easy.

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It doesn’t look too bad in this photo, but that’s because of two things: I forgot to take a before picture until about three minutes after I started, and most of the mess is in the back because the cabinets are so deep.

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In order to get anything from the back of a shelf, you pretty much have to take everything in front of it out, only to realize that what’s in back is so old that it expired months ago.

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A good chunk of things from this cabinet ended up in the trash, but what’s left is so neatly organized that I have to keep opening it and exclaiming to Dan that I can see all the spices! And why do we have so much cinnamon sugar?!

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In addition to the Lazy Susan, I added a small container to hold all the little items like icing and honey sticks, and then some larger, longer baskets so that we can pull out a basket when we want something instead of an entire shelf’s contents.

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I literally want to live inside this cabinet. Which is totally possible with all this room!

So that’s my Olympic-sized post about organizational projects taking place around here. There is still plenty more to be done, but I need to wait for my wallet to catch up and then I’m going for the Gold!

Let’s Play 1,825 Questions!

A few weeks ago I saw this book in a friend’s Instagram photo and I was intrigued. This was back when I was still trying to figure out whether I wanted to do weekly resolutions again (spoiler alert: nope.), and before I decided on my goals for 2014. This seemed like a fun idea that wouldn’t be too time-consuming, but would also get me through the entire year (five times!) with a small little daily project in case I missed my weekly ones.

Because I can’t just enjoy free time, I have to plan something/start a project/make a to-do list to fill it. There is probably at least one neurosis currently residing in my brain.

Anyway, I ordered a Q&A a Day journal of my own and am loving it so far! Some of the questions can get pretty deep and you find yourself needing a LOT more room, and some are just cute, simple questions like the ones below.

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I keep the journal on my nightstand and have written in it every night since. It really only takes a minute or two to answer the question, but I think it’s going to be so much fun to go back and see my answers, especially five years from now!

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You know, when I’m old. I’m sure I’ll be mortified by some of the answers my SO 5-years-ago self wrote down.

In case you’re wondering, waking up was rough, and what I’m obsessed with right now is organizing (post coming soon!), Homeland and the CIA (which explains the other book on my nightstand), and filing my taxes (I’m a geek.) What are you obsessed with?

Electronic Vision Boards

Vision boards are a fitting segue from a year full of resolutions, right? I think so.

I have never actually made a vision board before. Honestly, I didn’t even know what they were until a few years ago. At first, I kind of found the idea a little far-fetched, like something people who also believe in psychics and feng shui would do, and I am not one of those people. How is a picture on a piece of paper going to get me my dream job and a trip to Italy? That’s the thing about us science/math-minded people, we’re too practical sometimes.

Then I started hearing little anecdotes here and there about friends who made vision boards with goals big and small that were actually…happening. I was definitely intrigued, and I have read The Secret, so I know the idea behind it is that you’re sort of allowing these things to happen by focusing on them and giving them attention. In the end, it was really the allure of a fun, new craft project that made me decide to give it a try.

And Lord knows I have enough magazines.

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I spent an hour one night paging through a stack of magazines and only ended up with a handful of photos, but millions of ideas floating through my head of images that I wanted to print out and add to my board. Then I read this post by one of my favorite bloggers and it’s like a light bulb went off (or “on”, right? why is that expression so weird?) Electronic vision board (see #5 on her list)? Genius!

I was able to scrap the paper project without feeling too bummed because I think my obsession with love of Pinterest rivals my love of projects and crafty things. Right now, my 2014 Vision Board is a *secret* board on Pinterest, so even if you follow me, you won’t be able to see it, but I’m going to share with you some of my pins and goals for this new year.

First up: my camera. I want to make it a priority to use it more often, learn more about it, and teach myself how to edit photos better. I plan on taking it with me when I go somewhere, and leaving it out at home so that it’s more likely I will grab it and use it to capture certain moments.

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The next thing I want to do more of is organize my entire life. It’s no secret by now that I am extremely OCD about things and pins like these make me happy:

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I might not go quite as nuts as that last one, but it’s inspiration to use my planner more and organize my lists.

I also want to take at least one trip this year. Dan and I have been doing one big trip a year for the last several years, and I really want to continue that. There are so many places we want to see! Dubai, England, Italy, and Southern California are topping our list right now.

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Learning to cook is another thing on my list. I would really like to focus on making healthier meals at home, packing lunches for the week so that I spend less money out, and maybe making a big holiday meal this year. Maybe.

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There are loads of other things I want to focus on this year, like blogging

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relaxing, and enjoying moments instead of worrying about all of the other things that need to be done

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creating a style for myself and shopping for outfits rather than pieces that I don’t really need, but like

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reading more often, which means carving out time at night to curl up with a book before bed, and having the library’s online catalog bookmarked

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and finally, making a conscious effort to take steps towards things Dan and I want in life, like a bigger, nicer place and an eventual family. I’m stressing eventual here before I start any rumors.

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There are also a few pins reflecting the usual mantras about workout motivation, flossing my teeth regularly so it doesn’t look like a murder scene at the dentist, and just general quotes that inspire me.

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So, there you have it. Those are my goals for this year. Not quite 52 of them this time, but a good amount of things to focus on. I plan on adding to this board every time I see something that inspires me, or if I think of something else that I want to give attention to.

Do you have a vision board? Has one worked for you? I’m curious to hear your stories!

FINALLY!!!!!!

This has been a long, loooong time coming, but I am so excited to finally have my blog redesigned and on WordPress now!

I know it might not appear to be a big change, but this was a project that I started many months ago (almost 12 of them, eek) and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. It was a painstaking process of copying, pasting, researching, coding, crying, Googling, designing, swearing, even more crying, and now…celebrating!

I really want to thank a couple of Dans for their help, as well as Eric from www.gopryweb.com, and Sarah at www.tech4mommies.com. I should also probably thank everyone who had to endure my frustrated Facebook posts and outbursts of rage when I couldn’t figure something out. I am forever a 5-year-old.

The one thing that I couldn’t figure out was how to set this up so that those of you who currently subscribe to my blog via rss or email wouldn’t have to resubscribe. Unfortunately, whether you think you’re subscribed, you were subscribed, or you are totally new here, you will have to go over to the right and subscribe by email, rss feed, or Facebook if you want to see any future posts. Please also check your bookmarks if you had this site bookmarked.

Feel free to look around and leave some feedback! New posts will be coming very soon (as in, probably tomorrow because I missed the heck out of this thing) and I will be sharing everything from my online vision board of goals for 2014, to a bunch of actual, home-cooked recipes we are trying (like grown ups), and a new project that I’m loving! Right now though, it’s all about the celebrating.

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I’ll take any excuse for chocolate and cider.

[Resolutions] – Auld Lang Syne

Very mixed emotions writing this today. While I really did enjoy this whole project, I can’t say that I’m not happy to have some extra free time in the near future. Some of these resolutions required little effort, but others involved time, money, and motivation that I wasn’t always ready to spare. Each week there was planning, doing, and writing. It’s mostly thanks to you guys holding me accountable that I even completed this entire thing, so thank you for that because it’s been a great year!

I crammed eight resolutions into my final week. I was focusing on Saying Nice Things for the entire seven days while also throwing in an additional resolution each day. Here’s how it went:

Wednesday: Try New Foods – I decided on this one while there was a plate of shrimp on the table for Christmas dinner. I kept trying to talk myself into trying one, but in the end, I couldn’t do it. Instead, I grabbed a piece of pot roast and a sip of coffee (two things I already know I dislike) and called it a day.

Thursday: Backup My Files – I hadn’t run a backup on my computer since the last time I drew this resolution, so I did that and backed up my WordPress files (for the new blog that’s coming once I figure out how to swap domains) as well.

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Friday: Watch More Movies – I never liked the first Anchorman when I saw it, but now that there’s a sequel, Dan convinced me to watch it again so that we might be able to go see the new one. Nope, still don’t like it. We also saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty that night.

Saturday: Learn More About History – I searched Comcast OnDemand to find something from the history channel that I wanted to watch and was surprised to find that there were a lot of things! I chose “The Real Story of Christmas” and basically learned that Christmas began as a drunken mess, was actually banned for a period of time for being “too much fun”, and is based on an arbitrary date, as the day of Jesus’ birth is not known.

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Sunday: Pamper Myself – I’ve been sick this week, so after a little bit of shopping, I came home and took a nice, long, hot shower. I sat in bed with a new candle, a clean blanket, warm pajamas, some treats of the chocolate variety, and a magazine. Ahhhhhh.

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Monday: Take a Class – When I originally had this resolution, we tried to take a camera class, but it ended up being cancelled because of snow. We just signed up to take the same class again, so fingers crossed that summer starts in January this year!

Tuesday: Visit New Places – For Christmas I received a gift card to Legal Sea Foods, so we decided to check out their Legal C Bar for a special New Year’s Eve dinner. We went a little nuts. There were crab cakes and sushi, lobster and roasted mushrooms, and a seafood casserole. And that was only Dan’s meal because I don’t like seafood. We also had a glass of sangria each, some fried pickles, a small salad, and (my all-time favorite) macaroni & cheese. You watched the ball drop last night? That’s similar to how they had to roll us out of the restaurant and off of the curb. It was FANtastic.

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So there it is. Somewhere after the first few hours, I forgot about saying nice things, so I’m not sure how much of that went on. I do remember pointing out to Dan that I said something nice about him or one of the cats, but I’m gonna guess that it probably doesn’t count if you have to point them out. Regardless, it was a week packed full of some of my favorite resolutions and favorite things.

And just like that, it’s over…

But I will be back with more fun projects, new things, and little adventures, so keep following and we will enjoy 2014 together 🙂 Happy New Year!

[Resolutions] – How I Did With My Holiday Bucket List

Since this is the first Sunday in an entire year that I haven’t drawn a resolution from the jar, I figured I would update you on one of my past resolutions. Maybe you remember Week 45 where I decided to create a new holiday tradition and made us a bucket list of 24 things to complete before Christmas.

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And here’s what it looks like now that Christmas is over:

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We did pretty well! The only item not checked off is “Play in the Snow” and I would love to say that it hasn’t snowed here yet, so we couldn’t complete this one, but that’s not entirely true. It’s snowed a few times, but we’re (I’m) just too old and lazy to get all bundled up in snow gear only to go outside and throw a few snowballs and freeze. Plus, all that laundry when you come back inside. Ugh. We do have snow tubes that I want to use if there is a more significant amount of snow, but until we have kids, I think our snow angel days are on hiatus.

Here’s what we did for the rest of the things on our list:

Watch a Christmas Movie – I made Dan watch It’s a Wonderful Life because he had never seen it before. It’s definitely dated and a bit cheesy, but it’s such a good movie with a nice Christmas seasony message.

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Create a Holiday Drink – We did this one twice! Er…two nights in a row. We made Christmas Cookies and Candy Canes.

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Take a Holiday Photo – This was actually taken while we were accomplishing one of the other items on our list. Yay multitasking.

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Drive Around Looking at Lights – The house in the photo above goes crazy with their Christmas decorations (and electric bill) every year. We drove around the neighborhood and checked out some of the other light displays, too.

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Bake Cookies – I can’t even tell you how many times I baked cookies in the last three weeks. Multiply that by a lot and that’s how many of them I ate. Someone has to do quality control.

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Make a Christmas Craft – I found this wreath project on Pinterest and I love how it came out. It’s so easy, but so pretty!!

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Listen to Christmas Music – Pretty much every day.

Donate a Gift – I brought a board game to a work function for Toys for Tots.

Put up New Decorations – Dollar store for life!

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Drink Egg Nog – I don’t like the regular flavor, but I could drink the vanilla one for days. I wish it wasn’t just a seasonal thing. Can someone petition this?

Give a Secret Gift – This one wasn’t entirely secret because Barnes & Noble wasn’t letting me send a book as a gift, so my name showed up on the packing slip. I think it was still a surprise though!

Do a Christmas Activity – We jumped the gun a bit on this one because we went to the Enchanted Village on November 30th. But at that time, it must have been December somewhere? We also went to a tree-lighting ceremony a week later, so we didn’t break the rules entirely.

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Wear Holiday Jewelry, Nails, or Clothing – Did all three. BAM!

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Play a Christmas Game – Technically this didn’t happen until Christmas night, but I see no reason why that shouldn’t still qualify.

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Read a Christmas Story – I downloaded a short story collection from Kindle and I actually really enjoyed these. They’re not very modern, but the old feel to them makes it more authentic and nostalgic I think. Check them out.

Enjoy Christmas-Scented Things – Oh, I did. Winter Candy Apple, Christmas Cookie, Peppermint everything.

Watch a Christmas Special – We watched the Saturday Night Live Christmas Special and I found TLC’s Extreme Christmas Trees on Netflix. Obviously I liked the tree made of cake the best.

Drink Hot Chocolate – Spiked, unspiked, made at home, bought from Starbucks, we did it all. But mostly spiked.

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Send Christmas Cards – Done.

Enjoy a Christmas Treat – We’ve had a candy dish full of peppermint bells and I bought Dan some gingerbread cookies. I’m not even going to make a joke about gingerbread for the ginger because he won’t like it.

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Send a Card to a Soldier – Someone posted this story on Facebook so I mailed him a card. His birthday was on Christmas!

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Wrap Gifts – Ok, this one was kind of a free pass. Obviously I wrapped gifts.

Attend a Holiday Craft Fair – My mom and I attended one in November, but Dan and I found another one a few weeks later. We didn’t buy anything at the one in December, but it was part of a nice day of shopping, eating, and people-watching.

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That’s it!! I can totally tell you that this was a complete success (even without playing in the snow) and I will definitely be doing it again. It made the holiday season about more than just last-minute shopping and chaos, and I really enjoyed doing these. I think this is going to be my new “advent calendar” for years to come!